College Spotlights

What is Bryn Mawr Known For?

Shining brighter in an all-women’s school, including Bryn Mawr College, is generally easier for a female student like you. It’s because of this why you have shortlisted the school. And now you are wondering if going to Bryn Mawr can give you the secondary education you need for a prolific career after earning a degree.

Bryn Mawr is known for being a moderately selective liberal arts college for women. It’s one of the Seven Sisters, a consortium created to give women the educational equivalent to the Ivy Leagues, which were traditionally all-male. Bryn Mawr is known for majors like Social Sciences and Psychology.

If you are like many who believe that the existence of all-women’s schools is still significant and necessary, then feel free to send an application to Bryn Mawr College.

However, just before you do that, continue reading. Below, we will discuss some of the things about Bryn Mawr you need to know, from the minimum GPA and test score requirements to the cost of attending it. We hope you will have a better idea of whether or not you should go to Bryn Mawr College by the end of this article.

A Brief History of Bryn Mawr

Bryn Mawr College was founded in 1885 by the Religious Society of Friends or Quakers, a movement within Christianity founded in the 1650s in England. It played a pivotal role in women’s rights movements.

The school was created to provide women with rigorous education, which was unavailable to them back then.

From the outset, Bryn Mawr offered both graduate and undergraduate degrees. As a matter of fact, it was the very first women’s college in the country to offer a Doctor of Philosophy program. And because it championed superb teaching and research, its various programs were seen as models of academic excellence.

In 1926, a consortium called the “Four College Conference” was formed. It consisted of four highly selective liberal arts colleges: Wellesley College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and Vassar College. Later, Bryn Mawr College, together with two more single-gender schools (Barnard College and Radcliffe College) was invited to join.

Bryn Mawr is an incredible school! It struggles with diversity (racially, ethnically, religiously, politically, etc.) but truly fosters an amazing academic and community experience.

Junior Review – Niche.com

The alliance of the seven colleges was then aptly called the “Seven Sisters”. Its goal? To offer women the educational equivalent to the Ivy League schools, which only admitted males during that time.

Now that you know a little about Bryn Mawr College’s history, let’s look at some quick facts about it…

  • Location: Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
  • Campus type: Suburban
  • Size: 135 acres
  • Education system: Liberal
  • School type: Private, non-profit liberal arts college for women
  • Reputation: Non-party school
  • Number of majors: 35+
  • Best majors: Psychology, Social Sciences, Foreign Languages, Mathematics
  • Selectivity: Moderately selective
  • Average class size: Less than 20 students
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
  • Retention rate: 92%
  • Graduation rate: 84%
  • Colors: Yellow and black
  • Mascot: Owl
  • Sports: Basketball, volleyball, badminton, cross country skiing, fencing, field hockey, lacrosse, rowing, rugby, soccer, swimming, tennis, and track and field

What is the Acceptance Rate at Bryn Mawr?

The acceptance rate at Bryn Mawr is 33%. So, in other words, it’s a moderately selective school, given that the average acceptance rate among US colleges and universities is 68%. Bryn Mawr does not even appear on ranking lists of the hardest schools in Massachusetts to gain admission into.

Are you not that confident with your GPA, test score, admission essay, and other parts of your application? Then there is one very important thing about a school you should check out. It’s none other than its acceptance rate.

If a college or university has a high acceptance rate, you have a higher chance of getting an acceptance letter.

Among the Seven Sisters colleges, Mount Holyoke College is the easiest to get into. It has an acceptance rate of 38%. On the other hand, the hardest one to get into is Barnard College. Its acceptance rate is 10.8% only.

Many attempt to apply to Ivy League schools. However, many also fail due to the very low acceptance rates. So, if you wish to go to a school with the prestige and caliber of an Ivy League school and don’t mind stepping foot inside all-women classrooms, consider applying to Bryn Mawr College, whose selectivity level is moderate.

However, it doesn’t mean that you will be accepted 100% if you apply to it. Still, you will have to impress the admissions officer of the school with your application.

