Baylor University Guide

The Ivy Scholars guide to Baylor University’s culture, admissions, and other essential information for prospective students and their families.

Location: Waco, Texas

Mascot: Bears

Type: Private Christian Research Institution

Population: 18,000 (14,000 undergrads)

About Baylor University

The oldest continuously operating university in Texas, Baylor’s 1,000-acre campus is on the banks of the Brazos River in Waco, Texas. Created by the last congress of the Republic of Texas,  the university sits between Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin and is the largest Baptist university in the world. In its own words, “Baylor provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship.”

Baylor University Statistics

Year Founded: 1845

4 Year Graduation Rate: 54%

Gender Distribution: 58% male, 42% female

Acceptance Rate: 38.9%

Residency: 60% in state, 40% out of state or international

Location Type: Urban

Schedule System: Semesters

Student/Faculty Ratio: 13:1

Average Class Size: 26

Demographics: 64% Caucasian, 14% Hispanic, 6% Asian, 6% Black, 11% Hispanic, 5% Other

National Rankings

US News Rankings:

  • #20 Best Undergraduate Teaching
  • #42 Most Innovative
  • #75 Best Value
  • #79 Overall Nationally

Independent Rankings:

  • #6 Entrepreneurship Program per The Princeton Review
  • #11 Best Christian Colleges per Niche
  • #26 Best Colleges for Education per Niche
  • #30 Best Colleges for Music per Niche
  • #61 Best Value for a Private College per Kiplinger
  • #89 Executive MBA program per The Financial Times


Baylor University Admissions Statistics

Application Deadlines:

  • Early Decision: November 1st
  • Early Action:  November 1st
  • Regular Decision: February 1st
  • Transfer Deadline: March 15th

Notification Dates:

  • ED: December 15th
  • EA:  January 15th
  • Regular Decision: April 10th

Acceptance Rates:

  • EA+ED: 56%
  • RD: 23%
  • Transfer: 84%

Average Applicant Pool: 34,500

Average Number of Applicants Accepted: 13,500

Average Number Enrolled: 3,800

Application Systems: Common App, Apply Texas

Average GPA: 3.72 weighted

SAT Scores: 25th percentile – 1190, 75th percentile – 1360

ACT Scores: 25th percentile – 26, 75th percentile – 31

*Test mandatory. Writing sections optional.

Subject Test Requirements: No SAT Subject Tests are required.

Demonstrated Interest:  Baylor does consider demonstrated interest.

Click here for tips on demonstrating interest in a university.

Recommendation Letter Policies: Two letters of recommendation are recommended, but not required. Baylor states that if you have letters that have been written for other institutions, you may send those in.

Baylor University Essay Prompts for 2020:

  • Common App Personal Statement (650 words)
  • What are you looking for in a university, why do you want to attend Baylor, and how do you see yourself contributing to the Baylor community? (450 words)

Baylor Essay Writing Tips

Special Notes:

  • When applying to certain majors, there are different or heightened requirements.
  • The short essay response is only required for Early Decision applicants, although it is recommended for all applicants.

Baylor University Academics


Core Requirements:

What Majors and Minors Does Baylor University Offer?

  • 140 Majors and Minors Offered
  • Option to double major, or to declare a secondary major. A secondary major only grants  a single degree but allows for double-counting of courses within one major towards another. The student’s transcript reflects this secondary major.

Baylor University AP Credit Policy:

  • Baylor awards credit for courses by exam and department, with different programs accepting different scores. Most accept AP scores and IB scores, and some accept SAT II scores. 
  • Comprehensive Credit Information

Honors Programs:

Research Availability:

  • Baylor’s Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Achievement (URSA) initiative encourages undergraduates to get involved in research.

Study Abroad: 

Business Options: 

  • List of Business Majors and Minors  
  • Baylor’s Hanmaker School of Business offers undergraduate programs and degrees, as well as graduate degrees. Students must first be accepted to and enroll in Baylor before enrolling as a pre-business student. Students wishing to continue as a Business major must maintain a 3.0 GPA, complete the prerequisite courses, and take at least 24 credit hours their first year.

