Acceptance Rates for the Ivy League Schools, Class of 2020

The Ivy League Schools Have Some of the Lowest Admit Rates in the Country

Baker Library and Tower at Dartmouth University
Baker Library and Tower at Dartmouth University. Photo Credit: Allen Grove

All of the Ivy League schools have an acceptance rate of 14% or lower, and all admit students with exceptional academic and extracurricular records. In recent years, Cornell University has had the highest acceptance rate among the Ivies, and Harvard University has had the lowest admit rate.

The table below presents the most recent acceptance rate data for the Ivy League schools. To see what kind of grades and standardized test scores you're likely to need to be admitted, click on the graph link in the right-hand column.

Ivy League Acceptance Rates for Class of 2020
SchoolNumber of
Brown University32,3902,9199%News from Brownsee graph
Columbia University36,2922,1936%Columbia Spectatorsee graph
Cornell University44,9666,27714%Cornell Chroniclesee graph
Dartmouth College20,6752,17610.5%Dartmouth Newssee graph
Harvard University39,0412,0375.2%Harvard Magazinesee graph
Princeton University29,3031,8946.5%News at Princetonsee graph
University of  Pennsylvania38,9183,6619.4%The Daily Pennsylvaniansee graph
Yale University31,4551,9726.7%Yale Newssee graph
Will You Get In? Calculate your chances with this free tool from Cappex

Why Are the Ivy League  Acceptance Rates So Low?

Every year, the overall acceptance rates to the Ivy League get lower and lower even if individual schools may see slight increases from time to time. What drives this seemingly endless increase in selectivity?

Here are a few factors:

  • The Common Application: All of the Ivy League schools along with hundreds of other selective colleges and universities accept the Common Application. This makes it easier for students to apply to multiple schools for most information on the application (including the main application essay) needs to be created just once. That said, all of the Ivies do require multiple supplemental essays from their applicants so that it isn't an effortless  process to apply to multiple schools.
  • The Prestige Arms Race: Every year, the Ivies are quick to publish their latest admissions data, and the headlines typically shout to the world that the school had the "Largest Applicant Pool in School History" or had the "Most Selective Year in School History." And whether they admit it or not, the Ivies are always comparing themselves to each other. The schools have such strong name recognition that they really don't need to invest much money or effort in recruitment, but they do, in fact, recruit heavily. More applications means more selectivity which in turns means more prestige.
  • International Applicants: A significant piece of the ever-decreasing admit rates is a steady increase in applications from abroad. While the population of U.S. high school seniors isn't growing significantly, that fact is offset by a steady increase in applications from abroad. The Ivies have powerful name recognition across the globe, and they also offer generous financial aid to deserving students from international students. Thousands of students from countries like China, India, and Korea apply to the Ivy League schools.

Why Is It So Much Easier to Get Admitted to Cornell than Other Ivies?

In many ways, it's not.

Cornell University often gets looked down upon by the other Ivies (and applicants to the Ivies) because it's acceptance rate is always higher than the other universities. Acceptance rate, however, is just one piece of the selectivity equation. If you click on the GPA-SAT-ACT graphs above, you'll see that Cornell admits students who are similarly strong to those who get into Harvard and Yale. It is true that if you're a straight-A student with lots of AP courses and a 1500 SAT score, you're more likely to get into Cornell than Harvard. Cornell is simply a much bigger university so it sends out a lot more acceptance letters. But if you're a "B" student with middling SAT scores, think again. Your changes of getting into Cornell are going to be extremely low.

When Will Acceptance Rates for the Class of 2021 Be Available?

The Ivy League schools are quick to publish results for the current admissions cycle as soon as admissions decisions have been delivered to applicants.

Typically the latest numbers become available in the first day or two of April. Keep in mind that the acceptance rates announced in April often change slightly over time as colleges work with their waitlists in the spring and summer to make sure they meet their enrollment goals.

A Final Word about Ivy League Acceptance Rates:

I'll end with three pieces of advice related to the Ivies:

  • You should always consider the Ivies reach schools. The acceptance rates are so low that thousands of exceptional students get rejected. Your eight AP classes, 4.0 unweighted GPA and 1580 SAT score are not a guarantee of admission (although it certainly helps!). Ever year, I encounter heart-broken students who falsely assumed they would get into at least one of the Ivies only to end up with a stack of rejections. Always apply to a few schools that are less selective even if you're an impressive student.
  • There is nothing magical about the Ivies. It's disheartening when I meet students (and their parents) who have tied up their sense of self-worth with admission to an Ivy League school. There are hundreds of colleges and universities in the U.S. that will deliver an education that is as good or better than an Ivy League education, and there are plenty of non-Ivy League schools that do better in relation to student growth and professional success.
  • The eight Ivies are not at all the same. Every year you'll see the national news headline of the kid who got into all eight Ivy League schools. This news always leaves me wondering why the heck someone would apply to all eight. A student who loves the bustle of a city might be happy at Yale, Brown, or Columbia, but would be miserable in the small town locations of Dartmouth and Cornell. A student interested in engineering would certainly find a top-notch program at Cornell, but there are many better engineering schools out there than many of the Ivies. A student looking for an undergraduate-focused education would be wise to avoid schools like Columbia and Harvard where graduate enrollments exceed undergraduate enrollments by 2 to 1.