What Does It Really Take to Get Into Yale?

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Students applying to the Ivy League are typically among the most academically exceptional in the country, and boast many extracurricular honors and achievements to boot. The students at Yale University are no exception.  


Yale University, the long-standing rival of Ivy League powerhouse Harvard, has a long history as a haven for intellectually curious and academically gifted students. It boasts many accomplished alumni and provides world class facilities, including its renowned Yale School of Engineering and Applied Science. If you’re applying to Yale this season, don’t miss all our tips for optimizing your application and scoring that coveted acceptance letter.


Want to learn what Yale 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 Yale University needs to know.


Check out our video for a more in-depth look into applying and getting accepted into Yale!

Applying to Yale: A Quick Overview


It’s no wonder that we at CollegeVine have covered Yale admissions on our blog in the past. In fact, our Ultimate Guide to Applying to Yale covers all the nitty gritty details like school history, statistics, and costs. In this post, we’ll give a more specific breakdown of the actual application process.


Yale offers three options for applying. Applicants may apply using the Common Application, the Coalition Application, or the QuestBridge National College Match application. To learn more about the Common Application, don’t miss our post A User’s Guide to the Common App.


Students applying to Yale may do so by single-choice early action or via regular decision. The deadline for single-choice early action in November 1st, and as the name implies, if you choose to apply to Yale early action, you may not concurrently apply to other schools under the early action program. The deadline for regular decision applications is January 2nd. For more about various application deadlines and options, check out our post Early Decision versus Early Action versus Restrictive Early Action.


When applying to Yale, students must submit the following along with their completed applications:



Supplementary materials in the arts or specific academic fields are permitted, but the Yale admissions committee specifically cautions that because they give “greatest weight to the required documents, it is recommended that you focus your energy primarily on those elements of the application.” They also note that the majority of accepted students submit only the required elements.


In addition, Yale recommends but does not require scores from SAT Subject Tests and AP, IB, and AICE exams. Yale also recommends an interview when possible. These are available with Yale alumni or student interviewers off-campus, and a limited number are available on a first-come first-serve basis on-campus from mid-June to mid-August and from mid-September to mid-November. See the Interviews for First Year Applicants page for more details.


How Difficult Is It To Get Into Yale?


Yale is extremely selective in its admissions, but the opening of two brand new residential colleges in 2017 allowed it to expand undergraduate enrollment from 5,400 to 6,200, thereby allowing for slightly larger incoming classes. Still, admissions remain among the toughest in the country.


Yale received more than 35,000 applications for its class of 2022, and offered acceptance to just  over 2,200 of them for an acceptance rate of 6.3%. Of the admitted students, Yale yielded an incoming class of nearly 1,600 for a yield of over 72%.


Yale was the fifth most selective college in the country with its class of 2022. The only schools with more competitive admissions were Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, and Columbia.

So, How Does One Get Into Yale?


To get into Yale, you need to stand out academically. Over 80% of students offered a place in the class of 2022 at Yale achieved SAT scores over 1400, and 87% achieved ACT scores of 32 or higher. 95% of incoming students who attended high schools that ranked students were in the top 10% of their class.


Of course, academics alone aren’t enough to get you into Yale. You’ll also need to impress outside of the classroom. The Yale admissions committee specifically points to leadership and motivation as two guiding factors in their admissions process. In fact, they reveal that they often ask themselves “Who is likely to make the most of Yale’s resources?” and “Who will contribute most significantly to the Yale community?” when selecting applicants. Of course, these skills are near impossible to prove on your transcript or through test scores. Instead, you’ll need to use your essays, extracurriculars, and recommendations to allow them to shine.


In addition, Yale boasts a diverse group of students. 18% of the class of 2022 are first-generation college students, 48% are students of color, and 39% speak a language other than English at home or as a first language. 11% are international students.


How To Make Your Application Stand Out


Don’t Procrastinate. To get into Yale, your application will need to be as close to perfect as you can get it. This means starting early, spending plenty of time brainstorming for and working on your essays, and doing plenty of editing. There should be no typos or other errors. Get started early to optimize your shot.


Show Off Initiative. The Yale admissions committee wants to see what you do with the resources available to you. If your school doesn’t have AP classes, self-study for the exams. If you can’t attend an elite summer program on a college campus, create your own summer program through online classes or shadowing a professional. Yale wants to see evidence that you create your own opportunities for success.


Consider Early Action. Of the 1,200 students offered admissions to Yale’s class of 2022, 735 were accepted through the early action program. In facts, the acceptance rate in the early action program was 15.5%, significantly better than the 6.3% overall.


Be Authentic. It’s hard to hide from an admissions committee. Their job essentially is to see through all the rosy painted pictures and get to the root of who each applicant really is. They are so good at doing this, that it’s hard to deceive them. Instead of trying to be who you think their ideal applicant is, just be yourself. If that’s not good enough, you probably wouldn’t be happy there anyway.


What If You Get Rejected?


Welcome to the club. Yale is an extremely selective school, so the sad reality is that most applicants don’t get accepted. The best thing you can do is not take it personally and move onwards from there.


Yale does not accept admissions appeals, so don’t waste your time formulating any compelling arguments to change their mind. While Yale does accept transfer students, the transfer program is extremely competitive, even more so than regular admissions. Most years only 3% of transfer applicants are accepted, so you should not count on being able to transfer in later.


Yale does allow students to reapply as a first year student if they want to try again after a gap year, but this should not be your knee-jerk reaction after a rejection. In fact, you should only consider it if the opportunity is well-suited to you in many other ways too. To learn more about gap years, check out our post What Are the Pros of Taking a Gap Year? and What You Need To Know When Applying to Colleges After a Gap Year.


Your best bet after a rejection is to set your sights elsewhere. While this can initially be a bitter pill to swallow, it’s important to remember that ultimately it’s not where you go to college that matters, but what you do with your time there. For our advice on adjusting to life at a college that wasn’t your first choice, read our post Envisioning a New Future: Preparing for Life at Your Second-Choice (or Third, or Fourth) School.


Check out the CollegeVine’s Elite Universities Application Assistance page for more information on our targeted services for applicants to top colleges.


For more information about admissions to the Ivy League, check out these CollegeVine blogs:


Meet the Ivy League Class of 2021

The Demographics of the Ivy League

What Are the Average High School GPAs of Admitted Students at Ivy League Schools?

Which Ivy League School is Right for You?

Dealing With Ivy Day

Colleges That Are Great Beyond the Famous Eight: How Success and Achievement Exist Outside the Ivy League, Too


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Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.