Northeastern University vs Purdue University – are you deciding between the two universities? Here, we look at all the key differences to help you decide.

First, the locations are very different. Purdue University is in Lafayette, Indiana, and Northeastern University is in Boston, Massachusetts. So, the college experience is very different. Northeastern is in the heart of a big city – lots to see and do. Purdue is more of a traditional college experience in a tight-knit community that’s in a smaller setting. So the decision on Northeastern vs Purdue could be about a bigger city versus a smaller one if that’s important to you.

Also, Northeastern has global campuses – apart from the main campus in Boston – in the USA, the UK, and Canada (13 overall). On the other hand, Purdue has nine campuses, most of them in Indiana, with the one in West Lafayette being the main one. However, both are top, globally recognized universities, with differences in academics, location, campus, tuition fees, and student life, to name a few.

Let’s have a deeper look.


Northeastern University vs. Purdue University: A Quick Glance


Northeastern University (not to be confused with Northwestern) and Purdue University are well-known and highly-ranked institutions but have key differences.

Northeastern University – founded by the Boston Young Men’s Christian Association in 1989, is a private research university. Its urban setting offers a dynamic college experience in a big city. Its acceptance rate is about 7%, and it’s ranked 53rd among National Universities (as of 2024, US News). It’s known for its co-op programs.
Also, Northeastern has a wider range of programs, and it is known particularly for its business school and liberal arts programs.

Purdue University – founded by John Purdue in 1869, is a land-grant public university with an acceptance rate of about 53%. It’s known for its excellence in STEM fields and is ranked among the top public universities in the United States. It has a large, beautiful campus that provides a traditional American college experience with a strong sense of community and school spirit. With a higher acceptance rate than Northeastern, Purdue attracts a diverse range of students from all over the world.

Both universities provide a vibrant student life but cater to different student preferences regarding their academic focus and campus vibe.

Here’s a quick look at the differences between the two

A Quick Glance
Northeastern University Purdue University
Established In 1989 1869
Ownership Private research university Land-grant Public University
Academics
Northeastern University Purdue University
US News & Education Rankings 53rd National University 43rd National University
TIMES Global Ranking 201-250 86
Bachelor’s Degree Majors 290+ 200+
Number of Master’s Degree 150+ 160+
Popular Area of Studies
  • Engineering
  • Social Sciences
  • Architecture
  • Business
  • Psychology
  • Information Technology
  • Computer Science
  • Law
  • Nursing
  • Mathematics
  • Biological Sciences
  • STEM Courses
  • Communications
  • Education
  • Business
  • Acoustics
  • Computer Science
  • Data Science
  • Human Services
  • Aeronautics & Astronomy
Fees & Scholarships
Avg Tuition Fee for  BA/ BS per year
  • Boston & Oakland – $86,821
  • NU in Program – $40,741
  • Global Scholars & London Scholars – $81,472
$31,104
Avg Tuition Fee for  MA/ MS  per year       $45,000 – $50,000 $29,104
Avg Financial Aid $3,792 (first-year student) $14,619
Eligibility Criteria
Avg GPA 4.04 3.74
SAT/ ACT Requirement 1390 (SAT), 34 (ACT) 1450 (SAT), 34 (ACT)
Acceptance Rate 7% 53%
Student Population
Undergraduates in 2023 16,302 39,170
Graduates in 2023 4754 12,136
Avg Salary Package Depends on the course Depends on the course

Having covered the differences, here are some similarities.

High Rankings:

Both universities are ranked high for their quality of education. Nationally, Purdue University takes the 43rd position, followed by Northeastern University at the 53rd position, as per US News.

Emphasis on Cultural Events and Extracurriculars:

Along with academics, both institutions understand the importance of extracurricular and student clubs. Purdue University has a large Fraternity, Sorority and Cooperative community with a strong influence of Greek culture. Northeastern focuses on global experiences like studying abroad and community service. Both universities have lots of clubs and societies by interest.

