Dartmouth College Guide

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

Location: Hanover, New Hampshire

Mascot: Keggy the Keg

Type: Private Research Institution

Population: 6,600 (4,500 undergrad)

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About Dartmouth

Dartmouth College was established in 1769 in Hanover, NH. It is the 9th oldest university in the country and was originally founded to educate Native Americans on English ways of life. It operates on the quarter system and is known for its undergraduate focus and Greek culture. With a somewhat rural and remote campus, Dartmouth students form a close bond, and many clubs have a focus on outdoor activities.

Dartmouth Statistics

Year Founded: 1769

4 Year Graduation Rate: 86%

Gender Distribution: 50% male, 50% female

Acceptance Rate: 9%

Residency: 9% in state, 76% out of state, 15% international

Location Type: Rural

Schedule System: Quarters

Student/Faculty Ratio: 7:1

Average Class Size: 19

Demographics: 50% Caucasian, 18% Other, 15% Asian, 10% Hispanic, 7% Black

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National Rankings

US News Rankings:

  • #5 Best Undergraduate Teaching
  • #9 Best Value Schools
  • #12 National Universities
  • #16 Study Abroad
  • #22 Writing in the Disciplines
  • #39 Most Innovative Schools
  • #49 Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs

Independent Rankings:

  • #8 Best Colleges for Economics per Niche
  • #9 Best Colleges for History per Niche
  • #10 National Universities per Forbes
  • #12 US Colleges per The Times of Higher Education
  • #13 Best Career Placement per The Princeton Review
  • #16 Best Value Colleges per The Princeton Review
  • #18 Best Value Colleges per Forbes
  • #94 World Universities per The Times of Higher Education

Dartmouth Admission Information

Application Deadlines:

  • Early Decision: November 1st
  • Regular Decision: January 2nd
  • Transfer Deadline: March 1st

Notification Dates:

  • Early Decision: Mid-December
  • Regular Decision: April 1st
  • Transfer: Mid-May

Acceptance Rates:

  • ED: 28%
  • RD: 6.9% 
  • Transfer: 1.5%

Average Applicant Pool: 23,600

Average Number of Applicants Accepted: 1,900

Average Number Enrolled: 1,200

Application Systems: Common App

Average GPA: 4.11 weighted

SAT Scores: 25th% – 1450, 75th% – 1550

ACT Scores: 25th% – 32, 75th% – 35

*Test mandatory. Writing sections are not required.

Demonstrated Interest:

Dartmouth does not consider demonstrated interest.

Recommendation Letter Policies:

One letter from a counselor, and two letters from teachers are required, ideally from core academic subjects. A peer recommendation is optional, but strongly encouraged.

Dartmouth Essay Prompts:

  • Common App Personal Statement (650 words)
  • While arguing a Dartmouth-related case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1818, Daniel Webster, Class of 1801, delivered this memorable line: “It is, sir,…a small college, and yet there are those who love it!” As you seek admission to the Class of 2025, what aspects of the College’s program, community, or campus environment attract your interest? (100 words)
  • Choose one of the following (250 words)
    • The Hawaiian word mo’olelo is often translated as “story” but it can also refer to history, legend, genealogy, and tradition. Use one of these translations to introduce yourself. 
    • What excites you?
    • In The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, William Kamkwamba, Class of 2014, reflects on constructing a windmill from recycled materials to power the electrical appliances in his family’s Malawian house: “If you want to make it, all you have to do is try.” What drives you to create and what do you hope to make or have you already made?
    • Curiosity is a guiding element of Toni Morrison’s talent as a writer. “I feel totally curious and alive and in control. And almost…magnificent, when I write,” she says. Celebrate your curiosity. 
    • “Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away,” observed Frida Kahlo. Apply Kahlo’s perspective to your own life.
    • In the aftermath of World War II, Dartmouth President John Sloane Dickey, Class of 1929, proclaimed, “The world’s troubles are your troubles…and there is nothing wrong with the world that better human beings cannot fix.” Which of the world’s “troubles” inspires you to act? How might your course of study at Dartmouth prepare you to address it?

Dartmouth Essay Writing Tips

Special Notes:

  • After submitting an application, students may receive an invitation to an optional alumni interview. While these are optional, they are recommended.
  • Students interested in studying art or music are invited to submit a portfolio supplement.
  • Students are required to submit mid-year and final secondary school reports, so Dartmouth can see if they’ve maintained a strong academic performance.


