The Ultimate Guide to Applying to Johns Hopkins

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Founded as the first American research university, Johns Hopkins University continues to boast a stellar reputation as a prestigious institution offering rigorous academics. Homewood, its main undergraduate campus, is located in Charles Village in Baltimore, Maryland, close to beautiful Inner Harbor.

Undergraduates may attend the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, the Whiting School of Engineering, the Peabody Conservatory, or the Carey Business School. The School of Arts and Sciences are the School of Engineering are located on the main undergraduate Homewood Campus, while Carey and Peabody are located in other areas in Baltimore.

Although Johns Hopkins (known as Hopkins or JHU) is perhaps most famous as a pre-med school, with majors such as Biology, Neuroscience, and Chemistry, popular majors also include International Studies and Writing Seminars (creative writing). The School of Engineering is home to the prestigious Biomedical Engineering program (BME), to which students must apply directly. Peabody, located on a separate campus, offers world-renowned music programs. With no required core curriculum, Hopkins students (or Blue Jays—the school mascot—as they are widely known) have the freedom to explore multiple disciplines.

Hopkins also offers two direct matriculation programs that allow students to be admitted into a combined bachelor’s/master’s degree program. Students displaying a strong interest in public health may apply for a Master’s in Global Health, and have the opportunity to complete one or two additional years (depending on the specific degree) at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Students who are interested in international studies may apply for a Master’s in International Studies and will complete either four undergraduate years at Homewood and an additional two years at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, D.C., or complete their undergraduate programs in three years and complete two additional years at SAIS.


Want to learn what Johns Hopkins University will actually cost you based on your income? And how long your application to the school should take? Here’s what every student considering Johns Hopkins University needs to know.


Deadlines and Statistics

Hopkins is a highly selective school, with an acceptance rate of 11.4% for the class of 2020.

The Peabody Conservatory and Carey Business School have separate applications and application processes from the Homewood campus schools.  Visit their websites to learn more about these applications. Applicants may apply to a Double Degree program to receive degrees from both Peabody and either the School of Arts and Science or the School or Engineering. Candidates applying to this program must apply to both schools separately, as well as complete a Double Degree supplement.

The Early Decision application deadline is November 1st, and applicants will be notified of admissions decisions on December 15th. This plan is blinding, meaning students who are admitted must withdraw their applications from other schools and attend Hopkins. However, students who apply to the BME program and are offered admission to Hopkins, but not as a BME major, may be released from their Early Decision contracts. These students have until January 15th to decide to commit to Hopkins or to withdraw their applications. Applicants who are not admitted Early Decision may be deferred, meaning the admissions committee will re-review their applications with the Regular Decision candidates. The Regular Decision application deadline is January 2nd, and applicants will receive admissions decisions by April 1st. If admitted, Regular Decision students must secure their spots with a deposit by May 2nd.

Candidates may also be placed on the waitlist. For the class of 2020, 2,752 applicants were waitlisted, and 187 received offers of admission.

Tuition costs $50,410 for the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering, $46,000 at the Carey Business School, and $44,122 for Peabody (all costs are per year). These prices do not include other expenses, such as room, board, and textbooks, but applicants and their families can use the Net Price Calculator available on the admissions site to estimate their individual costs. Hopkins offers merit scholarships to some students, as well as financial aid. Financial aid forms are due November 15th for Early Decision and February 1st for Regular Decision. The admissions website offers more information on applying for financial aid.

Applying to Johns Hopkins

Hopkins accepts the Common Application, the Universal College Application, and the Coalition Application. You must complete the Johns Hopkins supplement along with whichever application you choose to submit.

The Hopkins supplement has a questions section and writing prompt. The questions section includes five categories: General, Academics, Activities, Contacts, and Family.


JHU General

In this section, you will indicate your preferred start term (Fall only), your admission plan (Early or Regular Decision), if you are using any fee waivers, and if you are applying for financial aid. You will also indicate if either of your parents worked for Beneficial Corporation, a former bank associated with Hopkins, prior to June 1998.


JHU Academics

Here you will indicate your first and second choice majors. If you are applying for the BME program, you must indicate it as your first choice. This is the only major program that admits students directly; you may be admitted to the school without being accepted as a BME major. Other students may declare their majors by the end of their sophomore years if they matriculate at Hopkins.

