11 Competitive Colleges With 20-40 Percent Acceptance Rate

Before you begin your college application, it is best to check the acceptance rates of specific colleges to weigh your chances. In this blog post, we have curated a list of colleges with 20-40 percent acceptance rates and provided helpful guides to other related resources.

As a prospective college student, the importance of doing college research cannot be stressed enough. When you carry out such searches, it helps you determine where is the best place for you thereby helping you to put the necessary resources and efforts where it needs to be used. Which further increases your chances of getting into college.

And if you don’t know what to search when seeking for a suitable college, it includes the availability of scholarships and other financial aid options, tuition fee, graduation, and employment rate, the reputation of the institution, acceptance rate, location, and the cost of living there, do the mission and vision of the school align with your career/academic interest, the flexibility of the program, and many more.

We have published a wide range of articles on scholarship guides so this blog post focuses on acceptance rates specifically for colleges that fall between 20-40 percent. May I assume you already know what acceptance rate means or should I go on and explain?

I choose to explain.

Acceptance rates or admission rates are the percentages of applicants accepted by a college in a specific year. And I also assume that you already know that different colleges have acceptance rates that are specific to each of them. Well, if you didn’t know this, now you do.

The acceptance rate of Stanford is different from that of MIT both of which are world-class institutions and fall under the category of colleges with the lowest acceptance rates. Now, the good thing about knowing the acceptance rate of a college before applying to them is that it lets you know where you stand academically and also helps you know where to focus your attention on.

Colleges like the Ivy Leagues are among the top colleges in the US and even in the world thus they are highly competitive with very low acceptance rates. If you are a straight-A or B student with a strong and compelling application, you can apply to them because you have a competitive academic record and thus, have a high chance of getting accepted.

However, if you are a C student or a non-competitive student applying to a college with a low acceptance rate is a huge waste of your time because there is little to no chance of you getting in. Instead, you want to target colleges with 40-60% acceptance rates and other colleges with high acceptance rates to increase your chances of getting accepted. In fact, there are great colleges for C students to apply to with high chances of getting in.

Here’s the thing; the low acceptance rate of a college is usually associated with the reputation of a university. They are considered selective and accept only the best among the bests, which is why I mentioned earlier that a C student has little to no chance of getting into the likes of Harvard and Cambridge.

We already have a published post on colleges with 100% acceptance rates, in this post, we’d be discussing the colleges with 20-40 percent acceptance rates to increase your college options. And without any further ado, let’s jump right in.

colleges with 20-40 percent acceptance rate

Colleges With 20-40 Percent Acceptance Rate

Do you have a compelling application? Do you have what it takes to get into one of the colleges with a 20-40 percent acceptance rate? If your answer to all of these is Yes, then waste no time applying for the colleges discussed below.

The following are colleges around the world with a 20-40 percent acceptance rate:

  • The University of Cambridge – 21%
  • Nanyang Technological University (NTU) – 36%
  • ETH Zurich – 27%
  • École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) – 21%
  • Florida State University – 37.1%
  • Howard University – 35%
  • The University of California San Diego (UCSD) – 34%
  • The University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) – 29%
  • The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor – 20%
  • Occidental College – 38%
  • The University of Georgia – 40%

1.     The University of Cambridge – 21%

I bet you must have heard of Cambridge. It is a famous higher institution in England and a reputable one too. It is often compared to the US’ Harvard has a global reputation for academic excellence and achievement in a range of fields. This school was founded by scholars who left Oxford University due to political conflict and it has been in existence for more than 8 centuries.

The University of Cambridge is a public collegiate research institution with an acceptance rate of 21%, this means that 21 in every 100 applicants are accepted. It is a tight and highly competitive rate but with a compelling application, you can get in.

2.     Nanyang Technological University (NTU) – 36%

NTU Singapore, as it is commonly referred to, is a premiere higher institution in Asia with an acceptance rate of 36%. The institution has been consistently ranked by QS World University Rankings and other university ranking platforms across a range of categories such as the top universities in Singapore for international students and also among the list of best engineering schools in the world with scholarships.

