How to Get Into Barnard College: Acceptance Rate & Strategies

June 9, 2023

Barnard College, an all-female college located in Manhattan, also boasts an affiliation with Columbia University. With all of those desirable attributes, it’s no wonder the Barnard College acceptance rate dipped below 10% for the second straight year in 2023. For historical context, Barnard still accepted 50% of applicants in 1995. They admitted 31% as recently as 2009.

In order to help you prepare for the challenges ahead on the path to gaining acceptance into Barnard, this article will touch on the following topics:

  • Barnard College acceptance rate
  • Barnard College Early Decision acceptance rate
  • SAT, ACT, and class rank of enrolled freshmen
  • Admissions trends – Class of 2027
  • Barnard College’s system for rating applicants
  • A look at the demographics of current Barnard College undergraduates
  • The percent of accepted students that attend Barnard College (yield rate)
  • Tips for applying
  • How to assess whether applying to Barnard College is even worth the $75 application fee (for you)

Let’s begin with an examination of the most recent admissions data.

Barnard Acceptance Rate – Class of 2027

11,803 applications were received by the College in the most recent admissions cycle. The Barnard acceptance rate was 6.5% in 2023 which is the lowest admit rate in school history. Recent acceptance rates at Barnard were as follows:

  • Class of 2026: 9%
  • 2025: 11%
  • 2024: 14%

Barnard College Early Decision Acceptance Rate

For the Class of 2027, Barnard saw 1,671 students apply via binding Early Decision. Official results have not yet been released, but the school expects ED admits to make up 60% of their freshman class. The Class of 2026 saw a 29% acceptance rate in the Early Decision round.

Barnard College Admissions – SAT, ACT, and Class Rank

For Class of 2026 members, the mid-50% SAT score was 1430-1530. The ACT range was 32-34. Again, it is important to point out that a sizable portion of this freshmen class did not submit a standardized test score. An astonishing 93% of entering 2022-23 freshmen placed in the top decile of their high school class.

Admissions Trends & Notes – Class of 2027

  • Barnard has been test-optional for the past three cycles. They will continue this policy for those applying for admission in Fall 2024.
  • Continuing on that subject, 54% of admitted ED applicants applied test-optional. Among those accepted, 49% included an SAT/ACT result.
  • 58% of the admitted 2027 cohort were women of color, a record for the school.
  • 14% of admits are international applicants. They hail from 40 countries.
  • The Class of 2027 admit pool included 21% first-generation students.

How Barnard College Rates Applicants

Barnard College categorizes five factors as “very important” to the admissions process: rigor of high school course load, GPA, recommendations, essays, and character/personal qualities. Items that are “important” as part of the admissions process are: class rank, extracurriculars, talent/ability, and volunteer/paid work.

For a slightly different look at the school’s institutional priorities, we go right to their own admissions office:

  • “While admission is highly selective, it is also holistic; no one criterion or score determines acceptance. We consider each applicant in terms of their personal qualities, intellectual capacity, and the rigor of the curriculum they have pursued, as well as their potential for achieving at Barnard.”
  • “We review each applicant in the context of their school, community, and individual story, meaning that we will never compare applicants to each other. We want to see how you have pushed yourself and succeeded with the resources and opportunities that have been available to you.”

Since Barnard wants to see achievement and leadership outside of the classroom as well, it’s important to grasp what highly-competitive colleges are looking for when evaluating extracurricular activities. In short, they are looking for commitment and achievement in 2-3 core areas. For more, check out our blog entitled: How Many Extracurricular Activities Do I Need for College?

Barnard College Demographics

Let’s look at the demographics of the Barnard College undergraduate student body.

The regional representation among the Class of 2026 is as follows:

  • Mid-Atlantic: 14%
  • West: 14%
  • Midwest/Southwest: 9%
  • New England: 8%
  • South: 10%
  • West: 19%

The top states represented in the undergraduate student body are:

  1. New York
  2. California
  3. New Jersey
  4. Massachusetts
  5. Florida

In terms of ethnic identity, the breakdown of the Class of 2026 is as follows:

  • White: 39%
  • Asian: 28%
  • Hispanic: 18%
  • African American: 12%
  • International: 9%

Those accepted ED into the Class of 2026 attended the following types of high schools:

  • Public: 56%
  • Private: 34%

Barnard College’s “Yield Rate”

Barnard College’s yield rate is 65%. For comparison, other top liberal arts schools have the following lower yields: Wesleyan University, Haverford College, and Vassar all have significantly lower yield rates.

Tips for Applying to Barnard College  

If you plan on joining the 11,000+ Barnard College hopefuls for the next admissions cycle, you should know the following:

  • Firstly, if Barnard is your top choice, you’ll want to strongly consider applying ED I by November 1.
  • This school does offer interviews as part of their evaluation process.
  • Barnard College does consider an applicant’s “demonstrated interest”. Therefore, we suggest making the effort to follow them on social media, sign up for a virtual info session, visit campus (if possible), contact an admissions officer, etc.
  • Lastly, make sure to dedicate sufficient time and effort to the two supplemental writing prompts offered by Barnard College. In the 2022-23 cycle, they were as follows:

1) Required: What factors encouraged your decision to apply to Barnard College and why do you think the college would be a good match for you? (300 words max)

2) Required: At Barnard, academic inquiry starts with bold questions. What are some of the bold questions you have pondered that get you excited and why do they interest you? Tell us how you would explore these questions at Barnard. (300 words max)

3) Optional: Pick one woman — a historical figure, fictitious character, or modern individual — to converse with for an hour and explain your choice. Why does this person intrigue you? What would you talk about? What questions would you ask them? (300 words max)

Essay Tip: For more on penning a winning “Why This College” essay, revisit our previous blog on the subject.

Barnard College Acceptance Rate – Final Thoughts 

Just about everyone admitted to Barnard finished near the top of their high school class. Successful applicants also typically possess an impressive extracurricular resume and strong test scores. If you check those boxes then you may be a competitive applicant at Barnard and, if the school is a good fit for you, submitting an application will certainly be worth your time and $75. However, most students applying to a school of Barnard’s caliber also need to also have a proper mix of “target” and “safety” schools on their college list. More on creating a balanced college list can be found here.