How to get into WashU; collegeadvisor.com image: a phot of people walking into a WashU campus building.

How to get into WashU—General Information

Founded in 1853, Washington University is an elite private university in St. Louis, Missouri that is home to almost 8,000 undergraduates from over 100 countries. The school boasts an intimate 7:1 student to faculty ratio

What we’ll cover in this How to Get Into WashU guide:

  • WashU average GPA
  • Optimal WashU SAT scores
  • WashU supplemental essay prompts
  • WashU interview
  • A guide to WashU enrollment, WashU admissions, and more.

Once you’ve started thinking about how to get into WashU, it’s time to consider the different parts of the application process. This will consist of sending WashU SAT scores or ACT scores, writing the WashU supplement essay, completing the WashU interview, and completing the application itself. 

It’s also never too early to start thinking about your GPA or application narrative. An early start will help you feel confident and prepared as the application deadline nears. 

Figuring out how to get into WashU takes strategy. We can help. CollegeAdvisor.com’s network of 300+ Admissions Experts (and former admissions officers) includes Washington University graduates. Want to maximize your WashU admissions odds? Create your free account or schedule a free advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.

How hard is it to get into WashU?

In 2020, the WashU acceptance rate was just 16%. With a number this low, Washington University is a reach school for nearly every student. So, what does this mean for your “how to get into WashU” plan?

There certainly are things you can and should do to maximize your chances in WashU admissions. However, it’s important to be realistic about your chances at WashU enrollment. Plan for the university to be a “reach” school, and make sure to build a balanced college list that includes both “safety” and “target” schools. 

In addition, you can use demonstrated interest (DI) to show Washington University that you are serious about WashU enrollment. Use your WashU interview and WashU supplemental essay to go above and beyond—this will help you stand out.

What is the average GPA for WashU?

Students wondering how to get into WashU are often concerned with the WashU average GPA. They might also wonder whether there’s a minimum GPA needed to have a chance in WashU admissions. 

Your GPA and course load is a key part of your application. It is the best way to show WashU admissions that you have the skills to excel at their school. So, as you plan your “how to get into WashU” strategy, you should strive to have as competitive a GPA as possible.

With that said, what is the WashU average GPA? Historically, the WashU average GPA has been 4.15, meaning that successful applicants tend to earn As in advanced classes throughout high school. 

What if your grades are not as high as the WashU average GPA? The good news is that WashU has no official GPA cutoff. If you don’t meet the WashU average GPA, you can use your WashU SAT scores to show your academic strength. You can also bolster your application narrative to help you have a chance in WashU admissions.

What does the WashU application look like?

A key part of knowing how to get into WashU is familiarizing yourself with the application. WashU admissions accepts either the Common Application or the Coalition Application

Regardless of which portal you use, you will need to submit the following:

  • Application Fee or Waiver
  • School Report and Official Transcript
  • Teacher Recommendation (1)
  • Counselor Recommendation
  • WashU SAT scores or ACT scores (optional)
  • Responses to the WashU Supplemental Essay

All of the above must be ready by the application deadline. You may also complete an optional WashU interview after you apply.

As you can see, there are a lot of moving parts to the application process. So, it’s important to start early. Talk to your guidance counselor and recommenders far before the deadline to ensure everything is in order. If you choose to submit WashU SAT scores or ACT scores, be sure to send them before the deadline. 

Also, note that WashU SAT scores or ACT scores are optional for the classes entering in 2023 and 2024.

What extracurriculars do I need for WashU?

Demonstrating academic rigor is a vital part of how to get into WashU, as shown by the WashU average GPA. However, there are other ways to stand out—namely, your extracurriculars

Extracurriculars are your chance to show Washington University what you care about. The projects, activities, and opportunities you pursue throughout high school should tell a story of what makes you you. 

So, is there such a thing as a perfect extracurricular list? Not really. Some students make the mistake of trying to pick their extracurriculars based on what they think colleges want to see—this is not how to get into WashU. In fact, admissions officers are trained to look for authenticity. 

Find your unique passions and challenge yourself to pursue these to higher levels throughout high school. By the time you reach senior year, you should have achievements, interests, and projects you are excited to discuss.  

What is the acceptance rate for WashU?

The WashU acceptance rate is a valuable metric for students wondering how to get into WashU—it is an indicator of just how competitive WashU enrollment is. 

For the Fall 2021 entering class, the WashU acceptance rate was just 13%. This means that for every 100 applicants, only 13 were admitted. The university received 33,634 applicants total and granted admission to 4,373. 

That’s a lot of numbers, but what does the WashU acceptance rate actually mean? WashU is not a safety school for anyone, no matter how strong a candidate is. As much as you may love the university, be careful about placing too much weight on this one application. If the WashU acceptance rate is any indicator, WashU admissions are brutal. A rejection is not an indicator that there was anything wrong with your application—the WashU enrollment just isn’t large enough to admit all qualified students.

