TOP 15 HARDEST COLLEGES TO GET INTO

11/26/19

Applying for college is a major undertaking, with no guarantee of acceptance. It can truly be a nerve-wracking process, especially if you’re applying to one of the top 15 hardest colleges to get into.

Colleges with Low Acceptance Rates

It’s widely believed that schools that are more selective, i.e. have lower acceptance rates, will offer a better education and a more prestigious degree. However, that’s not necessarily true. Most schools have a limit on the number of applicants they can accept. As the number of applicants to these schools grows each year, the acceptance rates tend to decline, feeding into the cycle of making these colleges appear even more selective. There are many schools with high acceptance rates that also offer a quality education, in some cases at a more affordable price, so it’s important to look at all parts of a school before deciding to apply. As with all major decisions, do your research. Determine if the schools you’re interested in offer the types of programs that will help you reach your career goals. Find out what credits you might be able to get for life or military experience.  Confirm that the tuition is within your means or establish what financial aid options are available to you. We reviewed education data across thousands of degree-granting institutions using the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) to determine the most selective colleges in the U.S. We indexed both acceptance rates and SAT test scores of admitted students to measure the difficulty of being accepted. The tuition listed is for full time, first time undergraduates paying the out of state rate.

Our List of Top 15 Hardest Colleges to get into

  1. Harvard
  2. Stanford
  3. The Julliard School
  4. The Colburn Conservatory of Music
  5. Princeton University
  6. Columbia University in the City of New York
  7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  8. Yale University
  9. United States Naval Academy
  10. California Institute of Technology
  11. Pomona College
  12. Brown University
  13. University of Pennsylvania
  14. Northwestern University
  15. University of Chicago
The list of top 15 hardest colleges to get into naturally includes Ivy League universities that receive tens of thousands of applications and only accept a fraction of them. We were curious what other schools might show up if we expanded the list to include schools with acceptance rates below 30%. Look at the full list below, you may be surprised to find that some lesser known schools are almost as selective as the Ivies.

See All 100!

