How to Get Into the University of Michigan

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May 18, 2022
How Hard Is It to Get Into the University of Michigan?How to Get Into the University of Michigan, Ann ArborReasons to Attend the University of Michigan FAQs: How to Get Into the University of Michigan


Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/11/22

If you want to “go blue” for your post-secondary studies, here’s a definitive guide on how to get into the University of Michigan.   

The University of Michigan, located in Ann Arbor. is a highly-respected institution that spearheads innovation and values diversity.   

According to the Office of the President, its mission is to serve the state of Michigan and the world “through preeminence in creating, communicating, preserving and applying knowledge, art and academic values.” It also strives to develop “leaders and citizens who will challenge the present and enrich the future.” 

This guide will give you all the information that you need to set yourself up for success in your application. It contains an explanation of the admissions process and a step-by-step breakdown of the application. You’ll also find some reasons to choose U-M and some frequently asked questions about the whole ordeal. 

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How Hard Is It to Get Into the University of Michigan? 

A wide variety of factors go into the university’s decision-making process. Read on for the University of Michigan’s admission statistics and methods. 

Admission Statistics 

The University of Michigan has a 26% acceptance rate. On average, successful applicants score between 1400 and 1540 on the SATs, or between 32 and 35 on the ACTs. The average GPA is 3.9. 

However, grades and test scores are not the only factors that the school considers. In addition to academic strength, U-M places high value on your extracurriculars. Its website asks:

“How have you become a leader at your school and in your community? To what heights have you taken your training in music, art, or dance? What is your life like beyond your course of studies and how do you connect them?”

U-M wants to admit a wide variety of students with diverse interests, passions, and ambitions. The Admissions Committee evaluates applications holistically, with the goal of finding applicants who share a drive toward academic excellence and community orientation. 

Application Rating

Each application is assessed by multiple evaluators to ensure a fair and balanced process. The evaluators use a rating system to scale the applicants in the following categories: 

Each evaluator ranks the individual elements either outstanding, excellent, good, average/fair, or below average/poor. After assessing each element on its own, the evaluator decides what ranking best fits the applicant overall. From there, the evaluators come together to make their final admissions recommendation.  

Do you want to study in the best small college city in America, Ann Arbor? Explore how to get into the University of Michigan. Application tips included!  

How to Get Into the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 

Ready to apply? Here’s a step-by-step guide you need to follow to submit your U-M application:

1. The Deadlines

First, review the requirements and deadlines. Then, review them again. Keep them at the front of your mind as you put your application together. 

Picture of List of UMichigan Application dates

Source: University of Michigan

Give yourself plenty of time to complete your application. It’s always a good idea to get started well before the deadline, to make sure you’re approaching each section with care and attention to detail. 

2. The Schools

You won’t simply be applying to the University of Michigan. The system is broken down into fourteen schools and colleges:

Architecture & Urban Planning, Art & Design, Engineering, Kinesiology, LSA, Music, Theatre & Dance, and Nursing all accept first-year applications. The rest are slightly more complicated. 

The Stephen M. Ross School of Business is a first-year direct admit unit: you can apply to LSA and indicate your interest in Ross. From there, Ross makes offers to incoming students. If you apply to a school other than LSA, you can still indicate your interest in Ross, but you’ll be considered for upper-level admission instead. 

Upper-level admitting units accept applications from current first- and second-year students. Successful applicants can transfer from their present program of study into these programs. The upper-level admitting units are as follows:

Some schools offer first-year preferred admission. If you intend to pursue your studies in one of these schools, you’ll indicate that in your application. If accepted, you won’t enroll in any program-specific courses in your first year, but you’ll be guaranteed placement in your sophomore or junior year. The following schools offer this option:

If you don’t know what to choose from all these options, think about what you enjoy learning, and what you aspire to do. Pick a school that feels like a good fit for now, and you can always change your mind later. You don’t need to have your entire degree decided when you apply. 

There are tons of options when it comes to deciding your major. You don’t need to know what your major will be when you apply. In fact, many students don’t declare their major until the end of their second year.

3. The Materials 

In your application, you’ll need the following materials: 

*The version of this document that you’ll need will depend on which application portal you use. The school report corresponds to the Common Application, while the counselor recommendation goes with the Coalition Application. More on this topic in the following sections. 

**U-M recognizes that students’ relationships with their teachers may be less personal than in the past, due to the pandemic moving schools online. Because of this, it has eased the requirements. In the past, it had to be a teacher; now, it can be any educational professional who can speak to your academic proficiency. 

4. The Application Portals

When you’re ready to get started, you’ll fill out either the Common Application or the Coalition Application. To begin, simply create an account on either portal.

Each portal requires that you first fill in your personal and family information. There are sections to upload your documents, invite your recommenders, and write in your essays. 

The Common Application dashboard looks like this: 

Screenshot of Common Application dashboard

Source: Common App

The Coalition Application opens with a helpful tutorial that walks you through the process:

Screenshot of Common Application profile section completion tool

Source: Coalition App

Other than the user interface, the only real difference between the portals is the essay questions they provide. For more information, refer to step 6, the Essays section. 

It’s important to note that the Common and Coalition Applications are viewed equally by the University of Michigan. There is no advantage or disadvantage to using either. 

5. The Recommendation Letters

When it comes to recommendations for first-year applicants, you’ll need a teacher evaluation and a school report (Common Application), or an academic recommendation and a counselor recommendation (Coalition Application). 

The teacher/academic letter ideally comes from a teacher, but it can be written and submitted by anyone who can speak to your academic competence. U-M suggests community-based organization educators or academic program professionals as alternates to teachers, should that be necessary. 

