Notre Dame Guide

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

Location: South Bend, Indiana

Mascot: Leprechaun

Type: Private Religious Institution

Population: 12,000 (8,500 undergrads)

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About Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame is a private, non-profit Catholic research university which was established in 1842. The university has an undergraduate focus; most students live on campus and the alumni network is considered one of the strongest in the nation. While the school is primarily famous for their football team, they have a strong focus on both academics and religion. Students from all religious backgrounds are welcome, but the institution is overwhelmingly Catholic in values and atmosphere.

Notre Dame Statistics

Year Founded: 1842

4 Year Graduation Rate: 91%

Gender Distribution: 53% male, 47% female

Acceptance Rate: 19%

Residency: 10% in state, 79% out of state, 11% international

Location Type: Suburban

Schedule System: Semesters

Student/Faculty Ratio: 10:1

Average Class Size: 20

Demographics: 69% Caucasian, 12% Other, 10% Hispanic, 5% Asian, 4% Black

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National Rankings

US News Rankings:

  • #11 Best Undergraduate Teaching
  • #15 National Universities
  • #24 Best Value Schools
  • #39 Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs
  • #45 Study Abroad

Independent Rankings:

  • #3 Midwest Colleges per Forbes
  • #17 Research Universities per Forbes
  • #18 Top Colleges per Forbes
  • #30 Best Colleges per Money Magazine
  • #32 National Universities per The Times of Higher Education
  • #71 Best Value Colleges per The Princeton Review

Notre Dame Admissions Information

Application Deadlines:

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

Notification Dates:

  • Restricted Early Action: Mid-December
  • Regular Decision: Late March
  • Transfer: June

Acceptance Rates:

  • REA: 24%
  • RD: 15% 
  • Transfer: 23%

Average Applicant Pool: 19,500

Average Number of Applicants Accepted: 3,700

Average Number Enrolled: 2,000

Application Systems: Common App, Coalition App

Average GPA: 4.06 weighted

SAT Scores: 25th percentile – 1400, 75th percentile – 1550

ACT Scores: 25th percentile – 33, 75th percentile – 35

*Test mandatory. Writing sections are not required.

Demonstrated Interest: Notre Dame does consider demonstrated interest.

How to demonstrate interest.

Recommendation Letter Policies:One letter from a teacher of a core academic subject.

Notre Dame Essay Prompts:

  • Common App Personal Statement (650 words)
  • The founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Blessed Basil Moreau, wrote, “We shall always place education side by side with instruction; the mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart.”  How do you hope a Notre Dame education and experience will transform your mind and heart? (200 words)
  • Choose two of the following to answer (200 words each): 
    • A Notre Dame education is not just for you, but also for those who will benefit from the impact you make. Who do you aspire to serve after you graduate?
    • In response to the rising momentum behind the Black Lives Matter movement during June 2020, G. Marcus Cole, the Joseph A. Matson Dean of the Notre Dame Law School, penned an open letter entitled, “I am George Floyd. Except I can breathe. And I can do something.” He issues a call to the Notre Dame community saying, “Each of us must do what we can, wherever we are.” What is one action you are taking “to change this world for the better?”
    • God and the Good Life is an interdisciplinary course created by the departments of Philosophy and Film, Television, and Theatre that asks students to consider moral questions about what they believe and how they want to live their lives. What do God and a good life mean to you?
    • Notre Dame has a rich history deeply rooted in tradition. Share how a favorite tradition from your life has impacted who you are today.
    • What brings you joy?

Notre Dame Essay Writing Tips

Special Notes:

  • Notre Dame requires certain courses be taken in high school. A list can be found here. Note that these represent the minimum required, and taking more advanced courses is generally recommended. 
  • Students interested in art, music, or architecture are encouraged to send in supplementary portfolio materials. 
  • Students are asked to make a non-binding declaration of college when applying to Notre Dame.


  • Transfer applications are by major, and more competitive majors are more difficult to transfer into, so the school suggests listing a back-up. The following majors are closed to transfers for the foreseeable future: Science-Business, Chemistry-Business, Mathematics Business Concentration, and the Actuary minor.
  • Transfer students must use the Common App. 
  • A letter of recommendation is optional but encouraged.
  • Transfer students are encouraged to review the courses required for their intended major, to ensure they have satisfied necessary prerequisites. 
  • If you never took any standardized tests, or if your scores expired, you may email admissions to have the testing requirement waived.

Notre Dame Academics


Core Requirements:

  • 6 courses in General Liberal Arts
  • 4 courses in Explicitly Catholic Liberal Arts
  • 2 courses in Writing
  • Moreau First Year Experience
  • Comprehensive Information

Courses of Study: 

  • 75 Majors Offered
  • Option to double major, or to take a secondary major. Secondary majors require fewer credits, and may not be taken as a sole major.
  • Popular majors include Finance, Accounting, Economics, Political Science, and Health/Medical Prep Programs
  • Changing majors within a school is relatively easy.
  • Minors offered: Science, Arts and Letters, Business
  • Course Catalog

AP Credit Policies:

  • Notre Dame awards credit for scores of 4 or 5. These credits may not be used for core requirement classes. They grant credit for scores of 6 or 7 on IB exams. 
  • Comprehensive Test Credit Information

Special Programs

Honors Programs:

  • The Glynn Family Honors Program offers special classes, research opportunities, and advising to select students. It also guarantees a grant for one summer of research. Application to the program is by invitation only for admitted students. 
  • Departmental Honors (contact individual departments for more information)
  • University Honors (includes Latin Honors [summa cum laude, magna cum laude, and cum laude] based on cumulative GPA)
  • Academic Honors Societies These offer an involved group of similarly focused scholars.

