Reed College Catalog

Reed welcomes applications from first-year and transfer candidates who are genuinely committed to the pursuit of a liberal arts education and a rigorous academic program. Applicants are accepted who, in the view of the Admission Committee, are most likely to become successful members of and contribute significantly to the Reed community. The college is committed to maintaining a student body distinguished by its intellectual passion, yet diverse in its range of backgrounds, interests, and talents.

Admission decisions are based on many factors, but academic accomplishments are given the greatest weight in the selection process. Strong secondary school preparation, including honors and advanced courses where available, will improve a student's chance for admission. Such preparation usually includes four years of English and three to four years of mathematics, science, foreign language, and history or social studies. We hope that applicants will enrich their high school curricula with arts courses. Given the wide variation in high school programs, however, there are no fixed requirements for secondary school courses. Applicants are generally expected to have obtained a secondary school diploma or GED prior to enrollment. There are no "cut-off points" for high school or college grades, or for examination scores.

Reed recognizes that qualities of character–in particular, motivation, intellectual curiosity, individual responsibility, and social consciousness–are important considerations in the selection process, in addition to a demonstrated commitment to academic excellence. Thus, the Admission Committee looks for students whose accomplishments and interests in various fields of endeavor will contribute to the vitality of the Reed community.

Application for Admission

First-year and transfer students enter in the fall. All students planning to attend Reed must pay a nonrefundable enrollment deposit, which will be applied toward tuition. The Admission Committee reviews applications on a defined schedule and will notify completed applicants of the admission decision by the date specified in the following table:
Applications Due Decisions Mailed Candidate’s Reply
Early Decision
        Early Decision I: November 15 December 15 January 10
        Early Decision II: December 20 February 1 February 15
Regular first-year:            January 15 by April 1 May 1
Fall transfer: March 1 by May 15 by June 1
Spring transfer: Not Available

The Common Application, used by a consortium of independent colleges, is Reed's application form. The Common Application allows a student to apply to any of the participating colleges by filling out one set of forms and duplicating the number of copies desired. In addition to the Common Application, Reed requires a supplemental form, which will be mailed in the summer to all prospective applicants on our mailing list. The supplemental forms are also available for download on Reed's website. Close to 350 colleges accept the Common Application, which is available in the fall at most college counseling offices and on the web at Regardless of the manner in which students choose to apply, all applicants must submit Reed’s supplementary form. Beginning July 1, both the Common Application and the supplement may be submitted electronically at the Common Application Online website,

Application procedures for regular first-year and transfer students are addressed in the following sections. Students may not submit more than one type of application for a given semester. Prospective students with questions about the college or the admission process, or with requests for special consideration, may call the admission office: 503-777-7511 (local), or 800-547-4750 (toll-free); fax 503-777-7553. Email, including requests for information, may be sent to Reed’s website is

First-year Students

Applicants seeking admission to Reed as first-year students must submit the Common Application form, the supplemental form, a Secondary School Report form (with a counselor recommendation) and transcript, two recommendations from teachers in different academic disciplines, writing samples, and a nonrefundable application fee of $50.

In addition, the Admission Committee requires that applicants forward the results of one of the following sets of entrance examinations (there is no preference for one or the other): the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT I) or the American College Test (ACT). The Reed SAT identifying number is 4654, and the ACT identifying number is 3494. Results of additional tests chosen from IB and SAT II tests are optional. Reed uses the 1600-point scale (critical reading and math) for those who take the SAT I. Reed considers the writing section of the SAT I analogous to the former SAT II writing exam. Required admission tests should be taken no later than January of the senior year in high school. Students should ask the appropriate testing agency to report the test scores directly to Reed. Information on these testing programs is available in high school guidance offices; it is the responsibility of the applicant to make the necessary arrangements for taking the examinations at the appropriate time.

Candidates for regular first-year admission should submit application materials by January 15 for fall entrance. Admission decisions for these applicants will be mailed in late March to all candidates whose applications are complete by early March. Financial aid information will accompany the admission decision. Reed subscribes to the Uniform Candidate’s Reply Date agreement; admitted first-year students must notify the college of their intent to enroll and submit a nonrefundable enrollment deposit of $300 by May 1. The offer of admission to a first-year candidate is contingent upon the successful completion of all academic work in progress. All matriculating first-year students are required to send an official copy of their final high school transcript showing graduation date, or a copy of their GED results, to the admission office before registration at the college.