Internships & Co/ops:

Both universities have co-op and internship programs where students learn from working in the real world. However, Northeastern’s co-op program is well regarded and is ranked 1st, followed by Purdue University, which comes in the 9th position (US News).

Northeastern University vs. Purdue University: Academics


Academically, the two universities have significant differences in their educational approach and strengths. With its strong focus on co-op programs, Northeastern’s academic structure is centred around experiential learning, allowing students to gain professional experiences worldwide. This also leads to higher placement rates – both because of the co-op and opportunities in Boston. This hands-on approach works particularly well in programs such as Business Administration, Computer Science, and Health Sciences.

Purdue, known for its STEM courses, has more rigorous academic coursework and cutting-edge research. Its programs in Mechanical Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, and Computer Science are among the best in the country. Its main campus is in Lafayette, making the college experience more traditional.

Here’s a look at the schools and constituent colleges of both universities.

Northeastern University Purdue University
Schools & Colleges
  • Bouvé College of Health Sciences
  • College of Arts, Media and Design
  • College of Engineering
  • College of Professional Studies
  • College of Science
  • College of Social Sciences and Humanities
  • Khoury College of Computer Sciences
  • D’Amore-McKim School of Business
  • Mills College at Northeastern
  • School of Law
  • College of Agriculture
  • Daniels School of Business
  • College of Engineering
  • College of Education
  • Exploratory Studies
  • College of Health and Human Sciences
  • College of Liberal Arts
  • College of Pharmacy
  • Purdue Polytechnic Institute
  • College of Science
  • College of Veterinary Medicine
  • John Martinson Honors College
  • The Graduate School

Purdue University offers 200+ (bachelor) and 160+ (master) degrees in various fields like arts, technology, etc. Similarly, Northeastern University offers 290+ (bachelor) and 150+ (master) degrees in social sciences, communication, computer sciences, design, and many more.

Experiential learning:

Northeastern University’s co-op programs have been ranked #1 by the US News Rankings due to their focus on experiential learning. Purdue University follows after and takes the #9 position due to its emphasis on internships and practical hands-on training.

Engagement:

The universities have various global engagement opportunities like study abroad programs, research collaborations, and cultural exchanges.

Acceptance rate:

Purdue University has a higher acceptance rate of 53%, which means out of every 100 applicants – 50 are selected. On the contrary, Northeastern University has a low acceptance rate of about 7%.

Students Enrollment (Times Ranking):

Purdue University
52,211 were the total number of students enrolled in Fall 2023. According to the university website, 75% of the total were studying undergraduate programs, and 23% were graduate students. Professional students were just 2% of the total enrollment.
International Student Percentage- 17%
FTE Students- 42,663
The female to male ratio – 44:56
No. of students per staff – 18.3

Northeastern University:

The total students, including undergraduates and graduates, account for over 24,000 + students.

International Student Percentage- 32%
FTE Students- 22,269
The ratio of female to male students – 49:51
No. of students per staff – 14.1

Here’s a look at the rankings of Purdue and Northeastern.

Rankings
Northeastern University Purdue University
US Rankings (53rd National Universities) US Rankings (43rd National University)
TIMES Ranking  (Global: 201-250) TIMES Ranking  (Global: 86)
QS Rankings ( Global: 375) QS Rankings (Global: 99)

What are the top courses to study at Northeastern University?


Engineering

The College of Engineering, Northeastern, follows an experiential learning approach and has interdisciplinary courses. The courses are internationally recognized, with an overall ranking of 32 by US News.
This school is a perfect blend of excellent academics and research facilities to prepare graduates for challenges in the engineering domain. They have different degrees ranging from electrical, computer, mechanical, and bioengineering – to name a few.

Northeastern University is ranked 1st for its emphasis on practical training and co-ops/ internship options (US News).

