How to Get into Johns Hopkins University

November 19, 2022
By AdmissionSight

How to Get into Johns Hopkins University

Located in suburban Baltimore, Maryland Johns Hopkins University is one of the top schools in the nation. A combination of excellent academics, a beautiful campus, and Division I and Division III athletics, makes Johns Hopkins a great choice for students who have put in the hard work in high school. But gaining admission to Johns Hopkins 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 Johns Hopkins in order to give yourself the best possible chance of getting in. So, let’s talk about how to get into Johns Hopkins University.

How hard is it to get into Johns Hopkins?

Like many competitive schools, Johns Hopkins 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, Johns Hopkins had an acceptance rate of 15%, which is already very low. Currently, Johns Hopkins has an acceptance rate of 11.1%, which puts them more in line with Ivy League schools, and in some cases more selective.

Group of students smiling at the camera sitting on a long table.

For the class of 2025, Johns Hopkins had a total of 32,231 undergraduate applications. They ended up admitting around 1,300 applicants, which shows just how selective Johns Hopkins has become. As is the case with most selective schools, applying early gives you an advantage if you know that Johns Hopkins is your number one school.

When it comes to applying to Johns Hopkins, 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 Johns Hopkins 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 11%. The bottom line is that if you are sure that Johns Hopkins is the school for you, apply early.

What does Johns Hopkins expect from their applicants?

In order to give you the best information about how to get into Johns Hopkins, we’re going to break this down into the different criteria that Johns Hopkins considers when they look at your application. Johns Hopkins 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.

While Johns Hopkins puts a lot of emphasis on your transcript and test scores (if applicable), they also look at such factors as “academic character,” “impact and initiative,” and “personal contributions.” Because so many of Johns Hopkins applicants will be highly qualified based on their academic performance, the Johns Hopkins undergraduate admissions office needs to look at other factors in order to make their decision.


World-renowned as the number one research institution in the nation, Johns Hopkins 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. Johns Hopkins 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. Johns Hopkins doesn’t publish the average GPA of their admitted applicants, but it’s safe to say that having a GPA of 4.0 or better is necessary. If your GPA isn’t above 4.0, you will need to look for ways to make up for this in other parts of your application.

Young woman studying in a table full of books.

In order to maintain a GPA above 4.0, 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 Johns Hopkins with an impressive GPA, but it does something else as well. The first factor that Johns Hopkins considers to be “very important” is class rigor.

Essentially, Johns Hopkins want to know that you have challenged yourself in high school. This demonstrates academic integrity as well as intellectual curiosity. Johns Hopkins 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.

Many colleges are impressed with students who show significant improvement in their grades over their high school career, but highly-selective schools like Johns Hopkins 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 Johns Hopkins 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 Johns Hopkins applicants had an average of 1520 to 1560 on the SAT and 34 to 35 on the ACT.

Four students talking in a living room.

There is a common misconception that you need a specific score in order to ensure admission to a top school. But at Johns Hopkins 1520 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 Johns Hopkins, 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 Johns Hopkins that you grew both personally and intellectually.

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 working in Moab National Park with researchers. Or you have used your passion for medicine to become involved in developing treatments for infectious diseases. Regardless of your particular passion, Johns Hopkins wants to see how your activities contributed to your growth and personal integrity.

When writing about your extracurriculars, make sure to focus on the factors that Johns Hopkins has said they value. What kind of impact have your activities had on your community? How did you go about taking the initiative to get involved in these activities?

Academic research

While having participated in academic research is not a requirement for admission to Johns Hopkins, the vast majority of their accepted students have taken part in at least some form of academic research while in high school. Because Johns Hopkins is known at 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.

According to Johns Hopkins, “As America’s first research university, we have been tackling difficult questions and finding answers since 1876. Whether you study engineering, chemistry, music, anthropology, or all of the above, every student here—no matter their major—is an investigator. Our undergraduates are doing research at a level reserved for graduate students or professionals at any other school, giving them the opportunity to make their own connections and discoveries as they contribute to the creation of new knowledge.”

View of multiracial students smiling at the camera.

In addition to their philosophy of taking research to new heights, Johns Hopkins also offers a number of specific resources for students. The Office of Undergraduate Research, Scholarly and Creative Activity helps students enrolled in the college of arts and sciences create, plan, and launching their research projects. The Hopkins Office of Undergraduate Research which helps to connect students with existing research projects on-campus as well as outside of Johns Hopkins. Additionally, Johns Hopkins hosts the annual DREAMS celebration that recognizes undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative projects.