Research Availability:

Study Abroad: 

Business Options: 

  • The Mendoza College of Business offers 6 majors in business, and grants BBA degrees. It offers 4 minors in addition. 
  • The school offers dual degree programs for students to earn a Bachelor’s in Engineering or Science and an MBA in 5 years. 
  • There are special events, career advising, and networking opportunities offered through the school and associated student organizations.

Pre-Med Options:

  • There is a pre-health secondary major, which may be taken as an accompaniment to any other major, though may not be used as a sole major. This program completes all of the necessary prerequisites and training needed for Med School.
  • Pre-Health Advising

Pre-Law Options:

Computer Science Options: 

Additional Specialty Programs: 

Programs for High Schoolers:

  • Summer Scholars Program these are two-week programs offered in 24 areas of concentration, offering small class sizes and faculty engagement.
  • Leadership Seminars is a program for academically competitive high school students, with 90 being admitted each year to the 10-day program.
  • Study Abroad these two-week programs offer a preview of what college study abroad has to offer.
  • Global Scholars these courses are offered online by professors at Notre Dame’s sister institutions abroad, and last 6 weeks.
  • Architecture Career Discovery Program is offered separately from the main summer scholars programs, but follows a similar format.

Student Life at Notre Dame

School Motto: Life, Sweetness, Hope

Mission and Values:

  • Mission: Notre Dame aspires to be a preeminent research university, with a commitment to the complete education of its students, and a distinctive and defining Catholic identity, character, and mission. Our unique educational aspiration demands that we remain true to our heritage and mission by combining the best of the secular and the religious traditions, the highest level of inquiry and ethical reflection, and the commitment to educating and enriching the whole person.
  • Values: Excellence, Respect, Integrity, Teamwork, Accountability
  • Additional Information
  • Student Testimonials (Niche, Unigo, Grad Reports)

House System:

Students live in one of 30 single-sex residence halls (16 male, 14 female), which form the back bone of social life and intramural competition, each with its own tradition and culture. Each hall has a chapel, dedicated to the hall’s patron saint, and is overseen by a rector. Many halls also have a professor who lives there, to provide further academic stimulation. Opposite-sex visiting hours are limited, but each hall has a public recreation area open to all students open 24 hours. Students are required to live in the halls for their first three years on campus.

Housing Statistics:

  • 99% of Freshmen live on campus
  • 80% of undergrads live on-campus at any given time

Campus & Surrounding Area:  


  • There is a shuttle system which runs through campus. There is also free transport on public transit in South Bend with a student ID.
  • Cars are available for students to rent on a short-term basis.
  • Parking Information


  • Bookstore BasketballThe largest 5v5 annual outdoor basketball tournament in the world. 
  • Bengal BoutsAnnual boxing tournament for charity.
  • Many residence halls have their own traditions, including a homemade regatta, pep rallies and dances. 
  • An TostalIrish for “the festival” this is a week of games, food, music, and celebrations in the week before spring finals.

Student-Run Organizations: 


Greek Life: Fraternities and Sororities are not allowed on campus, with residence halls filling many of the traditional aspects played by greek life.


  • There are many small but lively bars near campus. 
  • Dorm parties are common on weekends.
  • Football games are also large social events, drawing crowds for tailgating and post-game parties. 
  • Notre Dame isn’t a big party school, but the residence halls promote an active social schedule of events.

Financial Information

Yearly Cost of Attendance:

  • Total: $76,883
  • Tuition and Fees: $57,699
  • Room & Board: $15,984
  • Books: $1,250
  • Personal Expenses: $1,200
  • Transportation: $750

Financial Aid: Notre Dame is committed to meeting the demonstrated financial needs of all admitted students. The average need-based aid package is $42,000. In order to qualify for this aid, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Around 40% of Notre Dame students are employed on campus, mainly in work-study positions. 

Additional Financial Aid & Student Loan Information

Scholarships: Notre Dame regional alumni clubs fund many smaller scholarships. Private scholarships are also available. A limited number of students are awarded merit-based scholarships, consideration for this is automatic at the time of admission.

Fun Facts

  • Notre Dame is the only football program to have every home game broadcast nationally. 
  • The main building and library were destroyed by fire in April of 1879, but were fully rebuilt in time for the Fall term. 
  • The KKK attempted to hold a rally in South Bend in 1924 due to their anti-Catholic sentiment. Students disrupted this rally by forming an angry mob and beating the klansmen as they got into town, off the train or in automobiles, often stealing their robes and hats. The university president had to intervene by the 4th day of conflict to stop further violence. 
  • During the Vietnam war, Sorin residence hall broke away from the university in protest, with professors holding classes in the building and residents not participating in campus events. 
  • Notre Dame has seven Heisman Trophy winners, the most in the country. 
  • Notable Alumni include Condoleeza Rice and Joe Montana. 
  • The golden dome is coated with actual 23 karat gold leaf.
Wendy Y.
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