According to a recent PhD candidate at Southern Methodist University, in Texas a degree from Southern Methodist University is akin in value to a degree from Harvard.
And this fact is unsurprising.
In every academic discipline, alumni of SMU can be found changing the landscape in their field.
From the current chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, to Nobel prize-winning physicist James Cronin, to former first lady Laura Bush, SMU alumni are shaping the future in all aspects of society.
It is no surprise that Niche ranked SMU as the #5 Christian university in the country.
Their Business and Law departments regularly produce fortune 500 executives, with SMU’s home city, Dallas, housing 41 fortune 1,000 companies.
And its athletics—particularly its men’s basketball team—consistently rank as some of the country’s most high-quality college athletics departments.
Whether the appeal is SMU’s tradition of excellence in public service or the arts, athletics, or business, before one can enroll in the “Harvard of the South,” they have to create an outstanding application that will captivate an admissions office.
As such, this article breaks down the vital information prospective applicants need to know to begin the process of applying and, hopefully, receiving that acceptance letter.
Getting into SMU is no easy task, and as such, readers will leave this article equipped with knowledge regarding both the minimum requirements for acceptance at SMU and some tips on how to stand out from other applicants.
Read on for the vital information applicants need to begin their journey of becoming a Mustang.
Southern Methodist University Acceptance Rate
The overall acceptance rate for Southern Methodist University is roughly 53%.
That being said, depending on the year, the acceptance rate can be as low as 47%.
However, the acceptance rate does vary depending on whether one is an early decision or late decision applicant.
Early decision applicants to SMU have a significantly higher likelihood of getting into the university, with the early decision acceptance rate hovering around 55–65%.
Early applications are due on November 1st.
Another important factor related to the acceptance rate is financial aid, as even after being accepted to SMU, one still needs to be able to afford schooling there.
By looking at SMU’s financial aid statistics, one discovers that an impressive 71% of all undergraduate students receive financial aid.
The average aid amount is $34,000, and only 21% of SMU students end up taking out federal student loans, according to UnivStats.
Southern Methodist University Out-of-State Acceptance Rate
Unfortunately, Southern Methodist University does not provide detailed admissions statistics for out-of-state applicants.
That being said, SMU does inform the public that roughly 54% of each admitted class consists of out-of-state students, as opposed to 40% in-state.
Although there is no specific data regarding out-of-state acceptance rates, based on the above data, one can assume that a student is not at a significant advantage or disadvantage if they are applying from out of state.
Whereas several state university systems and individual universities have a policy regarding the ratio of in-state vs. out-of-state students, Southern Methodist University has no such policy.
As such, it is safe to say that an out-of-state student has roughly the same chance of being admitted as an in-state student.
GPA for Southern Methodist University
Southern Methodist University states that there is no absolute cutoff for GPA, but they add a caveat to this.
They add that a competitive applicant will have achieved a GPA in the top quarter of their high school class and will have completed rigorous coursework.
SMU also takes into account the intensity of a high school’s curriculum in assessing one’s high school performance.
As such, one can anticipate that a minimum 3.3 will be necessary to maintain a decent chance of admittance. SMU provides information about admitted students’ GPAs, stating that the middle 50% of GPAs for admitted students ranged from 3.53-3.94.
According to SMU, this 3.53-3.94 range represents the unweighted GPA of admitted students. As such, as one calculates their GPA, looking at one’s unweighted performance will be necessary to determine how competitive their GPA is when compared to previous years’ admitted student GPAs.
SAT & ACT Requirements for SMU
SMU does not have a minimum SAT or ACT requirement.
Based on their admissions statistics, one can discover the range of standardized test scores that might be considered competitive for hopeful applicants.
For recently admitted students, the middle 50% of SAT scores ranged from 1360-1500. The middle 50% of ACT scores ranged from 31-34.
Although these figures are very competitive, SMU does superscore ACT scores, increasing their average successful ACT score.
In superscoring the ACT, rather than taking the highest total score of all ACT attempts, SMU looks at the highest score from each individual ACT category and collates that into a new total score.
As such, when determining whether one’s standardized test score is competitive, rather than looking at the total score from individual tests, one can look at their scores in each individual ACT subsection across multiple attempts.
Then, students can add these different, section-specific scores to determine the ACT score that SMU will receive.
Other Requirements and Admission Tips
SMU requires students to complete a standard array of high school coursework prior to admission.
Besides completing the required high school coursework and maintaining a competitive GPA and standardized test score, SMU does not have any additional requirements for general admission.
However, when it comes to major-specific requirements, students are advised to look through the requirements within their particular college of study.
For example, at the Meadows School of the Arts, many students will need to audition for acceptance alongside their general admission.
When considering how best to make oneself competitive for SMU, an easy place to start is to submit the SMU application prior to November 1st so that one is regarded as an early applicant. Early applicants tend to have about a 10% higher admissions rate.
Furthermore, when looking at what aspects of one’s application to highlight, SMU reports that they consider some application components “very important” and others as simply “important.”
Course rigor, GPA, test scores, the application essay, and recommendations are all considered “very important,” according to SMU.
One way to enhance the rigor of one’s coursework is to take more than the minimum 2 years of a foreign language in high school.
As well, letters of recommendation are technically optional for the general application but are highly encouraged for scholarship consideration.
Therefore, submitting a letter of recommendation is likely to help a student stand out from other applicants.
Essays for Southern Methodist University
Alongside the Common Application personal statement, two essays of 250 words each appear on the SMU application.
Although the specific questions are subject to change from year to year, by looking at previous years’ essays, one is likely to discover what general subject matter the supplemental essays are likely to address.
The first of the two supplemental essays asks students to answer, “Why SMU?” In this essay, students can explain their motivation for applying.
In doing so, students can highlight what specific factors of the school appeal to them. This could be specific faculty members, facilities on campus, a discussion of family members who attended SMU, or otherwise.
For such an essay, the more specific the affordances of SMU one brings to the admission team’s attention, the better.
The second essay asks students to discuss how they will contribute to the diversity of the SMU student body. This essay represents a chance for students to discuss their unique experiences, beliefs, backgrounds, or otherwise.
Students can use this essay to consider the SMU community as a whole—the student body’s demographics, typical areas of interest, and more.
Then, students can reflect on their place within that larger community of SMU by considering how their perspectives enhance that community.
Is Southern Methodist University Right for You?
But even after the essays have been written, and the application has been crafted so that it is as competitive as possible, many students may still wonder if Southern Methodist University is the right school for them.
In making this decision, SMU offers students many incredible affordances, which are essential to keep in mind as students strive to pick the school that is just right for them.
For one thing, students interested in studying or pursuing public service will be in good hands at SMU.
The influence of the Bush family on the school has made it so that SMU is a hub for students interested in getting involved in a government office.
The list of SMU alumni who hold government office—both within the US and within other governments—is extensive.
Southern Methodist University is also one of the most beautiful campuses in America, located right in the middle of Dallas, Texas.
Dallas culture goes well beyond the thrilling Cowboys games, as the city is home to dozens of theaters, the Annette Strauss Artist’s square, and the Sammons Center for the Arts.
And, as listed above, SMU has a reputation for being one of the finest colleges in the entire south. For these reasons and more, SMU is likely to make any student feel incredibly proud to call themself a Mustang.