Here Are the 50 Hardest Colleges to Get Into

Find out what is the hardest college to get into and which colleges have the lowest acceptance rates in the U.S.

Here Are the 50 Hardest Colleges to Get Into
University of Mobile

High school students across the United States work their butts off to achieve the highest GPA possible and the best SAT or ACT scores at their respective schools in order to try to get into the most highly competitive colleges in the country. Although excellent grades and superb test scores definitely give you a headstart, it does take more than that to gain acceptance to the hardest colleges to get into.

For the nation’s most selective colleges and universities, exceptional high school grades and college admissions test scores are a basic prerequisite for even being considered. But going beyond that, the hardest schools to get into also want to see extensive extra-curricular activities, community involvement, educational superlatives (for example, summa cum laude), and much more.

But the colleges with the lowest acceptance rates are not just the well-known Ivy League schools, like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, so forth. BrokeScholar conducted a study to identify a list of the 50 hardest schools to get into includes many colleges and universities that are private not-for-profit four-year colleges as well as public four-year colleges, like UCLA. Many other schools that made this list you may have not expected or even thought of.

Read on to find out what is the hardest college to get into as well as 50 colleges with the lowest acceptance rates in the U.S.

Lowest Acceptance Rate Colleges of 2022-2023

We analyzed all four-year private not-for-profit and four-year public colleges and universities that award bachelor’s degrees in this study, based on the latest data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Below is a table consisting of the top 50 hardest colleges to get into, and includes the percent of applicants admitted, the percent of those admitted who ended up accepting, the number of undergraduate students, the graduation rate, as well as the city and state where each school is located.

