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Ivy League Acceptance Rates for the Class of 2021

Have you ever wondered what it takes to get into an Ivy League university?

At Prep Expert, we get asked this question on an almost daily basis! Because we offer the most advanced, fast-paced SAT prep available, many of our students often focus on improving their test scores to attend an Ivy League school.

Every year in March, Ivy League institutions release their official acceptance rates for the respective year’s class. While each Ivy League school is its own entity, they nearly all release these numbers in the same week stretch. Earlier in the previous year (in December), the Ivies also individually release early decision acceptance rates, a number that highlights not only the current state of each school in relation to early admittance, but also what we can expect the latter year’s total acceptance rate numbers to be.

With the exception of Columbia — the only Ivy League school that does not release early decision numbers — every Ivy League university’s early decision numbers are excellent predictors of soon-to-be acceptance rates.

Our table below is based on our very own, Prep Expert predictions for the Ivy League acceptance rates for the class of 2021. But first, here’s a brief rundown of the Ivy League and where each fits into today’s educational climate.

All the Ivies

As you’re probably aware, there are eight official Ivy League schools.

  • Brown
  • Columbia
  • Cornell
  • Dartmouth
  • Harvard
  • Pennsylvania
  • Princeton
  • Yale

Often times, Stanford, MIT, Georgetown, and Duke get confused for Ivy League institutions. While these universities are all wonderful, they are not Ivies, which consist only of the list above.

Each Ivy is its own unique school. And when we say unique, we mean it!

From college social habits, to athletics, to general size, history, and more, these eight schools are all extremely different from one another…and have equally as different and unique acceptance rates!

2021 Ivy League Acceptance Rates

The following is our table for the Ivy League acceptance rates for the classes of 2020 and 2021. Please note that early decision acceptance rates are noted as (ED), and that our numbers for the class of 2021 are predictions at this point in time. We will update this list when we have complete data after rates are officially rates released by all eight Ivy League institutions.

Ivy League School Class of 2021 Class of 2021 (ED) Class of 2020
Brown 9.1% 21.9% 9.0%
Columbia N/A N/A 6.0%
Cornell 12.9% 25.6% 14.1%
Dartmouth 11.4% 27.8% 10.5%
Harvard 4.9% 14.5% 5.2%
Pennsylvania 8.9% 22.0% 9.4%
Princeton 6.1% 15.4% 6.5%
Yale 5.9% 17.1% 6.3%

Please note that these rankings are estimated based on proportions between early decision rates from 2020 and 2021, as and 2020’s respective overall admittance rate, with special consideration given to the increased number of applicants to select Ivy League schools from US-based students.

From the looks of it, 2017 appears to be a record-setting year for college applications to the Ivy Leagues, particularly for some of the elite Ivies. We factored this into our ranking projections, as well proportional analysis from previous years’ early decision to final acceptance rates.

From the looks of it, 2017 appears to be a record-setting year for college applications to the Ivy Leagues, particularly for some of the elite Ivies.

It is critical to understand these numbers to properly predict how each university will admit its students; turnover from Ivy to Ivy greatly impacts rates!

Tier 1: Ivy Elite

While your college choice is first and foremost a personal decision and dependent on your needs and future goals, I believe that you can separate the Ivies into two tiers. The first tier schools are just slightly more universally recognized than their second tier peers, which are also fantastic institutions, but a little less highly regarded overall, especially by longstanding collegiate ranking powerhouses like the US News & World Report, Forbes, and the Wall Street Journal.

The following four Ivy League universities comprise the first tier:

  • Harvard
  • Princeton
  • Yale
  • Columbia

We expect all four universities listed above to hold or reduce their respective acceptance rates in 2017 for the class of 2021. With our country’s current positive economic growth trajectory, these schools have hit incredible application numbers this past year!

Tier 2: Ivy Near-Elite

Our second tier Ivy schools are also fantastic institutions. They too have been around for centuries and offer unparalleled academic experience.

The following four Ivy League universities comprise the second tier:

  • Pennsylvania
  • Brown
  • Dartmouth
  • Cornell

While the University of Pennsylvania and Brown may boast extremely tough acceptance rates in 2017, Dartmouth and Cornell have the potential to get even tougher from a year-to-year basis. Why? When we experience years with an unusually high application number to Ivy League schools, these two sometimes must turn away more students than usual at an even greater rate than their elite peers. That’s because students that apply to these schools as “reasonable reaches,” may not see as much success in a year like this one.

Which Ivy is Right for You?

As you can see, the Ivy League is made up of several schools, some of which exponentially more difficult to get into than others. Harvard, for example, consistently sits at around a 5% acceptance rate, while Cornell is almost three times easier to get into.

Of course, that doesn’t mean Cornell is a bad school by any stretch of the imagination! Every school in the Ivy League is terrific, and provides the opportunity for a truly wonderful experience.

When separating Ivy League universities into tiers, it’s important to remember that each Ivy school offers a unique experience; for example, if you prefer to study certain areas of the humanities and the arts, Brown may be an even better university for you than Harvard!

Or if you might be interested in a going into hospitality…Cornell has the nation’s premiere College of Hospitality Management!

Make sure you pay close attention to what programs and majors you are most interested in when vetting Ivy League institutions. Remember: it’s not just about the name. Sure, it sounds good to go to a school like Harvard, but at the end of the day, it’s your education we’re talking about! Go to the place that best suits your future and present endeavors. And make sure it’s a social fit too! I always recommend visiting every school you get into and are seriously considering.


For other information on applying to an Ivy League school, including tips and tricks for meeting with college administrators, please give us a call at (877) 345-7737 or shoot us an email at [email protected] and one of our representatives would be happy to speak with you!



Shaan Patel

Shaan Patel is the founder of Prep Expert Test Preparation, a #1 bestselling SAT & ACT prep author, an MD/MBA student at Yale and USC, and winner of an investment deal with billionaire Mark Cuban on ABC’s Shark Tank. He raised his own SAT score from average to perfect using 100 strategies that we teach in our Prep Expert SAT and ACT courses.