Northwestern University

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#7, overall score 78.5/100

Fun Fact:

The Northwestern University Dance Marathon, which lasts for 30 hours, has raised more than $19 million for charity since 1975.

Why should Jewish students attend Northwestern University? Northwestern University is an amazing place for Jewish students. Northwestern is ranked, academically, #11 in the country, with six colleges to choose from. We have Big Ten sports and amazing theater and music groups. We are a known leader in the sciences, engineering and journalism. Within our College of Arts and Sciences, we pride ourselves on well-respected Jewish, Israel and Holocaust studies departments. We have a strong Chabad, Meor and Hillel servicing the educational, social and spiritual needs of our students. Northwestern has many other Jewish groups including pro-Israel groups, a Jewish theater group, TAMID and tikkun olam opportunities. Northwestern also has a strong Jewish fraternity, AEPi, which not only is active in Greek life but also embraces its Jewish values. 60% of the Jewish students go Greek, so many fraternities and sororities are filled with Jews. Jewish students feel comfortable expressing their Jewish identities on campus. Northwestern puts a big emphasis on diversity and leadership. To maximize one’s experience at NU, we encourage Jewish students to take on a leadership role within Jewish life. Our Jewish students are very active in creating amazing opportunities for the NU community to participate in. Our integrated Kosher meal plan is one of the best on college campuses today, and we are in the process of putting up an Eruv. Jewish learning opportunities exist outside the classroom at Chabad, Meor and Hillel. We are fortunate to have an engaged Jewish student body. Chabad has hired Rabbi Mendy and Ariella Weg, two young, brilliant stars, to our amazing staff as directors of innovation; and currently, Chabad is upgrading its facility to accommodate students’ needs well into the future. — Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein, director, Tannenbaum Chabad House

Situated along the shore of Lake Michigan, just north of downtown Chicago, Northwestern is a world-class university, currently ranked #11 by US News and World Report. Northwestern is renowned for its schools of journalism, theater, business and law; its Big Ten athletics; and its bright, talented and diverse student population. Northwestern is home to 1,200-1,300 Jewish undergraduates, plus over 1,000 Jewish graduate students on its Evanston and downtown Chicago campuses. Jewish students of all backgrounds and interests have a wide array of opportunities to connect with Jewish life and their own Jewish story and journey. They have a beautiful Hillel building with stellar staff and abundant resources that enable them to create meaningful Jewish experiences for themselves and their peers; a vibrant Jewish and Israel Studies program; and several other Jewish organizations serving their needs. Jewish life on this campus is thriving in myriad ways, and Jewish students at Northwestern are succeeding, and excelling, in just about every way imaginable, from co-chairing NU Dance Marathon to editing the campus daily newspaper to playing in Big Ten varsity sports to winning Fulbright Scholarships to starring on Broadway. — Michael Simon, executive director, Northwestern Hillel


  • Location: Evanston, Ill.
  • Region: Midwest
  • Campus type: Suburb
  • Public/Private: Private
  • Undergraduate enrollment: 8,353
  • Jewish undergraduate enrollment: 1,200
  • Jewish population share: 14%
  • Student origin: 32% in-state / 68% out-of-state
  • Student newspaper: The Daily Northwestern
  • NCAA Division: I
  • NCAA team: Wildcats
  • Ultimate Frisbee teams: NUT / GungHo

COST & AID Score: 9.17/15

  • Score: 9.17/15
  • Tuition: $52,678
  • Room & board costs: $16,047
  • Average annual scholarship/grant package: $39,101
  • Average loan debt: $19,718
  • Starting median salary: $59,500
  • Scholarship for Jewish students: No

ACADEMICS Score: 20/20

  • Score: 20/20
  • Acceptance rate: 9%
  • Student/faculty ratio: 6:1
  • Median SAT range: 1390-1560
  • Jewish Studies program: Yes
  • Jewish Studies major: Yes
  • Hebrew major: Minor

What Students Say:

“The best thing about Northwestern is the wide range of interdisciplinary resources provided to students to individually accommodate them across the various facets of the college experience. Resources such as general advisors, major-specific advisors, the Writing Center (free peer tutor-esque essay help) and the Career Center provide students endless academic resources. Most administrators from residential life, academics or even athletics are accessible, want to get to know you and are generally eager to meet those students that seek out help.”

ISRAEL Score: 12/20

SAFETY Score: 8.67/11

  • Score: 8.67/11
  • Anti-Semitic incidents in 2017: 0
  • Campus crime rate: 4.99/1,000 students (medium low)
  • City crime rate: 23.79/1,000 people (medium low)
  • LGBT center: Yes

JEWISH LIFE Score: 28.67/34

  • Score: 28.67/34
  • Hillel: Fiedler Hillel at Northwestern University
  • Chabad: Tannenbaum Chabad House
  • OU-JLIC: No
  • Other Jewish outreach group: Meor
  • Jewish fraternities: AEPi, ZBT
  • Jewish sororities: None
  • Jewish dorm: None
  • Jewish a capella group: ShireiNU
  • Can you get kosher food on the school meal plan? Yes
  • Chicken soup hotline: Yes
  • Active Hillel clubs: 10
  • Hillel Friday night services: 2
  • Average Shabbat attendance – Hillel: 100
  • Average Shabbat attendance – Chabad: 30
  • Synagogues within 10 miles: 49 (27 Orthodox, 9 Conservative, 13 Reform)
  • Eruv: No
  • Most famous Jewish alum: Zach Braff
  • Most unique/noteworthy club: The Jewish Theatre Ensemble (JTE) provides the Northwestern community with high-quality entertainment and exposure to Jewish involvement in the arts. The organization aspires to challenge common perceptions and generate conversation relating to issues that fall within the resonance of the Jewish experience through artistic media with particular relevance to the Northwestern community. JTE is involved in the celebration and education of Jewish culture on campus, and it operates at a level of artistic excellence and encourages creative endeavors that promote Jewish themes in the arts. JTE produces 4-5 shows per year and is part of the tremendously vibrant theater scene at Northwestern.
  • Where do Jewish students come from? Students come from all over the country, and many come from different countries including Israel, all over North America and beyond. There are Jewish students from Latin America, Europe, Turkey and elsewhere.
  • Kosher food details: ​Northwestern University provides kosher dining on the student meal plan at the centrally located Allison Dining Hall. In addition, kosher sandwiches and other “grab-and-go” options are available for purchase at other campus locations. Hillel and Chabad provide free kosher meals for students on Shabbat and Jewish holidays throughout the academic year. AEPi also has a Kosher meal option for its brothers.

What Students Say:

“Regardless of whether you might be Orthodox or Reform, observant or not, there are programs and events for every type of student”…”There are resources for Reform, Conservative and Orthodox students, but it can be difficult to make everyone feel equally supported and valued within the community”…”There is always Jewish programming going on throughout the week around campus. In one week, you could comfortably hit three separate dinners, two Jewish learning opportunities and one engaging program (e.g. fascinating speaker, trip to go trampolining) across our three strong Jewish centers on campus.”

Do you attend this school? Do you want to tell us more about what life there is like? Take our survey here, and your feedback could be featured in next year’s guide! And if you’re a student or campus professional, join our online community Jewish Campus Confidential, and apply to become a Forward Campus Ambassador.

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Northwestern University

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