university of Chicago requirements

How to Get Into University of Chicago: Admissions Requirements

University of Chicago requirements isn’t exactly easy to accomplish. Why?

UChicago considers itself “One of the world’s premier academic and research institutions” so they are very critical in choosing their students.

Sound too good to be true?

They may be tooting their own horn, but students and faculty from UChicago have made great strides over the years, such as developing the first cloud-based computing system to process cancer data (in 2013) – like, wow. We still burn our popcorns in the microwave sometimes.

For the class of 2024, UChicago received 34,372 applications and only 2,511 were accepted. We already know what you’re thinking! What does it take to be part of that??

Without further ado, we bestow you these 12 Steps to increase your student’s UChicago Admissions chances! (Number 10 is pretty unique.)

Step #1: Earn a 4.48 GPA or Higher

While we could argue that there ARE acceptances below a 4.48, you should aim for a 4.48 or higher to increase your University of Chicago admissions chances. This is also a good indication that you will succeed once you are admitted to the university. 

Step #2: Get a 34 ACT, 1520 SAT, or Higher

As we mentioned in our article on how to get into UC Berkeley, Ivy Leagues review their applications holistically, meaning they take all things into consideration.

This means that you should not focus on GPA alone, but also on getting high test scores for the SAT and ACT.

No SAT subject tests are required for your University of Chicago requirements, but we recommend that you take them.

UChicago Admissions are super competitive, so you really want to take every opportunity there is to stand out. Study hard for at least two and submit those scores.

And don’t forget about Super Scoring!

Super Scoring…what’s that?

The University of Chicago uses what’s called “Super Scoring”, (or Score Choice) when accepting your ACT and SAT test scores. It means that if you submit multiple test scores for either the ACT or SAT, they will take the highest score you submitted!

THIS IS GOOD. It means you can take those tests multiple times to increase your score and increase your admissions chances!

Step #3: Have the Extracurricular Advantage

We’ve got something for this, too! Remember our article on Extracurricular Activities increasing your Ivy League admissions chances?

Well, UChicago is no exception to all that. Here is a pie chart that shows the actual anatomy, if you will, of the University of Chicago in terms of their Extracurricular make-up.

University of Chicago requirements

So what can you take out from this infographic above?  What seems to be to focus?

YES, you got it! It seems like there are three categories that are prominent here.

U of Chicago Extracurricular Prominent Categories:

  1. Athletics
  2. Music
  3. Volunteering

We’re not saying these are the only extracurriculars that the University of Chicago cares about. BUT the fact that the majority of current UChicago students are involved in these categories does say something for the extracurricular habits of students accepted. If you want to learn more about this, read our blog on extracurriculars colleges like to see.

If you’re not an athlete and you don’t play an instrument… don’t fret! Anyone can volunteer! AND there’s quite the variety of community service options open to students these days.

Here are some volunteer tips!

  • Make hygiene kits for the homeless
  • Volunteer at a food bank, food pantry, or soup kitchen
  • Bring new or lightly used toys and stuffed animals to a children’s hospital.
  • Teach computer skills to the elderly

These are just a few specific examples we took from TeenLife’s 10 Community Service Ideas for College-Bound Teens and 50 Community Service Ideas for Teen Volunteers.

Step #4: Create a UChicago Account

One of the simplest University of Chicago requirements is creating a UChicago account. This is simply an online account where you can access all the information you’ll need as both an applicant, and a student of UChicago.

With a UChicago account, you can:

  • Check the status of your application
  • Update information
  • Apply for financial aid
  • Change your password
  • View your admission decision

Get started with your UChicago Application. 

Step #5: Complete the Universal and Common Applications

These are two different online application sites that allow schools to view student’s applications, and teachers to give college recommendations to those students.

For filling these guys out, all you need to do is go to their homepage and follow the steps they give!

University of Chicago requirements

Start your Universal College Application here and/or start your Common Application here.

Step #6: Do Well on the UChicago Supplement

Now, this is an important one so LISTEN UP! The UChicago Supplement is available through either your UChicago Account or Common Application.

