A step-by-step guide
We’re here to help. These are the required and optional items needed for a first year application. If you plan to apply for financial aid, that process has the same deadline as your application. See dates and deadlines for more information.
1. The application
You can use the following applications to apply to a number of schools, including Wellesley.
Friendly reminder: It’s free to apply to Wellesley.
Specify your decision plan.
When you begin your application, you’ll need to choose a decision plan for each school you apply to. (Check out our dates and deadlines page for more information.)
Use your legal name throughout.
Be sure to be consistent and use your legal name (as it appears on your passport or other legal documents) on all of your application materials. This may sound obvious, but it’s really important! If you go by another name, list that as your “preferred name” on the application and that’s the name we’ll use when we get in touch with you.
2. The essays
You’ll need to write two essays: a personal essay and a shorter, Wellesley-specific essay. See our application tips for advice on writing your essays.
The personal essay
For your personal essay, you may choose from the prompts below or write on a topic of your choice. The essay should be 250 to 650 words.
Current Common Application essay prompts
- Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
- The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
- Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
- Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma—anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
- Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
- Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
- Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
Current Coalition Application essay prompts
- Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
- Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.
- Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?
- What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What’s the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?
- Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.
The Wellesley-specific essay
This required writing supplement asks you to respond to the following topic.
The Wellesley essay prompt
When choosing a college community, you are choosing a place where you believe that you can live, learn, and flourish. Generations of inspiring women have thrived in the Wellesley community, and we want to know what aspects of this community inspire you to consider Wellesley. We know that there are more than 100 reasons to choose Wellesley, but the “Wellesley 100” is a good place to start. Visit The Wellesley 100 and let us know, in two well-developed paragraphs, which two items most attract, inspire, or energize you and why. (Not-so-secret tip: The “why” matters to us.)
3. High school credentials
We require three letters of recommendation (two from teachers), your transcripts, diploma or examination certificates, and a School Report completed by your guidance counselor. These can be submitted online through your application. Once you have selected your high school, you can list and save the names of your counselor and two teachers in the “School Forms” section. Instructions will be emailed to them with information on how to submit the forms online or offline in print.
Three letters of recommendation
Wellesley requires three letters of recommendation: one from the head of your school or your school counselor and two from academic instructors. At least one recommendation must include an evaluation of your proficiency in reading, writing, and speaking English. These letters should be sent directly to the Board of Admission at Wellesley.
An official transcript is a certified record of the courses you have completed and the marks you received at each marking period in all schools attended during the previous four years. We need both the transcript in the original language as well as a translated version. If the school system uses a coded transcript, an explanation of the code and the marking system should be included. If you cannot obtain a transcript, a certified record of the courses you took, along with a progress report, must be submitted instead.
Diploma or examination certificates
All applicants must submit certified photocopies of all academic diplomas and Government Examination certificates. These include GCSE ("O" level) and "A" level certificates, and appropriate documents from your home country (e.g., Indian S.S.C., Indian H.S.C., Kenyan Certificate of Education, Hong Kong Certificate of Education, Malaysian SRP, International Baccalaureate SPM, STEM, etc.). Examination certificates cannot be substituted for the required official transcript (see above) or for the required standardized tests (see below). All academic records and examination certificates must have an official seal or certification.
4. Standardized tests
Wellesley has temporarily suspended its requirement that first-year applicants submit SAT or ACT scores given the fact that many high school students are unable to sit for standardized tests due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This means testing will be optional for first-year applicants applying to the College for entry in the fall of 2021. If an applicant wishes to have their standardized test scores considered as one component of their application, we will consider those scores in a nuanced and contextual way alongside all other application credentials. If applicants choose not to submit standardized test scores, we will evaluate their application in a nuanced and contextual way without scores. Our holistic, committee-based application review process gives us the flexibility to evaluate each applicant’s academic and extracurricular accomplishments within individual context. For more information on the Test Optional Policy, please read our Standardized Testing FAQs.
Wellesley requires that you take either the ACT or the SAT.
Every applicant to Wellesley must take the standardized examinations, except applicants from countries where the SAT or ACT is not administered. It is strongly recommended that international students whose native language is not English take one of our approved English proficiency exams (see below).
For frequently asked questions about standardized testing, see the FAQ.
The Wellesley code number for the ACT is 1926; the code number for the SAT is 3957. Registration forms and information describing the SATs may be obtained by going directly to the College Board website. If you have questions, you may contact the College Board at 866.630.9305. International callers, dial +1.212.520.8570.
5. English proficiency exams
If English is not your native language and you have been studying in an English-based curriculum for fewer than five years, we strongly recommend that you take one of the following English proficiency tests:
- TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
- Duolingo English Test
- IELTS (International English Language Testing System)
- Cambridge Assessment English Qualifications (C1 Advanced, C2 Proficiency, or C1 Business Higher accepted)
GTEC CBT (Global Test of English Communication Computer Based Testing)
6. Optional items
If relevant to your application, you may submit these optional credentials.
Financial Aid Intent Form
If you’re applying for financial aid, you must fill out the Financial Aid Intent Form that will be available in your Wellesley Applicant Portal after you submit your application. In an effort to simplify the financial aid process for international, undocumented, and DACA students, applicants who have indicated their intent to apply for aid will be prompted to complete a Financial Aid Intent Form after submitting their application for admission. Within three to five business days of the completion of the Common Application or Coalition Application, students will be given access to the Applicant Portal by the Office of Admission. We will contact applicants later in the process regarding any additional financial aid forms or documents they may need to provide. We encourage all applicants applying for aid to begin completing the CSS Profile so that if requested, they can submit it promptly. However, students won’t need to submit the CSS Profile unless they are instructed to do so by our staff.
An interview is highly recommended but not required. Learn more about scheduling an interview.
Early Decision Agreement
If you’re applying Early Decision Round I or Round II, be sure to complete the Early Decision Agreement with your application. Before submitting your application, you’ll need to list your parent or guardian's email on the recommended page to ensure they sign their portion of the Early Decision Agreement.
Arts, music, or theatre supplement
If you have a special talent in the arts, you might want to submit an arts supplement.
Our art, music, and theatre studies departments will accept electronic submissions of portfolios, recordings, or presentations. The appropriate department will review your material.
Wellesley College does not have a dance department and does not review creative writing materials. Please do NOT submit any dance and/or creative writing supplements as they will not be evaluated.
To submit an arts supplement:
- You must submit your portfolios, recordings, or presentations electronically using SlideRoom. Wellesley does not accept art supplements through the Common Application or Coalition Applications. Please do not mail any materials to the Office of Admission. Submissions sent by mail will not be reviewed or returned.
- Follow the guidelines and instructions as outlined by Wellesley’s art, music, and theatre studies departments.
- Start a SlideRoom account at any time after September 1.
- If you are using the Common Application, you must first submit your application to Wellesley before submitting the SlideRoom supplement. An error message will appear on SlideRoom if you try to submit your supplement before submitting your Common Application.
If you are interested in competing in varsity athletics at Wellesley (Division III), submit a recruiting form to the head coach of your sport.