If studying rigorous academics on a historical campus (known for its inclusion in the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition) while living in one of the best cities on earth sounds amazing to you… then The University of Chicago might be for you.
The University of Chicago is a highly prestigious, private research university located just a few miles south of Downtown Chicago, right on gorgeous Lake Michigan. Its phenomenal academic reputation and location make it widely appealing to students from around the world. And as you probably expected, it’s highly selective.
According to their website, “One of the world’s great intellectual destinations, The University of Chicago empowers scholars and students to ask tough questions, cross disciplinary boundaries, and challenge conventional thinking to enrich human life around the globe.”
So, do you have to be an academic rock star to get in? The answer is pretty much yes.
Just how competitive is University of Chicago? Extremely. In fact, it’s ranked #3 in national universities and it’s getting increasingly more selective every year.
Before we take a deep look at exactly how to get into The University of Chicago, here are some admissions statistics to give you a sense of what you’ll need to make the cut.
Quick University of Chicago Admissions Statistics
University of Chicago SAT scores (average composite score of admitted students)
No longer required; historically 1540 out of 1600
University of Chicago ACT scores (average composite score of admitted students)
No longer required; historically 34 out of 36
University of Chicago GPA (average of admitted students)
4.29 out of 4.0
University of Chicago acceptance Rate
7.2% for the class of 2022 (typically around 8%)
So as you can see, you’re going to need to be a pretty, pretty, pretty impressive candidate to get into The University of Chicago. But especially now that standardized test scores are optional, making your application stand out to The University of Chicago is going to be a whole new game.
More About Standardized Tests at The University of Chicago
Following the cue of some smaller liberal arts colleges, as well as DePaul University (also in Chicago), The University of Chicago has decided to stop requiring ACT and SAT scores starting in the fall of 2019, for the class of 2023.
In The Chicago Tribune’s recent piece, “University of Chicago to stop requiring ACT and SAT scores for prospective undergraduates” the author explains that the choice was made because “the tests place an unfair cost and burden on low-income and minority students, and ultimately hinder efforts to broaden diversity on campus.”
Furthermore, The University of Chicago is the very first elite college to do away with standardized testing to “help even the playing field for students coming from low-income and underrepresented communities.”
This is fantastic news, but is also means that you’ll have to stand out in other, less quantitative ways when applying to The University of Chicago.
And because the SAT and ACT are still optional, and you’ll likely be taking them for other schools, we’ll still go over the necessary scores ranges should you still want to submit your scores.
More About The University of Chicago SAT Scores
Looking at the historically very high SAT scores required to get into The University of Chicago can give you a sense of just how selective it is.
The average composite SAT score needed was a 1540 out of 1600. That’s pretty close to perfect!
As far as percentiles:
This means that a 1490 or lower was a below average score compared to everyone else admitted to U of C, while a 1590 or higher constituted an above average score.
So what can you do with this information now that the SAT is no longer required? Well, if you do opt to submit your SAT scores as a means of strengthening your overall application, you’ll want to aim for as close to 1600 as possible to really stand out.
More About The University of Chicago ACT Scores
The same idea applies to your ACT scores. Since they’re no longer required, you’ll want the highest ACT scores possible if you do choose to submit them.
Historically, the average composite ACT score of students accepted at University of Chicago was 34, and the percentiles shook out as follows:
This means that a score of 32 or lower would have been below average compared the other students admitted to U of C, while a score of 35 or higher would have placed you above average.
So if you plan to take the ACT and submit your scores, you’re going to want to aim for at least a 35, or in other words, a nearly perfect score!
More About The University of Chicago GPA
While The University of Chicago is committed to considering more than just the numbers on your application, unlike standardized test scores, your GPA is still taken into consideration.
The average GPA of students admitted to University of Chicago is 4.29. Out of 4.0. Yowza.
So it may seem to go without saying, but in order to have a strong chance of being accepted, you’ll have to be at the tip-top of your class. We’re talking straight-A’s all the way.
And how does one even exceed a 4.0? Well, depending on how your high school calculates your GPA, you grades in honors, IB, and AP classes may be weighted differently. High grades in these types of courses often raise your GPA significantly.
And frankly, if you’re looking to get into The University of Chicago, you’ll want high grades in challenging courses anyway, because they reflects your ability to excel in academically rigorous, college-level courses.
Also–and this is super important to keep in mind–it’s quite difficult to change your GPA after your sophomore year. So if you know you’re interested in The University of Chicago early on, it’s a good idea to get on that straight-A streak early!
