People all over the world clamor for an acceptance to the University of Chicago, and for good reason: it ranks in the world’s top 10 universities, rubbing elbows with an exclusive group of schools — including the Ivy League — that excels academically, conducts cutting edge research, and produces highly successful people.
Located in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, the school is often nicknamed “Harvard of the Midwest.” Like Harvard, UChicago is credited for many key innovations, such as the Chicago Pile-1 — the world’s first artificial nuclear reactor — and radiocarbon dating.
Scientific advances aren’t the only thing that has earned the school fame. Before becoming the 44th president, Barack Obama worked for 12 years as a senior lecturer at the Law School.
With eight graduate schools and five international centers in London, Paris, Hong Kong, Delhi, and Beijing, UChicago has become synonymous with the Ivy League, the most famous brand name in higher education.
In this article, we’ll explain why Chicago is a top-tier school, how it fits into discussions of the Ivy League, rankings, and how to get accepted. By the end, you will be able to decide whether Chicago is right for you.
Is University of Chicago an Ivy League School?
The University of Chicago is not an Ivy League school.
The Ivy League is an athletic conference consisting of Harvard, Princeton, Dartmouth, Brown, Cornell, Columbia, Yale, and the University of Pennsylvania. Since their founding in 1954, the Ivies have also gained prominence for academic and research excellence. So much so that any high-achieving school is inevitably compared to the League.
UChicago is no exception. Although it’s an honor to be associated with the Ivy League, UChicago has established its own brand over the years. The school is known for its rigorous undergraduate programs, which includes interdisciplinary courses like Big Problems and Chicago Studies.
UChicago also offers joint bachelor’s and master’s programs in specialized areas such as social service administration, computational social science, and computational analysis and public policy.
Like the Ivy League, Chicago has made a name for itself by being on the cusp of modern research and producing the brightest minds. Some of these alumni include Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, NBA commissioner Adam Silver, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, Senator Bernie Sanders, astronomer Carl Sagan, and minimalist composer Philip Glass.
The university is affiliated with 94 Nobel laureates, making it the world’s tenth most Nobel-affiliated institution.
Why University of Chicago Is Often Confused As an Ivy League School
Given the highlights we’ve gone over so far, it’s easy to confuse Chicago as an Ivy League.
The university joins a roster of other non-Ivies — MIT, Stanford, Duke, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins — comparable to their Ivy counterparts. While the Ivies are top-tier, non-Ivies can be just as elite, if not more. It depends on what you look for in a school.
For example, UChicago is ranked #3 by Niche.com in the fields of math, public policy, and economics. If you want to go into any of these careers, Chicago is the place to go. But no matter what you want to study, you’re sure to encounter the Core Curriculum, which teaches undergrads how to address problems using multidisciplinary perspectives.
The Core consists of sequences in humanities, social science, physical science, biological science, and history of civilization. Students take these courses in conjunction with their major, broadening their knowledge and viewpoints. And since undergrads are all enrolled at Chicago’s sole College, they are less divided by subject and more united by “free and open inquiry.”
The arrangement is similar to Columbia’s Core Curriculum, or Brown’s Open Curriculum. Indeed, many Ivies share Chicago’s goal of holistic education where students are free to explore their passions and discover new ones.
This spirit pervades the university, resulting in very high research output. In fact, the University of Chicago Press is the largest university press in the country. Publications include the authoritative Chicago Manual of Style and Critical Inquiry.
University of Chicago: Ranking, Acceptance Rate, and More
University of Chicago has an acceptance rate of 6%, one of the most selective in the nation. It’s right up there with Yale, Princeton, Harvard, and Columbia.
U.S. News ranks Chicago #6 on their list of national universities. The list weighs graduation rates, social mobility, undergraduate academic reputation, faculty resources, financial resources per student, and other factors. Chicago also performs well in categories such as value, innovation, and undergraduate research.
Washington Monthly, an outspoken counterpart to U.S. News, ranks Chicago #24 overall. WM claims to value colleges’ “contribution to the public good in three broad categories: social mobility, research, and promoting public service.”
Niche.com, which ranks colleges based on data from the U.S. Department of Education and student/alumni reviews, offers a more comprehensive assessment of schools based on discipline. Overall, Chicago ranks #17, but it’s in the top 10 for political science, philosophy, chemistry, history, physics, religious studies, psychology, anthropology, film studies, and English. Chicago excels in a variety of courses, any of which would be a privilege to study there.
