Kate Sundquist 4 min read Applying to College, College Lists

What Does it Take to Get Into George Washington University?

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Located just four blocks from the White House, George Washington University boasts that it provides not only an education “in D.C., but from D.C.” Here, and at its three other campus locations, over 10,000 undergraduates choose from more than 75 different majors and 2,000 undergraduate courses.


George Washington University is particularly proud of the broad hands-on educational experiences its students receive. Through internships, study abroad programs, research opportunities, and community service programs, students gain deep real world working experience. In fact, the school offers 75 service learning courses and 70% of students participate in internships.


George Washington University is well-respected, too. It ranks 63 for national universities and 40th for political science programs, but shines most for its international business program, ranked sixth in the country. In 2019, seven GWU alumni were inaugurated into the 116th Congress. To learn more about how you can secure a spot at this high quality institution, keep reading.


Applying to George Washington University: A Quick Overview


George Washington University accepts only the Common Application. You can learn more about it in our Guide to the Common App.


Applicants can choose from four deadlines. Early Decision I applications are due by November 1. Early Decision II and Regular Decision applications are due January 5. First-year students can also apply for the spring semester, in which case applications are due October 1.  


In addition to completing the Common Application, all applicants must submit:


  • $75 application fee or fee waiver request
  • GWU writing supplement
  • Official sranscripts
  • Optional test scores
  • Two letters of recommendation/teacher evaluation
  • A portfolio (for applicants to the Corcoran School of Arts and Design only)
  • College-level coursework (if applicable)


To learn more about the application requirements, refer to the GWU Office of Undergraduate Admissions.


George Washington University Acceptance Rate: How Difficult Is It to Get In?


In 2018, George Washington University received 26,590 applications for admission from students in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and 150 countries. Of these students, just over 11,000 were ultimately admitted.


The acceptance rate at George Washington University in 2018 was 41%.


This makes George Washington University a fairly competitive school to get into. To learn more about increasing your shot at acceptance, keep reading. 

So, How Does One Get Into George Washington University?


George Washington University evaluates applicants based on a number of different factors. According to their admissions website, the evaluation process includes “the applicant’s academic background, the rigor of the high school program and grades earned.” The admissions committee also considers essays, letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities and test scores, if they are submitted.


The two most important factors in admissions decisions at George Washington University are the rigor of your secondary school classes, and your GPA. This means that essentially, your best bet at getting in is taking difficult classes and doing well in them during high school.


Beyond this, GWU also considers essays, recommendations, extracurriculars, and volunteer work as important factors. Interestingly enough, they do not consider your class rank at all.


It’s worth noting here that GWU is a test-optional school. That means that while test scores will be considered if you submit them, your application will be considered in its entirety even if you choose not to submit them. You should keep in mind when making this decision that typically the test scores of admitted students are fairly strong, when they choose to submit them. The mid-50th percentile of admitted students who submitted SAT scores achieved composites of 1280-1440.


How to Make Your Application Stand Out


Apply Early Decision. Although the overall acceptance rate at George Washington University is 41%, early decision applicants were admitted at a higher rate than those who applied regular decision. In fact, early decision applicants were admitted at a rate of 54% and account for 48% of the incoming class. If you know you want to attend GWU, apply early and increase your chances.


Submit Test Scores If You Did Well. George Washington University is a test-optional school, but the reality is that most applicants do submit test scores. In 2018, 88% of incoming freshman had submitted SAT or ACT scores along with their applications. They tended to fare pretty well on these tests, too. 25% scored at or over 1440 on the SAT and 25% scored 32 or higher on the ACT. If you have strong test scores, don’t hesitate to submit them with your application.


Withhold Test Scores If They Place You in the Bottom 25%. If, on the other hand, your test scores land you in the bottom 25% of admitted students, it might be best to withhold them. This means an SAT score of below 1280 or an ACT score below 29. Instead, highlight your academic achievements on your application to showcase your ability to achieve.


What If You Get Rejected?


Unfortunately, not everyone can get into George Washington University and ultimately the majority of applicants are rejected.


The bad news is that, while they do have a waitlist, the odds of getting in off the waitlist at GWU are very, very slim. It can’t hurt to stay on it, but you should know that it probably won’t amount to anything. In 2018, 5,600 students were offered a place on the waitlist, but only 27 were eventually offered a spot.


In better news, GWU does accept transfer students. In fact, at 53%, the acceptance rate for transfer students is higher than the overall acceptance rate. This means you could have a shot at getting in in the future if you apply yourself and do well elsewhere.


That being said, your first priority should be to find another great school to attend where you’re likely to do well and succeed. With thousands of options, there is a good fit out there for everyone. For help adjusting to a different dream school, read our post, Envisioning a New Future: Preparing for Life at Your Second-Choice (or Third, or Fourth) School.


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!

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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.