U.S. Colleges that are Hardest to Get Into

Colleges with the Lowest Acceptance Rate in America for 2020

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 Stanford University which sent acceptance letters to only 4% of the 47,452 students who applied and rejected 96%.

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.

313 results found

Stanford University
S
Stanford, CA
Stanford University

Private 4 Year

6 reviews

#4 Best Colleges in America

  • 17,381enrollment
  • $16,562net price
  • 4%acceptance rate
  • 1420-1570SAT range
  • 32-35ACT range
  • 4.18Avg GPA
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Harvard University
H
Cambridge, MA
Harvard University

Private 4 Year

3 reviews

#2 Best Colleges in America

  • 31,566enrollment
  • $17,030net price
  • 5%acceptance rate
  • 1460-1580SAT range
  • 33-35ACT range
  • 4.04Avg GPA
Princeton University
P
Princeton, NJ
Princeton University

Private 4 Year

1 reviews

#3 Best Colleges in America

  • 8,374enrollment
  • $16,302net price
  • 5%acceptance rate
  • 1440-1570SAT range
  • 32-35ACT range
  • 3.87Avg GPA
Yale University
Y
New Haven, CT
Yale University

Private 4 Year

1 reviews

#1 Best Colleges in America

  • 13,433enrollment
  • $18,053net price
  • 6%acceptance rate
  • 1460-1570SAT range
  • 33-35ACT range
  • 3.95*Avg GPA
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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

#10 Best Colleges in America

  • 31,077enrollment
  • $22,824net price
  • 6%acceptance rate
  • 1450-1560SAT range
  • 33-35ACT range
  • 3.91*Avg GPA
California Institute of Technology
C
Pasadena, CA
California Institute of Technology

Private 4 Year

1 reviews

#18 Best Colleges in America

  • 2,233enrollment
  • $24,466net price
  • 7%acceptance rate
  • 1530-1580SAT range
  • 35-36ACT range
  • 3.97*Avg GPA
University of Chicago
C
Chicago, IL
University of Chicago

Private 4 Year

3 reviews

#6 Best Colleges in America

  • 17,002enrollment
  • $34,834net price
  • 7%acceptance rate
  • 1470-1570SAT range
  • 33-35ACT range
  • 4.0Avg GPA
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Massachusetts Institute of Technology
M
Cambridge, MA
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Private 4 Year

2 reviews

#5 Best Colleges in America

  • 11,574enrollment
  • $22,230net price
  • 7%acceptance rate
  • 1500-1570SAT range
  • 34-36ACT range
  • 3.96*Avg GPA
Pomona College
P
Claremont, CA
Pomona College

Private 4 Year

0 reviews

#12 Best Colleges in America

  • 1,573enrollment
  • $18,427net price
  • 8%acceptance rate
  • 1400-1540SAT range
  • 31-34ACT range
  • 3.89*Avg GPA
Northwestern University
N
Evanston, IL
Northwestern University

Private 4 Year

1 reviews

#7 Best Colleges in America

  • 22,127enrollment
  • $26,099net price
  • 8%acceptance rate
  • 1430-1550SAT range
  • 33-35ACT range
  • 3.92*Avg GPA
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The Juilliard School
J
New York, NY
The Juilliard School

Private 4 Year

2 reviews

 

  • 942enrollment
  • $32,903net price
  • 8%acceptance rate
  • -SAT range
  • -ACT range
  • NAAvg GPA
University of Pennsylvania
P
Philadelphia, PA
University of Pennsylvania

Private 4 Year

3 reviews

#8 Best Colleges in America

  • 25,860enrollment
  • $24,539net price
  • 8%acceptance rate
  • 1420-1550SAT range
  • 32-35ACT range
  • 3.9Avg GPA
Brown University
B
Providence, RI
Brown University

Private 4 Year

1 reviews

#13 Best Colleges in America

  • 10,257enrollment
  • $25,651net price
  • 8%acceptance rate
  • 1420-1550SAT range
  • 32-35ACT range
  • 3.94*Avg GPA
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Claremont McKenna College
C
Claremont, CA
Claremont McKenna College

Private 4 Year

0 reviews

#4 Best Private Colleges in California

  • 1,327enrollment
  • $28,712net price
  • 9%acceptance rate
  • 1350-1500SAT range
  • 31-34ACT range
  • 3.89*Avg GPA
United States Naval Academy
N
Annapolis, Maryland
United States Naval Academy

Public 4 Year

1 reviews

#4 Best Public Universities in Maryland

  • 4,512enrollment
  • -net price
  • 9%acceptance rate
  • 1150-1370SAT range
  • 26-32ACT range
  • 3.8*Avg GPA
Dartmouth College
D
Hanover, NH
Dartmouth College

Private 4 Year

3 reviews

#9 Best Colleges in America

  • 6,572enrollment
  • $22,303net price
  • 9%acceptance rate
  • 1420-1560SAT range
  • 31-35ACT range
  • 3.9*Avg GPA
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Duke University
D
Durham, NC
Duke University

Private 4 Year

4 reviews

#11 Best Colleges in America

  • 16,606enrollment
  • $22,011net price
  • 9%acceptance rate
  • 1450-1570SAT range
  • 33-35ACT range
  • 3.94*Avg GPA
Swarthmore College
S
Swarthmore, PA
Swarthmore College

Private 4 Year

1 reviews

#20 Best Colleges in America

  • 1,559enrollment
  • $20,444net price
  • 9%acceptance rate
  • 1380-1550SAT range
  • 31-34ACT range
  • 3.9*Avg GPA