Purdue University is a public research university in West Lafayette, Indiana. It was founded in 1869 as a college of science, technology, and agriculture. Since then, Purdue has expanded to offer over 100 majors in more than 26 broad areas of study. The university enrolls more than 50,000 students, mostly undergraduates.
The Big Ten university is known for both athletics and academics, especially its engineering and nursing programs. Purdue is ranked among the Top 20 public universities in the nation by U.S. News and World Report and is consistently ranked among the Top 10 most innovative schools nationwide.
Students at Purdue enjoy a wide range of organizations, activities, opportunities, and resources. Classes at Purdue are known for their rigor, world-class faculty, and 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio.
With so much to love about Purdue, it’s no surprise that nearly 60,000 students apply to the university each year. The competition may be fierce, but we’ve compiled the information you need to make an impression and stand out.
In this guide, we’ll share data and information from Purdue to help you create a strategic plan for your high school career and your Purdue application. By using the info and tips compiled here, you’ll increase your chances of earning an acceptance letter from Purdue!
Is It Hard to Get Into Purdue University?
Despite its strong academic reputation, Purdue University has an acceptance rate of about 60%. This means for every 100 students who apply, about 60 receive an acceptance letter. The other 40 applicants receive a rejection.
In comparison to other universities, Purdue’s acceptance rate makes it somewhat selective. It’s more flexible and less competitive than many other schools, but it’s not necessarily easy to get in.
GPA and Test Scores for Purdue University
On average, students admitted to Purdue University have a GPA of 3.69. This means you’ll need a mix of A’s and B’s, with more A’s, to have a competitive GPA for Purdue.
So, what if your GPA is lower than 3.69? If you’re a freshman or sophomore, you have time to adjust and improve. If you’re a junior or senior and it’s too late to significantly raise your GPA, focus on earning competitive scores on the SAT or ACT. Remember that grades are only one of many factors colleges consider.
Students admitted to Purdue have an average ACT score of 29. The 25th percentile score is 25, and the 75th percentile score is 32. For the best chance of acceptance, you should aim for a score in the 75th percentile.
Now, we’ll look at an SAT score breakdown for students admitted to Purdue University.
|Section||Average||25th Percentile||75th Percentile|
Since it’s best to score in the 75th percentile, aim for a 1440 on the SAT, with a 750 in Math and a 690 in Reading. Overall, this data shows you should strive for a:
- 69 GPA or higher
- 32 on the ACT, OR
- 1440 on the SAT
Of course, the data also shows that students with lower scores often get admitted to Purdue too. You’ll ideally get as close to the 75th percentile as possible, but don’t panic if your numbers aren’t exactly on par. Since Purdue isn’t exceptionally competitive, you still have a good chance of being accepted with average numbers.
Purdue University knows that every applicant is more than just the numbers on their application. The admissions committee considers more than your GPA and your test scores.
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What Other Qualities Does Purdue University Look For?
When you apply to Purdue, you’ll choose a specific major and program. Your application is evaluated in the context of the overall pool of applicants applying to the same program. According to Purdue’s website, they evaluate your application based on:
- Rigor of high school schedule
- Overall grades and test scores
- Grades related to your intended major
- Ability to be successful in intended major
- Personal background and experiences
Purdue’s website explains that the admissions committee has two main questions in mind when they review your application:
- Are you academically prepared to succeed in your desired academic program?
- Are you a competitive candidate in the context of the overall pool of applicants for the program based on available space?
In short, Purdue will compare your academic ability to the ability of other students applying for the same major. They want to know that you’re passionate, prepared, and able to succeed in your desired area. They also want to learn more about who you are, including your background and life experiences. You’ll be evaluated from a big-picture perspective within the context of your chosen major.
What Should You Do in High School?
It’s time to get strategic! Based on the information we’ve reviewed so far, what should you do in high school to prepare for admission to Purdue University?
Excel in Rigorous Classes
Purdue will look at the rigor of your high school schedule. It’s important to take the most difficult classes available at your school, such as AP or IB courses. (If your school does not offer AP or IB classes, Purdue will not hold it against you.)
