Grad School Acceptance Rates – Chances of admission

Although many eager undergraduates apply to graduate school (both masters and PhD) only a fraction will be admitted. There are a variety of factors that determine the acceptance rates of grad school. These include your academic transcript, the competitiveness of a particular course, the prestige of a school and much more.

Grad school acceptance rates vary wildly. Prestigious graduate schools have acceptance rates as low as 5% whilst others are in the range of 11 to 27% acceptance. Ensuring that you have a high GPA will help you secure a position – but there is much more that can help.

In 1998, it was shown that approximately 65% of college freshmen indicated an interest in pursuing some form of further education. Although many will pursue graduate study only a small percentage will be admitted.

In the 2003-2004 academic year it was shown that only 27.4% of doctoral candidates and 57.4% of Masters candidates were admitted.

Despite some grad schools being incredibly prestigious with high ranking research profiles, increasing your success at becoming admitted to the degree will rely on a few simple actions and tips.

This article will go through everything you need to know about grad school acceptance rates and what your chances of admission are likely going to be.

What Are the Current Graduate School Acceptance Rates?

The current graduate school acceptance rates are determined by a variety of factors, such as the university, the field of study, and the methodology used by schools to evaluate applicants.

Some schools want very high GRE schools and evidence of work or outputs in a particular field. Finding the right grad school for you will also involve applying to multiple graduate programs in various schools until you find a spot.

In order to ascertain the exact acceptance rate for a given school or program, it is important to consider multiple sources such as their official website and published reports.

Here are some example admission rates for various US colleges and programs.

InstitutionPercentage acceptance
Duke20% (2022-2023)
Dartmouth27 % graduate Studies (2021)
Princeton11 % (2022 – 2023)
UCLA25% (2023)
Stanford6.5% (MBA program)

You will notice that more prestigious universities such as Princeton and Stanford have very low acceptance rates compared to other schools. These are very competitive schools because they have a high level of applications.

For example, over 7300 people applied to Stanford in 2020. However, it only has a class size of 436 students, so there are very low acceptance rates.

Increasing your GPA to at least 3.64 PhD’s and 3.54 for a masters will help you increase your chances of getting admitted – but is not the only thing that matters.

These documents can provide insight into how competitive admissions are, as well as any special requirements or criteria that must be met in order to be accepted into a particular graduate school program.

Understanding what goes into these decisions can help prospective students make informed decisions about which grad schools they apply to and increase their chances of getting accepted.

If you want to know more about the acceptance rates of getting into a university check out my other article – What is the easiest grad school to get into? Easy admission requirements.

Graduate School Acceptance: What Are the Odds of getting in?

The odds of getting accepted into a graduate school program depend largely on the applicant’s GPA and GRE score.

Getting the highest GPA possible will help you stand out from the crowd. However, it is not the only thing that dictates your ability to be admitted to any graduate program.

Not only is it important for applicants to have competitive gpas, but they must also have a high enough GRE score to be considered.

Grad schools typically have an acceptance rate of around 15%, so there is a chance that even with impressive qualifications, an applicant will still get rejected.

You can significantly increase the rate of your acceptance by building up a professional relationship with a professor at an institute that you want to attend. Doing this can create a person on the inside of the college that can act as a reference for you.

The importance of a statement of purpose

Therefore, the statement of purpose is important too; it helps demonstrate why the applicant would be a great choice for the program they are applying to.

Here are some tips from my YouTube channel that will help you craft the perfect personal statement and statement of purpose for your graduate school application:

Ensuring that the three wise are answered in detail is probably one of the most under-utilised components of a statement of purpose.

  • Why you – they need to know exactly why you fit into their graduate program.
  • Why them – they need to understand that you know why doing your graduate program at their university is so important. Do they have particular skills or instruments?
  • Why now – you need to get across an understanding of why your research needs to be done right now.

Follow the tips in my YouTube video and you’ll be sure to have a much stronger application. Make sure that you address everything that is important to the school and that the program is looking for.

What Makes It Easier to Get into One Grad School Over Another?

Getting accepted into a grad school can be a difficult process, but there are certain factors that can make it easier to get accepted into one grad school compared to another.


The acceptance rate of the grad school is one of these factors; schools with lower acceptance rates are often more competitive and can be harder to get accepted into than those with higher acceptance rates. For example, Stanford has an acceptance rates of only 6.7% whilst other less competitive universities can have acceptance rates of up to 34.5%.

The reputation of the college or university offering the grad program can also have an impact on your chances of getting accepted.

Degree type

The type of degree that you are applying for also has a huge impact on the acceptance rates. Some universities have a load of open positions (known as a seats) for certain programs, whilst others have very limited intake numbers to ensure quality of their program.

The number of open seats in the particular grad program you are applying for. Obviously, schools with fewer open seats may be more difficult to get accepted into than schools with more open seats.


Finally, funding can significantly increase the competitiveness of a position.

If a grad school is offering funding for a scholarship alongside a position – you can expect that these can be highly and hotly contested.

If you want to know more about the acceptance rates of getting into a university check out my other article – Is a 3.5 GPA for grad school good enough?

Wrapping up

This article has been through everything you need to know about grad school acceptance rates.

The grad school acceptance rates vary significantly depending on the school, course, funding, and perceived prestige of a university or research institution.

Give yourself the best opportunity by focusing on preparing the best application possible.

The Author

Dr Andrew Stapleton has a Masters and PhD in Chemistry from the UK and Australia. He has many years of research experience and has worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate at a number of Universities. Although having secured funding for his own research, he left academia to help others with his YouTube channel all about the inner workings of academia and how to make it work for you.