You will also indicate if you are applying to either of the Direct Matriculation programs or the Double Degree program with Peabody. Note that these programs require addition application materials available via the admissions website.

You also have the opportunity to indicate if you are applying for a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, a research scholarship that provides $10,000 to selected students to design and research their own course of study over four years.

Additionally, you will indicate if you attended one of Hopkins’ pre-college programs, including the Center for Talented Youth (CTY), here.


JHU Activities

While there is an Activities section in the Common Application, this section in the Hopkins supplement concerns your extracurriculars in college. Here you will answer:

What activities at Johns Hopkins University interest you? List in order of preference.

You may choose up to five types of activities from the following list:

Academically Focused Clubs

Athletics / Intramural Sports / Outdoors

Business Oriented Clubs

Community Service

Cultural/Religious / Affinity Groups

Environmental Groups / Sustainability

Fine Arts

Greek Life (Fraternities / Sororities)

Military / ROTC

Music and Performing Arts

Political Activism

Public Speaking / Debate


Student Government

Student Publications (Newspaper / Literary Magazines / Blogs)

Study Abroad

Volunteering for Admissions / Outreach

You should include at least a couple activities from this list to demonstrate that you plan to be involved in student and campus life beyond academics, but, since the categories are fairly broad, you do not need to list five if you are not truly interested in the activities. Also keep in mind that you are not obligated to participate in these activities if you matriculate at Hopkins; your choices merely show them what kind of student you plan to be and how you anticipate spending your time.

You also have the opportunity to upload a resume here. This is helpful if you don’t have enough room to list all the activities you wish to include in the Common Application activities section or if you want to expand on individual extracurricular activities.


JHU Contacts

The section asks you whether or not you have previously applied to Hopkins. You will also have the opportunity to provide a cell phone number if you wish to receive texts or calls from the school.


JHU Family

In this section, you will answer some questions about your family and their college history.

Are you a first generation college student?

We define students as “first generation” if neither parent graduated with a bachelor’s degree from a four-year college.

If you are a first generation college student, you have a “hook,” or slight advantage, since you are applying in a different context from students whose parents attended college.

You will also answer some questions regarding your family members and their relationship to Hopkins specifically:

Are any siblings also applying for undergraduate admission to Johns Hopkins University this year?

Have any relatives ever attended Johns Hopkins University?

Are any of those relatives a parent, stepparent, legal guardian, grandparent, or sibling?

Have any relatives ever worked for Johns Hopkins University?

Are any of those relatives a parent, stepparent, legal guardian, grandparent, or sibling?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, you will be prompted to list your family members’ names, their relationship to you, and how many degrees they received from or in what context they worked at Hopkins. These legacy affiliations may also give you a slight advantage in the admission process.

Writing Supplement

JHU Writing

Hopkins has one question in its writing supplement:

Johns Hopkins University was founded in 1876 on a spirit of exploration and discovery. As a result, students can pursue a multi-dimensional undergraduate experience both in and outside of the classroom. Given the opportunities at Hopkins, please discuss your current interests (academic, extracurricular, personal passions, summer experiences, etc.) and how you will build upon them here.

Although at its core this is a “why us” prompt, it also emphasizes unique aspects of Hopkins and asks you to demonstrate that you share the values the school emphasizes. You should be sure to detail specific interests and experiences and explain how Hopkins will help you pursue and build upon them. Mention specific programs or activities available at Hopkins. This will require some research—which, of course, is a skill Hopkins stresses!

Other Application Materials

You must submit your SAT or ACT scores. Additionally, Hopkins recommends that you submit scores from two SAT subject tests to demonstrate aptitude in specific subjects, but these are not required.  You are also required to send two teacher recommendations and one guidance counselor recommendation. Your guidance counselor will submit a midyear report and transcript on your behalf.

You have the option of participating in an on-campus interview or an off-campus alumni interview in your region. Although interviews are not required as part of the application, they do give you a chance to tell the admissions committee more about yourself, demonstrate your interest in Hopkins, and learn more about the school.

You are welcome to submit other supplementary materials if they genuinely contribute to your application.

To learn more about Johns Hopkins, the Blue Jays, or Baltimore, visit the website—or better yet, see for yourself!


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Laura Berlinsky-Schine
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
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.