Application FAQ

Below is a list of commonly asked questions about the application process. If you do not find the answers to your questions, please feel free to contact the Office of Admission at admission@hmc.edu.

Required teacher recommendation letters

Q: Why does HMC require a letter from both a math or science teacher and a humanities, social sciences or arts teacher?

A: This requirement goes directly back to our mission. We hope all of our requirements do! HMC is committed to educating students who love their work in the STEM fields but can’t imagine having to give up studying the humanities, social sciences and the arts. Therefore, we want to hear from your teachers how you approach work in all of these areas to get a better sense of whether HMC would be the right fit for you.

Additional recommendation letters

Q: Can I submit additional letters of recommendation?

A: HMC requires three letters of recommendation – one from a counselor and two academic recommendations (one from a math or science teacher and one from a humanities, social science or English teacher.) We will accept one additional letter of recommendation, but we advise applicants to only submit additional recommendations if they believe these will add something significantly different to the rest of their application file. Additional letters of recommendation should ideally come from someone who knows you in a different context than your counselor or high school teachers, such as a supervisor, mentor or employer. Trust us – just by submitting the required pieces of our application, you’ve given us plenty to think about!

Admission interviews

Q: How important is the interview in the application process?

A: Interviews are not required in our admission process, and students will not be penalized for not having one. We believe that interviews can be helpful for both the college and the applicant in allowing for the opportunity to learn more about each other. Students interview with admission staff members, senior interns, or alumni, and each allows students to gain a different perspective of the college. These interviews are really just conversations where we ask students to share more about themselves with us and can also provide students with the opportunity to further explain anything they wish. This year, all of our interviews are online which we hope will allow a broader range of students to take part if they wish.

Essays

Q: What do you look for in essays?

A: We love reading your essays. It is a moment during the application reading process where we get to move away from the numbers and grades and hear directly from you. Therefore, the most important thing we are looking for in your essay is authenticity. We want to hear about something you really care about – not just something you think we want you to care about. The topic doesn’t matter; what matters is that you feel like you have something to say about it. While we’re not approaching your essay with a red pen ready to edit mistakes, we do suggest that you edit it. When we sit down to read an essay, we want to be focused on your message and not being tripped up by missing words or typos. After you’ve written it, ask yourself if it sounds like you. If not, what is missing- your humor, your care for others, your curiosity?

Avoid using your essay to list your activities and achievements. Instead, show how those interests and activities affect your goals. Or you might elaborate on experiences or insights you’ve gained that influence your outlook toward others and your work. We want to know about you to determine how well you might fit into our community. In most cases, the more specific you can be, the better.

Demonstrated interest

Q: Does HMC consider demonstrated interest as part of the admission process?

A: No. We assume that you’ve applied to Harvey Mudd because you are interested in the college, and we know that not all applicants have access to the same resources available to learn more about us. The increase in virtual ways to connect to HMC has certainly helped that, but we still know that there are inequities in what students can access. Answering our short essay question, “What about Harvey Mudd appeals to you?” in a thoughtful way is a great way of showing you’ve done your research and why you’d be a good fit for our community.

Supplemental material

Q: Can I submit supplemental material with my application? What about music or arts supplements?

A: In both the Common and Coalition Applications, there is an option to upload additional information. Given the large number of applications we are reading, we ask that students do not upload entire research papers but instead include an abstract (summary) of their research if they choose. Some students have used this same to upload a brief profile of projects they have done, usually photos and/or brief descriptions. Again, we ask students to be thoughtful about what they might include, and all applicants should know that they will not be at any disadvantage if they choose not to do this.

Harvey Mudd does not accept separate submissions of music or artwork as part of the application process. Since the majority of arts faculty are located at the other Claremont Colleges, we do not have the faculty to review this work. The large number of musicians and artists who apply to the college would make it impossible for us to review these submissions as we would hope to. We hope that students who want their performing or visual art involvement considered would include their activities in the Extracurricular Activities section.

AP or IB classes and scores

Q: How do you consider AP or IB classes and exam scores in the application process?

A: One of the many things we consider in determining who to admit to Harvey Mudd is the rigor of students’ high school programs based on what was available. We will not penalize students for not taking honors or AP courses if they are not available at your school. We also do not need for all of our applicants to have taken every advanced course available to them. We are aware of the rigor of AP courses and the IB curriculum, although we also know that rigor can be found in non-AP and non-IB curricula as well. Students are welcome to submit any AP or IB scores they would like to have considered, and we will review all final IB results once we receive them. Harvey Mudd does not grant credit for AP or IB exam scores.

Switching test-optional plans

Q: Why do you only allow students to switch from “Do not consider ACT/SAT scores” to “Consider ACT/SAT scores”?

A: We know that some students may continue to test for the ACT/SAT after they submit their application and may earn a score that they would then like to have included in our consideration. Therefore, we will allow students to change their preferred testing plan to “I would like my SAT and/or ACT score to be included in my HMC application” for up to 5 days after their application deadline.

