Case Western Reserve University Guide

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

Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Mascot: Spartie the Spartan

Type: Private University

Population: 11,850 (5,300 undergrads)

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About Case Western Reserve University

Case Western Reserve University is known for its world class research. Its myriad focuses span from technology, engineering, and science to liberal arts; encompassing a variety of programs. Founded through the merging of Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University to create its current form, it now contains a concentration of educational, medical, and cultural institutions.

Case Western Reserve University Statistics

Year Founded: 1826

4 Year Graduation Rate: 65%

Gender Distribution: 55% male, 45% female

Acceptance Rate: 29%

Residency: 29% in state, 52% out of state, 19% international

Location Type: Urban

Schedule System: Semesters

Student/Faculty Ratio: 11:1

Average Class Size: 20

Demographics: 48% Caucasian, 15% Asian, 6% Black, 5% Hispanic, 4% Other

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National Rankings

US News Rankings:

  • #39 Best Undergraduate Engineering Program
  • #40 National Universities
  • #49 Best Value Schools 
  • #57 Most Innovative Schools
  • #64 First Year Experiences

Independent Rankings:

  • #8 Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Program per Bloomberg Businessweek
  • #31 Colleges with Best Professors in America per Niche
  • #52 National Universities per The Times of Higher Education
  • #55 Best Value Colleges per The Princeton Review
  • #59 Research Universities per Forbes
  • #65 College with the Best Academics in America per Niche
  • #75 Private Colleges per Forbes

Case Western Reserve University Admissions Information

Application Deadlines:

  • Early Action/Decision I: November 1st
  • Pre-Prof Programs: December 1st
  • Early Decision II: January 15th
  • Regular Decision: January 15th
  • Transfer Deadline (Fall): July 1st

Notification Dates:

  • ED: Mid-December
  • PP: February 1st
  • ED II: Within two weeks
  • RD: May 1st
  • Transfer: Within two weeks

Acceptance Rates:

  • ED: 36%
  • PP: 2%
  • EA: 44% 
  • RD: 29%
  • Transfer: 23%

Average Applicant Pool: 29,000

Average Number of Applicants Accepted: 8,400

Average Number Enrolled: 1,400

Application Systems: Common App, Coalition App

Average GPA: 4.00 weighted

SAT Scores: 25th% – 1360, 75th% – 1480

ACT Scores: 25th% – 30, 75th% – 34

*Test mandatory. Writing sections are not required.

Demonstrated Interest:

Case Western does consider demonstrated interest.

Recommendation Letter Policies: 

Applicants must submit three letters of recommendation, one from a counselor and two from teachers. The admissions team must be able to assess your academic capabilities and should therefore come from your most recent instructors in your proposed field of study. 

Case Western Reserve University Essay Prompts:

Special Notes:

  • Students who are applying to transfer who have already applied within the last 12 months only need to complete the reapplication form.
  • Transfer students receive the same financial aid considerations as first year students, including the school’s pledge to meet all demonstrated need.
  • Students may use either the Common App or the Coalition App.
  • A recommendation from a college instructor, and a report stating you are in good standing at your current institution are required. Additional letters of recommendation are optional.
  • Intended music majors must complete the arts supplement.

Case Western Reserve University Admission Strategy

Admissions Criteria: 

A student’s class rank, GPA, test scores, course rigor, and extracurriculars are the most important parts of an application. Also considered, but of secondary importance, are recommendations, interviews, demonstrated interest, character, essay, and abilities. The school may consider legacy status, ethnicity, and first-generation status.

Case Western wants incoming students to have taken classes that demonstrate their ability to do work at the college level. Doing well in a rigorous set of courses demonstrates that a student is ready for the challenges of college coursework. High scores on exams will also show your readiness, although they cannot make up for low grades or shirking on challenging classes.

Students who are looking to pursue a major in math or the sciences should take math and science courses all four years of high school, with at least two years of lab courses for the sciences. Students who want to study liberal arts should have four years of social studies, and three years of a foreign language.

