How To Get Into Notre Dame

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Wondering how to get into Notre Dame? We’ve got you covered.

At Transizion, we’re devoted to guiding students through the college application process. We research a wide range of schools and give you the highlights so that you can devote more time and energy to living your best life and crafting an extraordinary application. 

This post will tell you everything you need to know to apply to the University of Notre Dame. 

About Notre Dame 

The University of Notre Dame is a Catholic academic community of higher learning located in Indiana. It’s widely recognized as one of the best universities in the United States. The main campus is located near the city of South Bend; it spans 1,261 acres.

Notre Dame was established in 1842 and awarded its first degrees in 1849. Many of the current buildings date back to the eighteen hundreds, including The Basilica of the Sacred Heart. The campus itself is a major tourist attraction, with nearly two million visitors touring the historic buildings each year. 

Academics

Notre Dame “prides itself on being an environment of teaching and learning that fosters the development in its students of those disciplined habits of mind, body, and spirit that characterize educated, skilled, and free human beings.”

The University of Notre Dame is organized into the following colleges:

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

Notre Dame offers a student to faculty ratio of nine to one. One in three students conduct undergraduate research, and nearly ninety percent of students participate in research or internships before graduation. Notre Dame has been the number one producer of Fulbright Program students for eight consecutive years.

Campus Life

“At Notre Dame, we provide the resources and support you need to explore your passions, develop your talents, and build a life lived with purpose. Students come to Notre Dame to learn not only how to think critically and creatively, but also how to live fully.”

Notre Dame has between eight and nine thousand undergraduates, and the vast majority of them live on campus in one of 33 residence halls. Each of these single-sex residence halls has its own colors, mascot, and motto. Each residence hall also has its own chapel where Mass is held multiple times each week. 

Over ninety percent of Notre Dame students identify as Christians, and the majority of them are Catholic. There are a total of 57 chapels on campus, and Mass is celebrated over 100 times each week.

Is it Hard to Get into Notre Dame?

In 2022, Notre Dame received 26,509 applications and admitted 3,420 students – that’s an admittance rate of just under thirteen percent. Of those students who were admitted, 2,053 were enrolled. It’s not the most competitive university in the country, but it’s up there. If you want to attend Notre Dame, you’ll need to excel both in and out of school. 

What Should You Do in High School?

Yes, you’ll need to earn excellent grades and test scores. But what else can you do now to increase your chances of being accepted to an excellent university like Notre Dame?

Pursue Your Passions

Passion projects and unique skills will help you to stand out amongst thousands of applicants. Notre Dame expects students to excel in something in addition to school. In the most recent wave of admitted students, 24% led a major student organization, 44% were captains of a varsity sport, and 45% were involved in music, drama, fine arts, or dance.

Serve Your Community

“The University of Notre Dame seeks individuals whose intellect is matched by their capacity and desire to make a meaningful contribution to the world.”

Nearly ninety percent of recently enrolled students had a history of community service. 

More than anything, colleges are looking for applicants that will be valuable additions to their communities. They want academically proficient students, yes. But they also want students who work well with others, think creatively, and show leadership potential. You can join clubs dedicated to community service, spearhead your own projects, or volunteer through your local church.

Build Relationships with Your Teachers

School teams, clubs, and volunteer groups are all excellent opportunities to build good working relationships with your teachers. These bonds will be very valuable to you when it comes time to solicit glowing recommendations for college applications. You’ll need at least one for Notre Dame.

What Other Qualities does Notre Dame look for?

Here are the seven points that Notre Dame emphasizes on their admissions page:

  1. Academic performance in high school

While Notre Dame doesn’t have a set minimum grade point average or class rank, they only accept the best and brightest. If you want to be admitted to Notre Dame, you’ll need to choose the most rigorous courses you can handle, earn excellent grades, and rank high among your classmates. The average GPA for recently admitted students was 4.06.

  1. High school academic requirements

The University of Notre Dame requires the completion of the following high school courses in order to be considered for admission.

  • 4 units of English
  • 3 units of Mathematics – Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry (4 units preferred)
  • 2 units of Foreign Language (3-4 units preferred)
  • 2 units of Science (4 units preferred)
  • 2 units of History/Social Science (3-4 units preferred)

Physics and Chemistry are also strongly recommended for any students who plan to choose a STEM major.

  1. Standardized tests

Notre Dame is test-optional for the 2023 and 2024 application cycles. This means that standardized tests are not required, but they will be considered. We recommend that you submit them, unless you think that your scores don’t reflect well on your abilities. 

Among students enrolled in 2022, the middle fifty percent range for the SAT test was 1460-1540. The middle fifty percent for the ACT was 33-35.

AP tests and IB tests are not required but may be submitted if scores will enhance your application. They may also be used for credit and placement in your first year of university. 

  1. Extracurricular activities? More like passions.

Notre Dame students include world-class pianists, senior class leaders, and dedicated artists. They prize creative intellectuals, students who excel at their academic pursuits and other creative endeavors and passion projects.

  1. Letter(s) of evaluation

Notre Dame requires a minimum of one letter of evaluation per applicant. The writer must be a high school teacher who taught you in a core academic subject area (math, science, English, social science, or foreign language) and knows you well. 

