Tulane University Guide

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

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana

Mascot: Riptide the Pelican

Type: Private Research Institution

Population: 11,700 (6,800 undergrads)

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About Tulane

In 1834, Tulane was born as a medical college. Now, its students enjoy the benefits of a large research university with the trappings of a small liberal arts college. By completing Tulane’s core curriculum, students are exposed to academic foundations in writing, foreign language, scientific inquiry, and cultural knowledge. It is the first university to require community service in their curriculum.

Tulane University Statistics

Year Founded: 1834

4 Year Graduation Rate: 73%

Gender Distribution: 60% female, 40% male

Acceptance Rate: 17%

Residency: 17% in state, 78% out of state, 5% international

Location Type: Urban

Schedule System: Semesters

Student/Faculty Ratio: 8:1

Average Class Size: 21

Demographics: 70% Caucasian, 11% other, 8% Black, 7% Hispanic, 4% Asian

Download a copy of our complimentary Tulane University essay strategy.

National Rankings

US News Rankings:

  • #3 Service Learning
  • #18 Best Colleges for Veterans
  • #40 National Universities
  • #42 Most Innovative Schools
  • #73 Best Value Schools

Independent Rankings:

  • #3 Happiest Students per Princeton Review
  • #14 Best Colleges for Accounting per Niche
  • #19 Best Athletic Facilities per Princeton Review
  • #44 Colleges with Best Student life in America per Niche 
  • #61 in Research Universities per Forbes
  • #84 National Colleges per The Times of Higher Education

Tulane Admissions Information

Application Deadlines:

  • Early Decision: November 1st
  • Early Action: November 15th
  • Regular Decision: January 15th
  • Transfer Deadline: April15th

Notification Dates:

  • Early Decision: December 15th
  • Early Action: January 15th
  • Regular Decision: April 1st

Acceptance Rates:

  • ED: 32%
  • EA: 17%
  • RD: 13% 
  • Transfer: 38%

Average Applicant Pool: 43,000

Average Number of Applicants Accepted: 7,300

Average Number Enrolled: 6,770

Application Systems: Common App

Average GPA: 3.56 unweighted

Comprehensive Breakdown

SAT Scores: 25th percentile – 1350, 75th percentile – 1490

ACT Scores: 25th percentile – 30, 75th percentile – 33

*Test mandatory. Writing sections required.

Demonstrated Interest:

Tulane does consider demonstrated interest.

Recommendation Letter Policies:

Does not require teacher recommendations (only a counselor recommendation), but they are willing to review additional recommendations you submit.

Pre-health policy: Letters of Recommendation

Tulane Essay Prompts:

  • Common App Personal Statement (650 words)
  • Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (250 words)
  • Please describe why you are interested in attending Tulane University (optional) (50-800 words)

Tulane Essay Writing Tips

Special Notes:

  • Tulane has specific curriculum requirements which students need to have completed in high school to be eligible to apply.
  • Select EA and ED students will be invited to participate in the alumni interview program.
  • Artistically talented students are encouraged to submit a portfolio.
  • Louisiana residents who meet certain criteria may qualify for automatic admission into Tulane if they apply ED.


  • Students must apply using the Common App or Tulane’s web app. High school and college transcripts, as well as test scores are required.
  • Students should have a GPA of 3.0 or above, and have upper level coursework in English Language and Math (ideally Calculus), plus foreign language experience.
  • Both need based and merit aid is available to transfer students.

Tulane Admission Strategy

Admissions Criteria:

The factors Tulane considers most important are: course rigor, class rank, test scores, and GPA.

Factors which are considered are: essay, recommendations, character, extracurriculars, legacy status, first generation status, interview, talent, demonstrated interest, work experience, and volunteering.

Recruited athletes are given an admissions boost at Tulane, though they are still expected to meet academic minimums.

What is Tulane Looking For?

