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How to get into University of Chicago—General Information

University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois. Founded in 1890, its main campus resides in the Chicago neighborhood of Hyde Park. The student body in the university at large is nearly 19,000, and the undergraduate population is just under 8,000. U.S. News ranks UChicago #6 in National Universities.

What we’ll cover in this How to Get Into UChicago guide:

  • UChicago average GPA
  • Details on UChicago Early Action and Early Decision
  • UChicago SAT scores and ACT scores
  • UChicago acceptance rate
  • Acing the UChicago supplemental essays
  • UChicago application deadline
  • Preparing for your UChicago interview, and more

When planning how to get into UChicago, make sure each part of your application is as strong as can be. Prepare throughout high school to ensure that your grades match the UChicago average GPA. Also, start studying early to ensure your scores align with the average UChicago SAT scores. All of this can help you contend with the low UChicago acceptance rate. You should start building a strong academic record at the beginning of your high school career, so begin planning as early as you can. 

However, if you don’t start early, you can still work to stand out. So, if your stats fall below the UChicago average GPA and typical UChicago SAT scores, do not worry. We will discuss ways to make up for weaker grades and scores with other parts of your application, like the UChicago supplemental essays.

We will also break down how to decide whether to apply to UChicago Early Action, Early Decision, or Regular Decision. When thinking about how to get into UChicago, think about which UChicago application deadline is best for you. 

Figuring out how to get into UChicago takes strategy. We can help. CollegeAdvisor.com’s network of 300+ Admissions Experts (and former admissions officers) includes UChicago graduates. Want to maximize your UChicago admissions odds?  Create your free account or schedule a free advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272. 

How hard is it to get into the UChicago?

When wondering how to get into UChicago, many look to the UChicago acceptance rate. U.S. News ranks the university as “most selective,” as is any school with an acceptance rate lower than 10%. 

The UChicago acceptance rate for the class of 2025 was just 6.5%, meaning it will be a reach school for any applicant. For their class of 2025, UChicago received 37,977 applications and admitted only 2,460 students. So, if UChicago is your top choice school, you should consider applying to UChicago Early Action or Early Decision to show your interest in the school. We’ll talk more about the difference between UChicago Early Action and UChicago Early Decision later in this guide.

However, do not let the low UChicago acceptance rate discourage you—if you break down the question of how to get into UChicago, you’ll see the process is not so daunting. In this guide, we will detail each aspect of the UChicago admissions process so you are prepared before the UChicago application deadline.

What is the required GPA for the University of Chicago?

Unfortunately, UChicago does not publish the UChicago average GPA for their admitted students. However, like the average GPAs of every top 10 school, it is safe to assume that the UChicago average GPA is around a 4.0 unweighted. 

Based on other admissions statistics like the UChicago SAT scores, it is clear that UChicago accepts only students at the top of their high school class. When considering how to get into UChicago, know that the UChicago acceptance rate suggests that all admits are highly competitive when it comes to academics. 

So, if you want to apply to top 10 schools like UChicago, strive for a strong academic record. Dedicate yourself to your courses and be strategic in your course selection. Try to choose a balance of doable yet difficult courses that you are both prepared for and challenged by. Overwhelming yourself with too many tough courses that you can’t manage is not how to get into UChicago. 

Think beyond GPA

But, again—if you are preparing for the UChicago application deadline and realizing your grades will not match the UChicago average GPA, there are still many ways to stand out. These include:

  • Go the extra mile and submit a video introduction in lieu of a UChicago interview.
  • Submit UChicago SAT scores or ACT scores. 
  • Write strong UChicago supplemental essays. 

When applying to UChicago Early Action, Early Decision, or Regular Decision, do not let stats like the UChicago acceptance rate, the UChicago average GPA, or the UChicago SAT scores discourage you. Instead, when you plan your “how to get into UChicago” strategy, focus on all parts of the application. These include the video response (in lieu of a UChicago interview) and the UChicago supplemental essays. 

What does the UChicago application include?

When wondering how to get into UChicago and planning to apply to UChicago Early Action, Early Decision, or Regular Decision, it is important to organize your materials. The UChicago application consists of both required and optional materials. You should prepare all parts of your application well ahead of the UChicago application deadline. 

First, decide early whether to apply through UChicago Early Action, Early Decision, or Regular Decision. Then, you can plan ahead for the appropriate UChicago application deadline.

Required application materials: 

  • CommonApp or Coalition Application
  • UChicago supplemental essays
  • Application fee or automatic fee waiver
  • Secondary school report and transcript
  • Teacher evaluations (2)
  • Midyear report
  • UChicago SAT scores or ACT scores (test-optional but highly recommended)

Optional materials:

  • Financial aid application
  • Video profile (in lieu of a UChicago interview)
  • Supplemental materials (art, creative, research, or other supplements)

UChicago includes UChicago SAT scores or ACT scores among its required materials. So when wondering how to get into UChicago, know that you should submit UChicago SAT scores or ACT scores. This can also help boost your application if your GPA is lower than the UChicago average GPA. 

