How to Get Into the University of Chicago: Acceptance Rate and Strategies

June 5, 2023

In the 1990s and early 2000s, the University of Chicago was still a premier destination for quiet, bookish types, many of whom had their heart set on a future in research/academia. Always a haven for intellectuals, UChicago was more concerned with providing an epically rigorous educational experience (the school was then known as “where fun goes to die”), than with being viewed as “most selective” in its admissions process. In 1993, the University of Chicago acceptance rate was 77%, and as recently as 2005, the UChicago acceptance rate was still 40%.

New leadership led to a more aggressive marketing of the school, as UChicago began seeking an increased number of applicants. By having a lower acceptance rate, perhaps even one on par with the Ivy League, the university would finally get the recognition it deserved as one of the most distinguished institutions of higher learning in the United States. Recognizing this history is important as it informs you that you shouldn’t feel too flattered when you receive a piece of mail from UChicago strongly encouraging you to apply.

In short, the marketing strategy yielded spectacular results: the acceptance rate has actually hovered right around 5% in recent years, placing the University of Chicago right in the mix with Columbia University, Caltech, Stanford, Harvard, and Yale as the most selective colleges in the entire country. Given this newfound reality, those applying for freshman admission need to first do their homework.

The intent of this article is to give those considering applying to the University of Chicago a full understanding of the following topics:

  • Firstly, the University of Chicago acceptance rate
  • Next, the UChicago ED acceptance rate
  • SAT, ACT, and class rank of accepted University of Chicago applicants
  • Admissions trends
  • UChicago’s system for rating applicants
  • A look at the demographics of University of Chicago undergraduates
  • The percentage of accepted students that attend the university (yield rate)
  • Tips for applying to the University of Chicago
  • Lastly, how to assess whether applying to University of Chicago is even worth the $75 application fee (for you)

University of Chicago Acceptance Rate – Class of 2027

The university has not yet released the official number of applicants for the Class of 2027. However, the school has revealed that the overall UChicago acceptance rate was 5%. The University of Chicago acceptance rates for the previous few years are as follows:

  • Class of 2026: 5%
  • 2025: 6%
  • 2024: 7%

UChicago: Early Decision Acceptance Rate – Class of 2026

UChicago offers two rounds of Early Decision–the first deadline is November 1 and the EDII deadline is on January 2. Unfortunately, the university does not offer EA or ED acceptance rates. However, it is reasonable to believe that there is a slight advantage to applying ED or ED II at the University of Chicago, but with such a high yield rate (more on this later), the school doesn’t have to worry too much about getting applicants to commit.

University of Chicago Admissions – SAT, ACT, and Class Rank

Looking at the enrolled Class of 2026, the ACT Middle-50% was 34-35 and the SAT Middle-50% was 1510-1560. Additionally, in a typical year, 99% of attending students place in the top decile of their high school class.

Admissions Trends & Notes

  • The 37,522 applications received for a place in the Class of 2026 was a slight decline from the previous cycle.
  • Accepted early applicants into the Class of 2026 included international students from more than 40 countries.
  • The UChicago acceptance rate for the Class of 2027 is rumored to be around 5%, a touch lower than the previous year.
  • According to the University, 200+ early admits into the Class of 2026 were first-generation students.
  • Thee mid-50th ACT score increased from the Class of 2025 to the Class of 2026.

How the University of Chicago Rates Applicants

Overall, there are six factors that University of Chicago ranks as being “very important” to their admissions process: rigor of secondary school record, the essay, recommendations, and character/personal qualities, extracurricular activities, and talent/ability. GPA, class rank, standardized test scores (UChicago is test-optional), first-generation status, legacy status, geographical residence, religious affiliation, ethnicity, volunteer work experience, paid work experience, and the level of an applicant’s interest are all “considered.”

The University of Chicago is not going to be impressed that you filled the ten spaces on the Common App Activity List; they are looking for genuine excellence in one or more activities. For example, one recent freshman class included: a quarterfinalist and a finalist on Teen Jeopardy! the creator of two modern operas, Oman’s Woman of the Year, a student with patent pending for an artificial intelligence swim goggle that is being made in conjunction with Olympic swimmers, a nationally ranked archer, the No. 2 ranked Scrabble player in the world, and the first high school student ever to present research at NASA.

UChicago Acceptance Rate (Continued)

Lastly, in the admissions office’s own words, they “want you to, through your application, show us who you are in your own voice. What is your story? Why did you choose to pursue certain opportunities? What activities are most meaningful to you? The very best way to approach your UChicago application is to simply be yourself and write in your own voice. We care about you and who you really are, not what you think we want to see in an application.”

Who Actually Gets Into UChicago?

The Class of 2026 is comprised of students who grew up the:

  • Mid-Atlantic: 24%
  • Midwest: 19%
  • West: 21%
  • Southeast: 14%
  • New England: 11%
  • South: 11%

In past years (when data was released), students hail most frequently from the following states:

  • Illinois
  • New York
  • California
  • Texas
  • Florida
  • New Jersey
  • Massachusetts

In general, competition is harshest among those hailing from states with endless streams of qualified applicants (the entire Northeast & the West Coast). If you hail from a less populated state like Nebraska, South Dakota, or Montana, your location is more likely to provide a boost to your admissions chances.

University of Chicago Acceptance Rate (Continued)

Turning next to ethnic identity, the breakdown for the freshmen entering in fall of 2022 was as follows:

  • Asian American: 22%
  • Hispanic: 22%
  • African American: 14%
  • International: 16%

Further, the breakdown by gender is as follows:

  • Male: 43%
  • Female: 57%

Class of 2026 members were involved with the following activities while in high school:

  • Community service: 84%
  • Editorial: 21%
  • Music: 55%
  • Student government: 35%
  • Varsity athletics: 67%

University of Chicago Yield Rate

UChicago’s yield rate—the percentage of accepted students who elect to enroll, divided by the total number of students who are admitted is 85%. This number is among the highest of any school in the country as only schools like Harvard, Stanford MIT, Yale, Columbia, and Brown sport comparable yield rates.

Tips for Applying to the University of Chicago

If you plan on joining the 37,000+ UChicago hopefuls for the next admissions cycle, you should know the following:

  • The University of Chicago recently stopped offering on-campus and alumni interviews. However, as a substitute, students are allowed to submit a two-minute video introduction. This submission does not have to be edited or polished.
  • Another great way for admissions officers to get to know you on a personal level is through your two required teacher recommendations. For tips on which teachers to target and how to ask, revisit our blog on the subject.

University of Chicago Acceptance Rate (Continued)

University of Chicago Acceptance Rate – Final Thoughts 

If you bring world-class academic and extracurricular credentials to the table, there is no harm in filling out a University of Chicago application, but—as with all highly-competitive colleges in 2022-23—even the best and brightest teens need to have an appropriate college list, containing a complement of “target” and “safety” schools. In conclusion, those that will fare best in conquering this admissions gauntlet will boast a transcript of straight ‘A’s in an exceptionally rigorous program of classes, superior standardized test scores (while the school is test-optional, most applicants do submit them), and at least one or two talents and passions outside of the classroom.