Application Instructions for First-Year Applicants

Use the links below to learn more about CMC's application process. Please contact the Office of Admission at with any questions. The Admission Committee looks forward to reviewing your application.
Application Checklist
  • Common Application or Coalition Application

  • $70 application fee or fee waiver. Fee waivers are available through The Coalition Application and Common Application systems. 

  • Additional academic credentials:

    • School report and counselor recommendation

    • One teacher recommendation

    • Official high school transcript(s) from all secondary schools attended

  • FAFSA and CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE (if applying for financial aid)

  • Early Decision Agreement (required for ED1 and ED2 applicants only)

First-year applicants for fall 2021 are not required to submit an SAT or ACT score to be considered for admission.

Common Application and Coalition Application

CMC accepts the Common Application and the Coalition Application for first-year admission, without preference for one over the other. Applications can be submitted online at or  Add CMC to your Common Application colleges list.

If you are applying as a Questbridge National Match applicant, please visit for more information.

Application Review

Admission to CMC is based on a holistic review process that considers a broad range of factors, including a prospective student’s academic and leadership achievements, commitment to CMC’s values, and potential to benefit from and contribute to CMC’s mission.

School Report, Transcript and Counselor Recommendation

Please have your school’s college counselor send the school report, a counselor recommendation, and official high school transcript reflecting work completed through your junior year. If you attended multiple high schools, please submit all secondary school transcripts.

The school report and counselor recommendation provide the Admission Committee with important context about your high school. Understanding the context of your high school helps us best assess your academic preparation for CMC.

While there is no minimum GPA requirement, competitive candidates for admission pursue the most demanding coursework possible and receive strong grades. We strongly recommend taking advantage of honors and advanced placement coursework when available. Many competitive applicants often go beyond the minimum recommended program listed below.

Minimum Recommended High School Program
  1. Four years of English

  2. Three (preferably four) years of mathematics at least through precalculus (Calculus is recommended)

  3. At least three years of a foreign language (this can be three total years or up to the third level)

  4. At least one year of history

  5. At least two years of science 

One Teacher Recommendation

Your recommendation should be completed by a teacher who taught you in a core academic area (English, mathematics, foreign language, science, or social sciences).

Teacher recommendations are important in giving the Admission Committee insight into your engagement in classes, collaboration with peers and ability to manage rigorous classwork. We recommend asking teachers who can speak to your strengths and progress academically and personally throughout high school.

Mid-Year High School Transcript

Please have your school’s college counselor submit an official transcript when seventh-semester or tenth-trimester grades are available.

Test-Optional Admission Policy 

CMC has extended our interim test-optional policy for first-year applicants applying for fall 2022 admission. This means that first-year applicants will not be required to submit ACT or SAT scores with their application to be considered for admission. First-year applicants must indicate on their application whether or not they choose to include standardized test scores.  

  • For applicants using the Common Application, the test-optional question will appear in the CMC Questions section of the application.
  • For applicants using the Coalition Application, the test-optional question will appear in the Application Questions section.
  • For applicants using the QuestBridge Application, the test-optional question will be in the CMC-specific form available in the applicant portal after submitting the application.

Some international applicants may still be required to submit English proficiency test scores. Please review the Application Instructions for International First-Year Applicants for more information about English proficiency requirements.

Reporting Test Scores

CMC will accept official and self-reported test scores. Applicants who would like to include their test scores may submit either the ACT, the SAT, or both. SAT Essay, ACT writing, or SAT subject tests are neither required nor necessary.

Students may submit test scores in one of the following ways:


  • Send scores directly from the College Board or the ACT.

Self-reported — choose one of the following options:

  • Enter your test scores in the testing section of the Common Application or Coalition Application.
  • Submit scores through the self-reporting form in your CMC applicant portal. This form will be available once you have submitted your application.
  • Submit a copy of the score report as a PDF to
  • As noted on the official high school transcript.
Change Test-Optional Preference Policy

After submitting their application, applicants will have seven (7) days to change their test-optional preference. They can access a form in their CMC applicant portal to report the change. Applicants can change their test-optional preference once within the seven-day grace period. 

