Claremont McKenna College

School Name: Claremont McKenna College

School Location: Claremont, CA

School Type: Liberal Arts

Class of 2022

  • Applicants: 6,272
  • Admitted: 584
  • Admission Rate: 9%


General Info

  • SAT/ACT Score

    • ACT middle 50% range: 30-34
    • SAT Reading/EBRW middle 50% range: 660-740
    • SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing: 740-780


  • High Reach


  • Early Decision 1: November 1
  • ED 1 Results: By December 15
  • Early Decision 2: January 5
  • Regular Deadline: January 5
  • Early Decision 2 Results: February 15
  • Regular Results: By April 1

School Info

  • Schedule: Semester
  • Curriculum Type: General Education
  • Greek Life: No
  • Athletics: NAICU

Claremont-Mckenna College is an applied liberal arts college in Claremont, CA. Claremont is the town of “trees and PhDs”—it’s a classic, cozy college town full of intellectual energy. CMC is part of a five-college consortium modeled after The University of Oxford. You can read all about it below!

How do I apply?

Claremont-Mckenna doesn’t have strict requirements for high school courses, but it does have recommended courses. (When a college recommends something, you should always take it as seriously as you would a requirement.) By the time you apply, you should have taken 4 years of English, 4 years of math, 3 years of a foreign language, 2 years of science, and 1 year of history. You can apply to CMC through the Common Application, the Coalition Application, or the Questbridge Application. If you apply through the Common App or Coalition app, you’ll also need to submit two supplemental essays answering two questions: “ Why do you want to attend Claremont McKenna College?” and “What is intellectual courage?” Two other “recommendations” are interviews and video supplements. The interview is conducted on or off campus, and is typically about 30 minutes long, while the video is a two-minute video you submit with your application. Both the interview and video provide you with an opportunity to demonstrate your uniqueness and offer an authentic glimpse of your personality. If you were unable to schedule an interview, CMC strongly recommends that you submit a video.

Is CMC hard to get into?

Claremont-Mckenna is a high reach for most students, even if you have great test scores and an impressive resume. For the 2019-2020 school year, 6,066 students applied and only 625 were admitted, making their admission rate 10% (lower than some Ivy League schools). The median ACT composite score of enrolled students was 33, and the median SAT score was 1440. Their yield rate was 52%—which is good news for waitlisted students for whom CMC is their top choice— so the ultimate number of students enrolling was 328.

It is important to note that Claremont Mckenna College is test optional for the 2020-2021 application cycle, due to COVID-19. As a result, admissions will put proportionately more weight on students’ transcripts.

A lot of high school seniors ask themselves “Is X a hard college to get into?” But not many ask another queally important question: “Is it hard to get out?” Some schools seem appealing because of their competitive acceptance rate, but have such low graduation rates that they start to look like less desirable options. Fortunately, 91% of CMC students graduate in 6 years. A graduation rate that high suggests that CMC cultivates a supportive learning environment for students.

What is Early Decision?

Early decision is an application program for students for whom CMC is clearly their first choice. Early decision occurs in two rounds, I and II. ED I applications are due Nov. 1 and are notified by Dec. 15. Accepted students must reply in early January. If you’re applying ED II, your application will be due January 5, the same date as regular decision, however you will be notified earlier, on February 15 as opposed to April 1. As such, accepted students must reply to their offer earlier, too; the reply deadline is early March for ED II and May 1 for regular decision. Merit scholarship applications are due Nov 1 for ED I and Dec 1 for ED II and RD. That’s a lot of dates to keep straight, but the most important thing to remember is that early decision is a binding application option. That means that in the event of your acceptance, you’ll have to withdraw all other college applications and/or not initiate new ones. You, your parents, and your counselor must sign a contract when you submit your early application, so CMC expects you to enroll if you are accepted. If you aren’t 100% certain that CMC is your first choice, you should apply regular decision.

What special opportunities does CMC have?

Claremont Mckenna strongly encourages students to take a semester studying and interning off campus. They have a program at a technology firm in Silicon Valley and a government-related opportunity in Washington D.C. Even if you choose to spend all eight semesters at CMC, you aren’t limited to Claremont-Mckenna’s courses. The 5-College consortium enables you to take a wider variety of classes and even study a “5-College Major.” There are also several accelerated programs to choose from, through which you can earn two Bachelor’s degrees or a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in just four-five years. These accelerated programs are much more rigorous than a typical route, but are a good option for students who are certain of what they want to study and want to get a head start on their graduate studies. During summers, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in study abroad programs or funded internships.

