Purdue University

Purdue University is big, sporty, spirited, smart and STEM-heavy!

It’s incredible that this public university has opened 20 new buildings in the last 10 years, with 6 more under construction and five more slated to break ground soon.  All this, while holding tuition level for eight years straight under the guidance of Purdue University President Mitch Daniels, the former governor of Indiana.

Purdue University directly admits applicants into their specific college, and some are more competitive than others.  Nursing, computer science and professional flight are the most competitive – each of these has a hard November 1 deadline.  This is also the merit scholarship consideration deadline.

If you don’t submit but November 1, you aren’t likely to get any merit scholarships from Purdue.

Purdue’s application process is very simple: they require students to self-report their grades and test scores, so they don’t need transcripts or score reports (until you enroll, then they want you to send them!).  They also carefully consider essays – the main Common App essay plus their two supplements, which are basically ‘Why Purdue?’ and ‘Why Your Major?’  They’re looking for students who will fit well with and contribute to this competitive environment.

During our visit, we toured campus and then did a little ‘speed dating’ with representatives from each of Purdue’s nine undergraduate colleges.  Here’s a brief summary of what we learned about Purdue’s academic offerings:

College of Pharmacy

This is a super-competitive program where students do 2 years of pre-pharmacy study, then apply into the program, which has four additional years.  About half of the students who apply at this point are admitted; those who are not may either apply to pharmacy programs outside of Purdue or change their major.

Krannert School of Management

Purdue’s business school has seven majors and 13 minors, plus the option for students pursuing other programs at Purdue to minor in business.  This is a direct-entry college, and students must choose a major when they apply, but the first two years are a common curriculum for all business students.  There are no caps on the number of students in each major.  One unique major is Industrial Management, which requires engineering level calculus.  This is the only business major where students can also minor in engineering as one of their required minors.  This major signifies to employers that students who graduate with this degree can manage tech people.

College of Engineering

Purdue University is well-known for its engineering program, which is heavily team-based and which allows students the chance to do a co-op.  This College offers 17 different engineering majors; biological and chemical engineering are the largest.  The unique EPICS program (Engineering Projects in Community Service) teams up engineers with local and national non-profit organizations.

College of Science

Purdue’s top ranked actuarial science program, as well as computer science and data science are all under the College of Science umbrella.  Research is huge here – all faculty do research – and both students and faculty cross college borders to do research.  Some departments reach out and create opportunities for student research, but because Purdue University is such a large place, students have to reach out and advocate for themselves to get research opportunities.  My tour guide noted that it was “entirely possible to go through four years as a student here and not do research.”


The Polytechnic Institute encompasses all of Purdue’s aviation and aeronautical programs, as well as game development, cybersecurity and construction management.  Polytechnic offers 31 majors in 6 divisions, focused mostly on theory-based applied learning.  All lectures have labs, and work experience is required for all majors.  80% of graduates go straight to the workforce, where they have an average starting salary of $69,000.  The professional flight program is highly competitive, taking only 90 new students per year.

College of Education

One of the smaller colleges, the College of Education has just 600 undergrads, so class sizes are significantly smaller.  Just over half of the COE students are from Indiana, and 78% of them are women.  Education students spend 6 of their 8 semesters in classrooms, observing and assisting.  All programs can be done in 4 years, and students graduate with a credential to teach in the state of Indiana.

College of Liberal Arts

With 2,500 students, the College of Liberal Arts has a 9:1 student to faculty ratio.  Only the social sciences are housed here, as science is in a different college at Purdue.  Here’s an interesting nugget:  85% of Purdue’s liberal arts students are in a program that can be completed in 3 years (what a great way to save money on college!)!  Students must declare their intent to finish in 3 years by end of freshman year, but this three-year track can be accomplished even if you enter with no AP credits!  This is great for students who are thinking about law school.

Exploratory Studies

Purdue is also a great place to be undecided.  80% of the about 900-1000 first-year students in this program are truly undecided.  The rest are students who weren’t admitted to their first choice major.  The Exploratory program is four semesters, and students must choose a major by the end of their sophomore year; most choose by 2nd or 3rd semester.  Everyone in this program takes EDPS 105 first semester, where they are connected with an advisor and learn about majors, work and careers.  The outcomes are strong:  while 55% of Purdue students NOT in the exploratory program change their major at least once, only 12% of students who do start in exploratory change their major.

Kathy and Evelyn visited Purdue University in spring, 2019.  You can scroll through our photo album below!

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