Study Abroad: Acceptance Rates of Graduates at Top Universities

Piyush Bhartiya
Modified on 2017-11-18 in Study Abroad
Read time: 4 mins

It is often observed that even the smartest of students worry about their admission. This state of mind is legit. This is so because the competition rate is high and one has to be exceptionally good in order to pave their way into their dream university. It is often seen that the lesser the acceptance rate of a university; the more selective it is. Thus, admissions become way more difficult.

Such colleges already have a less acceptance rate and the rush of the applications and the students applied to exceed the limits. It is then when the colleges sort on the basis of their parameters, making the admission tough for the brightest ones too.

Therefore at this time, the students should make a smart move and apply to multiple numbers of universities. This will increase their chance to get into a university. Also, Students should do prior research on the university and college portals and prepare themselves with questions like what is the approximate application rate? What is the enrollment rate? And which one of them stands best? The reason for this prior knowledge base is that it will give the student an idea beforehand of the chances he/she stands and prepare himself/herself accordingly.

Acceptance Rates-Factors and Trends influencing it

If we analyze from the perspective of universities, there are several factors that affect the enrollment of students. Not the factors of grades or references but the factors which the university has to take in consideration.

Further elaborating these official considerations of internal administration, the key trends and factors which affect acceptance rates of graduates are-

Prestige of the University and demand for course

The demand for a particular university or course highly influences the acceptance rates. It is often observed in most of the colleges and universities that the more demand for a university is, more is the competition and thus, less acceptance.

Graduates in this scenario tend to lose out the chance sometimes if not supplemented by a much better curriculum making him/ her better one amongst the lot. Capable of the university. To pave the way smoothly into the already fewer seats available, one student has to be a distinguished one in whatever course one has applied for.

An easy way to determine this factor is through news and yearly rankings of the universities which will give an insight into its enrollment.

The type of Degree applied for

The type of degree one applies for largely influences the acceptance of any student. Generally, doctoral programs tend to be more selective than master’s programs. This trend is likely due to the fact that doctoral programs often look for higher-quality applicants with proven academic track records and more relevant experience in their fields. Thereby, reducing the chances of graduates greatly.  

However, this is not always the case and the masters’ degree also tends to become highly selective. With only a degree of graduation, and no prior experience or added curriculum, the probability of admissions falls.

Amount of Funding

Funding also plays a significant role in determining how accepting a college is, not only in terms of graduates but overall. Well-funded programs typically receive more applications than those offering little to no aid, thereby raising their selectivity. Competition is especially fierce for fully funded programs — possibly because fewer people are willing to go into debt for grad school. So in a condition of cut-throat competition already, this factor adds on to the misery.

Since we have now understood the key trends of acceptance rates of graduate students, let us list down the universities and their acceptance of rate of graduates below-

Acceptance Rates at Top Universities

This data is according to 2016-17 rates-

School Number of Graduate Applications Number of Enrollments Acceptance


Massachusetts Institute of Technology 26,463 3,480 13%
Stanford University 55,000 9,880 18%
University of California at Berkeley (UCB) 39,730 3,605 9%
Harvard University (GSAS) ~1
12,000 4,000 33%
Georgia Institute of Technology 17,191 5,551 32%
California Institute of Technology (Caltech) 14,568 1,226 26%
University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) 21,269 2,604 12%
Carnegie Mellon University 7,073 1,144 16%
Princeton University  10,804 1,305 12%
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (UIUC) 25,786 10,428 40%

As the data suggests, the number of graduates enrolled is comparatively less and the percentage justifies it. However, this should not be taken as the standard data as the factors keep changing every year.

For a better understanding of changing requirements, the students are advised to be updated with the changing patterns. This can be done by keeping a check on the websites, reading educational news and blogs, by searching other websites and contacting schools in case of query.

The students are also expected to keep pace with changing requirements and check whether they match the eligibility criteria, constantly working simultaneously on their GRE and GPA scores.

Last Thoughts On Acceptance Rates

And at the end, it is wise for the students to keep all their options open and apply in multiple universities because at the end of the day, what ultimately matters isn’t that you get accepted to a highly competitive university but that you make the right decision for yourself keeping in mind what you are worthy of.


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About the Author

Piyush BhartiyaPiyush values education and has studied from the top institutes of IIT Roorkee, IIM Bangalore, KTH Sweden and Tsinghua University in China. Post completing his MBA, he has worked with the world's # 1 consulting firm, The Boston Consulting Group and focused on building sales and marketing verticals for top MNCs and Indian business houses.

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