Early Decision

First-year applicants who decide that Reed is their first-choice college, and who are certain that they will attend Reed if accepted, are encouraged to apply as Early Decision candidates. (There is no Early Decision option for Early Admission candidates or transfer applicants.) Students applying under one of the Early Decision plans may submit regular applications to other institutions; if admitted to Reed they must withdraw all other college applications from further consideration and not initiate any new applications. A student may not apply to more than one institution as an Early Decision candidate. The Admission Committee will admit, postpone, or deny Early Decision applicants. Candidates whose applications are postponed will be considered again in the spring with regular first-year applications. Early Decision candidates who are denied may not submit another application for the same year.

Early Decision I (ED I): Candidates applying under ED I must submit application materials by November 15. Admission decisions on completed applications will be mailed by December 15. If the CSS PROFILE and Reed’s financial aid form are on file in the financial aid office by November 15, a tentative financial aid decision will be mailed with the offer of admission. Students admitted at this time are expected to submit a nonrefundable enrollment deposit of $300 by January 10, or two weeks after receipt of a financial aid decision.

Early Decision II (ED II): Candidates applying under ED II must submit application materials by December 20 and are strongly encouraged to submit seventh-semester or first-trimester grades, if available. Admission decisions on completed applications will be mailed February 1. If the CSS PROFILE and Reed’s financial aid form are on file in the financial aid office by December 20, a tentative financial aid decision will be mailed with the offer of admission. Students admitted at this time are expected to submit a nonrefundable enrollment deposit of $300 by February 15, or two weeks after receipt of a financial aid decision.

Before they may register at the college, all first-year students are required to submit to the admission office an official copy of their final high school transcript showing their graduation date, or an official copy of their GED.


The college invites applications from students whose educational interests will be served by transferring to Reed from other colleges. For purposes of admission, a student is a transfer rather than a first-year applicant if he or she has graduated from high school or the equivalent, and, by the time of enrollment at Reed, has:

  • Completed (or will complete by the time of enrollment at Reed), one or more terms (a quarter or a semester) as a full-time student working toward a degree from an accredited institution of higher learning, or
  • Received financial aid at an accredited institution of higher learning, or
  • Earned a minimum of six Reed units (24 semester or 36 quarter hours) of allowable transfer credit before enrolling at Reed. One Reed unit is the equivalent of four semester hours or six quarter hours.

Transfer applicants must submit many of the same credentials as first-year applicants, with the following exceptions: at least one of the two teacher recommendations must be completed by a college instructor, and official transcripts of all previous college work must be submitted whether or not a student wishes to receive credit at Reed for this work. Transfer applicants must submit a College Official’s Report from the current or most recent college attended. Transfer applicants do not submit the Secondary School Report or counselor recommendation. Please note that either the SAT I or the ACT is required for transfer applicants.

The offer of admission to a transfer candidate is contingent upon successful completion of the current college work, if the applicant is enrolled. All matriculating transfer applicants are required to send final official college transcripts to the admission office before registering at the college, as well as an official copy of either the high school transcript indicating the date of graduation, or the GED.

Each transfer applicant who is admitted will be given a preliminary analysis of transfer credit with the notification of acceptance. Courses are evaluated in light of their applicability toward a liberal arts degree. Credit is not awarded for professional, technical, vocational, or remedial courses. Class standing—first-year, sophomore, junior—is determined by the number of units transferred. Students considering a transfer to Reed should be aware that the college requires two full years in residence (15 units, or 60 semester hours, taken in residence at Reed) to obtain the degree. Upon receipt of the final college transcripts, the registrar's office will make a final credit evaluation for each transfer matriculant.

Junior standing at Reed is granted only with the approval of the intended department. Transfer applicants who intend to transfer with junior standing (15 or more Reed units) should call the admission office to discuss their plans.

To facilitate the transition between colleges, each transfer student is assigned an academic adviser to meet with before registration. The adviser will discuss and help arrange the student’s program of study, taking into account previous college work, future goals, and Reed’s distribution requirements.

