johns hopkins supplemental essays

Johns Hopkins Supplemental Essays 2022 – 2023

In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to approach each of the Johns Hopkins essays. But before diving into how to write the Johns Hopkins supplemental essays, let’s learn a little about this prestigious university’s history and popularity. 

Founded in 1876, Johns Hopkins University is a private research university located in Baltimore, Maryland. Widely considered the first research university in the United States, Johns Hopkins’ popular majors include public health, biomedical engineering, molecular biology, international relations and affairs, and economics. JHU consistently ranks as one of the best universities to study science, specifically biology and public health

This Johns Hopkins essay guide will teach you how to maximize your Johns Hopkins University essays and increase your chances of admission.

Johns Hopkins Essay: Quick Facts

  • Johns Hopkins University acceptance rate: 8%—U.S. News ranks Johns Hopkins as a most selective school.
  • Requirements for the Johns Hopkins supplemental essays:
    • 1 essay (300-400 words)
  • Johns Hopkins application note: Students must submit their applications via the Common App or Apply Coalition on Scoir. Johns Hopkins admissions look at three important aspects when evaluating applicants: academic character, impact and initiative, and personal contributions. 
  • Johns Hopkins supplemental essays #1 tip: Applicants who overcome the competitive Johns Hopkins acceptance rate will use their Johns Hopkins supplemental essays to show the admissions committee who they are and how they’ll enrich the Johns Hopkins community. So, try to be creative in your Johns Hopkins supplemental essays. 

Does Johns Hopkins require supplemental essays?

Yes—in addition to the main essay prompts on the Common App or Coalition App, you must complete one Johns Hopkins essay. The Johns Hopkins supplemental essay is a key part of your application. For a complete list of application requirements and access to the Johns Hopkins supplemental essays, visit the Johns Hopkins admissions website.

The Johns Hopkins supplemental essays and the Common/Coalition App essay are extremely important, especially given the low Johns Hopkins acceptance rate. Need help navigating your Common App application? CollegeAdvisor.com’s Common App essay breakdown can demystify the process.

JHU is a popular and competitive university. Over 30,000 students applied to be a part of the 2025 class. The school boasts famous alumni like novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, and film director Wes Craven. So, if you get into Johns Hopkins with a strong Johns Hopkins essay, you’ll be in good company.

Your Johns Hopkins supplemental essays can be a great opportunity to introduce yourself to admissions officers, fill in gaps in your application, and make a case for why you deserve an acceptance letter from Johns Hopkins. So, you should do all you can to highlight your strengths in your Johns Hopkins essay. In this guide, we’ll help you craft engaging Johns Hopkins supplemental essays and maximize your admissions odds.

What are the Johns Hopkins essay prompts?

Students will be required to to submit one Common App or Coalition App essay of their choice from the prompts listed on each site. Additionally, all applicants will respond to the same Johns Hopkins application essay prompt. 

The following is the prompt for applicants’ Johns Hopkins supplemental essays: 

Founded on a spirit of exploration and discovery, Johns Hopkins University encourages students to share their perspectives, develop their interests and pursue new experiences. Use this space to share something you’d like the admissions committee to know about you (your interests, your background, your identity or your community) and how it has shaped what you want to get out of your college experience at Hopkins. (300-400 words) 

Like many essay prompts, the Johns Hopkins supplemental essay prompt focuses on the idea of community. Your Johns Hopkins essay should not only highlight who you are as a person, but also what you would bring to campus life. So, successful Johns Hopkins supplemental essays will need to answer both of these questions. 

Johns Hopkins Essay Prompt: Preparing your response

Applicants only need to write one Johns Hopkins essay, which has a limit of 300-400 words. Since this is the only Johns Hopkins essay prompt, you’ll want to give the Johns Hopkins essay the attention it deserves.

The Johns Hopkins essay prompt aims to learn more about how students envision themselves contributing to the Johns Hopkins community. When writing your Johns Hopkins supplemental essays, keep in mind the ideas of identity and community. These ideas are extremely open-ended, which gives you lots of flexibility in your Johns Hopkins essay. This also gives applicants the opportunity to get creative with their Johns Hopkins supplemental essays.

