What Does it Take to Get Into Worcester Polytechnic Institute?

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With an acceptance rate of 42%, Worcester Polytechnic Institute is fairly selective. So, what does it take to make your application stand out?


Located an hour outside of Boston, Worcester Polytechnic Institute is a mid-sized private school, well known for its science programs. Men account for nearly 70% of the 4,500 undergraduates who study at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where students choose from more than 30 different majors, mostly in the STEM fields.


One unique feature of WPI is its project-based approach to undergraduate education, known as the WPI Plan. Every student at WPI completes projects to complement his or her academic coursework, sometimes on campus and sometimes off campus at sites around the world. These projects allow students to to apply the knowledge they have learned in class to real-world situations.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute is regarded as one of the top schools for several different categories. CNBC ranks is as eighth in the country for graduate earning potential, Princeton Review ranks it fifth for Best Career Services, and Forbes ranks it among the top 25 STEM colleges in the country. To learn more about getting into WPI, don’t miss this post!


Applying to Worcester Polytech: A Quick Overview


Worcester Polytechnic Institute accepts only the Common Application. You can learn more about it in our Guide to the Common App.


Applicants can choose from three options for applying. Early Action I applications are due by November 1. Early Action II applications are due January 1, and Regular Decision applications are due February 1.


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


  • $65 application fee or fee waiver request
  • School transcript
  • Guidance or college counselor letter of recommendation
  • Teacher letter of recommendation (math or science teacher preferred)


In addition, students can choose to submit test scores or schedule an admissions interview, but neither of these are considered requirements for application or admissions.


Worcester Polytech Acceptance Rate:  How Difficult Is It to Get In?


Worcester Polytechnic Institute is a fairly selective school and the majority of applicants do not ultimately get in. In 2018, the acceptance rate was just 42% at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.


Of course, this is only part of the picture. Students who applied early action had a higher rate of acceptance (over 60%), and over 30% of students who applied were offered a spot on the waitlist. To learn more about optimizing your odds of getting in, check out the tips below. 

So, How Does One Get Into Worcester Polytech?


In order to be considered for admissions at WPI, students must first meet minimum academic requirements. These includes at least four unit of English and math class, and two units of science with labs.


  • 4 years of English
  • 4 years of math
  • 2 years of a laboratory science


In addition to these bare minimums, WPI recommends that students take two additional years of science, two years of a foreign language, two years of social studies, one year of computer science, and one year of history.


Beyond the essentials, the two most important factors in whether or not you get accepted to WPI are the rigor of your classes and your GPA. In other words, if you want to get in, you need to take challenging high school classes and do well in them. These are the only two factors that the admissions committee considers “very important” in weighing the strength of applicants.


Other important elements of your application are your personal qualities, extracurricular activities, recommendations, class rank, and test scores (should you choose to submit them). Another interesting factor to note is that while interviews and your application essay are considered during the admissions process, they are not noted as particularly important by the admissions committee.


How to Make Your Application Stand Out


WPI is not your typical tech school. While grades weigh heavily in admissions decisions, the college also stands firm that experiences outside the classroom are just as important in helping students learn, grow and succeed. As such, if you want to increase your odds of getting that acceptance letter, not only to you need to excel academically but your application needs to stand out in other ways. You can do this by:


Participating in a Pre-College Program. WPI boasts a well-established pre-collegiate outreach program that reaches children from kindergarten all the way to 12th grade. Although many students participate simply by attending a local school that has partnered with WPI, others enroll in summer programs with both residential or day options. In these programs, students receive hands-on, expert instruction by WPI faculty and access to world-class facilities. Though they aren’t in any way associated with admissions to WPI as a undergrad, they can serve as an important foundation in establishing a relationship with the school and its faculty.


Excelling on SAT/ACT Math Tests. Although testing is optional at WPI, in 2018 95% of accepted students submitted either SAT or ACT scores. While admitted students typically did well overall,  it’s not surprising that most excelled particularly on the math sections of these tests. In fact, 62% of accepted students who submitted SAT scores achieved a score at or above 700 on the math section of the SAT. If you want to get into WPI and you can hit your math tests out of the park, your application will likely be viewed more favorably.


Submitting Strong Recommendations. Recommendations are viewed as important by the admissions committee, especially in their role establishing your academic ability. Be sure to choose your recommender carefully. WPI prefers that you choose a math or science teacher. Your best shot is to choose a teacher in one these subject areas with whom you’ve worked closely in the past. Discuss with this person the specific strengths you’d like to see highlighted on your recommendation, and offer some concrete examples to back them up. For more about getting a great recommendation, check out our post Applying to College: How to Get a Great Recommendation Letter.


What If You Get Rejected?


Due to its nature as a fairly selective school, most students who apply to WPI will not receive the acceptance they hoped for, but this doesn’t mean that they won’t be able to accomplish what they want to during college. In fact, for some it doesn’t even mean that they’ll never get a diploma from WPI.


In 2018, 30% of applicants to WPI were offered spots on its waitlist. At some elite colleges like Harvard, the rate of acceptance off the waitlist is less than one percent. At WPI, though, it’s much more. Of the students who chose to stay on the waitlist, ultimately over 150 of them were offered a spot in the incoming class, for an overall acceptance rate of 15% off the waitlist. If you are waitlisted at WPI and you really want to attend, it’s worth staying on the waitlist before you write it off completely.


Transferring is also an option at WPI. To do so, students must achieve a GPA of at least 3.5, take Calculus I and a lab science, and apply following the transfer application procedure. Transfers are accepted at a rate of 40%, nearly the same rate as first-year applicants.


That being said, your first priority should be to find another great school to attend where you’re just as 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!

Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger

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.

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