Freshman Applicants

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Students are freshman applicants if they are currently enrolled in high school, or if they have earned a high school diploma or its equivalent and have not enrolled in a college or university since graduation.

Admission Criteria

Many factors are considered in evaluating students’ applications for admission to CU-Boulder. Although academic performance in high school (high school GPA and the quality of course work) is the most important indicator of success, other factors are also considered. These include students’ college entrance test scores (either the SAT or ACT), the trend in their grades, the extent to which the minimum academic preparation standards (MAPS) are met, their personal essays, and the potential contributions they may make to the campus community. For information on MAPS, see MAPS table in this section

Applicants whose records reflect nontraditional grading systems, unusual curricula, or high school equivalency through the GED test will receive individual consideration and are urged to apply.

College Entrance Tests

Applicants should take a college entrance test late in their junior year or early in their senior year of high school. CU-Boulder requires either the SAT or the ACT for admission consideration. The ACT Writing Test is not required for CU-Boulder admission consideration. The highest scores are used in the admission decision. If the same test is taken more than once, the scores are combined on each subsection to give the highest overall score. SAT subject test scores are not required. For more information, see the How to Apply for Undergraduate Admission section.

Minimum Academic Preparation Standards (MAPS)

Students who graduated from high school in spring 1988 or later are expected to have completed courses that meet certain minimum academic preparation standards (MAPS) before enrolling at CU-Boulder. Any MAPS deficiency will be considered during the admission review process. The MAPS for specific CU-Boulder colleges and schools are listed in this section.

Students may be admitted to CU-Boulder even though they have not met all the MAPS requirements. If that is the case, they are required to complete the appropriate MAPS courses once enrolled, and the credits may be applied toward graduation. All MAPS deficiencies must be completed prior to graduation from CU-Boulder. Students may also complete missing MAPS course work at other colleges or universities, through approved credit-by-examination programs, or by testing out through the appropriate foreign language department.

Policies Concerning MAPS Deficiencies

The policies of the Boulder campus with respect to completing MAPS course work after enrollment are as follows.

  1. Appropriate missing MAPS course work is included in the hours for graduation.
  2. All course work toward fulfillment of the MAPS must be taken for a letter grade.
  3. It is strongly recommended that students enroll in and complete at least one MAPS course each term, beginning in the first term of enrollment, until such time as all MAPS are completed. This policy applies to new freshmen, transfer students, and students transferring from other academic units on the Boulder campus and from other campuses of the university. Some colleges or schools may impose a sanction if the student does not complete one course per semester toward meeting MAPS deficiencies.
  4. All students who first enroll in one academic unit at CU-Boulder and subsequently transfer to another unit are required to meet the MAPS specified for the new unit, irrespective of their completion of MAPS units in their previous college or school.
  5. Students in double-degree programs must meet MAPS requirements of both degree-granting units.
  6. Students must consult with a CU-Boulder academic advisor (or read their college or school’s academic publications) to determine which specific courses may be used to meet a MAPS requirement.
  7. Students who complete 50 percent or more of their secondary schooling in a non-U.S. system are exempt from MAPS.

Also review the MAPS table.

Advanced Placement

CU-Boulder participates in the Advanced Placement program of the College Board. Over one-third of Boulder’s entering freshmen submit Advanced Placement (AP) test scores each year. Official scores must be sent to the admissions office directly from the College Board for both first-year students and transfer students. For a guide to specific equivalencies, refer to the AP table. For more information, write or call:

AP Exams, P.O. Box 6671, Princeton, NJ 08541-6671
609-771-7300 or toll free 888-225-5427

International Baccalaureate

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma programs provide preuniversity study. IB examinations, whether leading to a full IB diploma or to an IB certificate often qualify students for advanced standing at CU-Boulder. In general, credit is granted for approved IB examinations at the higher level with a score of 4 or better.

Students admitted to the University of Colorado Boulder after June 30, 2003, who have graduated from high school having successfully completed an International Baccalaureate Diploma program shall be granted 24 semester hours of college credit. Students should check with their college or school to determine if or how the earned college credit applies toward degree requirements. No CU-Boulder tuition shall be charged for these credits. These credits shall be granted, however, only if the student receives a score of 4 or better on an examination administered as part of the IB Diploma program. If the student scores less than 4 on any IB subject test, the credit hours granted shall be reduced accordingly. 

An official copy of the diploma with test scores must be sent to the admissions office directly from the IB organization. For a guide to specific equivalencies refer to the table below. For more information on test administration, write or call:

International Baccalaureate Organization, 475 Riverside Drive, 16th floor, New York, NY 10115

For the most current information on how CU-Boulder evaluates IB credit, visit Also review the IB table.

Guaranteed Admission for Colorado Resident Freshmen

The University of Colorado Boulder guarantees admission to first-time Colorado resident freshmen who meet specific criteria. For a copy of the guaranteed admission guidelines, visit, write to Office of Admissions, University of Colorado Boulder, 552 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309-0552, or call 303-492-6301. Guaranteed admission information is also available in all Colorado high school guidance offices.

Freshman Applicants Not Granted Admission

 Students who are not granted admission as entering freshmen may consider transferring to CU-Boulder after successful study elsewhere. Students are encouraged to complete at least one full year of transferable college or university course work, including any courses outlined in the minimum academic preparation standards (MAPS) chart that were not met in high school.