While that may be overwhelming, remember that it isn’t necessarily what you choose to write about that matters most; it’s how you do so. So, think carefully about how you structure your Johns Hopkins essay. This starts by choosing the right Johns Hopkins essay topic. 

Zoom in on your passions

As you write your Johns Hopkins supplemental essays, focus on your passions. This is one of the most important factors for successful Johns Hopkins University essays. Remember that you will brainstorm, draft, edit, and rewrite your Johns Hopkins supplemental essays many times. So, you’ll want to choose a Johns Hopkins essay topic that you won’t get tired of looking at. 

It’s also okay if writing college essays doesn’t come naturally to you. Give yourself ample time prior to the Johns Hopkins application deadline to choose a topic and understand how to write a college essay. Then, you can dig into writing your Johns Hopkins essay. 

How do I write the Johns Hopkins essay?

We mentioned before that the Johns Hopkins essay prompt is similar to many other universities’ supplemental essays. Like other prompts, the Johns Hopkins essay prompt gives students the opportunity to share more about their interests, backgrounds, identities, or community. Essentially, Johns Hopkins supplemental essay prompt asks how your experiences have impacted you. It also asks what you want from your Johns Hopkins experience. 

Before we get into how to write successful Johns Hopkins supplemental essays, applicants may want to look to other similar prompts from other universities for inspiration on how to get started. Check out our essay guides from Rice University and Caltech, which both have similar prompts.  

Johns Hopkins Supplemental Essays

Research institution

As you approach the Johns Hopkins supplemental essays, remember that Johns Hopkins University is a research institution. Like any university, they want to build a diverse academic community of intellectually curious individuals— inside and outside of the classroom.

This Johns Hopkins essay invites you to share what makes you, you. Then, the Johns Hopkins essay prompt asks how this aspect of your identity will guide your time at Johns Hopkins and beyond. So, strong Johns Hopkins essays will invite the reader into the world of the applicant.

Successful Johns Hopkins University essays will use descriptive, dynamic language. In your Johns Hopkins supplemental essays, focus on setting a scene rather than trying to dazzle readers with SAT vocabulary words. After all, the best Johns Hopkins University essays will be the most authentic.

Ready to craft an impressive Johns Hopkins application essay? Let’s get started. 

Organize your thoughts

Begin drafting this Johns Hopkins supplemental essay by thinking about who you are. First, write a list of your key qualities. Then, categorize each item using the criteria in the Johns Hopkins essay prompt: your interests, background, identity, and community.

Distinguish each category—interests, background, identity, and community—as carefully as possible as you start to tackle this Johns Hopkins essay prompt. Begin with your interests. For example, if you devour every article and book you can find on quantum mechanics, that’s an interest you could write about in the Johns Hopkins supplemental essays. 

Avoid listing non-intellectual interests like an obsession with learning new TikTok dances. Of course, students who plan to major in dance or sociology may be able to connect these activities to what they hope to experience at Hopkins in order to craft successful Johns Hopkins University essays. However, your Johns Hopkins supplemental essays should showcase you in the best possible light. Think of yourself as a student and community member. Then, use that to guide your Johns Hopkins supplemental essay topic.

Background

Next, shift to your background. Think about where you come from and how these places and experiences have made you who you are. In your Johns Hopkins essay, you’ll want to avoid cliché, overly sentimental aspects of your background. For example, having a parent who attended Johns Hopkins may have shaped why you want to attend. However, this doesn’t tell admissions officers anything interesting about you or what you hope to learn at Johns Hopkins. So, these types of topics won’t lend to crafting impressive Johns Hopkins supplemental essays. 

Instead, look for experiences that sparked intellectual curiosity. Are you a softball player that spent a season perfecting your pitch but, in the process, began learning about physics? That could be a great topic for your Johns Hopkins essay.

Identity

After exploring your background, move to identity. When categorizing identity in this Johns Hopkins essay, you may automatically default to the classic definitions: ethnicity, gender, age, religious beliefs, first-generation college student, etc. While there’s nothing wrong with starting here, think outside of the box for this Johns Hopkins essay prompt. Are you a contrarian? An activist? A pessimist? Thinking about the less obvious ways that you self-identify can help you write an interesting Johns Hopkins essay. 

Community

Finally, shift to your community. Jot down some of the communities you belong to. Whether it’s a religious community, your neighborhood, or even the building where you live, list the spaces you inhabit. 