Transfer applicants should submit application materials to the admission office no later than March 1. This deadline is particularly important for those candidates who intend to apply for financial aid. Notification of transfer admission decisions, with accompanying financial aid information, is sent by May 15. Admitted transfers must notify the college of their intent to enroll and submit a nonrefundable enrollment deposit of $300 within two weeks of receiving acceptance.

Admission Policies

In considering the needs of Reed applicants, the college follows the admission policies stated here. Requests for special consideration should be discussed with members of the admission staff.

Transfer and Advanced Placement: Credit and Noncredit

The college may grant credit to secondary school graduates for college courses taken before enrollment at Reed. Such courses must represent regular college work and may not be courses designed for high school students or used to meet high school graduation requirements. Credit will not be granted for college-level courses taken in the student’s high school, even if offered by a college or university “approved” instructor or visiting professor.

Credit is allowed on the basis of some College Entrance Examination Board Advanced Placement (AP) examinations. For departments that grant credit for AP exams, scores of four or five are required. Credit for AP tests will apply toward the total of 30 Reed units needed for graduation, but cannot be used to meet the college’s distribution requirements. Students receiving AP credit are expected to take a normal course load for their class level. A brochure specifying AP credit and placement by department, and potential credit for the International Baccalaureate (IB) and other internationally recognized programs is available from the admission office.

Advanced placement in courses without unit credit can often be arranged in certain sequential courses at the discretion of the department involved. Placement in language courses is based on tests administered at Reed at the beginning of the academic year.

Interviews and Campus Visits

The admission office recommends that prospective students initiate some form of personal contact with a member of the Reed community. One way of accomplishing this is to visit the Reed campus. The admission office offers an opportunity to participate in a general information session with an admission counselor, interview with a member of the admission staff or an admission intern, tour the campus, attend classes, sample meals in the dining hall, and spend the night in a residence hall. During interviews and information sessions, a prospective student can ask questions and learn more about the college in a relaxed setting while an admission counselor has a chance to get to know more about the student. Parents are encouraged to attend the information session and tour. Visits are most productive on weekdays during the regular school year when classes are in session. They may be arranged through the admission office, which is open on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. (Pacific time) except for major holidays. Overnight accommodations in a residence hall are available for one night, Sunday through Friday, when classes are in session. The admission office requests two weeks' notice from students who plan to interview or spend the night on campus. Generally, overnight visits during the month of April are reserved for admitted students.

Interviews Off Campus

Students who are unable to visit the campus may wish to speak with an admission alumni representative in their home area. The admission office is happy to accommodate these requests and in most cases is able to arrange contact with an area representative. Generally, alumni interviews are available from September through December for first-year applicants and through February for transfer applicants. In addition, admission staff members offer interviews in most major cities in the summer, fall, and early winter. Students who are unable to schedule an interview, either on or off campus, will not be at a disadvantage in the admission process; however, interviews are strongly recommended for students who apply as Early Decision candidates.

Deferred Entrance

Students accepted for admission may request that they be allowed to defer entrance for one year. Students who wish to request deferred entrance should write to the dean of admission, stating what they intend to do during the time before entrance, and submit an enrollment deposit along with the deferral request. If the deferral request is approved, the deposit will reserve a place in the desired entering class and will be applied toward the student’s first-semester tuition at Reed. A student granted deferred admission must agree not to enroll at another college or university as a full-time student, nor to apply to other colleges or universities during the deferral year. Students will be asked to update the admission office about their activities and to reconfirm their intent to enroll by February 15. If the deferral request is not granted, Reed will return the deposit and send information about reapplying at a later date. Students applying for financial aid should note that a deferral does not guarantee a financial aid award for the semester the student enrolls at Reed. The financial aid application process must be completed annually to determine eligibility for financial aid.

Early Admission

The Admission Committee will consider applications from exceptionally qualified high school students who wish to enter Reed after the junior year. Students interested in Early Admission should have an outstanding high school record and have exhausted the educational opportunities available to them at their high schools. Early Admission candidates follow the standard first-year application process, with two exceptions: Early Admission candidates may not apply under the Early Decision options, and the application must be accompanied by a letter from a high school counselor or principal supporting the student’s plan to enter college after the junior year. Early Admission candidates are required to take either the SAT I or the ACT. In addition, the student should be sure to address in the application why he or she is seeking early admission to Reed. Early Admission applicants who intend to apply for financial aid should note that federal regulations require that the student receive either a high school diploma or a GED in order to be eligible to receive federal financial aid funds.

