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Last updated March 21, 2024

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How to Use the NYU Common Data Set

Key Takeaway

When applying to NYU, your academic record and overall talent are paramount. Even your essays and extracurriculars come second. And if you're applying for the arts or social sciences, you'll be in good company—those majors account for over 30% of degrees awarded.

The NYU Common Data Set reveals insider information about how the NYU admissions process works. Paying close attention to this data can help you write an application that stands out to NYU admissions officers.

Let’s get into it.

How NYU Evaluates Applicants — based on CDS data

New York University places a lot of importance on your statistics—GPA, number of rigorous courses, class rank, and test scores—and on your individual talent. With their recognition in the arts especially, this emphasis on talent is no surprise.

What is surprising is where essays, recommendations, extracurriculars, and character rank in the NYU admissions process. For most universities, all of these factors are considered very important. For NYU, they’re merely “important.” That still means that you’ll need to put significant effort into writing your essays, finding an application narrative that speaks to your character, and curating your extracurriculars.

But know that, in the end, your talent and achievement have to shine through.

Very important Important Considered Not considered
Rigor Essay Interview State residency
Class rank Recommendations First generation Religious affiliation
GPA Extracurriculars Alumni/ae relation  
Test scores Character/personal qualities Geographic residence  
Talent/ability   Race/ethnic status  
    Volunteer work  
    Work experience  
    Applicant interest  

Does NYU track demonstrated interest?

Yes, NYU tracks demonstrated interest. The NYU Common Data Set reports that NYU considers the level of applicant interest as part of the admissions process. It’s not one of the most important factors, but showing your interest is still really important. You can show demonstrated interest by engaging with the University and admissions office, opening your NYU emails, and doing school-sanctioned virtual and in-person visits and events.

Does NYU care about standardized test scores?

Yup. NYU ranks standardized test scores as “very important,” even in a test-optional landscape. And that importance is clear from the number of enrolled first-year students who submitted test scores. Of those students, 64% sent in an SAT score, and 27% sent in an ACT score. This information might make it tricky to navigate test-optional admissions, so we recommend that you check out our test-optional strategy post. High enough scores can help your application out a lot, but you don’t necessarily need to worry if you omit your scores—in that case, your other academic factors typically take up a bigger piece of your academic pie.

Does NYU care about essays?

Yes, essays are an important part of NYU applications. NYU cares about essays, but they also aren’t the most highly-ranked factor. On the scale of “very important” to “not considered,” NYU reports that essays are “important.” They’re secondary to factors like rigor, GPA, and talent and ability. So you’ll still need to take your stats into consideration as you put your application together, but strong essays are still necessary to help your application stand out.

What GPA do I need to get into NYU?

As you can see in the data below, students who enrolled at NYU had GPAs across the spectrum. The GPA band with the highest number of students—40%—was 3.50-3.74. And 45% of students had a high school GPA of 3.75 or higher.

If your high school GPA is below an unweighted 3.50, then you may have a more difficult time getting in. But if you’re above that mark and have a stellar application, NYU is a safer bet than, say, Princeton, which had 60% of first-year enrolled students with perfect 4.0 GPAs.

GPA % of Enrolled Students
4.0 21
3.75-3.99 24
3.50-3.74 40
3.25-3.49 10
3.00-3.24 4
2.50-2.99 1

NYU Acceptance Rate

NYU received a whopping 80,210 applications. That’s one of the largest applicant pools around. From those applications, they admitted 16,981 students. With a 21.2% acceptance rate, NYU is still a very competitive school to earn admission to, but it’s more promising than the impossibly-low acceptance rates of the Ivies. Of the 16,981 admitted students, 6,648 students enrolled.

NYU Early Decision Acceptance Rate

NYU does have Early Decision application plans, but the NYU Common Data Set doesn’t report any ED application or acceptance data. It’s usually a safe bet to assume that Early Decision rates are slightly higher than Regular Decision rates because ED applicants tend to be good academic and cultural fits for NYU to begin with.

What’s the right application option for you?

Because we don’t have any Early Decision data, it’s difficult to assess whether an Early Decision application option would affect your chances of admission. In these cases, we think it’s best to stick with the basics: you should ED to the school you’re most interested in attending, as long as your application meets most of the evaluation criteria laid out in the NYU Common Data Set. See our Early Decision strategy guide for more details.

Most popular majors at NYU

It comes as no surprise that the most popular majors at NYU are those in the visual and performing arts, which accounted for 17.38% of degrees awarded, according to the Common Data Set.

While we can’t see major-specific data in the NYU Common Data Set, we can see the percentage of degrees conferred across a number of fields. Since students have to major in a discipline to earn the degree, we can extrapolate this data to learn about what students most commonly study.

After visual and performing arts, the other most popular majors are in the social sciences, business and marketing, and the liberal arts.

Major Percent of Degrees Conferred
Visual and performing arts 17.38
Social sciences 14.23
Business/marketing 13.2
Liberal arts/general studies 8.74
Health professions and related programs 7.8
Computer and information sciences 7.4
Communication/journalism 5.88
Psychology 5.43
Biological/life sciences 3.65
Engineering 3.6

If you’re applying to a popular discipline at NYU, like the arts or business, then this information is helpful to have in your back pocket. Because arts and business are what NYU is most well known for, you can expect that your application will have a slightly harder time on the admissions committee floor when seeking out those majors.

But let’s say you want to study engineering. NYU might be a great option for you because there’s still a high level of institutional prestige, and the program itself still ranks in the top ten most popular, but you won’t have as much competition as you would if you applied to Duke, where engineering accounts for over 18% of degrees awarded.

What should you do with all this information?

As you can see from the New York University Common Data Set, NYU takes a slightly less common approach to evaluating applicants, even while it maintains a high level of prestige and a low acceptance rate.

If you have exceptional talent but an okay GPA, or if you have outstanding academic credentials but fewer extracurriculars, you might find admissions success at NYU as long as you can tell your story in the right way.

As you put your NYU application together, keep all the NYU evaluation factors in mind. Pay attention to how your major preferences align with popularity, and think strategically about the right application option for you. For more help with your application strategy, hop on over to our How to Get into NYU guide.


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