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

An urban, modern campus in central Philadelphia, Drexel University earns acclaim for its excellence in undergraduate teaching, leadership in multiple research fields, and graduate and professional programs, including over 100 Master’s and doctoral degree programs.

Centers for the study of topics as diverse as public policy, nanotechnology, emergency preparedness, data mining, and entertainment industry studies bring scholars from around the world to work and teach at Drexel. 

Alumni include CEOs, world leaders, and inventors.

Popular majors at Drexel can be technology-oriented engineering degrees, but the school also offers an outstanding music program. 

Drexel Publishing Group, run by faculty and student interns, edits and releases Painted Bride Quarterly, a long-running, prestigious literary journal (among its many other publications).

Drexel may be most known for its strategic, practical educational approach, offering students the opportunity to integrate up to 18 months of paid work experience while they complete undergraduate degrees.

From their freshman year, students have two advisors, one academic and one for their co-op experiences. 

All students take courses to learn how to market themselves, write a resume, participate in a successful interview process, and present themselves professionally.

Drexel students, then, tend to be motivated, self-starting individuals of high intellectual capability, expansive imaginative capacity, and exceptional aspirations. 

These students find at Drexel the academic rigor, mentorship, and real-world challenges they need to set themselves on their chosen career path with the right tools.

Is Drexel University Ivy League?

Drexel University
Public domain photo by Ameykhanolkar via Wikimedia Commons

Drexel University is not an Ivy League school.

Judging by the success of its graduates and the renown of its program, it’s not hard to see how many people might wonder if Drexel can be counted as a member of the Ivy League. 

While it’s not one of the original eight in that famed athletic conference, it’s still a school whose reputation reaches far beyond its region and throughout many disciplines.

Many people don’t realize that the Ivy League really did start as an athletic association. 

The term itself came from a sportswriter who, in the mid-1930s, referred to the cluster of eastern schools as “ivy” colleges, possibly evoking the ivy-planting tradition practiced by many colleges at that time. 

In 1954, the term became the official name for the NCAA Division I athletic conference, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, Cornell, Brown, the University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia.

But the traction that the “Ivy League” designation brings to bear in any educational context makes many people use it as a universal term for excellence. 

The confusion deepens when terms like “Ivy Plus” emerge, referring to the practice of associating non-Ivy League, though traditionally excellent, schools with Ivy League schools, either for alumni events, cooperative research, or academic conferences. 

Schools like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago are typically called “Ivy Plus.”

Lists of “alternate Ivies” proliferate annually. Students can investigate the “Little Ivies,” the “Public Ivies,” the “HBUC Ivies,” the “Southern Ivies,” the “West Coast Ivies.” 

Greene’s Guides now publishes an entire work devoted to The Hidden Ivies, a guide to over fifty colleges reported to be as rigorous, prestigious, and effective as any Ivy League school.

Since acceptance rates at Ivy League institutions sit at all-time lows, the tremendous resource the nation has in its bright, motivated youth will be squandered if that group of eight remains the only goal for exceptional students. 

The best school for any brilliant student is the one that fits their academic and career goals, and the Ivy League doesn’t always offer the correct answer.

Why Is Drexel University Confused As an Ivy League School?

Drexel University Law School
Public domain photo by Ameykhanolkar via Wikimedia Commons

Drexel fits a few markers of an Ivy League profile: it’s a private school in a historic Northeastern location. 

The school graduates highly successful alumni from its undergraduate and professional schools, including a law school, a medical school, and the renowned LeBow College of Business.

It’s also situated close to the University of Pennsylvania, which numbers among the eight official Ivy League institutions. 

In 2011, the venerable Academy of Natural Sciences, the oldest natural history museum in the United States, became part of Drexel University, bringing its history and research reputation under the Drexel umbrella and enhancing its profile as a revered campus.

Drexel, then, embodies many of the traits associated with the Ivy League: prestige, professional programs, history, research entities, and academic rigor. 

But Drexel operates under very different educational principles than the traditional academic approaches practice at most Ivy League institutions: experiential learning and paid work intervals are built into the undergraduate curriculum.

