Notre Dame vs Washington University in St. Louis: A Comprehensive Analysis

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Female student explaining something to her classmate.

Notre Dame vs Washington University in St. Louis: A Comprehensive Analysis

When it comes to choosing the right college or university, the options can be overwhelming. Two schools that often warrant consideration are Notre Dame and Washington University in St. Louis. Both are prestigious institutions with top-notch academics, impressive campuses, and a host of extracurricular activities. But how does Notre Dame vs Washington University in St. Louis compare in terms of location, student body, faculty, research, athletics, and affordability?

Introduction: The Purpose of this Comparison

The purpose of this article is to provide prospective students with a comprehensive comparison of Notre Dame and Washington University in St. Louis. By exploring each institution’s academic programs, student life, and other key factors, we hope to provide a clear picture of the similarities and differences between these two schools.

Notre Dame and Washington University in St. Louis are both highly respected institutions with unique strengths and opportunities. Notre Dame is known for its strong Catholic identity and commitment to service, while Washington University is renowned for its research programs and emphasis on interdisciplinary learning.

Additionally, both schools offer a wide range of extracurricular activities and opportunities for students to get involved on campus. From sports teams and clubs to volunteer organizations and cultural events, there is no shortage of ways for students to engage with their peers and the broader community.

Notre Dame vs Washington University in St. Louis: Location and Campus Size

Both Notre Dame and Washington University are located in the Midwest, but their settings are quite different. Notre Dame is situated in the small town of South Bend, Indiana, while Washington University is located in the heart of St. Louis, Missouri. The Notre Dame campus is spread across a sprawling 1,250 acres, while Washington University’s campus is more compact, covering just over 150 acres. Each campus offers its own unique features and amenities, making it important to visit each location to get a feel for the environment.

Notre Dame’s location in South Bend, Indiana, provides a more secluded and peaceful atmosphere, with a strong sense of community among students and faculty. In contrast, Washington University’s location in St. Louis offers students access to a vibrant city with numerous cultural and entertainment options. Despite the differences in size, both campuses offer state-of-the-art facilities and resources to support students’ academic and personal growth.

Notre Dame vs Washington University in St. Louis Academic Offerings: What Programs Do They Offer?

Both Notre Dame and Washington University have a wide range of academic programs available for students. At Notre Dame, students can choose from over 65 undergraduate majors and 25 graduate programs.

Washington University offers over 90 undergraduate majors and 85 graduate programs. Both schools have a strong emphasis on the liberal arts, as well as top-ranked programs in fields like business, engineering, and the sciences. Additionally, both schools have highly regarded professional programs, including Notre Dame’s law school and Washington University’s medical school.

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Notre Dame also offers unique interdisciplinary programs, such as the Glynn Family Honors Program, which combines courses in philosophy, literature, and history with a focus on ethical leadership. Washington University has a strong commitment to research, with opportunities for students to work alongside faculty on cutting-edge projects in fields like medicine, engineering, and social sciences.

Both schools also offer study abroad programs, allowing students to gain international experience and cultural immersion. Notre Dame has partnerships with over 50 universities around the world, while Washington University has its own campus in Italy, offering programs in art, architecture, and Italian language and culture.

Student Body: Who Attends These Universities?

The student bodies of Notre Dame and Washington University differ in terms of size and diversity. Notre Dame enrolls just over 12,000 students, with a roughly equal split between male and female students. The university has historically been known for its Catholic identity, with nearly 80% of the student body identifying as Catholic. In contrast, Washington University has a larger student body of around 15,000, with a more diverse range of backgrounds and identities. About 25% of the student body at Washington University is international, and the school has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion.

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Despite the differences in size and diversity, both universities have a strong commitment to academic excellence and student success. Notre Dame is known for its rigorous academic programs, with a focus on undergraduate education and research opportunities.

Washington University, on the other hand, is a leading research institution with a wide range of graduate and professional programs. Both universities offer a variety of extracurricular activities and opportunities for students to get involved on campus and in the community.

Faculty and Teaching Styles: What are the Differences?

The faculty at both universities are highly accomplished and dedicated to teaching. Notre Dame and Washington University boast numerous faculty members who have been awarded Nobel Prizes, MacArthur Genius Grants, and other prestigious honors.

One of the main differences between the schools is their teaching styles. Notre Dame has a more traditional approach, with a heavy emphasis on lectures and classroom instruction. Washington University, on the other hand, places a greater emphasis on collaboration and experiential learning, with many courses featuring project-based assignments and teamwork.

Group of students smiling at the camera.

Another notable difference between the two universities is the size of their classes. Notre Dame tends to have smaller class sizes, which allows for more individualized attention from professors and a greater opportunity for class discussion.

In contrast, Washington University’s classes tend to be larger, but the university compensates for this by offering smaller discussion sections led by teaching assistants. This allows for more personalized attention and discussion, even in larger classes.

Research Opportunities: What Research is Being Conducted at Each University?

Both Notre Dame and Washington University are renowned for their research programs. Notre Dame has a strong focus on issues related to sustainability, energy, and the environment, with numerous research centers and institutes devoted to these areas.

Washington University is a leader in the biomedical sciences, with a top-ranked medical school and many interdisciplinary research initiatives. Both schools offer plenty of opportunities for students to get involved in research and make meaningful contributions to their respective fields.

At Notre Dame, research is not limited to the sciences. The university also has a strong emphasis on the humanities and social sciences, with research centers dedicated to topics such as peace studies, poverty, and human development. Students interested in these areas can work with faculty members on projects that explore the intersection of these fields with sustainability and environmental issues.

