How to Get Into Notre Dame: Admissions Stats + Tips

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What’s Covered:

 

Graduating alumni like Nicholas Sparks, Kevin Ford, Condoleezza Rice, Regis Philbin, and Catherine Hicks, the University of Notre Dame is a top institution. Founded on Catholic principles, the university has many claims to fame. On the academic side, Notre Dame offers programs in a wide range of specialties across the School of Architecture, College of Arts and Letters, Mendoza College of Business, College of Engineering, Keough School of Global Affairs, and College of Science. Meanwhile, Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish are renowned, particularly on the football field. 

 

So, what does it take to get into Notre Dame?

 

How Hard Is It to Get Into Notre Dame?

 

For the class of 2024, 21,253 students applied, and 4,035 were admitted, for an acceptance rate of 18.9%.

 

The Restrictive Early Action (REA) acceptance rate was slightly higher at 21%.

 

While Notre Dame’s acceptance rate is low, your chances of admissions could be higher or lower, depending on your profile. In order to understand your odds, try our free admissions calculator, which will use your grades, test scores, extracurriculars, and more to estimate your likelihood of admission to Notre Dame. You’ll also receive tips on how to improve your profile.

 

Average Academic Profile of Accepted Notre Dame Students

 

SAT/ACT

 

In light of the pandemic, Notre Dame is currently test-optional. Last year, 42% of students submitted the SAT, and 58% submitted the ACT. The middle 50% SAT range for the freshman class was 1400-1550, and the ACT range was 32-35.

 

Class Rank

 

Of those who submitted class rank, 90% were in the top 10% of their high school class, and 98% were in the top 25%.

 

What is Notre Dame Looking for?

 

According to Notre Dame, the adcom looks at the following factors:

 

  • Academic performance in high school
  • High school academic requirements
  • Standardized tests
  • Extracurricular activities (or “passions)
  • Letter(s) of evaluation
  • Essay
  • Examples of talent (if applying to the Department of Art, Department of Design, School of Architecture, or Department of Music)

 

Bear in mind that while you don’t have to be Catholic to apply to or attend Notre Dame, the university is committed to the Jesuit tradition. You should find ways of expressing values like justice, community, and advocacy through your application.

 

How Notre Dame Evaluates Applications

 

According to the 2020–2021 Common Data Set, Notre Dame considers these factors “very important” in the admissions process:

 

  • Rigor of secondary school record
  • Character/personal qualities

 

Meanwhile, these factors are “important”:

 

  • Class rank
  • Academic GPA
  • Application essay
  • Recommendations
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Talent/ability
  • First generation
  • Racial/ethnic status
  • Volunteer work

 

These factors are “considered”: 

 

  • Standardized test scores
  • Alumni/ae relation
  • Religious affiliation/commitment
  • Work experience
  • Level of applicant’s interest

 

These factors are “not considered”:

 

  • Interview
  • Geographical residence
  • State residency

 

Discover your chances at hundreds of schools

Our free chancing engine takes into account your history, background, test scores, and extracurricular activities to show you your real chances of admission—and how to improve them.

How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into Notre Dame

 

1. Achieve a high GPA while taking the most challenging classes available

 

Top schools like Notre Dame use the Academic Index, a metric combining GPA, standardized test scores, and other academic factors, to determine whether students meet a certain threshold before evaluating the qualitative components of their applications. 

 

Your GPA should be high, of course, but you should also pursue a challenging curriculum — the most challenging one available to you. That means plenty of APs and honors courses, assuming your high school offers them.

 

If your GPA is lower, and you’re earlier on in your high school career, check out our tips for increasing your GPA. If you’re a junior or senior, it will be harder to increase your GPA, so the easiest way to increase your Academic Index is to get a higher test score.

 

2. Aim for a 1550 SAT and 32 ACT

 

Anything within the middle 50% ranges is fine (1400-1550 SAT/32-35 ACT), although you’ll be more competitive if you’re closer to the upper end of these ranges. Notre Dame superscores, meaning they will only consider your highest scores per section.

 

Like most schools, Notre Dame currently has a COVID-19 test-optional policy. If it is safe to do so, we recommend taking the SAT or ACT and submitting your scores if they are at or above the 25th percentile for the university. Students can get recommendations on whether or not they should apply test-optional using our free Chancing Engine

 

To improve your SAT/ACT score, try these resources:

 

 

3. Cultivate at least one or two Tier 1-2 extracurriculars (find your “spike”)

 

“Our most competitive applicants are more than just students—they are creative intellectuals, passionate people with multiple interests,” says Notre Dame. “Above all else, they are involved—in the classroom, in the community, and in the relentless pursuit of truth.”

 

Students with strong extracurricular activities are more competitive candidates. You should aim to have 1-2 well-developed interests, around which your activities are grouped, to demonstrate your passions. This is known as a “spike.”

 

You should also aim to have at least 1-2 Tier 1 activities, the most exceptional and rare in the 4 Tiers of Extracurriculars. This might be a national, prestigious award or conducting important, high-level research. You’ll also more than likely have some Tier 3-4 activities, such as minor club leadership or participation.

 

4. Write engaging essays

 

Notre Dame does emphasize essays in the admissions process, saying, “Your essays are the most enjoyable part of the application reading process. Why? Because we learn about important decisions you’ve made, adventures you’ve survived, lessons you’ve learned, family traditions you’ve experienced, challenges you’ve faced, embarrassing moments you’ve overcome.”

 

Because Notre Dame does not offer interviews, this is one of the best ways for the adcom to get to know you. This year, the school has one required supplemental essay along with a choice among three additional topics.

 

5. Apply Restrictive Early Action

 

Notre Dame offers a Restrictive Early Action plan, which, in this context, means that you may apply to other schools under an Early Action plan but may not apply anywhere else Early Decision. This is nonbinding.

 

The REA acceptance rate is slightly higher than the overall admissions rate, so you may gain a marginal advantage by going this route. But if Notre Dame is not your first choice, you’d do better to apply to that school under an Early Decision plan, assuming they have one.

 

6. Secure strong teacher recommendations

 

Notre Dame requires one recommendation from a teacher in a core academic discipline. Be sure to ask the teacher who is “most familiar with your work ethic, classroom performance, and character.”

 

Notre Dame also recommends that you submit a counselor recommendation.

 

7. Make sure it’s the right fit

 

Notre sets itself apart from other top-tier schools in a number of ways. For one, it does consider religious affiliation and commitment. That does not mean you must be Catholic to attend, but it’s important to bear in mind that it does maintain a connection to the Catholic Church. 

 

It also considers the level of the applicant’s interest in the admissions process, so if you’re hoping to attend, make sure you demonstrate that, through visits (if possible) and other engagement. Here are some questions to ask during your visit, straight from Notre Dame, to help you out.

 

How to Apply to Notre Dame

 

Deadlines

 

Application Timeline

Deadline

Restrictive Early Action

November 1

Regular Decision

January 1

 

Application Requirements

 

  • Common Application or Coalition Application
  • Notre Dame Writing Supplement (submitted via your application)
  • Official high school transcripts or record of academic achievement in secondary school
  • A letter of evaluation from a high school teacher in a core academic subject area who knows you well
  • Counselor evaluation (recommended, not required)
  • ACT or SAT scores (test-optional for 2022 and 2023 application cycles)
  • $75 application fee

 

Learn more about Notre Dame

 

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Short Bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.

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