WU admits 3,600 students, record-low 10% of applicants, to Class of 2026

| Staff Writer

The Washington University seal sits in front of stairs leading under an arch. A person walks up the right side of the stairs.

(Photo by Curran Neenan / Student Life)


Washington University admitted 3,598 applicants to the Class of 2026, resulting in an acceptance rate of 10%.

This year’s acceptance rate, which factors in both early decision (ED) and regular decision (RD) rounds, is a record low for the University. Last year’s acceptance rate was 13%. Vice Provost of Admissions & Financial Aid Ronné Turner said that the increased number of students who applied ED helped make this admissions cycle more competitive.

The percentages of Pell Grant-eligible and first-generation college students stayed roughly the same. Last year, 17% of accepted students were Pell-eligible and 12% were first-generation college students. This year, 16% are Pell-eligible and 13% are first-generation.

The percentages of students who identify as Black or African American and Hispanic increased. Last year 12% of students identified as Black or African American and 12% as Hispanic. This year, both of those numbers rose to 16%.

Turner said this application cycle was marked by two significant changes: need-blind admissions and a new application evaluation process called committee-based evaluations (CBE), under which two admissions officers read each application in order to reduce bias and increase efficiency.

Turner added that she has felt the impact of need-blind admissions this year. 

“It’s wonderful to be able to look at an application, evaluate that student, make the decision, have the discussion on what that student has achieved and what that student has accomplished, without worrying about whether or not we’ve overspent our financial aid budget,” she said.

Turner also characterized many accepted students as “bridge-builders” who have experience building community.

“[Many students] took positive advantage during [the pandemic] by reaching out to their neighbors, holding summer camps for younger siblings, doing internships online, making masks, doing food drives,” she said. “There was just an impressive group of students who were so community oriented.”

The class of 2026 also carries strong academic credentials, with 94% reporting ranking in the top 10% of their high school class, up from 88% last year. 

The University became more geographically diverse as well. 50 states and 50 countries are represented in the Class of 2026, up from 49 states and 20 countries last year. The top foreign countries represented this year are China, South Korea and India.

7% of students are from rural communities and 3% of students are eligible for the WashU pledge, a program created by Chancellor Andrew Martin that allows under-resourced students from rural Missouri and southern Illinois to attend the University at no-cost.

Admitted students are required to inform the University of their decision to attend by May 1. The university expects a class size of roughly 1,810 and around 1,000 applicants to accept a place on its active waitlist.

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