is santa clara university a good school

Last Updated on December 14, 2022

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Sept. 10, 2018—Santa Clara University was named the top-ranked regional university in the western United States in the 2019 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings. The University earned a perfect overall score of 100 out of 100, attributable to the following noteworthy factors:

  • Graduation rate: The graduation rate of SCU students who entered in 2011 was 90 percent—the highest rate in the western peer group—up from 89 percent for a comparable period last year.
  • Undergraduate focus: SCU was ranked No. 6 among regional universities in the West for undergraduate teaching—a peer ranking for schools where faculty have “an unusually strong commitment to undergraduate teaching.”
  • Top students: This year, 87 percent of SCU first-year students were in the top 25 percent of their high school class, up from 85 percent last year.
  • Small classes: The percentage of classes with fewer than 20 students jumped to 47 percent from 44 percent.
  • Peer assessment: The average score awarded to SCU by top academic officials across the country—its academic peer assessment score—rose to 4.1 on a 5-point scale, up from last year’s 4.0.
  • Veterans: Once again, SCU was ranked No. 1 in the West for veterans.
  • Value education: Santa Clara was ranked No. 15 in the western U.S. for “Best Value Schools,” measured by factors like quality relative to price and percentage of students receiving need-based assistance.
  • Innovation: Santa Clara was ranked the No. 10 “Most Innovative School” in the western U.S., chosen by academic leaders for making the most innovative improvements in terms of curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology or facilities.
  • Business school: Across all universities in the country, SCU’s undergraduate business program was tied for the No. 62 spot, up from No. 64 last year.
  • Engineering: Nationally, SCU’s undergraduate engineering program ranked No. 132 among schools that also offered doctoral degrees.

“It is extremely gratifying to see Santa Clara University recognized for a commitment to excellence at all levels,” said University President Michael E. Engh, S.J. “Our students, faculty, and staff are highly dedicated individuals, all with a shared tenacity for thriving. As we celebrate this accolade, we remain diligent in graduating citizens of the world—those intent on measuring their own success by their ability to help others succeed.”

The “2019 Best Colleges” rankings analyzes 312 “national” and 646 “regional” universities—including Santa Clara University. Regional universities are defined as offering a full range of undergraduate programs and master’s degrees, but few doctoral programs. The western region, where Santa Clara University is located, covers 140 master’s level universities from Colorado to the West Coast, including those in Texas.

The “Best Colleges” rankings can be found on the U.S. News & World Report website. The 2019 print edition of the “Best Colleges” guidebook will be on newsstands Oct. 16 and can be purchased online at

SCU’s overview and 2019 rankings are available online here. 

About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 9,000 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering; master’s degrees in business, education, counseling psychology, pastoral ministry, and theology; and law degrees and engineering doctoral degrees. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see

Santa Clara University is a private institution that was founded in 1851. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 5,608 (fall 2020), its setting is city, and the campus size is 106 acres. It utilizes a differs by program-based academic calendar. Santa Clara University’s ranking in the 2022 edition of Best Colleges is National Universities, #55. Its tuition and fees are $55,860.

Santa Clara University is located in the Silicon Valley town of Santa Clara, California, about an hour from San Francisco. The university offers arts and entertainment programs at the Center of Performing Arts and the de Saisset Museum of art and history. There are more than 100 student organizations on campus including the Santa Clara Community Action Program, a volunteer service organization, and the Santa Clara Review, a biannual literary magazine. Santa Clara offers housing in its residence halls, and students can also join a Residential Learning Community. The Santa Clara Broncos field nearly 20 Division I athletic teams and are known for their successful soccer and volleyball programs. The Ruff Riders – the official student booster club of SCU athletics – is the largest organization on campus.

Santa Clara’s graduate programs include the Leavey School of Business, School of Law, School of Engineering, School of Education and Counseling Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences, and the Jesuit School of Theology. Undergraduates can study in the College of Arts and Sciences, Leavey School of Business or School of Engineering. Notable alumni include president of the University of California system and former U.S. secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, former director of the CIA and secretary of defense Leon Panetta, primatologist and U.N. messenger of peace Jane Goodall, and author of the best-selling novel “The Kite Runner” Khaled Hosseini.

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Aug. 19, 2019—Santa Clara University has been named in the top 10 percent, at No. 51, of 650 top-tier American colleges and universities ranked by Forbes Magazine in its annual America’s Top Colleges rankings.

Santa Clara, a private Jesuit, Catholic University based in Silicon Valley, also was ranked the 10th best college in the Western U.S. by the business publication; 29th for average early-career salary of its graduates; and No. 42 out of the 400 private universities in the ranking.

“Santa Clara University is proud not just of our increase in ranking in Forbes this year, but also of the hard work and ongoing accomplishments of our faculty and our institution-wide focus on the success of the whole student,” said interim Provost Lisa Kloppenberg.