Institution Name Location Tuition Acceptance Rate Retention Rate Graduation Rate
Harvard University Cambridge, MA $44,990.00 5% 98% 86%
Stanford University Stanford, CA $48,987.00 5% 98% 75%
Princeton University Princeton, NJ $47,140.00 6% 98% 90%
The Juilliard School New York, NY $43,170.00 6% 93% 88%
The Colburn Conservatory of Music Los Angeles, CA $46,350.00 6% 92% Not Reported
Yale University New Haven, CT $51,400.00 7% 99% 88%
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA $49,580.00 7% 99% 82%
Columbia University in the City of New York New York, NY $48,989.00 7% 97% 89%
Pomona College Pomona, CA $50,720.00 8% 98% 91%
California Institute of Technology Pasadena, CA $48,111.00 8% 98% 84%
Brown University Providence, RI $52,231.00 8% 98% 83%
United States Naval Academy Annapolis, MD $0.00 8% 95% 86%
University of Chicago Chicago, IL $53,292.00 9% 99% 86%
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA $47,416.00 9% 98% 87%
Northwestern University Evanston, IL $52,239.00 9% 98% 82%
Duke University Durham, NC $51,720.00 10% 97% 86%
Claremont McKenna College Claremont, CA $52,580.00 10% 97% 77%
Dartmouth College Hanover, NH $51,468.00 10% 96% 86%
United States Military Academy West Point, NY $0.00 10% 96% 80%
Swarthmore College Swarthmore, PA $50,424.00 11% 98% 87%
Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN $46,500.00 11% 97% 87%
United States Air Force Academy USAF Academy, CO $0.00 12% 94% 77%
Franklin W Olin College of Engineering Needham, MA $48,600.00 13% 99% 76%
Amherst College Amherst, MA $53,430.00 13% 97% 88%
Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD $52,170.00 13% 97% 87%
Cornell University Ithaca, NY $52,612.00 13% 97% 86%
Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art New York, NY $43,250.00 13% 96% 64%
College of the Ozarks Point Lookout, MO $18,700.00 13% 74% 63%
Chamberlain University-Georgia Atlanta, GA $18,900.00 14% 100% Not Reported
Bowdoin College Brunswick, ME $51,344.00 14% 96% 86%
Williams College Williamstown, MA $53,240.00 15% 98% 88%
Harvey Mudd College Claremont, CA $54,347.00 15% 98% 86%
Tufts University Medford, MA $53,152.00 15% 96% 88%
Barnard College New York, NY $50,882.00 15% 95% 85%
United States Coast Guard Academy New London, CT $0.00 15% 94% 84%
Colorado College Colorado Springs, CO $52,380.00 15% 94% 82%
Washington University in St Louis Saint Louis, MO $50,650.00 16% 97% 86%
Rice University Houston, TX $44,900.00 16% 97% 80%
University of California-Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA $39,516.00 16% 97% 74%
Georgetown University Washington, DC $51,720.00 16% 96% 90%
University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA $53,448.00 16% 96% 77%
Wesleyan University Middletown, CT $52,174.00 16% 95% 92%
Pitzer College Claremont, CA $51,964.00 16% 95% 83%
Colby College Waterville, ME $50,890.00 16% 94% 91%
University of California-Berkeley Berkeley, CA $39,516.00 17% 97% 73%
Middlebury College Middlebury, VT $52,080.00 17% 96% 87%
University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, IN $50,988.00 19% 98% 91%
St Joseph’s College of Nursing Syracuse, NY $18,360.00 20% 100% Not Reported
Haverford College Haverford, PA $52,278.00 20% 97% 85%
Davidson College Davidson, NC $49,454.00 20% 95% 90%
Grace Mission University Fullerton, CA $2,640.00 20% 80% Not Reported
Belanger School of Nursing Schenectady, NY $10,094.00 20% 0% Not Reported
Phillips School of Nursing at Mount Sinai Beth Israel New York, NY $27,566.00 20% 0% Not Reported
Carleton College Northfield, MN $52,476.00 21% 96% 91%
Tulane University of Louisiana New Orleans, LA $48,920.00 21% 93% 72%
American Musical and Dramatic Academy New York, NY $37,070.00 21% 72% 53%
Central Christian College of the Bible Moberly, MO $7,500.00 21% 58% 15%
Washington and Lee University Lexington, VA $49,170.00 22% 97% 88%
Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA $52,732.00 22% 96% 72%
Wellesley College Wellesley, MA $50,840.00 22% 95% 86%
Bates College Lewiston, ME $52,042.00 22% 95% 83%
Emory University Atlanta, GA $48,690.00 22% 93% 83%
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology Socorro, NM $19,941.00 22% 74%
Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus Atlanta, GA $30,604.00 23% 97% 40%
Thomas University Thomasville, GA $15,940.00 23% 54% 15%
Carolinas College of Health Sciences Charlotte, NC $12,938.00 24% 100% Not Reported
Hamilton College Clinton, NY $52,250.00 24% 96% 87%
Vassar College Poughkeepsie, NY $54,410.00 24% 96% 86%
Babson College Babson Park, MA $49,664.00 24% 96% 83%
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC $32,602.00 24% 96% 81%
California Institute of the Arts Valencia, CA $46,830.00 24% 90% 51%
Saint Louis Christian College Florissant, MO $11,180.00 24% 21% 31%
Virginia International University Fairfax, VA $9,408.00 24% 11% Not Reported
Lehigh University Bethlehem, PA $50,320.00 25% 96% 74%
Skidmore College Saratoga Springs, NY $51,456.00 25% 93% 83%
Boston University Boston, MA $50,980.00 25% 93% 80%
Southern University at New Orleans New Orleans, LA $13,384.00 25% 52% 2%
Chamberlain University-California Rancho Cordova, CA $18,900.00 25% 0% Not Reported
Alice Lloyd College Pippa Passes, KY $9,600.00 26% 81% 16%
Northeastern University Boston, MA $48,560.00 27% 97% Not Reported
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI $48,814.00 27% 97% 75%
University of Virginia-Main Campus Charlottesville, VA $44,230.00 27% 96% 87%
Theatre of Arts Hollywood, CA $19,800.00 27% 86% Not Reported
Reading Hospital School of Health Sciences Reading, PA $10,178.00 27% 81% Not Reported
Oak Hills Christian College Bemidji, MN $17,034.00 27% 62% 29%
Florida Memorial University Miami Gardens, FL $12,576.00 27% 56% 13%
St Luke’s College Sioux City, IA $18,900.00 27% 0% Not Reported
Colgate University Hamilton, NY $53,650.00 28% 94% 86%
Wake Forest University Winston-Salem, NC $50,524.00 28% 94% 82%
New York University New York, NY $47,942.00 28% 93% 81%
California State University-Long Beach Long Beach, CA $17,622.00 28% 88% 16%
Columbia International University Columbia, SC $21,720.00 28% 73% 47%
Kettering College Kettering, OH $12,408.00 28% 72% 32%
Hope International University Fullerton, CA $30,700.00 28% 72% 23%
Southwestern Assemblies of God University Waxahachie, TX $19,700.00 28% 72% 22%
University of West Alabama Livingston, AL $15,228.00 28% 66% 12%
Emory University-Oxford College Oxford, GA $46,058.00 29% 97% Not Reported
Grinnell College Grinnell, IA $50,014.00 29% 96% 79%
American University Washington, DC $45,808.00 29% 90% 76%
CUNY Bernard M Baruch College New York, NY $13,920.00 29% 90% 42%
Ohio Valley University Vienna, WV $21,100.00 29% 62% 16%
Johnson & Wales University-Online Providence, RI $13,365.00 29% 33% Not Reported

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