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Ivy League Universities

There are 8 Ivy League universities in America, all based on the East coast and they are globally recognised with top-notch international reputations.

If you are considering applying to any of these highly regarded universities, bear in mind the following:

The cost: their course fees are quite expensive when compared to others and the East coast is not a cheap place to live, eat and sleep

The grades, qualifications and extra curriculum requirements you will need: to say they are over-subscribed is an under-statement. This means they can pick and choose the best applicants only

Their admission acceptances are on average under 10%. This means 90% of students who apply don’t get a place, so make sure you choose other universities as well in your ‘apply list’.  

You can apply to any of the 8 ivy league institutions with the Common Application but only Cornell, Harvard and Princeton Universities accept the Universal College Application.  If you’re still committed and passionate about applying let’s look at each one in detail. 

Brown University

This is one of the smaller Ivy League universities with only 6,000 undergraduates, 2,000 graduate students and 400 medical school students.

It is primarily a humanities and sciences institution with the majority of class sizes being 20 students or less. Tuition fees for 15/16 are currently $48,272 and academic scholarships are available. 

Columbia University

Columbia is the third most selective college behind Stanford and Harvard for application rates with only 6.1% of admissions accepted.

It offers a wide range of college undergraduate majors from physics, medicine and law to arts, social work and journalism.

In 2014 its student numbers were 29,870 but only 8,559 of these were undergraduates; the majority being graduate and professional students.

Their tuition fees differ depending on courses; ranging from $25,263 for Columbia College undergraduate courses to $33,980 for dentistry undergraduate study. 

Cornell University

There are 14,000 undergraduates with 7 different colleges within the university ranging from Agriculture and Life Sciences through Arts and Sciences to Engineering and Human Ecology.

When applying you will need to submit an additional essay as well as your Universal College Application or Common Application essay

The tuition fees alone for non-NY state residents are $49,116 and scholarships are awarded on need only and not for sport or academic achievements.  

Dartmouth College

This is a liberal arts college with 57 different majors and 1,000 independent study courses to choose from. This is the smallest of the Ivy League Universities with only 4,200 undergraduates. Its tuition fees last year were $46,764 but it heavily promotes its student debt to be one of the lowest in the country due its financial aid package offers.

Harvard University

Harvard is a very research focused university and 17,000 students are annually enrolled at Harvard in Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Continuing Education.

Although the tuition fees for non-NY state residents are set at $45,278 and $60,659 if you include room, board and other fees as well, Harvard is very forthright at promoting the fact that 70% of their students receive some form of financial aid to support these fees.

When applying there is a significant emphasis placed on extra curriculum activities, skills and talents as well as top academic achievement grades. 

Princeton University

Princeton’s 5,200 undergraduates study mainly courses on humanities, social and natural sciences, and engineering across its 6 colleges.

Its admission rate of 7.4% is about average for these universities. It is a very community focused, close-knit university with more than 98% of students living on campus.

Although its course tuition fees are set at $45,150, last year 60% of undergraduate students were receiving some form of financial aid. 

University of Pennsylvania

Their current acceptance rate for admissions at 10.4% is one of the highest for these Ivy League universities.

It has 12 Penn schools with a student population of 24.806 of which 10,406 are undergraduates. It offers hundreds of degree programmes across nearly every arts and sciences you can name, along with significant sports investment.

Tuition fees for 15/16 are $49,536 for undergraduate students but it is the largest university in the country to offer an all grant (not loan) financial aid program.

Yale University

Yale comprises of 5,453 undergraduates across 12 schools with over 2,000 undergraduate majors offered across all arts and sciences.

Yale is classified as the most selective of the Ivy League universities with an admission acceptance rate of 6.3% last year.

The undergraduate fees differ across the 12 schools but on average are $47,600.  

Other league tables

There are numerous US and world university league tables out there which include the rankings for Ivy Leaguers.  

US News and World Report rank the top three as Princeton, Harvard and Yale in that order, but the 8 Ivy League universities are not always the top 8 of all US universities.

Stanford and University of Chicago come joint fourth. The lowest ranked is Cornell at number 15. However in the QS World University Rankings other US non Ivy League universities e.g. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, out rank them and Stanford University is also at a very similar level.

These rankings are an average based on several factors; student retention, graduation rates and quality of teaching. There are separate rankings available just for admission rates which puts Cornell at the top with an admission rate of 14% in 2014.

Business Insider, another league table ranks them according to 6 different criteria including student life, affordability and job prospects. It puts Harvard at the top and Brown at the bottom.

In a nutshell it means that the Ivy League universities, whichever ranking you check, are all top US universities, have very low admission acceptance rates, high tuition fees and will offer an exceptional quality education which is internationally renowned. For more information, please take a look at our College Rankings section, as well as our U.S.A Studying Abroad guide.