Colleges With the Lowest Acceptance Rates

College/University

Percent Admitted

Percent Admitted Who Enrolled

Undergraduate students

Graduation Rate

City

State

Minerva University

1%

73%

604

81%

San Francisco

CA

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

4%

86%

4,638

96%

Cambridge

MA

Harvard University

4%

84%

9,579

97%

Cambridge

MA

Stanford University

4%

80%

7,645

96%

Stanford

CA

Princeton University

4%

78%

5,321

98%

Princeton

NJ

Columbia University

4%

65%

8,832

97%

New York

NY

California Institute of Technology

4%

53%

987

93%

Pasadena

CA

Curtis Institute of Music

5%

91%

109

81%

Philadelphia

PA

Yale University

5%

71%

6,536

97%

New Haven

CT

University of Chicago

6%

83%

7,636

96%

Chicago

IL

University of Pennsylvania

6%

73%

11,292

96%

Philadelphia

PA

Dartmouth College

6%

70%

4,556

94%

Hanover

NH

Brown University

6%

66%

7,349

96%

Providence

RI

Duke University

6%

60%

6,883

96%

Durham

NC

Northwestern University

7%

63%

8,847

95%

Evanston

IL

The Juilliard School

7%

63%

602

87%

New York

NY

Pomona College

7%

58%

1,764

93%

Claremont

CA

Vanderbilt University

7%

48%

7,111

93%

Nashville

TN

United States Naval Academy

8%

86%

4,528

91%

Annapolis

MD

Johns Hopkins University

8%

48%

6,132

95%

Baltimore

MD

Swarthmore College

8%

45%

1,651

94%

Swarthmore

PA

Cornell University

9%

64%

15,503

94%

Ithaca

NY

Bowdoin College

9%

63%

1,951

94%

Brunswick

ME

Williams College

9%

52%

2,174

94%

Williamstown

MA

Colby College

9%

47%

2,262

87%

Waterville

ME

Rice University

9%

44%

4,247

92%

Houston

TX

Amherst College

9%

42%

1,971

92%

Amherst

MA

Harvey Mudd College

10%

48%

905

94%

Claremont

CA

Tulane University of Louisiana

10%

46%

8,700

86%

New Orleans

LA

United States Military Academy

11%

81%

4,594

84%

West Point

NY

Barnard College

11%

65%

3,043

93%

New York

NY

Claremont McKenna College

11%

57%

1,416

93%

Claremont

CA

Tufts University

11%

50%

6,676

94%

Medford

MA

University of California-Los Angeles

11%

44%

32,122

92%

Los Angeles

CA

Grinnell College

11%

43%

1,748

87%

Grinnell

IA

St. Andrews University

12%

98%

876

31%

Laurinburg

NC

United States Air Force Academy

12%

75%

4,181

86%

USAF Academy

CO

Georgetown University

12%

48%

7,598

95%

Washington

DC

New York University

13%

49%

28,772

87%

New York

NY

Washington University in St Louis

13%

45%

8,034

93%

Saint Louis

MOi

Middlebury College

13%

42%

2,858

91%

Middlebury

VT

University of Southern California

13%

41%

20,790

92%

Los Angeles

CA

Emory University

13%

34%

7,130

90%

Atlanta

GA

Pacific Oaks College

13%

33%

479

NA

Pasadena

CA

Carnegie Mellon University

14%

43%

6,932

93%

Pittsburgh

PA

University of California-Berkeley

14%

43%

31,814

93%

Berkeley

CA

Colorado College

14%

40%

2,241

86%

Colorado Springs

CO

Hamilton College

14%

40%

2,055

92%

Clinton

NY

University of Notre Dame

15%

58%

8,973

96%

Notre Dame

IN

Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

15%

53%

876

83%

New York

NY

Detailed Breakdown of the Hardest Colleges to Get Into

So, based on the admission rate, the hardest college to get into is technically Minerva University, which has an admission rate of 1%. But there are 49 other colleges on this list, so let’s go through them all:

Minerva University

  • Total number of applicants: 25,026

  • Minervia University acceptance rate: 1%

  • Tuition and required fees: $16,450

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 56% Female - 44% Male

Minerva University tops our list of the hardest colleges to get into, recording an admission rate of just 1% for the academic year beginning in fall 2021, making it (by the standards of the study) the hardest college to get into. The reason why you may have not heard of this highly competitive school is because it was established fairly recently — in 2012, with venture funding provided by Benchmark Capital. Minerva has a unique approach to teaching, with all courses being conducted as online seminars, with a maximum of 19 students. Of the 1% of applicants admitted to Minerva University, 73% went on to enroll. 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

  • Total number of applicants: 33,240

  • MIT  acceptance rate: 4%

  • Tuition and required fees: $55,878

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 48% Female - 52% Male

MIT is well-known for its high calibur academics and extremely selective rate of admissions. With 33,240 applicants, MIT only admitted 4% of them. Of those 4% admitted to MIT, a full 86% of applicants proceed to enroll at the university. 

Harvard University

  • Total number of applicants: 57,786

  • Harvard University acceptance rate: 4%

  • Tuition and required fees: $55,587

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 51% Female - 49% Male

Harvard University is MIT’s neighbor, both being located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Like MIT, Harvard’s admission rate was just 4% for the academic year beginning in fall 2021, tying with MIT for being the lowest acceptance rate colleges in Massachusetts.

Stanford University

  • Total number of applicants: 55,471

  • Stanford University acceptance rate: 4%

  • Tuition and required fees: $56,169

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 51% Female - 49% Male

Stanford University has a highly competitive admission rate of only 4% of its more than 55,000 applicants. Though Stanford’s admission rate is tied with Caltech’s 4%, Stanford ranked higher in our study of the hardest colleges to get into because it has a higher percentage of those admitted who proceeded to enroll, at 80% versus Caltech’s 53%.

Princeton University

  • Total number of applicants: 37,601

  • Princeton University acceptance rate: 4%

  • Tuition and required fees: $56,010

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 50% Female - 50% Male

Out of all the colleges and universities in New Jersey, Princeton University is the hardest college to get into. Princeton has a very low admission rate of 4%, with 78% of those admitted going on to enroll at the school. Princeton University, notably, has easily one of the highest graduation rates in this study at 98%.

Columbia University

  • Total number of applicants: 61,110

  • Columbia University acceptance rate: 4%

  • Tuition and required fees: $63,530

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 49% Female - 51% Male

Columbia University is the first New York Ivy League school to make the list of the 50 hardest colleges to get into. With over 61,000 applicants, Columbia admitted only 4% of them. Of those 4% admitted, a little over two-thirds (65%) proceeded to enroll at Columbia. Columbia University’s graduation rate of 97% is tied with Harvard and Yale for the second-highest rate in the study.