The school report/counselor recommendation comes from a school counselor or a principal. 

Ask your recommenders early to give them lots of time before the deadline, and make sure they know when the deadline is. You should choose people who are well-acquainted with your strengths and can speak to your ability to thrive in an academic environment. 

Recommendation letters are not required for transfer applicants. 

6. The Essays

You’ll have to write three essays to accompany your application. The first two questions are set by the University of Michigan, and are required for all applicants:

"1. Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it. (Required for all applicants)"
"2. Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests? (Required for all applicants)"

Source: University of Michigan

The third and final essay you write will depend on which application portal you choose. The questions are similar, though the wordings vary slightly. The Common Application has an additional essay question for transfer students. 

You can look toward examples of successful essays to help you figure out your approach. The essay portion of the application is your opportunity to show off your writing skills and to help the admissions council see everything that you have to offer. 

7. Submit

Make sure you take the time to carefully review each section of the application, as you can’t make any changes once you click that submit button! After you’ve submitted, make sure to monitor your application status

Reasons to Attend the University of Michigan

Read on for some of the benefits of attending U-M, Ann Arbor. 

The Ranking

If you want to attend a prestigious school that isn’t so exclusive as the Ivy League, look no further. US News has ranked the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor as #23 in its 2022 list of Best Colleges and Universities. This ties U-M with Georgetown and puts it in the same range as UC Berkeley and Carnegie Mellon, all highly regarded schools.

In addition to its high ranking overall, U-M is ranked #3 in Top Public Schools, #8 in Best Colleges for Veterans, and #9 in Most Innovative Schools

The Financial Aid

There are lots of scholarships and grants available, including need-based funding for students from low-income families. There is also no shortage of merit-based funding. When you apply for financial aid, you’ll automatically be considered for scholarships. You don’t have to be accepted to start applying for funding. 

The Town 

In 2020, Ann Arbor was voted the best small college city in America

The study, conducted by WalletHub, rated over 400 cities on wallet friendliness, social environment, and academic & economic opportunities. It found that Ann Arbor consistently scored high in each category. 

The Environment 

Current undergraduate student Madeleine Lee describes the University of Michigan as a place where “I would continue to be challenged and to find something new everywhere I went.” She lists varying class sizes, personalized faculty support, and alumni relations as highlights from her time at U-M. 

FAQs: How to Get Into the University of Michigan

Still have questions about applying to the University of Michigan? These Frequently Asked Questions will give you the answers you need. 

1. What Are the Benefits of Early Action? 

The main benefit of applying via Early Action is a guaranteed decision date. The date is always sometime in late January. This can be helpful as you plan your next steps. 

If you’re applying to the School of Music, Theatre & Dance or the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, EA makes no difference. These schools are exempt from the guaranteed decision date, due to the time it takes to conduct auditions and review portfolios. 

If you missed the EA deadline (November 1st), don’t stress! The only real difference is the speed; applying via Early Action doesn’t make it easier to get in than it would be otherwise. 

2. How Important Are My Test Scores? 

The University of Michigan boasts a holistic selection process. While it considers test scores and wants to see proof of academic rigor in its applicants, this isn’t the only factor. The essays are just as important, so you’ll want to make sure your essays are strong.  

Furthermore, U-M has an ongoing test flexible option due to COVID-19. With this option, you can opt-out of reporting your SAT or ACT scores. You can still report other test scores, such as AP or IB exams. You will not be put at a disadvantage if you choose this option.

3. How Do I Know If The University of Michigan Received My Application? 

Each application portal shows you that you’ve successfully submitted your application. 

If you apply through the Common Application portal, you’ll be able to monitor your application status through the dashboard. If you see a green checkmark, it means the school can download your application. 

If you apply through the Coalition application portal, it will direct you to a confirmation page once you submit. In your dashboard, you’ll see a status of “submitted” next to the name of the university. 

Within a week of U-M downloading your application, you’ll receive an email confirmation. Add “” to your safe sender’s list and monitor your spam folders to ensure you don’t miss anything.  

4. I’m an Undocumented Immigrant. Should I Apply? 

Short answer: absolutely

The University of Michigan encourages undocumented and DACAmented students to apply. It offers support services for current and prospective students, such as financial aid, the Student Community of Progressive Empowerment (SCOPE), and its signature program, SuccessConnects

5. I’m Applying as a Transfer Student. Do My Credits Transfer? 

While there is no requirement for the number of credits you need in order to transfer, having two or more semesters of transferable coursework makes you a more competitive applicant. 

U-M Admissions has a Transfer Credit Equivalency Search that you can use to verify that your credits will transfer over. Students applying to transfer into the College of Engineering will have to meet specific admission prerequisites

6. My Application Has Been Postponed. What Now? 

If your application has been postponed, you can expect a decision by early April. You’ll be considered with the regular applicant pool. You can opt to submit an Expression of Continued Interest form and update your information if you’d like, but this isn’t mandatory. 

7. I’ve Been Placed on the Waitlist. What Now? 

If you’ve been placed on the waitlist, it means that you’re a competitive applicant. The first thing you should do is respond to the waitlist offer. Spots can open up after the enrollment deposit deadline of May 1st. U-M generally completes its waitlist admission process by mid-June.  

Final Thoughts  

Applying to the University of Michigan can seem intimidating, as it’s a high-ranking university with a moderately low acceptance rate, but the process doesn’t need to be stressful. You can follow the steps on this guide to make it as simple as possible. 

Remember to give yourself lots of time to compile your application. The Early Action deadline is November 1st, and the regular application deadline is February 1st. It’s always a good idea to start early, to give yourself (and your recommenders!) as much time as possible to prepare the best application possible. 

Best of luck with your application!

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