How to Get Into Notre Dame: Acceptance Rate and Strategies

June 6, 2023

The University of Notre Dame has always been a university for high-achieving students. In 1986, the home of the Fighting Irish admitted 43% of applicants. This group, the Class of 1990, sported an average SAT score of 1200; 75% earned a place in the top 10% of their high school cohort. By the turn of the new millennium, Notre Dame’s acceptance rate fell to 35%; by 2010, it was 28%; and by 2023, it had reached an all-time low of 12%.

Given that the process of gaining acceptance into Notre Dame becomes increasingly challenging with each passing year, this blog will tell you everything you need to know about:

  • Notre Dame acceptance rate
  • Notre Dame REA acceptance rate
  • SAT, ACT, and class rank of accepted applicants
  • Admissions trends from the Class of 2027
  • The demographics of current undergraduates
  • Yield rate
  • How Notre Dame’s admissions officers evaluate candidates
  • Tips for applying
  • Notre Dame supplemental essays 
  • How to assess whether applying to Notre Dame is even worth the $75 application fee (for you)

Many students applying to Notre Dame may also find the following blogs to be of interest:

How to Get Into:

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

Notre Dame: Acceptance Rate – Class of 2027

The Fighting Irish received 28,351 applications for its 2023-24 freshman class and accepted 3,399 students. This equates to a Notre Dame acceptance rate of 11.9% for the Class of 2027. Recent University of Notre acceptance rates are as follows:

  • Class of 2026: 13%
  • 2025: 15%
  • 2024: 19%

Notre Dame: Restrictive Early Action (REA) Acceptance Rate

Out of 11,163 applications received, 1,701 students were admitted to Notre Dame via REA. This means that the Class of 2027 REA acceptance rate was 15%.

Notre Dame Admissions – SAT, ACT, and Class Rank

Among the enrolled Class of 2026, the middle-50% SAT range was 1420-1550 and the ACT range was 32-35. In terms of class rank, 91% of freshmen ranked in the top decile of their high school class, while 97% finished in the top quartile.

Admissions Trends & Notes – (Class of 2027)

  • The number of REA applications increased by 25% for the Class of 2027.
  • There was a 3% increase in test-optional applicants last cycle.
  • Notre Dame’s 11.9% acceptance rate is the lowest in school history.
  • The admitted Class of 2027 was made up of individuals from all 50 states and 143 countries around the globe.

Who Actually Gets In?

Let’s look at the demographics of current undergraduates:

Geographically, students accepted into the Class of 2026 included the following breakdown:

  • Northeast: 21%
  • Southeast: 15%
  • Midwest: 12%
  • Midwest-Plains: 17%
  • West/Southwest: 23%
  • Outside the United States: 12%

As with all selective colleges, those from lower-populated, more remote areas of the country (e.g. Wyoming, South Dakota, Idaho) enjoy a boost to their admissions prospects.

Looking at ethnic identity, the breakdown of the accepted Class of 2026 was as follows:

  • Asian American: 11%
  • Hispanic: 15%
  • African American: 14%
  • Native American: 1%

University of Notre Dame Acceptance Rate (Continued)

The greatest number of total international students are citizens of:

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

The breakdown by gender of all current undergraduate students reveals slightly more men than women, a rarity in today’s postsecondary landscape (outside of engineering-heavy schools).

  • Male: 52%
  • Female: 48%

The admitted Class of 2026 hailed from the following types of high schools:

  • Public: 47%
  • Catholic: 33%
  • Private/Charter: 19%

The Majority of People Who Get Accepted Choose to Attend

The yield rate — the percentage of accepted students who elect to enroll, divided by the total number of students who are admitted — was 60% last year. For comparison, schools like Stanford and Harvard were over 80%, and the University of Chicago, MIT, and Yale all sported 70%+ yield rates. Notre Dame finished ahead of elite private institutions such as Vanderbilt, Rice, and Carnegie Mellon.

How Notre Dame Rates Applicants

There are only two factors that this school ranks as being “very important” to their admissions process: rigor of secondary school record and character/personal qualities. Rating as “important” are: class rank, GPA,  essays, recommendations, extracurricular activities, talent/ability, first-generation status, legacy status, and volunteer experience. They “consider” an applicant’s religious affiliation, racial/ethnic status, work experience, standardized test scores, and level of demonstrated interest.

In the words of Notre Dame admissions officers themselves: “The most competitive applicants to Notre Dame are well-rounded, so we take a well-rounded, or holistic, view of students’ applications. That holistic review means that admissions counselors at Notre Dame evaluate both the academic and non-academic components of the application.”

University of Notre Dame Acceptance Rate (Continued)

The holistic review conducted by the university also dives into a student’s unique circumstances. The “context of a student’s application is also incredibly important to the admissions process at Notre Dame. The context revolves around where the student goes to high school and what opportunities are available to a student. Context means not comparing different schools and different applicants from those different schools, however.”

Tips for Applying 

If you plan on joining the 28,000+ Fighting Irish hopefuls for the next admissions cycle, you should know the following:

  • Familiarize yourself with the application checklist.
  • The school will remain test optional for the 2023-24 cycle.
  • The school does favor those with a legacy connection; 28% of one recent freshman cohort were legacies.
  • There are no interviews offered through the university. Notre Dame states that “it is through your essays that we are able to hear your voice, learn your sense of humor, empathize with your struggles.”
  • They do not consider “demonstrated interest” so it is important to make contact with the admissions office, connect through social media, and (when COVID-19 is no longer an issue) visit campus or meet Notre Dame reps at college fairs near you.
  • Make sure to dedicate sufficient time and effort to three supplemental essays required by Notre Dame. In the 2022-23 cycle, the instructions/prompts are were follows:

The University of Notre Dame Writing Supplement consists of one (1) essay response to a required question and one essay response to questions you select from a list of options provided. In total, you will write two essay responses. The word count is a maximum of 200 words per essay.

Required Question:

  1. Notre Dame is a Catholic university, founded by members of the Congregation of Holy Cross, with a mission to educate the hearts and minds of students. What excites you about attending Notre Dame? (200 words)

Additional Prompts (You choose 1):

  • People in the Notre Dame community come from many different places, backgrounds, and walks of life. How is where you’re from a part of who you are?
  • Tell us about a time when you advocated for something you believe in.
  • If you were given unlimited resources to help solve one problem in your community, what would it be and how would you accomplish it?
  • What is the greatest compliment you have ever been given? Why was it meaningful to you?

For advice on how to answer these prompts, you may want to check out our blog: Notre Dame Supplemental Essay Prompts and Tips

University of Notre Dame Acceptance Rate – Final Thoughts 

With the University growing more competitive each year, you will likely need to possess stellar SAT scores, near-perfect grades, and earn a place in the top 5-10% of your high school class. Applying REA can provide a small edge if you find yourself “on the cusp” from an admissions standpoint. All college-bound teens 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 (including your own high school counselor).