Veronica Wickline 6 min read 11th Grade, 12th Grade, College Lists

UChicago Acceptance Rate: What Does it Take to Get in?

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The University of Chicago has a 6.2% acceptance rate. 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 6.2%, securing admission to UChicago 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.


What did real University of Chicago students write about for their essay? Check out this video and watch the rest of the livestream to learn more about the University of Chicago from current students.


UChicago Acceptance Rate: What Does it Take to Get in?


UChicago is one of the hardest colleges to get into, with an acceptance rate of 6.2% for the 2019-2020 cycle. There were nearly 35,000 applicants.


6.2% 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. If you want to know your current chances of getting into UChicago and how to improve your profile, sign up for your free CollegeVine account to use our chancing engine today!

So, How Do You 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.




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 2024, the average SAT score was 1518, and the average ACT score was 34. For the Class of 2023, the middle 50% range for the SAT was 1500-1560, and 33-35 for the ACT.


Meeting or exceeding UChicago’s average academic standards is the best way to get your application read. This is because many selective schools use the Academic Index (AI) as a screening tool; AI is a single metric that accounts for the strength of your coursework and test scores. A great AI won’t get you automatically admitted, but it could keep you out if you fall beneath a school’s minimum threshold.


That said, if you have a special circumstance (are low-income, from an underrepresented group, first-generation, or battled illness), your application will probably get a second glance even if you fall beneath standard AI thresholds. UChicago lists that the actual range scores for admitted students was 1020-1600 for the SAT, and 20-36 for the ACT. So, you can still get accepted with lower stats, if you have a unique story and show you made the most of the resources you had.


Remember also that UChicago is test-optional, so you don’t have to submit your scores if they’re lower than the middle 50%. If your scores are strong, then you should definitely submit them, but if they’re weak, you can leave them out.


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.




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. The essays are a great way to showcase your personality, as the prompts are often extremely quirky and intellectual. For example, in the 2019-2020 cycle, one of the prompts was “A hot dog might be a sandwich, and cereal might be a soup, but is a __ a __?”


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 UChicago 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?


What If You Get Rejected by UChicago?


UChicago is a long shot for just about everyone, so don’t worry if you receive a “it’s not a good fit” 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. You shouldn’t take a gap year only to reapply to your dream school; you should actually want to take a gap year to do something meaningful. It’s often harder to get in a second time, unless you do something truly impressive during your year off.


If UChicago closes its doors to you, we recommend moving on. College is less about which school you attend, and more about what you make of the opportunities presented to you. You will likely find that you can still have an awesome undergrad experience elsewhere! If you find that you still want to transfer after a year or two somewhere else, you can always consider it then.


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



Curious about your chances of acceptance to UChicago? 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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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.