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.

General FAQ

Our application deadline

Q: Do all required application materials need to be received by the application deadline? (Nov. 15 for Early Decision I; Jan. 5 for Early Decision II or Regular Decision; Mar. 15 for Transfer)

A: No. While we ask for your Common Application or Coalition Application to be submitted by 11:59 p.m. of your local timezone, we don’t expect all application materials to be received by the application deadline. So please don’t panic if your application is missing materials to be submitted by your school(s). We know that they are processing many requests and understand that delays can occur.

Keep in mind that we are also processing a high volume of application materials. We may have your material in our queue, we just haven’t gotten to it yet. Once we have processed the majority of the materials, we will send a series of emails about incomplete applications and missing materials. We promise to let you know if we’re missing anything.

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.

In addition to the Common Application and Coalition Application fee waiver questions, you will also find a separate Harvey Mudd College fee waiver question with the following options:

  • DACA or undocumented or veteran status
  • Experiencing financial hardship due to a natural disaster or pandemic
  • Experiencing financial hardship not covered by the Common/Coalition App fee waiver options
  • FAST or WISTEM program attendee

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 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.

College/University transcripts

Q: Why does my HMC Applicant Hub show that I’m missing a college/university transcript?

A: If you indicate in your application that you have taken college courses, our system automatically adds the college/university transcript to your checklist. We need this transcript for the review of your application, though it is easily waived if the colleges courses appear on your high school transcript. Please email us to waive this requirement.

If the college courses don’t appear on your high school transcript, but you are not able to submit the college/university transcript, please email us and we’ll figure it out together.

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 admission 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. See Self-reported Test Scores FAQs.
  • 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. DET, 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 usually 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.

Waiving the DET, TOEFL or IELTS

Q: I’m an international applicant and want to request that my requirement for the Duolingo English Test (DET), Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) be waived. How do I do that?

A: Send us an email. Please note that we can waive this requirement only after we’ve received your Common Application or Coalition Application.

First-Year FAQ

What kind of student are you seeking?

We want students who have excelled in challenging courses, who demonstrate real passion for math and science, who appreciate the humanities and social sciences and who are involved in activities outside the classroom. Prospective students also should enjoy collaboration and want to contribute to our unique community. Learn more about our students.

What courses should I take to prepare for Harvey Mudd?

We suggest taking a rigorous course load that allows you to experience success both academically and in your personal interests. The student needs to have coursework that includes Calculus, Chemistry and Physics, but we know that the resources available to students vary by school and by community. See Preparing for Harvey Mudd for additional information.

Can I get credit for college courses, IB tests or AP examinations? What about for concurrent enrollment (getting both high school and college credit for a course)?

Credit is not granted for Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) results or for college courses you have taken. Individual departments administer their own placement examinations prior to and during Orientation so that we may find the right courses for each student.

Is it better to take an advanced class and risk getting a lower grade, or simply keep a high grade average?

It depends. In general, a more demanding course should offer better preparation for Harvey Mudd College so you’ll benefit from taking more advanced classes.

However, we also recognize that high school students applying to very selective colleges face a lot of pressure. The best option is to take as many advanced, AP, IB or enriched courses as you can reasonably manage while still pursuing outside activities and maintaining high grades. That balance point will be different for each person.

Do I need to have a major selected before coming to Harvey Mudd?

Mudders are not required to select a major until the end of their sophomore year. An advantage of the Harvey Mudd Core Curriculum is that students get to experience each academic department before being faced with that major decision, allowing them to make a more informed choice.

Is it easier to get in if I’m from a public or a private school?

It doesn’t matter. We analyze each student’s activities, choices and performance within the context of the high school he or she attended. We never rate high schools or give preference to one school over another. We recognize that each applicant comes from different opportunities and experiences.

How important is class rank? What if my school doesn’t rank?

We like to evaluate your performance in the context of your school’s environment. If your high school does not provide a rank, we’ll still consider your application carefully. Many secondary schools do not report rank, but will often send us a school profile to aid in our evaluation. A school profile usually provides context about the school community and the rigor of the courses. We’ve found grade distribution charts to be especially helpful. Ask your counselor about your school’s profile.

Some friends from my school also plan to apply to Harvey Mudd. Will this hurt my chances of getting in?

Definitely not. We’re not concerned with limiting the number of students from your school. Instead, we pay attention to the opportunities you’ve had. We evaluate your record, activities and accomplishments within that context. We also assess each student as an individual in comparison to the entire applicant pool, not just in a local context.

International FAQ

What are the minimum scores for the TOEFL and IELTS exams?

  • Duolingo English Test (DET)– 120 on the new 160-point scale
  • TOEFL– 100 on the iBT
  • IELTS Academic– 7.5

Note: A score that is slightly lower than the minimum does not automatically disqualify an applicant.

There’s no college counselor at my school and we use a different educational system than U.S. high schools. How will you understand my academic background?

