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Everything You Need to Know: Applying for the MSLCE Program


Our program is truly unique. Specific to creative industries, Northwestern’s MS in Leadership for Creative Enterprises (MSLCE) empowers professionals with the tools and skills to advance creative work across entertainment, media and the arts.

We help you develop an entrepreneurial mindset for the business side of creative industries. To do this, you’ll learn in the classroom, of course—but you’ll also learn from your peers and their diverse professional and personal experiences.

Academic qualifications matter during the application process, but they aren’t the only factor. Let’s take a closer look at each step and what you need to know!

The MSLCE Application Process

When you sit down to start your online application, you can be confident that it’s a standard process—materials you’ll need regardless of where you apply, including an updated résumé and biographical, educational, and professional information.

If you don’t have all of this information ready at once, that’s okay. The system saves your application so you can start the process and come back later to finish it.

You’ll also need …

  1. A Statement of Purpose

The statement of purpose is a chance for you to explain what you want to do with an MSLCE degree—or why it will help you reach the next step of your career.

“Because we’re such a unique, cross-disciplinary program, it’s important to see why you’re interested in pursuing this degree,” says Kate Lawson, associate director for Northwestern’s MS in Leadership for Creative Enterprises program. “We’re not like other programs, so tell us why this one appeals to you. What do you think you can gain from the program? What can you contribute to the cohort?”

Some of the most influential statements we’ve seen walk us through a story that made the applicant realize they wanted to grow new skills or boost their expertise. “It’s not only talking about experiences,” says Lawson, “but also explaining why something did or didn’t work—and what insights you gained from it.”

  1. Academic Transcripts

At this point in your application journey, we don’t require official transcripts: Digital copies or PDFs are suitable. We’ll ask for official transcripts if you are accepted and enroll. 

  1. Contact Information for Two Recommenders

You’ll need the first and last name and email address of two people who can provide recommendations on your behalf. Recommendations, whether from the academic or professional world, are extremely important for our review process and should come from people who are familiar with you, your work and your potential.

After you enter their contact information into the system, they’ll receive an automatic email containing a link they can use to complete a form. The email is sent after the contact information is entered—even if your application hasn’t been submitted yet.

Make sure you contact recommenders before entering their contact information into the application. “Sometimes we see letters indicating that the recommender has no idea what program the student is applying to or why,” says Lawson. “Explain to them why you’re applying, tell them about the program, and give them a deadline. If needed, you can go in and send them reminders.” You can also check the status any time to see if the form has been completed.

This part of the application—waiting for recommenders—typically takes the longest. For this reason, it’s not necessary to wait on recommenders to submit your application. As long as you’ve submitted the rest of your materials, letters of recommendation can be sent after we receive your submission—and even after the application deadline in some cases.

The Interview Process

Once you’ve submitted your application and supporting materials, Northwestern’s MS in Leadership for Creative Enterprises team reviews your application to determine whether or not to pursue your application. If we choose to do so, we’ll invite you to meet with us via an in-person or Skype interview.

“As we review applications, we read through each statement of purpose to assess your background, what appeals to you, your career goals, and how you think you’ll fit within the program,” explains Lawson. “During the interview, we talk more about your experiences, what kind of student you’ll be, and what you can bring to the program.”

Usually within two weeks of the interview, an admissions decision is made and applicants receive news either way via email.

A Final Note About Funding

If graduate school is in your future, it’s never too early to start researching fellowship and/or scholarship possibilities.

“If you’re hoping to go to grad school next fall, for example, those deadlines are happening now,” says Lawson. “A great place to start is Northwestern’s Office of Fellowships. They have links to national databases that can match your background with scholarship and fellowship opportunities.”

Questions about our application process? We’re happy to help!

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