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How to Write the Johns Hopkins University Supplemental Essay

Updated for 2023-2024

Johns Hopkins asks applicants to submit just one supplemental essay. The prompt asks students to reflect on an aspect of their identity as it relates to their collegiate goals at Hopkins. With a 300 word maximum, students do not have much room to expand on both parts of the prompts, so they should be concise in their writing!

Essay Prompt:

Tell us about an aspect of your identity (e.g. race, gender, sexuality, religion, community, etc.) or a life experience that has shaped you as an individual and how that influenced what you’d like to pursue in college at Hopkins.  (This can be a future goal or experience that is either academic, extracurricular, or social).

300 word limit.



This supplemental question may seem confusing or pointed to many, but in reality it’s asking a rather simple question:

What is something about you/your background that influenced your decision to study XYZ, and why do you want to study it at Johns Hopkins specifically?

Whether you choose to tell a dramatic story about a life-changing trauma or a lighthearted story about the first time you found your favorite hobby, the most important part of this prompt isn’t the impetus of your academic pursuit as much as it is your ability to tie the two together. How did growing up in a culturally diverse household make you want to study music? Why and how did your prized coin collection turn into an interest in studying economics at JHU?

Again, the reason is only one part of the full story.

Aside from connecting your identity/past to your major, the other important part of this prompt draws on how you’ve cultivated more experience/interest in preparing for your academic pursuits.

If you are a computer science major, for example, this would be the perfect opportunity to mention that app you built after being inspired by your love for coding. If you are a creative writing and political science double major, let your experience writing political speeches shine!

Although you won’t have all too much space to talk about the activities themselves (that’s what your activities list is for!), this essay gives you a chance to use relevant experience/activities to bridge your intended major or majors with your identity/background/interests of choice!

Lastly, if there’s a class, club, professor, alumni, or any specific reason(s) why Johns Hopkins is the place where you’d like to foster this passion, you better mention it!

Below is an example of what such an essay might look like for a student (let’s call him Timmy) who is interested in becoming a double major in film and psychology at Johns Hopkins. Timmy first became interested in bridging these two academic fields as a result of his love of horror movies, specifically those of Wes Craven (who happens to be a Johns Hopkins alumni), and has further developed his interests by conducting research with his local college’s psychology department and creating a short film that he recently entered into a community film festival.



The day my father showed me his favorite horror movie changed the trajectory of my life. Despite being quite young, I can vividly remember gripping his hand as I was overcome by an adrenaline-filled combination of terror and intrigue. What I remember more than the twisted plot, suspenseful score, and the film’s monster that can only be described as the personification of nightmares was my own bewilderment and obsession regarding how the film made me feel.

As inconsequential as it might seem, this viewing ignited what has turned into an academic passion for psychology that serves as the perfect supplement to my lifelong obsession with filmmaking. Experiencing the horror genre for the first time broadened my horizons regarding the emotional responses that media and art could elicit in a viewer. This experience was the catalyst for my interest in behavioral psychology and experience conducting research on cognition-emotion interactions at the University of Cincinnati’s Laboratory for Cognitive and Affective Neuropsychology.

In furthering my studies as both a social scientist and as an aspiring filmmaker and screenwriter, I am certain that Johns Hopkins is the perfect setting to provide me with a world class interdisciplinary approach to my academic interests. Aside from their film and media studies degree—which offers students the opportunity to specialize in screenwriting and showcase their work at the Maryland Film Festival—the psychology department’s courses such as “Primate Minds” will provide valuable lessons on behavioral and emotional responses. Lastly, alumni such as film director Wes Craven have demonstrated that Johns Hopkins fosters an environment that encourages students to truly master their interests and pursue their passions at the highest possible level, and it is my hope that I too will leave my mark on JHU’s campus and beyond.