Some undergraduate programs

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering & Biochemistry
  • Chemical Engineering & Computer Science
  • Civil Engineering
  • Computer Engineering

Some graduate programs

  • Advanced and Intelligent Manufacturing
  • Bridge Programs for non-STEM Backgrounds
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Bioengineering
  • Data Analytics Engineering
  • Cyber-Physical Systems

Business, Management, Marketing & Related Support Services

Business and management courses from the D’Amore-McKim School of Business are internationally recognized, with an overall ranking of 82 by US News Rankings. Over the years, students have developed strong connections with new startups and big companies in the business domain. After graduation, the student will have a strong CV and skills.

One of the reasons why a business or management-related course is preferred among international students is their distinguishing factor, i.e. co-op programs. They strongly focus on co-op and industry internships. Post-completion of your degree, graduates will have a strong sense of competition and challenges in the business world.

Undergraduate programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in International Business
  • Bachelor of Science (combined majors only)

Graduate programs

  • MS in Accounting
  • MS in Business Analytics
  • MS in Finance
  • MS in International Management
  • PlusOne MS in Accounting
  • PlusOne MS in Finance
  • PlusOne MS in International Management

Some Graduate Certificates

  • Accounting and Financial Decision Making
  • Brand Management
  • Business Administration
  • Business Analytics
  • Corporate Finance
  • Entrepreneurship

Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services

Northeastern University secured the 92nd position for having the Best Computer Courses in the world, as per US News Rankings. Customizable programs, innovation in education, industry connections, and placement records influence the rankings.

Khoury College of Computer Science has courses for students of every level, from undergraduates to PhDs.  Also, each course has a capstone project of twenty hours per week, where students will extensively research a topic with industry people.

Core undergraduate programs

  • BS/BA in Computer Science
  • BS in Cybersecurity
  • BS in Data Science

Some graduate programs

  • Align MS in Computer Science
  • Align MS in Cybersecurity
  • Align MS in Data Science
  • MS in Data Science
  • MS in Computer Science
  • MS in Cybersecurity
  • MS in Artificial Intelligence
  • MS in the Internet of Things

Note: Apart from the courses mentioned above, Communications and Journalism, Marketing, Architecture, and Social Sciences are at the top. Please visit the university’s official website for more information on courses.

What are the top courses to study at Purdue University?


Engineering

Purdue University is at 4th position as the Best Engineering School for its bachelor, graduate, and pre-professional engineering programs, as per US News Rankings. The consistently high rankings show its academic excellence, high-quality education, research, and placement records.

Also, Purdue University is at the 9th place for practical training and internship options (US Rankings). According to the school’s website, around 80% of students get real-time exposure via internships and co-ops with good salaries at reputed companies.

They also have a variety of engineering disciplines ranging from aerospace, electrical, civil, computer engineering, etc., giving students the flexibility to choose specializations as per their interests. Purdue students gain the technical skills needed in this constantly changing international economy.

Some popular undergraduate programs

  • First-Year Engineering
  • Aeronautics and Astronautics
  • Agricultural & Biological Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Construction Engineering Management

Some popular graduate programs

  • Aeronautics and Astronautics
  • Agricultural & Biological Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Electrical & Computer Engineering
  • Engineering Education
  • Environmental & Ecological Engineering
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Materials Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Nuclear Engineering

Psychology

The College of Health & Human Sciences at Purdue University has highly qualified faculty and employability rates. The institution has well-equipped technological facilities and laboratories. Globally, psychology courses are highly reputed, with an overall ranking of 67.

The focus on experiential learning, hands-on training, and study abroad programs enables graduates to be career-ready, gaining skills and qualifications needed in psychology. The psychology graduates are nationally recognized.
According to the TIMES Ranking, the institution is ranked #39 for having the most employable graduates in the US.
The Department of Psychological Sciences deeply focuses on research and guides the students on diverse research topics.

Undergraduate programs

  • Psychological Sciences Major
  • Brain and Behavioural Sciences Major

Graduate programs

  • Clinical Psychological Sciences
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Industrial-Organizational Psychology
  • Mathematical and Computational Psychology
  • Neuroscience and Behavior
  • Social Psychology

Graduate Certificate Programs

  • Psychological Statistics

Communications

The Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University focuses on excellent academics and practical-based learning. Globally, communication courses are recognized, with an overall ranking of 51-100.

