How to Get Into Southern Methodist University: Admissions Stats + Tips
- How Hard Is It to Get Into Southern Methodist University?
- Average Academic Profile of Accepted Southern Methodist University Students
- What is Southern Methodist University Looking for?
- How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into Southern Methodist University
Southern Methodist University (SMU) was founded in 1911 due to a conflict between what is now the United Methodist Church and Vanderbilt University—in 1914, the church and Vanderbilt cut ties with one another and SMU became the church’s flagship institution. Today, SMU offers a broad experience to its students—for example, SMU is well-known in some circles for its Division I athletic teams and sending numerous players to the NFL, while others know SMU for its Meadows School of the Arts renowned Dance program.
How Hard Is It to Get Into Southern Methodist University?
Gaining admission to Southern Methodist University is challenging. SMU received 14,010 applicants for its Class of 2025 and accepted just 7,379 students, giving the university a 53% overall acceptance rate. SMU received 527 applications through its Early Decision admissions process and accepted 343 applicants, equaling a 65% Early Decision acceptance rate.
Although Southern Methodist University’s acceptance rate is low, your chances are tied to your profile strength. CollegeVine can help you to better understand your chances at SMU. Our free admissions calculator uses factors such as your grades, test scores, and extracurriculars to estimate your odds of acceptance and offer tips to improve the strength of your profile.
Average Academic Profile of Accepted Southern Methodist University Students
The average high school GPA of Southern Methodist University’s Class of 2025 was 3.63 and 20.84% of the class graduated high school with a 4.0.
The middle 50% SAT score of Southern Methodist University’s Class of 2025 is 1250-1440. The Class of 2025’s middle 50% ACT score is 29-33.
Nearly half (47%) of Southern Methodist University’s Class of 2025 graduated in the top tenth of their high school class.
What is Southern Methodist University Looking for?
Southern Methodist University takes a holistic approach to the admissions process. Considerable weight is given to academic achievement, however, other factors like writing ability, extracurricular activities, and recommendations are figured into admissions decisions as well. SMU is looking for scholars, but they’re also interested in people; therefore, your talents, characteristics, and life experiences are also taken into consideration when evaluating your application.
How Southern Methodist University Evaluates Applications
According to their 2020-2021 Common Data Set, Southern Methodist University considers the following factors “very important”:
- Course rigor
- Test scores
These factors are “important”:
- Class rank
- Extracurricular activities
These are “considered”:
- First generation
- Racial/ethnic status
- Volunteer work
- Work experience
- Applicant interest
And these are “not considered”:
- Religious affiliation
- Geographic location
- State residence
How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into Southern Methodist University
1. Achieve at least a 3.63 GPA while taking the most challenging classes available
Southern Methodist University views GPA as “very important” when it makes admissions decisions; consequently, SMU students generally have graduated at, or near, the top of their high school class. The average high school GPA of SMU’s Class of 2025 is 3.63. A little less than half (47%) of SMU’s Class of 2025 graduated high school in the top tenth of their class.
Highly selective schools like SMU often use a tool known as the Academic Index to judge a candidate’s academic qualifications. Academic Index is your entire academic performance summarized by a single numerical score. If your Academic Index is below SMU’s standards, it’s likely your application will not receive serious consideration.
If you’re early in your high school career and your GPA is low, there is still time to raise it (check out our tips to increase your GPA). If you’re a junior or senior, it’s more difficult to increase your GPA, making earning higher test scores the easiest method to improve your Academic Index.
At top-tier schools like SMU, great grades are not enough to distinguish yourself academically, you’ll need to earn them in the most challenging coursework available to you. It’s common for a student accepted to SMU to have completed between five and 12 AP classes in high school.
2. Aim for a 1440 SAT and 33 ACT
Standardized test scores are optional at Southern Methodist University for the Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 application periods and, according to SMU, “no preference is given to applicants who submit or do not submit test scores.” That said, according to SMU’s 2020-2021 Common Data Set, the university considers test scores “very important” to admissions.