Superscore Policy

CMC will continue to superscore the ACT or SAT. This means we will accept the highest scores from each section of the ACT or SAT, regardless of the test date. We do not superscore across test types. Students must self-report all subsections from each test date. For example, if an applicant would like to use the superscore of two ACT test sittings, the applicant must provide scores for all sections taken in both testing dates. CMC will then superscore self-reported and official scores, and include the superscore in the application review.

Verification of Self-Reported Test Scores

If a student who has chosen to include test scores in their application is admitted to CMC and chooses to enroll, they will be required to send official test scores prior to the Fall semester. The Admission Office will compare self-reported scores with official test scores. Students will be contacted in the event of any discrepancies.

Beyond Academic Promise

CMC actively recruits a diverse group of students from around the world. In the application process it is important to provide information that helps us understand your personal background as well as your academic preparation. As a selective college, we are interested in knowing who you are, what is important to you, and what you have accomplished outside of the classroom. Your essay, extracurricular activities, short answer response, interview and/or video response are perfect opportunities to highlight these aspects and show us how you can contribute to and benefit from the CMC community and mission.


Virtual interviews are offered through fall 2021. You may register for an online interview here, or reach out to one of our alumni for a virtual alumni interview starting in mid-September. No in-person interviews will be offered in 2021. 

While interviews are not required, they are highly recommended. All homeschooled applicants are required to interview. Interviews for CMC are evaluative and are a part of your application. The interview allows you to tell us more about your personal background, as well as your accomplishments, talents, and goals. The interview process also provides you with a valuable opportunity to understand the CMC experience through a one-on-one interview with an Admission Officer, Senior Interviewer or Alumni Interviewer. If possible, we recommend scheduling an interview on- or off-campus. Interviews typically last about 30 minutes. To schedule an interview, please visit or reach out to an alumni interviewer.

Interviews for first-year applicants are offered May through mid-December and can be completed before you submit your application for admission. Early Decision I applicants should plan to interview by mid-November. 

If you are unable to schedule an interview by mid-December, we strongly encourage that you consider submitting the option video response. Applicants who interview may submit the video response as well.

First-year international applicants may have additional interview requirements to complete an application for admission to CMC. Please review the Application Instructions for First-year International Applicants.

Supplemental Essay Prompt

The CMC admission office would like to know a bit more about you and how you see yourself connecting with our campus as a student. The following are required supplemental essay prompts found in both the Common Application and the Coalition Application:

  1. Why do you want to attend Claremont McKenna College?
  2. One of the hallmarks of a CMC education is the first-year humanities program that all students take in their first year at the College. The program has two components: the Freshman Humanities Seminar (FHS) and the Freshman Writing Seminar (FWS). While each FHS and FWS seminar has a distinctive approach in terms of texts and topics, their pairing gives first-year students a shared academic experience in small, writing-intensive courses that foster critical thinking about a wide range of important issues. 

FHS introduces first-year students to some of the crucial questions that human beings face with relation to society and the world. Individual sections are taught by faculty from a range of departments. Past and current topics include:

  • Democracy and Leadership
  • Women in Science
  • Unconventional Thinking

FWS, taught by faculty from the literature department, develops students’ abilities in written and oral communication at the college level. Past and current topics include: 

  • Art of the Personal Essay
  • Blackness in American Cinema
  • Post-Apocalyptic Humanity

For the purpose of this essay prompt, pick one FHS or FWS seminar to study at CMC. What part of your personal experience—or your desire to know more about an area outside of your experience—best explains your seminar choice? View the full list of FHS and FWS topics

Optional Video Response

After submitting your application, you will receive instructions by email from the CMC Admission Office on how to submit an optional two-minute video. Similar to interviews, the optional video response gives you an opportunity to tell us more about yourself beyond the information you provided in your application. The most compelling video responses have a genuine voice and highlight your thoughtfulness and authenticity.

