The Most Difficult Colleges to Get Accepted Into in the Country
Submitting college applications is one of the most stressful experiences in life. Perhaps you love a college and know it’s "the one." However, it’s a competitive game against other applicants. How will your application stand out from the others?
Drawing research from Niche and the U.S. Department of Education, we have compiled a list of the 30 most challenging colleges to get accepted into in the U.S. If you’re applying to these colleges, good luck!
Carnegie Mellon University
Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania., Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) has world-class programs in the creative arts, business, humanities, engineering and science. Founded by famous American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1900, CMU has high standards.
Pennsylvania has many historic colleges and universities, including Haverford College in Haverford, Pennsylvania. One of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges, students are surrounded by a close-knit intellectual community of faculty and peers who are passionate about visual arts, culture and media.
University of Notre Dame
The University of Notre Dame is Indiana's most difficult school to get accepted into. It is also the top Catholic university in the United States. The university strives to be a place of excellence for finance, accounting and economics majors.
Williams College is one of the most prestigious private liberal arts colleges in the nation. While receiving their education, students explore diversity, examine cultures, take special classes and challenge themselves to grow as individuals in unexpected ways.
Georgetown University is located in the heart of Washington, D.C. Popular majors include political science, government, international relations and finance. The university strives to be an educational home for the mind and the heart. You can’t help but get involved in politics while studying there.
Washington University in St. Louis
Washington University in St. Louis is often regarded as the Ivy League school of the Midwest. The research school is committed to learning and exploration. Professors encourage students to make an impact through majors including finance, psychology, computer science and more.
Located in Houston, Rice University is Texas' most challenging school to get accepted into. Known for its popular majors in economics, chemical engineering and information science, the university is also ranked by Niche as the best school to study physical therapy.
Known as an elite public research school, Tufts University is located in Medford, Massachusetts and prepares future leaders to change the world. This premier university provides students with a personal experience they will never forget as they study science, technology and liberal arts.
Located in Amherst, Massachusetts, Amherst College is home to the largest collection of Emily Dickinson’s poetry in the world as well as the Emily Dickinson Museum. With such a prestigious collection, it shouldn’t be surprising that Amherst College is one of the top private liberal arts colleges in the country. The college offers majors in English, history, art, theater, various sciences and more.
Cornell University is an Ivy League research university in Ithaca, New York that offers exceptional education for undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students alike. Named by Niche as the best college for agricultural sciences, the university encourages students to think outside the box.
Swarthmore College was one of the earliest coeducational colleges in the U.S. Located in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, the private liberal arts school has given students the knowledge, skills and experience to become future leaders. At Swarthmore College, there’s a major for everyone, including English, political science, medieval studies, astronomy and gender and sexuality studies.
Harvey Mudd College
Located in Claremont, California, Harvey Mudd College is one of the top undergraduate engineering schools in the country. It also excels at providing an education in mathematics and the sciences and the tools necessary to succeed in such professions.
Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins University is one of the most prestigious universities for medical research and is located in the bustling city of Baltimore. This private university is offer prestigious majors in public health, nursing and other medical fields. If you want to become a doctor, it’s best to receive your undergraduate degree at Johns Hopkins University.
Vanderbilt University has grown in popularity in recent years and is regarded by Niche as the best college to study education and the third-best university for psychology. The university is located in Nashville, Tennessee and offers a rich culture. Popular areas of study include economics, social science research methods and many majors within the liberal arts and humanities.
Duke University is known as much for its athletics as its academics. Ranked as the top college for student-athletes, this university in Durham, North Carolina is an elite private school for students majoring in economics, computer science, public policy analysis and many other fields.
This Ivy League research university is the ninth-oldest institution in the U.S. and was founded in 1769 in Dartmouth, New Hampshire. Dartmouth College offers students a quality education in majors including economics, political science, government, computer science and many other fields.
Claremont McKenna College
Located in Claremont, California, Claremont McKenna College (CMC) is one of the most prestigious liberal arts schools in the state. Known for its emphasis on economics, political science, finance, international relations and public affairs, CMC teaches students to know that they can be leaders who make a different in the world.
Northwestern University, located in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois, offers a highly collaborative environment for students. This innovative research school prepares students for personal and intellectual growth in a diverse community. Best known for its communications major, the university also offers excellent degrees in music, art and applied sciences.
United States Naval Academy
The United States Naval Academy is a competitive school to get into because admissions staff review both academic successes and military performances. Based out of Annapolis, Maryland, this federal service academy educates future officers for the U.S Navy and Marine Corps.
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania is located in Philadelphia and is the top school to attend for business. Popular majors include finance, economics, nursing and others. If you live in Pennsylvania, chances are you wish you could attend UPenn.
If you thought it was difficult to get accepted into Claremont McKenna College, try getting accepted into Pomona College, also located in Claremont, California. This private liberal arts college has a New England college vibe and excels in providing a variety of liberal arts majors, including English, media studies and theater. Psychology is also a strong option.
Located in Providence, Rhode Island, Brown University offers the education you’d expect from an Ivy League school. According to Niche, the university has the best professors in the U.S. Students come out equipped with an outstanding education in fields such as biology, economics, computer science and more.
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is the most difficult university to get accepted into in the state of Illinois. Located in Chicago’s historic Hyde Park, the private research university offers the best education for students wishing to major in economics, mathematics or biology. You can’t escape the world of STEM at the University of Chicago.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Consider yourself lucky if you’re accepted into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Located in Cambridge, the research university was named by Niche as the best college in the U.S. in 2019. The school was ranked number one for academics. Who wouldn’t want to attend a school like that?
California Institute of Technology
Maybe you want to become an engineer but don’t want to attend school on the East Coast. In that case, California Institute of Tech (CalTech), located in Pasadena, may be a better option. Known for its excellent degrees in natural science and engineering, CalTech is one of the world’s top-10 universities.
Everyone knows Princeton University is a prestigious Ivy League school. Founded in 1746, it’s the fourth-oldest institution in the country. Through its teaching and research, Princeton University allows students to pursue multiple interests, whether they're in politics, law, comparative literature, science or any other field.
Columbia University is the most prestigious university in the state of New York. It allows students to explore New York City while receiving an Ivy League education, often in economics and other business majors.
If you love history, Yale University is probably your dream school — it was voted by Niche as the best school for history majors. Yale also offers majors in economics, history, political science, government and more.
Located in the Bay Area, Stanford University is the Harvard of the West Coast. It’s the best and most prestigious university in the state of California. Stanford University is ranked by Niche as the second-best college in the U.S. in all categories of academics and campus life.
You had to know Harvard University was going to be the most difficult college to enter. Located in Cambridge, MA, the university has been the most elite American research school since its founding in 1636. Famous alumni include President Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, Ralph Waldo Emerson, W.E.B. Du Bois and others.