How to Get into Notre Dame: Admission Requirements and Tips

November 25, 2023
By AdmissionSight

How to Get into Notre Dame: Admission Requirements and Tips

Renowned for its academic excellence, vibrant campus life, and rich traditions, the University of Notre Dame is a dream destination for many college-bound students. But what does it take to be part of the Notre Dame community?

In this guide, we’ll discuss everything you need to know before you apply to Notre Dame in order to give yourself the best possible chance of getting in.

Overview of Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame was founded in 1842 by Reverend Edward F. Sorin, C.S.C. Located in Notre Dame, Indiana, near the city of South Bend, the university has grown from a small college to a leading Catholic research institution.

Central to Notre Dame’s identity is its deep-rooted Catholic tradition. This is not just evident in its mission and educational approach, but also physically manifested by the iconic Golden Dome and the revered Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Both structures echo the university’s rich religious legacy and its commitment to faith.

Notre Dame Golden Dome

Beyond its spiritual framework, Notre Dame boasts an impeccable reputation for academic excellence. Nationally, it is ranked #20 in the 2024 Best Colleges by U.S. News. On the global stage, the university maintains a strong presence, recognized for its research output, teaching quality, and extensive alumni network.

Speaking of alumni, Notre Dame’s include former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, best-selling author Nicholas Sparks, and legendary NFL quarterback Joe Montana. Their success in fields such as politics, literature, and sports underlines the university’s impact on shaping influential figures in various disciplines.

Choosing this university means becoming part of a legacy that values academic rigor, ethical leadership, and a commitment to making a positive impact in the world. Notre Dame offers a unique blend of a strong liberal arts education, a deep sense of community, and an enduring commitment to personal and professional growth.

It’s a place where tradition meets innovation, and where students are prepared not just for a career, but for a meaningful, well-rounded life.

How Hard Is It to Get into Notre Dame?

Gaining a spot at the University of Notre Dame is an aspiration for many but achieved by a select few. With an acceptance rate that often falls between 11-15%, Notre Dame is among the more selective universities in the country. This figure sets the stage for understanding the competitive nature of Notre Dame’s admission process.

Notre Dame’s acceptance rate

The University of Notre Dame’s acceptance rate has been a clear indicator of its selectivity and prestige in recent years:

Class Acceptance Rate
Class of 2023 15%
Class of 2024 15%
Class of 2025 15%
Class of 2026 13%
Class of 2027 11.9%

Most recently, Notre Dame admitted only 3,399 students out of 28,351 applicants for the Class of 2027, resulting in an acceptance rate of 11.9%, the lowest in the university’s history. This trend reflects not only the high demand for a Notre Dame education but also the rigorous standards upheld by the admissions committee.

It’s essential to view these numbers in context. They should motivate you to present the strongest application possible. Don’t let the selectivity overshadow your unique strengths and potential. Remember, each application is reviewed holistically, so your individual qualities and experiences are crucial.

Factors influencing the acceptance rate

Several key factors play into Notre Dame’s overall acceptance rate:

  • Applicant Pool Size: The number of students applying each year has a direct impact. More applicants typically mean a lower acceptance rate, as the number of available spots doesn’t change significantly.
  • Academic Standards: Your GPA and standardized test scores are crucial. Notre Dame’s high academic standards mean these factors significantly influence whether you make the cut.
  • Holistic Review Process: Your extracurricular activities, essays, and letters of recommendation matter. Notre Dame looks for well-rounded individuals, not just academic achievers.
  • Institutional Priorities: The university’s yearly objectives, like enhancing diversity or focusing on certain academic disciplines, can affect which applicants are accepted.

Understanding these aspects will help you gauge where you stand in the competitive landscape of Notre Dame’s admissions and how to tailor your application effectively.

Notre Dame Admission Requirements

When preparing your application for Notre Dame, you’ll need to meet various requirements that reflect both your academic prowess and personal qualities:

Unknown person using a laptop.

  • GPA: While Notre Dame does not have a stated minimum GPA requirement, successful applicants often have a GPA above 4.0 (unweighted), indicating strong academic performance.
  • SAT/ACT Scores: Notre Dame has adopted a test-optional policy, allowing students to decide whether to submit SAT or ACT scores. If submitted, high scores are generally expected. However, in the absence of test scores, greater emphasis is placed on other application components.
  • Essays: Personal and supplemental essays play a critical role in your application. They should convey your personality, values, and how you align with Notre Dame’s ethos.
  • Extracurricular Activities: Demonstrated leadership and involvement in activities outside the classroom are highly valued, showcasing your broader interests and commitments.
  • Recommendations: Insightful letters of recommendation from teachers or counselors can significantly impact your application, highlighting your academic and personal qualities.

