How to Get Into Lehigh University: Admissions Data and Strategies

April 20, 2022

Lehigh University, a top-50 school located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is home to 5,400 undergraduate students, the vast majority of whom line up to study within the top-flight engineering, business, biology, and computer science programs. From an admissions standpoint, Lehigh is somewhat unique in its vacillating selectivity metrics and nonlinear acceptance rate trajectory. In an age when many schools of Lehigh’s species (private, selective, STEM-focused universities) have seen steadily declining acceptance rates, the Brown & White have seen their numbers bounce around like a Superball, as demonstrated below.

Lehigh University Historical Acceptance Rates:

  • 2010: 38%
  • 2018: 22%
  • 2020: 50%
  • 2022: 36%

To give prospective Lehigh applicants a deep knowledge of the admissions landscape at this university, we will touch on the following topics:

  • Lehigh University’s Class of 2026 acceptance rate
  • Lehigh University’s ED acceptance rate
  • SAT, ACT, and class rank of accepted Lehigh University students
  • Admissions trends at Lehigh for the Class of 2026
  • The demographics of current Lehigh University undergraduates
  • Lehigh University’s yield rate
  • How Lehigh University’s admissions officers evaluate candidates
  • Tips for applying to Lehigh University
  • How to assess whether applying to Lehigh University is even worth the $70 application fee (for you)

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

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

Lehigh University’s: Overall Acceptance Rate – Class of 2025

Lehigh received 15,161 applications for a place in the Class of 2026 and admitted 5,507 individuals. This works out to a 36% acceptance rate, down from 46% the prior year.

Lehigh University Early Decision Acceptance Rate

There are two rounds of Early Decision at Lehigh. The ED I deadline is November 1 and the ED II deadline is January 1. For the Class of 2025, the university accepted 763 of the 1,084 students who applied via binding ED. This works out to a 70% ED acceptance rate.

Lehigh University Admissions – SAT, ACT, and Class Rank

The majority of entering freshmen in 2021-22 placed in the top decile of their high school class; 57% to be precise. Eighty-six percent were in the top quartile. The mid-50% SAT composite score for enrolled members of the Class of 2025 were 1340-1460. The mid-50% ACT range was 31-35.

Those admitted into the Class of 2025 (different from “enrolled”) possessed mid-50% scores of 1380-1500 on the SAT and 32-34 on the ACT.

Admissions Trends & Notes Class of 2026

  • Lehigh University will not require test scores as part of one’s application through the 2023-24 academic year.
  • 48% of Class of 2026 applicants opted not to include SAT/ACT results, down from 58% the previous cycle.
  • Lehigh experienced a 7% rise in applications from the previous year.
  • The average GPA for entering students over the past three cycles is 3.66.
  • 38% of admitted students were from historically underrepresented backgrounds.
  • International students made up 19% of the applicant pool, a 4% rise from the previous year.
  • The university admitted more women than men into the Class of 2026 in an attempt to increase diversity in the STEM fields.

Who Gets Into Lehigh University?

Let’s look at the demographics of current Lehigh University undergraduates. Geographically, the Class of 2025 is made up of:

  • Students represent 43 states.
  • They come from 28 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.

The top home states of current undergrads are:

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

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

  • Asian American: 9%
  • Hispanic: 10%
  • African American: 5%
  • White: 61%
  • Two or more races: 4%

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

  • Male: 54%
  • Female: 46%

The school does accept women at a higher clip than men–51% versus 41% for the Class of 2025.

International students make up 8% of the undergraduate population at Lehigh. The greatest number of students hail from the following countries:

  1. China
  2. India
  3. South Korea
  4. Iran

Yield Rate

Lehigh University’s yield rate—the percentage of accepted students who elect to enroll, divided by the total number of students who are admitted was 23% last year. This fairly low number is due, in part, to the fact that Lehigh 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: Lafayette University (21%), Cornell University (60%), and Case Western (16%).

How Lehigh University Rates Applicants

Lehigh University ranks just two factors as being “very important” to their admissions process: rigor of secondary school record and GPA. There are a whopping ten additional factors that Lehigh considers “important” in their evaluation of candidates: class rank, the application essay, recommendations, standardized test scores, talent/ability, extracurricular activities, character/personal qualities, racial/ethnic status, volunteer work, and the level of an applicant’s interest in the university.

Straight from the Lehigh University admissions staff:

  • “Authenticity is the key to submitting an application that stands out. Focus less on fitting in a box and more on sharing who you are.”
  • “We also take into consideration the influence of the environments in which a student lives and learns has on the individual—noted in the school profile, student’s personal background and more.”
  • “Our holistic review recognizes the individual’s characteristics and achievements—which can be found in the school transcript, recommendations, essays, extracurricular accomplishments, leadership experiences, and other factors which might be unique to the applicant. We also take into consideration the influence of the environments in which a student lives and learns has on the individual—noted in the school profile, student’s personal background and more.”

Additional Tips for Applying to Lehigh University

Should you end up as one of the 15,000+ Lehigh applicants in the next admissions cycle, you will benefit from being aware of the following:

  • All applicants are required to apply directly into one of four undergraduate colleges on the application for admission. First-year applicants are encouraged to select an alternate major as well.
  • Lehigh offers optional evaluative interviews.
  • More than most schools, Lehigh University views “demonstrated interest” as being important 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 Lehigh. In the 2021-22 cycle, students are required to respond to three prompts. They are as follows:

Prompt 1:

How did you first learn about Lehigh University and what motivated you to apply? (150 words)

Prompt 2:

A compelling characteristic of Lehigh’s community is that our students want to be actively engaged in their learning, their community, and the world. Our students look to make a difference and have a real-world impact. We expect our community to challenge your viewpoint, your naturalized assumptions, and the way that you see the world around you. In the words of Lehigh’s President, John Simon, “The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis has shaken our nation, and brought into harsh relief the life-threatening, systemic racial injustice that affects the lives of so many every day. Members of our community are angry and fearful, and we will support them…We need to make Lehigh University an actively anti-racist institution. By this, we mean actively speaking out and addressing acts of racism, racist comments, racist practices, policies and procedures.”

What would you want to be different in your own country or community to respond to issues of inequality, inequity, or injustice? (300 words)

Prompt 3:

With the understanding that some students will change colleges at Lehigh after the first year, please briefly describe why you chose to apply to the first-choice college or major that you listed above. (200 words)

Should I Apply to Lehigh University?

As mentioned previously, if you are a borderline applicant (by Lehigh’s standards), give serious consideration to applying via early decision. In the regular round, unless you have stats that will blow away the admissions committee, you’ll need to also have a rock-solid backup plan. All applicants need to work with their guidance counselor to formulate a balanced college list, containing a complement of “target” and “safety” schools.