Top-notch academics, Division I sports, and an active student life experience – all offered on a historical, picturesque campus – make Villanova University one of the most in-demand colleges in the nation.
For nearly 180 years, “Nova” has educated students at its campus in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
More than 11,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students attend this private liberal arts university, which U.S. News & World Report named #53 in its 2021 rankings of national universities, and they can choose from more than 150 degrees and programs.
Villanova also ranked third on The Economist’s list of “Best Economic Value” schools. While annual tuition comes to $56,730, each freshman receives an average scholarship/grant package of $30,722, according to the Princeton Review.
A Villanova degree also positions graduates well for the future; the median starting salary of alumni is over $63,000, according to U.S. News & World Report.
The university has six colleges – including ones dedicated to business, engineering, and nursing – and small class sizes, with a student-faculty ratio of 11:1. Those students care not just about their studies (92% of Villanova students graduate), either, but also their communities.
When they’re not participating in some of the 265 extracurricular groups and activities, 44 club and intramural sports, or 24 varsity sports, “Villanovans” rack up 249,000 hours of community service each year, according to the university.
With such a high amount of interest in attending Villanova, though, not everyone who wants to actually gets in. Applicants for the class of 2025, the most recently admitted, came from 48 states and 56 countries.
U.S. News & World Report considers Villanova a “most selective university,” and recent numbers make that clear. The university received more than 24,000 applications to join the undergraduate class of 2025, up from more than 22,000 for the year prior. It admitted 25%, aiming to welcome a class of 1,675. For the class of 2024, the university admitted just 31% of applicants, planning for the same class size.
Villanova does offer an early decision option for applicants, which is binding but also tends to have a good outcome for those who choose to go that route. Its early decision acceptance rate is 56%, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Villanova also accepts applications for transfer students in the fall and spring.
Villanova University GPA
High school students hoping to attend Villanova University will need some stellar grades to make the cut. A student’s high school GPA, along with how rigorous their courses were, “are two factors that weigh most heavily in college admission,” according to the Princeton Review.
Students who applied to join the class of 2024 had an average high school GPA of 4.23, and more than a third had a GPA of 3.75 or higher.
For those admitted to the class, the mid 50% GPA range was 4.12 to 4.49 on a weighted 4.00 scale.
A weighted GPA “accounts for honors and AP designations, granting you more credit for more challenging courses,” College Vine explained. That means students who take an AP or honors class, which is more challenging than a regular class, will get more points to count toward their GPA. So, students hoping to get admitted to Villanova may want to plan ahead in their high school careers and take – and excel in – advanced classes to bring their GPAs more in line with those of other applicants.
SAT & ACT Requirements
Exams such as the SAT and ACT played a key role in college admissions for ages, but that has changed recently thanks in part to the coronavirus pandemic.
As schools shut down and people went into quarantine, high schoolers across the country found themselves unable to take those all-important college entrance exams. Many colleges – including Villanova – made the tests optional for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 admission cycles.
Villanova emphasizes that it takes a “holistic” approach to its admission process and that exam scores have always been just one part of it all.
Applicants who don’t include test scores will be judged on other factors, including their grades, essays, and recommendation letters. Leaving out exam scores will not affect scholarship consideration, either.
Prospective students who did take the exams can choose to share their scores when they apply, although the exams’ optional writing portion is not required. In Villanova’s recently admitted class, those who included their scores excelled in each exam.
The mid-50% SAT self-reported scores ranged from 1370 to 1500 out of 1600; for the ACT, the range was 31 to 34 out of 36.
Applicants who want to include their scores can self-report them, have them included on their official high school transcripts, or have the testing agency send them directly to Villanova.
Requirements & Admission Tips
Villanova begins accepting applications on Aug. 1, and students have until Nov. 1 to apply if they want to be considered for early decision or early action.
For everyone else, the application deadline is Jan. 15.
Villanova does not allow students to apply as an “undeclared” major. Prospective students must apply to a specific major or one of Villanova’s undergraduate colleges.
But students who aren’t quite sure what they want to study still have some wiggle room. They can apply to the Exploratory Arts program in the university’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Prospective students who want to land in a particular academic program will need to make sure they first take the right high school courses. The university recommends that business students come with at least one year of calculus under their belts, while engineering students should have taken a physics class. Prospective nursing students, meanwhile, should have finished one year each of both biology and chemistry in high school.
Villanova doesn’t require interviews for applicants, but it does want to hear from some of the people who know them best. Their school counselor and one of their secondary school teachers both will need to submit letters of recommendation.
While they don’t need to interview with someone from the campus, applicants still need to share their thoughts with the school through three essays.
Villanova uses the Common Application, a nonprofit organization that streamlines the admissions process for students applying to participating schools.
Students applying to Villanova will need to include not only the essay they wrote for the Common Application but also two shorter essays specific to the university. It noted that it views the essays “as a unique opportunity for students to move beyond the transcript and introduce the individual behind the application.”
For 2021-22, Villanova applicants could choose from prompts such as “What is the truest thing that you know?” and “Tell us about a societal issue that you believe the wonder of technology is well-poised to help solve” in their first essay response.
The second essay asked them to explain why they wanted “to call Villanova your new home and become part of our community?”
Thanks to its diverse academic offerings, Villanova has seen many of its graduates achieve greatness in an equally wide array of fields.
Famous faces who have studied there include first lady Jill Biden, who earned a master’s degree in English; actress Maria Bello, who’s starred in shows including “NCIS” and the films “World Trade Center” and “Coyote Ugly; and Albert Jacobs, co-founder and chief executive optimist of the Life Is Good brand.
Villanova’s strong athletics program also has produced some high-achieving talent, including almost 60 Olympians. Its national championship-winning basketball program also has had some big names through the years, including later NBA players Paul Arizin and Tim Thomas.
NFL Hall of Famer Howie Long played for Villanova’s team from 1977-80 before launching his pro playing and TV careers, and he hasn’t forgotten where he started. Long and his wife, Diane, also a Nova alumna, committed $1 million to the university’s capital campaign in 2015. Villanova’s recently opened weight room is now known as the Howie Long Strength Training Center.
Is Villanova Right for You?
The Order of Saint Augustine founded Villanova in 1842, and that Catholic identity remains an important part of the university more than a century later. Villanova aims to provide a setting where students can “learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others.”
When it comes to finding the right students to add to its ranks, the admissions office takes into account the university’s “three core values” – Veritas (Truth), Unitas (Unity), and Caritas (Love) – and how applicants have embraced those.
While its long history of academic success and its decades of tradition offers a lot of appeal, Villanova also can simply be a fun, exciting place to be.
Its men’s basketball team won the NCAA championship in 2016 and 2018 with a supportive, enthusiastic student body supporting it all the way, but even those who don’t participate in one of the Division I sports get in on the action, with 53% of students participating in intramural sports.
Villanova also has an active campus life, with 69% of undergraduates living on campus. In addition to the more than 200 student organizations, the university also has several sororities and fraternities; 21% of students join a fraternity, and 26% join a sorority. Should students want to take a break from it all, the big-city lights of Philadelphia are just a few miles away.
And if environmental consciousness plays an important part in choosing a university, Villanova already has taken steps to improve its relationship with the Earth. It launched a Climate Action Plan and aims to achieve net climate neutrality by 2050.
Villanova offers a high-class education in an intimate setting, one where students have many opportunities beyond the classroom. Prospective students will need to come prepared with strong grades and a character to match.