And this takes us to this pressing application-related question that needs an answer…

GPA You Need to Get Into Bryn Mawr

To get into Bryn Mawr College, applicants should have an average of 3.94 GPA. Needless to say, the majority of those who get accepted, based on their GPAs, are at the top of the class. However, it’s important to note that the GPA is just one component of a student’s application to Bryn Mawr.

Earlier, we established the fact that Bryn Mawr College is a moderately selective school. Despite this, the school is still seen as very competitive for GPAs.

If you don’t have a GPA of 3.94 or higher when you are already in your junior or senior year of high school, you will have an extremely difficult time making it high enough to gain admission into Bryn Mawr. This means that you will have to cross Bryn Mawr out of the list of your preferred schools.

This is most true if you don’t have A’s in the majority of your classes.

But besides having a high GPA, it’s also a must that you have taken challenging AP or IB classes if your high school offers them. Otherwise, don’t despair. That’s because Bryn Mawr’s admissions officers will just let it slide.

And this brings us to a question that many Bryn Mawr applicants are too shy to ask…

What Test Scores Do You Need to Get Into Bryn Mawr?

Most applicants accepted into Bryn Mawr have SAT scores ranging from 1310 to 1500. Those who choose to submit their ACT scores and get accepted into the school have scores ranging from 29 to 33. Bryn Mawr has no absolute test score requirement. However, it has a preference for high SAT or ACT scores.

Standardized test scores are some of the things that schools require applicants to submit. That’s because it gives their admissions officers a better idea of a student’s readiness for higher education.

However, at present, Bryn Mawr College has a test-optional admissions process.

This means that you have the absolute freedom to decide if you will send in your SAT or ACT score together with the rest of your application or not.

But to give you an idea, during admissions for the academic year 2018 to 2019, up to 61% of students admitted into Bryn Mawr submitted their standardized test scores.

If you prefer not to provide your SAT or ACT score, that’s okay. But since the admissions officers will have to base their decision on things other than test scores, it’s a must for you to have a solid overall application.

Does Bryn Mawr Offer Early Decision?

Bryn Mawr offers both Early Decision I (ED I) and Early Decision II (ED II). Both decision plans are binding. This means that applicants have to withdraw their applications from other colleges or universities should they get admitted into Bryn Mawr. That is unless there is a good reason.

No matter if you choose to apply to ED I or ED II, the fact remains that such a decision plan can help increase your chances of getting admitted into a selective school like Bryn Mawr.

For each decision plan, including Regular Decision (RD), applicants will have to follow the same procedures.

Likewise, they will be evaluated by the same criteria. However, ED I and ED II decision plans establish the willingness of applicants to commit to the school. What’s more, plus the pool of applicants is smaller than usual.

It’s due to these reasons why applying early can work to your advantage!

Make sure that you don’t miss ED I and ED II deadlines by checking out this table:

DECISION PLANAPPLICATION DUE
ED I15-Nov
ED II1-Jan
EA5-Oct
RD15-Jan

* Always check the college website for the latest dates

The things you will need to submit to apply to Bryn Mawr College are listed on the school’s website. Besides those, there are optional application components, too.

As the name suggests, you may or may not opt for them. However, to prove to the admissions officers that you are what they are looking for, it’s a good idea to submit them.

Here are the ones that you may supplement your application with:

  • Interview. You will be interviewed by a member of the admissions officers or an alumna. Either way, it will also give you an opportunity to ask some questions about Bryn Mawr. For homeschooled students or those who graduated earlier than usual, an interview is required.
  • Art supplements. Would you like to showcase your amazing talent in writing, dancing, singing or theater acting? Then you may submit arts supplementation through the Common Applications Arts Supplement.
  • Prospective scholar-athlete form. Most students who would like to become athletes for Bryn Mawr have contact with the school’s varsity coaches. Those who don’t and would like to enjoy an athletic scholarship package and partake in an NCAA Division III varsity sport, too, may fill out the prospective scholar-athlete form.

