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When it comes to college admissions, there is one group of schools that we at CollegeVine hear about far more often than any others:  The Ivy League. The renowned Ivy League is often regarded as the pinnacle of elite college admissions, with acceptance rates that regularly dip into the single digits.


But Ivy League schools aren’t the only ones that attract top candidates and boast impressive admissions stats. For this reason, we sometimes hear from students wondering if other, equally impressive schools are considered Ivy League. In this post, we’ll clear up the confusion regarding which schools are in the Ivy League and we’ll add in our top Ivy League admissions tips, too. If you’re interested in the Ivy League, don’t miss this important post.


What Is the Ivy League?


The term Ivy League actually refers to a collegiate athletic conference composed of sports teams from eight private colleges and universities in the northeastern United States. Though the term officially refers to an athletic conference, it is more commonly used to refer to these same eight schools in other contexts.


The Ivy League was founded in 1954, the same year the NCAA Division I athletic conference was formed. At the time, the prestige associated with these schools was primarily due to the strength on the athletic field. Over time, though, the academic elite began to recognize these schools for their impressive resources and successful alumni. Now, admissions are so selective that it’s nearly impossible to think of the Ivy League without thinking of their synonymous academic selectivity.


What Schools Are In the Ivy League?


The eight schools composing the Ivy League include: Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University.


Brown University

Brown University is located in Providence, RI and is widely recognized for the freedom it offers its students to create their own academic paths. Enrollment is around 7000 and the acceptance rate hovers just below 9%.


Brown boasts an open curriculum, so outside of their majors, students are allowed to take whatever classes they would like. Brown was home to the first engineering program in the Ivy League, and computer science remains among its most popular majors.


Columbia University

Columbia University is located in New York, NY and is known for its diverse campus and rich opportunities, which draw students from around the world. Undergraduate enrollment is just over 6000, and acceptance rates recently dipped below 6%.


Columbia’s setting in New York City is the ideal backdrop for its appreciation of diversity and culture. It hosts a School of General Studies specifically for nontraditional students, and, while STEM fields remain very popular, social sciences and visual and performing arts are also among the most favored majors.


Cornell University

Cornell University is the largest of the Ivy Leagues, located in Ithaca, NY and comprised of seven undergraduate colleges, each with its own unique and diverse identity and student body. Enrollment is just over 14,000 undergrads and acceptance rates for the class of 2022 were around 11%.


Cornell’s size lends itself well to extensive and rich resources. It offers more than 4,000 classes and over 100 majors, though only 12% of classes have more than 50 students.


Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College is the smallest of the Ivy League schools and is nestled in the rural town of Hanover, NH. It is a prestigious private research university that offers a liberal arts education. Enrollment is around 4,300 and acceptance rates for the class of 2022 fell below 9%.


Dartmouth is well-known for its programs in business and engineering, and is highly regarded for the quality of its faculty and undergraduate teaching.

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Harvard University

Harvard University, located in Cambridge, MA, is probably the most well-known of the Ivy League schools, with the most selective acceptance rate of 4.59%. Undergraduate enrollment is just 6,700, but the campus also includes many graduate students swelling the student population to over 20,000.


Harvard’s academics are highly regarded across the board, so it’s no surprise that its most popular majors include a breadth of nearly everything from social sciences and history to math, biology, and the physical sciences. Most recently, Harvard is making waves for its Making Caring Common initiative, which includes a goal of shifting the emphasis in college admissions away from academic achievement and towards things like service work and personal qualities.


The University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania, or UPenn as its often referred to, is located in the heart of Philadelphia, PA and was the first university in the United States to offer both undergraduate and graduate studies. UPenn has an undergraduate enrollment of just over 10,000 and an acceptance rate around 9%.


UPenn has a history of being a leading innovator in the field of education. It is one of the top research universities in the nation, and is home to the nation’s first medical school, first collegiate business school, and first student union.


Princeton University

Princeton University, located in Princeton, NJ, currently holds the coveted #1 ranking in national universities from US News and World Reports. Its undergraduate enrollment is around 5,400 and the acceptance rate for the class of 2022 was under 5.5%.


Princeton has a 5:1 student to faculty ratio and 73% of its classes have 20 or fewer students enrolled. It is most highly regarded for its programs in economics, public policy, and history.


Yale University

Yale University is located in New Haven, CT and has an undergraduate enrollment of around 5,400. Despite expanding acceptances in 2017 to offer two new residential colleges, Yale still has exceptionally competitive admissions with an acceptance rate for the class of 2022 of just 6.3%.


Yale has a strong commitment to diversity, with admits to the class of 2022 representing all 50 states and 64 foreign countries. Yale’s financial aid awards in 2018 met 100% of demonstrated financial need and 84% of the Yale College Class of 2017 graduated debt-free.


To learn more about Ivy League schools and what they’re all about, don’t miss these posts:


Which Ivy League is Right for You?

College Spotlight Series: Everything You Need to Know About Brown

College Spotlight Series: Everything You Need to Know About Columbia

College Spotlight Series: Everything You Need to Know About Harvard

College Spotlight Series: Everything You Need to Know About Princeton

College Spotlight Series: Everything You Need to Know About Yale

2019 U.S. News and World Report College Rankings Released


How Can I Get into an Ivy League?


Getting into the Ivy League is no simple feat. It requires top standardized test scores, a near-perfect GPA, and glowing recommendations from your teachers. In addition, you’ll need to show demonstrate personal qualities like leadership, initiative, and commitment through your extracurricular honors and achievements.


That being said, there is no secret formula for getting into the Ivy League. If you’re interested in learning more about Ivy League admissions, don’t miss these posts:


What Classes to Take Sophomore Year to Impress Selective Colleges and the Ivy League

How 9th Graders Can Prepare Now for the Ivy League

How Your Summer Plans Factor Into Ivy League Admissions

Do I Have To Do Something Extraordinary to Get Into an Ivy League School?

What Does It Take to Get Into Harvard?

What’s a Good SAT Score for the Ivy League?


For more help getting into the Ivy League, don’t miss our compilation of information available in the post Applying to the Ivy League: Everything You Need to Know.


Curious about your chances of acceptance to your dream school? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!


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Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.