What Does it Take to Get Into the University of Maryland–College Park?

With an acceptance rate of 44%, the University of Maryland, College Park, is one of the more selective public universities in the United States. What does it take to get in?


Maryland’s flagship university, the University of Maryland, College Park, is one of the most prestigious public research universities in the country. In addition to boasting a faculty that includes several Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, the university has graduated notable alumni such as Larry David, Jim Henson, and Gayle King, among others.


Ranked #28 on Money Magazine’s list of “Best Colleges for Your Money,” UMD College Park will give you a quality and comparatively affordable education.


Applying to UMD College Park: A Quick Review


UMD is one of the few schools that only accepts the Coalition Application. For more information on how to make the most of your Coalition App, check out our post The Coalition App: Everything You Need to Know. In addition to completing the application, you must submit the following:


  • Nonrefundable application fee of $75
  • Two letters of recommendation (one from a teacher and one from a school counselor)
  • Official high school transcript
  • SAT or ACT scores (essay not required)
  • Activities and awards list or resume (UMD advises sharing two experiences outside of your academic program that are the most important to you. You can do so on the Activities/Experience section or by submitting a separate document.)
  • School of Music application supplement (School of Music applicants only)


Students should apply by the November 1 priority deadline to receive “best consideration” for merit-based scholarships and special programs. Note that this is not a binding early decision program. Applicants who apply by January 20 will be considered on a rolling admission basis.


Students will apply directly to one of the following schools:


  • College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
  • College of Arts and Humanities
  • College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
  • Robert H. Smith School of Business
  • College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences
  • College of Education
  • James Clark School of Engineering
  • College of Information Studies
  • Philip Merrill College of Journalism
  • Letters and Sciences (Undecided)
  • Pre-Professional Programs
  • School of Public Health
  • School of Public Policy


UMD Acceptance Rate: How Difficult Is It to Get In?


With an acceptance rate of 44%, UMD is moderately selective. You will need to have a strong academic record, along with extracurriculars and personal qualities as described below.


The middle 50% combined SAT score range is 1340-1510 for matriculating students; for the reading and math sections respectively these ranges are 670-740 and 670-770. Meanwhile, the middle 50% range for the ACT composite score is 29-33. Students have an average weighted GPA of 4.11 on a 4.0 scale.


To be a competitive candidate for admission to UMD, you should have scores closer to the upper end of the middle 50% range. If your scores fall closer to the 25% mark or below, UMD will be more of a reach school for you. /vc_column_text]

So, How Does One Get Into UMD?


UMD has certain minimum standards for gaining admission. Applicants applying to enroll as first-year students should have completed the following coursework by the time of their graduation:


  • Four years of English
  • Four years of math, including Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II
  • Three years of history or social science
  • Three years of science in at least two different areas, with at least two lab experiences
  • Two years of foreign language

Note that the most competitive applicants often exceed these requirements and earn strong grades while taking honors, AP and IB courses as well as additional electives.

UMD performs a holistic review of every application, considering all aspects of your candidacy and qualifications. It seeks students who are “smart, involved, curious and innovative” and considers 26 factors in its review, including:


  • High school and academic achievement
  • Work, extracurricular experiences, and special talents and achievements
  • Community involvement and demonstrated leadership
  • Gender, ethnicity, race, socio-economic background, and life experiences
  • Extenuating circumstances


Some of these factors are, of course, beyond your control, such as your ethnicity and socio-economic background. However, you should aim to excel in the categories that you can control, by challenging yourself to a rigorous course load and achieving in these courses, demonstrating leadership in extracurricular activities, and participating in work and community service projects.


If you do have extenuating circumstances that impacted your high school experience in some capacity, you should be sure to explain them on your application, either in your essay or the additional information section. An example might be having a parent with an illness that required you to take on additional responsibility in your household and perhaps prevented you from participating in extracurriculars and impacted your ability to study. UMD will take this into account when evaluating your candidacy. 


How to Make Your Application Stand Out


Emphasize life experiences. UMD values the unique contributions each student makes to the college community and beyond. This is evidenced in the 26 factors it considers when evaluating applications, as well as its admissions essay topics:


  1. Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
  2. Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.
  3. Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?
  4. What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What’s the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?
  5. Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.


Clearly, the admissions committee focuses on the whole person, not just your grades and test scores. The essay is a great place to demonstrate character, individuality, and interests. No matter which topic you choose, be thoughtful in describing the experiences that have shaped who you are as a person.


Choose the right program of study. While The University of Maryland doesn’t factor your choice of major into its admissions decisions, you will apply to a specific school and should select the one that best complements your strengths and goals. Applying to a school with a higher acceptance rate that is not suited to your profile will not improve your chances of admission; in fact, it will likely work against you, since many schools are self-selecting.


Furthermore, some programs, such as Biochemistry, Communication, Engineering, and Psychology, are considered limited enrollment. Students who enroll in these programs must complete certain “gateway” requirements by the semester in which they have earned 45 credits.


Limited Enrollment Programs have more rigorous admissions criteria. These criteria vary by program; applications will be reviewed by the individual program. If you wish to apply to an LEP, you should indicate so on your application.

Don’t worry if you haven’t decided on a major yet! You may apply to the College of Letters and Sciences if you are undecided as you will receive guidance on declaring your major early on.


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 UMD, here’s what you can do:


Take a gap year or transfer in. If you had your heart set on UMD 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 productive plan for the upcoming year. You might undertake a research project, volunteer, study to improve your SAT scores, or take classes at a local college. Do know, however, that this path is risky, as taking a gap year won’t ensure your acceptance the second time around.


You could also begin your studies at another institution with the hopes of transferring. In fall of 2017, UMD received just over 5,200 applicants for a transfer class of nearly 2,000 students, making the transfer process slightly more competitive than the freshman admissions process.


Keep it in perspective. Even if UMD was your top choice, chances are, you’ll find a way to make the best of your experience at another college. 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 healthy social life, you’ll likely find that you can make a fulfilling college experience for yourself, even if you end up at your second or third choice college.


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!

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.

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