University of Michigan – Acceptance Rate, Tuition, Requirements, and More

“Hail to the victors valiant!” So begins the University of Michigan’s fight song, which goes on to declare the Wolverines “the leaders and the best.” In most cases, such boasts would make unsubstantiated bravado. Founded in 1817, twenty years before the territory became a state, U of M is the oldest university in the state and one of the most respected in the nation. 

Despite being a public school, U of M is not only a tier-one research university, regularly rivaling even Ivy League schools in academic excellence. With an endowment worth over $12.4 billion, Michigan has more money than most schools in the U.S. In addition to former American President Gerald Ford, the school has been affiliated with 53 winners of the MacArthur Genius Grant, 26 Nobel Laurates, and numerous public officials. 

The school’s main campus in Ann Arbor has a combined area of 860 acres and has over 500 significant buildings. The grounds house everything from an advanced teaching hospital to beautiful botanical gardens to a student center with all the amenities you could want. 

But is the University of Michigan the right school for you? Keep reading this article to find out! 

Acceptance Rate

University of Michigan
Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

Despite ranking in among the top 25 colleges in the U.S., the University of Michigan is not among the most exclusive. In 2019, 14,833 students were accepted, which is certainly a lot. However, 64,972 people applied that year, meaning only 23% made it in

To be sure, that’s a small percentage, and most consider U of M to be a highly selective school. However, the university tends to admit more students than other schools of its caliber. The University of Southern California, which shares 24th place in U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of National Universities, has an acceptance rate of only 11%. 23rd ranked Georgetown University accepts only 14% of its students

When examined in this context, it’s clear that Michigan offers the best of both worlds. By being selective, U of M can build its reputation as an elite school (thereby raising the value of its diplomas) and maintain a small faculty-to-student ratio. But accepting more students than other high-level universities, Michigan can have more diversity on its campus. 

In short, the University of Michigan recruits the best of the best from populations around the globe. 

Requirements & Admission Tips

The University of Michigan may accept a higher percentage of students than other schools in the top 25, but that does not mean it should be anyone’s safety. U of M demands top-level talent to enter their programs, starting with a solid academic record. 

The school’s 2021 freshman class came from the top 10% of their high schools. They had an average GPA of 3.9, took advanced placement or college prep courses, and earned high scores on standardized tests. Their SAT scores fell between 1340 – 1530, and the ACT range was 31 – 34. 

Those are impressive numbers. But they shouldn’t dissuade anyone who believes that they belong in maize and blue, even if they don’t quite meet these standards. U of M uses a holistic admission process, which assigns scores to various data points. Admissions counselors give points of specific amounts to GPA and test scores, but they also consider a student’s educational environment, recommendations, essays, and leadership and service experience.

Students planning to study at Michigan should certainly work to earn high grades and to do well on standardized tests. But they should also take time to make themselves an attractive candidate in other ways, volunteering in community service projects and developing extracurricular abilities. 

Notable Alumni

According to the school’s fight song, the Michigan Wolverines are the “victors valiant.” Athletes from U of M who went on to become champions and professionals certainly back up that claim, including seven-time Super Bowl champ Tom Brady, NBA player Tim Hardaway Jr., and Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin. Many stars of pop music, television, and cinema went to Michigan, such as legendary actor James Earl Jones, tv and movie figure Lucy Liu, and genre-defining singer Madonna. 

Many U of M graduates went on to win the Nobel Prize, such as scientists Stanley Cohen, Richard Smalley, and Samuel C.C. Ting. Former Wolverines James Irwin and David Scott went to space as part of NASA’s space programs. Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, Berkshire Hathaway Vice President Charlie Munger, and Google co-founder Larry Page all graduate from U of M. 

Some remain leading academics in their field, such as physics professor H. David Politzer and professor of aerospace engineering Edgar Lesher


With such a large endowment and a commitment to research, it should come as no surprise that the University of Michigan has some of the finest faculty in the nation. Nobel Prize winners and MacArthur Geniuses teach at Michigan, and every faculty member publishes in leading journals. 

Professor Milford Wolpoff teaches in the Department of Anthropology at U of M. Wolpoff has authored or co-authored some of the most widely-used textbooks in the field, including Paleoanthropology and Race and Human Evolution: A Fatal Attraction. In addition to winning several awards, Wolpoff also regularly appears as a public scholar in the New York Times, Newsweek, and Discover

Economics professor Heather Ann Thompson won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in history for her book Blood in the Water, which chronicles the 1971 Attica Uprising. Her work on American prisons and their effect on larger society has earned her widespread acclaim and continues to educate students in Michigan’s economics department. 

As these two small selections suggest, U of M boasts some of the most innovative and exciting minds in the world. 

Similar Schools & Ranking

As one would expect from a school with such remarkable alumni and faculty, the University of Michigan ranks high on every major scale. awards U of M an A+ overall grade, thanks to its academics, value, and athletics. The site ranks the school as the #1 Public University in America, the #2 Best College for Kinesiology and Physical Therapy in America, and the #2 Best College for Sports Management in America. 

According to U.S. News & World Report, U of M sits at #24 on its list of National Universities, ranking it #3 in Top Public Schools, #8 in Best Colleges for Veterans, and #3 in Business Programs. Even the Washington Monthly, which ranks schools according to social mobility, research, and service, places the university at #29 nationally. 

Within the state, the University of Michigan’s greatest rival is Michigan State University, with Michigan Technological University and the University of Detroit Mercy as other popular options for Michigan residents. Only the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, and Notre Dame University outrank U of M in the Midwest. 


I’ll be frank. It is not cheap to attend the University of Michigan. In the most recent school year, in-state students paid over $31,000 in tuition and fees. Out-of-state students spent more than twice as much. 

Fortunately, U of M has a whole host of scholarships, which can help take down those gargantuan costs without sacrificing the quality of education you’ll receive. In fact, most students will be automatically considered for some scholarships just by applying. These awards include the High Achieving Involved Leader (HAIL) Scholarship sent to qualified students and the Detroit Promise Scholarship for deserving students from Detroit. 

Students can also earn special merit scholarships through the university. The Bell Scholarship provides $10,000/year ($20,000/year for out-of-state students) to selected first-year students pursuing a science-related degree at Michigan. The full cost of attendance is covered for winners of the Stamps Scholarship. This award goes to exceptional students who perform community service and show leadership qualities.

Of course, athletes participating in the school’s many division one programs can also receive a number of scholarships. See this link for more information

Is the University of Michigan Right For You?

Do you have a drive for excellence? Do you want to work with some of the greatest innovators and thinkers in the world? Do you want to study with the next generation of geniuses and leaders? 

If you answered “yes” to these questions, then the University of Michigan is likely the school for you. But there is one more question you need to answer, one that’s just as important: 

Are you one of the best students in your high school? 

Although Michigan accepts a relatively high number of applicants for a school of its caliber, it chooses that group only among the best and the brightest. 

The ideal Michigan Wolverine enters the university with a proven record of excellence, whether that be in academics, sports, or community leadership. They can be prepared for a rigorous educational experience, but one that’s supported by first-rate resources and an outstanding student body.