Before discussing the number of words an academic essay should have, let’s start by explaining the meaning of it. In simple words, an essay is a formal piece of writing meant to educate, inform, or present an idea.

In fact, the length of academic essays depending on the subject, educational level, and instructions. Essays have a lesser word count than dissertations and research papers. Also, you need to keep in mind that there are different kinds of essays.

If you’re having trouble deciding the total number of words your essay should have, there’s no need to worry. In this guide, we will cover the different types of essays and the average word count they should have. Also, we will provide answers to some other questions you may have about academic writing.

So without wasting much time, let’s dive in!

How Long is An Essay Can Be?

1️⃣ High School Essay or Five Paragraph Essay (Word Count: 300-1000)

A high school essay typically has 300 (a little more than one page) to 1000 words which equals four pages double spaced.

High school essays are among the most common types of essays you’ll find. Most of the assignments given to students in high school fall in the range of five paragraphs (usually around one to three pages double spaced).

It should consist of an introduction, body segments, and a conclusion. High school essays are regarded as the simplest kinds of essays since their structure is usually not so complex.

2️⃣ College Admission Essay (Word Count: 200-620)

A college admission essay typically has 200 – 620 words.

Just as the name suggests, these essays are written by students seeking admission into colleges. Students must write about their motivations, passions, and other important things that the school needs to know about them.

A college application is typically a short essay, usually the shortest kind of all. Only a couple of paragraphs are required in these kinds of essays. But they must be really powerful to help young people get enrolled.

3️⃣ Undergraduate College Essay (Word Count: 1500-5000)

An undergraduate essays typically have 1500 – 5000 words.

Students should expect to work harder in college since it is more demanding than high school. Up to 5000 words may be used in a college essay. College essays that require about 5000 words are not common, but they might occur while learning a challenging subject that requires extensive investigation.

Report writing assignments about companies or other businesses are also possible, and they are frequently lengthy. An undergraduate college essay should have an introduction, detailed body arguments backed up by statistics, and a conclusion.

4️⃣ Graduate School Admission Essay (Word Count: 500-1000)

A graduate school admission essay typically falls within the range of 500 – 1000 words.

This particular type of essay is written by students seeking admission into graduate school programs such as masters and postgraduate degrees. Admission to a graduate program naturally  calls for a longer personal statement where you can discuss some of your prior academic qualifications, motivations, and successes. 

5️⃣ Graduate School Essay (Word Count: 2500-6000)

Graduate school essays typically fall within the range of 2500 – 6000 words. How many pages is that? It’s bout 9 to 22 pages double spaced.

In graduate schools, students have a lot of writing to do. Assignments at this level vary by discipline and institution. Generally, graduate school essays are more complex and detailed than college essays.

Students must be ready to write papers with a word count of between 2000 and 6000 words or even more, to demonstrate their ability to retain this educational level. Dissertations might also fit within this word count, but they usually exceed it.

Can I Go Under the Suggested Word Count?

Your goal should be to meet up with the minimum word count specified in your assignment. That should be one of your main priorities when writing short essays.

However, if you are having trouble meeting the minimum word count requirement, these are some things you can do:

  • Include more examples and supporting data to reinforce or clarify your views in each paragraph.
  • Ensure that each example has been thoroughly discussed or evaluated, and try to elaborate on your points.
  • In a new body paragraph, expand on a different facet of your subject. To build a more persuasive argument, you might need to revise your thesis statement.
  • Avoid using filler words. Your essay will lose strength and your thesis will become less convincing if you use superfluous words or complex sentences.
  • Avoid focusing on a specific number of words. It is more crucial that your paper is compelling and sufficiently developed whether you use 50 or 100 words. So make sure you focus more on the quality of your essay than on its length.

Can I Go Over the Suggested Length?

You can write up to 3300 words for an assignment that calls for between 2500 and 3000 words in some circumstances. However, the guidelines vary per course and organization, so always ask your instructor if you have any questions about writing over the upper word limit. This way, you will avoid low grades. 

Only go beyond the word limit if it is actually required to finish your case. Lengthier, longer essays take more time to grade, so try not to burden your professor with extra work. If you are having trouble cutting down on the length of your essay, below are some tips to help you:

  • Make sure every paragraph contributes to your thesis and omit any information that seems out of place or extraneous.
  • Make sure each paragraph sticks to a single idea and doesn’t ramble.
  • Eliminate unnecessary words and make sure each sentence is relevant to the central idea of the paragraph.
  • Don’t omit any details that are essential to your argument’s reasoning. If you decide to delete a paragraph, be sure to update your transitions and connect all of your ideas.
  • Keep the introduction and conclusion paragraphs concise. These first and last paragraphs are essential to a successful essay; be sure to give enough room for a full introduction of your subject and a decent conclusion of your position.

You can also read our descriptive guide on how to shorten an essay to learn more.

How Many Paragraphs Are There in a Typical Academic Essay?

This is one question many students often ask. Well, a typical essay should have nothing less than five paragraphs. This allows you to begin with an introduction, followed by three body paragraphs and a conclusion.

Of course, your essay’s paragraphs will range in size. In most essays, the primary body segment should have the greatest volume. This is where you build out your concepts and provide support for your arguments.

The length of the introduction should typically match the length of the essay. The introduction section can have one or two paragraphs if you’re writing about 3000 words. Complex articles could need a longer introduction with additional background and context information.

The last paragraph of your essay which is the conclusion should often consist of just one paragraph to summarize all you’ve mentioned. However, you could need more than a paragraph if your academic assignment is longer, more comprehensive or more complex.


Whether you’re writing a high school essay, college essay, graduate school essay, or admission essay, knowing the number of words the essay should have can be sometimes tricky.

This is because the length of an essay varies depending on the course, institution, and educational level. However, using the guidelines provided in this article will help put you in the right track when writing any type of paper.

Keep in mind though that all essays regardless of the educational level should have at least five paragraphs consisting of an introduction, body segments, and a conclusion.

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