California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

  • Total number of applicants: 13,026

  • Caltech acceptance rate: 4%

  • Tuition and required fees: $58,680

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 45% Female - 55% Male

Caltech is one of the nation’s premier schools of technology, boasting a highly selective admission rate of 4% against more than 13,000 applicants per year. Of those 4% admitted to Caltech, 53% of them go on to attend this college. Caltech’s admission rate ties it with Stanford for being the lowest acceptance rate university in California.

Curtis Institute of Music

  • Total number of applicants: 229

  • Curtis Institute of Music acceptance rate: 5%

  • Tuition and required fees: $5,015

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 46% Female - 54% Male

The Curtis Institute of Music is a special type of college, called a private conservatory, located in Philadelphia. Its admission rate of 5% is incredibly competitive and tied with Yale University. What’s more, of the 5% of applicants admitted to the Curtis Institute of Music, a full 91% of those admitted proceed to enroll in the school, which is one of the highest rates in our study.

Yale University

  • Total number of applicants: 47,240

  • Yale University acceptance rate: 5%

  • Tuition and required fees: $59,950

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 51% Female - 49% Male

Yale University is another Ivy League school to make the top-10 part of our list of the hardest colleges to get into. It’s also the only school in Connecticut to make our top-50 list. With more than 47,000 applicants, Yale’s admission rate was 5% for fall 2021, one of only two schools in our study to have an admission rate of 5%. Of those 5% admitted, 71% went on to enroll at Yale. 

University of Chicago

  • Total number of applicants: 37,974

  • University of Chicago acceptance rate: 6%

  • Tuition and required fees: $62,241

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 48% Female - 52% Male

The University of Chicago ranks as the No. 1 lowest acceptance rate university in Illinois, with only 6% of nearly 38,000 applicants admitted in the fall 2021 academic year. The University of Chicago has had many notable alumni, including the fictional Indiana Jones. Out of the 6% of applicants admitted, a very high percentage — 83% — proceed to enroll at the University of Chicago. 

University of Pennsylvania

  • Total number of applicants: 56,332

  • University of Pennsylvania acceptance rate: 6%

  • Tuition and required fees: $61,710

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 55% Female - 45% Male

Pennsylvania’s only Ivy League school, the University of Pennsylvania is highly selective with an admission rate of 6% against more than 56,000 applicants. Though UPenn is technically not as selective as Pennsylvania’s Curtis Institute of Music. That said, UPenn is still one of the lowest acceptance rate colleges in Pennsylvania and the U.S.

Dartmouth College

  • Total number of applicants: 28,356

  • Dartmouth acceptance rate: 6%

  • Tuition and required fees: $60,870

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 49% Female - 51% Male

New England is home to several Ivy League schools, including New Hampshire’s Dartmouth College. With an admission rate of 6%, Dartmouth has the lowest college acceptance rate in New Hampshire by far. Of those 6% admitted to Dartmouth, 70% go on to enroll at this renown college.

Brown University

  • Total number of applicants: 46,568

  • Brown University acceptance rate: 6%

  • Tuition and required fees: $62,304

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 52% Female - 48% Male

Brown University is another New England Ivy League school and is the lowest acceptance rate college in Rhode Island. With more than 46,500 applicants, Brown’s admission rate of 6% is tied with fellow Ivy League schools like Dartmouth and University of Pennsylvania. Of the 6% admitted to Brown University, 66% went on to enroll at the university.

Duke University

  • Total number of applicants: 49,703

  • Duke acceptance rate: 6%

  • Tuition and required fees: $60,244

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 52% Female - 48% Male

Duke University is the first of the hardest schools to get into in our study to be located in the U.S. South, in Durham, North Carolina. Besides its excellent basketball program, Duke University is a highly competitive college to get into, with an admission rate of just 6% against nearly 50,000 applicants per year. Duke also ranked No. 2 in our other study of the best colleges in North Carolina.

Northwestern University

  • Total number of applicants: 47,636

  • Northwestern acceptance rate: 7%

  • Tuition and required fees: $60,768

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 54% Female - 46% Male

Northwestern University is one of two colleges with the lowest acceptance rates to be located in Illinois, though in Evanston, not Chicago like the University of Chicago. Northwestern’s admission rate of 7% is just behind the University of Chicago’s 6%, though Northwestern had almost 10,000 more applicants than the latter school. 

