Syracuse University – Acceptance Rate, GPA, Requirements, and More

This upstate New York school is well-known for its athletic prowess, especially when it comes to mens’ basketball, but Syracuse University is much, much more than that. 

For more than 150 years, it’s delivered a high-quality education and has grown to offer undergraduate students from all over the world more than 200 majors.

Syracuse’s rigorous academics helped earn the university the 58th spot on U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 ranking of Best National Universities. 

While it might be one of the nation’s bigger schools – Syracuse had more than 14,000 undergraduate students in the fall of 2020 – it still manages to keep classes small, with a student-faculty ratio of 15:1.

Although winters are cold – Syracuse gets around 100 inches of snow annually – the student life experience is hot. 

More than 300 student organizations exist, and about 30% of students participate in Greek life. Niche put Syracuse 10th on its list of  “Best Greek Life Colleges in America”  and seventh on “Top Party Schools in America.” 

The Princeton Review, meanwhile, identified Syracuse as a school with one of the most politically active student bodies.

When it comes to academics, Syracuse offers pretty much everything a student could want to study, but some programs in particular stand out. 

Its S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications has developed a reputation as being one of the best college journalism schools in the nation with nearly 20 undergraduate and graduate programs, and it was the most popular major for the class of 2019 (15% of graduates). 

Coming in close behind were social sciences (14%), business-related fields (10%), and the visual and performing arts (10%).

Syracuse University Acceptance Rate

Syracuse University
Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

Of the more than 32,000 applications the university received in 2020, it accepted 69%. That, however, was up from just 44% in 2019.

And interest in Syracuse continues to climb. The university received 24% more applications in 2021 than it did in 2020, with more than 39,000 students applying. Syracuse looked to welcome a first-year class of about 3,600 students in 2021. 

Students can improve their chances of admission by applying for early decision, which means they agree to enroll if Syracuse admits them to their first-choice program. 

The acceptance rate for students who went this route was 60% in the fall of 2019. The university even pointed out that choosing early decision makes an application stand out because it recognizes the student’s “commitment to the institution.” There also “is a much smaller pool of applications for early decision compared to regular decision,” Syracuse noted.


Most of Syracuse’s applicants come from the upper echelons of their high schools in terms of their GPAs, with 41% scoring a 3.50 or higher. 

The average high school GPA for the class that entered Syracuse in the fall of 2019 was 3.67. That’s higher than the national average of 3.38, according to a 2017 study by Inside Higher Ed. 

The average high school GPA has increased significantly over the last decade, too; in 2009, it was just 3.0.

Students who want to better their chances of getting into a school like Syracuse may wish to start signing up for and acing challenging high school courses to add heft to their GPAs, especially if colleges look for a weighted GPA. 

Indeed offers several suggestions for improving their GPAs, such as avoiding unnecessary classes, getting a tutor, and joining a study group.

SAT & ACT Requirements

Colleges and universities across the country took into account students’ scores on exams such as the SAT and ACT for ages – until recently, that is. 

With quarantine measures in place over the last few years because of the coronavirus pandemic, students were unable to take these tests. As a result, many colleges, Syracuse included, made the tests optional for applicants.

Students applying to enter Syracuse in the fall of 2022 do not need to submit these exam scores, and it will not put them at a disadvantage or disqualify them for merit scholarships if they leave them off their application.

When students have shared their scores with the university, they were in the upper ranges. According to U.S. News & World Report, 50% of the applicants Syracuse admitted in the fall of 2019 had an SAT score of 1180 to 1380 or an ACT score of 26 to 30.

Those who do want to include their scores should note that Syracuse superscores both the SAT and ACT, so they should submit their results every time they take the exams.

Requirements & Admission Tips

Syracuse University
Justing, South face of Crouse College, Syracuse University, CC BY-SA 3.0

Syracuse is part of the nationwide network of universities that use the Common Application. This nonprofit organization aims to helps students applying to its member schools by streamlining the admissions process.