Since we read a number of completed applications before our application deadline and applications may have already been evaluated with test scores, students are not allowed to change their preference from “Consider ACT/SAT scores” to “Do not consider ACT/SAT scores.”

Submitting test scores

Q: How do I submit my test scores if I want them considered? Can I self-report my scores?

A: Please note that we are ACT/SAT optional this year and no longer considering SAT subject test scores.

There are several ways to report your scores:

  • Students can self-report on the Common Application or Coalition Application.
  • Students can use the form found in the HMC Applicant Hub.
  • Students can send HMC an official score report. Our College Board code is 4341, and our ACT code is 0282.

Common App preview not displaying scores

Q: I’m ready to submit my Common Application for HMC and have previewed my application. Why can’t I see my test scores on the Common Application preview?

A: The PDF preview of the Common Application will not show any testing that was entered in the ACT/SAT tests section and AP/IB/SAT Subject tests section. These tests are not required in our process. Hence, the PDF setup defaults so that our reviewers do not see scores for these tests. If a student chooses the preferred testing plan option “I would like my SAT and/or ACT score to be included in my HMC application,” then their test scores will be viewable by the application reviewer within our system. In the Applicant Hub students will be able to review the preferred testing plan option they have chosen as well as the test scores (self-reported and official) we have in our system. Lastly, English proficiency tests are required for international students. TOEFL and IELTS scores entered in the Common Application will display in the Common Application preview.

Recommended test dates

Q: When is the latest I can send SAT or ACT results and still have them considered for admission?

A: Please note that we are ACT/SAT optional this year and no longer considering SAT subject test scores.

Typically the dates below are the latest test dates that allow us to guarantee test scores will be considered for admission. Given the challenges surrounding testing this year, we would still recommend these dates, but we will work with students if their testing is delayed to add them to their applications.

  • Early Decision I – November test date
  • Early Decision II – December test date
  • Regular Decision – December test date

Deferring enrollment/Gap years

Q: If I’m admitted, can I defer my enrollment for a year to travel or work?

A: The answer is usually yes. You may request deferred enrollment when submitting your Admission Response Form in the HMC Applicant Hub. During your deferment year, you may not enroll as a matriculated student at another college or apply to other colleges. Students may not defer for more than a year, but we have made exceptions to this policy in the case of required military service or religious missions.

Early admission

Q: Can students apply for Early Admission to Harvey Mudd College?

A: Yes. Early Admission (as opposed to Early Decision or Early Action or Early Notification) allows students to leave high school before senior year to attend college. It’s designed for students who have exhausted their high school curriculum and are prepared to move on to college.

If you’re considering Early Admission, consult with your school counselor to ensure that you explore all of the options available to you through your high school. A diploma is not required for consideration for Early Admission, but we strongly encourage any enrolling student to provide a high school diploma or equivalent.

In considering your application, we will hold you to the same standard of academic preparation, extracurricular accomplishment and social maturity as your fellow candidates who will have had more time to prepare.

Spring enrollment

Q: Does Harvey Mudd enroll new students in the spring?

A: No. We enroll new students only in the fall semester. This is because the college has a three semester core curriculum which starts in the fall and culminates in the fall of your sophomore year.

Major interest

Q: Does it matter which major I say I want to pursue on my application?

A: To some extent, yes. We ask students to identify which HMC majors they are leaning toward because we want to create an incoming class that will be eager to study across our curriculum. That said, we know that students will change their mind, and all students will have the chance to do so. HMC students will study in every department we offer as part of the core curriculum and are not allowed to declare their major before the end of their first year. That’s how serious we are about wanting students to keep an open mind. All students must declare their major before the end of their sophomore year. So, be honest about what you want to study, but know that we won’t hold you to it.

Application fee waivers

Q: Are waivers available for the application fee?

A: Absolutely. We don’t want a student’s financial situation to get in the way of them applying to Harvey Mudd. Both the Common Application and the Coalition Application have places where students can identify their need for a fee waiver.

International applicants studying in the U.S.

Q: I attend high school in the U.S., but I’m not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Do I apply as a domestic student or an international applicant?

A: For the most part, there is no difference between how an international student or a domestic student applies for admission to Harvey Mudd. The process is the same for both.

The difference is in terms of financial aid. Regardless of where you live, if you are not a US citizen or permanent resident, you will need to apply for financial aid as an international student. We are need-blind in the admission process for our domestic students but are need-aware for international students. If you have only been attending high school in the US for a year or so, we may ask for the results of an English language proficiency test.

Domestic applicants studying outside the U.S.

Q: I’m a U.S. citizen (or permanent resident), but attend secondary school overseas. Am I considered an international applicant?

A: While we will read you as part of the school community to which you belong, we’d consider you as a domestic student for the purposes of financial aid. This means that you would be read as part of our need-blind admission process. We understand that you may have had a different set of academic and personal experiences than our domestic applicants and will take that into consideration as well.