Making use of a quarter system structure and often continuing program activity through summers, Drexel students complete at least one and up to three six-month co-op work experiences while matriculating as undergraduates.

Working professionals lead in the classroom at Drexel as well; the faculty draws from the industry as much as from academia, as befits a leader in business, engineering, and in experiential learning.

Drexel boasts an international profile, offers an innovative curriculum and close mentorship, and offers even more academic rigor through its Pennoni Honors College, a program providing special coursework, guest speakers, and travel opportunity for accepted students. 

Drexel University – Ranking, Acceptance Rate, and More

According to U.S. News, Drexel comes close to cracking the top 100 national universities overall and ranks at an impressive #58 for undergraduate teaching

With its sweeping program, Drexel ranks at #2 for co-ops and internships; its focus on placing students on their defined career track also places Drexel in the top 100 for best value.

Known for business and engineering, other highly-considered top-50 ranking Drexel programs include culinary arts, nursing, and design.

Drexel’s acceptance rate comes in at a healthy 77%, with 23% of accepted applicants having GPAs in the highest range, 3.75-3.99

Drexel’s admissions process considers multiple factors, focusing on traits like independent work habits and a drive to succeed. In that light, some accepted applicants (4%) occupy the lowest GPA range as well (2.50-2.99).

While 40% of 2020’s incoming freshmen came from the top 10% of their high school graduating class, 94% came from the top 50% of their graduating cohort. 

The diversity of Drexel’s undergraduate student body demonstrates the way Drexel defines its own results-oriented terms of academic success.

How to Get Into Drexel University 

Drexel currently does not require standardized test scores like the SAT or ACT. In the wake of the pandemic, many schools refocused their application priorities.

However, Drexel will accept SAT or ACT scores from students who have been able to take the tests safely. If a student performs well on standardized tests, a high SAT or ACT score might be a way to set their application materials apart.

At this point, no one can say for sure that avoiding the test makes sense when applying to test-optional schools. 

Any student who can’t safely take a standardized test yet (or anyone who has disappointing test scores) would be better off to take advantage of the allowed omission.

If a student chooses to apply to a school with no standardized test scores, that absence should be addressed in essay materials or in supplementary options. 

Drexel’s admissions process uses the Common Application and the Coalition Application platforms.

Drexel’s application includes additional materials and instructions for specific departments. Students must provide supplementary materials like portfolios, additional essays, and evidence of satisfying departmental prerequisites. 

Applicants should be sure to check the departmental instructions for their intended major.

Any student seriously considering Drexel can access a higher acceptance rate by applying through Drexel’s Early Action and Early Decision programs. Both programs promise an admission decision on an expedited timetable; Early Decision requires a binding commitment to attend if accepted.

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

While the Ancient Eight members of the Ivy League leave out Drexel University, the school’s prestige and reach centers in a different academic ethos altogether. 

Drexel’s program offers superior opportunities and options for students interested in getting a running start to their careers, earning money while in college, and charting their own course of study.

Drexel looks for students ready to meet the world actively. It’s a bustling city campus brimming with activity and opportunity, ready to connect its students with all types of career plans.

With one of the country’s only dedicated entrepreneurship schools, Drexel provides the proper training ground for students who want to start their own businesses. 

A student with a game-changing idea or invention, a person who envisions a nonprofit to help their community, or those who want to be their own boss can all find a home at the Close School of Entrepreneurship.

Within the School of Entrepreneurship, the Baida Institute for Entrepreneurship provides office facilities, technological tools, and industry and alumni mentorship. 

Abundant funding opportunities exist for student startups, including numerous grants and competitions like Dragon Pitch, where the Drexel alumni network provides prize money for early-stage funding for student projects.

Work at a Fortune 500 company. Earn early acceptance to medical school. Accelerate your path to law school.

Or let Drexel’s Steinbright Career Development Center help you discover your strengths and interests as you embark on your best career. Drexel demonstrates that the life of the mind can actually make a difference and a profit.