What does Johns Hopkins look for?

As we previously mentioned, Johns Hopkins breaks down what they’re looking for into three categories. Beyond transcripts, test scores, and extracurriculars, Johns Hopkins is looking for students who demonstrate academic character, impact and initiative, and personal contributions. So, what does Johns Hopkins mean by these three factors?

Academic character-“How do you demonstrate your academic passions? What is important to you? To get a good idea of where your academic spirit lies, we’ll look at your transcripts and testing, but also your teacher and counselor recommendations.”

Impact and initiative-“Our undergraduates contribute to our campus and our community. We urge students to think about how they can make a difference through service, leadership, and innovation. The admissions committee looks closely at applicants’ extracurricular activities and recommendations to assess commitments outside the classroom.”

Personal contributions-“How do you engage with your community—academic, personal, and social? What personal qualities do you possess that would make you a good fit for our campus? We’re looking for students who are eager to follow their interests at the college level and are enthusiastic about joining the campus community.”

So, when it comes to what Johns Hopkins is looking for, the main factors are academic passions, and how you apply these passions to your real-world experience.

Personal statement/supplemental essays

Top schools want to see more from students than just numbers on a transcript. Schools like Johns Hopkins 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 Johns Hopkins need to understand that your essays are what give the Johns Hopkins undergraduate admissions staff a clear picture of who you are and what makes you special.

Schools like Johns Hopkins 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. Johns Hopkins is looking for intelligent, hardworking students, but they’re also looking for interesting people. In order to build an extraordinary student body, Johns Hopkins 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 Johns Hopkins supplemental essay is in keeping with the larger philosophy of the school. It gives you the opportunity to highlight something about yourself that you want the admissions department to know. This could be an essay about your unique interests and how you found them, or it could be about your background or identity. They key is to make your essay as unique and personal as possible. Remember: Johns Hopkins is looking for creative thinkers with deeply help academic passions and a commitment to their community.

Letters of recommendation

When it comes to how to get into Johns Hopkins, one of your most valuable tools is your letter of recommendation. This allows Johns Hopkins 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. Johns Hopkins currently requires one letter of recommendation from your school counselor as well as two letters from teachers in core subjects. You may also submit a letter from someone outside of school, like a mentor or employer.

View of students gathered around a table.

Johns Hopkins uses eight main factors when considering your application: the academic rigor you have chosen in high school, your GPA, test scores, essay, letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, talent, and personal qualities. But they also consider your interview, whether you are a first-generation college student, legacy, geographic residence, state residence, religious affiliation, racial/ethnic status, work experience, and volunteer work.

Academic Competitions

While it is certainly not required that you have competed in or won any academic competitions, these activities can demonstrate to schools that you have taken your education to a higher level. Academic competitions like the Science Olympiad, Biogeneius, and the Scholastic Art and Writing Competition are all well-known competitions that can help students confirm just how committed they are to academics and personal excellence.

Students often wonder if these competitions will really help them during the admissions process, and the reality is that it will be more or less influential depending on the school to which you are applying. For schools like Johns Hopkins which is considered a highly competitive school especially for prospective bioengineering majors, academic competitions are especially useful if the competition was in your chosen field of study.

Campus visit and interview

While Johns Hopkins doesn’t require that you do a campus visit or alumni interview, they do consider your level of sincere interest when considering your application. Obviously, a campus visit or interview is the best way to demonstrate your interest in Johns Hopkins, but you can also accomplish this by reaching out to the admissions department to introduce yourself and ask any specific questions you might have about the school or the application process.

Depending on where you live, a campus visit may not be feasible. You can communicate this to the Johns Hopkins undergraduate admissions department by asking for additional resources to satisfy your curiosity about the campus. Because interviews are not held on-campus, students have the option of setting up an alumni interview anywhere in the world either in-person or via Skype or Zoom. Having an interview with one of their alumni representatives gives you the chance to demonstrate your enthusiasm for Johns Hopkins in a more personal way.

A holistic approach to admissions

Like many schools, Johns Hopkins 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 Johns Hopkins 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 Johns Hopkins University. Instead, your goal as an applicant is to highlight what makes you a strong, unique candidate.

Because Johns Hopkins 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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