Johns Hopkins University Guide

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

Location: Baltimore, Maryland

Mascot: Mr. Commodore

Type: Private Research Institution

Population: 13,000 (6,900 undergrad)

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About Johns Hopkins

Johns Hopkins was founded in 1876 in Baltimore, Maryland and was named after abolitionist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Johns Hopkins. It is considered the first research university in the United States and the university motto is “The Truth Shall Set You Free”. The Hopkins’ men’s lacrosse team has won 44 national titles and the university has a particularly strong School of Medicine.

Johns Hopkins Statistics

Year Founded: 1876

4 Year Graduation Rate: 87%

Gender Distribution: 52% female, 48% male

Acceptance Rate: 13%

Residency: 40% in state, 49% out of state, 11% international

Location Type: Urban

Schedule System: Semesters

Student/Faculty Ratio: 7:1

Average Class Size: 14

Demographics: 38% Caucasian, 23% Asian, 16% Other, 13% Hispanic, 10% Black

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National Rankings

US News Rankings:

  • #9 Undergraduate Research/Creative Projects
  • #10 National Universities
  • #15 Best Undergraduate Engineering Program
  • #19 Best Value Schools

Independent Rankings:

  • #12 National Universities per the Times of Higher Education
  • #12 World Universities per the Times of Higher Education
  • #16 World Reputation per World University Rankings
  • #17 Hardest Colleges to get into in America per Niche
  • #37 Best Value Colleges per The Princeton Review
  • #46 Graduate Employability per Top Universities

Johns Hopkins Admissions Information

Application Deadlines:

  • Early Decision I: November 2nd
  • Early Decision II: January 4th
  • Regular Decision: January 4th
  • Transfer Deadline: March 1st

Notification Dates:

  • Early Decision I: December 11th
  • Early Decision II: February 12th
  • Regular Decision: March 13th
  • Transfer: May 15th

Acceptance Rates:

  • ED: 28%
  • RD: 9% 
  • Transfer: 10%

Average Applicant Pool: 30,000

Average Number of Applicants Accepted: 2,300

Average Number Enrolled: 1,400

Application Systems: Common App, Coalition App

Average GPA: 3.92 weighted

SAT Scores: 25th% – 1400, 75th% – 1570

ACT Scores: 25th% – 32, 75th% – 34

*Test mandatory. Writing sections are not required.

Demonstrated Interest:

Johns Hopkins does not consider demonstrated interest.

Recommendation Letter Policies:

A school counselor recommendation is required along with evaluations from two teachers who can provide insight into your work.

Johns Hopkins Essay Prompts:

  • Common App Personal Statement (650 words)
  • Successful students at Johns Hopkins make the biggest impact when collaborating with others, including peers, mentors, and professors. Talk about a time, inside or outside the classroom, when you worked with others and what you learned from the experience. (300-400 words).

Johns Hopkins Essay Writing Tips

Special Notes:

  • When applying to Johns Hopkins University, students must commit to a specific academic school; however, one does not need to declare a major until the second semester of sophomore year. The exception is the Biomedical Engineering major, which students must select as their first choice major to be considered for, and is the most selective major.
  • Johns Hopkins has a live interview option during the application process.


  • High school and college transcripts are required, as is a recommendation by a college instructor and an essay.
  • The application must be completed using the Common App.
  • Test scores are not required for transfer applicants, though they are accepted.
  • Transfer students apply by major, and must select a 1st and 2nd choice major to pursue. Space is limited depending upon major and year. Transfer students may select any major except Biomedical Engineering.
  • Different undergraduate schools require students to have taken different courses in preparation.
  • A minimum GPA of 3.0 is required for transfer admissions.

Admission Strategy

Admissions Criteria: 

The very important aspects of an application in the eyes of JHU are: course rigor, GPA, test scores, recommendations, essay, and character.

The important aspects are: class rank, extracurriculars, and talent.

The aspects they take into account more generally are: first-generation status, volunteering, geographic origin, and ethnicity.

Recruited athletes do not receive much of an admissions boost, given that JHU is Division III, and does not have a major focus on sports.

JHU also no longer offers alumni interviews. While on-campus interviews are offered, it won’t hurt your chances if you don’t complete an interview. JHU does not consider demonstrated interest or financial need. They used to consider legacy status, but recently stated they will no longer do so moving forward. 

What is Johns Hopkins Looking For?

All applications are examined using a holistic review. The committee looks for three traits: academic character, impact and initiative, personal contributions. Academic character is how well a student has done academically, as well as their general intellectual potential. Impact and initiative reflects actions both inside and outside the classroom, and how students have been able to apply what they’ve learned. Personal contribution highlights the ways in which students have contributed to their communities, whether within their school or within their town or state more broadly, and how they will contribute to the campus community at Johns Hopkins.