So, what should your scores look like? The UChicago SAT scores ranged from 1020 to 1600 for the class of 2025, and the ACT score range was 20-36. The middle 50% of UChicago SAT scores was 1510-1560, and the middle 50% of ACT scores were 33-35. If your scores fall significantly below these middle 50% ranges, you should likely take the test again.

If you are planning to apply to UChicago Early Action or Decision but your test scores are low, it may be worth applying to a later cycle and retesting. However, if you don’t have time to retest by the final UChicago application deadline of January 4, don’t worry—the average UChicago SAT scores are a guide, not a rule. So, just take special care to strengthen the rest of your application. Remember—there is no one answer to how to get into UChicago.

What extracurriculars do I need for the University of Chicago?

When thinking about how to get into UChicago, many students wonder if there is a perfect extracurricular list that will help you succeed. Of course, UChicago cares a lot about your extracurricular activities. However, when thinking about how to get into UChicago, there is no one perfect extracurricular list.

The UChicago admissions site states that “colleges look at what you are involved in outside of class to learn about what interests you and to see that you’re engaged in the world around you.” In other words—the only extracurriculars you need when planning how to get into UChicago are the ones that most interest you and show your engagement with your community and the world around you.

Think about the rest of your application. What story does it tell? A strong application narrative is a crucial part of how to get into UChicago or any top school. Read our article on building your application narrative for more tips. 

Synthesize your passions

Your application narrative should unite your passions and areas of interest. It is more important than the UChicago average GPA or UChicago acceptance rate. Your application narrative should answer the question, “What makes you, you?” Once you’ve identified that, think about which extracurriculars help you further explore your interests. Then, highlight those extracurriculars in your application. Don’t worry about what you think schools are looking for—more often than not, they just want to see that you can dedicate yourself to something that matters to you.

When it comes to extracurriculars, remember that quality matters more than quantity. Your dedication to a few extracurriculars is much better than a long list of extracurriculars that you don’t care about. Throughout the college process, follow your passions—don’t just try to conform to an imagined ideal.

In addition to high school or community-oriented extracurriculars, UChicago also looks for students who take advantage of summer opportunities—these include college summer programs, volunteering, camps, travel, and more. These activities could form part of your “how to get into UChicago” plan. 

What is the acceptance rate at the University of Chicago?

The UChicago acceptance rate is 6.5%, making it a highly selective university. This means that of the total applicants who apply each year, just 6.5% are offered a place. 

The UChicago acceptance rate might help you as you build your college list, as it shows you that UChicago is a reach school. So, if you’re applying to UChicago, you should balance it out with the right safety schools. However, remember that numbers aren’t everything. So, don’t fixate on the UChicago acceptance rate, UChicago average GPA, UChicago SAT scores, or any other statistics. Remember, your video response (in lieu of a UChicago interview) and UChicago supplemental essays are also important. 

Want to learn more about acceptance rates? Check out our expert guide.

Demonstrated interest

Also, note that UChicago does not track demonstrated interest; this means it does not matter how many times you visit campus or engage with the admissions office. In this letter from the Dean of Admissions, it is confirmed that demonstrated interest is not important to UChicago. Instead, focus on building a cohesive application narrative and writing well-crafted responses to the UChicago supplemental essays. 

For more information about demonstrated interest, check CollegeAdvisor.com’s webinar!

Does the University of Chicago require interviews?

There is no UChicago interview. In lieu of a UChicago interview, you can submit an optional two-minute video introduction to add your voice to your application. You can read more about this UChicago interview alternative on the UChicago Frequently Asked Questions page

Since this video takes the place of a UChicago interview, you should prepare in the same way as you would for an in-person UChicago interview. Dress comfortably, in nice and appropriate clothing, and let your voice shine through. Do not memorize a script. Think about what you may wish to enhance or highlight about yourself.

Imagine the video as a conversation, one-sided though it may be. UChicago emphasizes that the production quality should not be your focus—just ensure you are in a quiet, well-lit area. 

Does University of Chicago care about essays?

Yes. When thinking about how to get into UChicago, know that the UChicago supplemental essays are a vital part of the application. There are two UChicago supplemental essays; you can find them on the UChicago website

The first of the UChicago supplemental essays  essentially asks, “Why UChicago?” This is your opportunity to connect your narrative thread to the university itself and explain how UChicago can facilitate your development as a student and community member. You should be sure to emphasize research you have done on the school while completing your application. 

For the second of the two UChicago supplemental essays, you have a choice between six essay prompts, many of them inspired by students. These questions are a bit more provocative. One question for the 2021-22 UChicago supplemental essays was, “What’s so easy about pie?” 

Want to more advice about writing the UChicago supplemental essays? Check out our expert guide.