These rankings are only meaningful in relation to your unique values. Do you want to go to a school because of its academic reputation? Or do you prefer a college that moves the needle on social change? What do you want to study? Consider these questions as we move forward into the next section.
How to Get Into University of Chicago
With an acceptance rate as low as 6%, you’d be right to worry about your chances. But if you take the following advice, you’ll have a much better shot than someone who has no idea what to expect.
GPA and SAT/ACT scores
You’ll need at least a 4.0 to be competitive. Some insist on a GPA as high as 4.48. To get a GPA this high, you’ll need to take plenty of AP, IB, and/or Honors classes. Admissions officers need to see that you’ve challenged yourself and succeeded, suggesting future success in UChicago’s rigorous academic atmosphere.
UChicago became standardized test-optional in 2018, but doing well on the SAT or ACT will only further demonstrate your academic ability. Aim for at least 1500 on the SAT or 34 on the ACT.
UChicago is pretty famous for its quirky essay prompts. The following was an optional prompt from the 2020-21 application cycle:
“Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?” – Eleanor Roosevelt. Misattribute a famous quote and explore the implications of doing so.
UChicago wants to get to know you as a person. In their own words: “… we want you to, through your application, show us who you are in your own voice. What is your story? … We care about you and who you really are, not what you think we want to see in an application.”
In turn, you should allow your personality, sense of humor, passions, and unique view of the world to shine. Decide which prompts play to your strengths and experiences, and don’t be afraid to have fun with them.
Extracurriculars and Letters of Recommendation
Like the Ivies, UChicago values quality over quantity. They would prefer, for example, the student who has filed a patent for a new invention over the student who filled out all 10 spaces in their application with mediocre extracurriculars. Whatever your interests, make sure you demonstrate them through achievement as outstanding as you can make it.
Your letters of recommendation should also be from teachers who know you beyond the A they gave you in your favorite subject. Provide them with all the appropriate materials to write a good letter — your work/volunteer experience, personal statement, etc. — but make sure they can also supply specific anecdotes vouching for your passion and fit for UChicago.
Recap: University of Chicago Is Not an Ivy League School. However, it is One of the Best Universities in the World
The University of Chicago is not an Ivy League, but over the course of this article we’ve explained why that doesn’t preclude the school’s elite status.
Chicago is one of the best universities in the world, in part to world-class graduate programs and faculty. They pioneered modern sleep research, discovered the hormone-cancer mechanism, and developed the first NIH-approved cloud computing system to process cancer data.
The university has also led the way for social change. Founded in 1908, the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice was one of the first schools of its kind. Furthermore, it was the first U.S. graduate school to be led by a woman: Edith Abbott, PhD. Today it’s the nation’s top school dedicated to social work.
Bottom line: UChicago ranks highly in a plethora of fields as well as overall, so you’ll be surrounded by brilliant peers and faculty no matter what subject you pursue. The unique Core Curriculum will ensure you receive a multi-faceted education.
You don’t have to go to an Ivy League to change the world. UChicago produces plenty of global movers and shakers as is. If you have what it takes to become one of them, go ahead and apply.
