How to Get Into Yale in 2024

Yale University is best known for its leading edge science research and for having one of the best-performing arts and literature programmes in the US – earning its position as #10 globally. Yale’s alumni include five US presidents, 32 Pulitzer Prize winners and 20 Nobel Prize winners. This is a complete guide on how to successfully apply to Yale.

Research Courses at Yale

Yale offers a wide array of academic programs that attract students from around the globe. The university boasts a diverse range of courses. It’s a good idea to thoroughly research courses and their competitiveness.

In no particular order, here are Yale’s most competitive courses:

  • Economics
  • History
  • Political Science & Government
  • Molecular, Cellular & Development Biology
  • Statistics & Data Science
  • Research & Experimental Psychology 
  • International Relations
  • Mathematics
  • English
  • Cognitive Science 

Yale’s programs are renowned for their comprehensive curriculum and the exceptional opportunities they provide for research and career advancement, preparing students not just for academic success, but also for meaningful roles in a wide variety of fields.

Entry Requirements

Students applying from abroad follow the same procedure and have essentially the same application requirements as all other students.

Here are the steps/requirements:

Complete a Standardised Test

Standardised tests are required for all first-year applicants for fall 2025 admission and beyond. Yale is the second Ivy League university to revert to not having a test-optional policy, meaning tests are once again required. There are the four standardised tests you can take:  

  • ACT
  • Advanced Placement (AP) 
  • International Baccalaureate (IB)
  • SAT

Admissions officers do not prefer one type of test over another and do not penalise applications that lack particular test scores. Neither perfect scores nor a long list of completed exams are required to be competitive in Yale’s selection process.

Whilst it will require standardised tests, Yale said its policy would be ‘test flexible’, permitting students to submit scores from subject-based Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate tests in place of SAT or ACT scores.

You can access resources on test formats and how to succeed in your standardised tests here:

Yale enrols students with a range of scores. The middle 80% of ACT and SAT scores (the 10th to the 90th percentiles) of first-year students who enrolled in fall 2020 were as follows:

  • ACT Composite: 31-36
  • SAT-Evidence-Based Reading and Writing: 680-790
  • SAT-Math: 690-800

In your initial application for Yale, which is explained below, you will have to self-report any scores from the test type(s). You can also provide any details of circumstances that may have affected your experience preparing for or completing the tests – this is optional.

Admissions officers consider standardised test scores and transcripts together – holistically. Officers evaluate scores within each student’s unique context and use them to augment other academic indicators in the application. Yale explains that strong scores are not a substitute for a weak transcript, and weaker scores do not disqualify an applicant.

Click here for more advice on how to select/report your scores

Complete the Initial Application

All applicants for first-year admission must submit one of the following:

Yale will accept any one of these applications, without preference for one over another. Students should submit only one application per admissions cycle.

Initial Application: Short Answer Questions

Applicants submitting the Coalition Application, Common Application, or QuestBridge Application will respond to the following short answer questions:

  • Students at Yale have time to explore their academic interests before committing to one or more major fields of study. Many students either modify their original academic direction or change their minds entirely. As of this moment, what academic areas seem to fit your interests or goals most comfortably? Please indicate up to three from the list provided.
  • Tell us about a topic or idea that excites you and is related to one or more academic areas you selected above. Why are you drawn to it? (200 words or fewer)
  • What is it about Yale that has led you to apply? (125 words or fewer)

Applicants submitting the Coalition Application or Common Application will also respond to the following short answer questions, in no more than 200 characters (approximately 35 words):

  • What inspires you?
  • If you could teach any college course, write a book, or create an original piece of art of any kind, what would it be?
  • Other than a family member, who is someone who has had a significant influence on you? What has been the impact of their influence? 
  • What is something about you that is not included anywhere else in your application?

Initial Application: Essay

Applicants submitting the Coalition Application or Common Application will respond to one of the following essay prompts in 400 words or fewer:

  1. Reflect on a time you discussed an issue important to you with someone holding an opposing view. Why did you find the experience meaningful?
  2. Reflect on your membership in a community to which you feel connected. Why is this community meaningful to you? You may define community however you like.
  3. Reflect on an element of your personal experience that you feel will enrich your college. How has it shaped you?

Pay the $80 Application Fee 

  • If required, applicants can request an application fee waiver
  • This fee waiver scale is based on family size and income in US dollars and also applies to all international students

Get Recommendations From Two Teachers & One School Counsellor

Request recommendations from two teachers who have taught you in core academic subjects (e.g. English, Foreign Language, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies) who know you well, and who have seen you at your best. It is preferable, but not required, that recommendations come from teachers who have taught you during your final or penultimate year of secondary school.

