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Last updated March 21, 2024

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How to Use the Rutgers Common Data Set

Key Takeaway

Rutgers values academic performance above all else. Course rigor, GPA, and standardized test scores are the most highly valued factors, while extracurricular activities are the only important non-academic criteria.

The Rutgers Common Data Set contains insights into what Rutgers admissions officers look for when evaluating applications. Using this information, you can create a stronger Rutgers application.

Let's get started.

How Rutgers Evaluates Applicants — based on CDS data

Rutgers University looks at a few key things when reviewing applications, like your GPA, class rank, essays, and more. As you put together your application, the things that matter the most will likely be on your mind.

In particular, Rutgers most highly values course rigor, GPA, and standardized test scores. This ranking tells us that, above all else, Rutgers values your academic performance. They’re looking for students, first and foremost.

You’ll notice that the only factor in the “important” category is your extracurricular activities, so you should curate your application around what you do inside and outside the classroom.

  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 relation       X
Geographical residence     X  
State residency     X  
Religious affiliation/commitment       X
Racial/ethnic status     X  
Volunteer work     X  
Work experience     X  
Demonstrated interest       X

Does Rutgers track demonstrated interest?

Unlike some colleges, Rutgers doesn't keep tabs on demonstrated interest. This means that the admissions team isn't tracking your interaction with the university through emails, visits, or meetings with your admissions counselor. Although Rutgers doesn't track demonstrated interest, researching Rutgers can still help you get a better feel for the school and its community.

Does Rutgers care about standardized test scores?

Yes, standardized test scores are very important when you apply to Rutgers. In fact, test scores are one of only three “very important” admissions criteria to Rutgers admissions officers. So the higher your scores, the better.

Does Rutgers care about essays?

Yes, Rutgers does consider essays in their review process, but not as much as some other schools. Your essays let you show off your strengths, character, and unique qualities. Admissions officers at Rutgers use your essays to learn more about you and assess school fit. Make sure your essay helps to shape your unified application narrative, creating a unique "thesis" that aligns with all parts of your application.

What GPA do I need to get into Rutgers?

While the Common Data Set for Rutgers doesn't give specific GPA data for first-year students, we can make some educated guesses. We know, for example, that 66% of admitted students were in the top quarter of their high school graduating class, and an impressive 91% were in the top half. Most students in the top quarter likely have high GPAs, so aiming for a strong GPA will increase your chances of acceptance. Just remember that Rutgers, like other selective colleges, conducts an initial academic review to create a shortlist of candidates based on academic achievements, so strong academics are a must.

Rutgers Acceptance Rate

Rutgers doesn't offer an Early Decision program, so these statistics are for Early Action and Regular Decision. Rutgers received 43,161 applications and admitted 29,419 students.

That's an acceptance rate of 68.16% — quite generous compared to many institutions, but not a guarantee by any means.

From those admitted, 7,105 students enrolled as first-year students.

Most Popular Majors at Rutgers

While the Common Data Set doesn't list majors, it does give data on the percentage of degrees awarded in each field. This is a great way to understand what subjects are most popular at Rutgers.

Here are the top ten fields of study, by percentage of degrees conferred:

Major Percent of Degrees Conferred
Business/marketing 18.1%
Computer and information sciences 12.2%
Health professions and related programs 10.3%
Engineering 9.9%
Biological/life sciences 8.7%
Social sciences 7.5%
Psychology 5.4%
Communication/journalism 4.9%
Parks and recreation 4.9%
Visual and performing arts 2.5%

When you're looking at this data, think about how your intended major fits into the academic landscape at Rutgers. If you're aiming for competitive fields like business/marketing or computer and information sciences, highlight your passion and readiness for these subjects in your application. If you're considering less competitive areas like visual and performing arts, you may have a unique opportunity to stand out.

What should you do with all this information?

Applying to Rutgers, with its 68.16% acceptance rate, might seem less intimidating than some other schools, but that doesn't mean you should underestimate the application process. Your high school record and GPA matter a lot, so make sure your academic achievements really stand out in your application. Things like extracurricular activities, volunteer work, and work experience also matter—don't hold back when describing your most important non-academic commitments.

Strong scores can strengthen your academic credentials, and even though Rutgers doesn't consider demonstrated interest in admissions decisions, showing your sincere enthusiasm for the university in your application can still be a useful strategy to build a compelling narrative.

Now that you have this knowledge, it's time for you to put together a strong application for Rutgers.

For more Common Data Set data and comparisons of admissions criteria between schools, visit the Data Room.



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