Skip to main content

Frequently Asked Questions

 Will all tracks admit students for the upcoming 2024-2025 cohort?
All tracks minus HQPS will admit students for this cycle.

Tracks admitting students for 2024-2025 cohort:

  • HBMI
  • HSOR
  • SSH

Note that HQPS will not admit new students for the upcoming admissions cycle.

 Are there any info sessions I can attend for more information?
Yes! Register for virtual sessions starting in the Summer prior to when the application portal opens!

Yes. Please see the Admissions website during the Summer (starting July and before the start of the application portal opening in early September) for any upcoming virtual info sessions led by the Director and Associate Director. All sessions are via Zoom and following a presentation, includes a Q&A to ask any questions directly to HSIP.

 Is it possible to receive an application fee waiver?
Yes, but HSIP does not handle application fee waivers directly as they must be requested directly to the Graduate School on a first-come, first serve basis.

Yes. Note that the Graduate School (TGS) handles all application fee waivers directly on a first-come, first serve basis. HSIP is not involved in any application fee waiver process. Please see the Application Fee section of the TGS website to verify if you are eligible.

 Is HSIP a full-time or part-time program?

HSIP is a full-time doctoral program only.

 Can I continue working a full-time job as a student?

No. HSIP will only allow relevant part-time work approved by your adviser, the director and The Graduate School for up to 20 hours per week. Permission to work (PTW) forms must be filled out for any new position and filled out before work begins.

 Am I able to transfer equivalent graduate courses?

No. While you can waive certain program requirements with adviser approval, you still need to take the nine (9) credit minimum of classes under The Graduate School (TGS) in order to graduate. This includes any coursework taken at Northwestern. Example: If you have already taken an introductory Biostatistic course and would like to have the requirement waived, you must consult with your adviser on taking an equivalent or higher level course in its place.

 Can I apply to HSIP and another program within Northwestern at the same time?
No. The Graduate School will only allow one application to one of the programs per admissions cycle.

No. Applicants must either choose HSIP or a different program to apply to. The Graduate School (TGS) does not allow for applicants to simultaneously apply to two different programs within Northwestern per admissions cycle.

 I missed the December 1st deadline, can I still submit for the current admissions cycle?
No, applications will only be accepted prior to the December 1: 11:59PM US-CST deadline each year.

No. Applications will only be accepted between the start of an admissions cycle during early September (after Labor Day) until December 1, 11:59PM US-CST each year.

 Is there a teaching requirement for the program?

Yes. Students are required to be a teaching assistant (TA) for at least one (1) quarter.

 Is TOEFL or IELTS required for foreign applicants?
Yes, official TOEFL/IELTS scores or a previous degree from an accredited institution where the language of instruction is English and approved by The Graduate School are required.

Yes. English Proficiency Certification (TOEFL, IELTS or a previous degree from an accredited institution where the language of instruction is English and approved by The Graduate School) are required for international applicants.

TGS requires a minimum TOEFL score of 600 on the written test, 250 on the computer-based test or 100 on the internet test for admission to the university. Applicants may also take the IELTS. HSIP cannot waive this requirement except for applicants with undergraduate or graduate degrees from accredited institutions where English is the language of instruction and the institution must be approved by TGS.

Duolingo English Test (DET) are not accepted by TGS.

 How can I verify if my previous degree was from a TOEFL/IELTS exempt institution?

The Graduate School (TGS) has a frequently updated list of accredited, English-speaking institutions that are TOEFL/IELTS exempt. Please send an inquiry to the HSIP Inbox ( to verify if your institution counts toward a TOEFL/IELTS waiver. If your institution is not approved by TGS, you must submit either an official TOEFL or IELTS score.

 Do you accept the Duolingo English Test (DET)?

No. At this time, The Graduate School does not accept DET.

 Will you accept a TOEFL/IELTS score from "X" years ago?

HSIP can only accept valid TOEFL/IELTS scores for the English Proficiency Certification requirement if you did not earn a previous degree from an accredited institution where the language of instruction is English and the institution must be approved by The Graduate School. Because English proficiency may change from when exams are taken, we cannot accept expired scores passed their validity period. Please refer to either the TOEFL or IELTS website for more information.

 Are international students eligible for funding?
Yes, all students accepted into HSIP receive funding but may be restricted from applying to certain grants that are for U.S. Citizens only.

Yes. International students are eligible for PhD funding. Students, regardless of their citizenship status, receive five (5) years of funding with the funding source changing generally during second year to a research mentor or by an externally funded grant. Note that international students may be ineligible for certain grants that are for U.S. Citizens only.