The Juilliard School

  • Total number of applicants: 2,342

  • Juilliard acceptance rate: 7%

  • Tuition and required fees: $51,230

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 46% Female - 54% Male

Perhaps the best known music school in the U.S., Juilliard is a private performing arts conservatory in New York City, so it’s not just limited to music studies. Out of more than 2,300 applicants in fall 2021, only 7% were admitted. And of those 7% of applicants admitted, 63% went on to attend Juilliard. 

Pomona College

  • Total number of applicants: 11,620

  • Pomona College acceptance rate: 7%

  • Tuition and required fees: $56,686

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 55% Female - 45% Male

Pomona College easily ranks among the lowest acceptance rate colleges in California. With more than 11,600 applicants, Pomona College admitted 7% of them in the academic year beginning in fall 2021. Pomona’s 7% admission rate is behind only Minerva University, Stanford, and Caltech for having the most selective rate in the state of California.

Vanderbilt University

  • Total number of applicants: 47,152

  • Vanderbilt acceptance rate: 7%

  • Tuition and required fees: $56,966

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 51% Female - 49% Male

Vanderbilt University is the lowest acceptance rate college in Tennessee and the only school from Tennessee to make our list of the 50 hardest colleges to get into. Vanderbilt receives a large number of applicants, more than 47,000 for the fall 2021 academic year and admitting only 7% of them. Out of those 7% admitted, a little under half of them (48%) proceed to then enroll and attend Vanderbilt University. Vanderbilt also ranked as the best college in Tennessee in another BrokeScholar study.

United States Naval Academy

  • Total number of applicants: 16,265

  • U.S. Naval Academy acceptance rate: 8%

  • Tuition and required fees: N/A

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 29% Female - 71% Male

The Naval Academy, famously located in Annapolis, Maryland, is one of three United States armed forces schools to make our list of the 50 hardest colleges to get into in America. With over 16,000 applicants, only 8% were admitted for the academic year beginning in fall 2021. Not only is the Naval Academy’s acceptance rate very low, the percentage of those admitted who go on to attend the Academy is very high, at 86%.

Johns Hopkins University

  • Total number of applicants: 39,515

  • Johns Hopkins acceptance rate: 8%

  • Tuition and required fees: $58,720

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 55% Female - 45% Male

Johns Hopkins University is universally recognized as the nation’s premier medical school. It’s also a highly competitive undergraduate school to get into. Of the colleges with the lowest acceptance rates in Maryland, Johns Hopkins is tied with the Naval Academy for admitting 8% of applicants. However, the percentage of those admitted to Johns Hopkins who go on to attend the school is 48%, much lower than the Naval Academy’s 86%.

Swarthmore College

  • Total number of applicants: 13,012

  • Swarthmore College acceptance rate: 8%

  • Tuition and required fees: $56,056

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 50% Female - 50% Male

Swarthmore College is a well-known small, private liberal arts college in Pennsylvania. With an admission rate of 8% against more than 13,000 applicants, Swarthmore easily ranks among the lowest acceptance rate colleges in Pennsylvania and the nation as a whole. 

Cornell University

  • Total number of applicants: 67,380

  • Cornell acceptance rate: 9%

  • Tuition and required fees: $61,015

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 54% Female - 46% Male

Cornell University is one of two of New York state’s Ivy League schools, along with Columbia University. Cornell University received a massive 67,380 applicants in fall 2021, and admitted only 9% of them. The percentage of those admitted to Cornell who then enrolled in the school was 64%, just behind Columbia University’s 65%. 

Bowdoin College

  • Total number of applicants: 9,325

  • Bowdoin College acceptance rate: 9%

  • Tuition and required fees: $58,322

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 51% Female - 49% Male

Bowdoin College is one of two schools in Maine to rank among the lowest acceptance rate colleges in the U.S. With more than 9,300 applicants in fall 2021, Bowdoin College admitted 9% of them. This admission rate is tied with the other Maine college to make our list of the 50 hardest colleges to get into, Colby College.