A recommendation from an advisor, housemaster, head or assistant head of school can be sent in lieu of the school report/counselor recommendation. This will help provide context for understanding your past performance. It’s helpful to know what kind of opportunities you’ve had in your school, such as the structure and rigor of your academic program (how many courses required, length of the courses, etc.), grading patterns and scale, the quality of the students and the school’s reputation. We’re also interested in your non-academic activities and accomplishments and the impact you’ve had on others both in and out of class. Without this information, we’re forced to rely more heavily on academic records and this goes against our desire to assess our applicants as people, not as statistics. The fact that you have been educated in a different school system may suggest that you offer intellectual diversity to the College.

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?

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.

Will my chance for admission be affected if I apply for financial aid as an international student?

Yes, we are need-aware for international students. We are able to support only a few international students seeking financial aid. An international student’s chance for admission improves if they do not apply for financial aid.

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

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.

Transfer FAQ

Am I a transfer or a first-year applicant?

In general, if you have begun your college/university experience in a program that will earn a degree for you, we consider you to be a transfer candidate. It is a different matter for students who take part in dual credit programs – as long as the student has not graduated high school or completed a GED or equivalent leaving exam. Students in these dual-credit situations apply as first-year students. In general, we define freshman candidates as first-time, first-year college students.

There will be atypical cases: students who began as full-time university students but withdrew before completing a semester; students who took a gap year during which they attended some college courses without moving toward degree requirements; students who took an assortment of online and traditional courses; and other situations. If you have an atypical case and have questions about this, please email admission@hmc.edu.

I’m beginning my college experience but want to transfer. Can my AP or IB credits be applied to my credits if I transfer to Harvey Mudd? What about college courses I took in high school?

Mudd does not award credit for AP or IB or for college courses completed prior to high school graduation. If the student is still registered as a high school student and takes a college course (perhaps online or in summer), HMC will not award credit for those courses. Only college courses that were completed after the student graduated high school will be considered for credit by HMC.

Can I get a credit evaluation in advance of applying?

Unfortunately not. Our admission officers can make estimates about courses that might earn credit from Mudd, but we do not have the authority or perspective to guarantee credits in advance. Credit assessment at Mudd is made by faculty members from each department that consult with the Registrar to determine the courses that Mudd will accept for transfer credit.

Does Harvey Mudd have articulation agreements with other colleges?

No. Within The Claremont Colleges consortium, we are bound to accept courses taken at neighbor colleges for credit, but this is outside the scope of the main point of the question.

What should I know about transfer admission to Mudd that is unusual?

In several ways, transfer admission to Mudd is different from many institutions.

  1. For the past several years, we have not found space to enroll many transfer candidates. We might enroll only 3-6 transfers per year. This is from an applicant pool group of between 80-110 candidates.
  2. We only enroll transfers for the fall term.
  3. We do not allow international students who seek financial aid to apply to Mudd as transfers.
  4. We have no visiting student program – all transfers who enroll will matriculate as full-time Mudd students who plan to graduate from HMC.
  5. We will not entertain applications from people who have already earned a Bachelor’s degree and want a second degree.
  6. Academic preparation and making progress in courses similar to our Core Curriculum is key to our selection process. Please reference the FAQ on how to prepare for Mudd.
  7. Need-based financial aid is available to transfers but not merit aid.

How should I prepare for Mudd academically?

HMC’s curriculum is tied to our mission statement. One of our most prominent values is for all graduates to have a rounded education across all major areas of STEM. Accordingly, all Mudd students complete a Common Core Curriculum in their first 3 semesters. Transfer applicants should try to emulate this Core Curriculum so that they will not have to take many required Core courses at the same time that they focus on their major. We understand that few colleges have this type of Core Curriculum so it may take extra effort and planning for the applicant to fit all these courses into their current college experience.

Grades are another key consideration. Most transfer applicants have strong academic records and we have come to expect to see that kind of GPA quality in the candidates.

How important is my choice of major?

We will assess the student’s preparation for the intended major, and will seek feedback from the faculty in the respective department to assess the courses the student has completed toward the major. Most majors can be completed within 4 semesters at Mudd, but a few have sequential courses that might require a 5th term at Mudd. Of course, an important consideration is how well the student’s previous work aligns with our Core. The question of the student’s course compatibility with our Core is almost always more important than the intended major.

What are HMC’s general education requirements?

Rather than a general education program, Mudd requires all students to complete our Common Core Curriculum. Another set of (about 11) courses must be completed in areas outside of STEM: humanities; social sciences; and the arts (HSA). Thus, Mudd’s curriculum may not align with the student’s current school’s vision for a balanced curriculum or general education requirements.

Is financial aid available to transfers?

Absolutely! We meet 100% of every student’s demonstrated financial need.

Is merit aid available to transfers?

No. Our merit programs target first-year students. We have limited merit aid available and it is offered at the time of first-year admission.

May international students apply as transfer students?

As long as the student is not seeking financial aid, yes. We do not have funding sources to support international transfer students seeking financial aid so we do not allow them to apply.

Do you require English language proficiency tests of transfer students?

We do require an English proficiency requirement of all international applicants. The Proficiency tests we will accept include TOEFL, Duolingo English Test (DET) or IELTS. Transfer students may be able to use test results completed in prior years if they are still valid.

If the student has been attending courses for 2 years or more in which the language of instruction is English (with exception of courses like modern languages), we can waive the English proficiency requirement, when asked to do so. If English is the student’s first language, we will waive the proficiency requirement.