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.

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313 Results (0.11 seconds)
    • SAT Range 1420/1570
    • ACT Range 32/35
    • Average HS GPA 4.18
    • Students: 17,381
    • Tuition:$51,354
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 4%
    photo credit / license

    Stanford University

    • SAT Range 1460/1580
    • ACT Range 33/35
    • Average HS GPA 4.04
    • Students: 31,566
    • Tuition:$50,420
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 5%
    photo credit / license

    Harvard University

    • SAT Range 1440/1570
    • ACT Range 32/35
    • Average HS GPA 3.87
    • Students: 8,374
    • Tuition:$50,340
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 5%
    photo credit / license

    Princeton University

    • SAT Range 1460/1570
    • ACT Range 33/35
    • Average HS GPA 3.95*
    • Students: 13,433
    • Tuition:$53,430
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 6%
    photo credit / license

    Yale University

    • SAT Range 1450/1560
    • ACT Range 33/35
    • Average HS GPA 3.91*
    • Students: 31,077
    • Tuition:$59,430
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 6%
    photo credit / license

    Columbia University in the City of New York

    • SAT Range 1530/1580
    • ACT Range 35/36
    • Average HS GPA 3.97*
    • Students: 2,233
    • Tuition:$52,362
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 7%
    photo credit / license

    California Institute of Technology

    • SAT Range 1470/1570
    • ACT Range 33/35
    • Average HS GPA 4.0
    • Students: 17,002
    • Tuition:$58,230
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 7%
    photo credit / license

    University of Chicago

    • SAT Range 1500/1570
    • ACT Range 34/36
    • Average HS GPA 3.96*
    • Students: 11,574
    • Tuition:$51,832
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 7%
    photo credit / license

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    • SAT Range 1400/1540
    • ACT Range 31/34
    • Average HS GPA 3.89*
    • Students: 1,573
    • Tuition:$52,780
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 8%
    photo credit / license

    Pomona College

    • SAT Range 1430/1550
    • ACT Range 33/35
    • Average HS GPA 3.92*
    • Students: 22,127
    • Tuition:$54,568
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 8%
    photo credit / license

    Northwestern University

    • SAT Range N/A
    • ACT Range N/A
    • Average HS GPA NA
    • Students: 942
    • Tuition:$45,110
    • Acceptance Rate 8%
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    The Juilliard School

    • SAT Range 1420/1550
    • ACT Range 32/35
    • Average HS GPA 3.9
    • Students: 25,860
    • Tuition:$55,584
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 8%
    photo credit / license

    University of Pennsylvania

    • SAT Range 1420/1550
    • ACT Range 32/35
    • Average HS GPA 3.94*
    • Students: 10,257
    • Tuition:$55,466
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 8%
    photo credit / license

    Brown University

    • SAT Range 1350/1500
    • ACT Range 31/34
    • Average HS GPA 3.89*
    • Students: 1,327
    • Tuition:$54,405
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 9%
    photo credit / license

    Claremont McKenna College

    • SAT Range 1150/1370
    • ACT Range 26/32
    • Average HS GPA 3.8*
    • Students: 4,512
    • Tuition:$0
      Admissions Standards  Very High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 9%
    photo credit / license

    United States Naval Academy

    • SAT Range 1420/1560
    • ACT Range 31/35
    • Average HS GPA 3.9*
    • Students: 6,572
    • Tuition:$55,453
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 9%
    photo credit / license

    Dartmouth College

    • SAT Range 1450/1570
    • ACT Range 33/35
    • Average HS GPA 3.94*
    • Students: 16,606
    • Tuition:$55,695
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 9%
    photo credit / license

    Duke University

    • SAT Range 1380/1550
    • ACT Range 31/34
    • Average HS GPA 3.9*
    • Students: 1,559
    • Tuition:$52,588
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 9%
    photo credit / license

    Swarthmore College

    • SAT Range N/A
    • ACT Range N/A
    • Average HS GPA NA
    • Students: 1,828
    • Tuition:$53,922
    • Acceptance Rate 10%
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    Bowdoin College

    • SAT Range 1450/1560
    • ACT Range 33/35
    • Average HS GPA 3.76
    • Students: 12,824
    • Tuition:$49,816
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 10%
    photo credit / license

    Vanderbilt University

    • SAT Range 1230/1410
    • ACT Range 28/33
    • Average HS GPA 3.88
    • Students: 4,336
    • Tuition:$0
      Admissions Standards  Extremely High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 11%
    photo credit / license

    United States Air Force Academy

    • SAT Range 1450/1560
    • ACT Range 33/35
    • Average HS GPA 3.74
    • Students: 26,152
    • Tuition:$53,740
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 11%
    photo credit / license

    Johns Hopkins University

    • SAT Range 1390/1540
    • ACT Range 32/34
    • Average HS GPA 3.9*
    • Students: 23,600
    • Tuition:$55,188
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 11%
    photo credit / license

    Cornell University

    • SAT Range 1140/1350
    • ACT Range 27/33
    • Average HS GPA 3.6*
    • Students: 4,589
    • Tuition:$0
      Admissions Standards  Very High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 11%
    photo credit / license

    United States Military Academy

    • SAT Range 1450/1560
    • ACT Range 33/35
    • Average HS GPA 3.96*
    • Students: 7,124
    • Tuition:$47,350
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 11%
    photo credit / license

    Rice University