Johns Hopkins University is a private research university in Baltimore, Maryland. It’s ranked the No. 9 university in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, just behind Ivy League schools like Yale and Stanford. Johns Hopkins enrolls nearly 29,000 students, including 6,331 undergraduates.
Best known for its strong STEM programs, incredible student opportunities, and pioneering research, Johns Hopkins receives nearly 40,000 applications each year. Earning an acceptance letter from Johns Hopkins isn’t easy, but we’re here to help! In this guide, you’ll find the information, data, and tips you need to put your best foot forward when applying to Johns Hopkins.
About Johns Hopkins
The oldest research university in the United States, Johns Hopkins has innovated medical research and even pioneered the field of genetic engineering. Students say both the academics and the opportunities at Johns Hopkins are beyond compare.
Class sizes are small and provide plenty of hands-on experiences and interdisciplinary studies. Although Johns Hopkins is known for its rigor, professors make themselves accessible for extra help, advice, and even coffee chats. Students can create their own curriculum and have access to a range of resources, research, internship, and job opportunities. Johns Hopkins’ strong alumni network also helps graduates with job placement.
Students at Johns Hopkins are described as ambitious, intellectually curious, and hard-working. Although the university isn’t known for its social scene, students participate in clubs and organizations, cheer on the lacrosse team, and attend concerts and symposiums with renowned guest speakers. They also venture into Baltimore for its excellent music and food scene, Mount Vernon for more delicious food and great culture, and Fells Point and Federal Hill for fun nightlife.
Is It Hard to Get Into Johns Hopkins?
Johns Hopkins has an acceptance rate of 11.5%. For every 100 applicants, about 12 are admitted. The other 88 receive a rejection.
In comparison to other universities, Johns Hopkins is extremely selective. It’s slightly less competitive than Ivy League universities, but it’s more competitive than most schools across the nation.
GPA and Test Scores for Johns Hopkins
Students admitted to Johns Hopkins have an average GPA of 3.92. To compete with other applicants, you’ll need to earn nearly straight A’s and rank near the top of your class.
It’s also important to take AP and IB courses, which can boost your GPA while showing the admissions team that you’re ready for the rigor of college coursework.
If it’s early in your high school career, you have time to work hard and improve your GPA. But if you’re already a junior, your best bet is to focus on earning high test scores and enhancing other areas of your application.
Johns Hopkins is test-optional through the 2025-2026 application year. This means if you apply without sending SAT or ACT scores, it won’t count against you. But if you choose to include test scores, they will be considered as part of your application. Still, we highly recommend submitting test scores unless you feel they reflect poorly on your academic ability.
The average ACT score for students admitted to Johns Hopkins is 34. The 25th percentile score is 33, and the 75th percentile score is 35. When you apply to an extremely selective school like Johns Hopkins, scoring in the 75th percentile increases your chances.
Now, we’ll look at an SAT score breakdown for students admitted to Johns Hopkins.
|Section||Average||25th Percentile||75th Percentile|
Because your chances increase with a score in the 75th percentile, it’s best to aim for a 1560 on the SAT, with an 800 in Math and a 760 in Reading.
Overall, this data says you should strive for a:
- GPA of at least 3.92
- ACT score of 35, OR
- SAT score of 1560
Of course, these are exceptional numbers. The 75th percentile score for SAT Math is a perfect score. And the data shows that applicants with slightly lower numbers still get admitted to Johns Hopkins. So, aim high, but remember that Johns Hopkins will consider more than just your numbers. There are many other qualities the admissions committee values in its applicants.
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What Other Qualities Does Johns Hopkins Look For?
Johns Hopkins’ website explains that the admissions committee looks for students who will truly thrive as Johns Hopkins undergraduates. They review your application holistically based on your accomplishments, goals, and potential impact within the campus community.
The admissions committee will also look for academic character, impact and initiative, and your personal characteristics. They want to know “who you are and where you want to go.”
Specific qualities mentioned on the university’s website include:
- Creative and innovative
Numbers are important for your college applications, especially when you apply to a school as rigorous and competitive as Johns Hopkins. But your numbers alone don’t define you. The admissions committee wants to know who you are, what you’re passionate about, and how you might contribute on campus. Spotlight the positive qualities that make you a good fit for Johns Hopkins, and your chances of acceptance will increase.
What Should You Do in High School?
Now, let’s talk strategy! Based on the data and information we’ve shared so far, what should you do in high school to improve your chances of getting into Johns Hopkins?
Excel in Challenging Classes
Johns Hopkins is known for its extremely rigorous coursework. To show that you’re up to the challenge, take the most difficult classes available at your school. This includes AP, IB, and honors classes, along with dual enrollment.
