The 20 hardest colleges to get into in America

Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesHarvard is the hardest college to get into in the US.
  • The hardest US college to gain acceptance to is Harvard University.
  • More than 90% of applicants get rejected.
  • Academic review site Niche ranked American colleges based on acceptance rate and standardised test scores.

With an acceptance rate of just 5.2% and typical SAT scores between 1430 and 1600, Harvard University is America’s hardest college to get into, according to a list from the academic review siteNiche.com.

The rankings are based on 2017 acceptance rates and SAT and ACT scores reported to the US Department of Education. College acceptance rates received a weighted average of 60% in the ranking computation, and SAT/ACT scores received a weighted average of 40%. Niche rounds acceptance rates to the nearest whole percentage.

Acceptance rates are listed below, along with the mid 50% SAT scores, which indicate the range in which 50% of students score.

Take a look at the top 20 hardest colleges to get into in the US:


20. Claremont McKenna College (Claremont, California)

Acceptance rate: 9%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1320-1490


19. Swarthmore College (Swarthmore, Pennsylvania)

Acceptance rate: 13%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1305-1530


18. Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Maryland)

Acceptance rate: 13%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1400-15670


17. Rice University (Houston, Texas)

Acceptance rate: 15%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1410-1570


16. Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois)

Acceptance rate: 11%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1400-1560


15. Pomona College (Claremont, California)

Acceptance rate: 9%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1340-1540


14. Harvey Mudd College (Claremont, California)

Acceptance rate: 13%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1420-1580


13. Dartmouth College (Hanover, New Hampshire)

Acceptance rate: 11%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1350-1560


12. Duke University (Durham, North Carolina)

Acceptance rate: 11%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1380-1570


11. University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Acceptance rate: 9%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1380-1570


10. Brown University (Providence, Rhode Island)

Acceptance rate: 9%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1370-1570


9. Vanderbilt University (Nashville, Tennessee)

Acceptance rate: 11%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1420-1590


8. Columbia University (New York, New York)

Acceptance rate: 7%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1410-1590


7. University of Chicago (Chicago, Illinois)

Acceptance rate: 8%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1450-1600


6. Princeton University (Princeton, New Jersey)

Acceptance rate: 7%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1400-1590


5. California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, California)

Acceptance rate: 8%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1510-1600


4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Massachusetts)

Acceptance rate: 8%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1460-1590


3. Yale University (New Haven, Connecticut)

Acceptance rate: 6%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1420-1600


2. Stanford University (Stanford, California)

Acceptance rate: 5%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1380-1580


1. Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts)

Acceptance rate: 5%

Mid 50% SAT scores: 1430-1600

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