Prior Criminal Conviction

NYU is one of roughly 600 colleges and universities that uses the Common Application, which asks students if they have been convicted of a crime or committed school disciplinary infractions.

At NYU, we believe in second chances, and we are sensitive to the deep concerns many people have about the fairness of our justice system and whether it equitably serves all members of our society. We want to balance these issues with our duty to ensure a safe environment for our community.

As a result, we have developed a review process that we believe strikes a balance between giving people a second chance through higher education and keeping our campus safe. We review all candidates for admission holistically and never automatically deny admission to those with a criminal conviction. Academic qualifications are the primary consideration of our holistic evaluation process, which also includes an analysis of one’s extracurricular accomplishments, work experience, letters of recommendation, essays, personal characteristics, talents, and life experiences.

Our Admission Process

NYU is committed to treating applicants with a criminal or disciplinary history fairly and with dignity and respect. In keeping with this outlook, NYU is making certain changes beginning with the 2016-17 admissions cycle (for admission in fall 2017):

  • Ignoring the questions on the universal section of the Common App: NYU will ignore any answers applicants provide to the questions in the main section of the Common Application regarding criminal and disciplinary history because we believe them to be too broad. Instead, we ask two more-focused questions that we think are more relevant to the issues of campus safety.
  • “Box Blind” first reading: All applications for traditional undergraduate admission are initially reviewed by admission officers without knowledge of whether they have “checked the box” in the NYU section of the application indicating a criminal or disciplinary history that involves violence or physical harm.
  • Special Committee Review: Once an initial evaluation is completed, and if a positive recommendation by an admission officer based on our holistic review is proposed, the applications of those who indicate a criminal history in their applications are reviewed by a special review committee. This special review committee includes admission officers, university staff, and faculty trained to perform an assessment based on a multi-factor analysis to fairly determine whether a past criminal offense justifies denial of admission. This special review committee is responsible for making a final determination about admission. Candidates are then notified of their admission decision.

As we indicated previously, answering “yes” to NYU’s questions is not an automatic bar to admission. NYU reviews candidates holistically and will seek to understand the context of any “yes” answers. So, we strongly urge applicants to complete their applications regardless of whether they answered “yes.”