Notre Dame’s admissions process is comprehensive and holistic. Every component of your application is scrutinized to gauge not only your academic qualifications but also your personal attributes and fit with Notre Dame’s ethos.

This process ensures that those selected to join the Notre Dame community are not only academically gifted but also well-rounded individuals ready to contribute to and benefit from the unique Notre Dame experience.

Notre Dame GPA and SAT Requirements

When you’re applying to the University of Notre Dame, your academic performance, as measured by your GPA and SAT scores, plays a pivotal role. Notre Dame uses these metrics as key indicators of your readiness to handle its challenging curriculum.

Your GPA is crucial as it reflects your academic consistency and ability to excel over time in various subjects. A high GPA indicates to Notre Dame that you have the discipline, intellectual curiosity, and work ethic necessary for success at a top-tier university.

Similarly, your SAT scores are significant. They provide a standardized measure of your academic abilities, particularly in critical reading, mathematics, and writing. For Notre Dame, these scores are a way to gauge how well you’re likely to perform in a rigorous academic environment and how prepared you are for college-level coursework.

In summary, both your GPA and SAT scores are crucial components of your Notre Dame application. They not only showcase your academic strengths but also signal to the admissions committee your potential for success in a demanding academic environment. Excelling in these areas can make a significant difference in how your application is perceived.

Notre Dame GPA Requirements

Notre Dame does not officially state an absolute minimum GPA requirement. However, most students accepted into Notre Dame have high GPAs, typically in the 4.0 range, or are at the top of their class.

In the broader context of U.S. college admissions, a GPA in this range places you among the most academically accomplished students nationwide. It indicates that you’re capable of handling the rigorous coursework and intellectual challenges that Notre Dame offers.

Education for college students

As a prospective Notre Dame student, it’s important to view these GPA statistics as benchmarks rather than barriers. They give you a realistic picture of the academic standards at Notre Dame. Remember, while a high GPA is a significant factor, it’s part of a holistic review process that also considers other aspects of your application.

GPA recommendations

For your Notre Dame application to be competitive, follow these tips:

  •  Aim for a GPA of 4.0 or higher.
  • Take advanced courses, such as Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) classes, to push your GPA above 4.0.
  • Balance your academic profile with strong SAT/ACT scores, impressive extracurricular achievements, and compelling essays.

Can you get into Notre Dame with a low GPA?

It is possible to get into the University of Notre Dame with a GPA that might be considered low compared to the typical admitted student. However, it’s important to approach this situation with realistic expectations and a strategic plan.

Consider these strategies:

  • Achieving high scores on standardized tests can help balance a lower GPA. These scores can demonstrate your academic abilities and readiness for college-level coursework.
  • Show that you’ve challenged yourself with advanced or honors courses. Success in these courses can indicate your ability to handle challenging academic material.
  • If your GPA improved over time, this growth can work in your favor. It shows resilience and a commitment to academic improvement.
  • If there were extenuating circumstances contributing to your lower GPA (like personal or family issues), explain these in your application. This context can be important for admissions officers when reviewing your academic record.
  • Remember that Notre Dame’s admissions process is holistic. Highlight your involvement in extracurricular activities. Submit compelling essays and strong recommendations.

Demonstrating your strengths in other areas of your application can help offset a lower GPA. Still, keep a realistic perspective and consider a range of college options to ensure the best fit for your academic and personal goals.

Notre Dame SAT Requirements

While Notre Dame does not enforce an absolute minimum SAT score requirement, especially considering its test-optional policy, the average SAT scores for Notre Dame students typically fall in the higher ranges:

Average SAT Score 25th Percentile SAT Score 75th Percentile SAT Score
1475 1400 1550

SAT scores in these ranges are considerably high. They position you well not just for Notre Dame, but also for other top-tier universities. These scores are indicative of strong critical thinking, analytical, and problem-solving skills, which are highly valued in the college environment.

A score around the 75th percentile (1550) places you above many other applicants, suggesting a higher likelihood of being viewed favorably in terms of academic readiness.

On the other hand, if your SAT score is near the 25th percentile (1400), you’re below the average range of students admitted to Notre Dame. Your application can still be considered, though, especially if other aspects are strong.

SAT and ACT books

Use these statistics as a benchmark. They help you understand the level of academic performance that Notre Dame typically expects from its students. However, given the holistic review process, your SAT score is just one part of your application.

SAT recommendations

For students targeting Notre Dame, here are some SAT recommendations:

  • Aim for a score of 1550 or higher.
  • Invest time in preparing for the SAT, focusing on areas where you can make significant improvements.
  • Taking the SAT more than once can help improve your score, as Notre Dame will consider your highest scores.
  • If your SAT score is not as high as you’d like, strengthen other parts of your application, such as your GPA, essays, and extracurricular activities, to showcase a well-rounded profile.