The Dean of Admissions for Tulane wrote this blog post on this very topic. What are they looking for? Students who are self-aware, both of themselves and the world they come from. This means they want students who are conscious of their own advantages, biases, and preconceived notions, even if they still impact them. Students who are willing to go outside their comfort zone, both socially and academically. Students who are authentic, rather than those who merely say what the school wants to hear. (A perhaps ironic inclusion on this list). 

They want students who have bonded with others, and in doing so shown empathy. While bonds with peers are typical, displaying bonds with different generations are more exceptional. Finally, they want students who are willing to admit they don’t know everything or have all the answers, but are curious enough and intrinsically motivated enough to seek them. They do not want students who are externally motivated, seeking to learn or explore merely as a means to an end.

The dean does caution that this should not be taken as gospel, and by striving to fulfill these, the student automatically violates them; inauthentically and cynically acting in order to boost admissions chances. These are general guidelines of what officers like to see shining through or reflected in students essays, activities, and letters of recommendation.

The school is looking to increase diversity on campus, especially economic diversity. They enjoy hearing about students who have worked, even if the work is not what is generally considered impressive or glamorous. The school also has an initiative to increase racial diversity on campus, through recruiting and retention efforts.

Tulane has a strong commitment to research, especially interdisciplinary research. If this is something you have been involved with, or would like to pursue at the school, you should definitely reference such in your application.

Tulane Strategy

The “optional” Why Us essay is the best way to boost your chances of admission. The dean of admissions describes the reasons for this in a blog post. To sum them up: students are applying to increasing numbers of schools, and schools are getting ever more applicants. Tulane wants to hear specifically what draws you to their school, what connections you have with it, and how you will make use of the opportunities and resources offered there. If you can replace the school name with another, it’s a poor essay. Likewise, if the school is more about the student than the school it does not fulfill its purpose. The point is to explain why the student and the school are a good fit.

Tulane does consider demonstrated interest, and this is an easy way to boost your chances of admission. It won’t be enough to admit you if other areas of your application are too lacking, but it can prove a tiebreaker. The optional essay discussed above is one of the best ways to demonstrate interest, as is applying Early Decision. The ED admissions rate is far higher, so if Tulane is your first choice, you should definitely apply ED. 

Tulane does allow interviews, and these are a good opportunity to give admissions officers another perspective of you. You should sign up for an interview if possible, even though they are not a required part of the admissions process, and it is possible to get admitted without one.

Need assistance with the college admissions process?

Tulane Academics


Core Requirements:

  • Option to double major: Students may complete two majors by meeting the requirements established by the departments concerned. Two diplomas are not awarded for a double major, but both majors are listed.
  • Popular majors include Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services; Social Sciences; Biological and Biomedical Sciences; Health Professions and Related Programs; and Communication, Journalism, and Related Programs.
  • 67 Minors Offered
  • Course Catalog

Courses of Study: 

  • 28 Majors Offered
  • Option to double major
  • Popular majors include Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, Electrical Engineering

AP Credit Policies:

Special Programs

Honors Programs:

  • Tulane Honors Program provides academically gifted and intellectually curious students opportunities for exploration and immersion in both multi-disciplinary and specialized scholarships. Entering freshmen once invited must take a certain number of honors level courses throughout their time at Tulane. If they also choose to do a senior thesis, they may be able to graduate with honors in their major. 
  • Graduating with Latin Honors is solely based on GPA. Students with a GPA in the top 30% will receive the designation as follows: Summa cum laude = top 5% of the class. (3.9)
  • Magna cum laude = next 10% of the class.(3.8)
  • Cum laude = next 15% of the class.(3.6) 
  • Dean’s List is awarded every semester to (3.7 or better)
  • Tulane University Honor Society

Research Availability:

  • Tulane research is ranked in the top 2% nationwide by Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

Study Abroad: 

Business Options: 

Pre-Med Options:

Pre-Law Options:

Computer Science Options: 

  • The Department of Computer Science is part of the School of Engineering, and offers a BS in computer science.
  • The school offers resources for students interested in computer science, or doing research with faculty.

