How to Get Into Villanova: Acceptance Rate & Strategies

June 9, 2023

Sometimes a college’s growing athletic prowess can catapult its popularity, enhance its academic reputation, and lead to an increase in selectivity. Such is the case with Villanova University, a private, Catholic institution located in the posh Main Line suburbs of Philadelphia. Nova’s 1985 NCAA Men’s Basketball title propelled the once-regional institution into the national spotlight; that same team’s titles in 2016 and 2018 helped the university reach a new stratosphere of selectivity. In fact, applications to the university have increased by 30% in one recent five-year period—and the Villanova University acceptance rate, which was close to 50% as recently as 2014, hit 21% for the entering class in the fall of 2024.

Given that the process of gaining acceptance into Villanova becomes increasingly challenging with each passing year, this blog is designed to provide you with data on:

  • Villanova acceptance rate 2023
  • Villanova’s Early Decision acceptance rate 2023
  • SAT, ACT, GPA, and class rank of accepted Villanova applicants
  • Admissions trends 2023
  • The demographics of current Villanova undergraduates
  • Villanova’s yield rate
  • How Villanova admissions officers evaluate candidates
  • Tips for applying to Villanova
  • Nova essay prompts
  • How to assess whether applying to Villanova is even worth the $80 application fee (for you)

Many students applying to Villanova 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.

Villanova: Acceptance Rate – 2023

The University received 23,721 applications for its 2023-24 freshman class. In targeting a class size of 1,700 students, the Villanova acceptance rate was 20.5%. This was lower than recent Villanova acceptance rates which were as follows:

  • Class of 2026: 23%
  • 2025: 25%
  • 2024: 31%

Villanova Early Decision Acceptance Rate

In putting together the Class of 2026, the university accepted 815 of 1,467 ED applicants. This means that the Villanova Early Decision acceptance rate is 56%. Clearly applying ED gives students a massive edge in the admissions process at this institution.

Villanova offers both ED I and ED II, with November 15 and January 15 deadlines.

Villanova Admissions – SAT, ACT, GPA, and Class Rank

Students admitted (different from enrolled) into the Class of 2027 possessed middle-50% GPAs of 4.20-4.58 and middle-50% standardized test scores of 1450-1520 on the SAT and 33-35 on the ACT. Among those actually enrolled in the Class of 2026, the SAT range was 1390-1480, the ACT range was 32-34. Also, 70% percent of students from the most recent enrolled cohort placed in the top 10% of their high school class.

Admissions Trends & Notes – Class of 2027

  • The 23,721 applications received was slightly lower than the previous cycle.
  • 50% of those admitted to the Class of 2027 applied test-optional.
  • Continuing on that subject, Nova will remain test-optional for the 2023-24 admissions cycle.
  • 37% of admitted students to the Class of 2027 were involved in the arts.
  • 82% of admitted students played a sport in high school.

Who Gets Into Villanova University?

Let’s look at the demographics of Villanova undergraduates:

Geographically, the breakdown of the Class of 2026 is as follows:

  • Mid-Atlantic: 992
  • New England: 318
  • Midwest: 139
  • South: 121
  • West: 98
  • Other U.S.: 35

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

Only 2% of undergrads are international students. Out of the 42 countries represented in the undergraduate student body, the most heavily-represented are:

  1. China
  2. Vietnam
  3. Canada
  4. India
  5. Nigeria

Villanova University Acceptance Rate (Continued)

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

  • Asian: 8%
  • Hispanic: 13%
  • African American: 6%
  • Two or more races: 4%
  • White: 66%

The breakdown by gender of the Class of 2026 reveals 2% more female students than males.

  • Male: 49%
  • Female: 51%

The majority of students at Villanova identify as Catholic. Here is a complete look at the religious affiliation amongst undergrads at this school:

  • Catholic: 71%
  • Protestant: 9%
  • Jewish: 1%
  • Hindu: 1%
  • No Preference: 5%
  • Unknown: 7%

Nova’s Yield Rate

Villanova University’s yield rate — the percentage of accepted students who elect to enroll, divided by the total number of students who are admitted — was 32% 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. Villanova also finished behind other comparable institutions such as Boston College and Georgetown.

How Villanova Rates Applicants

Villanova ranks only three factors as being “very important” to their admissions process: rigor of secondary school record, GPA, and class rank. Rating as “important” are: essays, recommendations, extracurricular activities, talent/ability, character/personal qualities, work experience, and volunteer work. “Considered” factors are: standardized test scores, first-generation status, legacy status, race/ethnicity, geographic residence, state residency, and the level of an applicant’s demonstrated interest.

Villanova University Acceptance Rate (Continued)

In the words of Villanova admissions officers themselves, they are seeking students who are “intellectually inspired, morally grounded, and globally minded” and those who have the capacity to be change-makers, chance-takers, and difference-makers. In evaluating your application, the committee promises to take “a holistic approach to reviewing applicants to our undergraduate programs. When we read your application we will consider the complete picture – including your academic performance and rigor, activities outside the classroom, recommendations, essays, life experiences and, if reported, test scores. We want to learn who you are as a student and as a person.”

Tips for Applying to Villanova

If you plan on joining the 23,000+ Wildcat hopefuls for the next admissions cycle, you should know the following:

  • There are no interviews offered through the university. As such, you’ll need to use the essays and recommendations to forge a personal connection with an admissions officer.
  • Villanova does consider “demonstrated interest” so it is critical that you initiate contact with the admissions office, connect through social media, and visit campus or meet Villanova reps at college fairs near you.
  • In addition to the Common App essay, make sure to dedicate sufficient time and effort to the supplemental essays required by Villanova University. In the 2022-23 cycle, the instructions/prompts are as follows:

Essay #1: Villanova Free Choice (2022-23)

For the first Villanova-specific essay, we hope to gain a deeper understanding of your thoughts, experiences, and opinions. Choose one of the five topics below and submit a written response in about 250 words.

Prompt One:
St. Augustine states that well-being is “not concerned with myself alone, but with my neighbor’s good as well.” How have you advocated for equity and justice in your communities?

Prompt Two:
What is the truest thing that you know?

Prompt Three:
One of the themes in St. Augustine’s book, Confessions, is the idea of redemption. Tell us your story of being given a second chance.

Villanova University Acceptance Rate (Continued)

Prompt Four:
In the Villanova community, we believe that we all learn from one another. What is a lesson in life that you have learned that you would want to share with others?

Prompt Five:
Augustine’s “Miracles are not contrary to nature but only contrary to what we know about nature.” Tell us about a societal issue that you believe the wonder of technology is well-poised to help solve.

Essay #2: Why Villanova? (2022-23)

Prompt: Why do you want to call Villanova your new home and how will you become part of our community?

Please submit a written response of about 150 words.

For specific advice on how to address each one of these prompts, visit our blog: Villanova University Essay Prompts and Tips.

Villanova University Acceptance Rate – Final Thoughts 

With Villanova growing increasingly more selective pretty much every year, you will likely need to possess strong SAT/ACT scores, close to a 4.0 weighted GPA, and earn a place in the top 10% of your high school class. Applying ED will provide a sizable edge if you find yourself “on the cusp” from an admissions standpoint. Further, 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). For more, revisit our blog entitled: How Many Colleges Should I Apply to?