Evaluation Criteria


Some 18,000 students will be competing for 1,985 places in the incoming First Year class. Most of the students who apply to Notre Dame will be ranked at or near the top of their high school class, will have performed well on standardized tests, and will be highly active in their local and high school communities. As our admissions committee evaluates applications and makes decisions regarding them we make difficult choices among an extraordinary group of students. We assess the following factors and admit students who excel, not just in terms of their personal achievement, but also within the context of our highly competitive applicant pool. Although we are very proud of the class we enroll every year, we also realize that we are unable to admit all of the excellent young people who apply.

Academic Performance in High School

The most competitive students in our applicant pool have taken the most rigorous high school curriculum available to them, have excelled in it, and have risen to the top of their high school class. It is important to realize that student applications are assessed both in the context of his/her particular high school and in the context of an extremely competitive applicant pool. No minimum grade point average or class rank is required to apply or to be admitted to Notre Dame. In general, our office states that the more rigorous your course selection, the better your grades, and the higher your class rank, the more competitive your application will be. Know that our admissions committee will use every means possible to understand your application and to build the best case possible for your admission.

High School Academic Requirements

The University requires the completion of the following high school courses in order to be considered for admission. A unit is the credit for a year of satisfactory work in an accredited secondary school. The two language units required should be in the same language.

For students intending to enter the College of Arts and Letters or the Mendoza College of Business, excluding the Arts and Letters premedical/predental program and the combined Arts-Engineering program, the 16 units must be distributed as follows:

4 units of English
3 units of Algebra, Advanced Algebra, and Geometry
2 units of Foreign Language
2 units of Science
2 units of Social Sciences (History, Social Studies, Economics, Sociology, Anthropology, etc.)
3 units of Additional History, Science, Foreign Language, Mathematics, and English courses.

For students intending to enter the College of Science, the College of Engineering, the School of Architecture, the Arts and Letters premedical/predental program, or the combined Arts and Engineering program, the distribution must be:

4 units of English
3 units of Algebra, Advanced Algebra, and Geometry
1 unit of Advanced Mathematics (e.g. Trigonometry, Pre-calculus, Calculus)
2 units of Foreign Language
2 units of Social Sciences (History, Social Studies, Economics, Sociology, Anthropology, etc.)
1 unit of Chemistry
1 unit of Physics
2 units of Additional History, Science, Foreign Language, Mathematics, and English courses

Although we require at least 16 academic units for admission, our most competitive applicants will have four units in each major academic area and in the most rigorous level their high school offers.

Standardized Tests

Either the SAT or the ACT is required for application to the University of Notre Dame.

For our evaluation we will use your highest individual SAT Critical Reading and Math subscores from multiple testing dates to compute your composite score.  Final acceptable testing date for the SAT is 1/24/15.
We will use your highest ACT composite scores from a single testing date.  We do not require the writing portion of the ACT.  Final acceptable testing date for the ACT is 2/7/15.
SAT Subject Tests, AP tests and IB tests are only used in the application process if scores enhance an application. They are also used for credit and placement in the First Year of Studies.

In addition to our standard application requirements, three SAT Subject Tests, one each in History, Foreign Language, and Science, are recommended for home schooled applicants. Students may choose the exams they wish to take within these subject areas. If a home schooled student has an Advanced Placement exam in one of these subject areas, it can substitute for the SAT Subject Test. 

If you have any questions about applying as a home schooled student, feel free to call the Admissions Office at 574-631-7505.

Extracurricular Activities

The most competitive of our applicants are very involved, dedicating time outside the classroom to various clubs, teams, organizations, community service activities, and part-time employment. All of our admitted students display passion for, commitment to, and leadership in their activities outside of school. Whether a world-class pianist or a well-rounded senior class leader, Notre Dame students get involved, stay involved, and facilitate the involvement of others. Find activities you love. Dedicate time to them. Take responsibility for them. Then, tell us about them.


The Office of Undergraduate Admissions requests two letters of evaluation from every applicant. We do not encourage additional letters of recommendation. Your guidance counselor will complete a counselor evaluation, which helps us gauge your performance in your high school environment. Usually guidance counselors will include a short personal letter of evaluation. One of your high school teachers will complete the second letter of evaluation. It will assess your performance in class as well as your character and personality. You may choose any high school teacher to write your letter of evaluation, as long as he or she has taught you in an academic subject area (math, science, English, social science, or foreign language) and knows you well.


The Essay portion of both the Common Application and the Notre Dame Writing Supplement to the Common Application gives our Admission Committee the opportunity to get to know you. Regardless of the length, we find your Essays to be the most enjoyable part of the application reading process. Why? Because we learn about important decisions you’ve made, adventures you’ve survived, lessons you’ve learned, family traditions you’ve experienced, challenges you’ve faced, embarrassing moments you’ve overcome. We do not offer an interview as part of the admissions process, so it is through your essays that we are able to hear your voice, learn your sense of humor, empathize with your struggles. We get to know YOU, beyond lists of courses, numbers, and activities. Reflect. Have fun. Share yourself with us.

Continue to application deadlines.