What Does it Take to Get Into The University of Notre Dame?

Strategies by School
April 30, 2020
The University Of Notre Dame Is Irreplaceable In The College World...

No other private research university in the U.S. perfectly blends together a classic college experience with countless opportunities for students to use their gifts for the good of their communities. Their Fighting Irish sports teams have made their name in history as one of the most iconic brands in the college sports business, and students who graduate from this school are entering into a world of opportunity.

If you’re ready to bring your education to the next level on a unified campus, keep reading and learn how to get into Notre Dame.

What You’ll Find In This College Guide:

Notre Dame's Ideal Student

The average GPA and standardized test scores for incoming Notre Dame freshmen are:

  • GPA: 3.91
  • SAT: 1480
  • ACT: 34

While Notre Dame ranks #1 for highest SAT and ACT scores, it also ranks #2 among Indiana colleges with the highest average GPA among freshmen; in order to be considered for admission into Notre Dame, you’ll need to graduate in the top five percent of your class. For your SAT and ACT scores, you’ll also need to score in at least the top two percent of all national scores.

Of all Indiana universities, Notre Dame has the lowest acceptance rate at 17%. If you’re wondering how to get into Notre Dame but have no idea where to start, raising your GPA and taking your standardized tests a second time to earn higher scores could be a good place to start. Fortunately, while it is exceptionally difficult to gain admission without strong scores, Notre Dame admissions has been known to admit students with SAT scores as low as 1300. Regardless of required scores, Notre Dame is looking for students who will thrive on their campus and make their institution a better one with their presence, meaning they’re looking for a few key qualities.


Many college admissions teams approach the application review process holistically, meaning that every part of your application is relevant and essential to your possible acceptance. Notre Dame takes this holistic approach as well.

They want their applicants to come to Notre Dame with a solid understanding of the importance of balancing academics, extracurriculars, career opportunities, and of course, fun and community.

  • How did you establish balance in your normal high school routine?
  • What kind of classes and extracurricular activities did you participate in? How did you expand your range to take many different subjects and areas of focus?
  • How will Notre Dame help you further a holistic education?


Notre Dame was founded in 1842 as a Catholic University, and the school has carried this worldview ever since. Notre Dame combines their faith with a contemporary, forward-thinking education, and ultimately hopes their students will graduate empathetic, kind, and active members of society with a deep sense of purpose.

While Notre Dame is fundamentally Catholic, not all students consider themselves religious or spiritual, and this certainly isn't a requirement for admission.

  • What parts of the Catholic faith (service, honor, respect, integrity, etc.) do you admire and in which of these areas would you like to grow?
  • When you imagine attending Notre Dame, what parts of the community excite you and how do you hope to participate?


Community and service is a core aspect of the Catholic faith and consequently, of the University of Notre Dame. Notre Dame is the root of countless service efforts in Indiana and it’s the goal of the school to instill a sense of purpose and importance for service within their students.

  • What kind of community service activities were you involved in during high school? Which ones were your favorite?
  • How do you plan on continuing your service efforts at Notre Dame?


Notre Dame strongly believes that in order to make a difference in your community, the above three qualities should be intertwined with either a sense of leadership or a team-player attitude. The more you know which quality you gravitate towards, the clearer you’ll come across on your Notre Dame application.

  • What kind of opportunities did you seek in high school, and did you enjoy leadership or team oriented roles more?
  • Do you want leadership opportunities at Notre Dame?


In the midst of Notre Dame’s private university-level curriculum lies dozens of degree programs with impressive national and state and rankings.


Regardless of what you want to study, Notre Dame is committed to providing their students with mental stamina and discipline. All it takes is a student who wants to be there, and who is prepared to use Notre Dame’s resources to excel.

As you’re starting your application, be sure to highlight four key themes. Demonstrate how you employed balance into your school schedule, including classes, extracurriculars, and community service. Be honest about how you feel applying to a Catholic university, whether you’re religious or not; keep in mind that spirituality is not a requirement in the schools’ admission decisions. Highlight your favorite community service activities and the roles you played there, whether it be leadership or otherwise. As long as you’re honest about your high school experience and how Notre Dame will help you achieve your goals, you’ll be submitting an application that Notre Dame admissions can’t ignore.

What You Need To Get Accepted Into Notre Dame

Notre Dame’s requirements are designed to showcase an applicant’s strengths and weaknesses. On your Notre Dame application, don’t be afraid to be honest about your weaknesses and how an education from this university will help you grow.

The application, writing supplement, test scores and documents all go hand-in-hand in helping you show Notre Dame admissions that you’re what they’re looking for.


You can apply for Notre Dame by using one of the following two applications:

Any questions that are Notre Dame-specific will be automatically included in the application you choose. Just go with the one that you’re most comfortable with!


Notre Dame’s writing supplement is your best chance of showing Notre Dame admissions who you are and the goals you hope to achieve as a student. Remember: they want to see your true self! Feel free to take liberties with your essay, show your personality, and include your sense of humor.

Notre Dame makes their application writing prompts available on their website year-round, so you can reference them at any time and start practicing!


You’ll need to provide your SAT or ACT scores and official transcripts to Notre Dame admissions. You can obtain these documents through your counselor.


You’ll need to obtain two letters of recommendation, one from a teacher and one from a counselor. Try to connect with the teacher who taught your favorite subject or the area of study you plan on pursuing in college.