Home-Schooled Students

We realize that home-schooled students may find that the application forms do not fit their individualized high school programs. Although individual students may not be able to submit everything that is asked for, they should send as much information as possible about their academic background and capabilities. Home-schooled applicants who intend to apply for financial aid should note that federal regulations require that students receive either a high school diploma or a GED in order to be eligible to receive federal financial aid. A student who meets his or her state's requirements for home schooling at the secondary level may have an alternative to the high school diploma. This alternative is a self-certification stating that the student has the academic qualifications necessary for a high school diploma as approved by the state. The student must be above the age of compulsory education in the home state. A copy of this self-certification must be submitted to Reed's financial aid office for federal aid eligibility.

In order to help us best assess the fit for Reed, the home-schooled applicant must include the following:

  • A detailed outline of the home-school curriculum, including subject areas studied, texts used, and time spent on each discipline.
  • A comprehensive list of the books and texts read over the last four years, including novels, textbooks, and other resources.
  • Transcripts of any high school or college work undertaken or completed.
  • An expository writing sample (in addition to the personal statement and “Why Reed” essay). This does not have to be a graded assignment, or one used for coursework, but should be of an academic nature.
  • A letter of reference from a tutor, evaluator, or teacher who is not a family member.
  • The Secondary School Report. Parents are often instrumental in the home-schooling process; they should complete the secondary school report, if appropriate.
  • SAT I or ACT test scores
In order to strengthen the application, we recommend:
  • An interview, either on campus or with an admission counselor or trained alumni admission representative in the student’s area. This interview can be scheduled at any time before the application deadline by calling the admission office to make arrangements.
  • We prefer two academic references, but we realize that this may be difficult. A second letter of reference may come from an employer, supervisor, or any non–family member who can address important personal qualities such as responsibility, creativity, discipline, and initiative.
  • We do not require the SAT II, but we strongly recommend that home-schooled students submit three subject tests.


Students who applied to Reed and who did not subsequently attend the college may reapply for a later semester. To reapply, the student must submit the Common Application, the $50 application fee, an official copy of the final high school transcript, at least one new recommendation, the personal essay, the "Why Reed?" essay, and an essay detailing what has transpired in the student’s life (such as work or additional education) since the previous application was submitted. Transcripts of any academic work undertaken or completed in the interim must also be submitted. Students who are not initially admitted to Reed are required to complete or to be working toward a full year of solid college-level academic coursework elsewhere before reapplying. Forms for reapplication may be obtained from Reed's website. A student applying for financial aid should note that reapplying does not guarantee a financial aid award for the semester the student enrolls at Reed. The financial aid application process must be completed annually to determine eligibility for financial aid. Please note that students may reapply just once.


Readmission refers to students who have been Reed degree-seeking students in the past and who wish to reenter the college. Readmission is processed by the registrar’s office; see the section on “Academic Policies: Leave of Absence and Withdrawal from the College."

Special Admission Groups


Those who are not enrolled full time at Reed may audit courses with written permission of the instructor, but are restricted to no more than two courses in any academic year. Audited courses are not recorded on the college transcript. Auditors will not be permitted in classes that are overenrolled, capped, or filled, nor in any MALS classes. They have the privilege of active participation in the class only when the instructor grants permission. They may have access to materials relevant to the course with the written permission of the instructor. The fee for auditing is $100 per course, per semester. Auditors in laboratory and studio courses may be required to pay an additional fee.

Audit of physical education classes is not permitted, with the exception of students who are not currently enrolled, have recently completed a Reed thesis but have not graduated, and for whom additional PE credit is required. Registration for a specific class will take place after registration closes for current students. The approval of the instructor and the sports center director is required. Payment of an additional fee is required in some physical education courses.

Full-time Reed students, faculty, staff members, and the spouses or domestic partners of full-time faculty and staff members may audit courses without charge. Written approval of the appropriate instructor and faculty adviser is required. The form for auditing a class is available in the admission office.

International Citizens

Reed encourages applications from well-qualified international citizens seeking a broad and rigorous education in the liberal arts and sciences. Admission of international citizens is highly competitive and is based on a careful examination of a variety of credentials. The Admission Committee pays particular attention to the applicant’s ability to read, write, and understand English, since the substance of Reed’s courses, and the style in which they are conducted, demand a high degree of proficiency in the language.

