Not surprisingly, Yale University is consistently ranked among the top universities in the world. It accepts the Common Application, Coalition Application, and QuestBridge Application. All three applications require a personal statement essay plus additional Yale-specific short answers and a Yale writing supplement. For applicants interested in engineering or computer science, there is a third optional essay. This prestigious Ivy League school prides itself on providing undergraduates with an exceptional foundation in liberal arts education that focuses on cultivating knowledge and leadership skills. “Yale’s commitment to each student – to challenge, expand, and ultimately better understand the life of one’s own mind through undergraduate study.” The supplemental writing responses are a chance for you to convey how the Yale experience might augment your passions and perspectives in terms of learning, living, and preparing you for the future.
If Yale is your first choice, it offers a single-choice early action program for freshman applicants (November 1st deadline). If you choose to use this option, you may not apply to early decision or early action programs at other schools. There are a few exceptions to this rule, check the Yale admissions website for details. Under this program, Yale will notify you of its admission decision in mid-December. The deadline for submission of applications for regular action is January 2nd, and admissions decisions will be released by April 1st.
Before you begin writing your essay(s), thoroughly research all that Yale has to offer and consider the ways in which Yale aligns, or does not align, with your values and your college goals This is a time to get excited about the prospect of attending Yale! Visit the website, speak with current students and alumni, and envision yourself as part of its exceptional learning community. The curriculum at Yale is designed to provide both breadth and depth of study, laying a foundation for students to pursue inspired lives and careers. It strives to foster independent critical thinking. Yale is one of the only universities that allow you to try out your classes before you finalize your schedule. The first ten days of each semester are an opportunity to visit a number of classes to determine which are most interesting to you!
Located in the small town of New Haven, Connecticut, in an urban setting that is primarily a residential campus, Yale offers a supportive community-feel through its system of twelve residential colleges. This configuration, complete with its own residential deans and masters, creates a sense of intimacy within the larger university. Residential deans serve as primary personal and academic advisors. Masters work with students to shape the residential community. This is a powerfully dynamic way of bringing together students and faculty. Think about how this structure can support your intellectual growth.
Yale University short answer questions
Applicants submitting the Coalition Application, Common Application, or QuestBridge Application are asked to respond to the following short answer questions:
- Students at Yale have plenty of time to explore their academic interests before committing to one or more major fields of study. Many students either modify their original academic direction or change their minds entirely. As of this moment, what academic areas seem to fit your interests or goals most comfortably? Please indicate up to three from the list provided.
This is not a trick question. Yale is trying to gauge your unique interests. Indicate up to three of your top academic areas of study.
- Why do these areas appeal to you? (125 words or fewer)
The challenge in this response is discussing your rationale for your selected areas in less than 125 words. Consider your experience thus far in these areas. What sparked your interest? What burning question or issue motivates you? How might these concentrations support your long-term goals? Provide some context to support your interests.
- What is it about Yale that has led you to apply? (125 words or fewer)
Here again, you are under significant word limitations. Don’t underestimate this prompt. It is extremely important to demonstrate good fit in your discussion—what unique aspects of an education at Yale attract you? This is an opportunity to convey your enthusiasm for a potential Yale experience. Sometimes making a list can help you get started. Then review your list and make sure each reason relates specifically to Yale. Consider both what Yale has to offer you and what you might be able to offer the Yale community.
Applicants applying with the QuestBridge Application will complete the questions above via the Yale QuestBridge Questionnaire, available on the Yale Admissions Status Portal after an application has been received.
Yale University additional short answer questions
Applicants submitting either the Coalition Application or Common Application are asked to respond in no more than 200 characters (approximately 35 words), to each of the following questions:
What inspires you?
This response touches on what motivates you as well as what you find valuable. Discuss something that makes a difference in your way of thinking and subsequently influences your actions and/or behavior. Think about what your response might convey about your character.
Yale’s residential colleges regularly host conversations with guests representing a wide range of experiences and accomplishments. What person, past or present, would you invite to speak? What question would you ask?
Although you are under significant word count limitations, let your imagination go with this one! The person you identify is just as important as the question you would ask in this response. Your discussion reflects something about your thinking process, how you perceive the world, and how you engage with others. Remember to consider what your response might reflect about your values and character.
You are teaching a Yale course. What is it called?
This is a chance to infuse some fun and creativity into your response. Be careful to avoid any controversial statements. You never know how your suggestion might be interpreted so try to steer clear of potentially offensive topics.
Most first-year Yale students live in suites of four to six students. What do you hope to add to your suitemates’ experience? What do you hope they will add to yours?
This question hones in on the sort of person you might be within the Yale community—what might you contribute and what do you hope to gain? How will you get along with others? How might you help to build relationships within your residential suite? Consider what your friends admire about you and why. Also think about what attracts you to engage in social settings.
Yale supplemental essay questions
Applicants submitting the Coalition Application or Common Application: use the two short essays (250 words or fewer) below to reflect on topics and personal experiences that will help the Admissions Committee learn more about you.
Yale supplemental essay question #1
Yale’s extensive course offerings and vibrant conversations beyond the classroom encourage students to follow their developing intellectual interests wherever they lead. Tell us about your engagement with a topic or idea that excites you. Why are you drawn to it?
