What is Notre Dame Known For? Is Notre Dame a Good School?

Located in South Bend, IN, the University of Notre Dame is a private university founded in 1842. The college’s vast, suburban campus spans 1,265 acres, conveniently placed a mere 100 miles outside Chicago.

First-year students at Notre Dame are required to live in one of the 30 single-sex residence halls on campus. From the second year of study onward, however, students are permitted to choose to live off-campus. 

Many opt to continue to live in campus housing beyond their first year. This is because the school’s residence halls play a significant role in the social life on campus, serving as a place for students to meet and interact. 

As of the fall of the 2020 academic year, Notre Dame has a total undergraduate enrollment of 8,874 students. 

With more than 2,200 current graduate students, the Notre Dame student body includes a total of over 10,000 students — equal to about one-tenth of South Bend’s population.

The cost of attending Notre Dame, including tuition, housing, dining, and other fees, is estimated to be $80,211. It is worth noting, however, that nearly half — or 48% — of full-time undergraduate students at the school receive some form of need-based financial aid. 

Further, the average need-based tuition assistance award at Notre Dame is $45,565. This means that although the college’s price tag may be shocking to many, half of the students do not have to pay the full costs anyway. 

The University of Notre Dame is known across the world for being one of the most prestigious colleges out there. 

For any students interested in learning more about what Notre Dame has to offer, in this article, we will discuss its most well-known academic programs, strongest sports teams, most prominent clubs, and much more.

What Majors & Academics Are Notre Dame Known For?

University of Notre Dame
Eccekevin, Duncan Hall, Notre Dame, CC BY-SA 4.0

Finance is one of the two most popular undergraduate majors at Notre Dame, with 8% of 2020 graduates at the school earning degrees in this field. 

An additional 8% of Notre Dame students opt to major in econometrics and quantitative economics.

The two top major programs — both of which relate to the field of business — are closely followed by the political science and government program, with these majors making up an additional 6% of Notre’s Dame undergraduate student body. 

Looking at rankings for individual programs, however, it can be seen that Notre Dame’s most highly-ranked academic program is its accounting program. According to the most recent rankings, the university is #7 among universities with the best undergraduate accounting programs in the United States.

According to the most recent edition of the US News and World Report’s annual list of best national universities, Notre Dame is currently ranked #19 among all colleges in the country.

The school offers 74 different undergraduate degrees, distributed across 58 major programs under more than 20 general fields of study. With so many different programs for students to choose from, it is hard to say just which of them the school is best known for. 

Notre Dame is also well-known for the very high quality of education its skilled professors provide, ranking in the #11 spot in terms of best undergraduate teaching

Also worth noting is the fact that Notre Dame’s four-year graduation rate is the single highest of all universities in the entire United States. An impressive 93% majority of undergraduate students at the school are able to earn a bachelor’s degree within the expected four-year period. 

Is Notre Dame a Good School?

There is no doubt about it: the University of Notre Dame is not only a good school, but one of the best schools out there. 

The student-to-faculty ratio at Notre Dame is a mere 8:1, meaning that students have ample opportunities to receive one-on-one attention and support from professors, allowing them to develop strong academic relationships with the school’s many esteemed faculty members.

With a regular-decision acceptance rate of 19% and an early acceptance rate of 24.2%. 

To add to that, the median high school GPA of students who are accepted as first-year students at this school is an astonishing 4.06. 

To be a competitive applicant to Notre Dame, students must maintain almost perfect grades in all of their classes, including honors, AP, and IB courses.

These statistics show that Notre Dame has very high standards regarding the caliber of academic ability they expect from all of their students. 

As a result, the atmosphere on campus is one of both great camaraderie and friendly competition between some of the greatest young minds in our time. 

Notre Dame Traditions

With over 80% of the student body living on campus, it is no surprise that many of the University of Notre Dame’s most well-loved traditions revolve around the college’s residence halls. Each residence hall has its own nickname, pride colors, and even a mascot. 

The individual residence halls are also responsible for hosting a signature event every year. One of the most popular of these is Dillon Hall’s annual pep rally, which is always the first of the football season. 