While the video response is not required, if you were unable to schedule an interview, the video response is a great opportunity for you to tell us about yourself beyond what you provided in your application.

Video response prompts for all first-year applicants:

  1. Claremont McKenna College is a special community because it is composed of talented people who individually and collectively contribute to improving the life of the College.  How do you hope to contribute to the CMC community?
  2. The Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum represents the intellectual mantelpiece of the Claremont McKenna College community, bringing students, faculty, and staff closer together through active engagement and discussion on a daily basis. Knowing that diversity of thought and respectful dialogue are vital elements to the Athenaeum’s mission, who is someone you would want to hear speak at the Athenaeum in order to better understand a diverse perspective or experience from that of your own?
  3. Developing a personal narrative is key to understand one’s own values and unique voice. Instances of personal adversity are key markers when determining an individual’s character, resoluteness, and sources of inspiration. When was the last time you were moved to great emotion and how did you positively respond from that moment in time?
  4. People support each other and their communities in various ways.  How do you support those around you and how has this shaped your unique perspective?

At Claremont McKenna College we acknowledge that students engage in a variety of approaches in order to achieve their education goals. Below you will find guidelines to assist homeschooled students in the process of applying to CMC. We encourage you to contact the Office of Admission directly should you have any questions or need further clarification. All homeschooled students should follow the application instructions for first-year applicants to apply for admission. Homeschooled applicants are also required to submit the following documentation to assist us in understanding your educational journey.

Diploma/Curriculum Requirement

Please submit a homeschool transcript as organized by a parent, teacher, or educational agency. This record should include coursework information and/or an explanation of curricular approach. We are interested in understanding the philosophic reasons for homeschooling and approaches to obtaining your education. This document can include a description of what was studied, coupled with an annotated reading list (for less-structured curricular approaches).

Interview Requirement

All homeschooled applicants are required to have an admission interview. Online interviews are available now! Please continue to check and join our mailing list to receive the most updated information.

In lieu of an interview, you may submit an optional video response. We will send you and email regarding this opportunity soon after we have received your application. Please refer to our website for further details. 

Recommendation Requirements

We ask that homeschooled students submit four letters of recommendation.

  1. One Counselor Recommendation Letter: preferably from an educational supervisor, but it can be written by a parent.
  2. One Teacher Recommendation Letter: preferably from a teacher or instructor who taught you in an academic subject.
  3. Extracurricular Letter: preferably written by a non-family member who knows you in a social or extracurricular context (examples are peers, clergy members, employers, coaches, etc).

The goal of the Admission Committee is to find the right match for Claremont McKenna College and to admit students who will be successful members of our community. If you would like to submit an extra statement explaining anything that you feel we have not asked, or if you would like to submit supplemental documentation with your application, it is welcome.

If you have any questions regarding your application, feel free to contact our office at (909) 621-8088 or at We look forward to working with you throughout this process.

First-year applicants for whom CMC is clearly their first choice may apply under an Early Decision (ED) option. The applicant, parent, and college counselor must electronically sign this form. Candidates who are admitted under Early Decision are expected to enroll at CMC, to withdraw all other college applications, and not to initiate new ones. The admission decision is binding. Students for whom CMC is not a clear first choice should apply under the Regular Decision option.

Merit-based scholarships are available for first-year applicants and are determined by the Office of Admission through the application review process. For priority consideration for merit scholarships, your application for admission must be submitted by December 1 and all supporting credentials must be submitted no later than January 5. There is no separate application process for CMC scholarships.

For more information about merit-based scholarships please visit Scholarships page. For more information about need-based financial aid, please visit the Financial Aid Office.

Deadlines for First-Year Admission

To be considered for Regular Decision admission, you must submit your application and all supporting credentials by January 5. You will be notified of our admission decision by April 1.