 What counts as a writing sample?

Writing samples must be research papers no longer than the 30 page maximum and only submitted via the online application portal. Any papers submitted by mail or email will not be considered.  

Examples include the following: published/unpublished research papers, co-authored research with your contribution to the work designated, manuscripts (can be in-progress), grants and previous undergraduate/graduate research projects.

Note that any co-authored writing must specify the applicant's contrbution to the work. A separate page noting the applicant's contribution may be added as the first page prior to the actual writing sample.

 If I apply to the HSIP program, can I get financial support?

Yes, all students who are admitted are offered full tuition coverage, a stipend and paid coverage in the Northwestern University student health service and insurance plan. HSIP students continue to receive both the tuition coverage and stipend as long as they progress satisfactorily through the program. The stipend for 2023-24 is $38,500.

 Is health insurance provided?

p>Yes, the cost of the Northwestern University student health insurance plan is provided for all HSIP students. More information can be found on the Student Health Insurance page.

 Does HSIP conduct applicant interviews?

Yes, HSIP interviews all applicants to the program including all dual degree applicants (MD/PhD, JD/PhD).

 Can I apply online?

Yes, The Graduate School uses a secure online application site. First, review the application instructions.

Note applications must go through the ApplyWeb system via The Graduate School. Any applications completed through SOPHAS are only for our sister Master's of Public Health (MPH) program. If you accidentally created an application in the wrong system, please email the HSIP Inbox ( and confirm that you are only applying to HSIP.

 What is the deadline for applications?

The deadline is December 1, 11:59 p.m. US-Central Standard Time for all program tracks. All required materials are due, including letters of recommendations (LORs) and English Proficiency Certification. It is the applicant's responsibility to make sure all materials are in by the deadline.

 Can I obtain a paper application?

No. Northwestern, no longer issues paper applications.

 Are there special forms for my recommendation letter writers to use?

Letters of recommendations (LORs) should be submitted via the online application portal. No additional form is needed. Recommenders are the only ones allowed to upload LORs as applicants are required to waive access to view them.

 Do I need to take the GRE exam?

The GRE is not required.

 Do you have a cutoff for GPA?

We do not eliminate applicants from consideration solely on the basis of their GPA. Students in entering classes typically have an average undergraduate GPA between 3.2 and 4.0.

 Are World Education Services (WES) evaluations required?
No, while WES evaluations are encouraged, they are not a requirement for international applicants.

No. While WES is a helpful tool (i.e. converting GPAs to 4.0 scale, comparing degree equivalencies, etc) for the Admissions Committee during the application review, it is not a requirement for international applicants.

 After acceptance into the program, does HSIP provide additional resources to assist with English proficiency?

Yes. HSIP has partnered with Northwestern University's English department to offer free, non-credit resources for graduate students that can be provided in-person or remotely.

 Do I need to know what type of research I want to do when I start?

No, courses and other experiences during your first year will give you an opportunity to explore many types of research before you have to select your dissertation project.

 Can I start in winter or spring quarters?

No, HSIP generally admits students to begin Fall Quarter each year. The only exception is for those wishing to pursue the Healthcare Quality & Patient Safety (HQPS) track as they matriculate into the Summer Quarter as required courses begin in July.

 Does HSIP offer a master's degree?

No, we only offer a PhD.

 Do you need a master’s degree in order to apply to the HSIP program?

No, although it may be helpful especially for applicants that did not have undergraduate research experience, a master's degree is not required to apply.

 Does HSIP support dual-degree programs?

Yes. If a student is interested in a dual-degree program (i.e. MD/PhDJD/PhD, approved master’s degrees within The Graduate School), you must be accepted into both programs.

 Does HSIP have a directory to see which faculty member's research matches my interests or work?

Yes, we have a faculty directory separated by each of our program tracks: Health & Biomedical Informatics TrackHealth Services & Outcomes ResearchHealthcare Quality & Patient Safety, Social Sciences & Health and Biostatistics.

To contact faculty, please check the People Directory. Note that faculty may not be able to touch base with potential students until the interview phase of admissions.

 Am I required to contact potential faculty mentors prior to applying?
No, this is not required.

No. It is not a requirement to reach out faculty. Applicants are free to contact faculty listed on our website by their desired track: Health & Biomedical Informatics TrackHealth Services & Outcomes ResearchHealthcare Quality & Patient Safety, Social Sciences & Health and Biostatistics.

To contact faculty, please check the People Directory. Note that faculty may not be able to touch base with potential students until the interview phase of admissions.