Is Brandeis University Ivy League? Ranking, Acceptance Rate, and More

Brandeis University offers strong academics, a strong identity, and loads of amenities that make it one of the top higher-education institutions in the United States.

The private university has a unique history, having been founded by American Jews in response to the discrimination they and other minorities were experiencing in colleges and universities at the time. 

Brandeis opened in Waltham, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, in 1948, emphasizing undergraduate studies and research.

While it has strong Jewish roots, Brandeis welcomes students from all religious and cultural backgrounds. 

Still, it emphasizes values “rooted in Jewish history and experience,” including revering learning, emphasizing critical thinking, and encouraging students to use their talents and actions to make the world a better place, according to the university.

Brandeis offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees and has a low student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1. At the undergraduate level, the nearly 3,700 undergraduates have 44 majors to choose from in the School of Arts and Sciences plus a business major in the Brandeis International Business School.

Graduate students, meanwhile, can pursue 40 master’s degrees and 17 doctorates in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The business school also offers a five-year BA/MA program. Its Heller School for Social Policy and Management has seven graduate programs. 

Brandeis also has a flexible option for people interested in graduate studies: the all-online master’s degree and online professional development classes offered through the Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies. 

People seeking professional development beyond their degrees or who are just interested in learning new subjects can take courses through The Rabb School of Continuing Studies.

Below, we’ll take a closer look at what it means to be an Ivy League school, Brandeis University, and what it has to offer both in the classroom and out.

Is Brandeis University Ivy League?

Brandeis University
Kenneth C. Zirkel, Lemberg Hall, Brandeis University, CC BY-SA 4.0

No, Brandeis University is not a member of the Ivy League, but students can still receive a high-quality education at this New England school.

Ivy League schools have been around for centuries, with several actually opening their doors before the American Revolution. 

While the names Harvard, Yale, and Princeton evoke images of ivy-covered, historic buildings, that isn’t actually why this collection of eight schools is known as the Ivy League. 

The name actually dates to the 20th century and initially referred to the athletic conference the schools belonged to. 

It’s moved on from that athletic connection and today is used to refer to this prestigious group of universities and the much-desired education they offer.

Brandeis, however, is a fairly newer school on the educational landscape, at least compared to the Ivies, having celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2018. 

With around 5,400 total students in fall 2020, Brandeis has a smaller enrollment than Ivy League schools, which, for the 2020-2021 academic year, had 6,292 to 30,391 undergraduate and graduate students. 

This size puts Brandeis into the NCAA’s Division III, while Ivy League schools compete in Division I. 

Although it is home to just a few thousand students, Brandeis remains committed to keeping that group diverse, fulfilling its original mission by providing a place where anyone can pursue an education. 

The university considers freedom of expression a key part of education and aims to make the campus as inclusive as possible.

Why Is Brandeis University Confused As an Ivy League School?

Brandeis has many things in common with several Ivy League schools, which makes it natural that some people might confuse it for one. 

First, it’s located in New England, as are Harvard, Yale, and Brown universities. Brandeis sits on 235 acres in the Boston suburbs, giving students a great place to learn on campus and off, with all the amenities and educational experiences a major city can offer just a few miles and a shuttle ride away. 

Although it’s a fairly newer college, its campus has the look and feel of an older university, with a mix of stone and brick, modern and classical architecture reminiscent of an Ivy League institution. 

And within those walls, the academics have earned high rankings from numerous publications, and its research efforts routinely pull in notable awards. 

The university brought in $63 million worth of outside funding for its research in the 2020 fiscal year.

A Brandeis University education comes with a similar price tag to that of an Ivy League school. Brandeis students paid nearly $75,000 in tuition, room/board, and other fees for the 2021-22 school year. 

During the 2020-21 academic year, the average undergraduate Ivy League student paid $56,425 in tuition and fees. Brandeis students did receive financial aid to make this cost more affordable, with an average need-based award of almost $47,800.

Like the Ivies, Brandeis’ alumni have gone on to achieve great things in the arts, business, and more, such as best-selling author Mitch Albom, who graduated from the university in 1979. Notable Hollywood names have come from Brandeis, too, including “Friends” creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman, “Will & Grace” star Debra Messing, and “Scandal” actor Tony Goldwyn.

Alumni have shown how well Brandeis prepared them for life after university, too. Of the class of 2020, 94% were either working, in graduate school or “engaged in meaningful experiences” within six months of earning their degrees.