Notre Dame ACT Requirements

Adhering to its test-optional admissions policy, Notre Dame does not set a strict minimum ACT score. However, the scores of admitted students can offer you a benchmark:

Average ACT Score 25th Percentile ACT Score 75th Percentile ACT Score
34 32 35

ACT scores in this range are exceptional and place you well not just for Notre Dame but also among the top applicants for other prestigious universities in the U.S. These scores reflect strong academic capabilities, particularly in the areas of reasoning, problem-solving, and knowledge application.

Scoring around 35 (75th percentile) positions you above many other applicants and indicates a strong likelihood of meeting Notre Dame’s academic standards.

Meanwhile, scoring around 32 (25th percentile) places you at the lower end of scores typically seen among admitted students but still within a competitive range, especially if other parts of your application are strong.

These statistics serve as a guide to understanding what the university typically looks for in terms of standardized testing. However, it’s important to remember that these scores are just one part of your application due to the holistic review process.

ACT recommendations

If you’re aiming for admission to Notre Dame, follow these ACT tips:

  • Aim for a score of 35 or higher.
  • Focus on a thorough preparation plan that covers all sections of the ACT, identifying and improving in areas where you can gain the most.
  • If your initial score isn’t what you hoped for, consider retaking the ACT. Notre Dame will consider your highest scores.
  • If your ACT score isn’t as high as you’d like, compensate by enhancing other areas of your application, like your GPA, essays, and extracurricular achievements, to build a well-rounded profile.

Is Notre Dame Test-Optional?

The University of Notre Dame is test-optional for the 2024 and 2025 application cycles. This means that submitting SAT or ACT scores is no longer a mandatory requirement for applicants.

The policy offers you two options:

  • If you feel that your SAT or ACT scores represent your academic ability, you can submit them for consideration.
  • Otherwise, you can choose not to. Without test scores, other aspects of your application, such as your GPA, essays, extracurricular activities, and letters of recommendation, will carry more weight.

Notre Dame’s decision to go test-optional is part of a growing trend among universities to make college admissions more accessible and to evaluate students more holistically. Notre Dame aims to ensure that all students, regardless of their background or access to testing, have an equitable chance of admission.

Does Notre Dame Superscore SAT and ACT?

Notre Dame superscores both the SAT and ACT. Meaning, if you choose to submit multiple test scores, the university will consider the highest score from each section across all test dates.

Test score sheet with answers

This approach is maintained even with Notre Dame’s test-optional policy, ensuring that students who submit scores are evaluated in the most favorable light.

Knowing that Notre Dame superscores should inform your test-taking strategy:

  • If you decide to submit SAT or ACT scores as part of your application, you can take the tests multiple times and focus on improving specific sections. Notre Dame’s superscoring policy means that your highest scores in each section will be combined to create your best possible composite score.
  • If you excel in certain sections on one test date but not others, you have the opportunity to retake the test with a focus on improving the weaker sections.
  • If your scores are strong and reflect well on your application, superscoring can enhance your candidacy. However, if you believe your scores do not adequately represent your academic abilities, you may choose not to submit them.

What Does Notre Dame Look for in Students?

The University of Notre Dame looks for individuals who resonate with its core values and can contribute meaningfully to its diverse programs.

In particular, Notre Dame prides itself on its commitment to academic excellence, community, and holistic education. Understanding these values is crucial as it informs what Notre Dame expects from its students and how you can align your application accordingly.

Here’s a closer look at the qualities Notre Dame seeks:

1. Strong academic performance

At Notre Dame, academic prowess is about demonstrating a zeal for learning and intellectual exploration. The university prides itself on fostering an environment where scholarly inquiry and academic challenges are the norm. Here, students are encouraged to think critically and pursue knowledge with vigor.

To showcase this quality in your application, focus on presenting a solid academic record. This includes strong performance in challenging courses like AP or IB classes, which indicate your ability to handle rigorous academic material.

If you have been involved in research projects or academic competitions, these experiences can also underscore your intellectual curiosity and dedication to academic excellence.

While Notre Dame has adopted a test-optional policy, if you have strong SAT or ACT scores, including them can bolster your application. These scores can serve as an additional testament to your academic capabilities, especially in a competitive applicant pool.

However, remember that in the absence of test scores, your course choices and grades will speak volumes about your academic readiness.

