Here’s a look at the University of Notre Dame’s 2023-2024 supplemental essay prompts and how to best answer them.

The University of Notre Dame Writing Section consists of responses to two (2) brief essay questions and three (3) short-answer responses to questions you select from the options provided.


Please provide a response to two (2) of the following questions. The word count is a maximum of 150 words per response.

Notre Dame fosters an undergraduate experience dedicated to the intellectual, moral, and spiritual development of each individual, characterized by a collective sense of care for every person. How do you foster service to others in your community?

Have you given to others in some capacity? Perhaps this is through volunteer work at a local school, or coordinating an effort to clean up a park, or organizing a group of students at your school to work with the local Board of Education for a cause you believe in. Maybe you convinced all the 18 year olds in your community to register to vote, or you founded a tutoring program for underserved students, or helped collect canned goods for a local homeless shelter.

Civic engagement can take many forms. Notre Dame wants to know what you have done to help others, and why this was important to you. You also should let ND know the types of activities that you might continue at the university and beyond.

What is distinctive about your personal experiences and development (e.g., family support, culture, disability, personal background, community, etc.)? Why are these experiences important to you and how will you enrich the Notre Dame community?

Notre Dame is trying to uncover the person behind the application. It’s important for students to feel like they’ve shared their true identity and personality in full with the admissions staff – who you are, what you value and what has shaped you as a person. What will you bring to campus that no one else will?

Describe a time when you advocated for something you believed in and influenced others through thoughtful discourse to promote a deeper understanding of a difficult situation.

Are you passionate about a particular subject? Did you have a meaningful – and perhaps challenging – discussion with others who disagree with your point of view? And did you convince others of your perspective, or at least convince them to see your side of the argument? 

Notre Dame is an esteemed institution where diverse students from different backgrounds come together, and the admissions committee will want to learn not only what is important to you, but also how you engage others in dialogue.

Short Answer

Please choose three questions from the options below. Your response to each short-answer question should be no more than 50 words.

Everyone has different priorities when considering their higher education options and building their college or university list. Tell us about your “non-negotiable” factor(s) when searching for your future college home.

These are short questions! Only a few sentences will be allowed, so you’ll need to be very concise and efficient with your answers. Be honest and truthful: What were the factors that influenced your decision to apply to Notre Dame (and other universities)? Your answers will reveal a lot about you! Were you looking for a university in a college town? A university steeped in history and tradition? A university based on faith? One with school spirit and incredible athletics, or perhaps a commitment to undergraduate learning? Whatever your answers, Notre Dame must be a good match.

What brings you joy?

Feel free to talk about something simple and basic – it could be jogging with your dog, or teaching a concept in physics using simple materials, or watching your favorite sitcom. There’s not a lot of room, but whatever you write gives admissions officers some insights into who you are, how you act, how you think or perhaps how you treat others.

What is worth fighting for?

If you don’t believe you have a solid answer to this question, or it seems too big for you, skip it. However, if you’ve been engaged in social movements and demonstrations, then this is a great place to expand upon your involvement. Maybe you’ve helped organize protests, or gathered signatures for a legislative change. Whatever you’ve done, choose one action and go into detail. Additionally, mention how you plan on continuing this work throughout your time at Notre Dame.

What is something that genuinely interests you and how does this tie to the academic area you hope to study at Notre Dame?

At highly selective universities like Notre Dame, applicants with an academic focus will be viewed more favorably than those who are truly undecided on what to study. It is not required nor imperative that you know your major as a high school senior! But it is in your best interest if you have a few ideas about what you’d like to study. (You can always decide on your major, or change your mind about your major, once you get to ND.) 

More importantly, though, you’ll want to tell ND not just what you want to study, but why that area of study interests you. (If you have a couple fields of study that you like, you should be sure to let the admissions committee know that as well.) Do you have clubs or organizations that demonstrate your interest in your proposed major(s)? Have you participated in a research project or two related to your prospective major(s)? Presumably you have taken high-level courses at your school or local community college that help you articulate what you want to study and why. 

How does faith influence the decisions you make?

As Notre Dame is a faith-based university, it is important for you to express to the admissions committee what your faith means to you, and – as the question asks – how your faith has influenced your life and decisions you’ve made. You do not need to be Catholic to attend ND; in fact, students of many faiths attend the university. If you do not feel connected to your faith, then it would be wise to skip this question and answer others instead!

About the author
Stephen Friedfeld

Stephen is the co-founder and COO of AcceptU. He received a BA from Cornell University, an MA from Columbia University Teachers College, and a Ph.D. from Rice University. Prior to founding AcceptU, Stephen was an Assistant Dean of admissions at Cornell for four years and an Associate Dean of graduate admissions at Princeton University for six years. Stephen is an IECA Associate Member.

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