Admissions Process

Prepare to be Challenged

We evaluate all applicants equally, with no preferential treatment. Our unique admissions process is designed to discover who you are and what you are passionate about. By allowing you to exhibit your numerous abilities and interests, we are able to determine if you will thrive at Minerva.

After an extensive review of existing admissions processes, including those of other top-tier universities, we found none that comprehensively identify all the qualities we seek in our students. Rather than model our admissions off of one of these, we developed our own three-part process, designed to be entirely merit based and free of bias. The process is built to be fast-paced, interactive, and challenging, with no need for lengthy preparation or expensive consultants.

Also, because Minerva has the flexibility to expand its global locations as needed, we have the unique advantage of unlimited enrollment. We admit all applicants who meet our exacting standards, so you do not compete against other students for a spot.

As you move through the process, we learn more about your individual abilities and interests: what is important to you, how you spend time outside of class, and how you think. The holistic admissions process gives you an opportunity to share what you really care about, while enabling us to ascertain whether you are right for Minerva.

Xiaofan taking class from Yerba Buena
Five ways admissions at Minerva are different /

  1. No biased measures like the SAT or ACT
  2. No admissions quotas for gender or ethnicity
  3. No preferential treatment for U.S. students, legacy applicants, or recruited athletes
  4. No consideration of financial or family status
  5. No enrollment cap

Xiaofan Liang, China, enjoys a tea while working at a cafe in San Francisco.

Photo: Bob Miller

The Three-part Process

The three parts of our admissions process are designed to identify if you are the type of student who will succeed at Minerva. In the first part, you complete the application by telling us about yourself, including your academic performance and one example of an accomplishment. In the second, you will be presented with a series of engaging challenges designed to measure how you think. Then, in the third part, you will provide evidence of your past academic performance, as well as a set of accomplishments that indicate areas of excellence and interest beyond your grades.

Part One: Who You Are
The Admissions Process begins with your application. This step requires you to provide basic information, including an overview of your academic history and accomplishments you are proud of. Present yourself confidently. Once you have submitted your application, you will gain access to the Admissions Center. There you will find resources and information to help guide you through all remaining parts of the process.

Note: You can apply through the Common Application as well, but are still required to complete supplemental material.

Part Two: How You Think
We do not look at standardized test scores like the SAT and ACT because they do not reflect an unbiased, comprehensive view of your potential. Instead, in the Admissions Center you will be presented with a unique series of exciting, and often thought-provoking challenges. These are a verified measure of how you think across various dimensions — from creativity and mathematics to written and spoken communications. We administer the challenges in a timed, and online-proctored format to ensure you, and you alone, are completing them. Also, since they are not something you can study for, preparing is simply a matter of having the right setup and being in a clear state of mind. If you have a disability that may affect your ability to complete the application, please email before completing any timed portions of the admissions process. To read more about accommodations at Minerva, please read our Provision of Services.

Part Three: What You Have Achieved
Finally, we want to see what you have achieved both in and out of class. While your class grades are an important indication of your future success, we also look at other activities that reflect your passion and commitment in a variety of domains. These can include personal projects, involvement in academic olympiads or Model UN groups, literary or artistic works, leadership of non-academic initiatives, and any other activities you are particularly proud of. Rather than narrowly define what “achievement” means, Minerva gives you the flexibility to define this for yourself.

Getting Your Admissions Decision
We will review your performance, analyzing your scores on our proprietary challenges, your academic transcripts, and evidence of your accomplishments. The combination of all three parts enables us to effectively evaluate your potential to thrive at Minerva. After this extensive review, we will notify you of your candidacy as soon as possible. If Minerva is your top choice and you commit to binding enrollment, you will receive an expedited admissions decision within three weeks. 