A few of the recent gains at Santa Clara University include:

  • SCU’s retention rate of first-year students is 95 percent, among the highest in the nation.
  • SCU ranks 13th in the nation for post-graduation salary levels, as measured by PayScale.
  • SCU received a record 16,295 applications for the Class of 2023, the second year in a row the University had more than 16,000 applications.
  • In 2018, eight Santa Clara students or recent alumni were selected as Fulbright Scholars.
  • The graduation rate of SCU students who entered in 2011 was 90 percent—the highest rate among peer institutions in the Western U.S.

Santa Clara recently announced the launch of a $1 billion fundraising campaign that will enable students to learn more collaboratively, study more globally, and work alongside a more diverse, accomplished, and justice-oriented student body and faculty. The Sobrato Campus for Discovery and Innovation, which will open fall 2021, will be the new collaborative hub for natural sciences and engineering—a state-of-the-art learning and research environment.

Forbes’ America’s Top Colleges ranks undergraduate institutions “that deliver the top academics, best experiences, career success and lowest debt,” according to the publication. To do so, it considers six categories including alumni salaries in early and mid-career, student satisfaction as measured by surveys and first-year student retention rates, and on-time graduation rate. The full list of categories including details on how they are weighted is on the Forbes website.

About Santa Clara University
Founded in 1851, Santa Clara University sits in the heart of Silicon Valley—the world’s most innovative and entrepreneurial region. The University’s stunningly landscaped 106-acre campus is home to the historic Mission Santa Clara de Asís. Ranked the No. 1 regional university in the West by U.S. News & World Report, SCU has among the best four-year graduation rates in the nation and is rated by PayScale in the top 1 percent of universities with the highest-paid graduates. SCU has produced elite levels of Fulbright Scholars as well as four Rhodes Scholars. With undergraduate programs in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, and graduate programs in six disciplines, the curriculum blends high-tech innovation with social consciousness grounded in the tradition of Jesuit, Catholic education. For more information see

Santa Clara University Requirements for Admission

What are Santa Clara University’s admission requirements? While there are a lot of pieces that go into a college application, you should focus on only a few critical things:

  • GPA requirements
  • Testing requirements, including SAT and ACT requirements
  • Application requirements

In this guide we’ll cover what you need to get into Santa Clara University and build a strong application.

School location: Santa Clara, CA

This school is also known as: SCU

Santa Clara University GPA Requirements

Many schools specify a minimum GPA requirement, but this is often just the bare minimum to submit an application without immediately getting rejected.

The GPA requirement that really matters is the GPA you need for a real chance of getting in. For this, we look at the school’s average GPA for its current students.

Average GPA: 3.69

Most schools use a weighted GPA out of 4.0, though some report an unweighted GPA.

With a GPA of 3.69, Santa Clara University requires you to be above average in your high school class. You’ll need at least a mix of A’s and B’s, with more A’s than B’s. You can compensate for a lower GPA with harder classes, like AP or IB classes. This will show that you’re able to handle more difficult academics than the average high school student.

If you’re currently a junior or senior, your GPA is hard to change in time for college applications. If your GPA is at or below the school average of 3.69, you’ll need a higher SAT or ACT score to compensate. This will help you compete effectively against other applicants who have higher GPAs than you.

SAT and ACT Requirements

Each school has different requirements for standardized testing. Most schools require the SAT or ACT, and many also require SAT subject tests.

You must take either the SAT or ACT to submit an application to Santa Clara University. More importantly, you need to do well to have a strong application.

Santa Clara University SAT Requirements

Many schools say they have no SAT score cutoff, but the truth is that there is a hidden SAT requirement. This is based on the school’s average score.

Average SAT: 1360

The average SAT score composite at Santa Clara University is a 1360 on the 1600 SAT scale.

This score makes Santa Clara University Moderately Competitive for SAT test scores.

Here’s the breakdown of new SAT scores by section:

SectionAverage25th Percentile75th Percentile
Reading + Writing665630700

SAT Score Choice Policy

The Score Choice policy at your school is an important part of your testing strategy.

Santa Clara University has the Score Choice policy of “Highest Section.”

This is also known as “superscoring.” This means that you can choose which SAT tests you want to send to the school. Of all the scores they receive, your application readers will consider your highest section scores across all SAT test dates you submit.

Click below to learn more about how superscoring critically affects your test strategy.How does superscoring change your test strategy?(Click to Learn)

For example, say you submit the following 3 test scores:

Test 17003001000
Test 23007001000
Test 3300300600

Even though the highest total you scored on any one test date was 1000, Santa Clara University will take your highest section score from all your test dates, then combine them to form your Superscore. You can raise your composite score from 1000 to 1400 in this example.

