Applying to Minerva at KGI - The Ultimate Minerva Application Process (New & Updated)
Minerva, Minerva at KGI, How I Applied to Minerva, Minerva Application Process, Applying to Minerva
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Applying to Minerva at KGI – The Ultimate Minerva Application Process (New & Updated)

05 Oct Applying to Minerva at KGI – The Ultimate Minerva Application Process (New & Updated)

I applied to Minerva class of 2021 and chose the early action (deadline November 1st) “binding option”. The advantage you will receive from this is an expedited response within 3 weeks of submission and exclusive online sessions with the Head of Admissions, Neagheen Homaifar. It’s a good option if Minerva is your first choice because you can avoid spending time and pay application fees if you are applying to other colleges. If admitted binding, you must pay a $500 deposit within 10 days to secure your enrollment. 



Good to know:


Minerva consists of 2 entities:

  • Minerva at KGI – actual college that’s a non-profit accredited by the Keck Graduate Institute, member of the Claremont Consortium in California
  • Minerva Project – for-profit part of Minerva that licenses out its Active Learning Forum and curriculums
  • For a longer explanation of this, click here (credits to Minerva’s Outreach Lead Michael Lai)


Minerva’s application process is highly selective (acceptance rate ~ 2%), but not at all competitive. That’s because as long as a student passed a certain “bar”, they will be accepted regardless of any other factors, such as race, gender, family income. No quotas, no limited space resulted in only 20% Americans in the class. There is also no waiting list; you either pass the bar and get accepted, or you don’t. Though vs other elite universities that sometimes getting accepted into depends on luck, Minerva holistically evaluates the 3 parts of your application so it’s not a crapshoot. You can’t apply twice in one year. However if denied this year, you can try next year.

Things Minerva look for in a candidate:

  • intellectual capacity and curiosity
  • someone with a high impact who has achieved extraordinary things (even in an unconventional sense)
  • someone open-minded and independent who can readily adapt to the different cultures of the world


Regardless of the education you’ve been through, you will always start with the first year’s cornerstone courses. That’s because Minerva teaches a completely different system than traditional education, which means they don’t accept AP scores or any college course replacements. However, students are expected to come in having the knowledge of basic college classes and skills, such as Calculus, advanced English, and Python through MOOCs. One of the key skill you should have before attending is knowing how to manage your time – simply put, there will be no time to “mess around”. 

Minerva raised its tuition from $10,000 to $12,500 per year. The total cost of attendance is a little below $30,000 per year, which is still much affordable than many private, prestigious institutions. Minerva encourages its students to do work-study, internships, low-interest loans, and if there are still gaps in between, Minerva will provide financial aid.


Update: Minerva is offering a $10,000 need-based scholarship to those who are ZeeMee participants, see details below. This is the link.

zeemee1 zeemee2

Minerva has its own Professional Development Agency that supports its students for a lifetime. Anne Kauth, the Manager of Employer Network & Partnership, helped developed Minerva’s PDA, which is basically a database consists of international networks of professionals and experts Minervans can connect with. Furthermore, Minerva also proactively work with individual students to figure out what they want/should do, where to place them, and promote their accomplishments, for their ENTIRE career. Seems like a sweet deal. Though I raised a question about whether Minerva will scale up its PDA resources in the future, since supporting for a lifetime of hundreds of students is quite different than say, thousands of students. Minerva’s response was that they are already hiring more for career coaching. Besides, knowing from data and experience, the older the Minervans, the less likely they’ll need career support, as they’ve already developed the expertise and connections to thrive on their own. In addition, giving the type of students Minervans are – eager to contribute to a better cause – most will come back as alumni and help the current students in their career, inevitably creating a positive cycle.

Minerva’s 2nd-year retention rate is around 90%. 10% of the students drop out due to various reasons. So if you get accepted but are quite unsure whether you should attend, I encourage you to go. Because it may be very challenging, it may be too stressful, and it may just not be right for you. But you always have the option to withdraw, take it as a special gap year with an awesome experience with other like-minded, high-achieving students in a globalized and revolutionary type of education experience, and save it in your profile. Bottomline is, Minerva’s education is about internship opportunities and personal growth, as oppose to the traditional academic-based and research-focused higher education system, so it may or may not be for you depending on your objectives. 


Now onto the process of the application:

Disclaimer: the information below are merely my personal experiences, please evaluate base on your own standings.




First I had to complete Part One of the Application, filling out my basic information (including uploading a transcript) and one of my achievements (later will count as one of the six achievements). Don’t worry; you can change any information you filled out later. Completing this allowed me to gain access to the Admission Center so I can fill out Part Two and Three of the application.