  • Students must have more than one semester, and less than two years at college to apply as transfer students.
  • All students must use Dartmouth’s transfer application. Standardized test scores are required, though students may apply for a testing waiver. Transcripts and syllabi for college coursework is also required.
  • Two recommendations from college-level instructors are required.

Dartmouth Admission Strategy

Admissions Criteria: 

The factors Dartmouth considers very important are: course rigor, class rank, GPA, test scores, essay, letters of recommendation, extracurriculars, and character. They only consider one factor important: talent.

The other factors they consider in an application are: interviews, first generation status, legacy status, geographic origin, race/ethnicity, volunteering experience, and level of interest.

Recruited athletes will have an edge in the admissions process, though they are expected to be within the range of academic success.

What is Dartmouth Looking For?

All applications are examined in a holistic manner. Candidates are evaluated on two 9 point scales (with 9 being the highest). They are given both an academic rating and a personal rating. The personal rating is based on all aspects of the student outside the classroom; their extracurricular involvement, their character, and any unique talents they have. The only candidates who get reviewed by the entire admissions committee are the ones who are uncertain for admissions. Students who are clear admits or denies are treated in a more perfunctory fashion. 

Dartmouth wants each student to bring something unique to their campus, in terms of skills, interests and abilities. While they do want all of their students to be high-achieving academically, they also want differentiation in terms of passions and areas of expertise.

Dartmouth’s yield is higher than similarly rated institutions, but lower than much of the rest of the Ivy League, so to better their numbers here, Dartmouth is looking for students who specifically want to attend their school.

Dartmouth has been pushing to improve it’s engineering program for the past few years, and is looking for strong engineering candidates. They are also interested in diversity on campus, with around half their class each year being minorities. They have recently increased recruiting efforts to diversify the geographic origins of their students.

Dartmouth cares less about legacy status than most of the other Ivy League schools, and while it is considered, it is much less impactful.

Dartmouth Strategy:

Dartmouth is one of the less well ranked Ivies, and while it is still a good school, it is constantly striving to compete with the rest of the league, for students and recognition alike. Students who would be competitive at the other Ivies have a better chance of admission to Dartmouth than Harvard or Yale.

The best way to improve chances generally is to apply Early Decision, as Dartmouth, like many top schools, is increasing the number of students admitted ED, due to the higher yield rate. While requirements are not laxer, the overall percentage of students admitted is greater in the early round.

Positioning is key for Dartmouth, as they want to see what each student will bring to campus specifically. A student’s passions and story should be unique to them, and should demonstrate a high degree of success in their chosen specialization. While recruited athletes will have an easier time of this, that is not a good path to take unless a student is truly good at their sport, and nationally competitive.

Pay attention to the supplemental essays. This blog post from the Dean of Admissions at Dartmouth outlines what they are looking for in the essays. For the “Why Dartmouth” essay, they seek to understand what specifically drew you to apply there. Which courses, what emotional connection, what gossamer thread sparked your fancy enough to drive you to apply to Dartmouth. For the other essay, they want to be able to humanize each student, and see who they are outside of grades and test scores. While they don’t say any “right” way to write the essays, whatever you do write should tell the committee something unique about you.

Finally, students who are applying should know and look forward to what they are getting into. Dartmouth has a very rural and isolated campus, and much of what there is to do is therefore focused on the campus itself. They also have an incredibly dominant greek life scene. Make sure you’re comfortable with the thought of life in such a scenario, and don’t apply to Dartmouth just because it has a prestigious name.

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Dartmouth Academics


Core Requirements:

  • While there is no core curriculum, there are certain classes all students must take and pass. These are English, First-year Seminar, and Language (to a demonstrated proficiency in a foreign language). 
  • Comprehensive Degree Requirement Information

Courses of Study: 

  • 56 Majors Offered
  • Option to double major
  • Popular majors include Economics, Political Science, Computer Science, Engineering Science, and History
  • Students do not declare a major until their second year, and may change majors without much difficulty, though consulting with academic advisors is recommended.
  • Minors Offered
  • Course Catalog

AP Credit Policies:

Special Programs

Honors Programs:

Research Availability:

Study Abroad: 

Business Options: 

  • The Tuck School of Business has an undergraduate program, which offers courses to undergraduate students taught by faculty from the business school. There is no set business major or minor.

