Students experience the best of both worlds at Barnard College.
The all-women college, part of Columbia University in New York City, has spent more than 140 years educating high-achieving students from around the world. Thousands of high school and transfer students apply for admission each year, but only the top candidates make it into this highly competitive school.
Barnard may be an elite college, but knows the value of welcoming students from diverse backgrounds. Of the approximately 700 students in the class of 2024, 50% attended public high schools and 15% are the first members of their family to attend college.
They came from 41 states and 24 countries, and of the Americans in the class, 45% identified as a woman of color.
Barnard also accepts applications from trans women, and it continues to support all its students throughout their time there.
The college offers numerous inclusion and identity programs that let students “explore their identities, and to build networks of support and solidarity.”
Through its partnership with its Ivy League neighbor across the street, Barnard gives its students opportunities to grow and thrive during their college experience, not just in the classroom but in extra-curricular activities as well.
And once they graduate, Barnard women join a close-knit, worldwide network of over 35,000 alumnae.
All this combined with a rigorous academic program that includes nearly 50 majors, a Division I athletics program, and life in one of the biggest cities in the world, and Barnard proves just why it earns high rankings each year.
Here, we break down what it means to be Ivy League, where Barnard fits in, its rankings, and how to get accepted to this elite college.
Is Barnard College Ivy League?
Barnard is an Ivy League school because it is part of Columbia University.
Located in Manhattan, Columbia is one of eight Ivy League universities – alongside Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Brown, Penn, Cornell, and Princeton – that have educated some of the most brilliant minds in the nation for centuries. The term “Ivy League” can be traced to a 20th-century athletic conference that included the schools.
When Barnard was founded in 1889, Columbia was an all-male school, so Barnard served as its all-female counterpart. Considered one of the “Seven Sisters,” a group of prestigious women’s colleges, Barnard offered a challenging education to rival that of what the men received at Columbia.
In 1900, Barnard finally became part of Columbia, which did not become a co-ed school until 1983.
Today, Barnard is one of Columbia’s four undergraduate colleges but it is considered a “self-sustaining entity” within the larger university.
Barnard remains an all-female college with about 2,600 undergraduate students, has its own leadership and offers its own “bold approach to women-centered education.”
Still, the college shares a lot with Columbia. Barnard and Columbia students can attend classes and join organizations on both campuses, which sit across Broadway from one another in Manhattan’s Morningside Heights neighborhood.
That gives them many more opportunities for research and other educational opportunities as well as loads of experiences to help them grow in new and different ways.
Barnard College – Ranking, Acceptance Rate, and More
Barnard lands among the best of the best in national rankings from several publications, with Niche naming it the absolute best women’s college in America.
Niche also placed Barnard at No. 10 on its list of the best small colleges in America, while Forbes named it the 19th-best liberal arts university in the nation.
Unsurprisingly, that esteemed reputation means Barnard receives a lot of applications – 9,411 for the class of 2024 – and it accepted just 1,280 (13%). U.S. News & World Report considers Barnard among the “most selective” universities. Still, Barnard’s rate is higher than the average acceptance rate of Ivy League schools, which is 7%, and Columbia’s, which is 5%.
Of those accepted into the class of 2024, 697 ended up enrolling, becoming part of a diverse student body attending class in an equally diverse city.
Barnard has made an effort to transform its ranks in recent years, and today more than 40% of its campus identifies as a woman of color. The student body is just over 51% white, according to Forbes.
Students have a bit of fluidity when it comes to picking a major (or two). While Barnard offers bachelor’s degrees in over 50 areas, students can design their own major or enroll in a cooperative degree program with Columbia University, the Manhattan School of Music, the Jewish Theological Seminary, or Juilliard.
Students also can join the Accelerated 4+1 Pathways program, in which they earn a bachelor’s degree and then transition to a Columbia graduate program to earn a master’s degree in their fifth year.
