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Guidance for Applicants

We can help you increase your chances of admission to NC State and CALS.

Applying to college can be overwhelming.

That’s why we’ve provided information and resources to guide you through the application process for NC State and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

340+ Scholarships

There's more than $1 million in scholarships available to CALS undergraduate and AGI students each year.

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What are my chances of being admitted?

That’s the number one question we get. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer.

In 2017, NC State received 26,733 applications and accepted 13,705 students – roughly a 50 percent acceptance rate. From this pool, CALS accepted 1,062 applicants.

We use a holistic admissions process and consider more than an applicant’s test score and GPA. We understand that leadership experience in organizations such as 4-H and FFA, an agricultural background, or participation in NC State programs are strong indicators of student success. But your GPA and SAT/ACT scores are important factors.

For 2021 fall and spring applicants, submitting SAT/ACT scores will be optional. You can choose to submit your test scores if you were able to take the tests and feel as if your scores are reflective of your academic ability.


CALS Student Range 3.65 – 5.00 3.20 – 4.00 22.0 – 36.0 1090 – 1600
CALS Average 4.50 3.74 27 1269


If your GPA is strong but your SAT/ACT scores are not where you want them to be, that does not necessarily mean you won’t be accepted. But if your SAT/ACT scores and your GPA are both lower than the threshold or CALS average, you may want to consider an alternative path to CALS. We want you here, and we will help find the right path for you.

Demand for CALS graduates is stronger than ever.

Animal Science is by far the most popular major in CALS, followed by Biochemistry. All other majors generally receive less than 200 applications. Below is a 2015 breakdown of applications by major.

Roughly 45% of the Animal Sciences applicants expressed an interest in becoming veterinarians. But our own College of Veterinary Medicine only admits 100 per year. That’s extremely competitive, so consider other options.

Consider applying for high demand degree programs.

The USDA forecasts demand for college graduates in agriculture and food industries to be 57,900 a year, but U.S. agricultural colleges are only producing 35,400 graduates a year. There is tremendous demand for CALS graduates, especially in the following program areas:

CALS Grads in High Demand

There are 22,500 more U.S. Ag jobs than grads every year.

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What can I do to prepare?

Your high school GPA, test scores, extracurricular activities, personal interests, and essays are all considered in the admissions process. A strong high school schedule and a well-rounded outside life can improve your chances of acceptance.

Performing well on the SAT or ACT is important. We recommend you take the test multiple times. About 55% of students who took the SAT as a junior scored about 40 points higher after re-taking the test as a senior.

Due to testing interruptions caused by COVID-19, NC State will be test-optional for 2021 spring and fall first-year applicants. You will not be disadvantaged if you indicate you do not want scores to be considered in your application review. You will be required to indicate whether or not you plan to submit SAT or ACT scores for consideration in the admission review process.

Consider test prep. ASPIRE (ACT Supplemental Preparation in Rural Education) is a low-cost initiative offered by CALS to rural students in more than 30 North Carolina counties. ASPIRE students have routinely improved about 100 points on their standardized test scores. Improvement is variable among individuals, and there is no guarantee of score increases.


Pre-College Preparation

Start Preparing Early!

Your freshman year in high school is more important than your senior year. When you apply for admission to NC State, your freshman grades will be factored into your high school GPA; it is likely your senior grades will not. Developing good study habits early in high school will pay dividends for years to come.

Challenge Yourself

The average high school grade point average (HSGPA) for students admitted to CALS is 4.5. Consider honors or AP courses where available.

Spend a Day at State

We invite high school juniors, seniors, and transfer students to visit CALS and explore NC State’s campus.

Take Standardized Tests Multiple Times

Providing test scores will be optional for 2021 fall and spring applicants.

Whether it’s the SAT or ACT, take the test more than once. A majority (55%) of students who took the SAT as a junior scored higher as a senior. On average there was a modest increase of roughly 40 points. In today's competitive admissions environment, every point counts.

Consider ASPIRE or Standardized Test Prep

ASPIRE (ACT Supplemental Preparation in Rural Education) is a low-cost initiative offered by CALS to rural students in more than 30 North Carolina counties. Apply Now

Attend a Summer Program

Participate in a CALS pre-college summer program.

We Want You Here!

There is more than one path to CALS, and we want to help you find yours.

Find Your Path To CALS

Applying to CALS

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at NC State is globally recognized for the quality of our teaching. We grow professional leaders and prepare students for graduate research. Whatever career they choose, our students go on to confront grand challenges.

We strongly encourage all applicants to apply for freshman admission by November 1 for priority consideration of all CALS Scholarships.