In addition to taking difficult classes, of course, you need to excel in them. The average student admitted to Johns Hopkins has a GPA of 3.92, so aim for straight A’s or nearly straight A’s. Take notes and review them weekly. Turn in all assignments on time. Hone your study skills and prepare in advance for your tests.
If you feel yourself starting to struggle, be proactive. Ask for help from your teacher, a tutor, or a student who is excelling in the class.
Ace the ACT/SAT
Although Johns Hopkins is test-optional, standardized tests give you another opportunity to showcase your academic ability. High test scores can compensate for a slightly lower GPA. And if your GPA is already on point, great test scores can help you rise above similarly qualified applicants.
If you choose to submit test scores, Johns Hopkins will review self-reported or official ACT or SAT scores. They will consider your highest section scores across all SATs or ACTs taken. For self-reported scores, report your highest score from each section, and the admissions committee will calculate your composite score.
Start prepping for the SAT or ACT several months in advance. We recommend the following test prep process:
- Take timed tests for both the SAT and ACT to determine which exam you perform best on.
- After choosing a test, use data from your practice test to create a personalized study plan. Pay attention to your strengths and weaknesses. Note the question types and skills that are most difficult for you.
- Purchase an SAT/ACT study guide, and block time for study sessions a few days each week. Read high-level texts, drill practice questions, and brush up on the skills that are most challenging for you.
- During your last month of test prep, focus exclusively on your area(s) of weakness.
- Continue taking timed practice tests to gauge your progress and practice your pacing. Adjust your study plan as needed.
- If you aren’t happy with your first score, use your score report to rework your study plan. Repeat the test prep process with your updated plan, then take the test again.
Remember that if you continue scoring lower than you hoped, you aren’t required to include test scores in your application to Johns Hopkins. Still, impressive test scores will certainly help your application, so do your best to earn a score worth submitting.
Johns Hopkins wants to know where your academic passions and “academic spirit” lie. They look for applicants who engage with their communities on an academic, personal, and social level. As the Johns Hopkins website says, “We are looking for students who are eager to follow their interests at the college level and are enthusiastic about joining the campus community.”
So, find extracurricular activities that you’re genuinely passionate about and stick with them. Don’t worry about impressing the admissions committee. Instead, engage with your school and community in ways that make you feel excited, curious, and inspired. Simply do what you love.
Then, take it a step further by aiming to make significant contributions and take on leadership roles. Johns Hopkins also looks for students who make an impact through leadership and innovation. If possible, aim for honors, recognition, and awards that showcase your talent in your areas of interest too.
Along the way, keep a record of your extracurricular participation so you can report it accurately and thoroughly on your Johns Hopkins application. Note when you participated, how you participated, the roles you held and contributions you made, and any associated awards or achievements.
Serve Your Community
Students at Johns Hopkins contribute to their campus and community. They strive to make a difference through service to others. Naturally, the admissions committee values applicants who demonstrate these same qualities in high school.
When deciding on how to serve your community, think about what feels meaningful to you. What problems in your school or community do you most want to tackle? What social justice issues are close to your heart? And what can you do about it?
Join an existing service organization or start one of your own. If you have the time and capacity, try launching a nonprofit organization. Many successful applicants to top schools like Johns Hopkins have started their own service initiatives or nonprofits. Whatever you do, make sure it matters to you and positively impacts others.
Again, keep a record of your participation throughout your high school career. How did you serve your school, community, or the world and why? How did it impact others? Being an impactful high school student demonstrates that you’re likely to be an impactful student at Johns Hopkins too, and an impactful alumnus in the future.
Johns Hopkins Application Process and Checklist
Johns Hopkins accepts the Common Application and the Coalition Application.
Whichever form you choose, your application will include:
- High school transcripts
- Self-reported or official SAT/ACT scores (optional)
- School counselor recommendation
- Two teacher evaluations
- Activities list
- Common App/Coalition App essay
- Johns Hopkins Supplement
Johns Hopkins does accept supplemental materials, but they urge applicants to “ensure additional items will genuinely contribute to your application.” You can submit additional materials by including a link to your work in the additional information section of your application, or by uploading additional documents to your application (photos of art, research abstracts, etc.). There are no interviews for admission to Johns Hopkins.
Johns Hopkins Supplement
In addition to the Common App or Coalition App essay, applicants must answer an additional essay question for the Johns Hopkins Supplement.
