What grad school has the lowest acceptance rates?

Quite often the graduate school with the lowest acceptance rates are the most prestigious and hard to get into. They have built up a reputation for providing quality education and kicking out very capable graduates. They also tend to have been around the longest.

The most selective grad schools, with the lowest acceptance rates, include Harvard Graduate School, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Columbia Business School.

Harvard University has one of the lowest acceptance rates in the United States of America, at 4.6%. But Stanford University leads with an acceptance rate of 4.3%.

There will be slight changes to this number depending on the course that you are applying for. However, the acceptance rates are typically under 5% for Stanford and Harvard university courses.

Other universities with low acceptance rates include Columbia University (5.4%), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (6.7%), Princeton University (5.8%), California Institute of Technology (8.2%), Duke University (8.4%), Yale University (6.1%), and Northwestern University (9%).

These universities are all highly competitive, but they also offer excellent educational opportunities and a vast array of extracurricular activities for students to explore.

Here are some of the universities with the lowest acceptance rates.

University/institutionAcceptance rate (%)
Harvard University4.6
Stanford University4.3
Yale University6.1
Brown University7.1
Princeton University5.8
Columbia University5.4
Massachusetts Institute of Technology6.7
Dartmouth College7.9

It is no surprise that Harvard and Stanford University are under 5% acceptance. These are institutions with an incredible reputation and history.

If you are thinking about applying to these institutions you must have a GPA of 4.0 to be considered by the selection committee.

If you want to know more about the acceptance rates of getting into a university check out my other article Grad School Acceptance Rates – Chances of admission

Grad School Acceptance: What Are Your Odds?

Depending on the school, getting accepted into a graduate program is not an easy task.

 Your chances of getting in depend on multiple factors such as your GPA, GRE score, and the overall acceptance rate for the school you’re applying to.

Other components of your application such as:

  • your statement of purpose,
  • letters of recommendation
  • and portfolio

also have an impact on your chances of getting accepted.

A typical admissions office will first filter the candidates based on their GPA and then look for other outstanding elements of their application. This is why it is important that you put all the best things about yourself first.

If you’re looking to increase your chances of enrolling in a grad school, it’s important that you take the time to thoroughly research the admission requirements and deadlines for each program you’re interested in.

Doing this will help give you a better understanding of what it takes to get into grad school and how likely it is that you’ll be accepted.

If you want to know the most common reasons PhD applications are rejected you can check out my YouTube video below.

College acceptance rates – highest and lowest acceptance rates

The acceptance rate of a college is a measure of how many students are accepted into the school compared to how many apply.

The colleges with the highest acceptance rates are typically large state universities, while those with the lowest acceptance rates tend to be competitive or highly selective universities.

Colleges with the lowest acceptance rates have acceptance rates of typically less than 10%, making them very competitive and difficult to get into.

Schools such as Harvard, Yale, and MIT also have very low acceptance rates.

In contrast, some large public schools may have an acceptance rate as high as 80% or more.

Here is a simple list of universities that have a very high acceptance rate:

UniversityAcceptance rate (%)
University of Kentucky95.9
Alabama state university97.0
Utah state university91.0
The Evergreen State College (Evergreen)97.9
Covenant College98.2
Northeastern State University (NSU)99.6

Looking at the acceptance rates only is not the best indicator of what you should be applying for. It is important for prospective students to research each college’s individual acceptance rate before applying so they can best assess their chances of being accepted and then aim for universities that match their desired lifestyle and course outcomes.

What do high acceptance rates mean?

Acceptance rates refer to the percentage of applicants who are admitted to a college or university.

It is calculated by dividing the number of admitted students by the total number of applicants.

The higher acceptance rate of a graduate school indicates that the institution has been more lenient in admitting students, while lower acceptance rates indicate that the school is more selective in its admission process.

The total number of applicants for any given college or university can vary from year to year, so it is important to consider these numbers when looking at a school’s overall acceptance rate.

Generally speaking, higher acceptance rates mean that a school is easier to get into, but this should not be taken as an indicator of the quality of their courses or teaching — schools with low acceptance rates are often renowned for their academic excellence.

There are many very good colleges with a high acceptance rate that offer incredible courses facilitated by excellent teachers.

An individual’s chances of enrolling in a particular college or university will depend on many factors, including their academic background and qualifications, as well as other admissions criteria used by that institution.

Does the acceptance rate matter?

The acceptance rate of a college is an important metric to consider when applying for admission.

This is only because you don’t want to waste your time applying for a college that is very unlikely to accept you.

Even though it can be an indicator of the quality of the course, it is also not a great indicator of the quality of teaching you will receive. Yes, a university can be very prestigious – you may not get the best learning experience due to the high pressure or the culture of the school.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of applicants compared to the number of students who enrol in a particular college can give an indication of its acceptance rate.

However, it is important to understand that the acceptance rate does not tell the whole story.

Other factors such as GPA, test scores, and letters of recommendation also play a role in admission decisions.

Even if a school has a 50% acceptance rate, it doesn’t necessarily mean that half of all applicants will be admitted.

Factors such as the number of qualified applicants, enrollment rate, and other criteria can also influence admissions decisions.

Understanding the acceptance rate is just one part of the college application process and should not be considered in isolation from other factors.

Wrapping up

This article has been through everything you need to know about grad school acceptance rates and which ones have the lowest.

Prestigious colleges such as Stanford and hybrid typically have the lowest acceptance rates of under 5%.

There are many other colleges with much higher acceptance rates that also provide very good educational outcomes for its students.

Everyone would like to say that they have been to Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard or Stanford – but the reality is most of us will not be able to attend the schools and, rather, will get a quality education from a school with a higher acceptance rate.

If you have a GPA of 4 it is likely that you will be applying for these low acceptance rate colleges. You can also increase your chances by outlining other aspects of your experience such as research experience, committees and societies, or getting letters of recommendation from teachers and professors.

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.