Simply taking difficult classes won’t get you into Purdue—you need to show that you’re able to excel in these challenging courses. Develop good study habits, pay attention in class and take notes, and turn all assignments in on time. If you start to fall behind, be proactive. Get extra help from the teacher, a friend who’s excelling in the class, or a tutor.
At a minimum, Purdue requires:
- Eight semesters of math
- Eight semesters of English
- Six semesters of lab science
- Six semesters of social studies
- Six semesters of world language
If you want to major in engineering, experiencing chemistry is expected. For nursing, pharmacy, and veterinary nursing, you must have two semesters of chemistry and two semesters of biology.
Remember that Purdue will also look at grades related to your intended major. Take classes that will prepare you for your preferred major, and make sure you perform well in them.
Earn Competitive Test Scores
Purdue University accepts both ACT and SAT scores, with no preference for either test. When you apply, you’re allowed to submit “best components from different test dates.” That means if you score higher on Math at your first test date, but higher on Reading at your second test date, you can report your first Math score and your second Reading score when you apply to Purdue.
For Spring, Summer, and Fall 2023, Purdue is “test flexible.” If it’s possible for you to take the SAT or ACT, Purdue encourages you to do so. This means you should take the SAT or ACT unless it’s impossible because of pandemic restrictions and/or test cancellations
Take practice tests for both the ACT and SAT, then decide which fits best with your academic strengths? Which practice test score is closest to the 75th percentile for students admitted to Purdue (32 on the ACT or 1440 on the SAT)?
When you’ve decided on an exam, use your practice test to establish a baseline. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What question types do you struggle with? Use this information to make a personalized study plan and start studying several months in advance.
With about a month left until your exam date, drill down on your areas of weakness. Take more practice tests to measure your progress and adjust your study plan as needed. You can also purchase a test prep book, take a test prep course, or organize a study group with your classmates.
If your first score is lower than you hoped, take the test again. Use your score report to determine what went wrong the first time and create a new study plan.
Pursue Your Passions
Universities like Purdue want to know what you’re passionate about, so your extracurricular participation should reflect your passions. Don’t choose activities based on what you think will “look good” or impress the admissions committee. Find activities you love and commit to them long-term.
If possible, take on leadership roles, make valuable contributions, and pursue recognition and awards in your area(s) of interest. Along the way, keep a record of your extracurricular participation and achievements. Record when your involvement started, your role(s), any contributions you made, and any related accolades or awards. This makes it easier to give a detailed, complete record of your participation when you apply to Purdue.
Take on a few community service projects that are meaningful to you as well. Community service fosters personal growth and shows colleges that you’re a caring, motivated person with the drive to make a difference on campus and in the world. Keep a record of your community service participation the same way you keep a record of your extracurricular activities.
Build Expertise in Your Major
Purdue will look for evidence that you’re both capable and passionate in your chosen academic discipline. Dig deeper into your area of interest by participating in relevant activities, attending summer programs, conducting independent research, or simply learning more outside of the classroom.
Hopefully, many of the activities you’re naturally drawn to will also be related to your intended major. If that’s not the case, you may want to reconsider your choice of major. What activities do you enjoy the most? What academic disciplines leave you curious and wanting to learn more? Let your passions guide you toward your major and career choice.
If you’re unsure about your major, Purdue’s website offers a “Find Your Major” tool. You select a college and area of interest, and Purdue provides a list of potential majors.
Purdue University Application Process and Checklist
Purdue University requires Boilermaker hopefuls to apply through the Common Application.
Your application will include:
- High school course schedule
- Self-reported GPA
- Self-reported test scores
- Activities list
- Selection of major
- Common App personal essay
- Purdue-specific questions
Purdue does not require letters of recommendation, interviews, or portfolios for admission. If you submit extra materials, the admissions committee will not review them as part of your application.