The courses have great research opportunities, an emphasis on experiential learning, customizable degrees, exchange opportunities and internships, making it a preference for national and international students.
Purdue also has a high placement rate.

Undergraduate programs

  • Public Relations and Strategic Communication ( most popular concentration)
  • Media and Mass Communication
  • Business Communication
  • Communication Science and Technology
  • Health Communication
  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Political and Civic Communication
  • General Communication

Graduate programs

  • Public Relations and Strategic Communication ( most popular concentration)
  • Health and Risk Communication
  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Media, Technology & Society
  • Organizational Communication
  • Public Relations

Note: Apart from the courses mentioned above – Aviation, Psychology, Health Professionals, and social sciences are at the top. Please visit the university’s official website for more information on courses.

Northeastern University vs Purdue University: Fees & Scholarships


As a prospective student, you might be curious about tuition and other additional fees. Your budget plan should be planned much in advance, with a lot of research. Costs are one of the major factors you should consider before choosing between the universities.

Northeastern University

Undergraduate (Billed Expenses & Additional Costs)

  • Full-Time Program – $31,000 (Cost Per Term)
  • Per Summer I or Summer II Session – $15,500 (Cost Per Term)
  • NU in Fall Semester Programs – $30,650 (Cost Per Term)
  • Global Scholars Program – $31, 196 (Cost Per Term)
  • London Scholars Program – $31, 196 (Cost Per Term)
  • NU Immerse Program – $23,755 (Cost Per Term)
  • Foundation Year – $19,780 (Cost Per Term)

You can know about the graduate tuition fees, here

Freshmen Scholarships

  • Northeastern Honors Program
  • Phi Theta Kappa Scholarships (Transfer Students Only)
  • Ujima Global Leaders Program

Boston Scholarships

  • The Northeastern Boston Valedictorian Scholarship
  • The Boston Housing Authority Scholarship
  • Northeastern Neighborhood Scholarship
  • Balfour Academy Scholarship

Note* At Northeastern University, you get access to assistantships, loans, and work apart from scholarships if you are a graduate student within the College of Professional Studies.

Purdue University

Undergraduate (Billed Expenses & Additional Costs)

Billed Expenses International Student
Tuition Fees $31,104
Housing/ Food $10,030
Study Materials $1,010
Transportation $2,280
Miscellaneous $1,530

To know about graduate tuition fees, please click on this link – Regular Fall/Spring – Flat Rate (8+ credit hours) – $310.00

Scholarships

The international tuition fee is costly for many students, depending on the university, locality, and area. Both the universities have scholarships, and other programs to support the students financially.

Freshmen Scholarships

  • Financial-Need-Based-University-Wide Scholarships
  • University-Wide Merit Scholarships
  • College-Based Scholarships

New Scholarship – Lilly Scholars at Purdue

In the table below, the average total costs and scholarships are mentioned

Estimated Expenses & Scholarship
Purdue University Northeastern University
  • Tuition Fees: $31,104
  • Housing/Foods: $10,030
  • Study Material: $1,010
  • Transportation: $2,280
  • Miscellaneous: $1,530Total $45,954
Fees depend on the enrollment program

  • Boston & Oakland(Total: $86,821)
  • The NU in Program (Total: $40,741)
  • Global Scholars & London Scholars
    (Total: $81, 472)
Scholarships

  • Gates-Cambridge Scholarship
  • Schwarzman Scholars Program
  • Fellowships for International Students
Scholarships

  • Freshman Scholarships
  • Boston Scholarships

Northeastern University vs Purdue University: Student Life and Post-Graduation Opportunities


We have already differentiated both universities based on academics and fees & scholarships. Let us further distinguish between the two.

Campus

Northeastern University

Northeastern University has been known for its innovative approach, unconventional teaching methods, and experience-based learning. Every campus offers a diverse combination of courses in alignment with the region.