2. Passionate engagement in extracurricular activities

Notre Dame seeks students who bring passion and leadership to their extracurricular pursuits. It’s about how deeply you engage with these activities and the impact you make. Whether you’re a captain of a sports team, a leader in student government, or an active volunteer in community service, your dedication and impact in these areas matter.

When discussing your extracurriculars, it’s important to narrate not just what you did, but also why you did it and what you learned from it. This could be about a challenge you overcame, a significant achievement, or how these experiences shaped your character and values.

Team of young volunteers in red shirts

Highlighting the depth of your commitment and the breadth of your impact in these activities can set your application apart.

Your extracurricular involvement is a window into who you are beyond academics. It shows your interests, skills, and values. Notre Dame values this because it’s looking for students who will contribute to the campus community in diverse and meaningful ways.

Therefore, ensure your activities reflect genuine interests and passions, and convey how they align with the values Notre Dame holds dear.

3. Commitment to holistic education

Notre Dame’s approach to education extends beyond the classroom walls. It emphasizes the formation of the whole person—intellectually, morally, spiritually, and socially. The university values students who understand and embrace this holistic educational philosophy, recognizing that true education is about personal development in all aspects of life.

In your application, articulate how your experiences have contributed to your personal growth. This could include reflections on how overcoming challenges has shaped your resilience, how engaging with diverse perspectives has broadened your worldview, or how your involvement in community service has developed your sense of social responsibility.

Ultimately, Notre Dame is preparing students not just for a career, but for a life of purpose and impact. Showcasing your commitment to holistic education means demonstrating how you are preparing yourself to be an informed, ethical, and active citizen in a complex world.

It’s about showing your readiness to contribute positively to Notre Dame and beyond, in line with the university’s mission to cultivate leaders who make a difference.

In summary, by focusing on these qualities and articulating them effectively in your application, you can demonstrate your alignment with what Notre Dame values in its students, thus enhancing your chances of being part of this esteemed institution.

Notre Dame Application Tips

Crafting a compelling application for the University of Notre Dame involves more than just meeting the basic requirements. It’s about strategically showcasing your strengths and aligning them with what the university values most in its students.

In this section, we’ll explore practical tips that can enhance your application, reflecting the key qualities Notre Dame looks for.

1. Excel academically.

Academic excellence is a critical component of a successful application to Notre Dame. The university seeks students who not only have strong academic records but also exhibit intellectual curiosity and a commitment to scholarly pursuits.

Excelling academically indicates to the admissions committee that you are prepared for the rigorous academic environment at Notre Dame and are likely to succeed and contribute positively to their academic community.

Specific tips:

  • Pursue rigorous coursework. Engage in advanced courses such as AP, IB, or honors classes. This demonstrates your willingness to challenge yourself and handle college-level work, a quality highly valued at Notre Dame.
  • Maintain a high GPA. Your GPA reflects your overall academic performance. Strive for excellence in your grades, showing consistency and dedication in your academic endeavors. A high GPA is a strong indicator of your ability to meet Notre Dame’s academic standards.
  • Show growth and improvement. If your academic journey includes challenges or initial setbacks, illustrate how you have grown from these experiences. An upward trend in grades or a strong performance in your later high school years can showcase your resilience and determination.
  • Consider standardized tests. While Notre Dame has a test-optional policy, strong SAT or ACT scores can still be beneficial. If you have high test scores, they can serve as an additional testament to your academic preparedness. However, in the absence of test scores, emphasize the other aspects of your academic profile.

Moreover, you can effectively demonstrate your academic strength by exploring the following activities:

a woman looking at a microscope and a man writing notes


Engaging in academic research showcases your dedication to scholarly inquiry and your ability to contribute to your field of interest.

  • Research Science Institute (RSI): Conducted at MIT, RSI is a prestigious summer research program for high school students, offering opportunities in science, mathematics, and engineering research.
  • Simons Summer Research Program: Hosted by Stony Brook University, this program allows high school students to participate in hands-on research under the guidance of faculty mentors in STEM fields.


Participating in academic competitions can highlight your subject mastery and problem-solving skills.

  • Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF): This global science competition provides a platform for students to present independent research.
  • American Mathematics Competitions (AMC): This is a series of examinations leading to the International Mathematical Olympiad, challenging students with complex mathematical problems.

Summer programs

Attending academic summer programs allows you to explore subjects in depth and demonstrates your commitment to learning beyond the regular school year.

  • Notre Dame Leadership Seminars: These seminars offer high school students the chance to participate in academic explorations and leadership training at Notre Dame.
  • Stanford University Mathematics Camp (SUMaC): This summer camp provides an immersive experience in advanced mathematics, including research and problem-solving.


Participation in academic internships can provide practical experience and show your ability to apply classroom knowledge in real-world settings.