Nanyang Technological University offers over 300 academic programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Also, the reputation of this institution is on a world-class level.

3.     ETH Zurich – 27%

ETH Zurich is a premiere higher institution in Switzerland with global recognition for its academic excellence which attracts students and professors far and wide. Its international reputation has gotten ETH ranked among the best places in the world to study computer science by the Times Higher Education Ranking, a list that includes the likes of Harvard, Princeton, Cambridge, MIT, and Stanford.

Competition into ETH Zurich is highly competitive and only 27% of applicants are accepted annually.

4.     École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) – 21%

EPFL is another top-tier institution in Switzerland and is consistently ranked among the best computer science universities in Europe. It is a public research university specializing in natural sciences and engineering and one of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology.

To get into EPFL, candidates must have an excellent academic record with a minimum of 3.0 GPA, good references, and good behavioral standing. The acceptance rate is only 21% so ensure to go above the requirements to be considered for admission.

5.     Florida State University – 37.1%

Florida State University is a public research university in the US known for its reputation as one of the best law schools in Florida and also for its film school. If you are looking to pursue a career in law or film at a reputable school in the US, FSU will definitely come up on that list.

However, getting into this school to pursue your dream program will be a competitive one due to its low admission rate of 37.1% but if you submit a strong application, then you stand a chance to beat the competition and get accepted into one of the premiere research institutions in the US.

6.     Howard University – 35%

 Howard University is a private historically black research university in Washington, D.C. is known for being a leader in STEM fields. The school is ranked as the top producer of African-American undergraduates who later earn science and engineering doctoral degrees. It is also classified among “R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity”.

Alumnus of Howard University includes Taraji P. Henson and Chadwick Boseman. It is a selective university with an acceptance rate of 35% and an early acceptance rate of 63.5%. Half the applicants admitted to Howard have an SAT score between 1080 and 1290 or an ACT score of 21 and 26.

7.     The University of California San Diego (UCSD) – 34%

UCSD is a prestigious higher institution of learning in the US widely recognized for its faculty and wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs. It is one of the world’s leading public land-grant research universities ranked by The Princeton Review among the top science universities in the US.

With an acceptance rate of 34%, the University of California San Diego is a selective school. Applicants need a minimum of 3.0 GPA among a host of other requirements to be considered for admission.

8.     The University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) – 29%

According to the US News & World Report, USCB ranks #7 among all public universities in the US. The University of California Santa Barbara is a leading public research university that is part of the University of California 10-university system.

If you are applying to UCSB, it is best that you have a minimum of 3.0 CGPA or higher to increase your chances of acceptance since it is a selective school with only a 29% acceptance rate. This means that 29 out of every 100 applicants are accepted, so, to stand a chance in the competition you have to provide a compelling application.

9.     The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor – 20%

With an admission rate of 20%, the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor is a selective university. It is one of the public top-tier universities in the US known for its strengths in research, learning and teaching, sports and the arts, and more. The US News ranks the university at #25 out of 443 national universities.

10.  Occidental College – 38%

Occidental College is a small liberal art college in Loa Angeles, USA ranked among the best liberal arts schools in the western US, and for its prestigious alumni which include Barack Obama and Ben Affleck. The school is particularly strong in chemistry, biology, economics, and media/arts and culture.

The acceptance rate of Occidental College is 38% which is low and selective. So, to enter this prestigious institution, you must possess excellent academic achievement and good recommendations.

11.  The University of Georgia – 40%

Last but not least the University of Georgia which accepts 40 out of every 100 applicants put the admission rate at exactly 40%. This institution is a public land and sea-grant type known for its renowned graduate programs, especially in the areas of education and law.

It is also ranked #49 out of 443 national universities by the US News which further shows how reputable this institution is. It would be best if you had a GPA of 4.0 or higher to be considered for admission into UGA.

These are the competitive colleges with 20-40 percent acceptance rates that you can look into applying for as long as you meet their specific admission requirements. To increase your chances of acceptance, apply for more than one and also apply early.