Is Emory Ivy League? Ranking, Acceptance Rate, and More

Students who are serious about their academic careers often want to attend the best possible schools. And for many students, the words “great college” are synonymous with “Ivy League.”

By any metric, Emory University belongs among the best of the best in the nation. Founded in 1836 by the Methodist Episcopal Church, Emory is the second-oldest private institution of higher education in Georgia. Over the years, Emory has established itself as an elite private school, with achievements in the sciences and the humanities. Today, the school operates with a $7.94 billion endowment, allowing it to blaze new trails in various fields. 

Ranked as a tier-one doctoral university for its very high research activity, Emory is involved in a number of important initiatives. 

Along with the Georgia Institute of Technology and Peking University in Beijing, Emory operates the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering. Emory partners with Nanjing University to run the Confucius Institute in Atlanta and has a research partnership with the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. 

Emory’s Medical school manages the Emory Healthcare System, the state’s largest healthcare organization. 

Emory has associations with some of the most influential people in the world. The prime ministers of the countries of Georgia and South Korea graduated from Emory, as did U.S. Vice President Alben W. Barkley. 

Emory graduates have gone on to become Rhodes Scholars, Pulitzer Prize winners, Emmy Award winners, MacArthur Fellows, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, government officials, academics, musicians, and more. One alum is even an Olympic medalist.

But are all of these accomplishments enough to make Emory University an Ivy League school? Read on to find out!

Is Emory an Ivy League School?

Emory University
public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

Emory University is not an Ivy League school. However, considering its impressive accomplishments, it could very well be considered on par with any Ivy.

Let’s talk about what makes up the Ivy League.

Founded in 1958, the Ivy League is a Division I NCAA athletic conference consisting of eight private research schools: Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University. 

Because seven of the eight schools trace their establishment to before the founding of the United States (Cornell University was formed in 1865), the Ivies have the honor of being some of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the country. 

Since that time, the Ivy League schools have only enhanced their reputation, through high academic standards, their devotion to cutting-edge research, the contributions of their student bodies, and their highly selective admission standards. 

But impressive American schools can easily be found outside of the Ivy League. Neither Stanford University, New York University, nor Massachusetts Institute of Technology belongs to the Ivy League, yet no one would question those schools’ reputations or academic rigor. 

In short, the Ivy League may have the reputation of academic excellence, they are not great schools because they are in the Ivy League. 

Although a member of the University Athletic Association, Emory University is not an official Ivy League school. The Emory Eagles compete in NCAA Division III athletics, but they do not have an intercollegiate football team. 

However, Emory’s admission standards and academic rankings match and even top those of many official members of the Ivy League. While Emory’s athletic programs rank below those of many Ivy League schools, it outpaces many of its more famous sisters in terms of research, fundraising, and alumni. 

Why Is Emory Often Confused As an Ivy League School?

Many people think that Emory University is in the Ivy League for one simple reason: it is one of the best schools in the country. 

Because most Americans think of the Ivy League as a collection of academically prestigious schools and not an athletic division, many assume that any impressive college or university is an Ivy. 

All of that said, Ivy League schools tend to be highly selective, with Harvard only accepting 4.9% of applicants and Brown taking just 6.9%. 

With an acceptance rate of 15.6%, Emory is very difficult to enter, even if it is easier to get into the school than it is even the least exclusive Ivies, such as Cornell, Dartmouth, and Penn. 

As a private institution, Emory University relies on endowments from donors. However, this limitation has not prevented the school from acquiring an impressive endowment for research and administration. 

In fact, the school’s $7.95 billion endowment makes it the 17th wealthiest school in North America, eclipsing that of Ivy League schools Brown and Dartmouth. 

Emory collects this money not to improve its reputation, but to further its research goals. In 2020, the University spent more than $507 million on research, placing it 18th in the nation in research expenditures. 

These statistics demonstrate that Emory University competes with, and often bests, Ivy League schools according to nearly every metric. So while the University may not belong to the same official athletic division as Harvard and Penn, Emory is more selective and research-focused than almost every other school in the country. 

