A typical applicant is expected to have a bachelor of science in electrical engineering, computer engineering, computer science, or a related discipline from a recognized institution. Highly qualified candidates with other academic backgrounds may also be considered.
The specific undergraduate preparation required for graduate study depends on the program and the area of specialization. An applicant who has insufficient undergraduate preparation in any particular area but is well-qualified in every other respect may be required to take certain undergraduate courses as soon as possible after enrolling at Northwestern. That student would be informed of such a requirement at the time of admission.
In each case, a successful applicant will provide a good balance between background, vision, and desiderata. Example: simply saying that you like Northwestern or you have a high esteem for the faculty in CS, aside from being flattering, is not a statement that in itself will "sell well.”Lastly, while this may not always be possible, it will be helpful if at least some parts of the recommendation letters can back up the claims made in the statement of purpose.
While a CS degree is not required, we receive over 1300 applications a year, mostly from those with CS or CS-related degrees. To be competitive, you need the equivalent of at least a minor in computer science. That means programming experience in more than one language, data structures (including trees and graphs) and discrete math.