How to Get Into WashU: Acceptance Rate and Strategies
June 15, 2023
Washington University in St. Louis (often referred to as WashU) is a mouthful to say, but the name of this private research university founded in 1853 comes out of the mouths of more top students every year when naming their top-choice institution. Yet, this wasn’t always the case. Back in the 1970s, the school, then called Washington University, voted to stick “St. Louis” at the end of their name, simply because they were tired of explaining that they were not located in either Seattle or the nation’s capital. While the number of applications has risen in recent years (particularly those applying ED), acceptance rates have been low for a very long time. A decade ago, 22% of applicants were accepted; last year, the Washu acceptance rate was half that figure.
Given their impressive U.S. News ranking and the highly-selective nature of WUSTL, applicants need to be well-informed and understand the true level of competition at this university. Toward that aim, this article will give you:
- WashU acceptance rate
- WashU ED acceptance rate
- SAT, ACT, and class rank of accepted WashU applicants
- Admissions trends from the Class of 2027
- The demographics of current WashU undergraduates
- WashU’s yield rate
- How WashU’s admissions officers evaluate candidates
- Tips for applying to WashU
- Essay Prompts and Advice
- How to assess whether applying to WashU is even worth the $75 application fee (for you)
Let’s begin with an examination of the most recent admissions data.
WashU Acceptance Rate
Out of approximately 32,000 applicants for a place in the Class of 2027, the WashU acceptance rate is believed to be around 11%. While official numbers have yet to be released, recent Washington University in St. Louis acceptance rates are as follows:
- Class of 2026: 11%
- 2025: 13%
- 2024: 15%
WashU ED Acceptance Rate
The WashU ED acceptance rate for the Class of 2027 was 35%. According to the university, there were roughy 2,000 applicants and 700 were admitted.
This university offers an Early Decision deadline of November 1 and an Early Decision 2 deadline in early January. The school heavily favors students who commit via ED as they accepted 27% of Class of 2026 applicants in the two early rounds and just 8% of regular-round applicants.
WashU Admissions – SAT, ACT, and Class Rank
Those enrolled in the Class of 2026 sported middle-50% standardized test scores of 1500-1570 on the SAT and 33-35 on the ACT. An incredible 91% of 2022-23 freshmen hailed from the top 10% of their high school class.
Admissions Trends & Notes
- WashU will remain test-optional for those applying to enter in fall 2024.
- 12% of accepted Class of 2027 ED applicants are Pell Grant Eligible.
- 13% of the accepted ED Class of 2027 are first-generation students.
- 42% of the Class of 2026 applied as a test-optional applicant.
Who Actually Gets Into WashU?
Let’s now look at the demographics of the WashU Class of 2026.
The regions producing the greatest number of 2022-23 freshmen were the:
- Midwest: 28%
- Middle States: 20%
- West: 15%
- South: 11%
- Southwest: 8%
- New England: 6%
As at any highly-selective university, competition is toughest among those hailing from states with endless streams of qualified applicants (the entire Midwest and both coasts). If you hail from a less populated state like Alaska, North Dakota, or Montana, your location is more likely to provide a boost to your admissions chances. Unusual for any college, WashU does not have a substantial percentage of students from its host state of Missouri (typically around 10%).
Overall, students come from all 50 states, 100+ countries, and 66% come from more than 500 miles away.
The countries from which the highest percentage of international students hail from are:
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
Looking at ethnic identity, the breakdown of members of the Class of 2025 was as follows:
- Asian American: 25%
- Hispanic: 12%
- African American: 12%
- International: 11%
- White: 38%
- Total Underrepresented Students of Color: 25%
WashU Acceptance Rate (Continued)
The breakdown by gender of the Class of 2026 notably favors women:
- Male: 46%
- Female: 54%
WashU’s most recent crop of enrolled students came from the following types of high schools:
- Public: 60%
- Private: 40%
The number of current freshmen in each school during the 2022-23 school year was as follows:
- College of Architecture: 61
- Olin Business School: 165
- College of Art: 79
- College of Arts & Sciences:1,240
- McKelvey School of Engineering: 266
Washington University in St. Louis’ yield rate—the percentage of accepted students who elect to enroll, divided by the total number of students who are admitted was 49% for the Class of 2026.
How WashU Rates Applicants
There are 8 factors that WashU ranks as being “very important” to their admissions process: rigor of secondary school record, GPA, class rank standardized test scores (even being test-optional), the essays, recommendations, talent/ability, and character/personal characteristics.
In the words of the admissions office: “Washington University is looking for students with a high school diploma or equivalent who took a challenging college-preparatory curriculum in high school complemented by extracurricular activities, community service, and work experience. Your senior-year transcript should show that you continue to take demanding courses. Most applicants take advantage of honors, advanced placement, and International Baccalaureate courses, if offered by their high schools.”
WashU Acceptance Rate (Continued)
Applicants to the various undergraduate schools will need to bring unique, discipline-specific attributes with them. “Students applying to Olin Business School should have completed coursework in math at least through the pre-calculus level with calculus highly recommended. Students applying to McKelvey School of Engineering and/or students who are interested in pre-med should have completed coursework in physics and chemistry, as well as coursework in math at least through the pre-calculus level with calculus highly recommended…(those) interested in studying architecture or art should demonstrate interest, skill, or background in art and design by highlighting relevant course work or extracurricular activity. A portfolio is required for applicants to the College of Art and encouraged for applicants to the College of Architecture.”
Tips for Applying to WashU
If you plan on joining the roughly 33,000 WUSTL hopefuls for the next admissions cycle, you should know the following:
- Firstly, WashU expects to see evidence of advanced coursework in high school. Taking multiple advanced classes, particularly within your area of academic interest is a must. A minimum of 7-8 AP courses is a good target to aim for.
- You must list your “Academic Division” on the Common App as well as a “Primary Academic Interest.” You have the option of also listing a “Secondary Academic Interest” or a “Pre-Professional Interest.”
WashU Acceptance Rate (Continued)
- WashU does allow optional admissions interviews, including virtual options via Zoom. There are also a limited number of alumni interviews available.
- WUSTL weighs “demonstrated interest” as heavily as any other school in the country in the admissions process. Thus, it will be noted whether or not you made a campus visit (in non-pandemic times), contacted an admissions officer, etc. The school especially likes those who demonstrate interest in the most devoted way—through submitting a binding ED application.
- Lastly, make sure to dedicate sufficient time and effort to the supplemental essay required by WUSTL. In the 2022-23 cycle the prompt is as follows:
Please tell us what you are interested in studying at WashU and why. (200 words).
For detailed advice on the “Why WashU?” essay, visit our blog: WashU Essay Prompt and Tips.
WashU Acceptance Rate – Final Thoughts
With an acceptance rate of 11% last year, Washington University in St. Louis is a school that is looking for students who sit among the very top of their high school class and have posted SAT/ACT scores in at least the 95th percentile. With such a competitive admissions process, all students need to make sure that they, in conjunction with a counselor, formulate an appropriate college list, containing a complement of “target” and “safety” schools. Hopefully, your dream of attending WUSTL becomes a reality, but, in the event that things don’t unfold as hoped, you’ll still end up at an institution with comparable attributes and opportunities.