Graduate School Acceptance Rates Engineering

Last Updated on August 10, 2022

Choosing the right college is as important as choosing the right subject. Most students decide on the topic that they are going to pursue during their sophomore or junior years in high school. Once they start applying to various colleges, however, they slowly begin to understand the process, how competitive it is, and how hard it can be to get into a school of one’s choice. Along with preparing for the SAT or ACT, prospective college students also have to do their due diligence when it comes to choosing the right university or college. 

While a large number of students are inclined to apply to the top colleges in the country, getting admission may be hard since they are inundated with applications.  They have limited seats and don’t have room for more students. Keep in mind that tuition at these colleges can be quite high with limited aid or waivers. At a time when the nation’s massive college debt is a source of worry, finding affordable colleges is of paramount importance. 

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Waiting for acceptance letters can be stressful since no one wants to receive that dreaded rejection letter. To minimize the chances of that happening, prospective college students should include a school’s selection process in their search. They should take their time to do more research and find colleges that offer quality and affordable education, and also have high acceptance rates. 

Some colleges and universities pride themselves on selectivity, especially the top rung colleges. Rejection letters can serve a big blow to an aspiring student’s morale. However, one should keep in mind that there is a large variety of universities out there strive to open their doors to all types of students and welcome most, if not all, of their applicants. They offer a great college experience with their beautiful campuses, life-changing internships, active athletics programs, clubs and sororities, and employment opportunities. 

We have ranked the schools here based on their high acceptance rates, ranging from 72.3% to 100%. Please note that the university acceptance rates do not reflect the complete admissions process. Each degree program has specific criteria to be fulfilled. Students should comb through the information provided on each website to ensure that they prepare their application documents per each list of requirements. 

Graduate School Acceptance Rates: Factors and Trends

Grad school acceptance rates are the same as any other acceptance rate: the lower the acceptance rate, the more selective the school or program is. Similarly, the higher the acceptance rate, the less selective the school or program is. As with undergrad acceptance rates, grad school acceptance rates vary widely, from extraordinarily selective (less than 5 percent) to incredibly lenient (nearly 100 percent).

Unlike undergrad rates, though, grad school acceptance rates are usually calculated for specific programs or departments and not for entire universities. This is because with grad school, you are essentially applying to an individual program rather than an overall institution (as you did for undergrad).

Now that we’ve covered all of the basics, let’s look at a few key trends. Our research indicates there are three major factors that help determine grad school acceptance rates:

  • School or program prestige
  • Degree type
  • Amount of funding

Let’s look at how each of these factors influences grad school acceptance rates.

1. School or Program Prestige

How prestigious a particular grad school or program is can affect its overall competitiveness and selectivity. In general, the more prestigious a program is, the more competitive it’ll be and thus the lower acceptance rate it’ll have.

An easy way to determine school or program prestige is to consult official rankings, such as those listed on U.S. News. (Grad schools are typically ranked by field or program andnot by overall institution.)

For example, a 2017 U.S. News list of the best political science grad programs ranked Duke’s political science program at #7 and Northwestern’s at #23. Because both of the programs have fairly high rankings, it’s safe to assume they’re probably quite selective.

And this is true: in 2016, Duke reported a mere 10 percent acceptance rate to its political science doctoral program, while Northwestern reported a 12 percent acceptance rate.

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2. Degree Type

Another major factor is degree type. Generally, doctoral programs tend to be more selective than master’s programs (though this isn’t always the case as I’ll explain in a moment). 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.

For example, in 2016 University of Michigan’s math doctoral program had a 17.2 percent acceptance rate, whereas its master’s program had a much higher 31.8 percent rate. In this case, the doctoral program is clearly tougher to get into than the master’s program.

Still, master’s programs can have lower acceptance rates than doctoral programs. If we were to take the University of Michigan’s grad programs in computer science and engineering, we’d find that the doctoral program has a 15 percent acceptance rate and the master’s an even lower 8 percent acceptance rate.

Additionally, M.F.A. programs are particularly cutthroat. In 2015, the creative writing M.F.A. program at UT Austin’s James A. Michener Center for Writers only admitted 12 out of 678 applicants — that’s a mere 1.8 percent acceptance rate!

3. Amount of Funding

Funding, too, plays a big role in how selective a grad program is.

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.

Compared to fully funded doctoral programs, fully funded master’s programs are somewhat rare and thus pretty competitive. UT Austin’s Creative Writing M.F.A. program, for instance, is not only a prestigious program but also one of the most well-funded Creative Writing M.F.A. programs in the country: it offers full tuition remission and a $27,500 stipend per academic year. It’s no wonder, then, that its acceptance rate is below 2 percent!

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What Are the Current Graduate School Acceptance Rates

For this section, we’ve scoured the internet to bring you a robust assortment of acceptance rates for popular U.S. grad schools.

Before we dive in, note that not all institutions calculate grad school acceptance rates using the same methodologies. Some offer only a single acceptance rate for all of their grad schools put together, while others offer individual rates by school, field, or program.

Now, let’s see how selective these schools really are!

UniversitySchool / ProgramAcceptance Rate
CornellAll programs Computer Science Ph.D.: 16.4%
English Language and Literature Ph.D.: 13.2%
History Ph.D.: 14%
DartmouthAll schools Arts and Sciences: 30%
Thayer School of Engineering (M.S. and Ph.D.): 15%
Tuck School of Business: 22%
DukeAll programs Computer Science M.S.: 12%
Computer Science Ph.D.: 15%
English Ph.D.: 6%
History Ph.D.: 9%
HarvardBusiness School10.7% (2015)
John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences9.9% (2014)
T.H. Chan School of Public HealthMaster of Public Health (M.P.H.): 52.9% (2014)
MITAll grad admissions13% (2016)
NYUStern School of Business Accounting Ph.D.: 2.1%
Economics Ph.D.: 2%
Marketing Ph.D.: 2.2%
NorthwesternAll doctoral fields and programs Arts and humanities: 11.1%
Life sciences: 20.9%
Physical sciences, mathematics, and Engineering: 17%
Social and behavioral sciences: 11.5%
All master’s fields and programs (2016)Arts and humanities: 19.9%
Life sciences: 31.1%
Physical sciences, mathematics, and Engineering: 30.1%
Social and behavioral sciences: 46.2%
Notre DameAll programsComputer Science and Engineering Ph.D.: 24.9%
English Ph.D.: 6.6%
History Ph.D.: 8%
PrincetonAll fields (2016-17)Humanities: 11%
Natural Sciences: 15%
School of Architecture: 13%
School of Engineering and Applied Science: 13%
Social Sciences: 8%
Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs: 13%
StanfordGraduate School of Business6.1% (2015)
UC BerkeleyCollege of Engineering14.4% (2014)
UCLAAll programsComputer Science M.S. and Ph.D.: 22%
English Ph.D.: 11%
History Ph.D.: 20%
University of Michigan – Ann ArborAll doctoral programs (2016)Computer Science and Engineering Ph.D.: 15%
English Language and Literature Ph.D.: 16.4%
History Ph.D.: 16.9%
All master’s programs (2016)Computer Science and Engineering M.S.: 8%
Creative Writing M.F.A.: 3.7%
Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.): 71.1%
University of Texas – AustinAll programs (2015-16)English Ph.D.: 11.5%
History Ph.D.: 16.6%
University of Washington – SeattleCollege of Arts and Sciences (2016)Arts: 17%
Humanities: 20.4%
Sciences: 18.6%
Social sciences: 22.8%
YaleSchool of Engineering & Applied Science14% (2014)
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