This is important for your testing strategy. Because you can choose which tests to send in, and Santa Clara University forms your Superscore, you can take the SAT as many times as you want, then submit only the tests that give you the highest Superscore. Your application readers will only see that one score.

Therefore, if your SAT superscore is currently below a 1360, we strongly recommend that you consider prepping for the SAT and retaking it. You have a very good chance of raising your score, which will significantly boost your chances of getting in.

Even better, because of the Superscore, you can focus all your energy on a single section at a time. If your Reading score is lower than your other sections, prep only for the Reading section, then take the SAT. Then focus on Math for the next test, and so on. This will give you the highest Superscore possible.

Santa Clara University ACT Requirements

Just like for the SAT, Santa Clara University likely doesn’t have a hard ACT cutoff, but if you score too low, your application will get tossed in the trash.

Average ACT: 30

The average ACT score at Santa Clara University is 30. This score makes Santa Clara University Strongly Competitive for ACT scores.

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The 25th percentile ACT score is 28, and the 75th percentile ACT score is 32.

Even though Santa Clara University likely says they have no minimum ACT requirement, if you apply with a 28 or below, you’ll have a very hard time getting in, unless you have something else very impressive in your application. There are so many applicants scoring 30 and above that a 28 will look academically weak.

ACT Score Sending Policy

If you’re taking the ACT as opposed to the SAT, you have a huge advantage in how you send scores, and this dramatically affects your testing strategy.

Here it is: when you send ACT scores to colleges, you have absolute control over which tests you send. You could take 10 tests, and only send your highest one. This is unlike the SAT, where many schools require you to send all your tests ever taken.

This means that you have more chances than you think to improve your ACT score. To try to aim for the school’s ACT requirement of 30 and above, you should try to take the ACT as many times as you can. When you have the final score that you’re happy with, you can then send only that score to all your schools.

ACT Superscore Policy

By and large, most colleges do not superscore the ACT. (Superscore means that the school takes your best section scores from all the test dates you submit, and then combines them into the best possible composite score). Thus, most schools will just take your highest ACT score from a single sitting.

We weren’t able to find the school’s exact ACT policy, which most likely means that it does not Superscore. Regardless, you can choose your single best ACT score to send in to Santa Clara University, so you should prep until you reach our recommended target ACT score of 30.

SAT/ACT Writing Section Requirements

Both the SAT and ACT have an optional essay section.

Santa Clara University considers the SAT Essay/ACT Writing section optional and may not include it as part of their admissions consideration. You don’t need to worry too much about Writing for this school, but other schools you’re applying to may require it.

SAT Subject Test Requirements

Schools vary in their SAT subject test requirements. Typically, selective schools tend to require them, while most schools in the country do not.

We did not find information that Santa Clara University requires SAT subject tests, and so most likely it does not. At least 6 months before applying, you should still doublecheck just to make sure, so you have enough time to take the test.

Final Admissions Verdict

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Because this school is moderately selective, strong academic performance will almost guarantee you admission. Scoring a 1420 SAT or a 32 ACT or above will nearly guarantee you admission. Because the school admits 48.8% of all applicants, being far above average raises the admission rate for you to nearly 100%.

If you can achieve a high SAT/ACT score, the rest of your application essentially doesn’t matter. You still need to meet the rest of the application requirements, and your GPA shouldn’t be too far off from the school average of 3.69. But you won’t need dazzling extracurriculars and breathtaking letters of recommendation to get in. You can get in based on the merits of your score alone.

But if your score is a 1300 SAT or a 28 ACT and below, you have a good chance of being one of the unlucky few to be rejected.

Application Requirements

Every school requires an application with the bare essentials – high school transcript and GPA, application form, and other core information. Many schools, as explained above, also require SAT and ACT scores, as well as letters of recommendation, application essays, and interviews. We’ll cover the exact requirements of Santa Clara University here.

Application Requirements Overview

  • Common ApplicationAccepted, supplemental forms required
  • Universal ApplicationNot accepted
  • Electronic ApplicationAvailable
  • Essay or Personal StatementRequired for all freshmen
  • Letters of Recommendation1
  • InterviewNot required
  • Application Fee$60
  • Fee Waiver Available?Available
  • Other Notes

Testing Requirements

  • SAT or ACTRequired
  • SAT Essay or ACT WritingOptional
  • SAT Subject Tests
  • Scores Due in OfficeJanuary 7

Coursework Requirements

  • SubjectRequired Years
  • English4
  • Math3
  • Science2
  • Foreign Language2
  • Social Studies3
  • History
  • Electives1

Deadlines and Early Admissions

    • Offered?DeadlineNotification
  • Regular Admission
    • YesJanuary 7April 1
  • Early Action
    • YesNovember 1December 23
  • Early Decision
    • YesNovember 1December 23

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