The University of Chicago Supplement requires: 

  1. Extended Essay (You’ll have 5 prompts to choose from)
  2. Short essay on why you want to go to UChicago
  3. An optional essay on art or media

So what do these essays look like?

You can expect to see (and write about) some pretty uncommon things on your essay. Literally, the University of Chicago takes pride in having uncommon essay prompts.

What do they mean by using the term “uncommon”? 

How about a prompt asking you about the latest trends in society?

Screen Shot 2015-06-19 at 11.27.24 AM

Or a prompt that just catches you completely by surprise?

Screen Shot 2015-06-19 at 11.27.08 AM

The following were two REAL prompts used for the UChicago extended essay.

In other words, you can expect the unexpected when it comes to the University of Chicago extended essay. And here’s some specific examples of essay answers to uncommon UChicago prompts. You can read these and get a feel for the tone they want to capture and follow some of the tips we have provided below.

University of Chicago Extended Essay “Do’s and Don’ts”:

University of Chicago requirements

Extra Tip: You don’t have to write about yourself to answer the question. You can, but it’s totally up to you!

Step #7: Have a Good Secondary School Report

They want a secondary school report too? How about my right foot??

But remember the low acceptance rate, you are being considered for one of the world’s premier universities. So yeah, they want it.

The secondary school report is basically a recommendation from your advisor. It will ask for the basics, like grades and test scores, but it will ask a few more unique questions too – how organized are you and what’s your personality is like, for instance. So make sure to keep your advisor on your good side. 😉

Schedule a meeting well in advance to meet with your counselor/advisor and submit this recommendation via either University College Application or the Common Application (We mentioned these earlier!)

Step #8: Get Two Stellar Recommendations from Teachers

In another blog, we talked about creating the “Ideal Candidate” for the school that your student wants to attend.

You can use some of those same categories to find the teachers for your recommendations!

University of Chicago requirements

Now that you know what kind of teacher to ask, make sure you give them plenty of time to write the recommendation.

What’s plenty of time?

Teachers are busy. A week before the deadline is probably even pushing it, so give them two or more. And when you do ask for a recommendation, make sure to have a brag sheet prepared.

brag sheet? You mean you want me to brag about myself? 

Yup. Think of it this way: Let’s say you’re in a room with 10 people. If all 10 of you applied to the University of Chicago, that means only one of you would be accepted, if any.

You need to do everything you can to BE that one! So your teacher needs to know your accomplishments in order to write you a stellar recommendation letter that stands out and fits exactly what the university is looking for.

Provide a sheet with the following:

  • Volunteer Work
  • Leadership Positions
  • Involvement in Music and the Arts
  • Clubs
  • Cultural Experiences
  • Honors and Awards
  • Community Service
  • Employment

In other words… just follow the steps to fill out our Student Profile.

Step #9: Submit a Mid-Year Report

Mid-Year report? Didn’t I already submit all my grades?

You did. Now they want to make sure you didn’t start slacking afterwards. 😉

Your need to ask your Academic Advisor to send a mid-year report with grades or transcript your first semester or first trimester by February 1, 201.

Your school may have their own form for this, or the counselor can use the UCA or CA’s form. Either will work — just make sure this gets done and looks good!

Step #10: Use Extra Opportunities to Stand Out

This means the supplemental criteria offered as an option for the University of Chicago requirements.

There’s a Portfolio in your student’s UChicago account where they can submit any type of artwork, writing, or anything else they are substantially proud of. This is another chance for your student to shine in the eyes of UChicago.

So that portrait of Beyonce they painted in art, or that awesome mini-novel they wrote for English class… those will work.

What about the UChicago Interview?

Interviews for the University of Chicago admissions are conducted on and off the campus.

Face-to-face is always a good way to show your interest in something. That’s why we recommend that you do one of these.

