MSHC Frequently Asked Questions

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General Program Questions

  1. How long is the MSHC Program?
  2. On which days are classes held?
  3. When can I begin the Program?
  4. On which Northwestern campus are classes held?
  5. Can I take courses outside of the MSHC curriculum?
  6. Is MHSC considered a part-time or full-time program?
  7. Do you offer a PhD?

Admissions and
Application Process

  1. When is the application deadline?
  2. How do I apply?
  3. Do I have to submit all of my application materials at the same time?
  4. Are GRE or GMAT scores required as part of the application process?
  5. What defines an international student?
  6. Is a minimum undergraduate GPA required for admissions consideration?
  7. Are there any undergraduate prerequisites for the program?
  8. Does the Admission Committee favor certain undergraduate majors?
  9. Do you require previous professional work experience?
  10. What should I expect if invited to interview?
  11. Are there any special requirements for international students?
  12. How will I know the status of my application?
  13. What if I would like to withdraw my application?

Acceptance

  1. If I’m accepted, what is the next step?
  2. What if I’m accepted but I’m not sure if I will attend?
  3. I’ve sent in my Admission Decision/Intent to Register Form and deposit. Now what?
  4. What happens at orientation?
  5. What if something changes and I can no longer attend?
  6. Can I defer my enrollment?

Tuition, Fees, and
Funding Options

  1. How much is tuition?
  2. How do I pay for the program?
  3. How do I apply for a federal loan?
  4. How do I check on my federal loan application?
  5. What if my employer will pay for my MSC degree?
  6. What if I am currently a NU undergraduate senior?

International Students

See the International Student FAQ.


General Program Questions

1. How long is the program?
The program is four-quarters. Students begin in September, at the start of fall quarter, and finish the program in early August, at the end of summer quarter to complete the program in one year.

2. On which days are classes held?
MSHC follows a Saturday schedule, with classes meeting one day per week.

3. When can I begin the Program?
At this time, students may begin the program during fall quarter only.

4. On which Northwestern campus are classes held?
Classes are held on the downtown Chicago campus.

5. Can I take courses outside of the MSHC curriculum?
No, MSHC students are not authorized to take courses outside of the curriculum, nor are other graduate students admitted into MSHC courses. MSHC students may customize their coursework through selection of elective courses (see curriculum).

6. Is MSHC considered a part-time or full-time program?
Full time student status is defined by the number of credits for which you are registered in each quarter. In general, domestic students are registered for 2.25 credits per quarter. International students are registered for at least three credits per quarter to maintain student visa status.

  • Financial Aid: Domestic students who take at least two credits per quarter are eligible for federal financial aid and student loan deferrals. 
  • International Office: International students who are on F-1 visas must take three credits during the fall, winter, and spring quarters to be considered "full time" by the international office and to retain their visa eligibility.

7. Do you offer a PhD?
Not yet. In the future, MSHC will offer a PhD option, but not at this time.

Admissions and Application Process

8. When is the application deadline?
Round 3: June 13, 2016
Round 4: July 25, 2016
Admission is competitive, and space is limited; therefore applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible. For visa purposes, international applicants must apply by the second round.

9. How do I apply?
To apply, submit a completed application online, including a statement of purpose, uploaded resume, uploaded transcript, three recommendations, and $25 application fee. Have transcripts sent from all colleges and universities from which you were granted a degree. An interview is required for admission. Those selected for interview will be contacted directly.

10. Do I have to submit all of my application materials at the same time?
Ideally, yes. Materials may arrive separately; however, your application will not be reviewed until the entire application is complete. Qualified applicants will be invited for a personal interview with the admissions office either in-person or via Skype.

11. Are GRE or GMAT scores required as part of the application process?
Standardized test scores are not required for consideration. However, a TOEFL score is required for international applicants.

12. What defines an international student?
Someone who is not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident is recognized as an international student. Students who will require immigration sponsorship from the university will be required to maintain full-time student status. For the MSHC Program, this means taking an additional class during each quarter of study with exception to the last. These students will be billed at the international student rate. Students who do not require immigration sponsorship from the university (i.e. students whose immigration status is sponsored by their employer or spouse) are personally responsible for knowing the requirements of their visa. In the case that a student’s visa allows for part-time study, this student may be recognized by the university as an international student but be billed at the part-time/domestic rate for the program. These students should share this information with the program office prior to enrollment.

13. Is a minimum undergraduate GPA required for admissions consideration?
Application review is holistic and GPA’s are evaluated as one piece among many in the larger admissions file, thus MSHC does not institute a minimum GPA. Each application is viewed in context with the rest of the file, including the statement of purpose, resume, and recommendations, and interview.

14. Are there any undergraduate prerequisites for the program?
Completion of a four-year baccalaureate degree (or equivalent credentials for international students, see admissions) is required prior to the start of classes. There are no specific class prerequisites for the program.

15. Does the Admission Committee favor certain undergraduate majors?
No. We seek diverse professional and educational backgrounds.

16. Do you require previous professional work experience?
The program is designed for a wide range of experience levels, from emerging talent through senior management. Because we encourage a diversity of experiences and backgrounds in the classroom, we do not have any requirements for full-time professional work experience. However, significant experience to draw from and contribute to the classroom is beneficial.