Additional Specialty Programs: 

Programs for High Schoolers:

  • Pre-College Programs are offered by Tulane for middle and high school students who want to intellectually explore academic topics or the arts. These are summer programs offered on campus, and give students a feeling for the campus and college life.
  • The School of Professional Advancement offers concurrent enrollment to advanced high school students.
  • The School of Architecture offers Career Exploration Summer Programs for students interested in exploring careers in the field.

Student Life at Tulane University

School Motto: Not for one’s self, but for one’s own.

Mission and Values:

  • Mission: Tulane’s purpose is to create, communicate, and conserve knowledge in order to enrich the capacity of individuals, organizations, and communities to think, to learn, and to act and lead with integrity and wisdom.
  • Values: Be Person Centered, Lead Lives of Integrity, Encourage Creativity & Innovation, Educate the Whole Person, Commit to Healthy Living, Model Inclusive Excellence
  • Additional Information
  • Student Testimonials (Niche, Unigo, Cappex)

Tulane’s Residential College System:

All freshmen and sophomores are required to live on campus, unless they reside in adjacent neighborhoods in New Orleans. Juniors and seniors are not guaranteed places in on-campus housing, due to a lack of rooms and an increasingly large student body. There are both traditional dorms, and Residential Learning Communities available for students to live in.

Housing Statistics:

  • Freshmen and Sophomores are required to live on campus their first 2 years.
  • 48% of undergraduates live in on-campus housing

Campus & Surrounding Area:  


  • Students get around campus for free and around New Orleans with shuttles and or use TapRide, an on-demand, point-to-point van service, which is available every night of the week.
  • Parking Information


  • Blarney Stone The stone appeared on campus in 1945, and was adopted by the School of Engineering.
  • Hullabaloo cheer is the traditional student cheer at sporting events.
  • Wave Goodbye party is held prior to graduation in the Spring as a send off and celebration for the graduating seniors.
  • Crawfest is an annual festival featuring music, food, and arts. Over 20,000 lbs of crawfish are consumed at each festival.

Student-Run Organizations: 


Greek Life:

  • 42% of all students are involved in 24 fraternity and sorority programs. This steady increase over the last few years shows how popular a program it is with the student body.


  • While there is a vibrant nightlife scene at Tulane students aren’t pressured to drink if they don’t want. Frat parties are also a common occurrence on weekends.
  • The #2 party school in the country, per Niche
  • New Orleans itself, of course, is full of opportunities for students who want to explore off campus.

Financial Information

Yearly Cost of Attendance:

  • Total: $77,678
  • Tuition: $58,850
  • Room & Board: $16,248
  • Books: $1,200
  • Miscellaneous Expenses: $1380


All financial aid is divided into a few forms: Need-based aid, merit aid, student employment, and loans being pre-eminent among them. All admitted freshman applicants are automatically considered for partial Merit Scholarships. Admitted freshmen must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be considered for need-based scholarships. For merit aid:

  • Partial Scholarships range up to $32,000 per year, require no special application and are awarded based on the strength of the admission application.
  • Full-Tuition Scholarships recognize superior high school performance, extremely competitive standardized test scores, exceptional community and secondary school involvement, and extraordinary intellectual promise.

Fun Facts

  • Tulane began as a public university, but was privatized after the Civil War due to financial difficulties and a large donation from Paul Tulane, who the school was renamed for.
  • The School of Dentistry was founded in 1908, but closed by 1928.
  • Home of the first opera house ever built in the U.S.
  • In 1972, the coldest game (39 degrees) in Super Bowl history took place in the Tulane Stadium. 
  • In 1940, Tulane’s McAlister Auditorium was built and is the world’s largest self-suspended concrete dome.
  • Tulane cooks about 30,200 pounds of potatoes every year, in the Bruff Commons Dining room.
  • Tulane’s Howard Tilton Memorial Library was submerged under 8 feet of water in the basement during Hurricane Katrina, but the school was determined to reopen and classes were back in just 4 months later.
  • Notable alumni include Newt Gingrinch and former president of Costa Rica Luis Solis.
Wendy Y.
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