Meanwhile, at Washington University, students can participate in research projects that span a wide range of disciplines.

Extracurricular Activities: What Activities are Available Outside the Classroom?

Both Notre Dame and Washington University offer a wealth of extracurricular activities for students to explore. Notre Dame has a vibrant campus life, with over 400 student organizations and clubs, as well as robust athletic teams and a strong Greek life culture. Washington University has a similarly thriving campus life, with over 450 student organizations and clubs, as well as a diverse range of cultural and community engagement programs. Both schools strive to provide students with opportunities to explore their interests and passions outside of the classroom.

At Notre Dame, students can participate in a variety of service and volunteer opportunities, including the Center for Social Concerns and the Appalachia Seminar. These programs allow students to engage with local and global communities, while also developing leadership and communication skills.

Washington University also offers numerous service opportunities, such as the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement, which connects students with local organizations and initiatives. Additionally, both schools have strong arts and performance programs, with opportunities to participate in theater productions, music ensembles, and visual arts exhibitions.

Athletics and Sports Teams: How Do The Sports Programs Compare?

Notre Dame is known for its storied athletic tradition, with over 25 national championships in football, soccer, and other sports. The Fighting Irish are a member of the NCAA’s Division I and compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Washington University’s athletics program is also highly regarded, with several national championships in sports like cross country and tennis.

The school is a member of the NCAA’s Division III and competes in the University Athletic Association. Both schools have a strong commitment to athletic excellence and provide plenty of opportunities for students to get involved in sports.

However, there are some differences between the two schools’ sports programs. Notre Dame’s football program is one of the most well-known in the country, with a large fan base and a history of success.

On the other hand, Washington University’s sports teams may not have the same level of national recognition, but they have a strong focus on individual and team development, with a commitment to sportsmanship and community involvement. Additionally, Washington University offers a wider range of sports teams, including ultimate frisbee, fencing, and squash, providing students with more opportunities to explore their interests and try new activities.

Cost and Financial Aid: How Much Does it Cost to Attend Each University?

Attending Notre Dame or Washington University comes with a significant financial commitment. The cost of tuition and fees at Notre Dame are $60,301, while Washington University’s cost for the same year is $60,590. However, both schools offer generous financial aid packages to qualified students. Notre Dame meets 100% of a student’s demonstrated financial need, while Washington University meets 100% of demonstrated financial need for students from families making less than $75,000 per year.

It is important to note that the cost of attending a university goes beyond just tuition and fees. Students must also consider the cost of room and board, textbooks, and other expenses. Additionally, students should also consider the potential return on investment of their education. Both Notre Dame and Washington University have strong alumni networks and high job placement rates.

According to a recent survey, Notre Dame graduates have a median starting salary of $65,000, while Washington University graduates have a median starting salary of $70,000. These factors should also be taken into account when making a decision about which university to attend.

Admissions Process and Requirements: What Do You Need to Get Accepted?

Both Notre Dame and Washington University have highly competitive admissions processes. For the class of 2025, Notre Dame had an acceptance rate of 15%, while Washington University had an acceptance rate of 13%. Applicants to both schools will need strong academic records, extracurricular achievements, and compelling essays to be considered for admission.

Notre Dame also requires applicants to submit writing samples and recommendations, while Washington University recommends but does not require such submissions. It is important to note that each school has different admissions requirements, so prospective students should consult each institution’s website for full details.

Additionally, both schools offer early decision and early action options for applicants. Early decision is a binding agreement, meaning that if a student is accepted, they must attend the school and withdraw all other applications.

Early action is non-binding, allowing students to apply to multiple schools and make a decision later. However, early action deadlines are typically earlier than regular decision deadlines, so students should plan accordingly. It is important to carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of each option before making a decision.

Alumni Networks and Career Services: How Do Graduates Fare in the Job Market?

Notre Dame and Washington University both have strong alumni networks and robust career services offerings. Notre Dame has a highly engaged alumni community, with over 147,000 living alumni worldwide. The university’s Career Center provides students with access to internships, job fairs, and career counseling services. Washington University also boasts a strong alumni network, with over 140,000 graduates living across the globe. The school’s Career Center helps students explore career options, develop job search strategies, and connect with employers through networking opportunities and other resources.

Group of students walking in the stairs.

Recent data shows that graduates from both universities have had success in the job market. According to a survey conducted by Notre Dame, 95% of their graduates were employed or pursuing further education within six months of graduation. Similarly, Washington University reported that 94% of their graduates were employed or attending graduate school within six months of graduation. These impressive employment rates can be attributed in part to the strong alumni networks and career services offered by both universities.

Conclusion: Which School is Right for You?

Deciding between Notre Dame and Washington University in St. Louis ultimately depends on your individual goals and preferences. If you are seeking a more traditional campus experience with a strong focus on Catholic values and a rich athletic tradition, Notre Dame may be the right fit.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a more diverse and innovative campus experience with a focus on experiential learning and collaboration, Washington University may be the better option. Ultimately, both schools offer exceptional academic programs, robust campus life opportunities, and strong career services offerings.

It is important to consider the location of each school as well. Notre Dame is located in South Bend, Indiana, which is a smaller city with a strong sense of community. Washington University, on the other hand, is located in St. Louis, Missouri, which is a larger city with more opportunities for internships and networking. Additionally, the cost of attendance may also be a factor in your decision. Notre Dame is a private university with a higher tuition cost, while Washington University is a private university with a lower tuition cost. Ultimately, it is important to weigh all of these factors and make a decision based on what is best for your individual needs and goals.



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