How Hard Is It to Get into University of Chicago?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

The UChicago website

How Hard Is It to Get into University of Chicago?

While many of the top high school students target either the east or west coasts of the United States when it comes to finding their dream undergraduate programs, there is no doubt some of the most competitive and prestigious schools call the middle part of the continent home.

Most notably, the University of Chicago is without a doubt one of the most prestigious schools in the entire country and world. But how hard is it to get into the University of Chicago?

If you know anything about the current college and university admissions outlook right now, you know that getting into top schools has only gotten harder and harder.

In fact, the 2021 application cycle for students who want to be a part of the 2025 graduating class was the single hardest year to apply to many schools across the entire country.

At AdmissionSight, we make it our job to know everything that is going on with the current admissions process at top schools all over the country, and that of course includes the University of Chicago.

three students studying outside

Our commitment to remaining informed about the major occurrences and changes within the college admissions environment is what makes us so good at what we do.

It’s just one part of the reason why 75 percent of the students that we work with end up getting into either any Ivy League schools like Harvard or Yale or a top-10 school elsewhere in the United States like Stanford, MIT or the University of Chicago.

So, if you are thinking about getting into the University of Chicago, there is little doubt that you are also wondering how to get into the University of Chicago.

After all, it is one of the hardest schools in the entire world to get into. That is why we have taken the time to break down some of the most important facts to know about the getting into the University of Chicago. That way, when the time comes for you to begin your application, you will have one of the most important tools that anyone can wield when they are starting the college application process: knowledge.

Let’s get started.

University of Chicago’s admissions requirements

When it comes to the kinds of requirements that students must fulfill to get into top schools, it is important to know that there are few official requirements. Of course, every student must fill out and send in all of the required components of the application itself, but in terms of what kinds of courses a student takes in high school, or how they spend their time outside of the classroom, there are few official requirements.

For that reason, it is probably better to use the word expectations than requirements. When it comes to what admissions officers at the University of Chicago are looking for in the applications from high school students that apply every year, there are some pretty important factors that any student committed to getting into this school will want to keep in mind.

liberal arts students studying together outside


For starters, let’s begin with the kinds of courses and grades that high school students who are accepted to University of Chicago often enjoy during their high school years.

Keep in mind, UChicago does not have an official list of required courses that students have to take in high school. After all, the school is well aware of the fact that students typically can only take courses that their school actually offers. With that being said, here is what admissions officers at the school will look out for at the bare minimum:

  • 4 years of English
  • 3–4 years of math (through pre-calculus recommended)
  • 3–4 years of laboratory sciences
  • 3 or more years of social sciences
  • Foreign language study (2–3 years recommended)

On top of that, admissions officers also love to see that students are taking advantage of the rest of their time in school to pursue passions and interests that stretch beyond the core curriculum.

What your specific passions and interests are matters much less than the fact that you pursued them as much and as deeply as possible during your high school education. Doing that will reflect very highly on you when your application actually gets to the admissions office at the university.

Moreover, students who are interested in getting into the University of Chicago must be fully aware that simply taking the previously mentioned courses is usually not enough. Whenever possible, students should be enrolling in as many advanced courses as possible. That specifically refers to AP courses, IB courses, or whatever advanced or honor classes your high school offers.

Why is doing this so important for students who want to get into some of the most competitive schools in the world? The answer is quite simple. At schools like the University of Chicago, the student body is made up entirely of highly focused, determined, and intelligent young men and women. This high level of performance can come with a pretty strong sense of urgency and competitiveness.

Moreover, the teachers at UChicago are often world leaders within their respective areas of study and expertise. This too can massively increase the level of expectation.

On top of that, these kinds of teachers are not always keen on trying to help a student learn how to take notes effectively, study proficiently and prepare for important projects, tests, and exams.

Instead, the teachers at UChicago expect the students at the school to come in with already-established strategies and techniques to succeed in the classroom.

So, what does this have to do with AP or IB courses? Essentially, these kinds of classes are modeled after introductory collegiate-level classes. When it comes to the information learned, the pace in which the courses are taught, and even the nature of the exams, they are specifically built to help prepare advanced students for the next level of their education.

So, when a student takes loads of advanced courses in high school and manages to excel in those courses, it not only reflects well on their grade point average in high school, but it also serves as a crucial bit of evidence that you have what it takes to achieve high grades and enjoy success when enrolled in more advanced courses at the high school level, and eventually at the collegiate level.

While we are on the subject of grade point averages and how they pertain to a student getting into University of Chicago, let’s break down the average GPA for high schoolers that do get into this school.

In fact, a big part of the answer to the question, “How hard is it to get into University of Chicago?” has to do with the grade point average of students that get in. In fact, if you want to get a good sense of how difficult is it to get into the University of Chicago, you really only have to look at the average grade point average of high schoolers that are accepted.

What is that number, you ask? It’s a blisteringly high weighted GPA of 4.48. Yes, you read that right. The average GPA for students that get into UChicago is well above the unweighted perfect GPA of 4.0. So, what does this mean? And how do students even earn a GPA higher than a straight-A 4.0? The answer circles back to the advanced courses we just discussed.

Basically, advanced classes like AP and IB courses come with a weighted GPA out of a 5.0. So, getting a final A grade in an AP course is going to potentially take a student’s GPA above that unweighted 4.0 scale.