You must also request a recommendation from your school’s college counsellor. If your counsellor does not know you well, the recommendation may still provide helpful contextual information about your school and its academic programs. If your school does not have someone serving as a college counsellor, you can request a recommendation from a school administrator such as a house master, principal, or academic advisor. 

Check out this podcast by Yale admissions officers on how to ensure your recommendation letters are impactful and successful

Submit Your School Reports

Your counsellor or other school official should submit a School Report with an official transcript that includes all your secondary school courses. Recommendations and transcripts should be submitted electronically through the Common Application or Coalition Application website. 

If necessary, teachers and counsellors may also submit their recommendations and transcripts via mail or digital upload. Recommendations may be sent before or after you submit your application; materials that arrive before your application will be kept on file. 

Educational support program counsellors (such as EducationUSA advisors and others) may provide supplemental recommendations, and they may be able to advise school officials on compiling documents, but only school officials should submit required application materials. 

Submit Your English Proficiency Test Results 

Yale requires that non-native English speakers who have not taken at least two years of secondary education where English is the medium of instruction submit the results from any of the proficiency tests listed below.


The TOEFL requires pre-registration for available testing dates. Yale’s most competitive applicants have scores of at least 100 on the internet-based TOEFL.


The IELTS offers proficiency tests in locations around the world. Pre-registration is required. Yale’s most competitive applicants have IELTS scores of 7 or higher.

Cambridge English Qualifications

Cambridge English exams are available at testing locations around the world. Pre-registration is required. Yale’s most competitive applicants have Cambridge English scores of 185 or higher on the C1 Advanced, C2 Proficiency, or B2 First exams.

Duolingo English Test

Applicants may submit the Duolingo English Test (DET), which combines an English proficiency test with a brief video interview. Duolingo’s technology and format allow applicants to complete the test at any time or place with internet access. Yale’s most competitive applicants have DET scores of at least 120.

Submit Your Mid-Year Report & Final Report

Applicants who receive new grades by February 1 should submit a Mid-Year Report. Only admitted students are required to submit the Final Report, which provides final secondary school grades and examination marks. 

Admitted students submit the Final Report in the summer before fall matriculation. If your secondary school provides predicted results for external exams such as A-levels, the International Baccalaureate, and other international or national testing organisations, they should be submitted by your school alongside your transcript or Mid-Year Report.

Personal Statement 

Whilst you are generally not required by Yale to submit one long personal statement, you will complete personal statements in the form of short answers and essays in your initial application. Depending on your course, they may require an (additional) personal statement.

The main tips for writing this are:

  1. Provide strong and quality examples of your skills, interests, projects, etc. Remember: it is always quality over quantity. You can list all your activities in the rest of your application
  2. Demonstrate your intellectual passion for the field. It is advisable to use personal anecdotes to illustrate what sparked and sustains your passion – but this does not have to be too personal/invasive for you
  3. Avoid cliches and overused phrases like, ‘I’ve always wanted to help people’
  4. Your personal statement should always reflect your personality. Yale wants to know if you are an interesting and inspiring future student – there is only so much your academic achievements can show. It’s about finding the right balance between the two. But make sure that in showing your personality, you don’t make it informal
  5. A good essay structure is: (1) beginning with a story, (2) then focusing on your intellectual experience and goals for future research, (3) and concluding with why you would be an asset/excel at Yale

Check out these resources to discover these tips in more depth:

Here are examples of Yale personal statements/essays:

Attending Your Interview

An interview can provide an opportunity to share additional information with the Admissions Committee. All Yale interviews, both those with alumni and those with current Yale seniors, are evaluative. Admissions officers read interview reports alongside application materials.

An interview is not a required part of the application process. Because of limited interviewing capacity, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions prioritises interviews for students for whom the Admissions Committee needs more information. Students who do not receive an interview invitation will not be disadvantaged, but applicants are encouraged to connect with a Yale alumni interviewer or student interviewer if invited.

The Yale Alumni Schools Committee (ASC) conducts interviews wherever there is a local association of alumni volunteers. Also, a small group of Yale seniors serve as Senior Interviewers and conduct virtual interviews with selected applicants, regardless of location.  

While ASC interviews are available in most parts of the United States and in many foreign countries, there are places where alumni interviews are not available. So you should not attempt to contact Undergraduate Admissions or the local Alumni Schools Committee (ASC) volunteers to request an interview. Note

Click here for Yale’s sample interview questions 

You can access resources to help you succeed in different types of interviews via Yale’s career page

Click here for sample questions, strategies and tips

Scholarships & Financial Aid

Yale offers scholarships and other grants, often referred to as gift aid. These fall into three categories in the Yale financial aid award:

Yale Scholarship

Yale’s need-based grant aid for undergraduates, the Yale Scholarship, is a gift and thus never has to be repaid. If a student is awarded financial aid, the Yale Scholarship amount is included on the Financial Aid Award Letter.