Part Two had to do with completing 6 challenges that are set out to test your IQ and EQ, with the goal to see if you have the potential to grasp the material of Minerva’s curriculums.

How to approach the 6 challenges:

Note: I didn’t enclose too much detail to ensure fairness.

  1. Creativity – a question asking about the number of uses for an item, such as a paper clip – use it as a needle, SIM card popper, etc – you have 7 min.
    • Key to this: be creative, be wild! 
  2. Math – around 16 very straightforward questions about basic arithmetics and logic, no calculator, only pen & pencil – 7 min.
    • Key: be quick as there were no “trick” questions, don’t over check your answers, and watch out for time – I ran out of time and left 2 questions unanswered because I was being a perfectionist and forgot about the time, so don’t be me.
  3. Understanding – read a short passage and answer 6 questions regarding the nature of the passage – 7 min.
    • Key: use process of elimination.Understanding how Minerva works thoroughly will help a lot – I finished this challenge in 4 min and had 3 min to check my answers
  4. Reasoning – around 13 questions about picking the right shape to fit alongside other eight shapes, much like a standard IQ test – around 30 min.
    • Key: perhaps search up on how to solve the same type of IQ puzzle? The questions went from easy to hard. Last three questions or so were pretty abstract, and I wasn’t sure about my answer
  5. Writing  – a question asking you to write something about it – 7 min.
    • Key: reading my other blog posts will probably help you a lot with this, content-wise 🙂
  6. Expression – 4 questions – 10 min.
    • Key: try this challenge on your very energetic day, and have hyperfocus when you actually do it. Understand yourself inside-out, your positives, your negatives, what made you the person the way you are, and the big decisions you make (why) – I was a bit caught off guard on two of the curveball questions but had a rather thorough thought on the other two


Bonus Tips:

  • Do them at separate sessions to avoid brain drain because the challenges are mostly very fast past and can be intense because it’s timed
  • Do them when you have high energy, especially for the challenges of Creativity, Writing, and Expression
  • Read up on Minerva’s ideologies and practice the challenges before doing the real one
  • Read my blog


Somewhere along the way, I received this email. As you can see, Minerva really wants its applicants to finish their applications.




Part Three examines the achievements of you outside of school. This is an opportunity to present the type of person you are (talents, passion) and how you are likely going to contribute to Minerva’s community.  

I crafted my 6 achievements by laying out the significant happenings in my life and determined my major inspirations. I then picked out those people/events inspired 6 accomplishments I am most proud of. Update: I later found out that it’s best to use your accomplishments within the past 3-4 years. 

Act like the admissions officers have no clue of where you are coming from, give as much context and as many details as possible. Articulate strongly of the significance of your accomplishments, quantify it: how many people attended, how much money you raised/earned, how many people you’ve managed, etc. Don’t be shy to “brag,” however, do be honest with the statistics.

Remember to gather and organize evidence for what you’ve done, including links to media coverage, videos,  pictures, and people who can verify your accomplishments (contact them, so they’ll know what’s going on).

Samples of Minervans’ achievements:


This section also asks for your counselor to submit some basic information about you (your GPA, rank, transcript, rigor of the classes you take/school you attend, criminal history, etc) through a personalized link, send it to your counselor early so he/she can have time to fill it out. Ask them EARLY and keep them accountable until they submit it. The sooner you can present this information on their table, the earlier you can have this section done; you can check whether they’ve submitted it to the Admission Center.

Alongside the 3 parts, you have to fill out information about your Parent/Guardian contact info, disciplinary record, and an option for binding enrollment; all can be filled out within 10 mins.


After completing all the above, I submitted my application.

If you submit your Minerva app by October 10th, 2016, Minerva will expedite your review process and make the admission decision by October 24. If you are admitted and enrolled, they will invite you to their San Francisco Civitas on November 19th.

The Civitas is an annual event where you can engage with current Minervans and leaders of major organizations and experience the academics, residential life, and student community of the school. Minerva will also provide the majority of the cost including housing, most meals, select activities, and up to 80% of the cost of the air ticket to and from San Francisco.


I received a rejection letter from Minerva.


Minerva did not mention any specific feedback, I really wish they did, though. One thing I hope I had done better was to check with the person who was going to verify my six achievements since I haven’t contacted some of them in a while. Looking back, I made the mistake of just wanting to apply as quick as possible but failed to prepare sufficient sources to back me up. I forgot to confirm my sources’ phone numbers at the time of submission. Later when I tried to call them, some of them appear to be out of the country and not replying back.

In addition, I could’ve done a better job at mentioning the impact of my achievements like I do now on my LinkedIn profile. Another thing to keep in mind is I do not have the strongest academic backgrounds, although I try to take as many AP classes possible in my school, I generally have majority A’s and some B’s with them (therefore my rank is not good as well – being the 83rd percentile). It’d be a really good leg-up if you could earn at least A’s for all your classes.

