What is the University of Chicago’s Acceptance Rate & Admissions Requirements?

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UChicago Accepts 7.2% of Applicants. What Does It Take to Get In?


Built into historic Hyde Park, the University of Chicago is home to over 20,000 students across its undergraduate college and seven professional schools. Known for its unusual essay prompts, iconic mascot (the phoenix), and tight-knit community, UChicago offers one of the most unique locales for nourishing a developing mind.


But with an acceptance rate of only 7.2%, securing admission is no easy task. If you love the idea of spending four years learning deeply with your peers, read this post for insight on how to make your application stand out. We have helped thousands of students apply to UChicago, and we’re eager to pass our experience on to you.


Want to learn what University of Chicago will actually cost you based on your income? And how long your application to the school should take? Here’s what every student considering University of Chicago needs to know.


Applying to UChicago: A Quick Review


You may apply through the Coalition Application or the Common Application. For most applicants, we recommend the Common App. Learn more about it in our Guide to the Common App.


You can apply via any of the school’s four decision rounds. Early Action and Early Decision I applications are due November 1. Early Decision II and Regular Decision applications are due January 2. If you’re unsure about whether to apply early, read our post Early Decision vs. Early Action vs. Restrictive Early Action.


To apply, be sure to send in all of the following:


  • A general university application via the Coalition Application or Common Application
  • UChigago’s supplemental essays
  • Optional but recommended: SAT or ACT test scores
  • Two letters of recommendation from teachers
  • A school report and letter of recommendation from your counselor
  • High School Transcript
  • $75 application fee or fee waiver
  • A midyear report


International applicants are subject to different application requirements, which can be found on UChicago’s page for International Applicants.


Optional Components. Students with backgrounds in art, creative media, research, or an uncommon field may submit supplemental materials if they so desire. You should only do so, however, if you plan to continue the featured activity at the college level, if your work is exceptional and adds a new dimension to your application.


How Difficult Is It to Get into UChicago?


UChicago is one of the most selective schools in the nation, with an admissions rate of 7.2%. Of 32,291 applicants last year, only 2,329 were admitted. Ultimately 79% of students admitted chose to attend UChicago.


7.2% may sound like an intimidating number. Only a select few top-ranked schools like Harvard and Stanford come in with lower acceptance rates. But it’s important to remember that the strength of your profile impacts whether chances are higher than the average applicant.


Be sure to surround yourself with people who have been through the process so that you are receiving accurate and informed advice on how to craft a competitive profile. You may choose to work with a company like CollegeVine or conduct research on your own.


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So, How Does One Get Into UChicago?


The University of Chicago prides itself on a holistic application review, so there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind as you apply.


Academics. This includes both grades and test scores. Students with positive trends over time will also be viewed more favorably than those with declining grades. For reference, in the Class of 2021, the middle 50% of accepted students received SAT scores of 1460-1550 and ACT scores of 32-35.


Extracurricular Activities & Leadership. UChicago students in particular are known for being independent thinkers who chart their own course rather than following the crowd. Your extracurricular and leadership activities should reflect your passion and uniqueness. Be on the lookout for ways to make lasting, deep, and meaningful contributions in your field and community.


Character. UChicago is particularly well-known for valuing freedom of speech and individuality. As much as possible, use your essays, extracurricular activities, and letters of recommendation to highlight how you demonstrate a unique, vivid personality that, among other things, strives to uphold personal freedoms.


Contributions to Community. You will set yourself up for success by clearly articulating how you see yourself interacting with and enriching the school. Whether that’s conducting independent research, writing for an online student publication, or leading your intramural wiffle ball team to victory, help UChicago admissions officers understand how your interests connect to specific opportunities to contribute on campus.


How to Make Your Application Stand Out


Demonstrate a voracious intellectual appetite. UChicago prides itself on academic prowess, so show you’re no slouch. To demonstrate your initiative, weave into your application any classes you’ve self-studied, research you’ve conducted, and reading you’ve done for pleasure.


Write standout essays. UChicago looks for strong writing skills within its student pool, even amongst students who want to study STEM. UChicago will readily choose students with stronger admissions essays over students with better extracurricular profiles. Academic standards, however, are typically not relaxed for stronger essays. A good way to demonstrate your writing abilities is to get your writing published professionally in any field (even in something like a magazine).


Embrace your uniqueness. The ideal UChicago applicant is a little quirky, as reflected in the school’s unorthodox application essay prompts. If you want to break the mold a little, this is definitely an institution that rewards creative essay structures as well as “nerding out” over your favorite topic. If you’re having trouble thinking of something unique to say, check out CollegeVine’s post, What If I Don’t Have Anything Interesting to Write in My College Essay?


Partner with a professional to find your voice and talents. All of this is much easier said than done. If you want to be competitive at a school like UChicago, no one-size-fits-all advice is going to get you there. Consider working closely with a CollegeVine mentor or your school’s guidance counselor to bring your admissions profile to the next level.


What If You Get Rejected?


UChicago is a long shot for just about everyone, so don’t worry if you receive a “no thank-you” at the end of the day. You can still go on to do great things.


UChicago does not accept admissions appeals due to their long list of qualified applicants on the waitlist. We do not recommend petitioning your decision.


Some students transfer into UChicago, but the transfer admissions rate is extremely low and requires a lot of extra work. However, students who maintain a strong academic and extracurricular profile will always have a shot.


You can reapply after taking a gap year, but this path is riskier than simply committing to another school and requesting to take a gap year there. To see if a gap year is right for you, visit our posts, What Are the Pros of Taking a Gap Year? and What You Need To Know When Applying to Colleges After a Gap Year.


If UChicago closes its doors to you, we recommend moving on. Northwestern University offers a similar undergraduate experience — both are universities in the greater Chicago area of similar size — and it has twice the admissions rate. Students who like UChicago’s focus on deep, independent thinking might check out St. John’s College in Maryland or Santa Fe, as well as Deep Springs College in California. For help adjusting to a different dream, read our post, Envisioning a New Future: Preparing for Life at Your Second-Choice (or Third, or Fourth) School.


If you’d like more personalized advice on your admissions profile, CollegeVine offers Elite Universities Application Assistance, where you’ll be paired with a successful mentor at a top school who helps you along every step of the application process.


For more resources on UChicago, visit these other CollegeVine posts:


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Veronica Wickline
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Veronica is an alumna of Harvard College, where she earned her A.B. in History and Classics. After graduating, she joined CollegeVine serving as the Curriculum Development Manager. She currently lives in Cambridge, MA and is writing her debut novel.