How to Get Into Barnard College: Acceptance Rate & Strategies
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 acceptance rate dipped below 10% for the first time in 2022. 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’s Class of 2026 acceptance rate
- Barnard College’s Early Decision acceptance rate
- SAT, ACT, and class rank of enrolled freshmen
- Admissions trends – Class of 2026
- 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 the 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 2026
Barnard’s Class of 2026 acceptance rate was 8% which is the lowest admit rate in school history. For the Class of 2026, 12,009 individuals applied, also an all-time record. This was slightly more selective than the previous cycle’s 11.5% mark.
Barnard College Early Decision Acceptance Rate
For the Class of 2026, Barnard saw 1,501 students apply via binding Early Decision. Ultimately, 29% were accepted. This is far higher than those who applied in the regular round. The previous freshmen class was composed of 56% students who applied ED.
Barnard College Admissions – SAT, ACT, and Class Rank
For Class of 2025 members, the mid-50% SAT score was 1445-1530. 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 89% of entering 2021-22 freshmen placed in the top decile of their high school class and 98% finished at least in the top quartile.
Admissions Trends & Notes – Class of 2026
- Due to COVID-19 pandemic, Barnard has been test-optional for the past two cycles. They will continue this policy for those applying for admission in Fall 2023.
- Continuing on that subject, 57% of ED applicants applied test-optional. Among those accepted, 49% included an SAT/ACT result.
- Two-thirds of the admitted 2026 cohort were women of color, a record for the school.
- 10% of admits are international applicants. They hail from 36 countries.
- The Class of 2026 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 Barnard College undergraduate student body.
The regional representation among the Class of 2025 is as follows:
- Mid-Atlantic: 40%
- West: 14%
- Midwest/Southwest: 9%
- New England: 8%
- South: 9%
- West: 17%
The top states represented in the Class of 2025 are:
- New York
- New Jersey
In terms of ethnic identity, the breakdown of the Class of 2024 is as follows:
- White: 65%
- Asian: 9%
- Hispanic: 10%
- African American: 7%
- International: 9%
Those accepted ED into Class of 2026 attended the following types of high schools:
- Public: 53%
- Independent: 32%
- Religious: 13%
Barnard College’s “Yield Rate”
Barnard College’s yield rate is 64%. For comparison, other top liberal arts schools have the following lower yields: Wesleyan University (36%), Haverford College (44%), and Vassar (31%).
Tips for Applying to Barnard College
If you plan on joining the 12,000+ 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 2021-22 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.
Should I Apply to Barnard?
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 or “target” and “safety” schools on their college list. More on creating a balanced college list can be found here.
Dave has over a decade of professional experience that includes work as a teacher, high school administrator, college professor, and independent educational consultant. He is a co-author of the books The Enlightened College Applicant (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Colleges Worth Your Money (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020).