U.S. Colleges that are Hardest to Get Into

Colleges with the Lowest Acceptance Rate in America for 2021

These are the most selective public and private four-year colleges in the United States. The list is ranked by acceptance rate, lowest to highest and limited to schools which reject at least half of all applicants. Leading the list is Hampshire College which sent acceptance letters to only 2% of the 2,485 students who applied and rejected 98%.

Not all schools on the most selective list are overly academically challenging. Some schools with less rigorous test and high school GPA requirements may receive a large numbers of qualified applicants and the school does not have space to admit them all.

If you're looking for challenging colleges, you can also explore US rankings of the colleges with the highest SAT scores, highest ACT scores and highest GPA's.


286 results nationwide

Hampshire College
H
Amherst, MA
Hampshire College

Private 4 Year

4 reviews

 

  • 1,191enrollment
  • $35,499net price
  • 2%acceptance rate
  • -SAT range
  • -ACT range
  • 3.45Avg GPA
Stanford University
S
Stanford, CA
Stanford University

Private 4 Year

6 reviews

#2 Best Colleges in America

  • 17,381enrollment
  • $16,779net price
  • 4%acceptance rate
  • 1440-1570SAT range
  • 32-35ACT range
  • 4.18Avg GPA
Harvard University
H
Cambridge, MA
Harvard University

Private 4 Year

4 reviews

#4 Best Colleges in America

  • 31,566enrollment
  • $18,030net price
  • 5%acceptance rate
  • 1460-1570SAT range
  • 33-35ACT range
  • 4.04Avg GPA
Columbia University in the City of New York
C
New York, NY
Columbia University in the City of New York

Private 4 Year

0 reviews

#22 Best Colleges in America

  • 31,077enrollment
  • $21,828net price
  • 5%acceptance rate
  • 1440-1570SAT range
  • 33-35ACT range
  • 3.91*Avg GPA
California Institute of Technology
C
Pasadena, CA
California Institute of Technology

Private 4 Year

1 reviews

#7 Best Colleges in America

  • 2,233enrollment
  • $27,438net price
  • 6%acceptance rate
  • 1530-1560SAT range
  • 35-36ACT range
  • 3.97*Avg GPA
Yale University
Y
New Haven, CT
Yale University

Private 4 Year

1 reviews

#5 Best Colleges in America

  • 13,433enrollment
  • $18,073net price
  • 6%acceptance rate
  • 1460-1570SAT range
  • 33-35ACT range
  • 3.95*Avg GPA
University of Chicago
C
Chicago, IL
University of Chicago

Private 4 Year

3 reviews

#6 Best Colleges in America

  • 17,002enrollment
  • $34,719net price
  • 6%acceptance rate
  • 1500-1570SAT range
  • 33-35ACT range
  • 4.0Avg GPA
Princeton University
P
Princeton, NJ
Princeton University

Private 4 Year

1 reviews

#1 Best Colleges in America

  • 8,374enrollment
  • $18,712net price
  • 6%acceptance rate
  • 1460-1570SAT range
  • 33-35ACT range
  • 3.87Avg GPA
Pomona College
P
Claremont, CA
Pomona College

Private 4 Year

0 reviews

#19 Best Colleges in America

  • 1,573enrollment
  • $18,500net price
  • 7%acceptance rate
  • 1390-1540SAT range
  • 32-35ACT range
  • 3.89*Avg GPA
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
M
Cambridge, MA
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Private 4 Year

2 reviews

#9 Best Colleges in America

  • 11,574enrollment
  • $20,465net price
  • 7%acceptance rate
  • 1510-1570SAT range
  • 34-36ACT range
  • 3.96*Avg GPA
The Juilliard School
J
New York, NY
The Juilliard School

Private 4 Year

2 reviews

 

  • 942enrollment
  • $34,004net price
  • 7%acceptance rate
  • -SAT range
  • -ACT range
  • NAAvg GPA
Brown University
B
Providence, RI
Brown University

Private 4 Year

1 reviews

#10 Best Colleges in America

  • 10,257enrollment
  • $27,218net price
  • 7%acceptance rate
  • 1440-1570SAT range
  • 33-35ACT range
  • 3.94*Avg GPA
United States Naval Academy
N
Annapolis, Maryland
United States Naval Academy

Public 4 Year

1 reviews

 

  • 4,512enrollment
  • -net price
  • 8%acceptance rate
  • 1240-1460SAT range
  • 26-32ACT range
  • 3.8*Avg GPA
Dartmouth College
D
Hanover, NH
Dartmouth College

Private 4 Year

3 reviews

#11 Best Colleges in America

  • 6,572enrollment
  • $23,869net price
  • 8%acceptance rate
  • 1440-1560SAT range
  • 32-35ACT range
  • 3.9*Avg GPA
Duke University
D
Durham, NC
Duke University

Private 4 Year

5 reviews

#3 Best Colleges in America

  • 16,606enrollment
  • $24,386net price
  • 8%acceptance rate
  • 1480-1570SAT range
  • 33-35ACT range
  • 3.94*Avg GPA
University of Pennsylvania
P
Philadelphia, PA
University of Pennsylvania

Private 4 Year

3 reviews

#16 Best Colleges in America

  • 25,860enrollment
  • $24,771net price
  • 8%acceptance rate
  • 1450-1560SAT range
  • 33-35ACT range
  • 3.9Avg GPA
Northwestern University
N
Evanston, IL
Northwestern University

Private 4 Year

1 reviews

#15 Best Colleges in America

  • 22,127enrollment
  • $26,196net price
  • 9%acceptance rate
  • 1440-1550SAT range
  • 33-35ACT range
  • 3.92*Avg GPA
Bowdoin College
B
Brunswick, ME
Bowdoin College

Private 4 Year

0 reviews

 

  • 1,828enrollment
  • $23,808net price
  • 9%acceptance rate
  • -SAT range
  • -ACT range
  • NAAvg GPA