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Last updated March 21, 2024

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How to Get into NYU

Key Takeaway

NYU has a reputation for blending seamlessly with New York City. Its campus transitions into the city and the admissions office sees itself as the "school without walls." NYU prioritizes a cosmopolitan, critical, creative student body who are at the leading edge of their fields. These are the values we'll talk about cultivating in your application. 

At over 50,000 enrolled students, New York University’s student population could make up a small city. The largest private university in the country, New York University attracts tens of thousands of applicants each year. With an acceptance rate of 21%, only a fraction of NYU hopefuls are admitted.

In this guide, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about applying to NYU. By the end, you’ll have a strategic application approach that will increase your chances of admission.

Ready? Let’s get started.

How to Apply to NYU

Applying to NYU is pretty straightforward if you’re already on the Common App. All you’ll need to do is add NYU to your colleges and complete the NYU supplement. First, be sure to gather all your Common App materials, including your:

  • Background information
  • Extracurricular activities list
  • Personal statement
  • Official high school transcript
  • School report
  • Letters of recommendation

Once that’s complete, you’ll be able to fill out the NYU supplement, including an optional supplemental essay. NYU also asks you to complete a Self-Reported Academic Record (SRAR). And depending on the school or program you’re applying to, you may have some additional requirements. Be sure to check them out on NYU’s admissions website.

NYU Application Options

NYU has three application plans: Early Decision I, Early Decision II, and Regular Decision.

As with all other Early Decision applications, your ED I or ED II application to NYU will be binding. You’ll be required to submit an Early Decision Agreement, which is basically a contract that says that you agree to attend NYU if you’re admitted. There are a few ways you can get out of the contract (like insufficient financial aid), but for the most part, a contract is a contract.

If you’re not ready for that kind of commitment, no worries. You can always apply Regular Decision.

(Still not sure if EDing to NYU is the right choice for you? We have a whole post about Early Decision strategy that can help you make your decision.)

NYU Application Deadlines

Early Decision I: November 1

Early Decision II: January I

Regular Decision: January 5

How hard is it to get into NYU?

NYU is one of the most well-known schools in the country, and it’s located in one of the most exciting places to spend your early twenties (plus more campuses in equally exciting places)—there’s obviously a lot of demand. That’s why NYU received over 80,000 applications last cycle.

At a 21% acceptance rate, NYU ranks alongside schools like Boston University, the University of Michigan, and the University of North Carolina. It’s not quite as hard to get into as, say, Stanford or the University of Chicago, but it’s still a highly-selective, competitive school.

What does NYU look for in applicants?

New York University’s admissions office refers to NYU as “the campus without walls.” As an applicant, you should embrace this vision before you even get there. NYU admissions officers are on the lookout for students who aren’t afraid to engage with the world around them.

Think about it: admissions officers want to admit students who will benefit from and contribute to the campus community. And when your campus is New York City, there’s a lot to benefit from and contribute to. If an NYU admissions officer can only accept one out of every five students, they’re going to gravitate toward the ones who are willing to put themselves out there and make an impact.

As you’ll see in the coming sections, you’ll definitely need the grades, course rigor, and maybe even standardized test scores to get in. But that alone isn’t sufficient. Across your application, you want to show NYU admissions officers that you’re someone who will soak up everything you can during your time at NYU. And how do you show them that? By demonstrating strong engagement both in and out of the classroom, by writing excellent and compelling essays, and by acing the NYU supplemental.

NYU GPA requirement

There’s no minimum GPA you need to apply to NYU. But the applicants who actually get admitted tend to have strong GPAs. As you might remember from our NYU Common Data Set post, 21% of enrolled first-year NYU students had a perfect 4.0 GPA in high school. What’s more, 85% had above a 3.5. So if you want to get into NYU, you’ll want to aim for at least a 3.5 GPA.

NYU SAT Scores

NYU is currently test-optional, so you won’t be required to submit test scores with your application. I know—sometimes test-optional policies can make the decision even more confusing. That’s why we have a whole post dedicated to test-optional strategy.

To make your decision, you’ll need to look at NYU’s middle 50% ranges. These are the score ranges within which the middle 50% of applicants scored.

SAT Composite: 1390-1510

ACT Composite: 31-34

In general, if your scores fall within these ranges (especially on the higher ends of them), you should be okay to submit your scores.

Does NYU superscore?

Yes! NYU will superscore your SAT or ACT. “Superscoring” is the practice of taking your highest individual scores for each section—even if you earned them on different test dates—and combining them to make one overall “super score.” It’s the easiest way to get your highest composite SAT or ACT score because you don’t have to worry about acing every section all in one go.

What high school course work do I need to get into NYU?

No matter where your academic interests lie, NYU admissions officers want to see that you’ve challenged yourself in the classroom. Specifically, they want to see what you’ve taken as many rigorous courses as you can manage. Rigorous courses include AP, IB, and dual-enrollment classes, so try to opt for those over standard or even honors-level classes if you can.

NYU doesn’t require you to take a specific course load, but they do have recommendations about how you should disperse your courses across the core subjects.

Let’s take a look:

  • 4 years of English
  • 3-4 years of history and/or social studies
  • 3-4 years of math
  • 3-4 years of lab sciences
  • 3-4 years of foreign language

If you aren’t able to fulfill any of these suggestions because your school doesn’t offer the right classes, don’t worry. NYU admissions officers will evaluate your transcript in the context of your school, so you won’t be penalized.

That said, NYU admissions officers will still hope to see that you’ve challenged yourself as much as possible within the context of your school. The more you’ve done that, the more competitive an applicant you’ll be.

What extracurriculars do I need to get into NYU?

As with any highly-selective school, your extracurriculars matter at NYU. If you’ll recall from the NYU Common Data Set, extracurriculars are ranked “important” in the application evaluation process. So they’re not quite as important as your GPA or course rigor, but your commitment to your extracurriculars will factor into your admissions decision.

I know you’re reading this section hoping to learn about that one perfect extracurricular that will move the admissions needle in your favor. But sadly, it doesn’t exist. The best extracurriculars will vary from applicant to applicant. And there isn’t an ideal extracurricular for anybody—it’s all about how your extracurricular resume adds to your overall application narrative.

As you’re planning out your extracurriculars, or thinking about how to portray them in your application, there are a couple of guidelines you can keep in mind:

  • Excel as much as you can in your extracurriculars. Let’s face it. The more impressive your accomplishments, the more impressive your application. If you can show that you’ve had a great impact or reached a regional, state, or national level of recognition, your application will have a better chance of standing out.
  • Choose extracurriculars that you’re passionate about and committed to. When I was an admissions officer, it was always fun to look at a student’s activities list and say, “Ah, yes, that makes total sense.” Being able to show that you’ve stuck with your activity is good, too.
  • If you can’t find extracurriculars to suit your needs, make up your own. Whether you do a passion project or start your own small business, taking initiative and making an impact can be just as beneficial to your application as participating in an organized activity.

So find your passions, stick with them, and emphasize your magnitude, reach, and impact across your application. If you’re stuck, we have a great post about leveling up your extracurriculars that might spark some ideas. Good luck!

Final Takeaways + NYU Supplemental Essays

Ready to move to the Big Apple? It’s time to start writing. By this point, you should understand a bit more about NYU’s admissions process—what they’re looking for, what it takes to get in, and how to devise an application strategy that stands out to NYU admissions officers.

Now it’s time to start writing. Check out our NYU supplemental essay guide to get going on your NYU supplemental essay.




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