The fact that the average GPA at UChicago is higher than a 4.0 tells you that students are not only taking lots of advanced courses throughout their years in high school but also doing incredibly well in those courses.

But how incredibly high is the 4.48 average GPA really? If you want to get a good idea of just how hard is it to get into the University of Chicago, take a look at the average grade point averages for students that get into the eight Ivy League schools:

Notice anything? University of Chicago’s average GPA is quite a bit higher than all of the average GPAs for students that get into any of the Ivy League schools. While that does not necessarily mean that UChicago is harder to get into than any of those eight schools, it does effectively paint a picture when it comes to just how selective and prestigious this school truly is.

Another thing we want to cover when it comes to the admissions expectations that come with applying to the University of Chicago is the average standardized test scores. Of course, the two standardized test scores that high school students can choose from in the United States are the SAT and ACT. Both tests are quite different from one another, but both are meant to effectively determine how suited a student is for advanced learning. At UChicago, the average SAT and ACT scores are, unsurprisingly, incredibly high:

  • The average SAT score is a 1520 out of the perfect 1600
  • The average ACT score is a 33.5 out of the perfect 36

With that being said, it is really important to establish that, much like many of the other schools in the United States, UChicago has adopted a standardized test-optional policy in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The school’s admissions office is fully aware that taking either the SAT or ACT has become much more difficult during the pandemic. Moreover, the school has made it abundantly clear that under no circumstances should a student put themselves, or someone in their family or community, at risk in order to take either the SAT or ACT. This is what the school’s official admissions site has to say about its test-optional policy:

“Due to the current situation surrounding COVID-19, we understand that many students will be unable to submit standardized testing for the 2020/2021 application cycle,” the site reads. “Don’t worry—this is not an issue with our application process! Our application process is test-optional for all applicants (Domestic, International, and Transfer Applicants).

You are a hardworking student and these current challenges should not impact your future goals! We look forward to reviewing your application (with or without testing) in the fall and winter!

“Although we are test-optional, we are still happy to accept and consider SAT or ACT scores from students who have previously taken these exams and would like to share their scores as part of their application.

“We will accept December SAT and ACT scores for Early Decision II, and February ACT scores for Regular Decision.”

The one thing to keep in mind here is that for students who are looking to increase their chances of getting into a top school, taking either the SAT or ACT and earning a score that is at or above the average for students that are accepted to University of Chicago can still be very helpful.

Of course, it is most important to make sure that you are able to take either the SAT or ACT without risking your health in any way. But when it comes to getting into top schools, using any and all advantages that are available to you is a major name of the game. On top of that, just because the school has adopted a test-optional policy, for the time being, does not mean that it will maintain that test optional policy.

If you are currently a freshman or sophomore in high school and planning to apply to UChicago, you may very well want to plan for an ultimate reversal on this test-optional policy. After all, the SAT and ACT have been major aspects of the college admissions process in the United States.

University of Chicago acceptance rate

The final piece of the puzzle to help you answer the question, “How hard is it to get into University of Chicago?” is the school’s acceptance rate. A school’s acceptance rate reflects the number of students that applied to the school in a given year compared to the number of students that were actually accepted.

Two people talking in front of a laptop while sitting on the couch of a living room.

At the University of Chicago, that acceptance rate is – unsurprisingly – incredibly low. In fact, it is one of the lowest in the country.

In the 2021 application cycle, the school reported that a total of 37,986 students applied to the school. Of those, just 2,408 were ultimately accepted for an acceptance rate of 6.3 percent. That puts the school on par with many of the schools within the Ivy League!

So now you know how difficult is it to get into University of Chicago. Because of this, you may very well be wondering about ways to get into University of Chicago university. Let’s break down a few of the top tips AdmissionSight tells its students whenever they are looking to get into these kinds of highly selective universities.

How to improve your chances of getting to University of Chicago

Apply via Early Decision

Early Decision is an application option for students who know that UChicago is their top choice. While the school does not actually publish statistics related to early admissions. However, based on what we know about other early admissions stats related to other top schools in the country, it can be a clear benefit to students.

Two people talking in a table.

In fact, at schools like Harvard, Stanford, and MIT, students who apply via early decision often enjoy acceptance rates that are near – or even above – double that of regular decision applicants.

Write powerful personal essays

One other really impactful thing that high school students can do as part of their UChicago application to improve their chances of getting into the school focuses heavily on the personal essays that they write as part of their application.

View of students using computers.

In fact, now that standardized tests are an option, many within the industry fully consider the personal essay section to be the second most important aspect of a student’s application behind just their high school grade point average.

Make sure you are committing the necessary time and energy to craft essays that are unique, powerful, and true to who you are as a person and a student.

These essays are the best place within your application to prove that you will be a fantastic member of the UChicago community from the moment you arrive on campus. Do not take that opportunity lightly!

We’ll teach you how to get into the University of Chicago

At AdmissionSight, we make it our top goal to help the students that we work with getting into the top schools. It’s why we are so proud of the fact that 75 percent of the students that we work with get into either Ivy League schools or other top-10 schools around the U.S., like UChicago. If you are interested in learning about how we can help you achieve your college admissions goals, contact us today to set up a free consultation.

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