17. What should I expect if invited to interview?
You will be asked about your career goals, interest in the program, previous professional experience, and undergraduate or other academic work. Please be prepared to interview in person or by web video conference, if requested.

18. Are there any special requirements for international students?
Yes, please see International Student FAQ's for details.

19. How will I know the status of my application?
After the admissions committee has reviewed your completed application, you will receive a letter informing you of its decision. You may contact the Admissions Office at healthcomm@northwestern.edu for interim updates. 

20. What if I would like to withdraw my application?
Please contact Admissions at healthcomm@northwestern.edu to withdraw your application.

Acceptance

21. If I’m accepted, what is the next step?
You will receive the “Admission Decision/Intent to Register” form with your official decision. Please complete and return it to the program office. Include a non-refundable deposit of $500 in U.S. funds made payable to: Center for Communication and Health-Northwestern University. Your spot is only secure upon timely submission of the registration form and deposit. This deposit will hold your place in the program and will be applied to your first quarter’s tuition payment. 

22. What if I’m accepted but I’m not sure if I will attend?
You must return the Admission Decision/Intent to Register form and $500 tuition deposit in order to secure your place in the incoming class. If you are unsure about attending, please contact Admissions at 312-503-2811 or healthcomm@northwestern.edu to be advised of your options. Space is limited and spots are secured as registration forms and deposits are received from accepted applicants.

23. I’ve sent in my Admission Decision/Intent to Register form and deposit.  Now what?
You are now considered part of program. You will receive updates and be invited to attend all events.

24. What happens at orientation?
Orientation is a daylong event scheduled approximately one week before the beginning of fall quarter. This day provides you with a chance to meet your classmates, obtain your NU student ID, tour the campus, and review school and program policies.

25. What if something changes and I can no longer attend?
If you are no longer able to attend, notify Admissions at 312-503-2811 or healthcomm@northwestern.edu.
If extreme or extenuating circumstances exist, you may submit a request to defer your enrollment for up to one year from the quarter stipulated in your initial letter of admission. Deferral requests will be approved at the discretion of the program director. Submission of the non-refundable tuition deposit is required to hold a deferred spot. Because attendance requires preparatory arrangements, it is essential that you notify Admissions promptly, should you need to withdraw from the program or defer your acceptance.

26. Can I defer my enrollment?
If extreme or extenuating circumstances exist, you may submit a request to defer your enrollment for up to one year from the quarter stipulated in your initial letter of admission. Deferral requests must be in writing and include a non-refundable tuition deposit in the amount of $500 (applied to your first quarter tuition bill). Deferral requests are approved at the discretion of the program director. If approved, you will be required to hold your spot in the next cohort with another tuition deposit in the amount of $500 due March 1. This additional non-refundable tuition deposit will also be applied to your first quarter tuition bill. Submission of the non-refundable tuition deposits is required to hold a deferred spot.

Tuition, Fees, & Funding Options

27. How much is tuition?
Tuition for the 2016-2017 school year is $5,574 per class billed at the rate of 2.25 classes per quarter for fall, winter, and spring quarters and 3.25 classes for summer for a total of $55,740 for the ten courses if the degree is completed before August 31, 2017. International students must take at least three credits per quarter (at $5,574 per credit) in order to maintain their student visas. Thus total tuition for an international student taking 12 total credits would be $66,888. This includes four academic quarters of instruction, practicum and proseminar, course materials, and weekly lunches. Students provide their own laptop computers and textbooks.

28. How do I pay for the program?
Applicants are responsible for managing their own financial aid process; the program office does not facilitate funding. Although MSHC is a part-time program, students have full-time financial aid abilities. MSHC students have several options for funding, including self-funding, federal loans, employer funding, military programs, scholarship awards, and fellowship awards. See tuition + fees for more information.

29. How do I apply for a federal loan?
In order to begin the federal loan process, you must complete a FAFSA form online.

30. How do I check the status of my federal loan application?
If you have completed and submitted your FAFSA form, you may check with the Student Financial Services Office for the status of your federal loan application. Award notices will be distributed by email only after an applicant has accepted his or her offer of admission by sending in the Admission Decision/Intent to Register form and non-refundable tuition deposit.

31. What if my employer will pay for my degree?
Employer sponsored students must submit a letter on organization letterhead stating that Northwestern University should bill the company directly each term for Master of Science in Health Communication Program tuition fees. The letter must clearly state that the employer agrees to pay tuition regardless of the courses taken or the grades received. Please also specify the appropriate contact person’s name and telephone number, the address to which invoices should be sent, the period covered by the authorization, and the charges to which it applies (tuition, fees, books, parking, etc.). Send the letter to Northwestern University, Center for Communication and Health 710 North Lake Shore Dr 410 Chicago, IL 60611.

32. What if I am currently a NU undergraduate senior?
Graduating Northwestern seniors wishing to begin immediate graduate study are eligible and encouraged to apply. Please note that upon graduation, students are no longer eligible for undergraduate financial aid and upon transferring to the graduate program all eligibility for undergraduate aid is terminated. Students should contact Northwestern University’s Student Financial Services Office to determine eligibility for federal graduate loans. Additionally, recent NU graduates will be considered for merit-based grants offered by the MS in Health Communication program.