The institution has 13 campuses, where students will find several opportunities for industry partnerships and gain knowledge no matter which campus he/she chooses.

Northeastern University: Boston Campus, Massachusetts

Boston, in the USA, is one of the most vibrant cities in America, and home to NEU, located in the Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood. The campus easily provides access to cultural attractions, diverse communities, industries, and famous attractions. It is one of the main campuses offering personal and professional growth opportunities via many opportunities.

Apart from Boston, these two are also great campuses

  • London, England
  • Oakland, California

Campus (Regional based programs)

  • Arlington, Virginia
  • Burlington, Massachusetts
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Miami, Florida
  • Nahant, Massachusetts
  • Portland, Maine
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Silicon Valley, California
  • Toronto, Canada
  • Vancouver, Canada

Purdue University

The institution is home to a diverse group, including transfer students who want to upskill themselves.

Purdue University West Lafayette: Spread across 2,468 acres, the Indiana campus provides a supportive academic environment, is equipped with modern technology, and prioritizes cultural exchanges. These are campuses located worldwide, out of those, the main one is West Lafayette.

According to TIMES Ranking and The Wall Street Journal, it is in the top five public universities in the USA, with the fourth-highest overseas student enrollment. It offers 200 plus bachelor’s degrees, 80 graduate, and many professional degrees.

Other campuses 

  • Purdue University in Indianapolis
  • Purdue University Online
  • Purdue Global
  • Purdue Fort Wayne
  • Purdue University Northwest
  • Purdue Polytechnic Institute Statewide Locations

Safety & Security

Both universities do not compromise on safety and security as it is a priority for them. Northeastern University has a Police Department that ensures safety and peace in and around the campus. On the other hand, Purdue University has emergency signals and crime prevention programs to maintain the decorum.

Internships/ Co-ops

Both universities, known for experiential learning, have been ranked at the top for their internship/co-op programs by the US News. Purdue University focuses on strong industry connections via traditional placements. On the contrary, Northeastern University focuses on a co-op approach which enables students to work and study together.

Work opportunities & Graduate employability

In this section, we will dig deeper into work opportunities and employability.
According to the Purdue graduates, 80% of them were able to find their dream jobs within six months of graduation. Due to the strong reputation and connections the institute has, graduates find it easy to excel in their fields.

For graduate employability, Purdue University has secured the 39th position with a score of 79.8% (QS Rankings 2022). Northeastern University is behind, holding an international rank of 201-250 (QS Rankings 2022). Please visit the  University to learn more about the career opportunities.

Summary - to help you decide


It is a task to define a better university amongst the two – they are equally good in their unique ways. For example, Purdue University is better for graduate employability, and Northeastern University is better for co-op programs.

Purdue University is better if you are looking for

  • A traditional college experience
  • Courses in STEM engineering, psychology, and communication – these are its strengths
  • A strong community or student groups to interact with
  • A vibrant multicultural experience with a primarily Greek influence
  • Better admission chances (as its acceptance rate is high)
  • Better sports facilities

Northeastern University is better if you are looking for

  • Better internships and co-op programs
  • Student life in a bigger city (students seem to have a better social life here)
  • A higher starting salary (except for MBA & MSc – Purdue seems higher for this)
  • A lower tuition fee (it is slightly lesser)
  • Computer science programs
  • Better community service and exchange programs (many in global locations)
Northeastern University Purdue University
Academics Known for Business Administration, Computer Science, Liberal Arts and Health Sciences Known for STEM Courses, Aviation, and Psychology
Internship/Work Opportunities Strong Cooperative Education Program Good Internship Opportunities: Real-Time Projects
Campus Life Urban Vibrant Campus Life Traditional American College
Social Life University Integrated Approach Stronger Sense of Community

Final Decision

Consider Northeastern University – if you’re looking for more experiential academics with a vibrant experience in one of the most lively cities in America. It is the ideal university to gain exposure via co-op programs.

On the other hand, if you want to engage in reputed STEM courses, have traditional college experience, and value extensive research opportunities –  Purdue University is a better option.

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