Imperial College London – Acceptance Rate, Ranking, Notable Alumni, and More

Formed in 1907 when Prince Albert initiated a royal charter to merge the Royal College of Science, Royal School of Mines, and City and Guilds College, Imperial College London is one of England’s premier cultural institutions. Since its founding, the school has added the Imperial College School of Medicine in 1988 and the Imperial College Business School in 2004. 

Unlike many other respectable institutions, Imperial College restricts itself to only science, technology, medicine, and business degrees. In addition to its South Kensington main campuses, Imperial College also features an innovation campus in White City, a research field station at Silwood Park, and teaching hospitals found throughout London. 

Until 2003, Imperial could not grant degrees on its own, and it remained a subsidiary of the University of London until 2007. The school continues to grow, adding new colleges and centers. In 2004, the UK Energy Research Centre established its headquarters at the college, and Imperial partnered with King’s College London in 2011 to join the UK Centre for Medical Research

As a highly respected school, both within the UK and across the globe, Imperial has associations with notable award-winners. Students and faculty affiliated with Imperial 14 Nobel laureates, 3 Fields Medalists, 2 Breakthrough Prize winners, 1 Turing Award winner, 74 Fellows of the Royal Society, 87 Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and 85 Fellows of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

Imperial College London Acceptance Rate

Imperial College London
Shadowssettle, White City North Campus, CC BY-SA 4.0

As a highly respected technical school, Imperial College London receives many applications from around the world. In 2020, 25,650 students applied to study at Imperial

Out of that group, a mere 3,045 students were given offers of admission, for an 8.42% acceptance rate. 

Unsurprisingly, that rate can change according to the program to which they are applying. 

The most challenging programs to enter include computing, mechanical engineering, and mathematics, while bioengineering tends to accept the most students. 

Still, even at the higher end, it’s clear that Imperial is a highly competitive school. But because Imperial is a focused technical school, hopefuls can help improve their chances by focusing their interests. As much as Imperial indicates that they value a well-rounded individual, most academics emphasize specialization.

By specialization, scholars mean that strong academics have their areas of expertise, where they know not only the most important elements of their field, but also the lesser-known and foundational parts. 

As this description demonstrates, a strong focus means that you’re an expert. The knowledge demonstrates to people that you know what you’re talking about and have something to offer the community. 

With this knowledge – and more importantly, achievements such as awards – your application will show Imperial that you will contribute to the community. 

Imperial College London Ranking

Thanks to its specialization in technical fields, Imperial College London has established itself as one of the top-rated schools in the UK and the world. 

According to U.S. News & World Report, considered by many to be the most reliable ranking outlet, Imperial is one of the world’s best schools. Imperial sits not only at the number 20 spot in the Best Global Universities list but also in the number four spot for best universities in England and the UK. 

The publication gives exceptionally high rankings for many of Imperial’s programs, with its cardiac and cardiovascular systems, endocrinology and metabolism, infectious diseases, and public, environmental, and occupational health majors all falling in the top ten. 

All other important lists give Imperial equally high rankings. The site gives the school the 7th spot on its international list, noting Imperial’s international student body and faculty, its academic prestige, and its reputation as an employer. 

According to the Times World University Rankings, Imperial College is the 11th best school globally, a position it earns thanks to its academic citations, international outlook, and research successes. 

The Center for World University Rankings awards Imperial an overall score of 86.6, which is the 30th highest ranking in the world. The Center places the school at number four in the United Kingdom and 17th in the world for the quality of its research. 

Notable Alumni

As one of the top institutions in the United Kingdom, with roots going back to the start of the 20th century, Imperial College London has trained some of the most influential scientists in the world. 

Its Nobel Laureates include chemists Sir Derek Harold Richard Barton and Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson, physiologists Sir Alexander Fleming, Sir Frederick Hopkins, Sir Andrew Huxley, and Sir Rodney Robert Porter. 

Other notable scientists include Ghanaian botanist George C. Clerk, first president of Indian National Science Academy Sir Lewis Leigh Fermor, and S.P. Chakravarti, father of Electronics and Telecommunications engineering education in India.

But despite its focus on technical fields, not every famous graduate of Imperial College London is known for being a scientist. Brian May graduated from Imperial with a degree in astrophysics, but he’s best known as the lead guitarist for the classic rock band Queen. 

Likewise, the author H.G. Wells graduated from the school when it was the Royal College of Science before writing defining science fiction novels such as The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine.

The school also serves as the alma mater of gold medal Olympians Louis Attrill and Simon Dennis, Chinese actor Aarif Lee, and author Jane Yardley. 

As this shows, Imperial prepares its graduates for a variety of fields. Their students can certainly go on to STEM fields, but also have the training for success in a wide range of careers. 


As you might expect, it isn’t cheap to follow in the footsteps of these great Imperial graduates. 

For Home students or students from the United Kingdom, families starting in 2021 will pay £9,250 per year for most programs. 

However, it’s essential to keep in mind that the fees can change according to several factors. Each year, the UK government determines the rates for studying at national schools such as Imperial, which means that future tuition rates have not yet been determined. 

To make matters more complicated, the government has not yet decided upon tuition rates for European citizens. 

For students from the rest of the world, tuition fees vary according to degree. These can range from £34,500/year for an international student to earn a degree in biotechnology to £32,000/ year for international students to earn a physics degree. 

That’s a lot of money. 

But fortunately, home and international students can apply for financial aid and scholarships. This aid can run the gamut from work-study support to outright scholarships. Of course, these aids change according to several factors, including citizenship, course of study, and college. So be sure to check often at the financial aid offices to ensure you have everything you need. 

Imperial College London Acceptance Rate for International Students

Imperial College London Faculty Building
Dicklyon, Imperial College Faculty Building, CC BY-SA 4.0

Because it is one of the best schools globally, Imperial College London values its engagement with the broader world. 

In fact, Imperial has the most internationally diverse institution in the United Kingdom

According to recent statistics, the student body of Imperial consists of 50% home students, 16% of students within the European Union, and a full 34% of students from outside the UK or the EU. 

Those numbers are good news for international students, but there are a few things to keep in mind before applying. 

First of all, remember that 34% of international students at Imperial come from all over the world, which means you’re competing with students from every country outside the UK or the EU. 

Secondly, remember that international applicants to public universities must provide extra paperwork to demonstrate their suitability to enter the college. In fact, the school has different requirements for applicants from different regions. 

Applicants from the United States and Canada have a slight advantage due to the school’s associations with North American institutions. 

Short-term summer programs between Imperial and MIT in the U.S. and the University of British Columbia in the U.S. allow potential students to familiarize themselves with the school. These programs don’t eliminate the additional requirements for international students, but they do indicate the school’s willingness to help them enter the college. 

Is the Imperial College London Right For You?

Let’s be clear: Imperial College London isn’t for everybody. Even though its graduates have gone on to every conceivable field, it is still a school designed for those who want to study technical fields. 

If you’re an English major, then you may find yourself struggling at Imperial. Even those who want to study medicine or engineering might be discouraged when looking at the school’s high standards, its rigorous program, and the extra requirements for international students. 

But before you pass up Imperial, take a good look at the benefits that it offers. 

Simply put, Imperial College London is one of the best schools in Europe and in the world. Beyond its list of famous and successful alumni, most students who have graduated from the school have happy and successful careers. The school features numerous aids to help international students, from administrative support to scholarship options.