Notre Dame Acceptance Rate: What Does it Take to Get In?

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Only 19% of applicants are admitted. What does it take to make your admissions profile stand out?


Is gaining admission to a Catholic college high on your to-do list? Do you dream of being one of the Fighting Irish?


Located in South Bend, Notre Dame offers exceptional academics at the undergraduate, professional, and graduate level. The most popular programs include finance, accounting, and political science.


Ranked No. 18 on a list of the best national universities, Notre Dame offers a student-faculty ratio of 10:1 and an average freshman retention rate of 98 percent, suggesting that the school excels at keeping it students happy. So, it’s no surprise that thousands of students apply to Notre Dame each year.


Wondering if the University of Notre Dame is right for you? At CollegeVine, we have years of experience helping students choose from top schools and craft applications and essays that are sure to impress.Read on to learn more about this academic institution and discover what it takes to gain that much-desired acceptance letter:


Applying to Notre Dame: A Quick Review


If your college journey has you heading to South Bend, you should be aware of the essential dates and deadlines. Students interested in Restrictive Early Action have until November 1 to submit their completed applications. For Regular Decision, the deadline is January 1. Be sure to provide the following components if you want to be considered:


  • The Common Application or Coalition Application
  • The Notre Dame Writing Supplement
  • Official ACT or SAT scores
  • Official secondary school transcripts
  • Core subject matter teacher letter of evaluation
  • Optional school counselor evaluation
  • $75 application fee or fee waiver


One of the most important parts of the Notre Dame application is the Writing Supplement. The Writing Supplement features three parts, including one essay response to a required question and two essay responses to questions you select from the choices provided. Each answer should be approximately 150 words in length. Take your time with this part of the application, as it provides valuable information about your writing ability and character. Essay responses are particularly important because Notre Dame does not conduct applicant interviews.


Notre Dame Acceptance Rate: How Difficult is it to Get In?


Students flock to the University of Notre Dame because of the excellent academics, top-notch football program, and commitment to Catholicism. All of these perks mean that the school is highly competitive.


Successful University of Notre Dame applicants consistently demonstrate impressive achievements at the high school level. With an average GPA of 4.11, Notre Dame is considered extremely competitive. Moreover, 38 percent of incoming freshmen ranked in the top 1 percent of their high school classes. And 89 percent of freshmen were in the top 10 percent.


According to the undergraduate admissions website, the school received more than 20,000 applications in 2018 and accepted just 3,608 students. With an acceptance rate of 19%, the university is considered highly selective. Still, aspiring “Irish” shouldn’t give up on their dreams of attending Notre Dame. Along with academic achievements and test scores, the school considers an array of factors from extracurriculars to service.


Students can take steps to improve their odds of getting into Notre Dame. Many Notre Dame hopefuls opt to work with a third-party college admissions company like CollegeVine to bolster their applications. Additionally, CollegeVine can advise students on what they can do to improve their chances of being accepted.

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So, How Does One Get into Notre Dame?


Notre Dame considers an array of factors when making admissions decisions, and there’s no one formula sure to guarantee acceptance. Here are some of the most important factors that could affect your odds of getting in:


High School Academics


While Notre Dame claims not to have a minimum GPA or class rank requirement, most successful applicants have demonstrated academic excellence while still in high school. Additionally, taking rigorous coursework (including honors and AP classes) will make your application more competitive. Students hoping to be accepted into the College of Arts and Letters or the Mendoza College of Business should have completed the following coursework:


  • 4 units of English

  • 3 to 4 units of math, including  Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry

  • At least 2 units of the same foreign language
  • 2 to 4 units of science
  • 2 to 4 units of history


Test Scores


Standardized test scores play an important role in Notre Dame admissions decisions. The middle 50 percent of students earn between a 1410 and a 1540 on the SAT (or a 33 to 35 on the ACT).




Because Notre Dame is a Catholic school, it’s no surprise that volunteer work and community service rank high on the university’s wish list for potential students. Additionally, accepted students tend to excel in areas like music, art, sports, and class leadership.


How to Make Your Application Stand Out


Of course, colleges aren’t just interested in students who excel academically. According to the university website, Notre Dame is passionate about filling its roster with well-rounded students who function as leaders in their schools and communities. According to the university website, the ideal applicant is involved “in the classroom, in the community, and in the relentless pursuit of truth.”


Here are a couple ways to ensure your application stands out from the pack:


Focus on Your Essays


Because Notre Dame doesn’t hold prospective student interviews, essays are incredibly important. To make an impression on the admissions committee, use this opportunity to share a story about something personal, like making a tough decision, surviving an adventure, or overcoming something difficult or embarrassing. The goal is to convey who you are as a person, not just a student. For help in writing your Notre Dame essays, check out our post How to Write the University of Notre Dame Admission Essays 2018-2019.


Showcase You


Notre Dame is looking at those unquantifiable traits that make you you. So remember to be yourself. Help adcoms get to know the real you – your passions, interests, and the experiences that have shaped who you are. CollegeVine students take the time to dive deep into identifying what makes them stand out from others. Whether you work with CollegeVine or follow a different path, make sure you involve others in your process of self-discovery.


What If You Get Rejected?


The fact is that Notre Dame is a competitive university, and some talented students will ultimately not be invited to enroll. It’s important to remember that, while Notre Dame is a great school, it’s not the only one out there.


If you get rejected by Notre Dame, you can consider transferring into the school at a later date. According to the undergraduate admissions site, transfer decisions will be based in part on how well a student’s first-year curriculum aligns with the programs at Notre Dame. Keep in mind that in 2017, Notre Dame’s transfer rate was 26.6%, with only 235 of 884 transfers applications accepted.


At CollegeVine, we advise students who have been rejected by Notre Dame to consider some of the other incredible schools across the nation. The goal is to find a college community where you can excel both academically and personally. For help adjusting your college path after rejection, read our post Envisioning a New Future: Preparing for Life at Your Second-Choice (or Third, or Fourth) School.


A leader in college admissions counseling, we help a wide range of students locate their dream schools and take the steps necessary to gain admission. Want help making your college dreams come true? CollegeVine offers College Applications Guidance, a program where you’ll be paired with an expert admissions mentor who will help you through each step of the college applications process.


For more resources on Notre Dame or other religiously-affiliated colleges, check out these CollegeVine posts:


The Ultimate Guide to Applying to Notre Dame

A Guide to Religiously-Affiliated Colleges

How to Write the University of Notre Dame Admission Essays 2018-2019

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April Maguire
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
A graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC, April Maguire taught freshman composition while earning her degree. Over the years, she has worked as a writer, editor, tutor, and content manager. Currently, she operates a freelance writing business and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their three rowdy cats.