Application Process

Application Process

Admissions decisions are based on a holistic evaluation of an applicant's academic and leadership achievements, motivation, professional performance and potential as a higher education administrator.

Degree Options


Matriculated students are candidates for the master's degree. The average successful matriculated applicant has the following profile:

  • Undergraduate GPA: 3.4/4
  • GRE Verbal: 160 (86th percentile)
  • GRE Quantitative: 154 (66th percentile)
  • GRE Analytical Writing: 4.75

Please note that these are average, not minimum, scores. If applicants take the GRE exam multiple times, we will use the highest score from each section.


Non-matriculated students are not yet candidates for the master's degree but may take up to four courses before they must apply to matriculate. The following are the primary reasons why some students choose to apply as non-matriculated students:

  1. The student does not have anyone who can serve as an academic reference (this often happens with students who have been out of school for a while and have lost contact with their previous instructors)
  2. The student has not yet taken the GRE but wants to begin taking courses
  3. The student does not know whether they want to earn a master's degree but does want to take some courses in the program

Application Requirements

Matriculated Non-Matriculated1
Previous education course work or experience is not required Previous education course work or experience is not required
Online application:
  • 3 Essays
Online application:
  • Statement of purpose
All undergraduate and graduate academic transcripts* All undergraduate and graduate academic transcripts*
Resume Resume
Two letters of recommendation (one must be academic)
$100 US application fee (nonrefundable)** $100 US application fee (nonrefundable)**
GRE scores (may petition to waive or substitute)
TOEFL score (see international requirements)

*The transcript GPA(s) is an important indicator of an applicant’s academic capabilities and can not be lower than a 3.0.
**To request the fee waiver, send a message detailing why you need to request the waiver to our admissions coordinator at
1Through a separate application process, Non-Matriculated students may apply to the master’s degree program. All coursework successfully completed from the Graduate Certificate will count toward degree requirements.

Online Application Form

  1. Under "Program and Degree," select "Master of Science in Higher Education Administration Program."
  2. Under "Type of Application," select "Matriculated" or "Non-Matriculated" as appropriate.
  3. All secure electronic transcripts should be sent to All hard-copy transcripts (or transcript evaluations) should be sent to this address:
  4. MS in Higher Education Administration and Policy
    Attention: Admissions
    Annenberg Hall
    2120 Campus Drive
    Evanston, IL 60208

GRE Requirements

Submit scores to code 8844 (not 1565 NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY)

If you take the GRE multiple times, we will use the highest score from each section, even if those scores appear on different test dates.

GRE scores are valid up to five years after the test date.

Petition to Substitute the GRE

Applicants may petition to submit GMAT or LSAT scores in place of the GRE when applying for matriculated status. Please email our admissions coordinator at

Petitioning to Waive the GRE

Applying as a Matriculated Student

An applicant to the MSHE program seeking substitution or waiver of the GRE may apply for direct admission to matriculated status only if at least one of the following applies: 

  • Applicant has already earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, and is requesting to substitute the GMAT or LSAT;
  • Applicant has earned a doctoral degree (MD, JD, PhD, EdD), and is requesting a waiver;
  • Applicant is a currently enrolled Northwestern undergraduate who has achieved senior standing with a GPA of 3.3 or higher, and is applying the MSHE program’s by the early action deadline.

These are the only circumstances under which the GRE will be waived for direct admission as a matriculated student. The program does offer a possible path for admission for degree without the GRE; this requires admission first as a non-matriculated student.

A student who wishes to request waiver of the GRE and who does not fall into one of the above categories, may apply for admission as a non-matriculated student. Admitted non-matriculated students may petition to waive the GRE, later, as part of the complete application to transition to matriculated status.

Applying as an enrolled Non-Matriculated Student Seeking to Matriculate

Non-matriculated MSHE students who wish to change to matriculated status may petition to waive the GRE requirement if all of the following criteria have been met:

  • Applicant has at least three years of full-time work experience (higher education experience is preferred but not required)
  • Applicant has successfully completed at least 3 MSHE courses (non-MSHE courses do not count toward the minimum) with a GPA of at least 3.5 and no individual course grade lower than a “B”
  • Applicant supplies an academic recommendation from a MSHE faculty member from a completed MSHE course as one of the required recommendations
  • Applicant completes all other requirements for applying from non-matriculated status to matriculated status, including the online application  

Petitions to waive or substitute the GRE are never guaranteed. The decision to grant a waiver or substitution rests with the MSHE admissions committee and is determined in joint consideration with the rest of a candidate's application materials.

Additional Information

For more information please email the MSHE admissions coordinator at

International Applicants

Due to visa requirements, all international applicants must apply for the "matriculated" status. In order to make the visa process run as smoothly as possible, it is important that the name you supply on your application for admission match the name of your passport exactly. In addition, the address you supply on your application must be a street address -- it cannot be a PO box.

Apply Online

Contact Us

MS in Higher Education Administration and Policy Program

2120 Campus Drive
Evanston, IL 60208
Northwestern University

Phone: 847/491-7526