Williams College

  • Total number of applicants: 12,452

  • Williams College acceptance rate: 9%

  • Tuition and required fees: $59,660

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 52% Female - 48% Male

Massachusetts is home to many of the lowest acceptance rate colleges in the nation and Williams College is part of that club. A small, private liberal arts college, the admission rate at Williams College was 9% for the academic year starting in fall 2021. Of the 9% admitted to Williams College, a little over half (52%) decided to go on and enroll in the college.

Colby College

  • Total number of applicants: 15,857

  • Colby College acceptance rate: 9%

  • Tuition and required fees: $61,220

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 53% Female - 47% Male

Colby College is Maine’s second college to rank among the hardest colleges to get into in the U.S., alongside Bowdoin College. Both Colby and Bowdoin are highly selective, with admission rates of 9%. However, at Bowdoin College, of the 9% admitted 63% proceed to then enroll at the college; at Colby College, of the 9% admitted, only 47% go on to enroll in the school.

Rice University

  • Total number of applicants: 29,544

  • Rice University acceptance rate: 9%

  • Tuition and required fees: $52,895

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 49% Female - 51% Male

Rice University is the lowest acceptance rate college in Texas and the only school in Texas to rank among the top 50 hardest colleges to get into in our study. Located in Houston, Texas, Rice University has a very competitive 9% admission rate against more than 29,500 applicants in fall 2021. Rice also has one of the highest graduation rates in the study at 92%.

Amherst College

  • Total number of applicants: 13,999

  • Amherst College acceptance rate: 9%

  • Tuition and required fees: $61,150

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 51% Female - 49% Male

Here’s yet another Massachusetts school to boast one of the lowest college acceptance rates. With almost 14,000 applicants in fall 2021, only 9% were admitted to Amherst College. Out of those 9% admitted, 42% of them go on to enroll and attend Amherst College, accounting for in part the school’s small undergraduate population of 1,971 students.

Harvey Mudd College

  • Total number of applicants: 4,737

  • Harvey Mudd acceptance rate: 10%

  • Tuition and required fees: $60,703

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 50% Female - 50% Male

Harvey Mudd College is one of three colleges with the lowest acceptance rates to be located in Claremont, California; the other two being Pomona College and Claremont McKenna College. Harvey Mudd’s acceptance rate of 10% is very selective among colleges in California, though less than half of those admitted (48%) proceeded to enroll at the college.

Tulane University

  • Total number of applicants: 45,525

  • Tulane acceptance rate: 10%

  • Tuition and required fees: $60,814

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 61% Female - 39% Male

Tulane University is the lowest acceptance rate college in Louisiana and the only Louisiana school to make the list of the 50 hardest colleges to get into. Tulane has a markedly higher proportion of female undergraduate students than male: 61% vs. 39%, respectively. Of the 10% of applicants admitted to Tulane, 46% of them proceed to then enroll at the university.

United States Military Academy

  • Total number of applicants: 13,955

  • West Point acceptance rate: 11%

  • Tuition and required fees: N/A

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 24% Female - 76% Male

Often just called “West Point”, the United States Military Academy has a competitive admission rate of 11% for the academic year beginning in fall 2021. Like other armed forces academies in the U.S., the percentage of those admitted to the U.S. Military Academy is very high, at 81%.

Barnard College

  • Total number of applicants: 10,395

  • Barnard College acceptance rate: 11%

  • Tuition and required fees: $59,687

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 100% Female - 0% Male

Barnard College is an all-female college that’s an affiliate of Columbia University. Like Columbia, Barnard College is one of the hardest colleges to get into, with an admission rate of only 11%. Plus, an impressive rate of those admitted to Barnard College go on to enroll at the school, with 65% of them choosing to attend.

Claremont McKenna College

  • Total number of applicants: 5,632

  • Claremont McKenna acceptance rate: 11%

  • Tuition and required fees: $58,111

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 51% Female - 49% Male

Claremont McKenna College is the third of three colleges with the lowest acceptance rates to be located in Claremont, California. Claremont McKenna’s admission rate was 11% for the academic year beginning in fall 2021, behind Pomona College’s 7%, and Harvey Mudd’s 10%. However, more applicants who were admitted to Claremont McKenna went on to enroll at the school (57%) versus those admitted who then enrolled at Harvey Mudd College (48%).