Case Western does recruit athletes, but being recruited won’t provide much of a boost to your admissions chances.

What is Case Western Looking For?

Case Western is looking for passionate and involved students. They want students who have participated deeply in extracurriculars, and activities that set students apart from the crowd are more likely to shine. Students who participate in a more popular activity will have to work harder and achieve greater heights to stand out in comparison to the crowd.

Case Western has a number of current initiatives which inform its admissions process. They are trying to improve the school’s social impact, and are looking to increase student engagement in social impact projects. They are also trying to increase entrepreneurship and startups created by students. Finally, they are undertaking diversity initiatives to increase the number of historically disenfranchised or under-represented students on campus. This is both a focus on recruitment, and on retention, alongside an overall push to increase retention rates among students. The push is strongest in the STEM fields.

Case Western is very concerned with their yield numbers, and may waitlist or outright reject students if they believe those students are using them as a safety school, and intend to go elsewhere if they are admitted. 

Finally, students who are admitted should align with the values of Case Western. This is harder to show, as there are no supplemental essays to show off in. Your main essay should not necessarily be targeted at Case, but should demonstrate your values. 

Case Western Strategy:

Case Western’s desire to keep their yield high means that demonstrating interest, and clearly showing the Case is your top choice, will aid your application. While this may not make up for weakness, it can be the deciding factor in a tie. Applying ED or ED II can help you here, as a binding commitment to attend shows keen interest. ED is a better boost to admissions chances than ED II, but both are advantageous. Interviews are also a good way to demonstrate interest, and you should complete one if possible.

Showing a willingness to improve your community, and a desire to create positive change is important, as Case Western has a renewed commitment to positive social impact, and a desire to involve their student body in that quest. An activities list with prominent volunteering activities or social initiatives will show you are the kind of student they are looking for.

The school’s search for new entrepreneurial talent can also be shown through your activities list. Business internships, self-guided projects, and entrepreneurial exploits will all help you stand out, and show that you fit within the model the school is trying to build. 

Students planning on studying art should definitely submit an optional arts supplement, in order to better showcase their talents and interests.

The school is trying to increase their retention rate overall, so demonstrating that you are capable of handling college-level courses with a high GPA and challenging course load is key. This will show the school that you are properly academically prepared to attend, and less likely to drop out. Demonstrating interest will also make them think you are less likely to transfer out, which is the other part of retention.

Case Western Academics


Core Requirements:

  • Complete general education requirements vary by the school and degree, but all include: Physical Education (2 semesters), the Seminar Approach to General Education and Scholarship (SAGES) which will become a portfolio of all 3 seminars; the first seminar (4 credit hours; must be completed by the end of the 2nd year), 2 university seminars, departmental seminar (3 credit hours), and the Senior capstone (3-6 credits/1-2 semesters).
  • Comprehensive Degree Requirement Information

Courses of Study: 

  • Double major: Available in two (or more) Arts and Sciences majors for the BA degree, or two (or more) Engineering majors for the BS in Engineering degree, or two (or more) Management majors for the BS in Management degree. Additional credit-hours may be needed to meet all requirements of the two (or more) majors. Students pursuing multiple majors within a single degree will receive one diploma corresponding to the degree earned and each major will be noted on the diploma.
  • Popular majors include Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering; General Biology/Biological Sciences; Mechanical Engineering; Computer Science; and Registered Nursing
  • 68 Minors offered
  • Course Catalog

AP Credit Policies:

Special Programs

Honors Programs:

Research Availability:

Study Abroad: 

Business Options: 

  • Weatherhead School of Management applies innovation to their management with a focus on globalization. Their market based management approach keeps their students on the pulse of society and its business trends.
  • The Undergraduate Program offers six majors, seven minors, five concentrations, and five integrated Master’s programs.
  • Wolstein Society | Weatherhead Business choses seniors each year that are exceptional students to join their society. Those in the society participate in events throughout the year.