Granted, if I were to do this again, I’d wait until I am truly ready and prepared to submit my applications.

As for the challenges, my best advice to you is to really understand Minerva’s process and philosophy before doing the Reading section, to not over-check your answers for the Math section as it is very straightforward (if you have the tendency of a perfectionist like I did), and to probably do an outline of your strengths, weaknesses, philosophies, and the reason why you want to go to Minerva before doing the Expression section.

Currently, I am still following the school by reading their updates and student blogs, in the hope to reapply next year as I really believe in Minerva’s philosophy, and am greatly excited about its vision for the future of the higher education. Furthermore, I know that I am nothing more and nothing less despite other’s judgments. I am more engaged with the real-world through the internships, projects with clients, and businesses I run; I am more fulfilled than ever before. So regardless of the outcome, I encourage you to embrace the experience in applying, learn from it and know that whether getting accepted isn’t the end goal, it is merely a tool, a bridge if you will, helping you get to your end goal.

P.S. Applying to Minerva made me an extremely productive person. If I could do this all over again, I would start applying when I was a sophomore in high school (when I first knew about this school) just for the heck of it 🙂


Additional information that’ll give you more insight:


Should you have any questions, I would be happy to answer you.

Or if you would like to speak directly to a Minerva ambassador, email Jake Schaeffer: or Michael Lai:

I wish you the best of luck and hope you learned something from my process.

  • Tiffany Joy
    Posted at 14:39h, 24 January Reply

    I have a question. Do they really look into the grades of one person or they may not look into it much because of other aspects like great achievements or something. Anyways, Thank you so much for this 🙂 Hope you won’t give up and maybe Apply again this year. 😀 Hoping to apply myself maybe.

    • Jessy
      Posted at 21:59h, 16 March Reply

      Hey, Tiffany!
      Thank you for the question. From my understanding, they calculate the different sections of the application with scores, and as long as you meet a certain score (I’d imagine it being pretty high), you’ll get in. This way, it’s more systematic, objective, and fair as opposed to “oh I like this person because of this one thing, or, I don’t like this person because of this.”

  • Marco Seggi
    Posted at 21:53h, 30 May Reply

    Hi there,
    I was just wondering if the 1st and 3rd steppes have any word limit. If so, do you know what the word limit is?

    • Jessy
      Posted at 22:14h, 30 May Reply

      Hello Marco, thank you for the great question!
      I can’t remember them off the top of my head, but I think the 1st step may have a word limit, and the 3rd step doesn’t (which you can then modify the information you entered in the 1st step), else I don’t think they have word limits at all.
      One thing I do notice though is they always make changes in the application every year, so by the time when you apply it may be a little different.
      But since the application account is pretty easy to make, I encourage you not to get too caught up with it and just go on!

      • Marco Seggi
        Posted at 18:10h, 06 June Reply

        Thanks for anwering!

  • Isabel Chapa
    Posted at 14:32h, 17 August Reply

    I overthought the math section, I didn’t finish, and I think I got a question wrong. However, I did well on the other sections, have good accomplishments, and have amazing grades. Do you think that one section might keep me from getting accepted?

    • Jessy
      Posted at 23:15h, 17 August Reply

      Hey Isabel, nice to hear from ya!

      As stated in the article, Minerva has a system that evaluates its candidates holistically, which means one math section will not prevent you from getting into Minerva.

      In my point of view, Minerva probably uses those cognitive tests and your grades to see if you can handle their rigorous class work, hence setting the minimum standards. But what will get you admitted are how unique/impactful/interesting your achievements are, and how closely your ideals match those of Minerva’s (perhaps will be reflected in your interview, essays, etc.). For that, I’d highly recommend reading some of what the current students are writing and more articles/videos about the program.

      Do be aware that I am not associated with Minerva by any means and do not know how exactly they’ll operate. Most of the knowledge I have of Minerva comes from researching, reading, and thinking about all the information I can find that are published for the public! 🙂

  • Marlenne
    Posted at 19:50h, 20 August Reply

    Hi, i was wondering if they request you to send original documents even doe you uploaded photos of them in the section of accomplishements?

    • Jessy
      Posted at 15:25h, 21 August Reply

      Hi Marlenne, Minerva did not request me to send the original documents (if you are referring to things like your awards) when I uploaded the photos of them. However, do keep in mind that Minerva does like to change their application process every year…

  • Moses
    Posted at 12:10h, 24 August Reply

    Hello.What is the binding enrollment all about?

    • Jessy
      Posted at 22:01h, 24 August Reply

      Hello, Moses!