Pre-Med Options:

  • While Dartmouth does not have a dedicated pre-med major, they do have a set recommendation of courses for students interested in pursuing a career in medicine. 
  • Pre-Health Advising

Pre-Law Options:

Computer Science Options: 

Additional Specialty Programs: 

Programs for High Schoolers:

  • Enrichment Programs are open to area students in a variety of grades, and connect them with resources at Dartmouth.
  • Strengthening Educational Access with Dartmouth (SEAD) works with under-resourced students in Vermont and New Hampshire, beginning the summer after the sophomore year.
  • Dartmouth Bound is a summer program for rising seniors on campus which counsels them on college applications and life on campus.

Student Life at Dartmouth

Motto: A voice crying out in the wilderness

Mission and Values:

  • Mission: Dartmouth College educates the most promising students and prepares them for a lifetime of learning and of responsible leadership, through a faculty dedicated to teaching and the creation of knowledge.
  • Additional Information
  • Student Testimonials (Niche, Unigo, Grad Reports)

Residential Housing System:

Dartmouth places incoming students into one of six Housing Communities, which operate similarly to residential colleges. Students are guaranteed housing on campus for their first two years. First year students are clustered together, after first year students can choose from a broader array of options, including Greek housing, affinity housing for students with aligned interests, living learning communities, which are subsets within the residential halls.

Housing Statistics:

  • 99% of freshmen live on campus
  • 90% of undergraduates live in on-campus or university affiliated housing at any given time

Campus & Surrounding Area:  



  • Dartmouth NightPart homecoming, part bonfire, and part weekend long party. 
  • Winter CarnivalA celebration of winter and winter sports that began to get students involved in outdoor winter activities. 
  • Green KeyAn event which celebrates the arrival of Spring with outdoor music and free food.
  • FieldstockA weekend long party in the summer quarter featuring homemade chariot racing on the green.

Student-Run Organizations: 


Greek Life: 

Greek Life:  60% of the student body is involved in greek life, including social, service, and academic organizations. The majority of all social life at Dartmouth is through greek organizations.


  • Most nightlife involves and revolves around greek life and the parties they throw, although dorm and apartment parties are also common.
  • Movies are screened at the Visual Arts Center
  • There are restaurants and bars in Hanover, where students often congregate. 
  • There aren’t as many options as a campus in a big city, but the students enjoy themselves anyway.

Financial Information

Yearly Cost of Attendance:

  • Total: $79,525
  • Tuition: $57,796
  • Fees: $1,662
  • Room & Board: $17,122
  • Books: $1,005
  • Personal Expenses: $2,040

Financial Aid:

Approximately 59% of Dartmouth students receive some form of financial aid. All funding distributed by Dartmouth is need-based, they do not offer any scholarships due to merit. Almost all aid awards include work-study, this money goes directly to the student to help them pay for incidental costs, such as books and personal expenses. 

Additional Financial Aid & Student Loan Information

Fun Facts

  • The original plan for Dartmouth was as a school to train Native Americans to be Christian missionaries. This plan failed due to lack of students, so Dartmouth college was founded to be more broadly a school, and very few Native Americans ended up attending. This changed in 1970, when Dartmouth reconsidered their previous history. 
  • Dartmouth was the final college established in the US under colonial rule. 
  • The state of New Hampshire attempted to forcibly turn the school into a public university in 1816, but lost in a Supreme Court case in 1819. 
  • Dartmouth’s scheduling system requires students be on campus for their whole freshman and senior years, and the summer of their sophomore year; all other scheduling is left to the students so long as the minimum number of quarters is completed. 
  • While Dartmouth has no official mascot, keggy the keg, suggested by an on-campus humor magazine, has been widely adopted by students. 
  • Notable alumni include Daniel Webster, Theodore Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss), and Nelson Rockefeller, 39th Vice President. Fred Rogers and Robert Frost both attended, but did not graduate from, Dartmouth. 
  • Theodore Geisel worked on the humor magazine at Dartmouth, but was kicked off due to illegal drinking. He then adopted his now famous pen-name, Dr. Seuss, to continue working there.
  • The movie “Animal House” was based on the screenwriter’s experience at Dartmouth.
Wendy Y.
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