Application FAQs

We value all our applicants and want to clearly communicate how we make decisions and what you can expect from the Southwestern Admission Team.


The Office of Admission


Wilhelmina Cullen Welcome Center

The Office of Admission

The content below is for first-year students. View transfer student FAQs

  • Our mission is to treat all applicants fairly and with respect. In all cases, our decisions are reached by multiple individuals reviewing the application and voting in a manner they believe is in the best interest of both the student and the University. We take this responsibility seriously and realize we are dealing with the lives and future directions of our applicants.

    • Early Decision (binding): 1st Tuesday in November
    • Early Action (non-binding): 1st Tuesday in December
    • Regular Decision: 1st Tuesday in February
    • Late Decision: After 1st Tuesday in February, on a space available basis
  • Upon receipt of your application for admission, you will receive a confirmation via email that contains login information for your Personal Application Portal. This portal will allow you to see your checklist of required materials, your admission decision, as well as your scholarship and need-based financial aid package, as appropriate.

    Ultimately, it is your responsibility to complete the application. Beyond our reminders, you are encouraged to contact your admission counselor whenever you have questions. 

    Access the Personal Application Portal



  • In some cases, we will ask for mid-year or mid-term grades (first semester senior year or mid-point of college semester for transfer students), additional recommendations, or a personal interview. When we ask for mid-year grades and/or a personal interview, etc., you must take responsibility for getting the grade report to Southwestern and for completing the interview.

  • Southwestern has had a test-optional admission policy since 2019. As such, SAT/ACT scores are not required for admission or merit scholarship consideration. All first-year applicants, including homeschooled and international students, may choose the test-optional path for admission. In addition, test scores are no longer required to be considered for our competitive Brown, Dixon, or Garey scholarship programs.

    At the time of application, students must choose whether or not they wish SAT/ACT scores to be considered as a factor in their admission and merit scholarship consideration. Students who choose the test-optional path will be required and invited to engage with our staff in a conversational interview. This interview can be done either on campus or virtually. In addition, our staff also offers in-person interviews around the country during our fall travel season.

    Our full test-optional policies and procedures are outlined in this document.

  • First-year applicants must submit at least one recommendation from a high school official to be considered for admission. While we prefer this recommendation come from either a school counselor or teacher in a core academic subject, (English/language arts, math, science, social science, or language other than English), any recommendation from an official at your high school can meet this requirement. A Secondary School Report submitted by a student’s school counselor will also fulfill this requirement.

  • While Southwestern has implemented a test-optional approach for admission, students may choose to submit their test scores and have them considered as part of their admission review process. Students who wish to submit their test scores are encouraged to download a PDF of their unofficial student score report from the College Board or ACT website and e-mail it to our office at We will consider these as official scores for the purposes of admission and merit scholarship consideration. In addition, Southwestern will also accept scores that appear on a student’s high school transcript as official. Finally, students may pay to have official reports sent to Southwestern directly from the College Board or ACT organizations; however, as that represents an additional cost to students and can take several weeks to process, we highly encourage students to take advantage of the fast & free option of downloading and e-mailing unofficial copies to us.

  • We consider academic performance above all else. Additionally, participation and demonstrated leadership in extracurricular activities, strength and depth of writing samples, SAT and/or ACT scores (or interview, if applying under our test-optional path), cogency and content of recommendations, visit to campus, legacy connections, United Methodist Church membership, and recognition/achievement in national programs may also be considered.

  • The Early Decision round is meant only for those students who know Southwestern is their first-choice school. Early Decision applicants, if offered admission, are required to commit to Southwestern by the first Tuesday in January, by submitting a non-refundable $700 deposit and withdrawing applications at all other institutions.  Please note students applying Early Decision must submit the Early Decision Agreement along with their other required application materials.

    Early Action is meant for students with a high level of interest in Southwestern who still wish to consider other institutions.  It offers the benefit of receiving an expedited decision, (no later than the first Tuesday in March), while still allowing the student to reach his/her final decision by the first Tuesday in May.

  • Early Decision applicants will receive notification no later than the first Tuesday in December, provided their applications were complete prior to the first Tuesday in November. If an Early Decision applicant’s file is incomplete after the first Tuesday in November, we may choose to defer the application to our Early Action round and provide a decision no later than the first Tuesday in March.

    Early Action applicants will receive notification no later than the first Tuesday in March, provided their applications were complete prior to the first Tuesday in December. Some Early Action students with strong credentials may be offered admission on a “rolling” basis prior to the March notification date.  The majority of students will be either offered or denied admission. However, in a few cases we may notify students we are requiring additional information (e.g., 7th semester grades and/or an interview) before reaching a final decision. In those cases, a student will receive final notification by the first Tuesday in April. If an Early Action applicant’s file is incomplete after the first Tuesday in December, the decision may be received after the March notification date. 

    Regular Decision applicants will receive notification no later than the first Tuesday in April, provided their applications were complete prior to the first Tuesday in February. Some Regular Decision students with strong credentials will be offered admission on a “rolling” basis prior to the April notification date. If a Regular Decision applicant’s file is incomplete after first Tuesday in February, it will be considered on a space-available basis, and the student may be notified after the April notification date.

  • Southwestern University welcomes applications from homeschooled students who wish to pursue a liberal arts education. Many of these students may be attracted to the small class sizes and the personal attention in the classroom, as well as the active approach to learning outside of the classroom.

    Students who are homeschooled are evaluated by the same criteria for admission as those students graduating from an accredited institution. Please see the “Evaluating Candidates” section of our homeschool student web page for details on required materials and our approach to evaluating homeschool applications.

  • No. The application deadline is only for the application for admission itself. Any of your other materials may follow your application and be submitted after the stated application deadline.