A private Baptist school, Baylor University is the oldest continually operating university in the state of Texas.
Baylor’s history dates back to 1845 when what was then known as the Republic of Texas chartered the school. The university, which began in Independence, Texas, but now is located in Waco, remains as committed to its Christian affiliation today as was on Day 1.
It is home to the George W. Truett Theological Seminary, which offers degrees in divinity, ministry, and theological studies, as well as the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion, where scholars go to do research about religion.
Although its Christian affiliation remains strong, today’s campus community welcomes people from all backgrounds, with students hailing from nearly every state and over 85 countries.
Its students come from the top of their high school classes to pursue 126 undergraduate degrees as well as dozens of master’s degrees and doctorates.
Baylor also is home to the state’s first law school, and its alumni “continue to record the highest bar (exam) passage rate” in Texas, according to the university.
Students learn all of this and more on a vast, 1,000-acre campus by the Brazos River in this mid-sized city. Classes are on the smaller side, with the average undergraduate course consisting of 26 students thanks to a student-faculty ratio of 15:1.
The university has produced numerous well-known and successful alumni, including HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines and ventriloquist Jeff Dunham.
Below, we’ll take a closer look at what Baylor has to offer, whether it fits in with the Ivy League, and more about this prestigious school in the heart of Texas.
Is Baylor University Ivy League?
No, Baylor University is not an Ivy League school, but it has been educating students for more than 175 years.
All Ivy League schools are located in the Northeast, with many dating to colonial times.
The term “Ivy League,” though, actually is fairly newer, having been first used in the 20th century to refer to certain schools competing in athletics.
The name became more official after the NCAA formed a Division I athletic conference for the schools in the 1950s, and today “Ivy League” is used in general to describe the group of eight prestigious schools that include Harvard, Yale, and Columbia universities.
Baylor, while a well-established and well-respected university, sits on the opposite side of the country from the Ivies.
Its campus consists of buildings constructed throughout the 20th century, giving it a different look and feel from places like Princeton and Dartmouth, which have buildings dating back centuries.
Although numerous states and countries are represented in Baylor’s student body, just like at the Ivies, it is a popular destination for Texans. More than 60% of its students came from within the state as of fall 2020.
For the same year, the Ivy League school Cornell University, which has a similarly sized student body, just 27% of its students came from its home state, New York.
Why Is Baylor University Confused As an Ivy League School?
Although Baylor University does not belong to the Ivy League, it has similar credentials to those that do.
The school actually was founded about 20 years before Cornell and has a similarly sized student body compared to many of the Ivies.
As of fall 2020, Baylor had nearly 14,400 undergraduates and over 5,100 graduate or professional students, while the Ivies had 6,292 to 30,391 undergraduate and graduate students for the 2020-21 school year.
This means, like the Ivy League schools, Baylor competes in the NCAA’s Division I.
Students will find they can get a high-quality education to rival that of the Ivy Leagues at Baylor.
In 2019, the Princeton Review ranked Baylor’s John F. Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship No. 6 in the country, and the school’s undergraduate accounting program landed at 47th in U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 rankings.
Many of Baylor’s graduate programs, too, ranked in the top 100 of their field in the United States in a recent survey by U.S. News & World Report. Baylor also is home to a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the country’s oldest academic honor society, which only 10% of American universities, including all of the Ivies, have.
A Baylor education also will cost students more than what they would pay to learn at an Ivy League school.
For the 2021-22 school year, Baylor charged $50,232 for tuition and estimated students would pay an average of $12,682 for room and board.
The average undergraduate Ivy League student, on the other hand, paid $56,425 in tuition and fees during the 2020-21 academic year.
Baylor University – Ranking, Acceptance Rate, and More
Baylor’s unique mix of academic prowess and affordability has earned it accolades through the years.
According to EduRank, Baylor ranks 135 out of 2,523 colleges and universities in the United States.
At the same time, looking at the cost of attending school, the Fiske Guide to Colleges included Baylor in its 2017 list of the 47 “Best Buy” colleges and universities in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain.
Kiplinger echoed that decision, placing Baylor 61st on its list of Best Values in Private Colleges in 2018.
The university’s efforts to make the world a better place also has attracted attention.
In its 2019 Sustainable Campus Index, which recognizes schools for their sustainability efforts, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education named Baylor University a top-performing higher education institution.
It isn’t just Baylor’s academics that have earned its awards, either.
Its student publications (the Lariat newspaper, Focus magazine, and Roundup yearbook) earned the Triple Silver Crown and several other awards from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association in 2018.
Luckily for students interested in attending Baylor, this high-ranking education is within easy reach, since the university has an acceptance rate of 68%. This is about 12 times as high as the acceptance rate for all Ivy League schools.
For the class of 2025, the Ivies received a total of 401,480 applications and accepted 21,803 students, for an overall acceptance rate of 5.4%.
This is a historically low acceptance rate for those schools, according to Shemmassian Academic Consulting.
How to Get Into Baylor University
When it comes to admissions, Baylor says it looks for students who have experience with demanding academics and are excited about learning.
Baylor does not require applicants to have a minimum high school GPA or to have taken certain classes, but it does recommend that they come prepared with four years of English, math, and natural science classes.
Applicants also will want to have taken three years of social sciences classes and two years of a language.
The university no longer requires applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores, although they can if they want.
Students interested in pursuing certain degrees, such as chemistry or calculus, should note that some classes in those programs require standardized test scores for admission.
While Baylor is a Christian university, students do not have to belong to that faith or sign a statement of faith to attend, but Baylor does say that it looks for students who want to be part of a community that places a value on “faith and personal calling.”
Prospective students also do not need to interview with Baylor representatives as part of the admissions process.
Baylor accepts students for the fall, spring, and summer terms. Prospective students can apply in one of three ways: Baylor’s online application, the Common Application, or ApplyTexas, an online application for colleges and universities located in that state.
It also offers two early-decision deadlines for prospective students who consider Baylor to be their top choice for college.
For fall admission, students must apply for early decision by November or February. Early decision is binding, meaning that students are committed to attending Baylor if the university accepts them.
Recap: Baylor University Is Not an Ivy League School. However, It Is a Top-Ranked University
Although Baylor University is not an Ivy League school, students who want to attend a well-respected school in a small-city setting can find all that and more on this Texas campus.
With a history that predates the Civil War, Baylor has spent nearly two centuries educating students across a wide range of subjects, from business and music to law and theology, and from bachelor’s programs to terminal degrees.
The university also aims to make a further impact on the world from its numerous centers and institutes that focus on areas like Global Engagement and Faith & Learning.
Students can find additional opportunities for learning and fun outside of class in the 330 clubs and organizations available on campus.
This includes a thriving Greek community of 40 national and local fraternities and sororities. And thanks to its membership in the NCAA’s Division I, the university also attracts top athletes to participate in its 19 varsity sports teams.
The university’s Baptist background continues to drive its mission, but Baylor also welcomes people from all religions and other backgrounds to study within its walls.
That uplifting spirit continues off-campus as well, as the university’s students and employees spend more than 150,000 hours volunteering in the local community each year.
If its alumni are any indication, Baylor students leave the university well-prepared and ready to make a difference in their world. Within 90 days of earning their diplomas, 83% of Baylor alumni have either started jobs or graduate school.