Northeastern receives record number of undergraduate applications for fall 2023

Students walking on campus
Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Northeastern received a record number of undergraduate applications for the 2023-24 academic year, which university officials attribute to Northeastern’s expanding global footprint and leadership in experiential learning.

Northeastern received 96,641 applications for fall 2023, up from 91,100 in 2022, 75,233 in 2021 and 64,428 in 2020. That’s an increase of 32,213 applicants, or 50% over four years, according to Satyajit Dattagupta, the university’s chief enrollment officer and senior vice chancellor.

“The Northeastern education is unparalleled—the ability to study at a premier R1 research institution that has the ability to send students all over the world to gather professional experiences before they graduate,” Dattagupta says. “This unique value proposition leads to clear and measurable outcomes for families.”

Northeastern has also become the No. 1 choice for many top students. Applicants for early decision—students who choose Northeastern as their first choice and agree to attend if accepted—increased 30% from last year. Since 2015, early decision applications have risen from 772 to 5,872.

Bar graph depicting the rise in Northeastern undergraduate applications over five years. There were 62,263 applicants for 2019, 64,428 for 2020, 75,233 for 2021, 91,100 for 2022, and 96,327 for 2023.

The incoming class will include about 2,600 students in Boston and another 200 to 300 at Northeastern’s undergraduate campuses in London and Oakland, California. For the first time, applicants were asked to select their preferred undergraduate campus. About 22% expressed interest in London, 10% in Oakland and the rest in Boston, according to Dattagupta.

The 2023 applicant pool is one the most diverse in Northeastern history—71% identify as non-white—with Black applicants increasing by 33% and Asian applicants up 21%.

The university also received record interest coming from countries such as Nigeria (up 204%), Saudi Arabia (94%), Ghana (91%), Nepal (62%) and Ethiopia (47%). The number of applicants from Canada rose by 22%.

In the U.S., applications from Virginia were up 19%, while applications from Florida and Washington were up 10%. Applications from Oklahoma were up 51%, Nevada 29% and Texas 27%. 

Dattagupta said Northeastern employs a holistic admissions process and doesn’t require undergraduate applicants to submit standardized test scores, a practice it began in 2021. About half the applicants for the 2023-24 academic year voluntarily submitted their scores, he said.

“Only the student knows if their test score is a true reflection of their abilities,” Dattagupta said. “There is no pressure to take the test or submit scores if you’re not a good test taker or if it doesn’t reflect your abilities.”

Dattagupta said Northeastern’s signature experiential learning programs—students gain professional experience in 146 countries and on every continent—set the university apart.

“During a time when students and families are asking about the return on their investment, Northeastern is providing that return,” Dattagupta said.

Northeastern’s co-op network includes over 3,000 employers, who provide much more than just work experience, he said. 

Guidance counselors and advisers to high schoolers are recommending Northeastern to their high-achieving students and families who are increasingly focused on outcomes.

“You can’t match the level of innovation that’s going on at Northeastern,” said Laurel Baker Tew, director of enrollment at Viewpoint School in Calabasas, California. “They are doubling-down on the exceptional readiness of their students.”

Tew is not surprised that Northeastern received a record number of applications, including 11,397 from California, more than any state other than Massachusetts.

Nicklaus Ohlweiler is a high school senior from the Buffalo suburb of East Aurora, New York. He toured Northeastern’s Boston campus twice and fell in love with the location. That and the university’s signature co-op program made Northeastern his clear No. 1 choice.

He recently received his acceptance letter.

“The campus feels like a college town within the city,” says Ohlweiler, who plans to major in business with a concentration in finance. “And it feels extremely comfortable and safe. I am so extremely excited to attend Northeastern and cannot wait for this coming fall.”

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Some applicants were accepted into Northeastern’s program, a study abroad opportunity that allows incoming students to spend their first semester at one of the university’s international partner locations. Popular destinations include England, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Spain and Italy. students matriculate into the freshmen class in the spring semester.

Diego Cicotoste, a senior at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Miami, was accepted into Northeastern Global Scholars, a program similar to that allows students to spend their entire first year studying on the London and Oakland campuses, each for one semester.

Northeastern was Cicotoste’s top choice because of its global opportunities and distinctive approach to education and research.

“Northeastern offers students so many opportunities to do research within their chosen major,” Cicotoste says. “And the co-op program provides another opportunity for real-world experience.”

David Nordman is executive editor of Northeastern Global News. Follow him on Twitter @davenordman.