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. Admitted applicants are those 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 candidacy 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, 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 “cutoff points” for high school or college grades, or for examination scores.

In addition to a demonstrated commitment to academic excellence, Reed recognizes that qualities of character—in particular, motivation, intellectual curiosity, individual responsibility, and social awareness—are important considerations in the selection process. Thus, the Admission Committee conducts a holistic review of each application to find 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. 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 Candidates’ Reply
Early Decision
        Early Decision I: November 15 December 15 January 10
        Early Decision II: December 20 February 1 February 15
Regular Decision:            January 15 by April 1 May 1
Fall transfer: March 1 May 15 June 1
Spring transfer: Not Available


Reed utilizes the Common Application, used by a consortium of more than 500 colleges and universities, as its application form and supplement ( Beginning August 1, both the Common Application and supplement may be submitted online.

Application procedures for first-year and transfer students are addressed in the following sections, and detailed instructions are available at Students may not submit more than one type of application for a given year. Prospective students with questions about the college and the admission process, or with requests for special consideration, may call the Office of Admission at 503-777-7511 or 800-547-4750, or send email to The fax number is 503-777-7553. Reed's website is

First-year Students
Applicants seeking admission to Reed as first-year students must submit the Common Application form and supplement, a Secondary School Report form with a counselor recommendation and transcript, and two recommendations from teachers in different core academic disciplines (English, mathematics, science, foreign language, history, or social studies).

In addition, the Admission Committee requires that all applicants have the results of either the SAT or ACT entrance examination sent to Reed. There is no preference for one examination or the other. Reed's identification numbers are 4654 for the SAT and 3494 for the ACT. Results of additional tests such as International Baccalaureate (IB), Advanced Placement (AP), and/or SAT II (subject tests) are optional. Required admission tests should be taken no later than December of the academic year in which the student is applying for admission. Students should ask the testing agency to report the test scores directly to Reed. It is the responsibility of the applicant to make the necessary arrangements to take the examinations at the appropriate time. SAT information is available at; ACT information may be found at

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 Office of Admission before orientation.

Non–U.S. citizens applying to Reed should read the additional information in the “International Citizens” section under “Admission Policies.”

Regular Decision
Candidates for Regular Decision admission should submit the Common Application by January 15 for consideration for fall entrance. Admission decisions will be mailed in late March. Admitted students will be able to access financial aid information shortly after receiving the admission decision.

Reed subscribes to the Uniform Candidates’ Reply Date agreement; admitted Regular Decision students must notify the college of their intent to enroll and submit a nonrefundable enrollment deposit of $400 by May 1. The offer of admission to a Regular Decision candidate is contingent upon the successful completion of all academic work in progress.

Early Decision
First-year applicants who decide that Reed is their first-choice college, and who are certain that they will attend Reed if admitted, are encouraged to apply as Early Decision candidates. (There is no Early Decision option for transfer applicants.) Students applying under one of the Early Decision plans may submit regular applications to other institutions; if admitted to Reed they must immediately withdraw all other college applications and must not initiate any new applications. A student may not apply to more than one institution as an Early Decision candidate. With Early Decision applicants, the Admission Committee will admit, deny admission, or postpone a decision (reconsider the application in the Regular Decision round). Early Decision candidates whose applications 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 is on file in the financial aid office by November 15, admitted students will be able to access financial aid information shortly after receiving the admission decision. Students admitted at this time are expected to submit a nonrefundable enrollment deposit of $400 by January 10, or two weeks after receiving a financial aid notification.

Early Decision II (ED II): Candidates applying under ED II must submit application materials by December 20 and are strongly encouraged to submit fall-semester or first-trimester grades, if available. Admission decisions on completed applications will be mailed February 1. If the CSS PROFILE is on file in the financial aid office by December 20, admitted students will be able to access financial aid information shortly after receiving the admission decision. Students admitted at this time are expected to submit a nonrefundable enrollment deposit of $400 by February 15, or two weeks after receiving a financial aid notification.

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 one or more terms (a quarter or a semester) as a full-time student at 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. 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 differences: at least one of the two teacher recommendations (preferably both) must be completed by a college instructor, and official transcripts of all previous and current college work must be submitted whether or not a student wishes to receive credit at Reed for this work. An official high school transcript showing graduation date is required. Students who did not graduate from high school but earned a GED must submit both the high school transcript and GED test results. Transfer applicants must submit a Registrar’s Report from the most recent college attended. Transfer applicants do not submit the School Report or the counselor recommendation. Test scores from either the SAT or the ACT are required for all transfer applicants. The offer of admission to a transfer candidate is contingent upon successful completion of current college work.

Each admitted transfer applicant will be given a preliminary analysis of transfer credit. Courses are evaluated in light of their applicability toward a liberal arts degree and in the context of the Reed College curriculum. Credit is not awarded for professional, technical, vocational, or remedial courses. Class standing (freshman or sophomore) is determined by the number of units approved by Reed for transfer. Students considering transferring to Reed should be aware that the college requires two full years in residence (15 units, or 60 semester hours, completed in residence at Reed) to obtain the degree. Upon receipt of the final college transcripts, the registrar’s office will prepare a final credit evaluation for each transfer enrollee. Junior class standing at Reed is granted only with the approval of the intended major department.