Pre-Med Options:

  • Pre-Professional Programs offer undergraduates the opportunity to students who know they want to pursue a doctorate in Medicine and or Dental as well as some other advanced degrees to start in a track that aligns with those goals. Additionally, the PPSP grants undergraduate admission and conditional admission to Case Western Reserve’s School of Medicine or School of Dental Medicine.
  • Pre-Med certificate 
  • Pre-Health Advising

Pre-Law Options:

Computer Science Options: 

  • The Computer Science Major is offered through the school of Arts and Sciences, with many of the classes offered through the School of Engineering. There is also a BS in Data Science offered.
  • There is also a BSE in Computer Engineering offered through the School of Engineering.
  • There is a joint BS/MS in Computer Engineering and Data Science available.

Additional Specialty Programs: 

Programs for High Schoolers:

Student Life at Case Western

School Motto: Light (Historical)

Mission and Values:

  • Mission: To improve people’s lives through preeminent research, education and creative endeavor.
  • Values: Academic excellence and impact, inclusiveness and diversity, integrity and transparency, and effective stewardship
  • Additional Information
  • Student Testimonials (Niche, Unigo, Cappex)

Housing System:

5 smaller residential communities offer a unique experience at Case for First Year students. The primary goal is to provide a foundation for future success by supporting the transition from high school to college. Second year students move to a different set of dorms featuring suite-style housing in the South Residential Village. Upperclassmen may move off, or move back to North Residential Village for either suite or traditional dormitory housing.

Housing Statistics:

  • All unmarried students are required to live on campus for 2 years
  • 90% of undergraduates live in on-campus housing for the entirety of their stay

Campus & Surrounding Area:  



  • Hudson Relays is an annual event which has run almost every year since 1910. It consists of teams divided by graduating class with team sizes ranging from 24 to 52.
  • It is a tradition that students that turn 21 receive a birthday greeting featuring the campus and a reminder to celebrate safely. They also recieve a gift certificate for two to the Michelson and Morley in the Tinkham Veale University Center.
  • Legacy Week was created to observe and showcase the history of Case Western.
  • Senior Week celebrations are an annual event.
  • Spring Student Activities Fair and Springfest happen each year where there are booths, events and music for students to enjoy and unite.
  • Thwing Study Over occurs each Fall and Spring during finals where students take a break, congregate and enjoy some chow.

Student-Run Organizations: 


Greek Life:

Nearly 50% of students participate in Greek Life. The program consists of 17 Fraternities and 10 Sororities and have been in existence for the last 175 years.


  • Not considered a “party school”, but the students do like to have fun and choose to balance their rigorous studies with socializing.
  • Cleveland has been named “America’s hottest city” and Case Western students enjoy many things such as Cleveland Museum of Natural History, concerts, and restaurants in and around Cleveland.

Financial Information

Yearly Cost of Attendance:


85% of the students at Case Western receive grants which is 3% above the average given by other private educational institutions. Additionally, they meet 100% of demonstrated need for all admitted students. Finally, more that 80% of all students receive some form of financial aid.

All admitted freshman applicants are automatically considered for several scholarships, however they have several other scholarship competitions that can be applied for. Additional Aid Options include ROTC and Tuition Exchange programs.

Fun Facts

  • Paul Tippet, founder of Craigslist is an alumnus.
  • The Adelbert Gymnasium was originally built for WWI as an armory.
  • Without alumnus Paul Buccheit, Gmail would not have been created as he was its developer.
  • 15 Nobel prizes have been awarded to graduates and faculty.
  • The atomic weight of oxygen was determined by Edward Morley in a Case Western laboratory.
  • Bill Belichick’s father played for Case Western’s football and basketball team. He also played in the NFL on the Lions. In honor of his father Bill Belichick funded Case Western’s weight room. 
  • Professor Charlie Korsmo was a pretty famous child actor and starred in movies such as Hook and What About Bob. 
  • Rich Sommer, actor on the popular TV series Mad Men, is an alumnus. 
  • The school’s first motto “Lux Et Veritas” (Light and Truth) was copied from Yale’s.
Wendy Y.
Below is my son's review. He was accepted to his dream Ivy League school!

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