Like many other elite private colleges, Johns Hopkins University has fared quite well in higher education’s selectivity arms race since the start of the present millennium. As the Baltimore Sun reported back in 1996, the school received an all-time record of 8,503 applicants for a spot in the Class of 2000; they accepted 40.5% of them. The dean of enrollment management at the time lamented that it was hard “because you want to take all of these kids.” Oh, if he only knew what the future had in store for the soon-to-be Ivy-equivalent JHU.

By 2009, only 26.7% of applicants got into Johns Hopkins. By 2018, the school had hit single-digits and the following year, the acceptance rate hit a record low of 9.2% and attracted over 30,000 applicants. So with all illusions of hitting cruise control and gliding into this private research powerhouse now shattered, it’s time to begin the hard work of preparing to apply to this highly-selective school that rejects more than nine out of every ten star students who apply.

The intent of this article is to give those considering applying to Johns Hopkins University:

1) An in-depth and realistic understanding of what you are up against.

2) More data on which to accurately assess your chances of admission.

3) Advice for how to get your Johns Hopkins application to stand out, even against other top-of-the-class students.

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

  • Johns Hopkins’ Class of 2024 ED acceptance rate
  • Johns Hopkins’ Class of 2024 acceptance rate
  • SAT, ACT, and class rank of accepted Johns Hopkins applicants
  • Admissions trends from the Class of 2023 and 2024
  • Johns Hopkins’ system for rating applicants
  • A look at the demographics of Johns Hopkins undergraduates
  • The percent of accepted students that attend the university
  • Tips for applying to Johns Hopkins
  • How to assess whether applying to Johns Hopkins is even worth the $70 application fee (for you)

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

Johns Hopkins: Early Decision Acceptance Rate – Class of 2024

Many colleges saw their number of ED applications drop in 2020, but not JHU. The school received a record 2,345 ED applications and 682 were accepted. This acceptance rate of 29% is significantly higher than the overall acceptance rate at the university.

Hopkins offers two rounds of Early Decision. The first deadline is November 2, 2020 and the EDII deadline is on January 4, 2021.

Johns Hopkins Acceptance Rate – Class of 2024

Out of 27,256 regular decision applications submitted for a place in the 2019-20 freshman class; just 1,922 were accepted. This equates to an acceptance rate of 7% for regular round applicants. Across ED and RD, there were 29,655 total applicants with an overall acceptance rate of 9%.

Johns Hopkins Admissions – SAT, ACT, and Class Rank

The middle 50th percentile SAT score for members of the Class of 2023 was 1480-1550; on the ACT is was 33-35. A stunning 98% of those attending placed in the top decile of their high school class. The mean unweighted GPA for freshmen entering the university in 2019-20 was a near-perfect 3.92.

Admissions Trends & Notes

  • The number of Early Decision applications increased by 18% from the 2018-19 admissions cycle to the 2019-20 cycle.
  • 15% of the Class of 2023 are first-generation college students.
  • 69% of first year students were admitted to the Krieger School of Arts & Sciences; 31% enrolled in Whiting School of Engineering.
  • The ED Class of 2024 had the most diverse demographic, socioeconomic, and geographic makeup of any JHU class in the school’s history.
  • Admits included “a humanist scholar who analyzes the significance of Shakespeare to Chinese culture; an inventor of an inexpensive, portable camera that can photograph the back of the human eye; a children’s book illustrator; a researcher focused on LGBTQ oncological therapies to eliminate health care access disparities; and an international video game champion.”

How Johns Hopkins Rates Applicants

There are six factors that Johns Hopkins ranks as being “very important” to their admissions process: rigor of secondary school record, GPA, standardized test scores, the essay, recommendations, and character/personal qualities. NOTE: Like many other institutions, JHU has gone test-optional for the Class of 2021 only. Class rank, extracurricular activities, and talent/ability are “important” to the admissions committee. Factors that are “considered” are volunteer work, first-generation status, state residency, geographic residence, legacy status, ethnicity, and paid work experience.

