Santa Clara University Offering “Test Optional” Undergraduate Admissions for Two Years

SANTA CLARA, Calif.--()--To assist students facing unprecedented challenges amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Santa Clara University is relaxing its standardized test requirement by adopting a two-year “test-optional” admissions policy for first-year and transfer students seeking enrollment beginning in the winter 2021 and fall 2021 terms.

The new policy means scores on standardized tests such as the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or American College Testing (ACT) are not required for students applying to Santa Clara University for the next two years. Students can submit scores if they choose, but anyone not submitting them will not be penalized or disadvantaged.

“These are extraordinary times, and we are hopeful that this step will provide clarity, relief, and stability to those embarking on one of life’s most exciting adventures—their college careers,” said Santa Clara University President Kevin O’Brien, S.J.

A variety of academic and extracurricular factors have always been considered in the University’s admissions process, among them:

  • high school academic performance in a rigorous curriculum
  • letters of recommendations
  • activities outside the classroom
  • life experiences
  • essays

“Santa Clara University wants to do all we can to ease students’ anxiety during these extraordinary and challenging times,” said Eva Blanco Masias, dean of undergraduate admission. “Test scores have always been only a part of the holistic application-review process at SCU. Now is the time to let college-bound seniors know that they are supported and reassure them that their academic success will be fully recognized as they apply to Santa Clara University.”

After the COVID-19 pandemic struck the U.S. in late January, SAT and ACT testing was canceled as regions began to enforce social distancing and other preventative measures. Exams scheduled through May have been canceled, and it is uncertain whether exams scheduled in June or beyond will be administered. School closures throughout the U.S. and globally have also complicated the college-going process by limiting students’ access to teachers, counselors, and the resources that support their college searches.

The decision to change to test-optional admissions was unanimously supported by the president, provost, and deans of SCU’s three undergraduate academic units.

“We are fully confident that we will admit strong, academically excellent, socially aware, diverse, dedicated, and resilient students that are always drawn to Santa Clara,” said Masias. “We look forward to welcoming our classes of 2021 and 2022.”

After the two-year period, SCU will assess the findings from administering this new policy and revisit its test-requirement for future classes.

About Santa Clara University

Founded in 1851, Santa Clara University sits in the heart of Silicon Valley—the world’s most innovative and entrepreneurial region. The University’s stunningly landscaped 106-acre campus is home to the historic Mission Santa Clara de Asís. Ranked among the top 15 percent of national universities by U.S. News & World Report, SCU has among the best four-year graduation rates in the nation and is rated by PayScale in the top 1 percent of universities with the highest-paid graduates. SCU has produced elite levels of Fulbright Scholars as well as four Rhodes Scholars. With undergraduate programs in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, and graduate programs in six disciplines, the curriculum blends high-tech innovation with social consciousness grounded in the tradition of Jesuit, Catholic education. For more information see


Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Communications | | 408-554-5121

Release Summary

Santa Clara University is making SAT or ACT tests optional for admission for two years, to help students struggling with COVID-19 disruptions.


Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Communications | | 408-554-5121