  • NASA High School Internship: This internship provides students with opportunities to work on research projects under the guidance of NASA scientists, ideal for those interested in STEM fields.
  • Library of Congress Junior Fellows Summer Intern Program: This program offers high school students the chance to work on various projects at the Library of Congress.

2. Showcase passion in extracurricular activities.

Notre Dame seeks students who are not just academically accomplished but also actively engaged in their interests and communities. Your extracurricular activities reflect your personality, passions, and potential to contribute to Notre Dame’s vibrant community.

Demonstrating deep involvement and leadership in these activities indicates that you are a well-rounded individual with diverse interests.

Specific tips:

  • Highlight depth of involvement. Rather than a long list of activities, Notre Dame values depth and commitment. Focus on activities where you have shown significant involvement and leadership. This could include roles in student organizations, sports teams, community service, or other interests that are important to you.
  • Show impact and leadership. It’s important to demonstrate how you have made a tangible impact in your activities. Highlight any leadership roles, initiatives you’ve spearheaded, or significant contributions you’ve made to your school or community through these activities.
  • Connect activities to personal growth. Discuss how your extracurricular experiences have contributed to your personal development. Reflect on the skills you’ve gained, the challenges you’ve overcome, and how these experiences have shaped your character and goals.
  • Align with Notre Dame’s values. Illustrate how your extracurricular involvement aligns with Notre Dame’s core values. Whether it’s through service, leadership, or other forms of engagement, show how your activities reflect the qualities Notre Dame values in its students.

Furthermore, you can emphasize your extracurricular involvement by pursuing the following areas:

Art student with art professor checking students work


Engaging in art-focused programs demonstrates creativity, dedication, and a deep appreciation for cultural and artistic expression, highlighting a student’s ability to think innovatively and emotionally.

  • National YoungArts Foundation: This program recognizes and supports young artists in various disciplines, offering opportunities for artistic development and scholarships.
  • All-State Music Competitions: Participating in these competitions demonstrates musical talent and dedication, as they involve rigorous selection at state-level events.


Active participation in sports, especially in competitive or leadership roles, showcases teamwork, discipline, and resilience, reflecting a student’s ability to balance physical prowess with academic commitments.

  • National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS): Engaging in NFHS-sanctioned sports allows students to exhibit athletic skills and leadership, particularly if they achieve recognition or captain their teams.
  • AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) Sports: Participating in AAU sports, known for competitive youth athletics, showcases a high level of commitment and potential leadership in a chosen sport.

School clubs

Involvement in school clubs, particularly in leadership roles, displays a commitment to intellectual pursuits or special interests outside of standard academics, indicating a well-rounded and engaged student profile.

  • DECA: An international association for high school and college students interested in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management, DECA provides opportunities to develop business skills and leadership.
  • Model United Nations: Involvement in Model UN fosters skills in diplomacy, international relations, and public speaking, offering leadership roles in organizing and participating in conferences.

Community service

Participation in community service activities highlights a student’s empathy, social responsibility, and willingness to contribute positively to society, aligning well with Notre Dame’s values of service and community engagement.

  • Key Club International: As the oldest and largest service program for high school students, Key Club offers numerous opportunities for leadership in community service projects.
  • Habitat for Humanity Youth Programs: Engaging with Habitat for Humanity allows students to participate in and lead meaningful projects focused on building homes and communities.

3. Craft compelling essays.

Your essays are a vital component of your Notre Dame application, offering a unique opportunity to present your personal narrative. They allow you to express your individuality, showcase your writing skills, and articulate how your experiences and values align with Notre Dame’s ethos.

Compelling essays can distinguish your application by giving the admissions committee insights into who you are beyond your grades and test scores.

Specific tips:

  • Showcase your unique voice. Your essays should reflect your authentic voice and personality. Write about experiences and perspectives that are uniquely yours, avoiding generic topics or responses.
  • Tell a story. Engage the reader by telling a story. Whether it’s a significant experience, a challenge you’ve overcome, or an insight you’ve gained, a well-told narrative can make your essay memorable.
  • Reflect and connect. Use your essays to reflect on your experiences and demonstrate how they have shaped you. Make connections to how these experiences align with your future goals and with Notre Dame’s values and community.
  • Edit and refine. Pay close attention to the clarity and flow of your essays. Proofread for grammatical errors and awkward phrasing. Consider getting feedback from teachers, counselors, or mentors to polish your essays.

4. Gather strong letters of recommendation.

Letters of recommendation provide the Notre Dame admissions committee with a third-party perspective on your academic and personal qualities. They offer insights into your character, work ethic, and potential that grades and test scores cannot convey.

a teeacher teaching a student

Strong letters can significantly elevate your application by validating your accomplishments and suitability for Notre Dame.