Notre Dame’s non-refundable application is $75, and any fee waivers can be submitted through either the Common App, the Coalition App, or directly through your counselors. The deadlines for your Notre Dame application are as follows:

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


Notre Dame admissions actively looks for their ideal candidates every year; if you follow the right steps and stay true to their requirements, you could be one of them! Just remember what they're looking for; showcase your balanced approach to your academic career. Include everything you were involved in, whether it was music, a sport, or a club. Then, address your thoughts on applying to a Catholic university. Believe it or not, Notre Dame admissions is eager to hear your stance on social issues and religion; identifying as Catholic is not a defining factor in gaining acceptance.

Lastly, highlight how you were involved in community service in high school and how you plan on carrying it into your Notre Dame experience. Be clear about your intentions with leadership on campus, too!

Notre Dame's Campus Life

The University of Notre Dame is located in Notre Dame, Indiana. Don’t let it’s secluded location fool you; Notre Dame’s campus is one of the most vibrant in the U.S. It was voted #1 of Catholic colleges in the U.S. and definitely lives up to its name. Read about the typical Notre Dame experience and you’ll see why so many students make Notre Dame their first choice school.


As a student, you’ll find over 500 student organizations on campus, ranging from the arts and sciences to politics and business. The administration also has a welcoming student union, student ministries, and counseling programs.

With this strong support system, Notre Dame students are free to go off campus and become active members of their community. This small town in Indiana has plenty to offer, despite its size.


If Notre Dame is popular for anything, it’s sports program is probably first on their list. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have become one of, if not the most, popular sports brand among college athletics. Their football team has claimed 13 national titles, and are continuing to smash records in each of their sports programs. They even host the most Heisman trophy winners of any college!

If competitive sports aren’t your cup of tea, you can participate in any of the countless intramural sports they offer. Every season, different sports become available for students to join and captain. If you have an idea for a new intramural sport, you can create one by submitting an application. Notre Dame also has top-notch recreation facilities; whether you want to join a free fitness program, climb their rock wall, or get a quick workout in, any of Notre Dame’s gym locations are great options.


Like most universities, Notre Dame’s housing and dining programs go hand-in-hand. The campus hosts two large dining halls for all students and several small grab-n-go eateries for students who need to get to class. There’s also plenty of retail dining locations on campus including Starbucks and Taco Bell.

Almost 9,000 students live on Notre Dame’s campus, so there’s no wonder why over 30 residence halls are situated near lecture halls and classrooms. However, even with a large amount of dorms, Notre Dame housing encourages students to secure a living arrangement off campus when possible. The accommodation shortage can be a problem, but in an attempt to preserve this deeply historic and beautiful campus, the administration and students alike agree that living off campus gives everyone a sense of independence.

All students are free to live on campus, regardless of year, and the housing selection process is first-come, first-serve. This is why housing is never guaranteed.

Luckily, with Notre Dame primarily being a college town, many apartment complexes and neighborhoods are geared toward Notre Dame students, so whether you end up living on or off campus, you won’t have a problem securing housing.


Notre Dame’s South Dining Hall closely resembles the dining hall featured at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movie series. Because of this resemblance, Notre Dame food services felt inspired to host a Harry Potter-themed dinner in 2009, and it has remained a yearly tradition ever since!

From Application To Career: What You'll Experience At Notre Dame

Whether you’re just now hearing about Notre Dame for the first time or you’ve dreamed about applying forever, it’s easy to see that you’re in good hands. They’ve excelled in almost every single area of college operations, and admissions is the student’s first door into the whole experience.

As you go through your application and start thinking about your possible future in Notre Dame, Indiana, rest easy that Notre Dame admissions is excited to hear from you. They want genuine applicants, so be yourself and show them that you belong there!


On your application, showcase the parts of your high school experience that closely resemble what Notre Dame hopes to accomplish with their students. Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses, and be open about applying to a Catholic college. Don’t be afraid to be honest about whether or not religion fits into your life.

Highlight community service efforts, career goals, and little things about yourself that make you different from the rest.


Your Notre Dame supplement is your chance to show them who you are outside of your test scores and transcripts, so get creative! Have fun with their essay prompts, and think outside the box. Don’t forget that the essay writing prompts are available on their admissions website year-round so you can start practicing as early as today.


During your time at Notre Dame, it’s important that you have fun. Yes, classes are rigorous and the curriculum is considered prestigious, but the student life on campus is one of the best in the country.

Go to all the football games, join a club that interests you, and get involved in your community. Notre Dame is a very unique school, so don’t hesitate to jump into the excitement of it all!


Notre Dame’s career connections are just as prestigious as their classes. Many of Notre Dame’s graduates go on to work for some of the biggest corporations and nonprofits in the country, all in an effort to use their natural gifts, Notre Dame education, and passion for people as much as they can.

In 2019:

  • 65 percent of students had a job secured by graduation
  • 21 percent were enrolled in a Masters program
  • Students with jobs had a starting salary of $69K

Your Future At The University Of Notre Dame

Any kind of education at Notre Dame is a worthwhile one. All the way from submitting your application to graduating, your experience at the best Catholic college in America will set you up for success. You’ll grow in your strengths, improve your weaknesses, develop a heart for serving people, and most of all, make long lasting relationships on a vibrant and active campus.

Of course, if you have any questions about the admissions process along the way, feel free to reach out to any of WeAdmit’s professional counselors. We’re standing by to answer any questions you may have and help you craft the perfect application for Notre Dame.

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