Pre-Med Options:

Pre-Law Options:

  • Baylor has a pre-law program, which can serve as a complement to any major.

Additional Specialty Programs: 

Student Life at Baylor University

School Motto:  For Church, For Texas

Mission and Values:

  • Mission: The mission of Baylor University is to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community. 
  • Additional Information

Student Testimonials (Niche, Unigo, Cappex)


As a faith-focused university, chapel and associated religious activities are a major part of the student experience. To quote Baylor on the subject: “Baylor continues to hold firm to the conviction that the world needs a preeminent research university that is unambiguously Christian, where such a commitment does not imply a lack of scholarly inquiry, but rather requires scholarship and creative endeavors at the highest levels of quality to complement and inform its teaching and service.” In spite of this, attendance at chapel is not required, and students from all faith backgrounds can find a place at Baylor. 

Housing Statistics:

  • 36% of students live on campus or in affiliated housing
  • 64% of students live off-campus

Campus & Surrounding Area:  

  • Spread out in its own neighborhood on the South-side of Waco;  the campus boasts a variety of sports facilities, dining options, and museums and libraries. Baylor University and its denizens are the primary feature of this neighborhood, which is almost a college town within Waco proper.
  • Right next to the Brazos River, the campus is directly adjacent to downtown Waco, which is currently experiencing a revitalization. Located on the riverfront is a series of green spaces and parks, including the Turner Riverfront Complex
  • Take the virtual tour to experience the campus for yourself. 
  • Baylor has a Department of Public Safety to keep its campus secure.



  • Dr. Pepper Hour – A weekly gathering of students and faculty drinking Dr. Pepper floats. This tradition began in 1953 when a faculty member started hosting students for “frosted cokes” informally once a week.
  • The Baylor Line, where freshmen storm the field during football games. 
  • Family Weekend

Full List of Game Day Traditions.

Student-Run Organizations: 


  • D1 Athletics – Baylor is in the Big 12 Conference and has won several NCAA titles, including Men’s Tennis in 2004, and Women’s Basketball in 2005 and 2012.
  • Intramural Sports
  • Club Sports
  • Main Rival: Texas Christian University

Greek Life: Baylor has 40+ societies, both national and international, encompassing social and academic fraternities and sororities. Around 14% of males and 21% of female undergraduates are involved in Greek life at Baylor.


  • Greek parties
  • Tailgating and after-parties on game days
  • Apartment parties are common on and off-campus
  • Bars and restaurants in downtown Waco

Financial Information

Yearly Cost of Attending Baylor University in 2020:

  • Total: $67,320
  • Tuition: $44,544
  • Fees: $4,902
  • Room & Board: $13,730
  • Books: $1,444
  • Personal Expenses: $2,700


For financial aid consideration, Baylor requires all students to complete the Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). More than 90% of Baylor students receive at least some financial aid. Priority dates to apply: November 1st for ED/EA, February 1st for Regular Decision. Applications applying after these deadlines will have aid assigned based on a first-come-first-served basis.


All applicants are considered for academic scholarships. 86% of applicants receive an academic scholarship, and the median range of scholarships awarded is $64,000 over four years.

Fun Facts

  • Baylor University was founded before Texas was a state. 
  • The live bear mascots named Joy and Lady live on campus. The first bear mascot came about when the 107th Engineers, an army troop, acquired a bear cub and gifted it to the Baylor University Chamber of Commerce. 
  • The school’s costumed mascot is named Bruiser and is a separate entity from the live bears. 
  • Willie Nelson and Senator Rand Paul both attended Baylor, but neither received a degree from the university.
  • The Baylor University Chamber of Commerce is the university’s oldest student-run organization, and sponsored the writing and composing of Baylor’s fight song.