Purdue University Supplemental Essays
The Purdue-specific questions, or supplemental essays, may change slightly from year to year. In general, they focus on your specific interests and experiences, and how they relate to your choice of major. Fortunately, this gives you an extra opportunity to expand on why you’re a great fit for the major you’ve selected.
Purdue has not released questions for the 2022-2023 application. Here are Purdue’s supplemental essay questions from the 2021-2022 application, which should give you an idea of what to expect:
- Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (250 words or fewer)
- How will opportunities at Purdue support your interests, both in and out of the classroom? (100 words or fewer)
- Briefly discuss your reasons for pursuing the major you have selected. (100 words or fewer)
You have a very tight word limit to respond to these supplemental questions, so how can you put your best foot forward? Our top tips include:
- Address the question directly. These questions come from the Purdue admissions committee, so tell them what they want to know. Be sure to respond to the prompt fully. Get straight to the point, because you don’t have extra words for flowery introductions or unnecessary tangents.
- Be specific. For questions related to Purdue, do your research so you can include specific details in your essays. Knowing your stuff shows the admissions committee that your interest in Purdue is serious and you’re excited about the opportunity to enroll. Including specific details in Question #1 will ensure you write an essay that is uniquely “you,” something no one else could write.
- Be excited! When you talk about your extracurricular experience, opportunities at Purdue, and your intended major, let your enthusiasm shine through. Purdue wants students who are excited about the university and the relevant opportunities it offers.
- Write in your genuine voice. Your essay should “sound” like you. Purdue doesn’t require interviews, so this is your only chance to present yourself as a person with values, dreams, and a personality. Don’t be overly formal or try too hard to impress; just be you.
- Polish to perfection. Of course, “being you” shouldn’t mean writing a sloppy essay. Proofread carefully for grammar, capitalization, usage, clarity, and concision. Ask a parent, teacher, or trusted friend to review your essay once more before you send it.
These tips will ensure your essay reflects who you are as a person and makes a positive impression. This advice applies to your Common App essay too!
Should You Apply Early to Purdue University?
Purdue University offers both Regular Decision and nonbinding Early Action. The Early Action deadline is November 1, and early applicants will receive a decision on January 15. The Regular Decision deadline is January 15, and applicants will receive a decision on March 31.
November 1 is also the deadline to be considered for a range of scholarships, veterinary nursing, and Purdue’s Honors College. It is the priority application deadline for nursing, professional flight technology, and computer science.
“Nonbinding” means that if you apply early and get accepted, you are not committed to attending Purdue. Applying early simply means you receive a decision sooner, get considered for more scholarship money, and have a better chance of acceptance. (Purdue does not publish data on the acceptance rate for early applicants, but the university’s website explains that applying early increases your chances of acceptance.)
Based on this information, we recommend applying Early Action to Purdue. There’s a lot to gain from applying early, and nothing to lose. The only reason you should wait to apply is if you’re planning to take the SAT or ACT again to aim for a higher score.
The sooner you apply, the better, even if you miss the Early Action deadline. Purdue notes that high school seniors should apply early in the school year. Their website states, “Admission will be much more competitive if you apply later.” Purdue’s freshman application is available beginning August 1, so get started as soon as possible!
Final Thoughts: How to Get Into Purdue University
Purdue University is a somewhat selective school. If your GPA and test scores are competitive, you have a very strong chance of acceptance. About 60% of applicants receive an acceptance letter, so it’s still important to perform well academically, pursue your passions, and demonstrate ability in your intended major.
Take rigorous, relevant classes and aim for a GPA of at least 3.69. Shoot for a 32 on the ACT or a 1440 on the SAT. Participate long-term in meaningful extracurricular activities and community service projects. Strive to make significant contributions and take on leadership roles.
When you write the Common App essay and the Purdue supplements, address each question directly, be specific, let your personality and your excitement for Purdue shine through, and proofread carefully.
To increase your chances of acceptance and maximize the possibility of scholarship money, apply Early Action. It’s nonbinding, so there’s no risk and plenty of reward involved.
Mix your academic ability with these tips, and you have the perfect recipe for becoming a future Purdue University Boilermaker!