How Hard is it to Get into Macaulay Honors College?

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As a young high school graduate living in New York, you’ve probably wondered how easy it is to get into the prestigious Macaulay Honors College. The school, commonly called Macaulay Honors College or Macaulay, is a highly selective school for students at the City University of New York (CUNY) system. But that doesn’t make admission impossible. You need to know what’s needed and stick to them to beat the rigorous admission process.

Here’s a detailed article explaining everything you should know about Macaulay Honors College and how to get in.

What is Macaulay Honors College?What is Macaulay Honors College?

Also commonly referred to as William E. Macaulay Honors College or simply Macaulay, Macaulay Honors College is a top selective honors College for students at the City University of New York (CUNY). The most important characteristic of this College is its award of a full scholarship to all undergraduate students. It is also known for offering partial scholarships to students outside the state. The College chooses its students from a highly competitive field of applicants who demonstrate exceptional academic skills. The scholarship and financial benefits involved serve as rewards for their achievements and hard work. Some of the financial benefits include:

  • A full tuition scholarship for your complete study years
  • An all-expense paid trip for an abroad study or other academically beneficial experiences
  • A special entrée cultural passport that guarantees entry into museums, theaters, concerts, and other cultural events in New York City.

The program’s core involves ongoing interaction with exceptional faculty members. While participants will spend most of their time studying at their home campuses, the program still allows them to attend seminars, lectures, and other educational programs at the other CUNY campuses spread around New York City. In fact, a significant part of the program involves learning about the city. Hence, the free pass students receive to cultural institutions.

How Prestigious is Macaulay Honors College?

How Prestigious is Macaulay Honors College?

One of the main pointers to how prestigious the Macaulay Honors College is is the incredibly high application it receives yearly compared to its very limited acceptance rate. The program is specifically designed for high-achieving students who clearly show their capability of handling a rigorous curriculum. It is a highly competitive program that only accepts extremely talented students. For example, in 2008, Macaulay Honors College received 3,846 applications while declaring an opening for just 340 students. This calculates to a measly 8.8% acceptance rate.

Since 2016, Macaulay Honors College has consistently received the highest rating for a public university honors college. The college students earned over 250 prestigious awards, including National Science Foundation grants, Fulbright fellowships, Rhodes Scholarships, and Truman Scholarships.

Perhaps the essential feature of Macaulay is access to connections in several different fields. It doesn’t matter whether you choose a small and relatively unknown field like teratology or a huge field with tons of opportunities like medicine or law; you’ll have experts working on getting you the connections and meetings you’ll need to succeed in those fields.

Despite its relatively small size, Macaulay has generated the reputation and prestige that stands most big-ticket universities out.

What are the Requirements to Join Macaulay Honors College?

What are the Requirements to Join Macaulay Honors College?

Macaulay Honors College constantly focuses on admitting students who show strong leadership potential, are high achievers, highly motivated, creative, and intellectually curious. In addition to a strong academic performance, the College evaluates prospects using a combination of personal and academic factors, including:

Official High School Transcript

One of the first documents the admission officers look for is your official high school transcript. This is pretty easy to get and submit for students that have attended a New York City public high school. If you’re in this category, you have to send your transcript via your OSIS number. However, students living outside New York City or attending a private high school in New York City will need to ask their high school guidance department for guidance on how to go about it. Usually, officers from the department would email a copy of your transcript to Macaulay Honors College on your behalf.

Academic Recommendation Letters

You must submit two academic recommendation letters alongside your application. Usually, the school sends the recommendation forms to your recommenders. They must complete the form and return it before the due date specified in the email. Note that the school only sends recommendation forms to recommenders after receiving your completed application. Once you’ve submitted it, it makes sense to contact your recommenders to confirm whether they’ve received the form.


Another essential requirement for seeking into Macaulay Honors College is your essays. The school requires you to submit two essays explaining why you should be admitted alongside your application. Each of the essays should be around 500 words long. While the 500-word count is not a stringent rule, you must not go too far above or below the required word count. Check the school’s official website for detailed requirements and deadlines for submitting the essays.

Application Fee

CUNY requires all applicants to pay a non-refundable fee of $65 which serves as an application processing fee. The fee remains the same, irrespective of the number of home campus choices you make. However, the school may waive this fee for students with special financial issues.

Test of English

International students (especially those on temporary visas from non-English speaking countries) must demonstrate English proficiency. One accepted way to do this is by sitting for and passing one of the following tests: IELTS, TOEFL, Duolingo, or PTE (Academic level). Once done with the test, arrange to have official results sent to CUNY, and you’re good to go.

What is the Macaulay Honors Acceptance Rate?

What is the Macaulay Honors Acceptance Rate?

