If you think Ivy League schools are tough to get into — well, you aren't wrong. But right now, the hardest undergrad program to break into may be an online school called Minerva Schools at Keck Graduate Institute. The school, whose internet seminars cap at 19 students per class, claims an acceptance rate of around — no joke — 2%.
But what are the rates among America's better-known schools — the Cornells, West Points, Notre Dames and Stanfords? In fall of 2021, elite schools began to report their acceptance rates for their graduating classes of 2025. (Still more will come over the summer and fall of 2021.) Some rates rose, but many fell drastically, thanks in part to an increase in applications. Here's the most recent list of the toughest schools to get into, based solely on the ratio of applications to acceptances.
49. Georgia Institute of Technology
Georgia Institute of Technology, often shortened to Georgia Tech, has an acceptance rate of 22%.
48. Wesleyan University
Wesleyan University in Connecticut has an acceptance rate of 19.4%. Applicants are not required to take the SATs or ACTs.
47. Northeastern University
Northeastern University, one of several colleges on this list located in the Boston area, has an acceptance rate of 18.1%
46. Carleton College
Carleton College in Minnesota has a 17.4% acceptance rate.
45. Wellesley College
Wellesley College in Massachusetts has an acceptance rate of 16%.
44. Middlebury College
The acceptance rate at Vermont's Middlebury College is 15.7%.
43. The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art has a 15.1% acceptance rate.
Roughly one-quarter of the New York City school's students receive Pell Grants.
41 (TIE). University of California—Berkeley
The University of California—Berkeley has a 15% acceptance rate.
Despite the school's reputation for left-leaning politics, Niche ranks Berkeley as only the 19th most liberal college in the country; American University, in Washington, D.C., is No. 1.
41 (TIE). Colorado College
Colorado College, a small liberal arts school in Colorado Springs, has an acceptance rate of 15%.
40. University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame has a 14.6% acceptance rate.
Niche ranks the Indiana university as a top Catholic college in the country for 2021.
39. University of California—Los Angeles
The acceptance rate at UCLA is 14%. Niche ranks its food options as No. 1 out of all colleges.
37 (TIE). Haverford College
The acceptance rate at Haverford College in Pennsylvania is 13.5%. Niche ranks it among the best liberal arts colleges in America.
37 (TIE). Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University has a 13.5% acceptance rate. The Pittsburgh institution ranked among the best colleges for information technology studies in America.
36. Claremont McKenna College
Claremont McKenna College, in Claremont, California, has a 13.3% acceptance rate. A popular major is economics.
32 (TIE). University of Southern California
32 (TIE). Washington University in St. Louis
Washington University in St. Louis has a 13% acceptance rate.
It was named by Niche as among the tops on their list of best college campuses.
32 (TIE). Pitzer College
The acceptance rate at Pitzer College, in California, is 13%.
32 (TIE). Emory College
31. Georgetown University
Georgetown University has an 11.7% acceptance rate.
Niche rates the Washington, D.C. school highly for academics and its party scene.
27 (TIE). Tufts University
Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts has an 11% acceptance rate.
Niche gives the school high marks for academics and value.
27 (TIE). United States Military Academy at West Point
The acceptance rate at the United States Military Academy at West Point, in New York, is 11%.
27 (TIE). United States Air Force Academy
For the class of 2024, the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs has an 11% acceptance rate. It will release its class of 2025 rate later in 2021.
27 (TIE). Cornell University
Cornell University in Ithaca, New York did not report its class of 2025 application numbers. But according to its latest reported data, it has an 11% acceptance rate.
It's named by Niche as among the best colleges for agricultural sciences in America.
26. Barnard College
Barnard College has a 10.4% acceptance rate. The New York City school is among the best women's colleges in the U.S., according to Niche.
25. Harvey Mudd College
Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California has a 10% acceptance rate.
Students who apply there also tend to apply to Claremont McKenna College and Pomona College.
24. Tulane University
Located in New Orleans, this school has an acceptance rate of 9.6%.
22 (TIE). Rice University
Rice University has a 9.3% acceptance rate.
22 (TIE). Northwestern University
Northwestern University has a 9.3% acceptance rate.
The Evanston, Illinois university is often rated as one of the best colleges for communications in America.
21. United States Naval Academy
The United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland has a 9% acceptance rate.
Applicants here also usually apply to the United States Air Force Academy, the United States Military Academy at West Point, and the United States Coast Guard Academy.
20. Bowdoin College
Brunswick, Maine's Bowdoin College has an 8.8% acceptance rate.
Niche has named it among the best liberal arts colleges in the country.
16 (TIE). Colby College
Colby College in Maine has an 8% acceptance rate.
16 (TIE). Amherst College
Amherst College has an 8% acceptance rate.
Student who apply to the Amherst, Massachusetts college often also apply to Williams College, Bowdoin College and Middlebury College.
16 (TIE). Williams College
Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts has an 8% acceptance rate.
The small liberal arts school has a roughly 94% graduation rate.
16 (TIE). Swarthmore College
Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania has an 8% acceptance rate.
The student-faculty ratio is 8:1.
15. Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins University has an 7.4% acceptance rate.
Public health is a popular major at the Baltimore school.
14. Pomona College
Pomona College in Claremont, California has an 7.2% acceptance rate.
It's named by Niche as the best liberal arts college in America.
12 (TIE). California Institute of Technology
Cal Tech in Pasadena, California has a 7% acceptance rate.
Niche ranks Cal Tech as the best college for physics in America.
12 (TIE). University of Chicago
The University of Chicago has a 7% acceptance rate.
Its most popular majors are economics and computer science.
11. Vanderbilt University
Nashville's Vanderbilt University has a 6.7% acceptance rate.
It's named by Niche as the best college in America to study education.
10. Dartmouth College
Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire has a 6.2% acceptance rate.
9. University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania has an 5.7% acceptance rate.
The Philadelphia school was recently ranked by Niche as the best college for business in America.
8. Brown University
Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island has an 5.4% acceptance rate.
The school is known for English studies.
7. Stanford University
Stanford University has a 5.2% acceptance rate.
The California institution was named by Niche as the third-best college in America overall.
6. Yale University
Yale University has a 4.6% acceptance rate. About one-fifth of the student body comes to the New Haven, Connecticut school from outside the country.
5. Duke University
Duke University in Durham, North Carolina has a 4.3% acceptance rate.
Duke is known for its high-quality athletics programs.
3. (TIE) Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MIT, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has a 4% acceptance rate and boasts 96 Nobel laureates.
3. (TIE) Princeton University
Princeton University has a 4% acceptance rate.
Three alumni of the New Jersey university have served as Supreme Court justices.
2. Columbia University
New York City's Columbia University has a 3.7% acceptance rate.
Economics is a popular major.
1. Harvard University
Harvard University has a paper-thin 3.4% acceptance rate.