Admission Deadlines
Early Decision I Application due Nov. 1 Decision notification by Dec. 15 Candidate's reply is due in early January
Early Decision II Application due Jan. 5 Decision notification by Feb. 15 Candidate's reply is due in early March
Regular Decision Application due Jan. 5 Decision notification by April 1 Candidate's reply is due May 1


Financial Aid Deadlines
Early Decision I CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE due Nov. 1 FAFSA due Nov. 1 Award notification by Dec. 15
Early Decision II CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE due Jan. 5 FAFSA due Jan. 5 Award notification by Feb. 15
Regular Decision CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE due Jan. 5 FAFSA due Jan. 5 Award notification by April 1
Deferring Enrollment to Claremont McKenna

Students may wish to defer their enrollment (also known as taking a gap year) to Claremont McKenna for a year, up to two years, after admission. We want to assist when considering that option.

If you decide to defer your matriculation to Claremont McKenna for a year, please follow these steps:

  1. Submit your enrollment deposit by May 1.
  2. Complete the deferral form detailing your intention to defer by Wednesday, May 5, 2021. 
  3. You will need to verify on the deferral application that you will not enroll in a degree-granting program at another institution or apply to other colleges during your time off. Should you do so, you may have to reapply as a transfer student.
  4. Verify and confirm your decision to defer by Thursday, July 1, 2021.
  5. Contact Jennifer Sandoval-Dancs with questions about your deferral request. Deferral approval is not guaranteed, so it is important to follow the steps outlined above.

Should you find yourself pondering your gap year options, we encourage you to consider Global Citizen Year. 

CMC Partnership with Global Citizen Year

We encourage incoming students to gain valuable global skills and experience before arriving on campus and are excited to partner with Global Citizen Year to help provide these options for students. Global Citizen Year offers two experiences — the Fellowship and the Academy — which select talented students from diverse backgrounds, and equip them with the empathy, agency and global network to drive impact today — and over the course of their lives. We will grant deferral to any admitted student who enrolls in a Global Citizen Year program. Below are their two program offerings: 

  • Global Citizen Year Academy:  a first-of-its-kind leadership experience (delivered virtually) equipping students worldwide to find their purpose, their people, and their power to make an impact.
  • Global Citizen Year Fellowship [currently paused due to COVID-19]: since 2010, Global Citizen Year has run our Fellowship for 1,000+ exceptional young people who spend a year before college living alongside the global majority in communities across Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

3 photos of students experiencing international culture and scenery. Global Citizen logo

At CMC, we believe that learning extends beyond the classroom, and that hands-on global experience is a critical component of a CMC education. We therefore fully support incoming students who wish to gain valuable global skills and experience before arriving on campus.

We are excited to announce a partnership with Global Citizen Year: an eight-month global immersion and leadership development program in Brazil, Ecuador, India, or Senegal.

Global Citizen Year Fellows live with a host family and apprentice to a local organization working in education, health, or the environment. We are happy to grant admitted students a deferral to join Global Citizen Year, as we believe this experience helps CMC students develop the skills and perspectives to become the changemakers that our world so urgently needs.

If you indicate on your application that you are also applying to CMC, Global Citizen Year will fast-track your Global Citizen Year application, guarantee you a final interview, and consider you for their generous pool of need-based financial aid. If you are accepted to both CMC and Global Citizen Year, our Admission team will defer both your admission offer and financial aid package for one year to allow you to participate.

Toluwani Roberts'22

Toluwani Roberts
Class of ‘22
GCY Ecuador ‘18
Contact info:
Major: Africana Studies
"In 2017, I arrived in Imbabura, Ecuador with GCY. I became (or in some cases, discovered that I already was) a teacher, an animal lover, an adventurer, una hija, una hermana, and a friend to many more people. I left in April 2018 with an understanding of Ecuadorian culture and myself that pushed me to view the struggle for equality and liberation as a global one. And although my body left in April of 2018, my heart did not; through language and love, I am forever connected to esa tierra."