How to Get Into George Washington University (GW): Admissions Data and Strategies

March 7, 2022

George Washington University, commonly referred to as GW or GWU, is a popular option for students interested in politics, government, or international affairs but also has strengths in business, engineering, and nursing. Washington, D.C. is a desirable college setting for many teens and while GW has become more selective in the 21st Century, it still sports acceptance rates four to five times higher than nearby Georgetown University. Unlike many schools of its ilk, the acceptance rates at GW bounce around a bit from year to year (versus a straight downward trajectory), but have generally hovered in the 40-50% range in recent memory.

George Washington University Historical Acceptance Rates:

  • 1990s: as high as 80%
  • 2010: 32%
  • 2014: 44%
  • 2021: 50%

Given that George Washington is a now a very selective institution, it is important for prospective GW students to have:

  1. An understanding of the big-picture of George Washington University admissions.
  2. Data to help you assess your chances of admission with more accuracy.
  3. An idea of what the George Washington University admissions committee looks for and strategies to improve your admissions chances.

To accomplish these goals we will touch on the following topics:

  • George Washington University’s Class of 2025 acceptance rate
  • George Washington University’s ED acceptance rate
  • SAT, ACT, GPA, and class rank of accepted George Washington University students
  • Admissions trends at GW
  • The demographics of current George Washington University undergraduates
  • George Washington University’s yield rate
  • How George Washington University’s admissions officers evaluate candidates
  • Tips for applying to George Washington University
  • How to assess whether applying to George Washington University is even worth the $80 application fee (for you)

Many students applying to George Washington University may also find the following blogs to be of interest:

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

George Washington University’s: Overall Acceptance Rate – Class of 2025

GW received 27,277 applications for a place in the Class of 2025 which went on to enroll 2,705 first-year students; they accepted 50% of the overall pool. This acceptance rate was significantly higher than the 43% mark for the Class of 2024 which saw 11,366 of 26,405 applicants admitted.

George Washington University Early Decision Acceptance Rate

GW has not yet released their ED numbers for the Class of 2025, but for the Class of 2024, ED applicants were accepted at a 65% clip compared to 42% for the general pool. In that cycle, 681 of the 1,051 ED applicants were admitted.

There are two rounds of Early Decision at GW. The ED I deadline is November 1 and the ED II deadline is January 5.

George Washington University Admissions – SAT, ACT, GPA, and Class Rank

The most recent statistics available are for the Class of 2024 which saw a median SAT score of 1360 and a median ACT of 31. Half of entering freshman placed in the top decile of their high school class, 83% were in the top quartile and nearly everyone—98%–were in the top half.

Admissions Trends & Notes

  • George Washington University has been test-optional since 2015, so the policy there is not a temporary pandemic measure.
  • 11% of the 11,000 current undergraduates are international students.
  • The average GPA for entering students over the past three cycles is 3.66.
  • 13% of incoming freshman were first-generation students.
  • 50% of enrolled freshmen submitted SAT results and 27% included ACT scores with their applications.

Who Gets Into George Washington University?

Let’s look at the demographics of current George Washington University undergraduates:

  • Students represent all 50 states.
  • They come from 130+ countries around the world.

As at any selective university, competition is toughest among those hailing from states with endless streams of qualified applicants (the entire Northeast & the West Coast). If you hail from a less populated state like Idaho, Wyoming, or Alaska, your location is more likely to provide a boost to your admissions chances.

Looking at ethnic identity, the breakdown of current undergrads was as follows:

  • Asian American: 12%
  • Hispanic: 12%
  • African American: 7%
  • White: 51%
  • Two or more races: 5%

The breakdown by gender of all current undergraduates is notably split in favor of women:

  • Male: 37%
  • Female: 63%

With the percentage of male students being so low, one would assume that it is easier to get into the school as a male applicant. Yet, for the Class of 2024, the male acceptance rate from out-of-state was 44%–almost identical to the female acceptance rate of 43%.

International students make up 11% of the degree-seeking population at GW. The greatest number of students hail from the following countries:

  1. China
  2. South Korea
  3. India
  4. Saudi Arabia
  5. Canada
  6. Brazil

Yield Rate

George Washington University’s yield rate—the percentage of accepted students who elect to enroll, divided by the total number of students who are admitted was only 20% last year. This is due, in part, to the fact that GW is competing with the same pool of students as many elite institutions in the Northeast. For comparison, other private institutions have the following yield rates: American University (21%), Georgetown (44%), and Boston University (24%).

How George Washington University Rates Applicants

George Washington University ranks only two factors as being “very important” to their admissions process: rigor of secondary school record and GPA. There are five additional factors that George Washington considers “important” to their evaluation: the application essay, recommendations, and talent/ability, extracurricular activities, and volunteer work.

Straight from the George Washington University admissions staff:

  • “We are looking for students who have the academic preparation, personal qualities, and motivation to thrive in GW’s dynamic environment.”
  • “The best indication of whether a student will be successful at GW is their performance in high school—the grades they earn and the rigor of their coursework. This has always been the most important part of the application process at GW and this will not change, regardless of whether you choose to submit scores.”

Additional Tips for Applying to George Washington University

If you plan on joining the 27,000+ GW applicants in the next admissions cycle, you should know the following:

  • All applicants are required to select a primary GW school or college on the application for admission. First-year applicants are encouraged to select an alternate GW school or college.
  • George Washington University does consider “demonstrated interest” in the admissions process. Therefore, you will be judged on whether or not you made a campus visit (in non-pandemic times) contacted an admissions officer, follow them on social media, etc.
  • A teacher recommendation is required. For tips on requesting a letter of recommendation check out this blog.
  • Make sure to dedicate sufficient time and effort to the optional supplemental essay required by GW. In the 2021-22 cycle, students are invited to choose one of two prompts. They are as follows:

Option 1: At the George Washington University, our students frequently interact with policymakers and world leaders. These experiences and those of our alumni can shape the future of global affairs. If you had the power to change the course of history in your community or the world, what would you do and why? (500 words)

Option 2: The George Washington University encourages students to think critically and to challenge the status quo. Thus, civil discourse is a key characteristic of our community. Describe a time when you engaged others in meaningful dialogue around an issue that was important to you. Did this exchange create change, new perspectives, or deeper relationships? (500 words)

Should I Apply to George Washington University?

GW is a selective school but as a genuinely test-optional institution, students with strong grades but poor test scores can still have a solid chance to gain acceptance. Regardless, unless you have stats that will blow away the admissions committee, make sure to also have a rock-solid backup plan. All applicants need to make sure that they formulate an appropriate college list, containing a complement of “target” and “safety” schools. You’ll definitely want to do this in conjunction with an admissions professional.