Once they graduate, Barnard students join a prestigious list. Many well-known people who’ve excelled in a wide range of fields have earned degrees from Barnard, including Martha Stewart, Joan Rivers, Twyla Tharp, and Cynthia Nixon.
How to Get Into Barnard College
Barnard also considers a lot of criteria when picking its newest members. Admissions interviews are optional but recommended, and Barnard also considers applicants’ character and other personal qualities as well as their essays and recommendation letters.
It also takes into account the prospective student’s performance on college entrance exams, their high school GPA, and their activities outside of school. Interested students can apply through the Common Application, Coalition Application or QuestBridge.
GPA & Test Scores
Prospective Barnard students will want to do their absolute best in high school if they want to have a fighting chance at earning a place on campus. The college’s admissions committee looks for “students of proven academic strength who exhibit intellectual voracity and strong potential for further scholarly growth.”
Barnard doesn’t require its applicants to include their GPAs, but their average GPA is a perfect 4.0.
In fact, 84% percent of Barnard’s class of 2024 ranked in the top 10% of their high school class. Earning top grades and taking honors or AP classes can help high schoolers boost their GPAs for a better chance at getting into a school like Barnard.
Barnard is among many colleges and universities nationwide that have temporarily made SAT and ACT scores optional for applicants because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which made taking the exams difficult or even impossible.
Barnard is not requiring the exams for first-year and transfer students applying for fall/spring 2022 and 2023 admission. The university will decide at a later date if it wants to continue the policy for future classes.
Students in Barnard’s class of 2024 who did submit their results had scores that put them into the upper echelon of high school students.
The mid 50% range for the reading and writing section of the SAT was 670 to 740 out of 800, and for the math section, it was 670 to 770 out of 800.
For the ACT composite, the mid 50% range was 31 to 34 out of 36.
Applicants also should note that Barnard does not superscore the ACT but does superscore the SAT.
While Barnard wants its students to come to campus with a strong foundation of high school courses, it also looks beyond an applicant’s academic background when considering them.
Prospective students have a chance to share more about themselves, such as their activities and interests, in the “additional information” section of their application. Here, applicants can share more about clubs, sports, community service and other activities – whatever they think will give the college an all-encompassing look at their lives.
And Barnard wants to know all about it, too. In reviewing applications, the college looks at the interests an applicant can bring to the college, as well as how she will impact her classmates and make a positive impact on campus.
Prospective students are not required to interview with Barnard representatives, so this section of the application gives them the perfect spot to share more about who they are outside the classroom.
“We want to see how you have pushed yourself and succeeded with the resources and opportunities that have been available to you,” the college noted.
One of the best ways prospective students can show just what they’re capable of is by submitting a supplementary portfolio. Although not required for admission to any major, the portfolios serve as a great visual representation of the applicant’s experience in art, music, theater, or other fields.
Recap: Barnard Is an Ivy League School
Barnard College is an Ivy League school that gives its students opportunities unheard of at other schools of its caliber.
Through its intimate, all-female setting, Barnard offers a small-school feel in the heart of a big city. And its students benefit not only from those small class sizes – Barnard has a student-faculty ratio of 9:1 – but also its partnership with Columbia University, the centuries-old research university that opens even more doors and academic possibilities to Barnard students, including several combined-degree programs.
It’s an experience students seem to love, too. The average freshman retention rate, which U.S. News & World Report describes as “an indicator of student satisfaction,” is 95%. They thrive on a diverse campus in the heart of New York City.
Barnard’s tuition costs over $57,000 annually, which is about the same as the average cost for all Ivy League schools.
Students have a lot of financial help available to them, too. In the class of 2024, 38% received need-based grants from the college, with the average grant worth nearly $36,000.
In the end, a Barnard degree puts them in good company before and after they enter the workforce. More than 400 alumnae participate in the Beyond Barnard Mentoring Program.
Mentors are available to meet with students in person or virtually to offer support, advice, and more. It all helps put students on a path to success.
Within six months of graduation, 89% of the class of 2020 were working or in graduate school.