In addition to filling out the Common App, prospective Syracuse students must submit their official secondary school transcript, senior year grade report, secondary school counselor evaluation, and two academic recommendations. 

If they are applying for Early Decision, they also must include their ED agreement.

Some individual colleges at Syracuse have additional requirements for applicants, such as submitting a portfolio for architecture or art programs, or auditioning to the drama or music departments. 

The university also suggests that prospective College of Engineering and Computer Science students come from high school with four years of college preparatory mathematics plus laboratory science under their belts.

While high school seniors do not have to interview with an admissions representative, Syracuse pointed out that an interview gives students a chance to learn more about the university and have the university learn more about their goals, interests, and educational experience.


Applicants will need to write an essay for the Common App, which offers seven prompts for the 2021-22 school year. 

These essays give students a chance to reflect on and share personal experiences with challenges, personal growth, and more. 

Students also had the option to write about a topic of their choice, whether it be an answer to a prompt from somewhere else or one they came up with themselves. Common App answers should range from 250 to 650 words.

Students applying in 2021-22 also had to answer a question specifically for Syracuse, which asked them to share why they were interested in the university and how they see themselves “contributing to a diverse, inclusive, accessible and respectful campus.” 

Answers didn’t need to be lengthy, either. Syracuse recommended that students answer in less than 250 words, or about one or two paragraphs.

Students applying to certain Syracuse programs will have to answer extra questions, which also should be 250 words or less. These include the College of Arts and Sciences’ Citizenship and Civic Engagement program and the Discovery Program, Syracuse’s first-semester study abroad offering.

Notable Alumni

Earning a degree from Syracuse puts alumni in good company – and also in a worldwide network of fellow graduates ready to help and guide their fellow alums. 

Syracuse has over 230,000 alumni spread across every state and in more than 160 countries, including several who have gone on to fame and notoriety.

The university has produced many TV, film, and theater stars, including Travel Channel host Samantha Brown, icon Dick Clark, sportscaster Bob Costas, actor Taye Diggs and “Real Housewife” Heather Dubrow.

But Syracuse’s alumni prove that the university can truly prepare its graduates for a wide range of careers. Other notables include NASA astronaut Col. Eileen Collins, the first female space shuttle pilot and commander; author Joyce Carol Oates; and fashion designer Betsey Johnson.

Syracuse has been a powerhouse in the NCAA mens’ basketball realm for decades, and many of its star players have gone on to find success in the pros. 

They include Basketball Hall of Famers Dave Bing and Jim Boeheim, who’s also been Syracuse basketball’s head coach for decades and is one of NCAA’s all-time winningest coaches, and Carmelo Anthony, one of the NBA’s top all-time scoring leaders.

At the graduate level, alumni include President Joe Biden, who graduated from Syracuse’s College of Law.

Is Syracuse Right for You?

Syracuse University
Justing, East face of the Hall of Languages, Syracuse University, CC BY-SA 3.0

Students looking for a campus full of tradition, educational opportunities, and exciting opportunities to grow outside of the classroom can find that at Syracuse.

Located in the heart of the city of Syracuse, the picturesque campus comes to life each school year thanks to the students who come from around the world to study there. 

From elegant historical buildings to a world-class stadium to centers where students can gather for fun or studying, Syracuse has evolved into a dynamic campus where students can thrive.

As a research university, Syracuse also gives students plenty of opportunities to enhance their education by teaming up with faculty members for research and other creative and scholarly projects. Students also can study abroad in 60 countries and intern at such mega-companies as Google, Nestle, BMW, and Nike.

Syracuse also tries to make this renowned education affordable. 

In the 2019-20 school year, 80% of students received financial aid. The education seems to be worth it, too. A survey of the class of 2020 showed that within six months of graduation, 86% of respondents were employed, serving in the military, in a volunteer or service program, or in graduate school. 

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