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Timothy Peck
7 How to Get Into

How to Get Into Lehigh University: Admissions Stats + Tips

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What’s Covered:


Lehigh University’s location in the city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania provides students with the culture and amenities of a city, but the feel of a small town. Lehigh still nods to the surrounding city’s past—classes still don’t start on the hour, but ten minutes after the hour, which, in the past, allowed students finishing a shift at the mill to get to class on time. 


Today, the school has a reputation for preparing its students for professional success; the website Payscale ranks Lehigh 42 out of almost 2,000 colleges for return on investment. With all this university has to offer to students, you might be wondering what it takes to get in. Keep reading to find out!


How Hard Is It to Get Into Lehigh University?


Gaining admissions to Lehigh is hard. The university saw a 14% increase in applications for its Class of 2025 and accepted just 6,381 applicants from a pool of 14,106 candidates—a 45% acceptance rate.  


Lehigh is yet to publish its early decision acceptance (ED) rate for the Class of 2025. However, 1,121 applicants applied to its class of 2024 ED, of which 815 were accepted—an early decision acceptance rate of 72%.

Lehigh University has a low acceptance rate, but your personal chances of acceptance vary depending on the strength of your profile. CollegeVine’s free admissions calculator uses factors like your GPA, test scores, and extracurriculars to help you better understand your odds of acceptance and provide insight into how to improve your profile. 


Average Academic Profile of Accepted Lehigh University Students




Lehigh doesn’t publish the average high school GPA of their incoming classes, but know the higher your GPA, the better your odds of admissions. 




The middle 50% SAT score of Lehigh’s Class of 2024 is 1280-1420, and the middle 50% ACT score is 29-34.


Due to the challenges COVID-19 has presented to standardized tests, Lehigh instituted a test-optional admissions policy for the 2021-2022 admissions cycle and will continue it in both the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 cycles. About 60% of those applying to the Class of 2025 through regular admissions submitted test scores.


Class Rank


66% of Lehigh’s Class of 2024 graduated high school in the top tenth of their class. 89% graduated in the top quarter


What is Lehigh University Looking for?


Lehigh University holistically reviews applicants and takes into consideration a variety of factors when making admission decisions—class rank, grades, curriculum rigor, recommendations, extracurriculars, work experience, and demonstrated interest. Lehigh hopes to fill their classes with a unique group of students from a variety of diverse backgrounds, with different interests, experiences, and talents who will thrive and contribute to its campus. 


Lehigh places a lot of weight on academic excellence in all of its students and has created a supportive environment set up to ensure academically talented students succeed—such as free non-remedial tutoring. This is one reason why Lehigh’s freshman retention rate has hovered well above 90% for more than a decade


How Lehigh University Evaluates Applications


According to their 2020-2021 Common Data Set, Lehigh University considers the following factors “very important”:


  • Course rigor
  • Class rank
  • GPA
  • Recommendation letters
  • Extracurriculars
  • Character


These factors are “important”:


  • Test scores
  • Essay
  • Talent
  • First generation 
  • Racial/ethnic status 
  • Volunteer work
  • Applicant interest 


These are “considered”:


  • Geographical location
  • Interview
  • Legacy
  • Work experience 


And these are “not considered”:


  • Religious affiliation
  • State residence 


Discover your chances at hundreds of schools

Our free chancing engine takes into account your history, background, test scores, and extracurricular activities to show you your real chances of admission—and how to improve them.

How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into Lehigh University 


1. Achieve the best possible GPA while taking the most challenging classes available.


Lehigh values academics and views GPA, class rank, and course rigor all as “very important” to admissions. 66% of Lehigh’s Class of 2024 graduated in the top tenth of their high school class and you’ll need a transcript with all, or mostly all, As in the most challenging coursework available for serious consideration. Applicants at top 50 schools like Lehigh commonly have completed between five and eight AP classes, but it’s not unheard to have taken more.


Selective schools like Lehigh use a tool known as the Academic Index to make admissions decisions. The Academic Index is a consolidation of your academic performance into a single number. If that number doesn’t meet a school’s standards, you risk getting labeled as academically unqualified and not having your application given a thorough review. 


If your GPA seems like it will underwhelm Lehigh’s admissions officers and you’re early in your high school career, there is still time to raise it. Check out our tips for increasing your GPA. If you’re a junior or senior, raising your GPA is more challenging and it’s easier to increase your Academic Index by earning higher test scores.


2. Cultivate one or two Tier 1-2 extracurriculars (find your “spike”).


Extracurricular activities are a “very important” aspect of Lehigh admissions. Lehigh places an emphasis on interdisciplinary programs and extracurricular activities provide an outlet to present yourself as well-rounded, but specialized. Candidates with strong extracurricular profiles will feature a highly developed interest, known as a “spike,” along with one or two impressive extracurricular activities.