      Minerva’s official answer for what a Binding Enrollment Option from is:
      “If Minerva is your first choice school, you have the opportunity in any cycle to expedite your admissions notification, receiving a decision within four weeks of completing the admissions process. By selecting Binding Enrollment, you indicate that you are prepared to make an enrollment deposit if admitted, and attend Minerva in Fall 2018.”

      In a nutshell, the binding enrollment allows you to get a quicker answer about your acceptance within 4 weeks, though it’s not legally binding in any way, so you don’t actually have to attend. But if you were accepted, you’d have to deposit a certain amount of money within a short time to secure your spot.

  • koussay khelil
    Posted at 06:41h, 01 October Reply

    Hello, can you please specify what are the questions you were asked during the expression test? Thank you

    • Jessy
      Posted at 22:16h, 15 October Reply

      Hello Koussay,
      I think Minerva changes their questions every time. But they asked me about an abstract quote and wanted to hear my thoughts on it.

  • karim bakhsh
    Posted at 00:48h, 04 October Reply

    I like Minerva u gave me sechlorship information I do study for Minerva plz reply

    • Jessy
      Posted at 22:18h, 15 October Reply

      Hi Karim,
      From what I know, Minerva offers 3 options for scholarship aid: student loans, work-study, and need-based scholarship.

  • Ha
    Posted at 04:15h, 18 October Reply

    Hello Jessy,

    Thank you for your informative post. I surely have a comprehensive overview about Minerva application process through your reflection.

    I want to ask you a question. Based on your post and my application process, I thought I could change any information in Part One later, so after filling in some basic information about application (preferred deadline etc.) I proceeded to the next step which involved high school info, GPA and current activities. At this stage, I wished to go back and change my deadline from EA to RD, but it could not turn back.

    Do you think I can ask the admissions office for correction, and if possible, review my Part One application?

    I am looking forward to hearing from you. Have a nice day!

    • Jessy
      Posted at 16:36h, 29 October Reply

      Hello Ha!
      You can definitely ask the Admissions Office for what you need. I think if you explained your situation and how changing the information would help you in the application, they could make an exception for you! Trying would not hurt!

  • Temidire Adesiji
    Posted at 08:39h, 29 October Reply

    Does Binding Enrollment increase my chance of getting admission?What if I am not able to pay for the binding enrollment option within 10 days after being given the admission. Will I lose the admission? And can I cancel the binding enrollment option before being given admission?

    • Jessy
      Posted at 17:50h, 29 October Reply

      Hi Temidire!
      Officially, Minerva says that Binding Enrollment would not increase one’s chance of getting admitted. I have contacted Minverva for the other questions and this is their reply: “Binding does not give you better changes, it only gives you an expedited review so that you get a decision sooner. If you do not enroll within 10 days of receiving your offer than Minerva will rescind your admissions offer. You are able to take away this option if you decide it is nor the right choice for you.”
      In the future, if you have any more logistics questions, you can also try to contact them in person:

  • Nitya Jagadam
    Posted at 06:03h, 16 November Reply

    I have a question. So for the accomplishments, you would recommend giving them lots of proof? Like if I’m running a business and said I made a profit of $1500 dollars, it would be better if I were able to put a spreadsheet showing all my sales, my docs, and receipts?

    • Jessy
      Posted at 17:28h, 25 November Reply

      Hi Nitya,
      Thank you for the question. I think briefly mentioning how you got the statistic is helpful. I would recommend giving in-depth proof only if the impact statistics you have are large numbers. But regardless, having something to back you up at all times is your best bet. Also, keep in mind, they also verify your accomplishment through the references you give. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving week and I wish you luck! 🙂

      • Nitya Jagadam
        Posted at 14:54h, 07 March Reply

        Thank you so much! I’m waiting for my decision now and I’m really nervous about it. I also had another question: I was asked for an in-person meeting with my parents by Minerva. Do you know anything about interviews? Is this a good sign? Thank you so much for the reply!

        • Jessy
          Posted at 14:20h, 11 March Reply

          Hi Nitya,

          While I am not entirely familiar with in-person meetings with Minerva, I would say that having the opportunity to have one (and if you feel like it went well) is always good; as it gives Minerva more data-points to understand you more as a person and how you interact with others (vs. just submitting the application).

          Best of luck!

  • Sadokat
    Posted at 14:04h, 15 January Reply

    Hey there. Thanks for sharing. But I have one question. Should we complete all challenges in one day? Or is it OK to do it in a week? I have just gone to the second step and I would love to start challenges tomorrow?!

    • Jessy
      Posted at 16:01h, 17 January Reply

      It’s possible to spread out the challenges instead of completing them in one day.

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