What Does It Take to Get Into the College of William and Mary?

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William & Mary’s acceptance rate is 37%. What does it take to get in?


The College of William and Mary, a public research university located in Williamsburg, Virginia, was founded in 1693. It’s one of the oldest colleges in the country, second only to Harvard. Its lengthy history and proximity to the nation’s capital means it’s the alma mater of notable alumni, including former presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, members of the U.S. Supreme Court, signers of the Declaration of Independence, and members of Congress.  


Today, the College of William and Mary is home to just over 6,300 undergraduates. According to Washington Monthly Magazine, it is the highest ranked national university for placement of its graduates in public or government service. It also receives high rankings from US News and World Report, securing the number five spot for Best Undergraduate Teaching and the number 10 spot for Top Public Schools.


Its notoriety means that the College of William and Mary isn’t an easy one to get into. To learn more about maximizing your shot at admissions, don’t miss this post.


Applying to the College of William and Mary: A Quick Overview


William & Mary currently accepts both the Common Application and the Coalition Application. For most applicants, we recommend the Common App. Learn more about it in our Guide to the Common App.


William & Mary offers two deadlines for applications. The deadline for Early Decision I is November 1, while the deadline for Early Decision II and Regular Decision is January 1.


In addition to the Common Application or Coalition Application, applicants need to submit:


  • The Secondary School Report form complete with a high school transcript and counselor letter of recommendation
  • The Midyear School Report form with an updated transcript as soon as first semester grades are available.
  • Standardized test score from either the ACT or SAT
  • $75 application fee payment, or a fee waiver request


The following components are optional:



William & Mary Acceptance Rate: How Difficult Is It to Get In?


William & Mary is a popular choice for many applicants, due in part to its status as a “Public Ivy,” meaning one of the few public institutions known for delivering an education on part with its Ivy League counterparts. It is not as difficult to get into as a private Ivy League school, but it isn’t easy either. In 2018, the acceptance rate at William & Mary was 37%.


Although getting into William & Mary is never a sure thing, there are some things that you can do to increase your chances.


So, How Does One Get Into William & Mary?


William & Mary is one of the colleges that supplies prospective students with an enormous amount of information and transparency about its application process. If you use this resource, you’ll definitely have an advantage heading into the application process. Review William & Mary’s recommended College Prep Timeline and Admit It! Blog to learn about the road to acceptance.


For starters, William & Mary recommends that applicants take a full, challenging course load of college prep, AP, and/or IB classes. At a minimum they recommend four years of English, Math, Foreign Language, Social Studies, and Science, of which three should be laboratory classes.


William & Mary takes a holistic approach to admissions. This means that they weigh many different aspects of your application, not just your test scores and GPA. That being said, test scores and GPA are still important, and most successful applicants perform well in both areas. The middle 50% of admitted students in 2018 received SAT Reading and Writing scores between 660-730 and SAT Math scores between 650-760. Similarly, the middle 50% of admitted students in 2018 received composite ACT scores between 30-33. 94% of admitted students had a GPA of 3.75 or above.


In addition to a strong academic profile, successful applicants to William & Mary are those who will contribute to its diverse and talented student body. In fact, the admissions site notes that:


“If all we wanted were the kids with the best test scores and the longest list of extracurricular activities, we’d let the computer do it and go home early. But what we’re looking for is much more subtle and subjective than that.”


Specifically, the following are all rated as Very Important to the admissions process by William & Mary: rigor of secondary school record, class rank, academic GPA, standardized test scores, application essay, recommendations, extracurricular activities, talent/ability, character/personal qualities, volunteer work, and work experience.


How to Make Your Application Stand Out


Apply Early Decision. William & Mary considers your interest in attending as a factor in admissions, and this is reflected by its acceptance rate in the Early Decision program. While the regular rate of overall acceptance is just 37%, the acceptance rate in the Early Decision program is a much higher 58%.


Schedule an Interview. William & Mary prides itself on being “the only public university in Virginia that offers student-to-student personal interviews.” These interviews are optional, but when an applicant partakes in one, it becomes an important part of their application. This is a great opportunity to convey personal qualities that are difficult to express on paper. Interested prospective students should note that interviews are only available on campus and are offered primarily during the summer months, with fewer available in September, October, and November.


Be an individual. William & Mary practices holistic admissions, so your personality ends up mattering a lot in the process. Students who stand out through their unique voices, experiences, and perspectives will stand out above the crowd. Reflect about what really make you who you are, and allow that voice and individual to shine throughout your application.


What If You Get Rejected?


Not everyone can get into William & Mary, and eventually around two-thirds of all applicants will be rejected. If you don’t get in, you’re actually in the majority.


It’s worth noting that if you are waitlisted at William & Mary, you should stay on the waitlist. While the odds of getting off the waitlist of any school are always slim, William & Mary admitted a significant number of students off the waitlist in 2018. In fact, of the 2000 students who chose to stay on the waitlist, nearly 100 were eventually offered a place at William & Mary. Of course, these odds still don’t guarantee you a spot, but the waitlist acceptance rate is much higher than that of most colleges.


In addition, William & Mary does accept transfer students, so it is possible to transfer in later during your college career. As a general practice, though, we strongly suggest against counting on being able to transfer. Instead, you’re better off choosing another college at which you truly believe you’d be happy and successful. If it truly isn’t a good fit, you can always consider transferring after a year or two. 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.