Just how impressive are your activities outside of the classroom? The four tiers of extracurriculars provide a guideline for understanding how colleges view your extracurricular activities. 


  • Tier 1 activities are the most impressive and influential extracurriculars. They’re rare and demonstrate exceptional achievement or leadership. Examples of Tier 1 activities include winning a prestigious national competition or attending a prominent merit-based summer program. 


  • Tier 2 activities also demonstrate great accomplishment or leadership but are more commonly seen by admissions officers. These activities include winning a state-level competition or serving as student body president. 


  • Tier 3 activities are less influential in admissions than those of the higher tiers—they’re better at highlighting your interests outside of the classroom than winning over admissions officers. Tier 3 activities include holding a minor leadership role in a well-known club or captaining a varsity sports team. 


  • Tier 4 activities are the most common and hold the least weight with admissions officers. Examples of Tier 4 activities include participating in a club and playing a sport or instrument. 


3. Request strong letters of recommendation. 

Letters of recommendation are “very important” to Lehigh’s admissions process. Lehigh requires two letters of recommendation for admission: one letter from your school counselor, principal, or headmaster and another letter from a teacher. Lehigh also considers character “very important,” and your recommendation should address this. According to Lehigh:


In addition to academic qualifications, recommendations should address the candidate’s personal qualifications such as character, intellectual motivation, participation in school activities, and established habits of industry and dependability


Remember that teachers are often asked to write multiple letters of recommendation on top of their already busy schedule. This makes having the proper approach when requesting a letter of recommendation vital—you need to allow your teacher plenty of time, provide them with supporting information, and have a clear idea of what type of letter you’ll get. The nine rules for requesting letters of recommendation from teachers is a useful outline for ensuring an attention-grabbing recommendation. 

4. Aim for a 1420 SAT and 33 ACT. 


Test scores are “important” to Lehigh admissions. The middle 50% ranges of students accepted into Lehigh Class of 2024 are 1280-1420 SAT and 29-33 ACT. Any score in the middle 50% range is good, but the higher in the range you score, the better your odds of admission. 


Lehigh superscores, that is they accept your highest SAT or ACT section scores, across test dates. Because of this, applicants should aim to take the SAT or ACT between two and three times to maximize their score. To improve your SAT/ACT score, check out these free CollegeVine resources:



Lehigh will practice test-optional admissions for both the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 and cycles. That being said, CollegeVine recommends taking the SAT/ACT if you can do so safely and submitting your score if it is at, or above, the 25th percentile (1280 SAT and 29 ACT) of accepted Lehigh students. Applicants who submit test scores are accepted at higher rates than those who do not.


5. Write engaging essays.


Distinguishing yourself with academics is challenging at Lehigh, as almost every applicant to Lehigh has an outstanding academic profile. Essays are “important” to Lehigh admissions and an excellent area to set yourself apart from the competition. Lehigh requires students to submit three short-answer essays with their application. 


According to Lehigh: Authenticity is the key to submitting an application that stands out. Focus less on fitting in a box and more on sharing who you are. With that in mind, a compelling essay is written in your voice and shows the unique benefits you offer the school and how it will profit from having you on campus. 


For Lehigh-specific essay advice, check out our article, “How to Write the Lehigh University Essays 2021-2022.”


6. Apply Early Decision.


Lehigh has two early decision admissions processes: early decision I and early decision II. Early decision applicants are accepted at a higher rate than regular decision applicants. Lehigh’s Class of 2024 overall acceptance rate was 49.5% and the early decision acceptance rate was 72%


Applying early decision can significantly boost your odds of admission, but it’s not for everyone. Both early decision I and early decision II at Lehigh are binding, and by applying ED you’re committing to attending the university if accepted. Applying ED is best suited for students who are completely sure they want to attend Lehigh and can afford it—because you’re committed to attending, you cannot compare financial aid packages from other schools.


How to Apply to Lehigh University 




Application Timeline


Early Decision I 

November 1

Early Decision II 

January 1 

Regular Decision

January 1


Application Requirements


Lehigh accepts both the Common Application and the Coalition Application. Other requirements include:


  • Lehigh writing supplement 
  • Counselor, principal, or headmaster recommendation 
  • Teacher recommendation 
  • School report 
  • High school transcript 
  • Mid-year report 
  • Final school report 
  • SAT/ACT (optional) 


Learn more about Lehigh University 


Interested in learning more about Lehigh? Check out this informative article: 



Want to know your chances at Lehigh? Calculate your chances for free right now.


Short Bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.