Tufts University

  • Total number of applicants: 31,198

  • Tufts acceptance rate: 11%

  • Tuition and required fees: $63,000

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 55% Female - 45% Male

Tufts University is still another Massachusetts school to rank among the colleges with the lowest acceptance rates in the U.S. With more than 31,000 applicants in fall 2021, Tufts University admitted 11% of them. Of those 11% of applicants granted admission, 50% of them proceed to attend Tufts University. With a graduation rate of 94%, Tufts ranks among the schools with the best rates of graduation in the study.

UCLA

  • Total number of applicants: 139,489

  • UCLA acceptance rate: 11%

  • Tuition and required fees: $13,258 in-state | $43,012 out-of-state

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 60% Female - 40% Male

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), is tied with Tufts University and several other colleges with an admission rate of 11%. UCLA, however, gets an enormous number of applicants, with almost 140,000 in the academic year beginning in 2021. If you’re a student who resides in the state of California, you’ll get a significant discount on tuition versus an out-of-state student attending UCLA.

Grinnell College

  • Total number of applicants: 10,513

  • Grinnell College acceptance rate: 11%

  • Tuition and required fees: $58,648

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 52% Female - 48% Male

The lowest acceptance rate college in Iowa is Grinnell College, which is also the only school to make our list that’s located in Iowa. With more than 10,500 applicants a year, Grinnell College admitted 11% of them in fall 2021. Of those 11% granted admission, 43% of them proceeded to attend Grinnell College. 

St. Andrews University

  • Total number of applicants: 2,164

  • St. Andrews acceptance rate: 12%

  • Tuition and required fees: $28,630

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 54% Female - 46% Male

St. Andrews University is one of two schools in North Carolina to rank among the lowest acceptance rate colleges in the nation. St. Andrews is a small, private Presbyterian liberal arts college and had an admission rate of only 12% in fall 2021. Impressively, of those 12% admitted, a full 98% of them decided to go on and enroll at St. Andrews University, one of the highest rates in the study.

United States Air Force Academy

  • Total number of applicants: 11,687

  • U.S. Air Force Academy acceptance rate: 12%

  • Tuition and required fees: N/A

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 29% Female - 71% Male

The United States Air Force Academy is the third of three U.S. armed forces academies to make our list of the 50 hardest schools to get into. With an admission rate of 12%, it is only one percentage point behind the admission rate at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. 

Georgetown University

  • Total number of applicants: 27,629

  • Georgetown University acceptance rate: 12%

  • Tuition and required fees: $59,957

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 57% Female - 43% Male

The lowest acceptance rate college in Washington, D.C., is Georgetown University. With more than 27,600 applicants in fall 2021, Georgetown admitted just 12% of them. Of the 12% of applicants admitted, 48% of them proceeded to attend Georgetown University. 

New York University (NYU)

  • Total number of applicants: 95,517

  • NYU acceptance rate: 13%

  • Tuition and required fees: $56,500

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 58% Female - 42% Male

NYU is one of many schools in New York state to rank among the lowest acceptance rate colleges in the country. With an incredible 95,517 applicants for the fall 2021 academic year, NYU admitted only 13% of them. Out of those 13% admitted, just under half (49%) decided to enroll and attend NYU upon admission.

Washington University in St. Louis

  • Total number of applicants: 33,634

  • Washington University acceptance rate: 13%

  • Tuition and required fees: $58,866

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 54% Female - 46% Male

Representing Missouri, Washington University in St. Louis is the lowest acceptance rate college in the state. With a bit under 34,000 applicants in fall 2021, Washington University accepted only 13% of applicants. And of those 13% admitted, 45% went on to attend Washington University. What’s more, with a graduation rate of 93%, Washington University in St. Louis has one of the best graduation rates in the study.

Middlebury College

  • Total number of applicants: 11,906

  • Middlebury College acceptance rate: 13%

  • Tuition and required fees: $59,770

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 54% Female - 46% Male

Middlebury College is the lowest acceptance rate college in Vermont as well as the only Vermont school to make our list of the 50 hardest colleges to get into in the U.S. Middlebury is on the smaller side of colleges, with an undergraduate population of a little over 2,800 students. Of the 13% of applicants admitted in fall 2021, 42% of them proceeded to attend Middlebury College after acceptance.