More About The University of Chicago Admissions Rate
Historically, the acceptance rate for The University of Chicago has been around 8-10% (and was 8.7% for the class of 2021), but this year it fell to a record-low 7.2%. Like many other highly-selective colleges, The University of Chicago is seeing increasingly bigger, more competitive candidate pools, and has lowered its admissions rates as a result.
The University of Chicago received 32,291applicants for the class of 2022 and admitted 2,329 of them. Of these students, a mere 4% were admitted regular-decision.
In the recently published “Acceptance Rate Plummets to 7.2 Percent for Class of 2022,” Dean of Admissions James Nondorf noted to the incoming class: “This is the best, most amazing class we ever had, I’m just gonna say it…At least statistically speaking, you are the smartest, you are the most selective, you are the most diverse…. You name it, you are it.”
Furthermore, University of Chicago’s spokeswoman Marielle Sainvilus noted that the class of 2022 “reflect extremely high levels of diversity and academic ability.”
The University of Chicago Freshman Profile
The most recently published University of Chicago freshman profile reflects data on the class of 2021, which gives us a good sense of the demographics and diversity of recently admitted students.
Of the class of 2021:
For this class, The University of Chicago saw a 69% increase in students from Chicago Public Schools, and a 56% increase in full-tuition scholarships for outstanding CPS students!
Additionally, about 20% of these incoming freshman were awarded assistance from the Odyssey Scholarship Program, which provides support to students from lower-income families or to students who are the first in their family to attend college.
So as you can see, University of Chicago remains committed to accepting the best and brightest students from highly diverse demographics and backgrounds.
Other Admissions Requirements and Information for The University of Chicago
Okay, so if you don’t need standardized test scores to get into The University of Chicago, what exactly do you need to provide in your application?
This overview of applying to The University of Chicago is super helpful in explaining the qualitative requirements for admissions. According to the school:
“Each application at UChicago goes through the same holistic review process. There’s no one piece of information—academic and extracurricular records, essays, letters of recommendation, or SAT/ACT scores—that alone determines whether or not you would be a good fit for the College. Instead, we 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”
This admissions approach gives you an amazing opportunity to showcase who you are, especially through your own writing. So if you’re a strong writer, all the better!
Here’s a checklist of exactly what you’ll need to apply:
Additionally, you are welcome to provide the following optional submission materials:
The University of Chicago FAQs
This is an amazing list of University of Chicago FAQs that covers just about any and all admissions concerns you may have, but here are a few other common inquiries about applying to U of C:
Does the University of Chicago accept transfers?
It sure does! You can read more about transferring to The University of Chicago here. The transfer rate is historically low, by the way, around 2%–but don’t let that deter you from applying!
Is The University of Chicago need-blind?
Yes. What this means is that your need (or lack thereof) for financial assistance will not be taken into consideration while reviewing your application.
Does The University of Chicago offer interviews?
No. If you would like to add a sense of your personality to your application, you can submit a 2-minute introductory video. However, it will not be a strike against your application if you do not submit a video.
How to Get Into The University of Chicago
According to Lena, an expert with Transizion, the most important thing the University of Chicago admissions committee looks–above academic excellence–is originality in their students:
So you’ll definitely want to make sure your writing is outstanding and truly captures who you are as a person. Revise, revise, revise, and make sure to get plenty of feedback, ideally from teachers you trust. Here’s more information on writing a common application essay that will get you accepted!
Of course, we can’t forget the other ways to make your application pop (in addition to having great grades, obviously!):
- Get very strong letters of recommendation. Here’s a great overview of exactly how to ask for a letter of recommendation for college, but in short, make sure to ask teachers who can really speak to your academic ability, growth, potential, and character. And make sure to ask them well enough in advance so they have plenty of time to put thought into their responses.
- Complete the 2-minute intro video if you’re comfortable doing so. Giving U of C a sense of your personality and voice can give you a strong edge as an applicant.
- Participate in plenty of extracurricular activities, particularly in leadership roles, if possible.
- Don’t be afraid to brag! Include any awards, honors, service work, publications, etc., that you may be proud of.
And of course, submitting test scores can’t hurt, providing they’re impressive. If you do plan to submit ACT or SAT scores to University of Chicago, makes sure to start preparing early! Check out this great 1-week SAT free trial and 1-week ACT free trial to get you started.