Specific tips:

  • Select appropriate recommenders. Choose teachers, counselors, or mentors who know you well and can speak to your strengths, achievements, and character. Ideally, these should be individuals who have observed you in a setting relevant to your academic and personal growth.
  • Provide your recommenders with context. Help your recommenders by providing them with information about your goals, why you’re applying to Notre Dame, and key points you’d like them to emphasize. This ensures that their letters are aligned with your overall application narrative.
  • Request early and follow up politely. Ask for recommendations well in advance of the deadline to give your recommenders sufficient time to write thoughtful letters. A gentle reminder as the deadline approaches can be helpful.
  • Express gratitude. After your recommenders have submitted their letters, be sure to thank them for their time and effort. This not only is a courteous gesture but also helps maintain a positive relationship.

5. Research and demonstrate interest in Notre Dame.

Demonstrating genuine interest in Notre Dame is a key component of a strong application. Notre Dame, like many universities, looks for students who are not only academically qualified but also a good fit for their unique community and values.

Showing that you have taken the time to understand what Notre Dame stands for and how it aligns with your own goals and values can make your application stand out.

Specific tips:

  • Conduct thorough research. Start by diving deep into Notre Dame’s website, exploring academic programs, student life, extracurricular activities, and the university’s mission and history. Understanding the specifics of what Notre Dame offers helps you tailor your application to reflect a well-informed interest.
  • Engage with the Notre Dame community. If possible, visit the campus, attend information sessions (virtual or in-person), and connect with current students or alumni. This engagement provides valuable insights into the Notre Dame experience and shows a proactive effort to understand the university beyond its website.
  • Reflect your interest in your application. In your essays, specifically reference aspects of Notre Dame that resonate with you. Whether it’s a particular academic program, the university’s values, or campus traditions, make it clear why Notre Dame is the right fit for you.
  • Stay updated and involved. Keep up-to-date with Notre Dame’s latest news and developments, and mention any recent events or changes at the university that have furthered your interest. This demonstrates that your interest is ongoing and well-informed.

6. Prepare early for your Notre Dame application.

Starting your Notre Dame application process early is crucial. It allows you ample time to thoughtfully prepare each component of your application, from academic records to essays, and ensures you can meet all deadlines without undue stress.

Early preparation also provides you the opportunity to refine your application, making it as strong as possible.

Specific tips:

doing some school stuff in their dorms.

  • Understand application components and deadlines. Familiarize yourself with all the components of the Notre Dame application and the deadlines for submission. This includes academic transcripts, test scores (if submitting), essays, recommendation letters, and any additional requirements specific to Notre Dame.
  • Plan your coursework and extracurriculars. Plan your high school coursework and extracurricular activities with your Notre Dame application in mind. Engage in courses and activities that align with Notre Dame’s values and showcase your strengths and interests.
  • Start drafting essays early. Begin working on your essays well in advance. This gives you time to brainstorm, draft, receive feedback, and revise, ensuring that your essays effectively communicate your voice and story.
  • Request recommendations in advance. Approach your recommenders early, providing them with sufficient time to write detailed and supportive letters. Share your goals and reasons for applying to Notre Dame, so they can tailor their recommendations to your application.

Subjects to Take to Get into Notre Dame

Understanding Notre Dame’s specific high school academic requirements is crucial in selecting your high school subjects. Aligning your coursework with these requirements demonstrates your preparedness for the university’s academic rigors and your ability to meet its expectations.

Notre Dame’s core requirements

Notre Dame requires students to complete certain high school courses for admission consideration. These requirements ensure that you have a strong foundational knowledge base across key academic areas.

The university specifies a total of 16 units across various subjects, with particular emphasis on the student’s intended area of study:

  • English: 4 units.
  • Mathematics: 3 units (4 units preferred) including Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry. Students interested in the College of Science, College of Engineering, School of Architecture, or certain majors within the College of Arts & Letters should complete 4 units, including advanced courses like Pre-Calculus or Calculus.
  • Foreign Language: 2 units (3-4 units preferred) in the same language, which should be one offered by Notre Dame.
  • Science: 2 units (4 units preferred). Specific majors within the College of Science or College of Engineering require a unit of Chemistry, and several majors recommend or require a unit of Physics.
  • History/Social Science: 2 units (3-4 units preferred).

Additional considerations:

  • Advanced Coursework: The most competitive applicants often have four units in each major academic area and take the most rigorous courses available at their high school.
  • Early Credits: Notre Dame counts algebra and foreign language courses completed during the eighth grade towards admission requirements, assuming you progress to the next level of those subjects in high school.