Academic character is judged using the overall rigor of a student’s curriculum and the student’s letters of recommendation, in order to provide context for the student as a scholar. Impact and engagement is judged based on extracurricular involvement, family engagement, and other impactful uses of an applicant’s time.

As JHU considers a student’s fit with the school, they consider the ways in which the student could participate in their broader community. To do so, they review the application in its entirety with an eye to the whole person, and seek out students who are eager to follow their interests using the kinds of opportunities they can offer. The essays are the best way you, as the applicant, can demonstrate that you belong at JHU. 

Finally, JHU wants to see real world applications of the lessons you’ve learned in school. The majority of students admitted show a record of practical application and involvement beyond their academic coursework. While purely theoretical learning is appreciated, applying what you have learned is more impressive, and more in line with JHU’s mission as a major research university. 

They seek to have 20% of students admitted be eligible for Pell Grants, that is from lower income households. They have increased recruiting of students from these backgrounds, and gone entirely need-blind, along with increasing the financial aid they offer to low-income students.

Johns Hopkins Strategy:

The easiest way to increase your chance of admissions is to apply Early Decision, especially if the school is your first choice. While the overall applicant pool for ED is often more qualified, it is also far smaller, and thus the number of students admitted is relatively greater. While the school does not track demonstrated interest, they do like to see the commitment that applying ED implies.

Applying ED II will provide a minor boost to admissions chances, though less of one than applying ED. If you are unready to apply in the ED round, consider applying ED II if Johns Hopkins is your first choice school.

The essay is very important in the admissions process, and they give examples on their site of ones that worked. Spend enough time on the prompt to make sure you answer it well, and tie it concretely to Johns Hopkins. If the essay reads like it could apply to any school, then admissions officers won’t value it as highly. As a side note, make sure to spell it “Johns Hopkins” and not “John Hopkins” as that shows a lack of care about the school.

The medical program at the school is one of the best in the country, and so they get a large number of highly talented pre-med students. Thus if you are intending to be pre-med, it will be more difficult to stand out and impress. High achieving students in other fields will have an easier time impressing admissions officers with their achievements.

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Johns Hopkins Academics


Core Requirements:

  • No core curriculum exists to grant students the freedom to explore and combine academic interests.

Courses of Study: 

  • 52 Majors
  • Option to double major
  • Popular majors include Computer Science, Kinesiology, Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Mechanical Engineering, and Psychology
  • Changing majors is easy, and adding a second major from a different school is possible. Changing schools is very difficult.
  • Minors
  • Course Catalog

AP Credit Policies:

  • Johns Hopkins offers credit for qualifying scores and/or advanced placement in classes, waiving prerequisites. They award credit for scores of 4 or 5 on most AP exams and scores of 6 or 7 on IB higher-level exams.
  • Comprehensive AP Credit Information

Special Programs

School Motto:  The truth will set you free.

Honors Programs:

  • Does not have set programs for Honors, but does give honors distinctions in various ways including:
  • Departmental honors awards.
  • Dean’s list which is evaluated each semester on 14 plus credit hours.
  • Honors at graduation: Johns Hopkins Phi Beta Kappa Criteria.

Research Availability:

Study Abroad: 

Business Options: 

  • There is no designated business major, though a Business Minor is available. Many students interested in business major in Economics.
  • The is a joint BS/MBA program offered through the Whiting School of Engineering, for students interested in both engineering and business.

Pre-Med Options:

  • Johns Hopkins does not offer a pre-Med major. There is a pre-health advising track that allows you to major in any subject. A note from the university: “pre-health students master competencies across a range of science disciplines, learn about the social determinants of health, and demonstrate a range of personal competencies deemed essential for success in health professions school and future practice.  Students are encouraged to explore academic interests in and out of the sciences, engaging in intellectual inquiry, independent study, and disciplined research. Johns Hopkins applicants to health professions school are reflective in their learning and decision-making, demonstrate social responsibility, and are committed to a career of service.”
  • Pre-Health Advising

Pre-Law Options:

Computer Science Options: 

Additional Specialty Programs: 

Programs for High Schoolers:

  • The Center for Talented Youth offers both online courses year-round, and in-person summer courses for high achieving students in grades 9-12.
  • Pre-College Summer Programs offer residential experiences, internships, research opportunities, and coursework to talented high school students at Johns Hopkins.

Student Life at Johns Hopkins

Mission and Values:

  • Mission: To educate its students and cultivate their capacity for lifelong learning, to foster independent and original research, and to bring the benefits of discovery to the world.
  • Values: Excellence and Discovery, Leadership and Integrity, Diversity and Inclusion, Respect and Collegiality
  • Additional Information
  • Student Testimonials (Niche, Unigo, Students Review)

Residential Housing System:

Johns Hopkins Residential College System consists of several residence halls that provide a housing experience that foster lifelong friendships. Each hall has its own unique personality. Students not only live there, they create memories through activities offered. Residential Life is a big part of student’s social lives at Johns Hopkins University.

