Special Report

The Hardest College to Get Into in Every State

The majority of colleges and universities in the United States accept most of the students who apply each year. However, there are institutions that are very selective, admitting a small share of those who apply.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed admissions data across thousands of four-year, degree-granting institutions from the National Center for Education Statistics to determine each state’s most selective college. Our index was based on admission rates as well as SAT scores of admitted students to measure the difficulty of being accepted to those universities and colleges. 

Of the hardest colleges to get into in each state, 11 admit fewer than one out of 10 applicants. Not surprisingly, the most selective schools in seven states are the Ivy League colleges of Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth, Princeton, Columbia, Pennsylvania, and Brown. Harvard accepted fewer than one in 20 of the applicants for the 2018-19 school year. These colleges leverage their prestige and academic reputation to attract students from around the world and are able to charge a premium for attending the schools. These are the most expensive colleges in each state.

In some states, admission rates for even the most selective school exceed 50%. The University of Wyoming is the only four-year university in Wyoming and has an acceptance rate of 96%. In these schools, SAT test scores for admitted students also tend to be lower. 

The size of the school does not necessarily correlate to selectivity. Six of the schools on the list have undergraduate populations of more than 30,000, while five have fewer than 1,000 undergrads, such as Bethel College, one of several religiously affiliated schools on the list. Prowess in athletics has helped boost the selectivity of such well-known colleges as Notre Dame, Duke, Alabama, Michigan, and Clemson. Here are the most valuable college football teams. 

The most highly selective institutions by state appear to deserve their high number of applicants, at least based on the income potential of their graduates. A dozen have annual median earnings 10 years after matriculation in excess of $70,000. These are the most affordable colleges with the best outcomes in every state.

Click here to see the hardest colleges to get into by state.
Click here to read our methodology.