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Is UChicago as prestigious as Ivies? ›
Schools like Stanford, MIT, and the University of Chicago often outrank Ivies in terms of academics. However, since they aren't in the same athletic conference, they technically aren't Ivy League schools.Where does the University of Chicago rank among colleges? ›
It utilizes a quarter-based academic calendar. University of Chicago's ranking in the 2022-2023 edition of Best Colleges is National Universities, #6. Its tuition and fees are $62,940. The University of Chicago, situated in Hyde Park, offers a rich campus life in a big-city setting.Is University of Chicago better than Ivy League schools? ›
In fact, the University of Chicago is ranked higher than many Ivy League institutions. Check out the US World News & Report top 25 national college rankings to see how non-ivy league schools like the University of Chicago rankings stack up to their Ivy League counterparts.Is UChicago or Northwestern more prestigious? ›
The University of Chicago (UChicago) and Northwestern University are the two highest-ranked universities in Illinois and are both consistently ranked in the top 50 of the QS World University Rankings: USA 2021. On a national scale, both are currently in the top 15 universities in the US.Is University of Chicago harder to get into than Harvard? ›
Is University of Chicago or Harvard University Harder to get into? Which school is easier to get into? If you're looking at acceptance rate alone, then Harvard University is more difficult to get into.What is the reputation of University of Chicago? ›
University of Chicago is ranked #22 in Best Global Universities. Schools are ranked according to their performance across a set of widely accepted indicators of excellence. Read more about how we rank schools.Why is UChicago so highly ranked? ›
The University of Chicago is known among students for its rigorous academics-and well-celebrated for that deep commitment, which is designed to help students not only learn but also to think, challenge, and question.Why is UChicago so prestigious? ›
Our distinctive form and style of education and our rigorous pursuit of knowledge have established us as one of the world's most influential institutions of higher learning. Our faculty of scholars and scientists from across the University teach students of all backgrounds and intellectual interests.What major is Chicago university known for? ›
The most popular majors at University of Chicago include: Social Sciences; Mathematics and Statistics; Biological and Biomedical Sciences; Physical Sciences; Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services; Psychology; Public Administration and Social Service Professions; Foreign Languages, Literatures, and ...Is UChicago a Tier 1 school? ›
Tier 1 is comprised of major private research universities, including MIT, UChicago, Stanford, John Hopkins, Northwestern, California Institute of Technology, Duke, Vanderbilt, and Rice (amongst many others).
What is the coolest Ivy League school? ›
To determine the best Ivy League schools, we averaged each school's rankings from each of these lists. The best Ivy League school in 2023 is Harvard, followed by Princeton and Yale.Is it easier to get into Northwestern or UChicago? ›
Is Northwestern University or University of Chicago Harder to get into? Which school is easier to get into? If you're looking at acceptance rate alone, then University of Chicago is more difficult to get into.Is it harder to get into UChicago or brown? ›
Therefore, the acceptance rate alone is not a good indicator that University of Chicago is a better school or will be more difficult for you specifically to get into. On the flipside, Brown University is easier to get into based on acceptance rate alone.Is Northwestern or UChicago harder to get into? ›
|Location||Chicago, IL||Evanston, IL|
The UChicago acceptance rate is 6.5%, making it a highly selective university. This means that of the total applicants who apply each year, just 6.5% are offered a place. The UChicago acceptance rate might help you as you build your college list, as it shows you that UChicago is a reach school.What GPA do you need for UChicago? ›
You should also have a 4.48 GPA or higher. If your GPA is lower than this, you need to compensate with a higher SAT/ACT score. For a school as selective as University of Chicago, you'll also need to impress them with the rest of your application.Is University of Chicago stressful? ›
Effects of Prolonged Stress.
UChicago is known for being academic and quirky, and that is still the kind of student they are looking for. While they want students with high grades and impressive extracurriculars, they also want students who will fit into the image of the school; who will contribute to its culture and ethos.Is UChicago an elite school? ›
People from all over the world compete for admission to the University of Chicago for a good reason: it is one of the top 10 universities in the world, competing with the Ivy League and other elite institutions in terms of academic excellence, cutting-edge research, and the production of highly successful individuals.Is University of Chicago a fun school? ›
It can be easy to get caught up in your school work here, but UChicago is really a very fun place. There is so much fun to be had: playing games in the house lounge, going downtown with your friends, going to Medici, getting dinner in Hyde Park, IM Sports and midnight soccer, chilling on the quad, and so much more.
How many people get rejected from UChicago? ›
In 2022, the University of Chicago received well over 38,000 applications, leading to an acceptance rate of around just five percent. Though this school is strong in its “test-optional” approach to application, this massive wave of interest allows them to choose only the most impressive applicants from the lot.Is University of Chicago better than Princeton? ›
You can't go wrong at either. Princeton is more welcoming, easy to attend and a more casual fun environment, but U Chicago is for those who are serious academics or nerds if you were in a good way who love to learn for learning stake and want to be academically challenged.Can I get into UChicago with a 3.7 GPA? ›
Typical High School Grades.
|High School GPA||Freshmen Within Range||Competitiveness|
|3.75 to 3.99||24.54%||Avg -|
|3.50 to 3.74||9.41%||Reach|
|3.25 to 3.49||2.43%||Reach|
|3.00 to 3.24||0.81%||Reach|
Big Problems courses emphasize process as well as content: learning how to creatively confront difficult intellectual and pragmatic problems wider than one's area or expertise and to consider how to deal with the uncertainty that results.Can an average student get into UChicago? ›
Aim for a 1570 SAT and 35 ACT
The middle 50% of students admitted to UChicago had an ACT score of 34-35 and SAT of 1510-1560. You should aim to get scores slightly higher in the 75th percentile, which would be a 1570 SAT and 35 ACT (near-perfect scores!), but anything in the 50% range is pretty good.
