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UChicago vs Northwestern

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If you’re looking for a top Illinois university, two obvious contenders spring to mind. The University of Chicago (UChicago) and Northwestern University are the two highest-ranked universities in Illinois and are both consistently ranking in the global top 50 of the QS World University Rankings®. On a national scale, both are currently in the top 15 universities in the US.

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Of course, there’s more to consider when choosing a university than just how well it’s performed in this year’s world rankings. The matter of UChicago vs Northwestern won’t be settled that easily, so let’s take a closer look at how these two universities compare.

 

UChicago

Northwestern

QS World University Rankings® 2018

Ranked 9th in the world

Ranked 13th in the world by academics and 55th by employers

48th for research impact (citations per faculty member)

52nd for faculty/student ratio

149th for percentage of international students; 218th for percentage of international faculty

Ranked joint 28th in the world

Ranked 58th in the world by academics and 107th by employers

86th for research impact (citations per faculty member)

37th for faculty/student ratio

267th for percentage of international students; 271st for percentage of international faculty

Subject strengths*

Ranked joint 18th in the world for arts & humanities

Joint 125th in the world for engineering & technology

37th for life sciences & medicine


Joint 19th for natural sciences

16th for social sciences & management

Ranked joint 93rd in the world for arts & humanities

Joint 82nd in the world for engineering & technology

74th for life sciences & medicine


45th for natural sciences

38th for social sciences & management

Location

Main campus is located about eight miles (12km) south from Downtown Chicago (ranked 46th in the QS Best Student Cities 2017 index)

Mainly located in Evanston, Illinois, but it has a campus in Chicago and a satellite campus in Qatar

Student community

Approx. 16,016 students enrolled (Fall 2016 figures):

5,971 undergraduates, 10,045 graduate, professional and other students

Around 10% of students are international

Approx. 21,842 students enrolled (Fall 2016):

8,813 undergraduates, 13,029 graduate, professional and other students

5,363 students are international (24.5%)

Tuition fees

For 2017-2018, undergraduate tuition is US$53,292 per year, plus other fees.

For 2017-2018, undergraduate tuition is $52,239 per year plus other fees.

*Based on the broad subject areas in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017.

University of Chicago

QS World University Rankings® 2018

UChicago is ranked 19 places above Northwestern in the latest QS World University Rankings®, ninth in the world (up one place from last year) while Northwestern is joint 28th (down two places from last year).  Despite this fall, it’s worth pointing out both universities are among the best in the world and are ranked in the global top 300 for each indicator used to compile the rankings.

 UChicago achieves its highest ranking for its reputation among academics (13th in the world), while Northwestern’s best ranking is for its faculty/student ratio (37th) in which it beats UChicago, which is ranked 52nd for this indicator.

Looking at the level of research impact for each university (which is measured by citations per faculty member), UChicago is ranked within the global top 50 for its research impact, while Northwestern also achieves a top-100 score (86th).

Finally, considering the levels of international diversity on campus, both universities receive their weakest scores here, with UChicago ranked the highest, both for its percentage of international students (in the top 150) and international faculty members (218th).

Subject strengths

If you’re still undecided in the battle of UChicago vs Northwestern, the QS World University Rankings by Subject allow us to get an idea of the strengths of each university in 46 different subjects. Of the five broad subject areas covered in the ranking, both UChicago and Northwestern achieve their highest position for social sciences & management (UChicago is in the lead at 16th in the world). UChicago is ranked higher than Northwestern for every broad subject area except engineering & technology, suggesting any budding engineers or computer scientists should seriously consider studying at Northwestern.

The table below shows how UChicago and Northwestern directly compare for all of the 46 subjects covered in the ranking.

UChicago vs Northwestern in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017

 

UChicago

Northwestern

Accounting & finance

7th

=34th

Anatomy & physiology

--

51-100

Anthropology

6th

51-100

Archaeology

21st

151-200

Art & design

51-100

151-200

Biological sciences

29th

51-100

Business & management

=17th

14th

Chemistry

48th

=12th

Communication & media studies

45th

17th

Computer science & information systems

51-100

101-150

Development studies

23rd

--

Earth & marine sciences

=43rd

151-200

Economics

7th

15th

Education & training

48th

101-150

Engineering (chemical)

--

=24th

Engineering (civil)

--

51-100

Engineering (electrical)

--

101-150

Engineering (mechanical)

