How to Get Into UVA (the University of Virginia)

University of Virginia
August 28, 2023


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/4/22

Not sure how to get into the University of Virginia? We’ve got you covered! Read on to learn everything you need to know about how to get into UVA. 

Founded by Thomas Jefferson, the University of Virginia is a premier institution of the American South known for its high ranking and placement among the Public Ivies.

If you’re interested in attending one of the top 25 schools in the country, or simply looking for an affordable and well-rounded education, then you should definitely apply to UVA. Below we’ll discuss everything you need to know to get into the University of Virginia, including admissions requirements, essay prompts and acceptance rates. 

Let’s get started!

UVA Admission Requirements

The first step of getting into UVA begins with completing specific admissions requirements. Make sure you gather all the necessary documents before you begin the application process. Here’s a breakdown of everything you’ll need to apply to UVA:

Coursework and Educational Requirements

The University of Virginia expects applicants to complete specific class requirements. By the time you finish high school, be sure that you have successfully completed the following:

  • Four years of English
  • Three years of Mathematics, including Algebra I and II
  • Two or more years of science
  • Two or more years of a foreign language
  • One year of American history
  • One year of world history

UVA also requires students to either be within the top 50% of their high school class rank, have at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA, or receive a composite score of 17 on the ACT or 900 on the SAT. Keep in mind that these requirements are not all mandatory—you just need to fulfill at least one of these components.

SAT and ACT Test Scores

While the University of Virginia is a test-optional school, we definitely recommend submitting your SAT or ACT scores if you want to improve the competitiveness of your candidacy. The UVA average GPA is 4.0; applicants often outpace these minimums requirements, so you’ll want to make sure you stand out. Submitting a high GPA and competitive test scores will help you do just that. 

Once you send in your results, UVA will use your composite test scores to ensure you meet their requirements. We recommend meeting, or surpassing, the average scores at UVA. This means you should aim to score above 1400 on the SAT, and outscore the 32-34 average ACT composite score.

Optional Requirements You May Want to Consider

Since the University of Virginia is a public school, you will want to make sure you’ve confirmed your residency. If you live in the state of Virginia, this will vastly decrease your tuition costs. In-state students pay lower tuition because their parents or guardian(s) have paid the taxes and fees necessary to attend the school just by paying state taxes every year. 

A Completed Application

Once you’ve gathered all your admissions requirements, the next step is to fill out and submit an application through Common App. UVA recommends that you send in your application as soon as possible, according to your admission deadlines

Make sure you have an idea of which school you would like to apply for before you fill out your application. You will be required to choose between the College of Arts & Sciences, the School of Architecture, the School of Engineering, the School of Nursing or the Kinesiology program.

UVA Essay Prompts & How to Ace Them 

For the optional essays on the UVA application, students must answer three essay responses, one of which corresponds with the school they specified in their application, and two from a list of eleven prompts.

Here’s the current list of essay questions for UVA. 

School-Specific Essay Prompts

  • College of Arts and Sciences: If you could create a college course that all UVA students would take, what would it be about and why?
  • School of Engineering applicants: How will you use an engineering degree to change the world for the better?
  • School of Architecture: Describe a significant experience that deepened your interest in studying in the School of Architecture.
  • School of Nursing: Describe a healthcare-related experience or another significant interaction that deepens your interest in studying Nursing.
  • Kinesiology Program: Describe an experience that has deepened your interest in studying kinesiology.”

Optional Essay Prompts

  1. “What’s your favorite word and why?
  2. We are a community with quirks, both in language and in traditions. What is one of your quirks?
  3. About what topic could you speak for an hour?
  4. Take us to your happy place.
  5. You can wake up tomorrow and a skill you already have will become expert-level. What skill is that?
  6. What is the last gift you gave someone that wasn’t bought with money?
  7. What website is the internet missing?
  8. After a challenging experience, how do you recharge?
  9. Tell us about a place you’d like to share with everyone, but also keep to yourself.
  10. UVA students paint messages on Beta Bridge when they want to share information with our community. What would you paint on Beta Bridge and why is this your message?
  11. Tell us about a time when, faced with an opinion or perspective that differed from your own, you responded as an empathetic speaker or generous listener.”

If you’re not sure where to begin, or which prompts you should choose, we’ve got you covered! Take a look at these key tips to help you ace your UVA essays!

Tip #1: Stay Within the Word Limit

The limit for the school-specific response sits at around 100 words, while the other two essays should be answered in about 50 words each. While UVA expects students to go over the word limit, be sure to keep your essays as close to it as possible. You want to write essays that are concise, specific and impactful. 