Emory University: Ranking, Acceptance Rate, and More

Emory University
Brett Weinstein, Woodruff Library, CC BY-SA 2.0

Given these impressive numbers, it’s no surprise that Emory University ranks among the best schools in the country. U.S. News & World Report puts Emory at 21st in the nation in National Universities, alongside Ivy League schools Dartmouth, Brown, and Cornell. U.S News also ranks Emory tied for 25th place in Undergraduate Teaching and placed at 23rd in Best Value Schools. 

Emory’s 63rd place ranking from Washington Monthly on its 2020 National University Rankings might seem unimpressive, but one has to look at the context. Unlike other publications, Washington Monthly ranks universities according to “their contribution to the public good in three broad categories: social mobility, research, and promoting public service.” 

On that scale, Emory falls within the top 50 in research and service, revealing it to be a school committed to improving its community and the world.

Niche gives Emory University an A+ grade, citing its commitment to strong academics, a diverse student body, and athletic success. This score puts Emory near the top on several Niche lists, including Best Colleges Nursing in America, Best Colleges for Chemistry in America, and Best Christian Colleges in America. 

As you might expect, a school with those types of numbers is quite exclusive. Only 15% of students who applied to Emory were accepted, which makes it among the most selective in the nation. 

However, those low numbers also allow for small classes, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1. Those numbers mean that Emory can give great attention to every student enrolled at the school. 

How to Get Into Emory University

With such a low acceptance rate, Emory University can afford to restrict itself to the best of the best. In 2020, incoming students had an average SAT score of 145 and an average ACT score of 33. The average GPA of a student accepted into Emory was 3.78 on a 4.0 scale

Yes, those are high expectations. But even if you’re not quite reaching those numbers, you can still put together an impressive application package. If you don’t have the grades and scores admissions officers at Emory expect, you try to supplement your grade with strong extra-curricular activities. 

According to the University’s admissions board website, Emory is “looking for students who have a voice, who are intellectually curious, and who have demonstrated an engagement with the world around them.” 

You can start developing that voice and engagement now. If you’re hoping to study politics at Emory, you should be working in your community, even in high school. That means that you should not only be active in student government and the model U.N., but you should also be getting real-world experience. 

Help hand out flyers at a political rally or gather signatures. Promote a candidate that you’re passionate about, even if it’s for something as mundane as drain commissioner. 

Finally, Emory does require an application essay. This can be your chance to explain yourself, to tell the admission board what you’ve done to become the kind of person that Emory wants in their student body and how the University will help you continue your personal development. 

Think not only about what Emory can do for you, but what you can do for the learning community there. How will you contribute? How will you improve the lives of your fellow students? How will you enrich their academic lives? 

These practices not only build your resume but also put you in contact with people who can write a letter of recommendation. A letter of recommendation can go a long way to making you an attractive candidate for admission, especially if the recommender is someone with prestige. 

Recap: Emory Is Not an Ivy League University. However, It Is One of the Best Universities in the Nation

Emory University
Daniel Mayer, Emory University – Charles and Peggy Evans Anatomy Building, CC BY-SA 3.0

Emory University is not an Ivy League school. 

But unless you’re concerned about football rivalries between the Columbia University Lions and the Dartmouth College Big Green, that shouldn’t matter. The Ivy League is, after all, only a sports division. Emory’s athletic department may not rival that of the Ivies, but it is more selective and has a research focus to rival any school in North America. 

All of that said, it is a bit easier to get into Emory than it is to many other schools of its caliber, including the Ivy League schools. Still, with a 15% acceptance rate, most people who apply to Emory get turned down. 

But some people do get in, and you could be one of them. If you want to be an Emory University student someday, you should start improving your GPA now. Take difficult classes and work hard to get good grades, especially if they relate to your major. 

But don’t pin all your hopes on your grades. Work to earn good SAT and ACT scores, and also start developing connections through extra-curricular activities. Show the admission boards at Emory that you’re just the kind of thoughtful, curious, well-rounded student they want in their programs. 

Yes, that is a lot of hard work, the type of work you’d do only for an Ivy League school. But as this article has shown, Emory stands alongside the Ivy League schools in every important way. 

Although it may not belong to the most famous athletic conference, Emory has proven itself to be the school of choice for leaders in many important fields around the globe. If you work hard and develop your skills, you can join them one day.