For over 40 years and counting, the Dillon Hall Pep rally has served as a way of kicking off the new academic year, while also encouraging students to show their school pride by cheering on the Fighting Irish. 

Always well-attended, the Pep Rally features skits — generally comedic ones that taunt students from other residence halls — as well as celebrity guest appearances.

Another tradition upheld by one of the school’s residence halls is the Fisher Regatta. Hosted by students from Fisher Hall in April each year, the Regatta is a boat racing tournament that attracts over a thousand participants annually. 

During the event, students compete against one another in a race to the finish line — in a boat of their own creation. 

The Fisher Regatta takes place on St. Mary’s Lake and is open to all students. In most years, nearly all residence halls are represented in the competition, making the event one of the most highly-anticipated Notre Dame traditions. 

Prominent Clubs & Extracurricular Activities at Notre Dame

University of Notre Dame
Matthew Rice, Main Building at the University of Notre Dame, CC BY-SA 4.0

The University of Notre Dame differs from many other colleges in that it does not have any fraternities or sororities. 

As a result, clubs and extracurricular activities play a more significant role in the school’s social environment than they may at schools that do have Greek life organizations. 

Regardless, with over 400 different student-led clubs and organizations, Notre Dame certainly offers its students plenty of ways to get involved on campus.  

One example of these is Project Fresh, a student dance group that aims to encourage individuals in the college’s community about breakdancing, a core element of hip-hop. 

Project Fresh is open to all students, regardless of their level of prior knowledge or experience with either breakdancing or dance in general. 

In the spring each year, the club hosts the Project Fresh Show. First held in 2009, the PFresh show allows club members to showcase their moves while competing against other dance groups at Notre Dame. 

The PFresh Show doubles as a fundraiser, with each year’s winning group receiving a portion of the show’s profits to donate to a charitable organization of their choosing. 

In addition to recreational extracurricular activities, Notre Dame is also home to a number of student groups focused on social justice and community service

For example, there is a club called Foodshare, which aims to raise awareness about food waste and global hunger. 

Students in Foodshare are actively engaged in the fight against food insecurity, working to minimize waste, redistribute resources, and educate the student body about these issues — both on campus and in the surrounding community.

What Sports Are Notre Dame Known For?

The University of Notre Dame’s sports teams, known as the Fighting Irish, are members of the NCAA’s Division I. In all sports other than ice hockey, Notre Dame’s athletic teams compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference. 

Notre Dame’s most well-known athletic program is its football team. The school is one of the seven colleges competing in the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision, the country’s highest level of competition for collegiate football. 

Each year, Notre Dame’s football team also competes in five games in the ACC. The football Fighting Irish have collected a total of 11 national championship titles.

The football team has the fourth-highest winning percentage in the history of their subdivision, emerging victorious from about 730 games for each 1,000 they play in.

Another point of pride for Notre Dame’s football program is that the school is in second place among all universities in terms of the number of players who are later drafted into the NFL. As of 2019, 511 former Fighting Irish have gone professional.

Why Notre Dame?

There is no shortage of reasons why students choose the University of Notre Dame. 

From its world-class academic programs to its fiercely competitive academic teams, its internationally-acclaimed faculty, and everything else it has to offer, the school proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that it has earned its prestigious reputation. 

There is no definitive way to determine what college is the best fit for a particular student, given the significance of their specific academic capabilities, professional aspirations, and personal preferences. 

Regardless, one widely-acknowledged way to gauge the likelihood that any student will be happy at a university is to consider that university’s first-year retention rate. 

Another piece of information about Notre Dame worth noting is its student-to-faculty ratio, which is 8:1. 

This means that students have ample opportunities to receive one-on-one attention and support from professors, allowing them to develop academically solid relationships with the school’s many esteemed faculty members.

At Notre Dame,  an overwhelming 98% majority of first-year students opt to return to the school for an additional year of study. This shows that students who choose Notre Dame are almost guaranteed to be satisfied with what this elite school has to offer its students.

In sum, students choose Notre Dame because it excels in all areas. Its academic program offerings, facilities, and other resources are, in essence, second to none.