Subject recommendations

In light of Notre Dame’s requirements, consider the following:

  • Focus on core areas. Prioritize English, Mathematics, Foreign Language, Science, and History/Social Science, ensuring you meet or exceed the required units.
  • Take advanced courses. Enroll in AP, IB, honors, or dual-enrollment courses, especially in areas related to your intended major, to demonstrate academic rigor.
  • Plan for major-specific requirements. If you have a specific major in mind, align your courses with the additional requirements or recommendations for that major, such as taking advanced math for STEM fields or additional science courses for majors requiring Chemistry or Physics.


By strategically planning your high school curriculum in accordance with Notre Dame’s academic requirements, you can demonstrate your readiness for the university’s challenging academic environment and improve your chances of admission.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Your Notre Dame Application

Navigating the college application process can be complex, and it’s easy to overlook certain aspects. Here are the top five mistakes to avoid in your Notre Dame application, along with tips on how to sidestep them.

1. Neglecting Notre Dame’s core values

Many applicants overlook integrating Notre Dame’s core values into their application. This oversight can lead to a generic application that fails to resonate with the university’s unique ethos, making it difficult for the admissions committee to see how you would fit into their community.

How to avoid this mistake:

  • Deeply research Notre Dame’s mission, ethos, and culture. Integrate your understanding of these elements into your application, especially in your essays.
  • Discuss how your values, experiences, and goals resonate with what Notre Dame stands for. This alignment shows the admissions committee that you are not only a good academic fit but also a cultural fit for the university community.

2. Overlooking the importance of essays

Treating essays as a secondary component is a common error. Essays are your opportunity to communicate directly with the admissions committee and provide insights into your personality, making them crucial for setting your application apart.

How to avoid this mistake:

  • Approach your essays as a critical component of your application. Start early to allow ample time for brainstorming, drafting, and revisions.
  • Ensure that your essays are reflective, insightful, and authentic. They should narrate your unique story, shed light on your personality, and explicitly articulate why Notre Dame is the right place for you.
  • Seek feedback from teachers or mentors to refine your essays further.

3. Failing to demonstrate interest

Not actively showing your interest in Notre Dame can be detrimental. Without this, your application might lack the depth and personal touch that indicates you are earnest about becoming part of the Notre Dame community.

How to avoid this mistake:

  • Actively demonstrate your interest in Notre Dame by engaging with the university through campus visits, virtual tours, webinars, and interaction with admissions officers.
  • In your application, especially in supplemental essays, mention specific programs, resources, or aspects of Notre Dame that excite you and how they align with your academic and personal goals. This shows that your interest in Notre Dame is well-researched and genuine.

4. Ignoring application details

Overlooking key components of the application or missing deadlines can lead to an incomplete application or missed opportunities. Such errors can give the impression of a lack of seriousness or poor organizational skills.

How to avoid this mistake:

  • Organize and track all parts of the Notre Dame application process meticulously.
  • Create a detailed checklist of requirements, including course prerequisites, essays, recommendation letters, and standardized test scores (if submitting).
  • Pay close attention to deadlines, and plan to submit your application well in advance to avoid last-minute issues.

5. Mismanaging recommendations

Choosing inappropriate recommenders or failing to guide them effectively can result in recommendations that are generic or don’t fully capture your strengths and potential, diminishing the impact of this crucial component.

Confident, thoughtful woman looking at a laptop, holding her glasses

How to avoid this mistake:

  • Carefully choose recommenders, such as teachers or mentors, who have a deep understanding of your academic performance, character, and extracurricular involvement.
  • Provide them with a brief of your Notre Dame aspirations, highlights of your high school journey, and any specific points you would like them to address. This guidance helps them craft more personalized and impactful recommendations.

By avoiding these mistakes and approaching each component of your application thoughtfully, you can enhance your chances of being admitted to Notre Dame.

How to Apply to Notre Dame

Applying to the University of Notre Dame begins with understanding and preparing each component of the application:

Mandatory requirements

  • Common Application or Coalition Application: These platforms allow you to apply to multiple colleges, including Notre Dame, with one application. They include sections for personal information, academic history, and extracurricular activities. Start your application early and thoroughly review all sections to ensure accuracy and completeness.
  • Notre Dame Writing Supplement: This supplement requires additional essays and short responses that are specific to Notre Dame, allowing you to demonstrate your fit with the university. Tailor your responses to reflect Notre Dame’s values and how they align with your goals.
  • Official High School Transcripts: A transcript provides a comprehensive record of your academic performance throughout high school. Check with your high school counselor to ensure your transcript is complete and sent to Notre Dame by the application deadline.
  • Letter of Evaluation: A recommendation from a teacher who can speak to your academic abilities and character. Choose a teacher who knows you well and can provide specific examples of your academic and personal strengths.
  • Application Fee or Waiver: A $75 fee required when submitting your application. If the fee poses a financial burden, consider requesting a fee waiver through the application platforms.