Can I study STEM at CMC?

A lot of liberal arts colleges tend to be more desirable for students interested in the humanities, but CMC is actually a great choice for STEM students, too. CMC students have access to 11 world-class research institutes and centers to pursue graduate-level research opportunities with CMC’s distinguished faculty. Since it’s a liberal arts college, CMC also offers unique interdisciplinary majors, such as Economics & Engineering and Environmental Analysis Program, which includes law, policy, medicine, chemistry, urban planning, and more.

What is the student body like?

As of the 2019-2020 school year, CMC is home to 1,335 undergraduate students. This student body represents 47 U.S. states and territories and 46 countries; 16% of students are international students. 50% of students identify as men and 50% identify as women. 38% of students are people of color (12% asian, 4% black, 15% hispanic, 7% two or more races, and <1% American Indian or Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander), 5% are of unknown race, and 42% are white.

Is CMC affordable?

The total tuition and fees at Claremont-Mckenna are $73,755, not including books, transportation, and personal costs (which vary by student). With an endowment of over 800 million dollars, CMC is fully committed to meeting 100% of demonstrated financial need for all admitted U.S. citizens and permanent residents. The college provides both merit- and need-based scholarships to accomplish this goal. As aid eligibility differs among new students, transfer students, and international students, not all students graduate debt-free. In 2018-19 class, 47% of students received aid. The average debt per student after graduation is $21,450, and the average need based package is $57,151. While a limited amount of funding is available for international students, undocumented students are eligible for government aid through the Dream Act. These averages can definitely help you get an idea of what financial aid at CMC looks like, but to find out what your personalized financial aid package, you can look at the Net Price Calculator and estimated cost worksheet.

What is CMC like academically?

Thanks to the Five College Consortium, when you enroll in CMC, you might as well be enrolling in four other colleges, too. Not only can you cross-register at each of the schools, bringing the total number of courses available to you over 2,000, you can also study 5 College majors through intercollegiate departments. In these majors, you’ll work with faculty from all five colleges and study a broad range of scholarship. CMC itself has 31 majors across 12 departments as well as 12 sequences. Sequences can be compared to what most colleges call “minors,” but there are key differences. Sequences are interdisciplinary fields of study that you can pursue in addition to your major, such as ethics and scientific modeling.
CMC has a philosophy of “learning to do and doing to learn,” and this spirit is imbedded in all of their courses. They focus on educating students in “applied liberal arts” so that when you graduate you are ready to contribute to your community or industry.

What is campus life like?

CMC is a residential college; 97% of students live on campus for all four years. There are 14 residence halls and one student apartment complex. Unlike many colleges, CMC doesn’t throw all of the first-year students into “freshman dorms.” Rather, a minimum of 20% of each residence hall is reserved for incoming students each year. This policy gives you a chance to get to know a greater proportion of the school right off the bat. One residence, Becket Hall, is gender-inclusive, meaning that students can live with any other student regardless of gender identity. Stark Hall is a substance-free residence hall, so no controlled substances are allowed within the residence.

There are two on-campus dining options at CMC. Collins Dining Hall is the college’s only dining hall. You can eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner there on the weekdays, whereas only brunch and dinner are served on the weekend. The second option is “The Hub,” a grill in the Emett Student Center, which has a variety of quick meal options for those days you’re running late to your 9 am lecture (again).

When you’re not sleeping, eating, or in class, there are plenty of other things to do and places to spend your time. CMC has almost any club you can think of, from kombucha and coffee to marketing and tech, there Claremont-Mckenna has a club for most interests. You can check out their list of clubs to find out what pre professional, athletic, community service, and cultural clubs they have to offer. As is the case with academics, students at CMC have access to 5C organizations where they can connect with students from Pomona, Pitzer, Scripps, and Harvey Mudd.

What is Global Citizen Year?

Not everyone is ready or willing to go to college straight after graduation. If you’re looking to grow, explore, and get to know yourself and world better before sitting in a classroom for another four years, then the Global Citizen Year is a great program for you. This eight-month global immersion and leadership development program gives you an opportunity to live in Brazil, Ecuador, India, or Senegal. There, you’ll live with a host family and apprentice to a local organization committed to education, health, or the environment. CMC gladly grants admitted students a one year deferral to participate in Global Citizen Year, as they believe this experience helps students develop vital skills and perspectives to become the changemakers that their college and the world desperately need. Although CMC is partnered with Global Citizen Year, the applications are separate. If you’re interested, check out the application.