Lehigh released regular admissions decisions for the class of 2025 last week. There were 14,106 total applicants and the acceptance rate was almost 45 percent. (Jenna Simon/B&W Staff)

Lehigh’s class of 2025 marks second year of acceptance rate spike


The last two incoming first-year classes have seen a dramatic increase in undergraduate acceptance rates. For the incoming class of 2025, there was an acceptance rate of almost 45 percent, despite an increase in applicants. 

Prior to the class of 2024, which had an acceptance rate of 49.5 percent during the onset of the pandemic, Lehigh’s acceptance rate had been consistently in the 20s.  

The university saw a 12 percent increase in regular decision applicants this year. There were 14,106 total applications received, and just under 12,400 in the year prior. 

For the class of 2025, 6,381 students were accepted. The university’s acceptance rate rose to almost 45 percent, which Dean of Admissions Bruce Bunnick saw to be generally consistent with the class of 2024.

Bunnick said they had a more diverse applicant pool this year. The admissions office paid close attention to first-generation college students specifically. Bunnick explained that the university’s transition to being test-optional played a large role in the increase. With uncertainty looming due to COVID-19, students applied to more colleges. 

“Students likely felt as though they could cast a wider net with test-optional policies being more widespread,” Bunnick said. 

Caroline Marx from Short Hills, New Jersey, was recently accepted to Lehigh through the regular decision admissions process. Unsure of what to write about in her essays or even where to apply, she said the process was stressful and she felt overloaded with information.

Marx said she felt pressure to send her standardized test scores to Lehigh because she knew of other applicants who were.  

According to Bunnick, approximately 60 percent of students chose to submit standardized test scores when applying through the regular decision process.

Although the domestic applicant pool rose, the international applicant pool remained consistent with years past. Among the international applicants however, there were 25 percent fewer applications from students with Chinese citizenship, said Morgan Volkart, associate vice provost of Western region and international recruitment. After the U.S., the second largest population of Lehigh students are from China. 

This decline is not unusual. The Common App reported an 18 percent decline in undergraduate applicants from China to all U.S. colleges and universities. Volkart said many variables are involved in this decrease, and not all of them can be measured coherently. Students faced travel problems due to visa issues as well as safety and health concerns, she said.  

“It is still very hard to take it all in, being an international student not being able to step foot on campus prior to attending,” Volkart said.  

One aspect of the application decrease from China could be attributed to how the media portrayed the handling of COVID-19 in the U.S., Volkart said. 

Volkart said the decrease in applicants from China did not impact the overall application from international students, as there was an increase in applicants from other countries. The international pool became much more diverse, with applications from Kazakhstan, India, Brazil, Turkey, Egypt, Ethiopia and more. 

Regardless of applicant numbers, Volkart said the admissions committee is unable to accept every international applicant it believes would be a good fit for the university. Lehigh is need-aware when reviewing applications from non-U.S. citizens, meaning it must be sensitive as to who is admitted in terms of who is financially able to attend. 

The need-aware policy is a result of the university’s small financial aid budget, making international admissions more selective than domestic admissions. The overall acceptance rate internationally was around 20 percent compared to the 45 percent reported domestically.

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  1. ‘14 grad. Lehigh seems like a drastically different school now than the one I attended not even 10 years ago.

    Really a shame that the administration doesn’t seem to be paying attention.

    Lots of weight is put covid for this result, but the culprit behind the curtain is the flimsy “path to prominence” plan.

    Used to be a highly regarded, highly selective school. Now, not so sure.

    Glad I have a grad degree from another school that so far hasn’t disappointed me as an alumni.

  2. Due to its relatively small endowment, LU needs to have 40%+ of students paying full freight to compensate for discounts to the 60%. The unis education quality has declined while expenses have risen…a lot. So LU is declining as a “value” and it needs to give out a lot of offers to find the “dumb rich”. The rich have a lot of choices as do the high quality academic students. The school is in a real bind. And with declining HS demographics since class of 2023, the prospects do not look good for growth in student body at LU along with improving selectivity or quality. In fact LUs best move would be to condense down to what has made it famous over the years and cut the rest out. Become a great tight uni of 4,500, drop D1 for D3, and teach/research again.

  3. You have to wonder why schools like Villanova are having no problems. At some point you need to look at the people in charge.

  4. Nicholas Barker on

    This is getting ridiculous! Let us all just admit the Path to Prominence was an unequivocal failure and go back to square one. Furthermore, it is time to clean house with administration, primarily student affairs. I don’t think I have met a more tone-deaf admin than the one at Lehigh.

  5. Current Senior Student on

    Hoping the next president isn’t afraid to ruffle some feathers and do what it takes to change the culture, because otherwise this school is looking at a downward spiral

    Truly a masterclass in mismanagement over these past few years from the student perspective

  6. I hope the Board and Administration are doing some deep thinking as to why applications to Lehigh have cratered while interest in competitor schools (eg Colgate, Bucknell and Villanova) have remained stable or grown. Colgate is half the size of Lehigh and gets more applications. Villanova has only ~1,000 more undergrads but gets 10,000 more applicants. Of course it’s only one metric, but the rate at which we’re losing ground to our peers (at least in terms of applicant interest) is alarming: https://www.collegekickstart.com/blog/item/class-of-2025-admission-results Only Fordham is less selective than Lehigh on this list.

  7. I have to say, I’m a bit taken aback by this. My son applied EDI and was accepted. There were many reasons for his choice, but I have to admit part of the reason he did ED was he was under the impression Lehigh was pretty selective. This is not a good sign. I hope the administration has a plan to turn this around.

  8. Thomas Hinkle on

    This is truly an embarrassment to the Lehigh community as a whole. What are we paying over 60K for if the school is not academically selective. The management of Lehigh University must take steps to ensure Lehigh remains a coveted place to learn or they are doomed. Unfortunately so is the alumni.

  9. We are a new family in Lehigh. My son applied ED because of the academic programs offered, which we could not find at other smaller liberal arts colleges. The admissions selectivity has to be put in the context that the school is expanding enrollment by 20% in a short period. What matters is the quality of the Lehigh experience, and from what we have heard, it has not changed over the years.

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