The college requires a $50 application fee (in U.S. funds), a complete secondary school transcript (including predicted A-Level results, where relevant), two teacher recommendations, and the SAT I where available. (The ACT may be substituted for the SAT I.) The college also recommends a writing sample (in English) if available, and the results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing Service assessment (IELTS). These tests are given in major cities throughout the world and should be taken before January preceding the academic year for which admission is sought. Applicants should obtain information and register for the SAT at, for the ACT at, and for the TOEFL at More information about international application and financial aid can be found at Any questions about application status, timing, or unusual circumstances should be addressed to the admission office.

Students who are not citizens of the United States should be aware that financial assistance is very limited. Only exceptional applicants will be considered for aid, and even those students must be prepared to contribute significantly to the cost of their education. There are no full scholarships. Documentation of resources on a Certification of Finances form is necessary for the financial aid application, and before Reed can issue the I-20. Reed also requires an International Student Financial Aid Application (ISFAA) for students applying for institutional financial aid. The ISFAA and Certification of Finances forms are available from the College Scholarship Service.

Canadian citizens should follow the same procedure for admission and financial aid as U.S. students; a certification of finances form that documents resources is necessary, however, before Reed can issue the I-20.

Older Students

Reed welcomes the diversity of age and experience that older students bring to the campus. The college encourages applications from students who have been away from school for a time, but who wish to begin or resume college studies toward a bachelor’s degree. With approximately 20 percent of the student body at age 22 or older, the Reed curriculum and community offer an atmosphere of serious learning particularly appropriate for the mature student who plans to pursue a full-time program. Reed follows established federal guidelines to determine independent status for financial aid applicants.

A special scholarship fund provides reentry scholarships to students age 25 to 50 who are returning to four-year institutions after a significant break in their studies to obtain their first bachelor's degree. For more information, contact the office of financial aid at 503-777-7223.

Visiting Students

Visiting students—students who wish to spend a semester or a year at Reed while working toward a degree from another college or university—may also apply for admission. Application forms may be obtained from the admission office and should be filed by March 1 for fall entrance or by November 15 for spring entrance. Students are required to submit an application form and application fee ($50), a copy of a research or expository paper with the instructor’s grades or comments, a personal statement and the "Why Reed?" essay, two recommendations from faculty members at the home institution, official secondary and college transcripts, a College Official’s Report, and SAT I or ACT scores. It is advisable to have plans approved by the student’s home institution. Tuition and enrollment fees are the same as those for regular transfer students. Although visiting students are not eligible for financial aid, they may be able to find employment on or off campus. On-campus housing may be arranged on a space-available basis. Visiting students who wish to stay at Reed beyond the year allotted must apply for regular transfer admission. The admission office has more details available on this program.

Special Students

Those other than visiting students who wish to take one or more courses at Reed but who do not wish to work toward a Reed degree may apply for admission as special students. Such students may make full use of college facilities. While they are not eligible for financial aid, they may be able to obtain employment on or off campus. They should file a Special Student application, accompanied by a $50 application fee, before June 1 for the fall semester and November 15 for the spring semester. Fees are listed in the section on college costs.

The Young Scholars Program

A special scholarship fund provides tuition assistance to selected high school seniors from Portland-area schools to study concurrently at Reed. The program provides a unique opportunity each year for approximately 25 high school students who are ready for part-time advanced study in a particular academic discipline. Students who have exhausted high school curriculum options in a subject of interest, or who have demonstrated a serious and sustained interest in a subject not offered at the high school, are eligible for consideration. These Young Scholars may enroll in one Reed course for the academic year and are awarded Reed College credit for work successfully completed. They must be prepared to undertake college-level study in their areas of interest and they must complete the same course requirements as Reed undergraduates. Admission to the Young Scholars Program is very competitive. Interested students should call the director of special programs at 503-777-7259 for more information and an application.

Contact Information

You may reach the admission office by phone at 800-547-4750, by email at, or by mail at Office of Admission, Reed College, 3203 SE Woodstock Blvd., Portland OR 97202-8199. The local phone is 503-777-7511. Information about the application process, admission, and the staff can be found at