University of Southern California (USC)

  • Total number of applicants: 71,031

  • USC acceptance rate: 13%

  • Tuition and required fees: $61,503

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 52% Female - 48% Male

The University of Southern California (or simply, USC) has ratched up its selectivity when it comes to admissions. With more than 71,000 applicants in fall 2021, only 13% were admitted — making its acceptance rate lower than even UC Berkeley. 

Emory University

  • Total number of applicants: 33,435

  • Emory University acceptance rate: 13%

  • Tuition and required fees: $55,468

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 58% Female - 42% Male

Emory University is the hardest college to get into in Georgia and the only school from Georgia to make our list of the top 50 hardest colleges to get into. With more than 33,400 applicants a year, Emory’s admission rate of 13% is one of the most selective rates in the U.S. South. Interestingly, though, of those 13% admitted, only 34% go on to enroll at Emory University.

Pacific Oaks College

  • Total number of applicants: 23

  • Pacific Oaks College acceptance rate: 13%

  • Tuition and required fees: $11,692

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 91% Female - 9% Male

Pacific Oaks College is located in Pasadena, California, and emphasizes Quaker principles and social justice. Pacific Oaks is a decidedly small college, with an undergraduate population of only 479 students and 23 applicants for the fall 2021 academic year, of which 13% were admitted. That said, of those 13% admitted, only about a third (33%) proceeded to enroll at Pacific Oaks College. 

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)

  • Total number of applicants: 32,896

  • CMU acceptance rate: 14%

  • Tuition and required fees: $58,924

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 50% Female - 50% Male

Carnegie Mellon University is the top college in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. With nearly 33,000 applicants in the fall 2021 academic year, CMU only accepted 14%. Of those 14% of applicants admitted, 43% went on to then enroll at CMU.

UC Berkeley

  • Total number of applicants: 112,843

  • Berkeley acceptance rate: 14%

  • Tuition and required fees: $14,226 in-state | $43,980 out-of-state

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 55% Female - 45% Male

Berkeley is one of the most highly regarded universities in the country and especially California. As a University of California school, it is one of the few hardest colleges to get into that is a four-year public university, rather than private not-for-profit. With close to 113,000 applicants, Berkeley’s admission rate of 14% is very selective. And if you’re fortunate enough to be admitted and live in California, your tuition will be much lower than an out-of-stater.

Colorado College

  • Total number of applicants: 10,975

  • Colorado college acceptance rate: 14%

  • Tuition and required fees: $62,070

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 57% Female - 43% Male

Colorado College is the second of two schools in Colorado to rank among the 50 lowest acceptance rate colleges. Colorado College is on the smaller side of schools, with an undergraduate population of a little over 2,200. With an admission rate of 14%, Colorado College is behind only the United States Air Force Academy for having the most selective admission rate in the state of Colorado.

Hamilton College

  • Total number of applicants: 9,380

  • Hamilton College acceptance rate: 14%

  • Tuition and required fees: $59,970

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 54% Female - 46% Male

Hamilton College is yet another New York school to rank among the lowest acceptance rate colleges. With an undergraduate population of 2,055 and nearly 9,400 applicants in fall 2021, Hamilton College accepted only 14% of those who applied. However, of those 14% admitted, only two-fifths (40%) went on to attend Hamilton College.

University of Notre Dame

  • Total number of applicants: 23,642

  • Notre Dame acceptance rate: 15%

  • Tuition and required fees: $58,843

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 48% Female - 52% Male

The University of Notre Dame is the only college in Indiana to make our list of the 50 hardest colleges to get into. With more than 23,600 applicants per year, only 15% were admitted. Of those 15% of applicants granted admission, 58% of them went on to enroll at Notre Dame. Notre Dame also ranked as one of the best colleges in Indiana in another BrokeScholar study.

Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

  • Total number of applicants: 2,678

  • Cooper Union acceptance rate: 15%

  • Tuition and required fees: $46,820

  • Undergraduate student gender breakdown: 47% Female - 53% Male

The last school to make our list of the 50 hardest colleges to get into is Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art (often shortened to Cooper Union). Cooper Union is one of the colleges with the lowest acceptance rate in New York state, with 15% of those who applied being admitted. Out of those 15% admitted, more than half of them (53%) went on to enroll in the college.