NYU has a reputation for world-class academics with an international flair. In fact, the 26,000 undergraduates situated in Greenwich Village include the highest number of international students of any school in the U.S. as well as the greatest number of students who elect to study abroad as part of the college experience. It’s no wonder that between 1991 and 2000, applications to NYU rose 300% and the acceptance rate declined from 65% to 29%. The Class of 2024 acceptance rate hit an all-time low mark of 15%, as NYU is now among the nation’s most selective institutions. Given that the process of gaining acceptance into NYU becomes increasingly challenging with each passing year, this blog is designed to provide you with:

1) An understanding of how highly-selective the NYU admissions process truly is.

2) Data that will help you better assess how you measure up to the competition.

3) How the NYU admissions committee operates and what they look for in a successful candidate.

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

  • NYU’s Class of 2024 acceptance rate
  • NYU’s ED acceptance rate
  • SAT, ACT, and class rank of accepted NYU applicants
  • Admissions trends from the Class of 2024
  • The demographics of current NYU undergraduates
  • NYU’s yield rate
  • How NYU’s admissions officers evaluate candidates
  • Tips for applying to NYU
  • How to assess whether applying to NYU is even worth the $80 application fee (for you)

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

NYU: Acceptance Rate – Class of 2024

NYU received more than 85,000 applications for its 2020-21 freshman class and accepted roughly 13,000 students for an acceptance rate of 15%, an all-time low for the university. In 2015, the school accepted 31% of all applicants; in 2013, the rate was 35%.

NYU Early Decision Acceptance Rate

While NYU does not release annual figures comparing ED I, ED II, and regular decision, students entering the university in the fall of 2018 saw an ED acceptance rate of 34.7% and a regular decision acceptance rate of 18.4%.

NYU Admissions – SAT, ACT, and Class Rank

Of those invited to join NYU’s Class of 2024, the median SAT score was 1500, also a school record. The enrolled members of the Class of 2023 possessed a mid-50% SAT score of 1310-1510 and an ACT range of 29-34. The average unweighted GPA for entering freshmen was 3.62. The vast majority of NYU students placed in the top 10% of their graduating classes.

Admissions Trends & Notes – (Class of 2024)

  • 27% of those who were accepted are members of underrepresented minority groups.
  • 18% of those accepted into the Class of 2024 were Pell Grant recipients.
  • 15% of those invited to join the 2020-21 freshman class were first-generation students.
  • Three of the 11 undergraduate schools at NYU had single-digit acceptance rates.
  • The 2019-20 admissions cycle marked the 13th straight year that applications to NYU increased.

Who Actually Gets Into NYU?

Let’s look at the demographics of NYU undergraduates:

Geographically, the Class of 2022 included the following:

  • 49 U.S. states were represented.
  • Freshmen hailed from 115 countries around the globe.

The following states sent the most undergraduates to NYU:

1) New York City

2) California

3) New Jersey

4) Florida

5) Massachusetts

6) Texas

7) Pennsylvania

8) Connecticut

9) Illinois

10) Maryland

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 students admitted into the Class of 2023 was as follows:

  • Asian American: 19%
  • Hispanic: 19%
  • African American: 9%
  • International: 24%
  • Caucasian: 20%
  • Other: 9%

A look at the breakdown by gender of all students offered a place in the Class of 2023 reveals far more women than men:

  • Male: 42%
  • Female: 58%

The breakdown of current undergraduates by type of high school is as follows:

  • Public: 59%
  • Private: 18%
  • Outside of U.S.: 13%
  • Parochial: 9%

NYU’s Yield Rate 

NYU’s yield rate — the percentage of accepted students who elect to enroll, divided by the total number of students who are admitted — was 43% last year. For comparison, schools like Stanford, Harvard were over 80%, and the University of Chicago, MIT, and Yale all sported 70%+ yield rates. NYU finished in the company of schools like Vanderbilt (47%), Rice (42%), and Carnegie Mellon (37%).

How NYU Rates Applicants

There are five factors that NYU ranks as being “very important” to their admissions process: 1) rigor of secondary school record, 2) class rank, 3) GPA, 4) standardized test scores, and 5) talent/ability. The four factors rated as “important” are: 1) application essays, 2) recommendations, 3) extracurricular activities, and 4) character/personal qualities. NYU merely “considers”: interviews, first-generation status, legacy status, geographical residence, racial/ethnic status, volunteer experience, work experience, and the level of an applicant’s interest.

As for what NYU is looking for in its future students, the admissions office states that “NYU students are future Oscar winners, budding entrepreneurs, and ground-breaking scientists.” If you aren’t destined for worldwide fame, fear not—NYU is looking to put together a genuinely diverse class with a wide array of skills and experiences. In their own words: “There are no formulas to making admissions decisions; NYU seeks a mix of students who have a variety of interests, talents, and goals.”

Tips for Applying to NYU

If you plan on joining the 85,000+ NYU hopefuls for the next admissions cycle, you should know the following:

  • NYU only offers interviews for applicants to the Tisch School of the Arts. These interviews are held in-person, in New York. For advice on what types of questions you should be prepared to answer/ask, visit our blog—College Interview Tips.
  • NYU does 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 NYU reps at college fairs near you.
  • Make sure to dedicate sufficient time and effort to the supplemental essay required by NYU. In the 2019-20 cycle, there was only one prompt, but it’s an important one!

The lengthy NYU supplemental essay prompt is as follows:

We would like to know more about your interest in NYU. We are particularly interested in knowing what motivated you to apply to NYU and more specifically, why you have applied or expressed interest in a particular campus, school, college, program, and/or area of study? If you have applied to more than one, please tell us why you are interested in each of the campuses, schools, colleges, or programs to which you have applied. You may be focused or undecided, or simply open to the options within NYU’s global network; regardless, we want to understand – Why NYU? (400 word maximum)

The key to tackling this 400-word essay is to do your homework on the college within NYU University to which you are applying. It is essentially asking you: “Why NYU.” One NYU admissions officer gave the following tidbit of supplemental essay advice:

“We’re looking for personal, academic, and university fit. NYU is an incredibly diverse/huge/global/intimate/unique/complex place, and we don’t expect you to know every single thing about it! Even we admissions counselors (and some of us, alums!) don’t pretend to be all-knowing wizards of the university. When we review your applications, we’re looking not only for academically-prepared students, but those who will take advantage of the plethora of opportunities NYU provides at any of our three degree-granting campuses.”

Learn how to write the perfect “Why This College” essay in our previous blog post on the subject.

Should I Apply to NYU?

While NYU grows more competitive each year, they continue to seek a highly-diverse student body with a healthy percentage of first-generation, underrepresented minority, and low-income students. If none of these categories apply to you, you will likely need to possess SAT scores and grades closer to the 75th percentile of all enrolled students. Applying early decision (ED I or ED II) can definitely give you an edge if you find yourself “on the cusp” from an admissions standpoint. Due to a lower yield rate than the Ivy League and many other elite schools, NYU is happy to lock down stellar applicants via the early rounds.

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).