The current essay topic for the Johns Hopkins Supplement is:
Founded on a spirit of exploration and discovery, Johns Hopkins University encourages students to share their perspectives, develop their interests and pursue new experiences. Use this space to share something you’d like the admissions committee to know about you (your interests, your background, your identity or your community) and how it has shaped what you want to get out of your college experience at Hopkins. (300-400 words)
This broad essay topic is all about two things: you and Johns Hopkins. Write about something that’s an essential piece of who you are. Make sure it’s something that wasn’t already covered in your application. Additionally, make sure it’s something you can connect to opportunities, experiences, or the culture at Johns Hopkins.
To successfully respond to this essay topic, you must also do your research on Johns Hopkins. Read through the university’s website for specific information on classes, programs, clubs or organizations, and other opportunities. How can you connect something essential about yourself to something exciting about Johns Hopkins?
Be sure to let your enthusiasm for Johns Hopkins shine through in the essay. Showing that you’ve done your research and are passionate about what Johns Hopkins has to offer will make a great impression on the admissions committee.
Additional Essay Tips
For both your Common/Coalition App essay and your Johns Hopkins Supplement, follow these tips:
- Stay on topic. Your word count is limited, so you need to write a focused essay that doesn’t stray from the topic. Avoid a lengthy introduction and unnecessary tangents. Convey something important about yourself, then how it has shaped your interest in Johns Hopkins and what you plan to do with the opportunities available there.
- Be creative. Don’t be afraid to let your creativity shine. For example, the definition of “community” can expand to include a group of people who share a unique hobby or passion. Innovation and curiosity are important at Johns Hopkins, so feel free to show these qualities in your essays.
- Write in your unique voice. Johns Hopkins’ website explains that in reviewing your essays, they hope to learn “who you are and where you want to go.” Your essays should sound like you and reflect who you are as a person, especially the Johns Hopkins Supplement.
- Include specific details. The last thing you want to do is write a bland, generic essay that sounds just like everyone else. Including vivid, concrete details will help you write an essay that only you could write—an essay that will be a pleasure to read.
- Proofread carefully. Actually, the very last thing you want to do is submit an essay full of glaring errors. Proofread each essay multiple times for spelling, grammar, capitalization, punctuation, word usage, concision, and clarity. Ask at least one parent, teacher, or trusted friend to review your essay too. Ask if it makes sense, sounds like you, and shows your enthusiasm for Johns Hopkins.
Should You Apply Early to Johns Hopkins?
Johns Hopkins offers Early Decision I, Early Decision II, and Regular Decision.
The deadline for Early Decision I is November 1, and applicants receive a decision by December 10. The deadline for both Early Decision II and Regular Decision is January 3. Regular Decision II applicants receive a decision by February 11, while Regular Decision applicants receive a decision about a month later, on March 18.
Both Early Decision I and Early Decision II are binding. If you’re accepted to Johns Hopkins, you must withdraw other college applications and enroll at Johns Hopkins. This means if you apply early, you can’t apply to any other schools with binding early decision programs.
So, should you apply early? The early decision acceptance rate at Johns Hopkins is 21%, significantly higher than the Regular Decision acceptance rate of 11.5%.
When you apply early, you’re compared to a smaller pool of applicants. And if you’re deferred to Regular Decision, you have a chance to send additional information, like updated test results or grades, an additional recommendation, or even a written statement of your interest in Johns Hopkins. Applying early also makes it clear that Johns Hopkins is your top choice.
If you are certain that Johns Hopkins is your first choice, we encourage you to apply Early Decision I or Early Decision II.
Final Thoughts: How to Get Into Johns Hopkins
Johns Hopkins is an extremely selective university. Successful applicants will demonstrate exceptional academic ability, along with ambition, curiosity, creativity, and initiative and impact within their communities.
Here’s how to get into Johns Hopkins:
- Excel in the most difficult classes available at your school, aiming for a GPA of at least 3.92.
- Test scores are optional, but strive for an ACT score of 35 or an SAT score of 1560 to boost the competitiveness of your application. If you don’t get scores you’re happy with, you don’t have to include them with your application.
- Participate in extracurricular activities you’re passionate about. When possible, make significant contributions, take on leadership roles, and/or earn awards and recognition for your talent in these areas.
- Serve your school, community, or the world in ways that are meaningful to you and impactful to others.
- When you write your essays, let your voice and personality shine through. Show your enthusiasm for Johns Hopkins and do your research. Stay on topic, include specific details, and proofread carefully.
- If Johns Hopkins is your top choice, apply Early Decision I or Early Decision II.
By combining these tips with your academic ability, you’ll greatly increase your chances of becoming a Johns Hopkins Blue Jay!