What is the University of Notre Dame Known For?

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Founded on Catholic principles, the University of Notre Dame is an institution grounded in tradition and rigorous academic programs. The popular institution draws thousands of students annually and boasts amuni like Condoleezza Rice, Regis Philbin, Nicholas Sparks, Kevin Ford, Catherine Hicks, and many other acclaimed professionals.

 

What else is Notre Dame known for? And what does it take to get in? Keep reading to find out.

 

Overview of Notre Dame Admissions

 

Location: Notre Dame, Indiana 

Undergrad Enrollment: 8,600

Acceptance Rate: 19%

Middle 50% SAT: 1420-1530

Middle 50% ACT: 33-35

 

While you certainly don’t have to be Catholic to attend Notre Dame, the university does take its Jesuit history seriously. Even if you’re not religious, you should convey your dedication to advocacy, justice, and community on your application; these are principles Notre Dame sees as central to the Jesuit tradition. Finding creative (and non-cliche) ways of expressing a commitment to these values will help your application stand out. 

 

Notre Dame emphasizes admissions essays and looks for creativity and a demonstration of skills. It also seeks students with a narrower extracurricular focus—those who demonstrate strengths in a particular area rather than a wide breadth of activities but less depth.

 

Unique Aspects of Notre Dame

 

Academics

 

Notre Dame has excellent retention and graduation rates, with 98% of students returning for their second year and 95% of students graduating on time.

 

Notre Dame has top programs in areas like business, economics, anthropology, and Irish language and literature, housed across colleges and schools within the university, including:

 

  • School of Architecture
  • College of Arts and Letters
  • Mendoza College of Business
  • College of Engineering
  • Keough School of Global Affairs
  • College of Science

 

Additionally, there are several dual-degree programs, such as the Five Year Dual Degree Program in Arts and Letters/Engineering, one of the earliest programs of its kind. Through it, students are able to merge professional training with studies in humanistics, artistic, and social scientific perspectives. 

 

Students also have the option of pursuing dual degree programs through the College of Science and either the College of Engineering or the College of Business. In the first option, students earn two Bachelor of Science degrees, one from each college. In the second, students earn a BS and an MBA.

 

Notre Dame emphasizes real-world experience, with 86% of students participating in internships or conducting research before they graduate — and they excel in these arenas, just as they do in the classroom. The university is a top producer of Fulbright students, with 27 students and alumni awarded Fulbright scholarships in the 2020–21 academic year.

 

Extracurriculars

 

Football is one of the first things people associate with Notre Dame. The university has one of the top three D1 football programs in the top 30 colleges, along with the University of Southern California and University of Michigan. And the Fighting Irish excel in a wide variety of sports, from basketball to fencing, winning 34 national championships since 1924.

 

Athletics aren’t limited to varsity sports. Sports Illustrated ranked Notre Dame’s intramural program as the best in the nation.

 

While Notre Dame doesn’t have Greek life, there are more than 400 student clubs and organizations available, including The Observer, Notre Dame’s student newspaper; College Mentors for Kids; the Entrepreneurship Society; a cappella; Quiz Bowl; rock climbing; and much more.

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Traditions

 

Given its Catholic roots, Notre Dame has several religious and spiritual traditions, with 47 chapels across campus, including one in every residence hall. One fun tradition is the Thursday Dillon Hall Milkshake Mass, during which students gather outside the Dillon residence hall chapel to enjoy milkshakes prepared by Rev. Paul Doyle.

 

Other traditions are secular, such as the annual Polar Bear Plunge. In February, students run into St. Joseph’s Lake to benefit charity (participation costs $5). At the end of the academic year, the community celebrates the last full week of classes with An Tostal, a celebration featuring events like concerts, picnics, mattress races, games, and more. During Muddy Sunday, an annual volleyball tournament, students play volleyball in the mud.

 

There are also plenty of traditions associated with football. For example, players hit the “Play Like a Champion Today” sign before they head out on the field, while attendees rush out onto the field after victories. Meanwhile, “Victory March” is considered one of the best college “fight songs.”

 

Dorms

 

Notre Dame has 33 residence halls, which serve as centers for social, religious, and intramural events and activities. Each residence has long-standing traditions — Dillon Hall, for example, hosts the first pep rally of football season, while Fisher Hall is known for an annual Regatta — and serves as a community for its students.

 

Most students, including 100% of first-year students and 80% of upperclassmen, live on campus.

 

Resources

 

Notre Dame’s campus is home to numerous events and resources for students, such as the Snite Museum of Art (which sometimes showcases student work and hosts events) and the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, a haven from music, dance, films, and theater.

 

The university aims to “foster personal spiritual growth” and provides and supports different forms of worship, opportunities for retreats, service, and pilgrimages, and more.

 

Meanwhile, the Multicultural Student Programs and Services (MSPS) office supports underrepresented students through cultural enrichment programs, student organizations, events, initiatives, and more.

 

What Are Your Chances of Acceptance at Notre Dame?

 

Notre Dame is a highly selective institution. Your personal chances of acceptance, however, vary based on a number of factors, including your GPA, test scores, and extracurriculars. Remember, too, that the university values admissions essays and focused interests, demonstrated through a narrow extracurricular focus and strong achievements. 

 

If you’re curious about your actual chances of admission to Notre Dame, try CollegeVine’s chancing engine. Not only will this tool show you your real odds of getting into the university, but it will also offer tips for improving your profile. Sign up for free!

 

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
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.