--

37th

English language & literature

7th

51-100

Environmental sciences

101-150

101-150

Geography

28th

101-150

History

10th

45th

Law

10th

51-100

Linguistics

21st

101-150

Materials science

--

10th

Mathematics

13th

51-100

Medicine

28th

51-100

Modern languages

=18th

151-200

Performing arts

42nd

19th

Philosophy

22nd

101-150

Physics & astronomy

13th

51-100

Politics

13th

51-100

Psychology

20th

=26th

Social policy & administration

11th

--

Sociology

7th

51-100

Sports-related subjects

--

38th

Statistics

=20th

50th

Theology, divinity & religious studies

12th

50th

 

Northwestern University

Location

Another factor to consider in the UChicago vs Northwestern debate is their respective locations. Both have campuses in Chicago, the third-biggest city in the US, which was ranked 46th in the latest QS Best Student Cities index.

If scenic, ivy-clad buildings sound like ideal surroundings when you study in the US, UChicago has you covered. Its 217-acre campus is in the city’s Hyde Park neighborhood, near to Lake Michigan, and combines traditional English gothic buildings with award-winning modern architecture. Aside from its main campus, UChicago’s Booth School of Business also runs satellite campuses in Singapore and London, as well as the Streeterville neighborhood in downtown Chicago, which is also where Northwestern’s Chicago campus is located, close to attractions such as the Museum of Contemporary Art and John Hancock Center.

Northwestern’s Evanston campus is 240 acres and is where the undergraduate schools, the Graduate School, and the Kellogg School of Management are based. The campus sits on Lake Michigan, meaning it has its own beaches. The Evanston campus university also features one of the biggest university libraries in a private university, with 4.6 million volumes. Evanston itself is located about 12 miles north of Chicago and is home to approximately 74,895 people, so it may be better suited to those who aren’t keen on big city life.

Tuition fees

Undergraduate tuition fees at UChicago and Northwestern are the same for all students (there is no separate tuition fee for out-of-state or international students).

At UChicago, undergraduate tuition fees are set at US$53,292, plus the Student Life Fee of $1,533 at the University of Chicago. The university recommends students budget a total of $75,735 per year to live on campus, a total which includes tuition, other fees, room and board, books and other personal expenses. Graduate tuition fees vary, but to give you an idea, a Master of Laws (LLM) degree costs $61,626 per year as of 2017/18, while a Masters in Computer Science costs up to $69,624 depending on how many courses you take. PhD fees also vary, with a PhD in molecular engineering costing $53,241 per year.

At Northwestern, similar fees are charged at undergraduate level: $52,239 per year, plus other fees totalling $439. Northwestern estimates that students will need a total of $72,980 for all their costs including health insurance, room and board, personal expenses and books and supplies. Again, graduate tuition fees vary, with a Master of Laws (LLM) degree costing $64,642 per year, while a Masters in Information Technology costs $49,155. A PhD at the university’s graduate school costs $52,239 per year.

University of Chicago

Financial support

With such high tuition fees to study in the US at either university, you’ll be pleased to know that financial aid is available. UChicago pledges to meet the demonstrated need of 100% of admitted undergraduates, and the average aid applicant receives $45,500 in scholarships every year. First year international students are eligible for both need and merit-based financial aid, with a “need-sensitive” process, meaning that the university takes it into account whether an international student has requested financial aid or not.

If you think you may need financial aid at any point during your time at the university, you must apply for financial aid at the same time when you submit your application. The university’s net price calculator allows you to estimate the cost of your education and find out what financial aid you may be eligible for. First-year students are automatically considered for merit-based scholarships, which don’t consider your financial situation.

Northwestern University also offers financial aid to students on the basis of demonstrated need, and pledges to meet all applicants’ requirements. It awarded $144 million in scholarships to undergraduate students in 2016-17, with 45% of undergraduates receiving a Northwestern University Scholarship. The university’s net price calculator can be found here. A small group of first-year international students receive need-based aid every year, and again you must state it on your application form if you require aid. Need and non-need based loans are available, and US students from low-income families are also eligible to apply for federal & state grants.

You can browse a range of scholarships to study in the US here.

Which would you choose in the debate between UChicago vs Northwestern? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and get ready to study in the US with our complete guide.

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Sabrina Collier's profile image
Written by Sabrina Collier
Sabrina is a content writer for TopUniversities.com, providing guidance on a wide range of topics. A graduate of Aberystwyth University, Sabrina is originally from the West Midlands but now lives in London. 

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