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 (0.12 seconds)
    • 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%
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    Rice University

    • SAT Range 1190/1300
    • ACT Range 21/26
    • Average HS GPA NA
    • Students: 1,565
    • Tuition:$19,360
      Admissions Standards  Challenging Requirements
    • Acceptance Rate 12%
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    College of the Ozarks

    • SAT Range N/A
    • ACT Range N/A
    • Average HS GPA 3.85
    • Students: 1,072
    • Tuition:$54,056
    • Acceptance Rate 13%
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    Pitzer College

    • SAT Range 1350/1530
    • ACT Range 30/34
    • Average HS GPA 3.73
    • Students: 47,310
    • Tuition:$56,225
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 13%
    photo credit / license

    University of Southern California

    • SAT Range 1350/1510
    • ACT Range 31/33
    • Average HS GPA 3.86*
    • Students: 2,000
    • Tuition:$55,210
      Admissions Standards  Extremely High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 13%
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    Colby College

    • SAT Range 1330/1530
    • ACT Range 31/34
    • Average HS GPA 3.91*
    • Students: 1,855
    • Tuition:$56,426
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 13%
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    Amherst College

    • SAT Range 1410/1550
    • ACT Range 32/35
    • Average HS GPA 3.94*
    • Students: 2,149
    • Tuition:$55,450
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 13%
    photo credit / license

    Williams College

    • SAT Range 1290/1520
    • ACT Range 30/34
    • Average HS GPA 4.29
    • Students: 44,537
    • Tuition:$13,226
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 14%
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    University of California Los Angeles

    • SAT Range 1490/1560
    • ACT Range 34/35
    • Average HS GPA 3.96*
    • Students: 902
    • Tuition:$56,620
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 14%
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    Harvey Mudd College

    • SAT Range 1330/1500
    • ACT Range 30/33
    • Average HS GPA 3.84
    • Students: 2,562
    • Tuition:$55,032
      Admissions Standards  Extremely High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 14%
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    Barnard College

    • SAT Range 1320/1530
    • ACT Range 31/35
    • Average HS GPA 3.86
    • Students: 42,501
    • Tuition:$14,184
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 15%
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    University of California Berkeley

    • SAT Range N/A
    • ACT Range N/A
    • Average HS GPA NA
    • Students: 2,144
    • Tuition:$55,470
    • Acceptance Rate 15%
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    Colorado College

    • SAT Range 1370/1530
    • ACT Range 31/34
    • Average HS GPA 3.89*
    • Students: 19,204
    • Tuition:$54,104
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 15%
    photo credit / license

    Georgetown University

    • SAT Range 1380/1530
    • ACT Range 31/34
    • Average HS GPA 3.91*
    • Students: 11,586
    • Tuition:$56,382
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 15%
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    Tufts University

    • SAT Range 1470/1570
    • ACT Range 32/35
    • Average HS GPA 3.92*
    • Students: 15,852
    • Tuition:$53,399
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 15%
    photo credit / license

    Washington University in St Louis

    • SAT Range 820/900
    • ACT Range 14/19
    • Average HS GPA 2.83*
    • Students: 271
    • Tuition:$17,700
      Admissions Standards  Extremely Easy Requirements
    • Acceptance Rate 15%
    • SAT Range 1280/1510
    • ACT Range 31/34
    • Average HS GPA 3.6
    • Students: 952
    • Tuition:$46,700
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 16%
    photo credit / license

    Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

    • SAT Range 1460/1550
    • ACT Range 34/35
    • Average HS GPA 3.9
    • Students: 390
    • Tuition:$53,736
      Admissions Standards  Exceptionally High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 16%
    photo credit / license

    Olin College of Engineering

    • SAT Range N/A
    • ACT Range N/A
    • Average HS GPA 3.73
    • Students: 3,217
    • Tuition:$54,944
    • Acceptance Rate 17%
    photo credit / license

    Wesleyan University

    • SAT Range 1350/1490
    • ACT Range 30/33
    • Average HS GPA 3.5
    • Students: 12,646
    • Tuition:$54,820
      Admissions Standards  Extremely High Standards
    • Acceptance Rate 17%
    photo credit / license

    Tulane University of Louisiana