Harvard and UChicago are two of the most prestigious institutions in the country, ranking second a third respectively on U.S. News' list of America's best colleges.Is UChicago impressive? ›
UChicago is consistently ranked among the top universities in the United States and the world. According to the 2020 QS World University Rankings, UChicago is ranked 8th in the world overall and 3rd in the United States.What is the easiest Ivy League school to get into? ›
1. What's the easiest Ivy League school to get into? While all Ivy League schools have a low acceptance rate, Cornell University has the highest acceptance rate among them. Cornell's acceptance rate is 11%, but try not to get too hung up on the numbers.Is University of Chicago Worth the money? ›
Below Average Value Nationwide. University of Chicago is ranked #2,223 out of 2,223 for value nationwide. Based on our analysis of other colleges at similar price points, we believe University of Chicago is overpriced for the quality education it provides.What is a Tier 1 college? ›
These are schools that “are expected to bring in at least $100 million per year in research grants, plus have selective admissions and high-quality faculty.”
What is the most prestigious school in Chicago? ›
The highest ranked among universities in Chicago, the University of Chicago is currently 9th in the world in the QS World University Rankings®.What is the number 1 school in Chicago? ›
Average Financial Aid: $58,244
Yale offers the largest average financial aid package — $58,000 per student. This immense financial support results in equivalently low tuition rates, and Yale offers the lowest average net cost among Ivy League schools, at under $18,000 per year.
Princeton is one of two Ivy League colleges on our list (the other being Dartmouth). As much as it values its academic rigor, it also clearly values the safety of its students. Princeton's overall crime score of 7.63 is lower than Bridgewater's, but its violent crime rate per 10,000 people is shockingly low: 0.35.What is the lowest Ivy League? ›
What Are the Cheapest Ivy League Schools? The cheapest Ivy League schools include The University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, Dartmouth College, and Princeton University.What is the blackest Ivy League? ›
Spelman College is ranked #1 in historically black colleges and universities in the U.S., and the top Black Ivy League school.Which Ivy is the most generous? ›
Princeton University is the highest scoring Ivy League to make the top ten list of universities with the best financial aid packages.
None of the Ivy Leagues offer merit scholarships, but each school meets 100% of your demonstrated need. So, Princeton typically has the most generous assessments of financial need among students.Does GPA matter at UChicago? ›
There is no minimum GPA or required test score.Can you get an A+ at UChicago? ›
Note that College students who take a course at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business may receive an A+ grade according to the Chicago Booth grade system, but will receive 4.0 grade points in the College grade system for that Chicago Booth course.
What is the number 1 hardest college to get into? ›
- Acceptance Rate: 3.19%
- Class of 2026 applicants: 61,221.
- Average SAT: 1510.
There is no minimum GPA or test score requirement for University of Chicago admissions. Its admission process is holistic and test-optional.What is the most difficult University to get into in the world? ›
- Stanford University.
- Harvard University.
- Columbia University.
- London School Of Economics And Political Science.
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
- Yale University.
- Princeton University.
- University of St. Andrews, United Kingdom.
The most popular majors at University of Chicago include: Social Sciences; Mathematics and Statistics; Biological and Biomedical Sciences; Physical Sciences; Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services; Psychology; Public Administration and Social Service Professions; Foreign Languages, Literatures, and ...What kind of student goes to University of Chicago? ›
UChicago is known for being academic and quirky, and that is still the kind of student they are looking for. While they want students with high grades and impressive extracurriculars, they also want students who will fit into the image of the school; who will contribute to its culture and ethos.Is it really hard to get into UChicago? ›
The UChicago acceptance rate is 6.5%, making it a highly selective university. This means that of the total applicants who apply each year, just 6.5% are offered a place. The UChicago acceptance rate might help you as you build your college list, as it shows you that UChicago is a reach school.