Admissions Requirements

Salem State University has a commitment to academic excellence and a continuing desire to provide access to a four-year baccalaureate program for a broad range of students. Your application is carefully reviewed to evaluate your strengths as a candidate and to be certain that you have the academic background to succeed at Salem State.

The following admissions standards have been developed with the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education to ensure that the university remains an institution of high academic quality.

1. High School Graduates

The following high school courses are required for admission to the college:

English: Four full-year college prep. units

Math: Three full year college prep. units (Algebra 1, Algebra 2 and Geometry or Trigonometry, or comparable course work), students entering Salem State University in 2016 must have four years of college prep. mathematics

Science: Three full year college prep. units (two must include labs)

Foreign Language: Two full year college prep. units of the same language

Social Science: Two full year college prep. units (one must be U.S. History)

Electives: Two courses from the above subjects or from the arts and humanities or computer science

Please be advised that only courses that are college preparatory or higher will be considered. If you completed Honors and/or Advanced Placement, these courses will be given additional consideration.

Salem State University, under the auspices of the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, uses a sliding scale admissions formula. The sliding scale uses a re-calculated grade point average and SAT or ACT scores. The sliding scale chart is listed below:

Required GPA and SAT/ACT:


(Critical Reading
and Math Combined)

















These above requirements are the minimum admissions standards required for direct entrance to the university. Salem State has set suggested higher standards for admission to Nursing (3.5 GPA) and Biology (2.71 GPA). Admissions standards and requirements are reviewed continuously and we reserve the right to change standards.

The admissions office also reviews students for the Salem State University Commonwealth Honors Program and for the Summer Bridge Academy.

2. Students with Learning Disabilities

Applicants must submit a psycho-educational evaluation and diagnostic test results (usually an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504) which was completed within the last three years that provides a specific diagnosis of the learning disability to be exempt from SAT/ACT. If exempted from the SAT/ACT requirement, students should meet the 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA) admission standards and have all required courses completed.

An applicant may substitute two college preparatory electives for the two required foreign language courses only if the applicant has submitted a psycho-educational (Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504) evaluation which was completed within the past three years that provides a specific diagnosis of a learning disability and includes language that states the student’s inability to succeed in a foreign language because of a language based disability.

3. Vocational High School Applicants

Vocational-technical applicants must complete the required 16 college preparatory courses and the SAT's/ACTs, however, two vocational exploratory or lecture based courses may be used to fulfill the two required electives. In addition, one of the following courses must be completed: foreign language, a fourth unit of mathematics or science, a computer science.   

4. English as a Second language Students (ESL)

Applicants must complete the SAT or ACT and the 16 required college preparatory courses with the following exceptions:

ESL applicants may substitute up to two college preparatory electives for the two required foreign language courses and ESL applicants may substitute up to two years of college preparatory ESL English courses for college preparatory English courses, provided they achieve a 500 on the TOEFL. (This means a 500 on the paper TOEFL or a 213 on the computerized TOEFL). To qualify for either of these exceptions ESL applicants must achieve the required minimum GPA in their college preparatory and substitute ESL courses. When the applicant's GPA is below the minimum admissions standards the sliding scale must be used.

5. Alternative Admissions

Salem State University offers a Summer Bridge Academy to aid high school graduates in achieving academic success in college. We believe that all students should master basic academic skills to achieve their educational goals. Some students need to develop these skills before enrolling in college. Salem State University offers a six-week summer program designed to give students the tools and resources they need to be successful in college.

Our summer bridge academy provides educational access to those students who would benefit from academic skill development prior to enrolling at Salem State.

Applicants are considered for admission to the program using the following criteria:

  • High School GPA (minimum 2.2)
  • SAT scores (minimum 700 combined with critical reading and math scores not exceeding a 510 and a 500 respectively)
  • or ACT scores (minimum 14, maximum 21)
  • Personal Statement
  • Interview (if necessary)
  • Must be a first-time college student

If you are first-generation or low-income, you may qualify for financial assistance.

6. Freshman Adult Learners

General Equivalency Diploma (GED) recipients, evening school graduates and students whose high school graduation class has been out for three or more years are required to submit proof of high school graduation (final high school transcript or copy of high school diploma) or GED score report or its equivalent. In addition, an up-to-date work history and/or resume must be submitted.

7. International Students

Original high school transcripts and/or diploma must be in English and/or must be professionally translated into English, in addition they must include a list of courses completed and the grades received. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required. Freshmen international students must also submit SAT or ACT scores. Students from English speaking countries, whose first language is English, are exempt from the TOEFL. 

8. Special Admissions

The special admissions category allows a limited number of students to be accepted without meeting the high school admissions standards outlined above. These spaces are typically given to students who fall just shy of meeting the admissions requirements. If you are one of these students, we strongly recommend that you apply before the first of January.