Now that you have an idea of when to apply, it’s time to answer this question…

How Much Does It Cost to Go to Bryn Mawr?

For the academic year 2020 to 2021, the cost of attendance (COA) at Bryn Mawr is $73,540. This is about 90% more expensive than the average tuition of $27,708 for most colleges and universities in Pennsylvania. Fortunately, Bryn Mawr offers various scholarships alongside state grants.

Many female students would like to attend Bryn Mawr College because it’s a prestigious school. After all, it’s one of the Seven Sisters, all of which are all-women counterparts of the Ivy Leagues.

But, as expected, the stately status that comes with being a student of this elite single-gender school comes with a high price — a literal high price amounting to a whopping $73,540 per year! This is why it’s a must for you to be financially capable if you want to earn your degree from Bryn Mawr.

Let’s check out the breakdown of the cost of attending Bryn Mawr College for one academic year:

Bryn Mawr FeesCost
Tuition$53,180
Other fees$1,260
Books and supplies$1,000
Room and board$17,100
Other on-campus costs$1,000
TOTAL$73,540

Since Bryn Mawr is a private women’s liberal arts college, there is no such thing as in-state tuition and out-of-state tuition. The tuition is the same for everyone.

So, in other words, whether you live in Pennsylvania or elsewhere, you will have to shell out $73,540 per academic year. That is, unless you decide to live off-campus.

It’s a good thing that scholarships can help bring down the COA of going to Bryn Mawr College.

Bryn Mawr’s merit-based financial aid, for instance, is awarded to students with superb academic performance regardless of their financial background.

As a matter of fact, the school awards up to $40,000 per year and for a maximum of eight semesters. Bryn Mawr also offers need-based scholarships.

After knowing the cost of going to school, it’s time to give an answer to this question…

Famous People That Went to Bryn Mawr

Many recognizable people attended or graduated from Bryn Mawr College. The roster includes political figures, authors, activists, scientists, playwrights, and actresses. Besides having several notable alumni, Bryn Mawr is also known to have solid alumni networks its graduates could benefit from.

Students take into account a wide variety of things when choosing which colleges or universities to apply to. This allows them to have an idea of which schools they would fit in the best.

COA, minimum GPA and test score requirements, acceptance rate, graduation rate, student-to-faculty ratio — these are the ones on the top of the list.

Very few actual parties at Bryn Mawr. If you want to party, you go to Haverford for the night, which is good, because you don’t wake up to puke everywhere. Buses run late enough to bring you to and back from parties.

Freshman Review – Niche.com

Some applicants also check out which well-known people went to the schools they would like to apply to. That’s because it gives them a sense of how promising graduating from them could be.

Here are some of the most notable alumni of Bryn Mawr:

  • Allyson Schwartz. From 2005 to 2015, Allyson Schwartz was a member of the US House of Representatives for Pennsylvania’s 13th congressional district. Born in Queens, New York, she earned a Master of Social Work degree from Bryn Mawr in 1972.
  • Margaret Hoover. The great-granddaughter of the 31st US President, Margaret Hoover is a media personality and political commentator. She is the host of the public affairs TV show on PBS, Firing Line. In 2001, she earned her Bachelor of Arts program in Spanish literature from Bryn Mawr.
  • Ana Patricia Botin. The largest bank in Spain is Banco Santander, and Ana Patricia Botin is the head of its investment banking department. Also named by Forbes Magazine as one of the most powerful women in the world, it’s at Bryn Mawr where she studied economics.
  • Grace Lee Boggs. In the 1950’s, Grace Lee Boggs was a prominent political activist. She also wrote four books, including one that’s autobiographical. She wrote her fifth book at 95. In 1940, she graduated from Bryn Mawr with a Ph.D. in philosophy.
  • Paula Vogel. A creative writing professor at Brown University, Paula Vogel received the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play How I Learned to Drive, which explored control and manipulation in a sexual relationship. She went to Bryn Mawr from 1969 to 1970 and 1971 to 1972.
  • Ellen Kushner. A popular writer of fantasy novels, Ellen Kushner was the host of Sound and Spirit, a radio program produced by WGBH in Boston. Although a graduate of Barnard College, which is another member of the Seven Sisters schools, she also attended Bryn Mawr.
  • Katharine Hepburn. For over 60 years, Katharine Hepburn was a film, television and stage actress. She received a total of four Academy Awards for Best Actress. She started her acting career while a student at Bryn Mawr, where she earned a degree in history and philosophy in 1928.
  • Fatima Siad. A Somali-American fashion model, Fatima Siad placed third on cycle 10 of America’s Next Top Model. In 2004, she went to Bryn Mawr as a Posse Scholar. She transferred to New York University to study pre-med but went back to Bryn Mawr to finish college.

