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Last updated March 21, 2024

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How to Use the Notre Dame Common Data Set

Key Takeaway

Notre Dame prioritizes applicants' character, academic rigor, and alumni relations. Essays, GPA, and extracurriculars are important, but not top-tier. Notre Dame also appreciates volunteer work and religious affiliation, and they do track demonstrated interest. Its acceptance rate is 15%, and the most popular majors include business, social sciences, and engineering.

Interested in applying to Notre Dame? We’ve got you covered.

The Notre Dame Common Data Set will give you some insider information about the Notre Dame admissions process—information you can put into action to write a stronger application.

Let’s take a look.

How Notre Dame Evaluates Applicants — based on CDS data

The following chart comes from the “Basis for Selection” part of the Common Data Set. It tells us exactly what Notre Dame admissions officers look for in order of importance.

A lot of it is pretty standard: very important rigor, considered test scores, very important character and personal qualities.

There are a few anomalies to point out, though.

First: class rank, GPA, essays, recommendations, extracurriculars, and talent all rank in the “important” column. At many other schools, these factors tend to be considered “very important.”

So what does that mean? Maybe nothing—this part of Common Data Set data is notoriously vague. But it may mean that you have a little more flexibility to balance your strengths across these factors than at a school that ranks them all as very important.

Moving on down the list, you can see that alumni relations are very important at ND. That’s good news if you’re related to an alum!

The last factors I want to point out are religious affiliation and volunteer work. Since Notre Dame has religious affiliations, they do take that into consideration. And because ND as an institution values service, admissions officers think volunteer work is important. Usually schools will put volunteer work in the “considered” category alongside work experience, so it’s notable that ND ranks it as “important.” If you have religious affiliations or volunteer work that connects you to the campus, show them off in your application.

  Very important Important Considered Not considered
Rigor of Secondary Record X      
Class Rank   X    
Academic GPA   X    
Standardized Test Scores     X  
Application Essay   X    
Recommendation(s)   X    
Interview       X
Extracurricular Activities   X    
Talent/Ability   X    
Character/Personal Qualities X      
First Generation   X    
Alumni/ae Relations X      
Geographical Residence       X
State Residency       X
Religious Affiliation/Commitment     X  
Racial/Ethnic Status   X    
Volunteer Work   X    
Work Experience     X  
Level of Applicant’s Interest     X  

Does Notre Dame track demonstrated interest?

Yep! Notre Dame does consider demonstrated interest in their review process, so you should be opening your Notre Dame emails, visiting the admissions rep at your local college fair, and doing in-person or virtual campus visits. Demonstrating interest in a way that can be tracked by the admissions office can show Notre Dame admissions officers that you’re serious about wanting to attend.

Does Notre Dame care about standardized test scores?

Yeah, they’re considered. SAT and ACT scores don’t carry as much weight as, say, your GPA or essays, but they are part of the review process. In fact, 48% of enrolled first-year students submitted their SAT scores and 52% submitted an ACT score.

Does Notre Dame care about essays?

Yes, Notre Dame cares about essays. Interestingly, though, essays are only listed in the “important” category. Across the majority of other Common Data Sets, application essays tend to be considered “very important.” Still, your personal statement and supplemental essays for Notre Dame will have a significant impact on your admissions decision.

What GPA do I need to get into Notre Dame?

While we don’t get any specific GPA data from the Notre Dame Common Data Set, we do learn a little bit about where Notre Dame enrolled students ranked among their high school peers.

Get this: 100% of all Notre Dame’s enrolled first-year students who reported class rank were in the top half of their high school graduating classes. A full 97% were in the top quarter, and 91% were in the top tenth.

If you weren’t keeping track, those are undoubtedly some high GPAs.

Notre Dame Acceptance Rate

Notre Dame’s acceptance rate is 15%. They received 23,642 applications and admitted 3,562 of them.

At a 15% admit rate, Notre Dame is about as tough to get into as schools like USC and Georgetown.

Notre Dame Early Decision Acceptance Rate

Notre Dame does not offer Early Decision. Instead, they have a non-binding Restrictive Early Action option. Unfortunately, the Notre Dame Common Data Set doesn’t give us any information about the REA acceptance rate.

What’s the right application option for you?

Since we don’t have any REA acceptance rate data, your choice of application plan will depend on your preferences and application timeline.

If Notre Dame is the end-all-be-all for you and you want to show that enthusiasm, then applying REA might be the right option. But keep in mind that an REA application to Notre Dame means that you can’t apply Early Decision I anywhere. It also means getting your application in by the November 1st due date.

If you’re unwilling or unable to make those concessions, then Regular Decision is probably your best bet.

Most popular majors at Notre Dame

As you’re building your college list, one of the main things you’re probably looking at is how recognized a school is in your desired major. And for good reason: it’s a smart way to think about school and academic fit.

There’s an easy way to see if a school is recognized for a particular academic subject. You can look at how popular that major is. And vice versa—by looking at the most popular majors, you can tell what a school is probably known for.

The Notre Dame Common Data Set doesn’t break down major popularity specifically, but we can infer what the most popular majors are by looking at where the most degrees are awarded.

Let’s take a quick look.

As you can see, the top three disciplines are business, social sciences, and engineering.

Major Percent of Degrees Conferred
Business/marketing 20.6
Social sciences 17.8
Engineering 11.2
Computer and information sciences 8.3
Biological/life sciences 7.2
Mathematics and statistics 5.8
Visual and performing arts 4.7
Interdisciplinary studies 4.2
Health professions and related programs 3.6
Psychology 3.4

From this data, we can tell that Notre Dame is best known for its business and marketing options. It’s also strong in the social sciences, engineering, and computer science.

If you want to study any of these top ten majors, it’s safe to assume that Notre Dame probably has a pretty good program waiting for you.

But beware: it also means that more applicants are drawn to Notre Dame because of those programs. If you’re an aspiring business major, your major-related competition may be higher at Notre Dame than at a school with fewer business students, like Duke.

What should you do with all this information?

One of the hardest parts of the college application process is putting together an application for admissions officers who you’ve likely never met. It’s difficult to know what to write and how when you don’t know exactly what a school is looking for.

The Notre Dame Common Data Set can help you overcome that hurdle. Notre Dame admissions officials have given you the information you need. Now it’s time to put it to work.

Assess where your strengths lie in relation to the very first table in this post. Where do you excel among the factors that are most important to ND? Highlight them in your application!

You can also use GPA, acceptance rate, and major information to determine where your strengths and interests fall in relation to the other 23,000+ applicants. Since Notre Dame’s acceptance rate is only 15%, this information can help you build a smart school list.

Taken together, the Notre Dame Common Data Set can help you piece together an authentic application narrative that fits exactly what ND admissions officers are on the lookout for.

And if you want even more Notre Dame admissions insights, check out our How to Get into Notre Dame guide and our post on the Notre Dame supplemental essays.



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