Remember, UVA receives many applications; they may not even consider your essay if you disregard their guidelines.

Tip #2: Select the Right Prompt for You

When it comes to selecting prompts, you want to gravitate towards those that you can answer most impactfully. Take a look at the prompts above. Are you drawn to any in particular? Do specific anecdotes come to mind that demonstrate why you're a great fit for UVA? Do any allow you to demonstrate your passions and values? 

Choosing the right prompts aligning with your unique experiences is key to writing great UVA essays. 

Tip #3: Write Essays that Demonstrate Who You Are

The best way to impress the admissions committee, and secure your spot at UVA, is to be yourself. Avoid using cliches and writing a response you think the admissions committee would want to hear. 

These questions give you the chance to share the story of who you are outside of your academic achievements, so don’t be afraid to be personable and share the experiences that sparked your passions.

Tip #4: Do Your Research

Doing your research on UVA will give you an idea of what the admissions committee is looking for in a candidate. Revisiting the mission statement will ensure that you highlight your leadership skills, professionalism, caring nature and other distinguishing qualities that define UVA. Doing so will align your values with the university, proving that you’re the right fit. 

Tip #5: Seek the Help of an Admissions Expert

Revising your college essays is almost as important as the writing process. Having a second pair of eyes reviewing your responses can make the world of a difference! Don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our experienced admissions counselors to make sure you submit winning essays, free of grammar and spelling mistakes!

How to Prepare for the Admissions Interview

If you’re anxious about how you’ll perform in an admissions interview, you may be surprised to learn that UVA does not offer interviews. If you have questions you’d like to ask the university, you can send an email to an admissions officer or attend an information session.

UVA Acceptance Rate

The current University of Virginia acceptance rate sits at 20.7%. 

If you are a Virginia resident, you’re in luck! Students applying in-state have a higher rate of acceptance at 32.5%, compared to their out-of-state counterparts, who only have a 15.4% chance.

Application Type Deadline Acceptance Rate
Early Decision November 1st 24.4%
Early Action November 1st 16.6%
Regular Decision January 5th 13.4%
Transfer Students October 1st and March 1st 35-40%

Source: UVA, US News

Now that you understand what it takes to get into UVA, let’s learn a bit more about the university.

About UVA 

The University of Virginia sits in the heart of the south, close to the heart of the city of Charlottesville, VA. Founded by former United States president, Thomas Jefferson, UVA set out to provide quality education and preserve knowledge for future generations. UVA offers majors in Nursing, Arts and Sciences, Architecture, Engineering, Kinesiology, and many more!

FAQs: How to Get Into UVA

Still have questions about how to get into the University of Virginia? Below you’ll find our answers to a few frequently asked questions about UVA.

1. How Do You Get Into UVA as an Out-Of-State Student?

It's no secret that the acceptance rate for out-of-state students is slightly lower than those who are from Virginia. However, don’t let that deter you from submitting an application! Crafting an application that will make you stand out is key to getting into UVA. Secure a strong GPA, high test scores and write sincere, personable essays. 

2. How to Get Into UVA With a Low GPA?

If you have a low GPA, don’t fret. UVA encourages all students to apply! The university requires students to have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 and either rank within the top 50% of your class, or have a 17 composite score on the ACT or a 900 on the SAT. The admissions committee will take your entire profile into consideration when evaluating your candidacy.

3. What Kind of Students Does UVA Look For?

As outlined in its mission, UVA looks for students who are passionate, caring and responsible citizen leaders of the world. They exhibit strong leadership skills and professionalism, and are  honorable, trustworthy and respectful. Collaborating in a diverse community is also important to UVA students. 

4. Is UVA Ivy League?

No, UVA is not a part of the Ivy League. Ivy League schools are private universities that are only located in the northeastern United States. However, it is considered a Public Ivy. UVA is highly ranked and provides a standard of education that rivals the Ivy Leagues’.

5. How Hard Is It to Get Into UVA?

While not as competitive as an Ivy League, UVA is quite selective. About 20% of applicants receive admission into the University of Virginia.

Final Thoughts 

As a high-ranking college, the University of Virginia makes for one of the best educational opportunities for any student looking to go to college in the United States. If you enjoy the Southern US and want to be a part of a community full of leaders willing to break barriers and advance knowledge, then UVA might just be the school for you! 

Good luck with your application!

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