Identify the idea or topic and then remember to convey your enthusiasm as you discuss what truly excites you about it! Consider what sparked and maintains your interest. Your response to this prompt helps to shed light on how you learn, the topics you are drawn to, as well as how you process the world around you. What makes learning fun for you?
Yale supplemental essay question #2
Respond to one of the following prompts:
A) Reflect on your membership in a community. Why is your involvement important to you? How has it shaped you? You may define community however you like.
The focus here is on the ways in which being a part of a particular community has shaped you. This is an opportunity to discuss your role in just about ANY community and the impact it has had on you. It also demonstrates your ability to reflect on your community from different perspectives. Topics can vary from a school club to a larger cultural or religious community to the global community. The most important parts are to convey why that community is valuable to you and how it has influenced you in a meaningful way. What have you learned from this community about yourself? How might this community inspire, support, or ground you and vice versa? How might these experiences prepare you for this next stage of your life?
B) Yale students, faculty, and alumni engage issues of local, national, and international significance. Discuss an issue that is important to you and how your college experience could help you address it.
This can be any issue of significance to you, large or small! However, make sure to avoid repeating information that you already included in your application. This is a good prompt to select if you have an issue you are passionate about. Think about what you value most in life. Consider the global community, humanitarian efforts, or any issue you would like to fix or ponder more deeply. You can tie this response to community service activities, thoughts about empathy, discussions about agency, and individual responsibility. Once you decide on a topic, go into detail about WHY it is so important. Why is it significant? What might this convey about your character or place in the world? How does what you share spill over into other areas of your life? Clearly explain the problem, convey its significance, share your plan to address the issue, and then discuss how a Yale education will help you improve the situation. Consider how your peers, instructors, and/or the larger Yale alumni network might bolster your efforts.
C) Tell us about your relationship with a role model or mentor who has been influential in your life. How has their guidance been instrumental to your growth?
Again, this could be anyone: your grandmother or a U.S. president, someone living or dead. Here, the goal is to be articulate and thoughtful, to show your intelligent and nuanced thinking. Avoid overly crass references or sarcastic choices.
Additional requirement for applicants using the Coalition Application
Applicants submitting the Coalition Application: In addition to responding to the prompts above, upload an audio file, video, image, or document you have created. The upload should complement your response to one of the prompts. Above your response, include a one-sentence description of your upload. Please limit uploads to the following file types: mp3, mov, jpeg, word, pdf. Advanced editing is not necessary. Uploads provided via the Coalition Application will be reviewed by the Admissions Office only. Review the Supplementary Material instructions for material that may be evaluated by Yale faculty.
Here, the goal is to complement– to fill in a gap, add to something– not to repeat. If your mentor was your grandmother, you might show a photo, a painting, or a short clip of you speaking about her. These are all things to add a new angle and degree of person-ability to your essay.
Essay for engineering and computer science applicants
Applicants submitting the Coalition Application or Common Application who select one of Yale’s engineering majors will also respond to the prompt below in 250 words or fewer:
Please tell us more about what has led you to an interest in this field of study, what experiences (if any) you have had in engineering, and what it is about Yale’s Engineering program that appeals to you.
What sparked your interest in your particular field? How did you nurture that drive to expand your exposure to this field of engineering? Elaborate on extracurricular activities that support your intellectual curiosity. Can you demonstrate leadership in your pursuits? How did you engage in engineering related experiences? How will an education in Yale’s engineering program support your aspirations? Look online at Yale’s engineering courses. Which classes interest you, and why? What about related clubs, or university work and summer opportunities in engineering? Think about this question in both broad and specific terms.
The tone of your essays should reflect your drive and enthusiasm for learning in general and at Yale in particular. Convey your perspectives in your own voice. Be thoughtful and reflective.
Final thoughts on applying to Yale
Applicants to Yale have exceedingly competitive profiles. Yale received 36,829 undergraduate applications for the class of 2023. In addition, consider average SAT scores around 1500 and average ACT scores around 34, and you get a sense of your cohort.
It is easy to get overwhelmed by the numbers, but it is heartening to bear in mind that Yale is dedicated to a holistic application evaluation process for admission. Your short answer responses and supplemental essay(s) facilitate a more comprehensive review of you as a prospective student at Yale. The admissions committee takes the time to read your responses carefully. Make sure you allow yourself appropriate time for thoughtful reflection and effective writing. Use your writing supplement to set you apart from your peers. The best approach is to be true to you and communicate your thoughts, experiences, hopes, and dreams in a way that highlights your genuine enthusiasm for an extraordinary educational journey at Yale!
If you’re applying to Yale University, you can access Yale-caliber assistance to become the most competitive applicant you can be! Get the guidance of an experienced admissions specialist who will help you stand out from an exceptional applicant pool so you can apply with confidence, and get accepted! Click here to get started!
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***Marie Todd has been involved in college admissions for over twenty years. Marie has both counseled applicants to top colleges and evaluated 5000+ applications for the University of Michigan's College of Literature, Science and the Arts; College of Engineering; School of Kinesiology; School of Nursing; and Taubman College of Architecture. Want Marie to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch with Marie Todd.