Zoey at Alcatraz for a co-curricular
“I was getting disillusioned by a college application process that was putting me into boxes. Applying to Minerva was different. It was like they cared about the things that were important to me, not only my grades and test scores.”
Zoey Haar
Class of 2019
Hoosick Falls, New York, USA

Photo: Bob Miller

Admissions Cycles

We offer three distinct admissions cycles. If you have selected Minerva as your first, or only choice, we offer a Binding Enrollment option which includes an expedited notification within three weeks of completing the admissions process.

Early Action
Students admitted during the Early Action cycle are invited to attend the first of three Ascent Weekends in San Francisco — an exclusive opportunity to explore the Foundation Year city, visit the Residence Halls, and connect with your prospective classmates and other Minerva students. As an Early Action applicant, you will be notified of your admission by December 15, 2016 and will have until May 1 to confirm your enrollment.
Admissions Deadline: November 1, 2016 (Past)

Regular Decision I
The first Regular Decision cycle corresponds to other American university admissions calendars, with an Admissions Deadline of January 17, 2017. You will be notified of your admission by April 1 and will have until May 1 to confirm your enrollment.
Admissions Deadline: January 17, 2017 (Past)

Regular Decision II

Our second Regular Decision cycle aligns with application timelines common outside of North America, making it convenient to apply regardless of your geographic location. Admissions notifications and enrollment decisions for this cycle occur more rapidly than in prior cycles; applications are due on March 15, 2017 and notifications are delivered no later than April 26, 2017. If you are notified of admission before or on April 15,you must confirm enrollment by May 1, 2017. If you are notified after April 15, you must confirm your enrollment by May 10, 2017
Admissions Deadline: March 15, 2017 (Past)

Extended Decision
The Extended Decision cycle is for special cases and is only offered through official invitation from a Minerva representative. To be invited, you must first complete and submit your application. During this cycle, we will notify you by May 1, 2017 and, if you are admitted, you must confirm your enrollment by May 10, 2017.
By Invitation Only

Binding Enrollment Option
If Minerva is your top choice, select the Binding Enrollment option for any admissions cycle and you will receive an expedited admissions decision within three weeks of completing your admissions requirements. If you are admitted, this decision is binding. You will be committed to attending Minerva and required to withdraw applications from other institutions. Your enrollment deposit will be due within ten days of your Admissions Notification.

Note: If you are interested in matriculating in 2018 or later, please complete and submit the first page of the application. We will contact you when the appropriate admissions cycles are open.

Students studying
Six proprietary challenges /
  • Challenge 1: Creativity
  • Challenge 2: Math
  • Challenge 3: Understanding
  • Challenge 4: Writing
  • Challenge 5: Reasoning
  • Challenge 6: Expression

Parthiv Shah, India, partakes in a group activity at the beginning of his Foundation Year in San Francisco.

Photo: Tim Matsui

Worldwide Accessibility

With outreach personnel in regions throughout the world, we actively recruit students from outside the United States and have attracted applicants from more than 180 different countries. While we recognize that Minerva is not right for everyone, we know there are brilliant students everywhere. Our goal is to ensure that if you qualify, you are able to attend.

No Application Fees
We have no application fee at Minerva (a typical application fee ranges from $50–75), so the admissions process is accessible to everyone.

Transfer Students
Minerva admissions are also open to students wishing to transfer from another college or university. In fact, nearly 20% of the current student body came to Minerva from another school and some had already earned an undergraduate degree elsewhere.

However, because Minerva offers no introductory courses and requires all first-year students to complete the four Cornerstone courses, your ability to transfer credits is limited. You are eligible to transfer up to eight (8) credits toward select majors, pending approval from the academic team.

If you are dissatisfied with your current undergraduate education, Minerva's uniquely rigorous academics and global experience may be precisely what you seek.

Mayowa studying from a cafe
“I was taking the entrance tests for a very selective university program. I was supposed to be nervous. I was supposed to be uncomfortable. However the challenge was more motivating than intimidating, and in the end there I was — being myself and having fun.”
Mayowa Osibodu
Class of 2019
Ogun, Nigeria

Photo: Bob Miller

Are you ready to prove yourself?