Brandeis University – Ranking, Acceptance Rate, and More

Brandeis University Shapiro Center
Kenneth C. Zirkel, Brandeis University Shapiro Campus Center, CC BY-SA 4.0

Brandeis University has ranked as one of the best universities in not only America but also the world. The school tied for 42nd on U.S. News & World Report‘s list of National Universities and also tied for No. 31 on the publication’s list of Best Undergraduate Teaching. 

EduRank, which takes into account schools’ reputation outside academics, their research, and the impact of their well-known alumni, placed Brandeis at No. 370 out of 14,160 schools worldwide.

Several of Brandeis’ bachelor’s degree programs have earned top rankings as well for how much their graduates earn after college, according to Grad Report

Brandeis’ anthropology degree landed at fifth in the nation, with 91% of its graduates employed within a year of earning their bachelor’s and earning a median salary of $37,210. The university’s neuroscience program also scored well with Grad Report, ranking 14th.

While Brandeis has a strong reputation like the Ivies, it has a much higher acceptance rate than  they do. Of the 10,223 applications it received for the class of 2025, Brandeis accepted 34%. For the same class year, Ivy League schools had an overall acceptance rate of just 5.4%.

Prospective students also can choose to apply for early decision if Brandeis is their first choice for college. Brandeis has two early decision deadlines, and students find out in December and February if they’ve been admitted. The acceptance rate for early decision applicants is higher than that of regular applicants, at 46%.

How to Get Into Brandeis University 

When it comes to considering prospective students, Brandeis said it looks at three areas: their academic record, their potential for succeeding academically and socially, and what they can provide to the campus community.

The 747 students who enrolled in Brandeis in fall 2020 were high achievers in high school. They had an average GPA of 3.84, and most took honors or Advanced Placement classes or international baccalaureate-level courses. In standardized tests, they scored from 1390 to 1500 on the SAT and 30 to 33 on the ACT.

High-schoolers considering attending Brandeis will want to make sure they take certain classes, including four years of English and three years each of math, lab sciences, and social sciences. They also should take two or three years of a foreign language.

To apply, students must fill out the Common Application and submit their transcripts, a school report, and one letter of recommendation each from a school official and a teacher who taught them in a core class, such as math or science. 

Brandeis no longer requires applicants to submit ACT or SAT scores, but those who don’t include them will need to fulfill the school’s testing requirement in another way. 

This could be submitting three exams from various subjects or providing a paper they wrote for a high school class plus another letter of recommendation from a teacher they had in their junior or senior years.

Students’ activities outside the classroom, such as community engagement, also come into play in the admissions process. Brandeis considers how students have used their skills and time to help others, and it also wants to see if students have persevered through challenges and demonstrated critical thinking skills through other projects or activities.

Recap: Brandeis University Is Not an Ivy League School. However, It Is a Top-Ranked University

Brandeis University Pearlman Hall
Kenneth C. Zirkel, Pearlman Hall, Brandeis University, CC BY-SA 4.0

Although Brandeis does not belong to the Ivy League, it still provides a well-respected education that leads students into successful careers. 

Alumni have shown how well Brandeis prepared them for life after university. Of the class of 2020, 94% were either working, in graduate school, or “engaged in meaningful experiences” within six months of earning their degrees.

This could not be possible without the quality of the education available at Brandeis, provided by faculty members who have won Nobel Prizes, been MacArthur “genius grant” Fellows, and belonged to the National Academy of Sciences. 

More than half of Brandeis’ classes have fewer than 20 students, giving students a more intimate setting in which to learn. And in addition to lessons in the arts, sciences, and other core subjects, students can engage in classes that take on more unusual topics, such as Hip-Hop History and Culture.

In their time away from class, students have plenty of opportunities to engage in clubs and sports. 

Outside its 19 Division III teams, Brandeis has several intramural and club sports. The campus also is home to the Rose Art Museum and regularly presents concerts, theatrical shows, and more in addition to presenting the annual campus-wide Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts

On top of this, students can participate in more than 200 other clubs and activities. They also are passionate about giving back to the world around them. 

The university ranked sixth on the Princeton Review’s list of colleges whose students are the most engaged in community service.

Brandeis University may not be an Ivy League school; however, considering its alumni, faculty, and accolades, it is an elite university among the best colleges in the entire world.