Not submitting a test score won’t hurt your application, but submitting a very good test score can give it a boost. The middle 50% SAT/ACT scores of SMU’s Class of 2025 are 1250-1440/29-33. Any score in the middle 50% is good, but the higher in the range you score, the better your odds of acceptance become. You can get recommendations on whether or not you should apply test-optional using our free chancing engine.
SMU superscores both the SAT and ACT. This makes taking one of the exams between two and three times a sound strategy for maximizing your score, and subsequently your odds of getting into SMU. To improve your SAT/ACT score, check out these free CollegeVine resources:
- How to Get a Perfect 1600 Score on the SAT
- How to Get a Perfect 36 Score on the ACT
- More SAT Info and Tips
- More ACT Info and Tips
3. Write engaging essays
Regardless of which application you apply to Southern Methodist University with—the university accepts the Common Application, Coalition Application, and ApplyTexas—you’ll need to respond to any required essays as well as two SMU-specific short-answer (250 words) questions.
SMU considers essays “very important” to admissions decisions and uses them to both learn more about you and assess your writing skills. Essays are a golden opportunity to separate yourself from similarly academically qualified applicants. An admission-winning essay is written in your unique voice, highlights your talents and personal qualities (both of which SMU views as “important”), and shows how your characteristics fit at SMU. For other ideas on how to ace SMU’s essays, check out our article, “How to Write the Southern Methodist University Essays 2021-2022.”
4. Get really great recommendations
Southern Methodist University deems recommendations “very important” to admissions. The university requires that you submit a counselor recommendation, and you also have the option to submit a teacher recommendation.
Because SMU values recommendations, it’s a good idea to submit one. Before asking a teacher for a recommendation, familiarize yourself with the process—the nine rules for requesting letters of recommendation from teachers provide a good guide—to know who to ask, how much time to give them, and what you need to do to support them.
5. Cultivate strong extracurriculars.
Extracurricular activities are “important” to Southern Methodist University admissions and are a great area to differentiate yourself from other applicants. Having a highly developed interest (known as a “spike”) and one or two top-tier extracurricular activities (among a portfolio of other activities) is a proven way to catch the attention of admissions officers.
What counts as a top-tier extracurricular activity? The four tiers of extracurriculars are useful for understanding how colleges value your activities outside of the classroom, but as a general rule, the more an activity demonstrates achievement, leadership, and rarity, the more impressive it is to colleges.
For example, an admissions officer might only see a single application a year from someone who attended a prestigious merit-based summer program like the Telluride Association Summer Program (Tier 1) while they’ll encounter a multitude of applications from applicants who participated in their high school’s robotics club (Tier 4).
6. Apply Early Decision
Southern Methodist University has four application processes: Early Decision (ED I), Early Decision II (ED II), Early Action (EA), and Regular Decision (RD). Applying Early I and ED II can boost your odds of acceptance at SMU—the 65% Early Decision acceptance rate to SMU’s Class of 2025 was significantly higher than its 53% overall acceptance rate.
The admissions advantage provided by ED I and ED II comes at a cost. Namely, both processes are binding and you commit to attending SMU if accepted when you apply through them. Early Action can give your application an edge—although not as significant as ED I and ED II—as it demonstrates interest (which SMU “considers”) but does not tie you to the school if you’re accepted.
How to Apply to Southern Methodist University
Early Decision I
Early Decision II
Southern Methodist University accepts the Common Application, ApplyTexas, and Coalition Application. Other requirements include:
- High school transcript
- Counselor recommendation
- Extracurricular resume
- SMU essay supplement
- Audition/Portfolio (required for programs such as Art, Film (BFA), Dance, Music, or Theatre)
Optional materials include:
- SAT/ACT scores
- Teacher recommendation
Learn more about Southern Methodist University
Interested in learning more about Southern Methodist University? Check out these other informative articles:
Want to know your chances at SMU? Calculate your chances for free right now.