By the Numbers: Northwestern University and University of Chicago compared


Illustration by Danny O’Grady

Northwestern University and the University of Chicago are close in proximity, but the 2021-22 Common Data Set reveals their statistical disparities.

Danny O’Grady, Design Editor


Northwestern University enrolls almost 23,000 students total and the University of Chicago enrolls about 16,000 students total. Both institutions enroll a similar number of undergraduate students with Northwestern enrolling about 1000 more.

The most noticeable difference in enrollment data is that Northwestern enrolls almost twice as many postgraduate students as the University of Chicago. The University of Chicago has a similar number of both types of students, with a little over 1000 more postgraduate students than undergraduate students.

Class sizes

The classes at each institution were broken down into seven categories based on their size. The majority of classes at both Northwestern and the University of Chicago are between two and nine people.

The emphasis on small class sizes at each university results in similar student-to-faculty ratios. Northwestern has a student-faculty ratio of six to one while the University of Chicago has a ratio of five to one.

Enrollment Decisions

Both Northwestern University and the University of Chicago receive tens of thousands of first-year applicants every year. For instance, in the 2021-22 admissions cycle, Northwestern received over 47,000 applicants while the University of Chicago received just under 38,000. Although Northwestern received about 10,000 more applicants than the University of Chicago, both institutions had roughly the same number of first-year students who enrolled. Among the 2021-2022 pool of applicants that were admitted by either university, the University of Chicago had a higher yield rate of students enrolling as only around 400 students were admitted and did not enroll.

Faculty Breakdown

Both universities have an overwhelming majority of faculty members who have received the highest possible degree in their respective fields.

The University of Chicago employs about 100 more faculty members than Northwestern. In addition, the University of Chicago has approximately twice the amount of international faculty members as Northwestern.

Student Diversity

Both Northwestern and the University of Chicago are historically predominantly white. This remains true today among its undergraduates, as white people make up about 40% of Northwestern undergraduates and about 33% of the University of Chicago’s undergraduate population.

The two smallest demographics at each university are Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander and Native American or Alaskan Native. The University of Chicago has over 300 more international students than Northwestern. Still, the two institutions have rather similar demographic representation across the board.


As private universities, Northwestern University and the University of Chicago both charge around $62,000 for tuition each year, so students often seek out financial aid to minimize the cost. Need-based aid is more prevalent than non-need-based aid at both institutions. Northwestern provides almost $70 million more in institutional scholarships and grants than the University of Chicago.

Furthermore, the University of Chicago does not offer athletic scholarships while Northwestern awards over $18 million. However, the University of Chicago provides around 10 times as much money in non-need-based scholarships and grants. In addition, Northwestern students borrow around five times as much money in the form of student loans than the University of Chicago students.

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Twitter: @DannyMOGrady04

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