Again, this Johns Hopkins supplemental essay rewards those who think outside the box. Are you an active member of an online community of gamers? Do you spend time with fellow gardeners sharing tips on how to care for plants? Community manifests in a wide variety of ways. So, as you brainstorm for the Johns Hopkins essay prompt, make sure to cover all important ways you live and work with others.

Reflect

After jotting down experiences, interests, identities, etc., sit with your list for a day or two. Do any items stick out as a perfect response to this Johns Hopkins essay prompt?

If not, don’t worry. Try our reflection exercises to help you get started. Set a timer and spend 30 minutes or so expanding on a few of your topics. Limit yourself to 10 minutes per topic. Were there any topics that you couldn’t stop writing on? If so, you’ve found the subject for your Johns Hopkins supplemental essay!

Tell the Story

In this Johns Hopkins essay prompt, you only have 300-400 words. Use them wisely to maximize the impact your Johns Hopkins essay can have in admissions.

This word count creates the key challenge of the Johns Hopkins essay: namely, you’ll want to balance a concise structure with descriptive language. Your language should draw the reader into the interest, background, identity, or community your Johns Hopkins essay addresses. At the same time, strong Johns Hopkins supplemental essays will avoid excessive wordiness.

How do I write the Johns Hopkins Essay?- An exercise to get you started

Let’s try an exercise to help you make your Johns Hopkins essay shine. Which of the descriptions below seems more engaging?

Example 1: Since the age of five, I’ve belonged to my local church.

Example 2: There is a pew in the center of my church. If you look closely, you’ll see where I scratched my initials into the wood at age five.

See the difference? Both sentences communicate the same information (church attendance from a very young age). However, the second example provides details that invite the reader into your story. This type of enticing and descriptive writing will often lead to successful Johns Hopkins University essays. 

Read over your Johns Hopkins essay carefully. Then, think about how every word serves your essay’s overall narrative. Your Johns Hopkins essay should use as few words to make as significant an impact as possible.

Make Johns Hopkins Connections

This Johns Hopkins supplemental essay isn’t a “Why Johns Hopkins” prompt in the classic sense. However, the Johns Hopkins essay still asks how your identity, background, interests, and community have shaped what you will bring to Hopkins. Johns Hopkins supplemental essays that answer this part of the prompt will be the most impressive.

Maybe you know what you want to major in and can draw a clear connection between your background/identity/community and that intended major. If so, use this Johns Hopkins essay to emphasize that connection. Successful Johns Hopkins supplemental essays will reveal both who an applicant is and why they belong at Johns Hopkins.

Let’s revisit the “gamer community” example.

Example

I have learned so much from organizing coding events in my online gaming forum. My friends from all over the world have shown me that even if we don’t speak the same language, our passion for coding and games is universal. I’m looking forward to taking classes in the JHU video game design lab and building a bridge between my online community and the in-person one I’ll find at JHU.

This example clearly shows us how this student’s gaming interest has prepared them to take full advantage of this JHU-specific program. Successful Johns Hopkins University essays will show, or even hint at, how you would thrive on campus. 

If you haven’t chosen your major yet, you can still answer this portion of the Johns Hopkins essay. To do this, you’ll want to make the focus of your Johns Hopkins essay more abstract. For example, let’s say you choose to write about your community, specifically the apartment building you live in.

Example

The hot Houston sun draws the people from my building by late afternoon. Grannies of every race and culture line the long bench in front of the building and watch the younger children play. The other families in building 3318 are like my extended family. I’m reminded of this when I knock on Mr. Johnson’s door to borrow an extra onion for my mom’s soup or when I’m invited to a birthday party for one of the Gonzalez cousins. Family is where you find it, and location makes all the difference. At Johns Hopkins, I’m hoping to build a community like the one that my family and I have found in building 3318.

This example shows how community can be found in many different ways. Successful Johns Hopkins supplemental essays can creatively show how your lived experiences will enhance your time on campus. They will also highlight how you will enrich the lives of those around you at JHU. 

Johns Hopkins Essay Reflection Questions:

When you’ve finished your Johns Hopkins essay prompt draft, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I clearly identify an interest, part of my background, identity, or community?
  • Am I writing about my topic using descriptive, dynamic language that draws the reader in?
  • Does my Johns Hopkins essay draft show evidence of how this interest, background, identity, etc. has shaped me?
  • Is there a connection between my topic and what I hope to learn/experience at Johns Hopkins?