  1. Essay: Reflect, have fun, show us who you really are.

The Essay portion of both the application and the Notre Dame Writing Supplement gives the Admissions Committee the opportunity to get to know you as a person – not just a page of facts and figures. This is your chance to write about  important decisions you’ve made, challenges you’ve faced, and obstacles you’ve overcome. 

Notre Dame does not offer interviews as part of the admissions process, so these essays are your chance to make a lasting impression – your chance for the Admissions Committee to hear your unique voice, experience your sense of humor, and empathize with your struggles. 

  1.  Examples of Talent (Optional)

Students who wish to pursue a first or second major in the Department of Art, Department of Design, or the School of Architecture are invited to submit a creative portfolio. Applicants to the Department of Music may submit videos. 

How Do You Apply to Notre Dame?

Notre Dame encourages prospective students to apply using the Common Application. You can also apply using QuestBridge. Applicants will also need to submit a Notre Dame-specific writing supplement. All examples of talent are submitted via SlideRoom.

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Notre Dame University Supplement

In addition to Common Application questions, students will also need to answer one required prompt specific to Notre Dame and one of four additional prompts. Here are the 2022-2023 short answer prompts for Notre Dame: 

Required prompt:

Notre Dame is a Catholic university, founded by members of the Congregation of Holy Cross, with a mission to educate the hearts and minds of students. What excites you about attending Notre Dame?

This is a typical “why this school” question, but with a twist. The Admissions Committee is inviting you to speak to the Catholic culture of the university and why it appeals to you. Write about what draws you to Notre Dame and what you have to offer to the community there.

Then choose one of the four additional prompts. Think carefully and select the question that gives you an opportunity to highlight something important about yourself that you haven’t had the chance to shine a light on elsewhere in the application. Remember, Notre Dame wants students who are passionate about something outside of school. What lights you up? 

  1. People in the Notre Dame community come from many different places, backgrounds, and walks of life. How is where you’re from a part of who you are?

If you choose this question, share how where (or whom) you’re from has shaped you. How has your community impacted your identity, and how will you carry that forward to college in a positive way?

  1. Tell us about a time when you advocated for something you believe in.

This question is an opportunity to describe a time that you truly created change and made an impact in someone’s life. Think carefully about the stated values of Notre Dame and choose something that highlights how your values align with theirs.

  1. If you were given unlimited resources to help solve one problem in your community, what would it be and how would you accomplish it?

Like all prestigious universities, Notre Dame is looking for problem solvers. Choose something that’s personally meaningful to you, and your passion will shine through. In addition to sharing how you would solve the problem, explain why the cause is important to you and your community.

  1. What is the greatest compliment you have ever been given? Why was it meaningful to you?

This is another opportunity to showcase your values and tell the Admissions Committee about what truly matters to you. You might choose to explain why that person’s good opinion was so important to you, or simply highlight what the compliment says about you as a person. 

Additional Essay Tips

Writing outstanding college essays starts long before you put pen to paper or pull out your laptop. It starts with rich life experiences, with struggle and perseverance that give you something worth writing about. This is one reason that extracurriculars are so vital. 

Depending on how many colleges you plan to apply to, you may need to write ten to twenty supplemental essays by the time you’re through. If you leave this to the last minute, it can be an overwhelming prospect. These essays are far too important to be rushed, so start early. Many colleges release their essay prompts each summer. 

Should You Apply Early to Notre Dame?

Notre Dame offers a nonbinding Restrictive Early Action program. You can still apply early to other schools, but you may not hear back from Notre Dame until the final confirmation deadline in May. Students who apply early to Notre Dame are prohibited from applying to binding Early Action programs at other schools. 

If you ended your junior year with strong grades, have an excellent letter of recommendation from at least one teacher, and are satisfied with all of your essays, you might as well apply early. The exception to this would be if there’s another school you would prefer and want to apply to through an Early Action program. 

Here are some important dates for the University of Notre Dame:

  • Applications become available: August 1
  • Restrictive Early Action: November 1
  • Regular Decision: January 1
  • Priority Deadline to Apply for Financial Aid (REA Applicants): November 15
  • Priority Deadline to Apply for Financial Aid (RD Applicants): February 15
  • Confirmation Deadline: May 1

Does Notre Dame Offer Financial Aid?

Any student who is accepted to Notre Dame will be able to receive as much financial aid as they need. Notre Dame is a need-blind university, meaning that the financial need of applicants is not taken into account during the admissions process; students who don’t have the money to pay for school will not be discriminated against. 

Notre Dame meets one hundred percent of each student’s demonstrated financial need though a combination of University-based scholarships, alumni club scholarships, student employment, and University-subsidized loans. Seventy percent of all students receive some kind of financial aid, and nearly all graduate students receive full-tuition scholarships. 

For more information on aid and affordability, click here.

Final Thoughts: How to Get Into Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame is both an excellent academic research institution and a Catholic community with a rich history. In order to be admitted to Notre Dame, you’ll need to appeal to both aspects of the school’s character. Earn excellent grades in challenging courses, devote a significant amount of time and energy to community service, and find time for your favorite sports or creative endeavors. And if you need a hand, we’re always here to help.

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