How to Get Into Notre Dame: Admissions Data and Strategies
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 2022, it had reached an all-time low of 13%.
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’s Class of 2026 acceptance rate
- Notre Dame’s REA acceptance rate
- SAT, ACT, and class rank of accepted applicants
- Admissions trends from the Class of 2026
- The demographics of current Notre Dame undergraduates
- Yield rate
- How Notre Dame’s admissions officers evaluate candidates
- Tips for applying to Notre Dame
- 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 2026
The Fighting Irish received 26,504 applications for its 2022-23 freshman class and accepted 3,412 students for an acceptance rate of 13%, lower than the 15% acceptance rate for the Class of 2025 or the 19% mark for the Class of 2024.
Notre Dame: Restrictive Early Action (REA) Acceptance Rate
Out of 9,687 REA applications received, 17% were accepted, 17% were deferred, and 66% were rejected. This acceptance rate of 17% was significantly higher than the acceptance rate in the regular round.
Notre Dame Admissions – SAT, ACT, and Class Rank
Among the enrolled Class of 2024, the middle-50% SAT range was 1410-1550 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 2026)
- 14% of Class of 2026 admits are legacy students; up from 12% two years ago.
- 33% of admitted 2022-23 freshmen applied without an SAT or ACT score.
- There were 2,198 high schools represented in the admitted student pool.
- The admitted Class of 2026 was made up of individuals from all 50 states and 95 countries around the globe.
- 41% of accepted students identified as students of color.
Who Actually Gets Into Notre Dame?
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%
The greatest number of total international students are citizens of:
- 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 58% last year. For comparison, schools like Stanford, 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 (40%), Rice (39%), and Carnegie Mellon (42%).
How Notre Dame Rates Applicants
There are only two factors that Notre Dame 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.”
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 26,000+ Fighting Irish hopefuls for the next admissions cycle, you should know the following:
- Familiarize yourself with the application checklist.
- Notre Dame will remain test optional for the 2022-23 cycle.
- The school does favor those with a legacy connection; 28% of 2021-22 freshmen 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 2021-22 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.
The founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Blessed Basil Moreau, wrote, “We shall always place education side by side with instruction; the mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart.” How do you hope a Notre Dame education and experience will transform your mind and heart?
Additional Prompts (You choose 2):
- During the spring semester, Notre Dame faculty gave 3-Minute Lightning Talks on exciting topics within their fields of expertise. While you don’t have a Ph.D. yet, we bet you’re developing an expertise in something. If you were giving a Lightning Talk, what topic (academic or not) would you choose?
- There is a story or meaning behind every name or nickname—both those we’re given and those that we choose. What is meaningful to you about your name?
- What would you fight for?
For advice on how to answer these prompts, you may want to check out our blog: Notre Dame Supplemental Essay Prompts and Tips.
Should I Apply to Notre Dame?
With Notre Dame 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).
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).