Washington University in St. Louis Acceptance Rates and Admissions Requirements

Do you know how to improve your profile for college applications?

See how your profile ranks among thousands of other students using CollegeVine. Calculate your chances at your dream schools and learn what areas you need to improve right now — it only takes 3 minutes and it's 100% free.

Show me what areas I need to improve

15% of applicants are accepted into Washington University in St. Louis? How can you make your admissions profile stand out?


Founded in 1853 Washington University in St. Louis, or simply Washington University or WashU, was named for George Washington. Located in St. Louis, Missouri, the university was originally considered a school for local students but has since gained prestige and attracts students from around the country and world.


WashU is home to five undergraduate schools:


  • College of Arts and Sciences
  • Olin Business School
  • College of Architecture (within the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts)
  • College of Art (also within the Sam Fox School)
  • School of Engineering and Applied Sciences


Are you interested in attending WashU? Here’s what you need to know about applying.


Applying to Washington University: A Quick Review


WashU accepts both the Common Application and Coalition Application. You will apply directly to one of the five undergraduate schools through this application. You may also state whether you are applying to a special program, such as:


  • The Beyond Boundaries Program: an interdisciplinary curriculum for self-motivated students
  • The Joint Program in Business and Computer Science:  an integrated educational experience with the Olin Business School and the School of Engineering & Applied Science


Other required materials you must submit to complete your application include:


  • Supplemental essay
  • School report and official transcript
  • Teacher evaluation
  • Counselor recommendation
  • Self-reported or official SAT or ACT scores (writing not required; WashU superscores)
  • TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test (for students whose first language is not English)
  • Portfolio (required for students applying to the College of Art, strongly encouraged for students applying to the College of Architecture)
  • Midyear Report


SAT Subject Tests are not required; if you submit them, WashU will only consider them if they “strengthen” your application.


WashU Acceptance Rate: How Difficult is it to Get In?


With an acceptance rate of 15 percent, admission to WashU is highly competitive. While the university does not have stated minimum requirements for acceptance, you must have an exemplary academic and extracurricular profile.


Other statistics of admits include:


  • 81% were in the top 10% of their high school class
  • The middle 50% range of SAT scores is 1470-1570
  • The middle 50% range of ACT Scores is 32-35


You should aim to fall near the upper end of or above the middle 50% range of SAT and ACT scores.

So, How Does One Get Into Washington University?


Each school within WashU has different criteria for admission according to the program specifications. For example, the university advises Business School applicants to have completed coursework in math through at least the pre-calculus level and highly recommends that they complete calculus. (Highly recommended generally means required except in unusual circumstances).


Meanwhile, in addition to the above math recommendations, School of Engineering & Applied Science candidates and students hoping to be on a pre-med track should complete coursework in physics and chemistry. College of Art applicants should have completed coursework relevant to their majors and demonstrated skill in art and design. They are also required to submit a portfolio showcasing their abilities.


Across the schools, students must have exemplary academic records. WashU considers this the “best indicator that we have of how well a student will do in college.” The rigor of your curriculum also important; WashU wants students who have taken the most challenging curriculum available to them.


Additionally, you should demonstrate a commitment to extracurriculars, showing that you’ve developed your passions and interests over time by holding leadership positions or showcasing other types of commitment. WashU recognizes that candidates come from diverse backgrounds and have had different experiences and considers non-traditional extracurriculars such as caring for siblings or other family members.


One way to show evidence of your commitment to your extracurricular interests is by submitting a letter from an adult who knows you in a capacity outside of school, such as a clergy member or coach. WashU only requires one teacher recommendation and welcomes additional letters that show a different side of you.


Finally, intellectual curiosity is a must for WashU students. The essay prompt for the application states:


Tell us about something that really sparks your intellectual interest and curiosity and compels you to explore more. It could be an idea, book, project, cultural activity, work of art, start-up, music, movie, research, innovation, question, or other pursuit.


This supplemental essay also enables you to be considered for a merit scholarship. Discussing something that draws your interest and provokes your curiosity in your essay and other aspects of your application will demonstrate a commitment to learning.


How to Make Your Application Stand Out


Apply to the right school.


While you may not know precisely what your major will be at the time you apply, WashU expects you to understand your strengths and abilities well enough to know broadly where you’ll best thrive. Keep in mind that you will be able to take courses outside of your division if you matriculate.


Demonstrate interest.


WashU notes that it takes demonstrated interest into account when evaluating applications. While campus visits are one way to demonstrate interest, the university also suggests that meaningful interactions over the phone or email are welcome. You might, for example, pose questions (assuming the answers aren’t immediately available on the website or in other materials).


Show evidence of your passion for learning.


As evidenced by WashU’s essay prompt, the school wants you to be passionate and curious about a topic. Make this curiosity evident in other aspects of your application. For instance, you might describe taking on an independent research project in the activities section. Ultimately, you should show that you love to learn and are eager to dig deeper.


This passion extends to civic-mindedness. WashU states:

“We encourage civic engagement. If you are disciplined by your high school for engaging in peaceful demonstrations, that disciplinary action will not have a negative impact on how your application is reviewed. If you have already been admitted, your acceptance will not be rescinded.”


What If You Get Rejected?


Being denied admission to any college, particularly one of your top choices, is disappointing. Still, it’s important to take a step back and regroup. If you get rejected from WashU, here’s what you can do:


Apply to multiple colleges.


Make sure your final list is well balanced among safety, target, and reach colleges. You’ll improve your chances of being admitted to multiple schools if you include several where you have a good or reasonable chance of acceptance.


Take a gap year.


If you had your heart set on WashU or received bad news from the other colleges on your list, one option is to take a gap year and reapply next admissions cycle. If you do decide to go this route, make sure you have a plan for how to spend the year. You might undertake a research project, volunteer, study to improve your SAT scores, or take classes non-matriculated at a local college.


Keep it in perspective.


Even if WashU was your top choice, chances are, you’ll find a way to make a college that did accept you work. College really is what you make of it, and if you put effort into adjusting to another school by joining clubs, working hard in your classes, and cultivating a social life, you’ll likely find that you can make a fulfilling college experience for yourself, even if you end up at a college that wasn’t your top choice.


To learn more about WashU, read The Ultimate Guide to Applying to Washington University in St. Louis.


Curious about your chances of acceptance to your dream school? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!

Want more college admissions tips?

We'll send you information to help you throughout the college admissions process.

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.