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

Transfer applicants should submit application materials to the Office of Admission no later than March 1. This deadline is especially important for those candidates who intend to apply for financial aid. Notification of transfer admission decisions is sent May 15, and admitted students will be able to access financial aid information shortly after receiving the admission decision. Admitted transfers must notify the college of their intent to enroll and submit a nonrefundable enrollment deposit of $400 within two weeks of admission notification. All enrolling transfer students are required to send final official college transcripts to the Office of Admission before registering at the college.

Non–U.S. citizens planning to transfer to Reed should be sure to read the information in the “International Citizens” section under “Admission Policies.”


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 the Office of Admission.

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 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 (A-levels, Abitur, baccalauréat, etc.), is available from the Office of Admission.

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 Office of Admission 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. Prospective students can take part in a general information session with an admission officer, interview with a member of the admission staff or an undergraduate student 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 officer or student admission intern has an opportunity to learn 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 Office of Admission, which is open on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. (Pacific Time) except for major holidays. The office is also open on selected Saturday mornings in the fall and spring semesters; please see our website for dates. Overnight accommodations in a residence hall are available for one night, Sunday through Friday, when classes are in session. The Office of Admission 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 interview with an admission officer visiting their area or speak with an admission alumni representative in their hometown. The Office of Admission will gladly accommodate off-campus interview requests and, in most cases, is able to arrange contact with an area representative. 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 under the Early Decision plan.

Requests for off-campus interviews must be received no later than October 25 for Early Decision I applicants, December 1 for Early Decision II applicants, January 1 for Regular Decision applicants, and March 1 for transfer applicants.

Deferred Entrance
Once admitted, students may request 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 enrolling at Reed, and submit an enrollment deposit ($400) 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. In January of the deferral year, students granted deferred admission are asked to update the Office of Admission by February 15 about their activities and to reconfirm their intent to enroll. 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 their 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 school. Early Admission candidates follow the standard first-year application process, with three exceptions: Early Admission candidates may not apply under an Early Decision plan, 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, and the Early Admission candidate is required to have an admission interview. Early Admission candidates are required to have either the SAT or ACT results sent to Reed. In addition, the student must 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 students receive a high school diploma, a GED, or state certification in order to be eligible to receive federal financial aid funds.

International Citizens
Reed encourages applications from qualified international citizens seeking a broad and rigorous education in the liberal arts and sciences. 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 the Common Application, a School Report form with counselor recommendation, complete secondary school transcript (including predicted A-level results, where relevant), two teacher recommendations, a supplemental essay, and the SAT or ACT where available. For students who do not speak English at home or who attend schools where the language of instruction is not English, the college also recommends taking the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing Service assessment (IELTS). These tests 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 sent to the Office of Admission at

Students who are not citizens of the United States should be aware that financial assistance is 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. To apply for financial aid, submit the CSS PROFILE by the appropriate deadline according to the table at the beginning of the admission section. Documentation of resources on a Certification of Finances form is necessary before Reed can issue the I-20 form to admitted students.

Home-Schooled Students
We recognize 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 requested, 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 a high school diploma, a GED, or state certification. 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 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 certification must be submitted to Reed’s financial aid office in order to establish federal aid eligibility.

In order to help us best assess the student’s readiness to attend 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. 
  • 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 or ACT test scores.

In order to strengthen the application, we recommend:

  • An interview, either on campus or with an admission officer or alumni admission representative in the student’s area. Interviews, on or off campus, are generally available from July through December for first-year applicants and through February for transfer applicants.
  • Two academic references are preferred. If it is difficult to obtain references from two academic sources, 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.
  • Three SAT II (subject) tests are strongly recommended for home-schooled students, although they are not required.

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 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.

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 and supplement, an official copy of the final high school transcript, at least one new recommendation, and a statement 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 were not initially admitted to Reed are strongly encouraged to complete or to be working toward a full year of college-level academic coursework elsewhere before reapplying. 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. Students who are interested in reapplying should contact the Office of Admission for more detailed information.

Readmission refers to students who have been degree-seeking students at Reed 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

Persons not enrolled full time at Reed may audit courses with the 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 Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (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 Office of Admission.

International Citizens
Non–U.S. citizens planning to transfer to Reed should be sure to read the information in the section “Admission Policies.”

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 Common Application at and should be filed by March 1 for fall entrance, or by November 15 for spring entrance. Students are required to submit the application and supplement, two recommendations from faculty members at the home institution, official secondary and college transcripts, a Registrar’s Report, and SAT 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. More details on this program are available from the Office of Admission.

Special Students (Nondegree 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, nondegree 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, available from the Office of Admission, before June 1 for the fall semester and November 15 for the spring semester. Fees are listed with college costs.

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. Young Scholars may enroll in one Reed course for the academic year and are awarded Reed 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 Office of Admission 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 number is 503-777-7511; the toll-free number is 800-547-4750. Information about the application and admission processes can be found at