Johns Hopkins is not going to be impressed that you filled the ten spaces on the Common App Activity List; they are looking for genuine excellence in one or more activities. For example, you won a prestigious international science competition, you are one of the premier violinists in the United States, you coauthored original research, or started a charitable organization that made a significant impact. Athletics is unlikely to be a determining factor at this school as 22 or the 24 teams play in NCAA Division III, but excelling in a given sport can be boost to admissions prospects if you are in range academically.

When conducting a holistic review, the admissions team wants to see evidence of:

1) Academic character: “How do you demonstrate your academic passions? What is important to you?”

2) Impact and Initiative: “We urge students to think about how they can make a difference through service, leadership, and innovation.”

3) Personal Contributions: “We’re looking for students who are eager to follow their interests at the college level and are enthusiastic about joining the campus community.”

Who Actually Gets Into Johns Hopkins?

Let’s look at the demographics of the Class of 2023.

Geographically, the undergraduate population is comprised of:

  • Domestic students from all 50 states.
  • International students from 51 nations.
  • Students as close as 2.4 miles from campus and as far away as Indonesia.

Competition is harshest among those hailing from states with endless streams of qualified applicants (the entire Northeast & the West Coast). If you reside in a less populated state like Nebraska, South Dakota, or Montana, your location is more likely to provide a boost to your admissions chances.

Looking at ethnic identity, the breakdown for the freshmen entering in fall of 2019 was as follows:

  • White: 21%
  • Asian American: 31%
  • Hispanic: 16%
  • African American: 13%
  • American Indian: 3%
  • International: 14%

The breakdown by gender is as follows:

  • Male: 48%
  • Female: 52%

However, it is worth noting that more women were accepted into the Class of 2023 where the gender breakdown was 54/46.

Johns Hopkins’ Yield Rate

Johns Hopkins’s yield rate—the percentage of accepted students who elect to enroll, divided by the total number of students who are admitted is 41%. This number is over 40 points lower than Harvard and Stanford but in the same ballpark as many other selective private universities. JHU sports a similar yield rate to schools like NYU, Rice, USC, and Carnegie Mellon.

Tips for Applying to Johns Hopkins

If you plan on joining the almost 30,000 Hopkins hopefuls for the next admissions cycle, you should know the following:

Johns Hopkins recently stopped offering alumni interviews. As a result, one of the best ways for admissions officers to get to know on a personal level is through your two required teacher recommendations. For tips on which teachers to target and how to ask, revisit our blog on the subject.

Johns Hopkins does not consider “demonstrated interest” so you will not be judged on whether or not you made a campus visit, contacted an admissions officer, etc. However, given the school’s lower yield rate (compared to some other elite schools), it is never a bad idea to reach out to admissions officer with a question, attend a virtual information session, or engage with the school on social media.

Make sure to dedicate sufficient time and effort to the supplemental essay required by Johns Hopkins. In the 2019-20 cycle, the prompt is as follows:

Successful students at Johns Hopkins make the biggest impact by collaborating with others, including peers, mentors, and professors. Talk about a time, in or outside the classroom, when you worked with others and what you learned from the experience. (300-400 word limit)

The key to tackling this 300-400-word essay is to spend time reflecting deeply on a challenge in your life and how you overcame it with the help of others. Your story does not need to follow a three-act structure or leave the reader feeling triumphant like at the end of mainstream movie. Do not shy away from a story that is messy, emotional, painful, or one in which you are an imperfect actor. Tell a tale that actually reveals truths about you that may not be contained anywhere else in your application. A strong, honest narrative can go a long way toward making an admissions officer remember your name; a bland “I was the only reasonable person in the room” story will do little to move the needle.

Should I Apply to Johns Hopkins?

If you bring strong academic and extracurricular credentials to the table, there is no harm in filling out a Johns Hopkins application, but—as with all highly-competitive colleges in 2020-21—even the best and brightest teens need to have an appropriate college list, containing a complement of “target” and “safety” schools. Those that will fare best in conquering this admissions gauntlet will boast a transcript of straight ‘A’s in an exceptionally rigorous program of classes, superior standardized test scores (when possible to take them given the pandemic), and at least one or two talents and passions outside of the classroom.