The chance that Macaulay Honors gives students to receive a high-quality education, attention, and specialized care from teachers and faculty members makes it a dream school for many people. Thus, it’s unsurprising that it gets so many applications each year. However, one question people often ask when wondering how to get into Macaulay Honors College is the College’s acceptance rate.

Macaulay’s prestige and limited available seats mean it typically has an extremely low acceptance rate, averaging between 5% and 9% of accepted applications. In 2022, Macaulay received 7,000 applications but only offered admission to 520 applicants. This figure slightly rises or reduces each year depending on internal factors.

How to Get Into Macaulay Honors College: 5 Tips to Increase Your Chances

How to Get Into Macaulay Honors College: 5 Tips to Increase Your Chances

The Macaulay Honors application process is designed to provide information about applicants’ academic records and preparation for a rigorous college process. While admission would depend on the quality of your essay, high school grades, recommendations, and interviews, there are a few tips to better prepare you for the admission process. That said, here are five tips to help improve your chances of getting into Macaulay Honors College.

Determine Your Eligibility for Macaulay

It all begins here. You want to be sure of your chances before applying. Macaulay Honors only allow first-time college students to apply. This makes transfer students ineligible to apply. Students that have attended any post-high school institution are also not eligible to apply, irrespective of whether they got any credit or not.

However, against popular myths, you can reapply to Macaulay if you applied before and were not accepted, as long as you’ve not attended any post-high school institution.

Do Your Research

As it is for every other school, Macaulay has its requirements and the kind of people it seeks to admit. Thus, it’s essential to research every necessary information before applying. Your knowledge of what the College is looking for will help you prepare yourself better. It’s also important to look at admission stats and understand average test grades and scores to see if the school is one you should realistically apply for. It is important to state that the college generally favors students with SAT scores (Verbal and Quantitative) greater than 1200 and CAAs greater than 90 during the admission process.

Even if you have a stellar average, it still makes sense to do this research and know what the school is looking for in its students.

Pay Attention to the Quality of Your Essay

One mistake many applicants make is to think that the quality of their essays doesn’t matter when it is one of the most important application documents. It allows you to speak directly to admission officers, so paying attention to its quality makes sense. One important tip we always give students is to make their essays original, organic, and with a bit of the wow factor. While taking risks is cool, you also want to maintain care throughout the document. Your essay is not the right place to make jokes or cliche statements. See this as a chance to persuade the committee members why they should accept you.

Be Strategic with Your Recommendations and Plan Ahead

The admission officers at Macaulay college will reach out to your recommenders to verify certain information about you. Therefore, adding individuals who know you well as recommenders are important. Even with their detailed knowledge about you, you still want to provide a “brag sheet” that details all your accomplishments to them both in and out of school.

The main reason for this is so that they’ll know your performance in different courses and your work in different areas. It also makes sense to give recommenders enough notice before the Macaulay Honors College application deadline so they don’t forget or make mistakes due to last-minute rush.

Come for the Interview Prepared

Finally, prepare yourself adequately for the interview. Research continues even after you’ve applied. It’s one thing to receive an invitation for the interview and another thing to ace it. The admission committee expects you’ll come prepared with answers to potential interview questions and detailed knowledge about the school. It’s an opportunity to let your personality shine through, and coming prepared will help you shine through effortlessly without feeling pressured or scared.

Is it Worth it to Join Macaulay Honors College?

Is it Worth it to Join Macaulay Honors College?

Yes, joining Macaulay Honors College is absolutely worth it, considering all the Macaulay Honors College benefits. However, one of the most important benefits is assigning honors advisors to students who will become advocates and provide primary resources related to opportunities, academic issues, programs, and unique needs. Macaulay students also take honors courses, including four required seminar courses designed just for the program.

Wrapping Things Up: How Hard is it to Get Into Macaulay Honors College?

There you have it, a detailed article explaining everything you should know about how to get into Macaulay Honors College. Affordability is one of the fastest-growing factors influencing students’ choice of College. However, beyond that, there are so many other benefits, which we’ve explained in this article. The low acceptance rate makes Macaulay Honors College one of the most challenging schools to get into in New York. But that’s not to say you can’t get into it. You just need to know the requirements and how to meet up with them, and you’ll be good to go. Fortunately, we’ve also highlighted some tips in this article to make the application easier.

Explore our other guides on university admissions and learn how to increase your chances of getting accepted! Check them out below.

> How Hard Is It to Get Into UC Berkeley Honors Program?

> How Hard Is It to Get into Rollins College?

> How Hard is it to Get into Clark Honors College?

> How Hard Is It to Get Into MSU Honors College?

> Why is WPI’s Acceptance Rate So High?

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Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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