Want to learn more about acceptance rates? Check out our expert guide.

Should I do an interview for WashU?

If you want to optimize your “how to get into WashU” plan, the university offers an optional opportunity for students to show a little more personality. In fact, students have a choice between a 90-second video and/or a virtual interview, both optional. Students wondering how to get into WashU often wonder how necessary these components really are.

As powerful as the WashU supplemental essay and WashU SAT scores are as metrics in admissions, college applications don’t give you many chances to stand out as an individual. The WashU interview and video are valuable opportunities to show your personality and bring dimension to your application.

The WashU interview and video are truly optional. However, if you’re set on WashU enrollment, we highly recommend that you complete one or both. When you’re dealing with a WashU acceptance rate of just 13%, anything helps. 

How important is the Washington University supplemental essay?

Some students are so focused on how to get into WashU that they forget to consider why they want to attend. In fact, many top colleges want to ensure that students apply for the right reasons. This has given way to the common “why this school” essay.

The WashU supplemental essay asks students to write a 200-word response to the prompt:

Please tell us what you are interested in studying at WashU and why.

With only 200 words, some students wonder: just how important is the WashU supplemental essay? The answer: very.

Similar to the WashU interview, the WashU supplemental essay lets you show what makes you unique. Moreover, the WashU supplemental essay lets you paint a picture of why you are a great fit for WashU and vice versa. So, your WashU supplemental essay should show why WashU is the place for you and how you would enrich life on campus. 

How does WashU review applications?

You’ve nailed your “how to get into WashU” strategy, completed your WashU interview, and sent in your WashU SAT scores—now what? What happens between when you hit submit and when you hear back about your WashU enrollment status?

Washington University has a vast team of admissions officers who review applications based on geographic region. Each application is guaranteed at least one read. However, given how many applications they get and how low the WashU acceptance rate is, the WashU admissions committee will not discuss every applicant.

Applications are read in a holistic way. This means that, as discussed above, even if your GPA is shy of the WashU average GPA, your application will still be considered as a whole. 

Washington University also recently became need-blind. This means Washington University will not consider your financial need in the review process.

Will WashU look at my social media?

Many students wonder if admissions officers will use social media as a factor in admissions. If you’re planning how to get into WashU and worried that your social media might affect your WashU enrollment prospects, we have good news. 

The reality is, admissions officers are just too busy to look up each of their applicants. It is therefore highly unlikely that WashU will see any of your profiles. 

That said, it is always good to use your best judgment. Even if your internet presence doesn’t affect your WashU enrollment, employers can—and probably will—look you up in the future. Build good habits now so that it’s never a concern down the line. 

Is WashU a good school for me?

Occasionally, students see the low WashU acceptance rate or its high ranking and apply simply because of prestige. It’s important to take a beat before asking how to get into WashU to instead ask: do I want to get into WashU?

Washington University is nestled in the heart of St. Louis, Missouri, a bustling city known for its baseball and music. St. Louis is affectionately called the “Gateway to the West” for being a large city with the personality of a small town. Students appreciate the low cost of living and the rich history of the surrounding neighborhoods.

On campus, students can choose amongst more than 480 student organizations. Students are always up to something, whether it’s challenging themselves with their coursework, pursuing a new passion project, or attending events around campus. Students who prefer a lot of free, unstructured time may find themselves burnt out by the energy of WashU.

Overall, students praise the flexibility and interdisciplinary nature of the WashU curriculum and show their love for the school through an abundance of school pride.

Remember: just because a school is great doesn’t always mean it’s a great fit for you. So, make sure you’re researching how to get into WashU for the right reasons.

Additional tips to get into WashU

In this article, we’ve covered:

  • WashU average GPA
  • Options for the WashU interview
  • Tips on the WashU supplemental essay
  • Additional WashU application components, and more.

What else can you do to optimize your “how to get into WashU” strategy? 

First, don’t procrastinate! Application deadlines creep up quickly. By the time they’re upon you, it’s mostly too late to think about things like your GPA and extracurriculars. Plan early so that you feel confident in the story you’re pitching to colleges.

Second, remember that in the stress and pressure of college admissions, it can be easy to lose yourself to the idea of what you think you’re supposed to be doing. Someone will always be telling you what activity to pursue or what class to take. And while high school is a great time to challenge yourself and try new things, it’s important to stay true to yourself. Challenge yourself, but hold onto the things that make you happy. In short: be authentic. Don’t let the craze of college admissions make you lose sight of yourself.


This guide was written by Becky Weinstein. If you want to know how to get into WashU, we’ve got you covered. CollegeAdvisor.com’s network of 300+ Admissions Experts (and former admissions officers) includes Washington University graduates. Create your free account or schedule a free advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.