Be your authentic self

Don’t be thrown off by these nontraditional questions—UChicago admissions states that they think of these UChicago supplemental essays as “an opportunity for students to tell us about themselves, their tastes, and their ambitions. They can be approached with utter seriousness, complete fancy, or something in between.” 

The prompts for the UChicago supplemental essays urge you to take a creative and truthful approach. They invite ingenuity, which requires being in touch with who you really are and what interests you. This is the approach you should take to every aspect of the application! Start drafting these essays well before the UChicago application deadline. 

To begin, select the prompt that most speaks to you. If you would like more guidance on how to approach the prompts themselves, check out our UChicago essay guide

How does University of Chicago review applications?

Like many top-tier universities, UChicago takes a holistic approach to the application review process. This means they consider each applicant’s entire application, and no single aspect of an application discounts admission.

In other words—don’t let one weakness discourage you from applying. If you are below the UChicago average GPA or UChicago SAT scores, focus on honing your UChicago supplemental essays. Strengthen as many areas as you can and apply with confidence. Consider applying to UChicago Early Action or Early Decision if you can, or prepare a strong application for the regular UChicago application deadline. 

Will the University of Chicago look at my social media accounts?

Likely not. As more and more students apply to top 10 schools, admissions offices simply don’t have time to research students outside of the materials they submit.

When thinking about how to get into UChicago, you really don’t need to consider your social media as much as the other parts of your application. However, even if UChicago admissions officers will not be checking your social media, you should still behave responsibly on the internet. Posting inappropriate or offensive content could affect your chances for other future opportunities, such as internships or jobs. 

So, always use social media wisely. Although it’s highly likely that UChicago won’t look at your Instagram or Twitter account, it’s always best to play it safe. 

Is the University of Chicago a good school for me?

This is a great question, and one that should precede the question of how to get into UChicago. There is no use in thinking about how to get into UChicago if it’s not the right school for you!

Research what UChicago stands for and whether that matches your values. UChicago centers innovation, research, and free speech in its education, among other values. Read The Chicago Principles, the free speech framework UChicago lives by. 

Find an event

You should also attend an in-person or virtual event, such as a campus tour. You can also read about campus life to see if you can envision yourself spending your college years on UChicago’s campus.

If UChicago lines up with your interests and needs, apply! You can apply to UChicago Early Action or Early Decision on November 1. You can also apply to UChicago Early Decision II or Regular Decision on January 4. Pay special attention to each UChicago application deadline, as in most cases the university will not accept late materials.

Early or not

If you are ready to apply early but are not sure if UChicago is your dream school, apply to UChicago Early Action. This is not a binding commitment to the university, so you can decline an offer of admission. 

If you are ready to apply early and are certain you want to attend UChicago, apply Early Decision I. This is binding, meaning you must attend if you are accepted. 

If you are not ready to apply by November 1 but are certain you want to attend UChicago, apply Early Decision II. This is a binding admission that gives you more time to work on your application.

If you are not ready to apply by November 1 and are not sure if UChicago is the school for you, apply Regular Decision. This is non-binding and gives you more time to gather your materials. 

Navigating each specific UChicago application deadline can be confusing, so here’s a good way to break it down: 

UChicago = dream schoolNot sure if UChicago = dream school
Application materials ready earlyEarly decision IEarly action
Application materials not ready earlyEarly decision IIRegular decision

Additional tips to get into University of Chicago:

Prepare early

Start working on your application as early as you can. If possible, prepare early in your high school career to set yourself up for academic success. This will ensure your GPA is in line with the UChicago average GPA and your test scores match the typical UChicago SAT scores and ACT scores. For your essays, application questions, teacher recommendations, and additional materials, begin preparing in the summer before your senior year. 

Have a clear narrative

Make sure your application narrative is clear. What picture do you paint of yourself as both a student and community member? Is it strengthened by each aspect of your application? This will help you in the editing process, particularly for your UChicago supplemental essays.

Double-check everything 

Get a friend to review your application, and ask them to note anything that might not further your application narrative. Before the UChicago application deadline, have them check your UChicago supplemental essays and application for grammar or spelling errors.

Do the most

Go the extra mile! Submit a video introduction in lieu of a UChicago interview. If you are an artist or have additional research or other materials, put together a video profile or supplemental materials file.

Finally…

College admissions can be overwhelming. If there is one thing you should take from this guide on how to get into UChicago, it’s this: remember what drew you to UChicago in the first place. As you apply, think about what excites you about a chance to pursue higher education. Center that joy and passion, and the rest will follow.


This guide was written by Saphia Suarez. Figuring out how to get into UChicago can be a challenge. We can help. CollegeAdvisor.com’s network of 300+ Admissions Experts (and former admissions officers) includes UChicago graduates. Want to maximize your UChicago admissions odds? Create your free account or schedule a free advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.