The Yale Scholarship can vary from a few hundred dollars to over $70,000 per year – the average Yale need-based scholarship is over $50,000. 

If you want to be considered for a scholarship at Yale, you will have to first complete your initial application. You can then demonstrate your financial need and eligibility by completing the CSS Profile. The CSS Profile is an online application used by colleges and scholarship programmes to award non-federal institutional aid. 

This form will require you to submit/gather as much personal financial information as possible, such as personal/family tax reports. The CSS Profile has a submission fee ($25), but fee waivers are available for eligible first-year students to keep this cost from being a barrier to financial aid. 

Find out more about applying for financial aid via Yale’s CSS Profile page

Every Yale College financial aid award meets 100% of a student’s Demonstrated Financial Need based on the Estimated Cost of Attendance and a calculated Expected Family Contribution. For example, Families with annual incomes below $75,000 and typical assets qualify for a ‘zero parent share award’ – Yale’s most generous financial aid package. These awards cover the full cost of tuition and fees, housing, food, and travel, and qualifying students receive a $2,000 grant for their first year and hospitalisation insurance coverage. 

Just for your reference: the Student Share is a fixed estimate of what students should anticipate contributing from term-time and summer job earnings. Because the Student Share is equal to the standardised annual estimate for books and personal expenses, Yale does not expect students to contribute towards billed expenses, such as tuition, housing, and food. 

Click here for more statistics on who receives financial aid and how much this can/will be

Estimate your cost in three minutes with the Quick Cost Estimator or get a more detailed estimate with the Net Price Calculator

Merit-Based Scholarships

Whilst Yale does not award merit-based scholarships, Yale students often qualify for merit awards from other organisations. Criteria for receiving merit scholarships are directly linked to a student’s performance in academics, sports, music, or another field of special interest. Potential sources for merit-based awards include:

  • private companies
  • employers
  • nonprofit organisations

For students on financial aid, outside merit scholarships may reduce their Student Share and amounts that exceed the total Student Share reduce Yale Scholarship.

You can find resources to help you search for merit-based scholarships via the Sources for Outside Aid page

Entitlement Grants

Entitlement grants are awarded by the federal government, state agencies, or other agencies not affiliated with Yale. The criteria for receiving entitlements are based on federal need, city or state of residence, or affiliation with an employer. An entitlement grant may have a merit component, but if the student would not receive the resource without need, the resource is generally considered an entitlement. Entitlement grants reduce Yale Scholarship dollar for dollar.

Top Tips

  1. Make sure you deeply research Yale’s requirements, history and qualities. It’s important you: (1) determine if Yale is the right fit for you, (2) equip yourself with as much knowledge as possible so that you are fully prepared, (3) complete your application successfully 
  1. Additionally, make sure you research the specific school/department you are applying to. Whilst Yale has generalised requirements, its departments will be looking for more specific/additional things in their students. Each department is unique and your application should reflect your knowledge of the department’s (research) strengths
  1. Find out what the current students, alumni and professors are saying. Check out articles, particles, and videos made by Yale students/staff to get a more personal/advantageous insight into the application process and life at Yale. The professors especially are a great way to find out what type of students they are looking for
  1. Read/engage with scholarly resources in the field you are pursuing or are close to your scholarly interests – even better if it is from Yale. This can be a great way to exemplify your prospective performance as a future student at Yale
  1. As PrepScholar explains, Yale wants students who will take advantage of its many resources. Your application should demonstrate that you’re ready to take on challenges and that you grab opportunities when you see them. Yale isn’t looking for complacency—it’s looking for students who will take advantage of every moment on their campus.


What is the Yale acceptance rate?


Is Yale a good university?

Yes, Yale is ranked in the top five schools in the US and is one of the most prestigious schools in the nation. The university prides itself on its research efforts, with over 70 core research facilities and $900 million in external funding In 2022.

Is Yale a Russell Group / Ivy League university?


How hard is it to get into Yale?

Getting into Yale is extremely competitive with less than 7 out of every 100 students gaining admission. However, this should not discourage you from applying.

Does Yale give contextual offers?

Like many US colleges, Yale looks at a student’s application holistically. Whilst they do not have contextual offers, if your academic performance is lower than other applicants you may still be granted admissions based on your performance in other areas of your life, for example. 

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