How Does Bryn Mawr Compare With Other Schools?

Because Bryn Mawr is the all-women equivalent to the Ivy League schools, it doesn’t come as a surprise why it’s compared with elite schools. Among the different Seven Sisters schools, Bryn Mawr tends to stand out based on some factors such as COA, acceptance rate, etc.

What sets Bryn Mawr apart from other all-women’s colleges, besides Seven Sisters schools, is that it’s partnered with some neighboring institutions, like the University of Pennsylvania, Boston University, and Haverford College.

It’s because of this why you may still experience what it’s like to be a co-ed school student while attending Bryn Mawr, and that’s by taking classes from any of its partners. Similarly, some male students from nearby colleges and universities may also take classes at Bryn Mawr.

Let’s briefly compare Bryn Mawr College with some schools it’s comparable with:

  • Is Bryn Mawr Better Than Barnard College? There are a couple of things that make Bryn Mawr better than Barnard, another all-women’s Seven Sister school. First, the cost of going to Bryn Mawr is a little cheaper than Barnard. Second, Bryn Mawr has a higher acceptance rate than Barnard — 33% vs. 12%.
  • Is Bryn Mawr Better Than Mount Holyoke College? Bryn Mawr has a smaller population than Mount Holyoke — 1,690 vs. 2,335. Also, Bryn Mawr has a smaller student-to-faculty ratio. However, it’s slightly easier on the pocket to go to Mount Holyoke. Plus, it has a higher acceptance rate than Bryn Mawr, too.
  • Is Bryn Mawr Better Than Smith College? In terms of the number of majors, it’s a tie between Bryn Mawr and Smith — both of them offer 30+ majors. The same is true when it comes to their acceptance rates and campus type (large suburban). However, the COA for Smith is cheaper by a little over $1,000.
  • Is Bryn Mawr Better Than Vassar College? A few things make Bryn Mawr better than Vassar. It has a smaller population (and thus a smaller student-to-faculty ratio), cheaper COA and a higher acceptance rate. However, Vassar has a higher graduation rate. It’s been a co-ed school since the late 1960s, too.
  • Is Bryn Mawr Better Than Wellesley College? Compared with Bryn Mawr, Wellesley has a smaller COA, although it has a lower acceptance rate, too. This means you have better chances of gaining admission into Bryn Mawr. However, Bryn Mawr charges for on-campus living. Wellesley, on the other hand, doesn’t.

Compared to most other Seven Sisters schools, Bryn Mawr College is the easiest to get into, thanks to its rather high acceptance rate.

Still, it’s a must for your application to be a complete head-turner, as evidenced by a GPA of around 3.94 and high SAT or ACT scores, too, if you want to be a student at this liberal arts college for women.

Above, we talked about some of the most important things you need to know about Bryn Mawr.

Take your time when weighing the pros and cons of attending the school and determining how it fares with other all-women’s schools so that you may be able to make the right choice.

This article is a part of series about Seven Sisters colleges.

Previous Article: What Smith College is Known For

Next Article: What is Mount Holyoke College Known For


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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