Johns Hopkins supplemental essays & their admissions process

The best Johns Hopkins supplemental essays will be genuine and vulnerable. Johns Hopkins University essays should also showcase traits that would make you a valuable addition to the Johns Hopkins community. 

Strong Johns Hopkins supplemental essays should reveal who you are beyond your scores and transcript. This allows the admissions committee to view you as a person rather than a statistic.

Read successful past essays

Every year, the university publishes several successful Johns Hopkins supplemental essays. Read over these Johns Hopkins University essays that worked to get an idea of what impresses admissions. Notice in these Johns Hopkins supplemental essays that each student has a concrete sense of self. 

For example, in the Johns Hopkins essay “Red Over Black” by Elizabeth, she discusses how playing solitaire with her grandmother allowed her to learn the value of hard work and self-motivation. Elizabeth shares how that learning shapes every aspect of her life: academics, athletics, and even family life. 

Similarly, the Johns Hopkins application essay “Lifelong Learning” by Rozanne explores how her search for passion has allowed her to have and learn from many new experiences. This Johns Hopkins essay is a great example of how applicants don’t have to have a clear career path or even major when applying. Rozanne shows that while she is still discovering her passions, she will be an active participant in the Johns Hopkins community.

Highlight your creativity

You’ll also notice that many of the successful Johns Hopkins supplemental essays are written creatively. Rozanne and Elizabeth both use descriptive language to make us feel like we are right there crocheting and playing solitaire, respectively. 

In fact, all of the Johns Hopkins supplemental essays that worked listed on the site are unique. Successful Johns Hopkins University essays are often creative. So, don’t be afraid to start your essay with an exciting and intriguing description to set the scene. 

By including these types of Johns Hopkins supplemental essays, the university encourages you to be creative. So, you can structure your response to the Johns Hopkins essay prompt in any number of interesting ways. Think about how you can highlight your creativity in your Johns Hopkins supplemental essays.

Remember the prompt

Make sure your Johns Hopkins essay structure serves the prompt. While creativity is good, you don’t want your Johns Hopkins supplemental essay to look and read like a gimmick. Above all, tell your story in the way most authentic to you.

You’ll notice one successful essay “Stepping Out of my Comfort Zone” by Samuel was more traditional than the others mentioned. However, it’s still listed as one of the top Johns Hopkins University essays submitted. So, don’t feel pressured to write in a way that isn’t true to you. Use your own writing style and voice to best respond to the Johns Hopkins essay prompt. 

Finally, and it should go without saying, these Johns Hopkins supplemental essays are examples. So, don’t think of them as a blueprint of how you must structure your own Johns Hopkins supplemental essays. You also shouldn’t compare the experiences shared in these Johns Hopkins supplemental essays with your own.

Finally, the Johns Hopkins supplemental essays are personal statements. Every person is unique—every Johns Hopkins essay will be, too. Strong Johns Hopkins University essays will be inherently individual, so don’t worry if yours doesn’t look like the examples.

Does the Johns Hopkins essay matter?

Every aspect of the Johns Hopkins application is important, from your mid-year report to the Johns Hopkins essay. When applying to JHU, treat each item on the application as crucial to creating a compelling candidate profile.

It will take far more than just meeting the Johns Hopkins application deadline and requirements in order to secure your spot. Make sure to allow yourself enough time to craft compelling Johns Hopkins supplemental essays that will bolster your college application narrative. 

With more selective schools like Johns Hopkins, most candidates have high test scores and GPAs. The Johns Hopkins essay, then, becomes a chance for you to truly stand out from other applicants. Since Johns Hopkins has extended their test-optional policy through to the 2025-2026 application year, essays are now more important than ever when trying to stand out among a large pool of qualified candidates. So, strong Johns Hopkins supplemental essays can make a major difference in admissions.

Additionally, applicants may want to submit other supplemental materials to support their Johns Hopkins application essay and overall application narrative. For example, you may want to add a college application letter or an art portfolio. While JHU accepts supplemental materials, they encourage applicants to only submit extra materials if they will genuinely add to their application. 