Housing Statistics:

  • 100% of Freshmen & Sophomores are required to live on campus.
  • 49% of undergraduates live in on-campus housing for the entirety of their stay

Campus & Surrounding Area:  



It is rumored that the institution has no time to do anything but research, and that it has little traditions to speak of. Johns Hopkins Magazine disputes that theory.

  • Christmas Eve Caroling Under the Hopkins Dome
  • The presidential greeting at the start of a new academic year on the latest contraption from rollerblades to Segways.
  • Let there be light! Celebrates the holiday season with fireworks in every quad.
  • Short sheeting the beds of visiting dignitaries to include Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger. 
  • In Remsen Chemistry Hall the plaque must be rubbed for luck if a student is to pass their exam. 
  • Turtle Derby Day has turtle race to lighten student’s moods 
  • Laying the wreath on Johns Hopkins’ grave every Christmas Eve

Student-Run Organizations: 


Greek Life: 

  • Participating in fraternities and sororities is a big part of the culture with 30 percent of the student body choosing to participate in Greek Life.


Two types of things to do: on campus and off.

On Campus:

  • Free movies on campus
  • Peabody Institute Concerts & Events
  • Hanging out with friends potluck, watching tv and computer games.
  • Informal recreation: frisbee, open gym, volleyball.
  • Greek parties
  • Events: drama, lectures, films, concerts, speakers are available every week.
  • Tailgating, intercollegiate sports to attend.

Off Campus:

Financial Information

Yearly Cost of Attendance:

  • Total: $74,528
  • Tuition: $55,350
  • Fees: $500
  • Room & Board: $16,310
  • Books: $1,250
  • Personal Expenses: $1,118

Financial Aid:

Johns Hopkins is need-blind for U.S. citizens and permanent residents, and offers financial aid packages that meet 100% of need and do not include student loans. 88% of families with incomes less than $200K receive grants.

The Office of Student Accounts offers a no interest payment plan that allows families to divide semester costs across as many as five equal monthly payments. Participants pay an enrollment fee of $55 per semester. The plans are flexible and accessible online, allowing participants to make adjustments throughout the semester as needed. Approximately 20% of Hopkins undergraduates utilize this adjustable plan. Johns Hopkins has a plethora of student work opportunities that can help subsidize their educational expenses. 

Additional Financial Aid & Student Loan Information


Johns Hopkins has several need based scholarships available for students including the Bloomberg Scholarship and the Hodson-Gilliam Success Scholarship. There are federal and state based grants available based on financial need. There are merit based scholarships available including the Hodson Trust Scholarship. Some merit based scholarships are specific to areas of study such as the Westgate Scholarship in Engineering

Fun Facts

  • In 1873 a philanthropic gift of 7 million came from childless Johns Hopkins whose formal education ended when he was 12, after his devout Quaker parents freed their slaves and put Johns and his brothers to work in the field. He was the founder of the university and its hospital.
  • America’s first Academy of Music, the Peabody Institute, turned 150 in 2007.
  • The steam tunnel system under Johns Hopkins’ Homewood and East Baltimore campus is rumored to have mutant rabbits occupying the tunnels under the physics building.
  • US President Woodrow Wilson was a student in the university’s glee club and sang the Star-Spangled Banner. As president he made it into the national anthem.
  • Lacrosse pride is so huge that they have their homecoming in the Spring instead of the Fall.
  • The first research university in the U.S.
  • Famous alums include Wolf Blitzer, Tori Amos, and 22 Nobel Laureates.
  • The Johns Hopkins University Press is the oldest continuously operating university press in the U.S.
  • Michael Bloomberg is an alum and has donated more than $1 billion since he graduated in the 1960s.
Wendy Y.
Below is my son's review. He was accepted to his dream Ivy League school!

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Many people are dissuaded from seeking a college counselor because they think they can get into their desired college(s) either way. Honestly, going that route is a bit short-sighted and can jeopardize your odds of acceptances after years of hard work. The sad truth is, the American education system (even if you attend a fancy private school and ESPECIALLY if you go to a public school) doesn't really tell students how to write a compelling and authentic application. Going into the admissions process alone, without speaking with an advisor, is like going to court without a lawyer - you put yourself at a significant disadvantage because you don't have all the facts in front of you, or the help you need to negotiate the system.

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As a former admissions officer at Johns Hopkins, Sasha knows what types of essays jibe well with universities, an invaluable asset to have in the admissions process. He is responsive, flexible, creative, positive, and witty. For anyone who is serious about going into the college admissions process informed and prepared, I highly recommend Sasha.
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