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Last updated March 21, 2024

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How to Use the Purdue Common Data Set

Key Takeaway

At a 68.9% acceptance rate, Purdue is a target or slight reach school for many applicants. Take note of the application evaluation criteria: Purdue admissions officers really care about your academic performance.

The Purdue Common Data Set houses critical admissions data that you can use to your advantage. When you know what goes on behind the admissions curtain, you can curate an application that exceeds admissions officers’ expectations.

In this post, we go through the Purdue Common Data Set so you don’t have to. We extract key details and show you how to put them into action.

Let’s start with the Purdue evaluation process.

How Purdue Evaluates Applicants — based on CDS data

Purdue doesn’t beat around the bush when it comes to their application evaluations. For them, it’s all about course rigor, GPA, and standardized test scores.

As opposed to schools that give equal weight to those softer factors—like essays, recommendations, and personal character—Purdue wants to see that you can cut it in the classroom.

At a school like Purdue, you want to make sure that your academics stack up. The rest of your application components should work toward that end by supporting your academic fit and showing narrative interest and diversity to set you apart.

Very important Important Considered Not considered
Rigor Essay Class rank Interview
GPA Recommendations Talent/ability Alumni/ae relation
Standardized test scores Extracurriculars Geographical residence Religious affiliation
  Character/personal qualities State residency  
  First generation Racial/ethnic status  
    Volunteer work  
    Work experience  
    Level of applicant interest  

Does Purdue track demonstrated interest?

Yes, Purdue tracks demonstrated interest. They list demonstrated interest as a “considered” factor rather than “important” or “very important”. That means you should demonstrate your interest by opening emails, visiting campus, or engaging with virtual programming, but the higher-rated factors will be more important.

Does Purdue care about standardized test scores?

Yes. Purdue only counts three factors as very important: course rigor, GPA, and—you guessed it—test scores. Because test score are 1/3 of the very important considerations your application is being evaluated against, they matter a lot.

In fact, Purdue has gone so far as to call themselves “test flexible” rather than “test optional” because they prefer that students submit scores.

These preferences are clear in the percentages of enrolled first-year students who submitted test scores: 62% sent in an SAT score, and 31% submitted an ACT score. While there’s likely overlap in those statistics because some students submit both scores, that’s about a cumulative rate of about 93%.

If you’re applying to Purdue, you should probably submit those scores. (Not sure if your score is good enough to submit? We have a whole post on test-optional strategy.)

Does Purdue care about essays?

Yes, Purdue cares about essays. They’re an important part of your application, but they’re also not the most important part. Your GPA, course rigor, and standardized test scores take priority, but your essays are still vital.

Once it’s time to apply, there’s not much you can do to change your grades, AP classes, or test scores. But you have total control over the narrative you present across your application essays.

What GPA do I need to get into Purdue?

Almost all of Purdue’s enrolled first-year students who reported class rank (96%, to be exact) were in the top half of their high school graduating classes. Another 77% were in the top quarter, and 48% were in the top tenth.

Purdue admissions officers aren’t overly concerned with class rank—it’s only a “considered” factor, not an “important” one—so you shouldn’t worry too much about your class rank, but it can be helpful to see where you fall in relation to current first-year students.

That said, we can also look at the GPA data to get a sense of where successful applicants are at.

As you can see, the largest percentage of students are in the 3.75-3.99 range, and over 75% had a 3.5 or higher.

But there’s also some flexibility across the GPA spectrum. That’s where other important factors come in: a high standardized test score may help make up for a lower GPA, or a solid essay might make up for a lack of AP humanities classes.

GPA % of Enrolled Students
4.0 9.06
3.75-3.99 39.39
3.50-3.74 26.63
3.25-3.49 14.91
3.00-3.24 6.84
2.50-2.99 2.93
2.00-2.49 0.22
1.00-1.99 0.02

Purdue Acceptance Rate

Purdue received 59,173 applications and admitted 40,759 students—an acceptance rate of 68.9%. Compared to the single-digit acceptance rates of the Ivy League, and even the more modest acceptance rates of schools like Tufts or UMich, Purdue’s acceptance rate might make you breathe a sigh of relief.

But don’t let the relatively high number lull you into a false sense of safety. It’s still important to think strategically about your application.

Purdue Early Decision Acceptance Rate

Purdue does not have Early Decision application plans.

What’s the right application option for you?

Without Early Decision, your application options are limited to Early Action and Regular Decision. Since the Purdue Common Data Set doesn’t list Early Action statistics separate from Regular Decision ones, we can’t tell if the EA acceptance rate tends to be any higher.

With a standard acceptance rate of almost 70%, it’s unlikely that applying early would make a huge difference in your chances of getting in. You should therefore choose your application plan based on where Purdue falls on your school list and application timeline.

Most popular majors at Purdue

When thinking about which schools to apply to, you should look at the majors you’re interested in studying. If a school is recognized for excelling in your major, then there’s a good chance it’s a solid program to apply to.

While the Purdue Common Data Set doesn’t report on major participation per se, it does report on how many degrees are awarded across different disciplines.

As you can see in the chart below, Purdue is most recognized for its engineering and business marketing programs. Those fields alone account for almost 40% of degrees conferred.

Continuing down the list, we can also see that Purdue is an all-around solid STEM school. Every discipline on this list, with the exception of business and marketing, is in some way related to a STEM, hard science, or social science field.

Major Percent of Degrees Conferred
Engineering 25.14
Business/marketing 12.57
Computer and information sciences 9.98
Engineering technologies 7.34
Health professions and related programs 6.17
Agriculture 6.11
Social sciences 4.82
Biological/life sciences 4.45
Mathematics and statistics 3.4
Psychology 3.15

With this information in hand, you can make two informed decisions: 1) you can determine whether Purdue is a great fit for you based on your academic interests, and 2) you can assess how much competition you’ll likely have based on your major when applying.

What should you do with all this information?

Being a strategic Purdue applicant means taking the Purdue Common Data Set into account when putting your application together.

Because Purdue places so much emphasis on statistics like rank, GPA, and test scores, it’s crucial that you’re preparing early on. Setting yourself up for success in those areas will help you meet their baseline academic expectations.

Then it’s up to your essays, extracurriculars, and recommendations to help set you apart.




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