Other Johns Hopkins Resources from CollegeAdvisor

Ranking as #7 on U.S. News Best National Colleges list, it’s no surprise that the Johns Hopkins acceptance rate is so low. As one of the best colleges in the nation, applicants will want to do all they can in order to stand out. An integral deciding factor in the application process are the Johns Hopkins supplemental essays; however, there are other important factors such as applicants’ GPAs and recommendation letters

While we’ve outlined how to write successful Johns Hopkins supplemental essays in this guide, it’s also important to understand the whole application process. Remember that the Johns Hopkins admissions committee will look for applicants who show academic excellence and community involvement. So. make sure that you have a well-rounded application. Strong Johns Hopkins supplemental essays will add important value to your application narrative by filling in any gaps or adding information not mentioned elsewhere. 

Additionally, if you’re seriously considering how to get into Johns Hopkins, then you should first look at our guide

Read Johns Hopkins essay examples

As previously mentioned, the Johns Hopkins admissions site shows some examples of Johns Hopkins University essays that worked. These can give you some inspiration as you craft your own Johns Hopkins essay. 

We’ve also chosen some of our favorite successful Johns Hopkins supplemental essays. In this guide, we show some examples of strong Johns Hopkins supplemental essays and explain why they work. While you shouldn’t try to mimic any of these examples, understanding important qualities in successful Johns Hopkins supplemental essays will help you to write your best Johns Hopkins essay. You may also want to look at other successful college essay examples in order to get you motivated and inspired to start writing your Johns Hopkins essay. 

Another resource that hopeful Johns Hopkins applicants should take advantage of is our Johns Hopkins admissions article. While it’s important to write the best Johns Hopkins supplemental essays possible, it’s impossible to do so without truly understanding what the admissions committee looks for. In this article, we break down acceptance rates and look at the average GPA and standardized test scores for recently admitted JHU students. We also explain how to visit JHU in person or virtually. 

Find your fit

Finally, remember to focus on your college fit. The more you know that JHU is the place for you, the stronger your Johns Hopkins essay will be. Your essays, grades, and other application requirements are important, but students should remember that you need to make sure the school is a good fit for you. While JHU is a renowned university, you won’t actually know how you feel on campus until you’re there. Try to visit the school before making important college enrollment decisions down the road. And, lucky for you, if that’s not possible, then there are virtual tours that could show you how you may feel on campus. 

Another great way to learn about Johns Hopkins is by speaking with current students or alumni. You’ll be able to hear about their first-hand experiences of applying to and studying at this prestigious institution. Watch this recent webinar where two alums answer some common questions about what it takes to apply to and attend JHU. 

Once you’ve done some research, you’ll be in an even better position as you approach the Johns Hopkins essay. 

Research scholarship opportunities

Scholarships are also an important part of the college application process. With the cost of college so high, it only makes sense to apply to all the scholarships possible in order to lower your education costs. Check out our webinar which gives you tips on making your scholarship and college applications stand out. 

Johns Hopkins is committed to admitting the “brightest minds” no matter their socioeconomic status. You can use their college cost calculator to get an estimate of your potential tuition costs. Keep in mind that most schools will give students the opportunity to estimate their tuition cost which may be an important factor when choosing colleges. When considering college costs, use all the resources available. This includes our article which outlines how to pay for college

Johns Hopkins Essay – Final Thoughts

Completing the Johns Hopkins application essay can seem daunting. Try to view this Johns Hopkins supplemental essay as an opportunity to introduce yourself to the admissions team. Use the Johns Hopkins supplemental essays provided on the JHU site and in our “Johns Hopkins Essays That Worked” article for inspiration. Remember that you have plenty of personal experiences to draw from for this Johns Hopkins application essay—you just have to think critically and creatively about them. 

Remember that the Johns Hopkins application essay matters—a lot! Maybe you’re applying with fewer extracurricular activities than you would like or perhaps a lower SAT/ACT score than normally accepted. A well-written Johns Hopkins essay can be the difference. Use this guide to help you approach the Johns Hopkins supplemental essay with a solid strategy and a clear timeline. That way, you’ll have plenty of time to perfect your Johns Hopkins essay before the Johns Hopkins application deadline. Good luck—you’ve got this!


Johns Hopkins Supplemental Essays

This article was written by Sarah Kaminski. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.