Top 10 Public Universities with Low Acceptance Rate in the USA | Most Selective State Universities in USA

In the US, schools and colleges can be divided into public and private schools. The private colleges fund for themselves but the public colleges are funded by the state with the taxpayer’s money and that’s why families get a rebate on their tuitions if they are in-state. Let us talk today about some of the most selective state universities in the USA.

These rankings are based on academic, admissions, and student life. I personally do not go for rankings; the right fit is more important to me but it is still a good idea to know which are the top schools and then do your own research and make a list that fits you the best.

In all these universities typically 5-15% is international students from 100+ countries and due to COVID 19 most of these universities have are either test optional or test flexible for the SAT/ACT test.

This is a list of some of the top state universities in the country.

1. UC Berkeley

It ranks nationally as the No. 1 public university and fourth-best university overall, according to the QS World University Rankings 2021. It is in Northern California and was the first university in the UC system. The campus size is 1,232 acres and has 30+ libraries and offers over 270 undergraduate majors.

  • # of undergrad students – 31,780,
  • # of applications in 2021 – 112,821
  • Acceptance rate – 16%
  • Popular majors – Economics, Computer Science, Engineering, and Cellular Biology

To know the requirements to apply, visit their website –


It is a research university located in Southern California. It is situated on a 419-acre campus and offers over 3,000 undergraduate courses with over 125 majors and 1000 clubs. The dining experience at UCLA is one of the most nationally acclaimed.

It has 5 academic divisions – Letters and Science; Arts and Architecture; Engineering and Applied Science; Nursing; and Theater, Film and Television

  • # of undergrad students – 31,543
  • # of applications in 2021 –139,463 
  • Acceptance rate – 12.3%
  • Popular majors – Economics, Math’s, Business, Psychology, Biology.


3. University of Michigan–Ann Arbor

It is in Ann Arbor and is Michigan’s top school with a campus size of 3207 acres.  It has a trimester-based academic calendar and is made up of nearly twenty colleges and schools, including more than twelve undergraduate schools: Architecture & Urban Planning; Art & Design; Business; Dental Hygiene; Education; Engineering; Information; Kinesiology; Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA); Music, Theatre & Dance; Nursing; Pharmacy; and Public Policy. There are over 1,400 student organizations and the university has won over 50 national championships in twelve sports.

  • # of undergrad students – 31,266
  • # of applications in 2020 – 65021 and out of which 16971 were offered admissions.
  • Acceptance rate – 22.9%
  • Popular majors – Business, Computer Science, Economics, Computer Engineering, Experimental Psychology

To know the requirements to apply, visit their website –

4. University of Texas – Austin (UT Austin)

Austin is the state capital of Texas and the university is one of the top centers for academic research. According to the University, “They look for applicants with a genuine commitment to its core values -learning, discovery, freedom, leadership, individual opportunity and responsibility.

  • # of undergrad students – 51, 832 out of which only 5, 252 are international students
  • Acceptance rate – 31.8%
  • Popular majors – Engineering, Business Management, Marketing, Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering, and Biological and Biomedical Sciences.  For international students, the most popular majors are Electrical Engineering, Business Administration & Management, and Civil Engineering.

To know the requirements to apply, visit their website –

5. Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)

It is a public research university known for academic excellence and is in Atlanta, Georgia. The campus size is 400-acre, and it is also ranked among the top 50 green colleges by The Princeton Review. Almost 39% of undergraduate students receive some kind of need-based financial aid. They have a great coop and internship program for their students and collaborate with more than 800 businesses.

  • # of undergrad students – 15000
  • # of applications in 2021
  • Acceptance rate – 20.6%
  • Popular majors – Engineering, Computer and Information Sciences (CIS), Business Management, Physical Sciences, Mechanical engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Biological & Biomedical Sciences.

To know the requirements to apply, visit their website –

6. UC Santa Barbara

It is located inSouthern California coast in the town of Santa Barbara, which is 100 miles from Los Angeles and overlooks the Pacific Ocean. It is spread over 1000 acre and has more than 400 clubs and has 3 colleges – College of Creative Studies, College of Engineering, and College of Letters & Science.

  • # of undergrad students – 23,349 out of which 3749 are international students.
  • # of applications in 2021 – 249,855. A 16.1 % increase from 2020.
  • Acceptance rate – 29.6%
  • Popular majors – Engineering, Mathematics, Psychology, Biological & Biomedical Sciences

To know the requirements to apply, visit their website

7. Purdue University

It is inWest Lafayette in the state of Indiana. There the summers are long, warm, humid, and wet; the winters are freezing and windy, and it is partly cloudy year-round. The nearest commercial airports are Indianapolis International (65 miles) and Chicago O’Hare (140 miles) The Purdue campus size is 2,468 acres and there are over 1000 clubs and it is an LGBTQ campus. One of the most well-known alumni of Purdue is the first man who walked on the moon – Neil Armstrong.

For the 2021 admissions cycle, Purdue will no longer use the coalition application. Students can apply using the Common Application.

  • # of undergrad students -33646
  • # of applications in 2020 – 54912
  • Acceptance rate – 60%
  • Popular majorsEngineering, Business, Liberal Arts, Marketing, Computer Science. Purdue is also known for its programs in Education, Pharmacy and Nursing

To know the requirements to apply, visit their website

8. University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)

UIUC is in Illinois in the twin cities of Champaign and Urbana. It is the flagship institution of the University of Illinois system and is a 4,500-acre campus. It has the biggest collections of any public library in the US, with some 13 million volumes across nearly 40 library sites. UIUC is as good as any of the ivy league schools and is well known for its Engineering and Business programs, and exceptional professors.

  • # of undergrad students – 33195
  • # of applications in 2020 – 43,509
  • Acceptance rate– 59%
  • Popular majors– Engineering, Business, Management, Marketing, Biomedical Sciences, Journalism

To know the requirements to apply, visit their website

9. University of Washington – Seattle

Located in Seattle, Washington, it has a large campus of 634 acres and is known for its computer science, engineering programs, and medical school. It utilizes a quarter-based academic calendar. Their school of dentistry really prepares students for the 21st century with evidence-based training and the latest technology. The College of Build Environments prepares students to build infrastructure for the future.

  • # of undergrad students– 32,046
  • # of applications in 2020- 43,778
  • Acceptance rate – 58%
  • Popular majors – Social Sciences; Biological and Biomedical Sciences; Engineering; Computer and Information Sciences and Business, Management, and Marketing.

To know the requirements to apply, visit their website

Related Articles:

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10. University of California Irvine

UC Irvine is a research institution in Orange County near LA and it specializes in areas neuroscience studies and has great programs at Paul Merage School of Business and the Henry Samueli School of Engineering. The campus size is 1,475 acres and it utilizes a quarter-based academic calendar.  This year 107,939 students applied for admissions which is an increase of more than 10,000 from last year.

  • # of undergrad students – 30, 382
  • Acceptance rate – 26.5%
  • Popular majors – Social Sciences; Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services; Engineering; Psychology; and Biological and Biomedical Sciences.

To know the requirements to apply, visit their website.

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