How to Get into Emory University

November 19, 2022
By AdmissionSight

How to Get into Emory University

Located in Atlanta, Georgia, Emory University is one of the top schools in the nation. A combination of excellent academics, an absolutely beautiful campus, and Division III athletics, makes Emory a great choice for students who have put in the hard work in high school. But gaining admission to Emory can be quite difficult. You will need to have the right combination of test scores, grades, and extracurricular activities if you want to be a strong contender. In this post, we’re going to discuss everything you need to know before you apply to Emory in order to give yourself the best possible chance of getting in. So, let’s talk about how to get into Emory University.

How hard is it to get into Emory?

Like many competitive schools, Emory University has become even more selective in the last few years. Students putting off college because of the pandemic has significantly increased the number of applications that many schools receive, but all of these students are competing for the same number of spots in the freshman class. Three years ago, Emory had an acceptance rate of 19%, which is already very low. Currently, Emory has an acceptance rate of 15%.

For the class of 2026, Emory had a total of 30,017 undergraduate applications. They ended up admitting just 4,512 applicants, which shows just how selective Emory has become. As is the case with most selective schools, applying early gives you an advantage if you know that Emory is your number one school.

Female student explaining something to her classmate.

When it comes to applying to Emory, there are a number of factors to consider. First, is whether you plan to apply early decision or regular decision. For students who know that Emory is their first choice, applying early decision gives you a significant advantage because the acceptance rate for early decision is around 29% versus their cumulative acceptance rate of 15%. The bottom line is that if you are sure that Emory is the school for you, apply early.

What does Emory expect from their applicants?

In order to give you the best information about how to get into Emory, we’re going to break this down into the different criteria that Emory considers when they look at your application. Emory states that there are a number of factors that they consider very important, while other factors are considered as part of the application process but are not as influential.

According to Emory, their admissions philosophy is the following: “Even though our students are a diverse group, they do share some characteristics. They tend to be high achievers who are engaged in their community and who are looking to make the world—in ways big and small—a better place.”

Young woman using a laptop in a library.

So, you might be wondering how Emory evaluates these qualities. The key to demonstrating that you are the type of student that Emory is looking for, you will need to weave these concepts into your personal statement and supplemental essay.


World-renowned as one of the top schools in the nation, Emory has only been getting more difficult to get into, and because of this, you need to make sure your application is as good as possible. Emory doesn’t have specific benchmarks that applicants must satisfy, but in order to be competitive, you will need an excellent GPA and test scores, along with a number of other criteria.

Emory doesn’t publish the average GPA of their admitted applicants, but it’s safe to say that having a GPA of 3.8 or better is necessary. If your GPA isn’t above 3.8, you will need to look for ways to make up for this in other parts of your application.

In order to maintain a GPA above 3.8, you will likely need to take a rigorous course load in high school including AP, IB, and honors classes. Getting excellent grades in these courses allows you to present Emory with an impressive GPA, but it does something else as well. The first factor that Emory considers to be “very important” is class rigor. Essentially, Emory want to know that you have challenged yourself in high school. This demonstrates academic integrity as well as intellectual curiosity. Emory wants to admit students who will go above and beyond in their studies and taking challenging courses in high school shows that you intend to challenge yourself in college as well.

Group of students looking at each other while talking in a table.

Many colleges are impressed with students who show significant improvement in their grades over their high school career, but highly-selective schools like Emory want to see that you’ve been committed to academic excellence throughout your entire high school career. Part of the reason for this is they want to see that you value hard work, but they also want students who show sincere intellectual curiosity. Taking more rigorous courses shows that you want to challenge yourself as a student, and this is the kind of motivation they are looking for.

Test scores

Standardized test scores were an optional part of the Emory application during the 2022-2023 application cycle due to the pandemic, but this may change in the future. With this in mind, you need to be conscious about how to prepare for the SATs or ACTs in order to score as highly as possible. Typically, accepted Emory applicants had s minimum of 1350 on the SAT, but the average score was 1475. The average range for the ACT was 32 to 35.

There is a common misconception that you need a specific score in order to ensure admission to a top school. But at Emory 1475 was the average score, meaning some students scored lower and some students scored higher. Obviously, your test scores aren’t the only criteria by which you are judged but applying with a lower score typically means you will need to make up for it somewhere else on your application.

Extracurricular activities

Top colleges these days want well-rounded students who have an active life outside of the classroom. But they also want to know what you’ve been doing with this time. If you’re wondering how to get into Emory, one of the keys is to have extracurricular activities that demonstrate your leadership skills and commitment to your community.

When it comes to your particular extracurricular activities, schools care less about what you did than how you did it. If you took part in community service activities, did you take the initiative to spearhead new projects or ideas? If you spent much of your time outside of school working a part-time job, what lessons did you learn, and how did you make the most of your time at work?

If you participated in sports, were you a leader on and off the field for your fellow players? Maybe you took it upon yourself to start a social justice club at school or you found a way to solve a specific problem in your community. Regardless of how you’ve spent your time, the goal is to show Emory that you grew both personally and intellectually.

Group of students talking in the stairs.