Optional requirements

  • SAT/ACT Scores: Notre Dame is test-optional for the 2024 and 2025 application cycles, meaning submitting SAT or ACT scores is your choice. If your scores are strong, submitting them can enhance your application. If you feel they don’t represent your abilities well, focus on strengthening other areas of your application.
  • Counselor Evaluation: An optional evaluation from your school counselor can provide additional context about your academic and personal background. If you choose to include a counselor evaluation, which is highly recommended, make sure it’s from someone familiar with your academic journey and extracurricular commitments.

Step-by-step process

Now, we will walk you through the entire application journey, breaking it down into key phases for a clear and manageable approach:

1. Preparation

Begin by researching Notre Dame thoroughly to understand its ethos, programs, and what it offers. Start planning your high school courses and extracurricular activities to align with Notre Dame’s requirements and values. This phase also involves identifying potential recommenders for your letters of evaluation.

2. Application compilation

Start filling out your Common Application or Coalition Application, ensuring all personal and academic information is accurate and complete. Simultaneously, work on your Notre Dame Writing Supplement, crafting essays that reflect your personality and alignment with the university. Request your high school transcripts and letters of evaluation during this phase.

Notre Dame

3. Review and submission

Review all components of your application thoroughly. This includes proofreading essays, checking the completeness of all sections, and confirming that your transcripts and letters of recommendation are in order. Pay the application fee (or request a fee waiver if applicable) and submit your application before the deadline.

4. Post-submission

After submitting your application, stay engaged with Notre Dame. This can involve participating in alumni interviews if offered, attending virtual events, and keeping an eye on your application status via the university’s portal. Ensure any additional or missing documents are submitted promptly.

5. Awaiting results

While waiting for the admission decision, focus on maintaining strong academic performance and staying involved in your extracurricular activities. Prepare for other college applications if you are applying to multiple universities. Lastly, check your email and application portal regularly for updates from Notre Dame.

Other Notre Dame Application Matters

Navigating the application process for Notre Dame involves not only preparing your application but also understanding the various options and resources available to you. This includes comprehending the financial aid opportunities, different application pathways, and application deadlines.

Scholarships and financial aid

Notre Dame provides an array of financial support options, encompassing both need-based and merit-based scholarships.

Need-based aid includes university scholarships, club scholarships, private scholarships, as well as federal and state grants. Merit-based awards recognize exceptional achievement and potential, irrespective of financial need.

The university’s participation in Questbridge highlights its commitment to supporting high-achieving, low-income students.

Notre Dame’s pledge to meet 100% of demonstrated financial need underscores its commitment to making education accessible, encouraging students to apply for financial aid if needed.

Regular Decision vs Early Action

Understanding the differences between Notre Dame’s Restrictive Early Action (REA) and Regular Decision pathways is vital.

REA is a non-binding option that allows applicants to receive an early response from the university, whereas Regular Decision provides more time to complete applications but typically offers later admission notifications.

Both pathways allow students the flexibility to consider their options fully before making a final decision. The choice between REA and Regular Decision should be based on your preparedness, application strength, and readiness to commit to Notre Dame.

Application deadlines

For prospective students of the University of Notre Dame, being aware of the specific application deadlines is crucial for timely submission:

  • Restrictive Early Action: November 1
  • Regular Decision: January 1

It’s important to note that both the REA and Regular Decision processes are non-binding, allowing students ample time to make their final decision about attending Notre Dame.


In conclusion, applying to the University of Notre Dame requires meticulous preparation across various aspects.

Key elements include understanding and meeting the university’s academic requirements, aligning your application with Notre Dame’s core values, and navigating the application process including financial aid options, application pathways, and deadlines.

Equally crucial is crafting compelling essays, securing strong recommendations, and ensuring all application components are thoroughly and thoughtfully addressed.

The competition for admission to Notre Dame is intense. The university seeks students who not only excel academically but also embody a diverse range of talents, leadership qualities, and alignment with its ethos. Prospective students must approach the application process with both ambition and strategic planning.

We can help you figure out how to get into Notre Dame

At AdmissionSight, we specialize in guiding students through the competitive college admissions landscape.

Our expertise in application strategy, essay writing, and holistic preparation can significantly enhance your chances of admission to Notre Dame. We offer personalized counseling to highlight your unique strengths and align your application with Notre Dame’s expectations.

Contact us for a free consultation and take the first step towards realizing your Notre Dame aspirations.


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