  • On-Campus interviews you will be interviewed by a fourth-year student in the Office of College Admissions in Rosenwald HallAnd, guess what? The University actually has a current list of the UChicago student interviewers. When you go to your interview, you’re bound to see one of these lovely faces there.
  • For Off-Campus interviews: Off-campus interviews are conducted by UChicago alumni. For off-campus interviews, you should come armed with the following:
    1. Knowledge of UChicago
    2. A few questions for the alumnus

You can only book one or the other so you can either schedule their on-campus interview or schedule your off-campus interview on your UChicago Account.

Step #11: Meet Your Deadlines

That was a lot of steps huh??

Here’s the deal. If you don’t meet the deadlines for this stuff, NONE OF WHAT WE JUST SAID WILL MATTER. — Make sure your stay on track!

Step #12: Qualify for a Merit Scholarship

Yes, UChicago has merit-based scholarships!

However, they’re not exactly the same criteria as you’ve heard from us in reference to a merit scholarship.

Basically how it works is when the University of Chicago receives your application, the admissions counselors will review it for possible scholarship awards in addition to them being admitted.

So you aren’t automatically awarded after admission, but you’re automatically considered.

And they will look at everything: GPA, test scores, personality, and what you did in High School. They might even call your twice removed cousin and see what you did at your 2nd birthday… Ok maybe not that far, but you get the idea.


Just to keep things fresh, let’s review the steps we talked about.

To meet your University of Chicago Requirements:

  1. Earn a 4.48 GPA or Higher
  2. Get a 34 on the ACT, a 1520 on the SAT, or Higher
  3. Have the Extracurricular Advantage

To Meet your UChicago Application Requirements:

  1. Create a UChicago Account
  2. Complete the Universal and Common Applications
  3. Do Well on the UChicago Supplement
  4. Have a Good Secondary School Report
  5. Get 2 Stellar Recommendations from Teachers
  6. Submit a Mid-Year Report
  7. Use Extra Opportunities to Stand Out
  8. Meet Your Deadlines
  9. Apply for Financial Aid

Know any other important details about the University of Chicago Admissions Requirements? Share with us in the comments below.

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Todd VanDuzer

Co-Founder & CEO at Student-Tutor
Hello! My name is Todd. I help students design the life of their dreams by ensuring college, scholarship, and career success! I am a former tutor for seven years, $85,000 scholarship recipient, Huffington Post contributor, lead SAT & ACT course developer, host of a career exploration podcast for teens, and have worked with thousands of students and parents to ensure a brighter future for the next generation. I invite you to join my next webinar to learn how to save thousands + set your teenager up for college, scholarship, and career success!
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Aysel Ayata
Aysel Ayata
6 years ago

Hey Todd, I am currently studying Political Science in Istanbul and I want to do my MA , specifically middle eastern studies, in uchicago. But i am not quite sure how much gpa is required.
I would like if you could reply and help me.

6 years ago

Hi Todd. I am currently a sophomore in high school, and the university of Chicago is my dream school. I believe (pardon) to have everything they are looking for personality and extracurricular wise. I’m a volleyball player and have been actively participating in six different clubs. I’m an art student as well and have participated in my schools plays and musicals. I actively volunteer and work a part time job; I also write as a side job and have been offered a column in my local newspaper. My grades however, are average. I’m an honor roll student with a current… Read more »

6 years ago

Hello! I’m a senior Interested in UChicago for developmental psychology (for which there is a great program). My GPA is a 4.53 and my test scores and extracurriculars are strong, so I’m not worried about those aspects of my application. What I am worried about, however, is my ability to fulfill the university’s “unique” characteristic. You see, I am drawn to the university due to its uncommon way of looking at education, as its mindset aligns with mine- but I fear that my personal unique-ness (if you will) is not the particular brand of “uncommon” that is sought. UChicago seems… Read more »

7 years ago

I would love to attend this university it seems so cool!!! I’ve seen pictures of the campus and it’s Beautiful!!! I love it!! I’m just a junior in high school, in Texas, my biggest dream is to be an Architect. Hopefully I achieve all my goals I have set.