Some students are laser focused on their favorite field of study, and they use their time outside the classroom to dig even deeper into their academic passions. And just because these pursuits were academic, it doesn’t mean they don’t qualify as extracurricular. Perhaps you spent the summer exploring your passion for Geology by spending a month at working in Moab National Park with researchers. Or you have used your passion for the environment to research new electric vehicle technology. Regardless of your particular passion, Emory wants to see how your activities contributed to your growth and personal integrity.

According to Emory: “We seek students who will contribute well to the life of the university and to Atlanta and beyond. What will you gain from our community and what will you give? Whether you’ve been involved in clubs, sports, a job, helping with family, research, or community service, we want to know more about those things.”

Academic research

While having participated in academic research is not a requirement for admission to Emory, many of their accepted students have taken part in at least some form of academic research while in high school. Because Emory is known as one of the top research facilities in the world, many of their academic programs involve some form of research, and their various departments have a number of different research opportunities.

Two students using a laptop.

Emory’s philosophy regarding research is based in the idea that everyone should be welcome to take part in a research project if it will further their learning experience. “Even if you are unsure of where your future path leads, Emory sees that as an opportunity. Through education, leadership, and guidance, we help uncover and encourage your curiosities, so you can discover big things—well before you graduate.”

To this end, Emory has a Research Partners program that encourages students to take part in faculty research by giving students a mentor who will guide them through the research process. The program is broken down into the following parts:

  • Participate in weekly classes on research skills and other support to help students be effective researchers.
  • Understand what research in a discipline looks like up close.
  • Work closely with world-class professor on a faculty-led research project.
  • Be a part of a multidisciplinary community of undergraduate researchers.
  • Gain vital experience communicating research through public speaking and poster presentations.

What does Emory look for?

In addition to the standard criteria like high school transcripts, test scores, and extracurricular activities, Emory is looking for students who demonstrate a high level of academic curiosity. When writing about your extracurricular activities, the key is to convey that these are not merely activities in which you have been involved.

According to Emory: “The classes you take and the grades you receive in them matter. We typically look for students who’ve taken more challenging classes (which can vary from high school to high school, and we take that into account, too) and have done well in them. We also look at standardized test scores if you choose to submit them. Low scores can be overcome by good grades in higher-level classes. But low grades rarely, if ever, can be overcome by high test scores.”

As you can see, the most important factor for Emory undergraduate admissions is the rigor of your high school classes and how well you performed in those classes. But that’s not all they look for.

Personal statement/supplemental essays

Top schools want to see more from students than just numbers on a transcript. Schools like Emory want to know how you think and how you express yourself. Numbers on a transcript don’t tell a school how your mind works, so making the most of your personal statement and supplemental essays is a vitally important part of your application. Students who wonder how to get into Emory need to understand that your essays are what give the Emory undergraduate admissions staff a clear picture of who you are and what makes you special.

Schools like Emory get plenty of applications from students who have excellent grades and test scores. So, in order to make it through the application process, you need to set yourself apart from the crowd. Emory is looking for intelligent, hardworking students, but they’re also looking for interesting people. In order to build an extraordinary student body, Emory needs to know how their applicants approach the world and the experiences that have shaped them. This is the purpose of your essays.

The current Emory supplemental essays allow you to choose from four different essay prompts, but regardless of which one you choose, the key is to demonstrate your unique voice and perspective. Emory doesn’t want an academic essay. They want to “get to know you” as a real person. And they also want to know what excites you about the idea of attending Emory, specifically. For this essay, it’s important to do your research and understand exactly what Emory has to offer.

Letters of recommendation

When it comes to how to get into Emory, one of your most valuable tools is your letter of recommendation. This allows Emory to see you from someone else’s perspective. Because of this, it’s vitally important that you choose people who know you in a variety of different ways. The teacher who gave you an A in their class isn’t a great resource if that’s all they know about you. But the teacher who mentored you or guided you through challenges in your studies will know you as a student and as a person. Emory currently requires one letter of recommendation from your school counselor and one letters from a teacher in core subjects.

This is how Emory feels about recommendation letters, and how they view them as part of your application: “Teachers know you best in the classroom, and we want to know what they think about you. You don’t only have to ask for recommendations from teachers of classes where you have done well (although that is okay). Also think about teachers of classes where you struggled and overcame challenges. Those teachers have seen a different side of you that may be beneficial for us to know about.”

A holistic approach to admissions

Like many schools, Emory uses a “holistic approach” to their admissions process. This means looking at the whole student rather than just grades and test scores. This means the Emory undergraduate admissions office will look at your life circumstances in addition to your transcripts and test scores.

Universities know that some students come from backgrounds that offered fewer opportunities, while others may have faced unique challenges, and some simply have extraordinary gifts that schools find attractive. The bottom line is that there is no simple answer to how to get into Emory University. Instead, your goal as an applicant is to highlight what makes you a strong, unique candidate.

Because Emory is such a selective school, you may have a lot of questions about the application process, and whether your application meets their criteria. At AdmissionSight we have many years of experience guiding students through the college admissions process in order to give them the best possible chance of getting in. Our counselors know what college admissions officers want to see, and they can help tailor your application to make it as competitive as possible. You’ve already done the hard work of excelling in your studies. AdmissionSight can help you get across the finish line





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