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PhD admission difficulty: Princeton and Harvard


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I hope to know how selective they are (considering how strong applicants are as well).

In my opinion, strictly talking about admission difficulty and very roughly, there are 3 tiers in top 20:

tier 1: top 4

tier 2: UW Seattle, UIUC, Cornell, etc.

tier 3: UCLA, UCSD, etc.

Ranking-wise, it seems Princeton fits to tier 2 and Harvard fits to tier 3, but since they have really small department, I wonder whether the admission difficulty will be higher than (bigger) schools in the same tier? I know this is a rather dumb question, but need some info to choose reach / safety school stuff...

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  • 2 weeks later...

You should not focus on the ranking order of programs in my opinion. The rankings are not formed to represent order of competitiveness, so it is not always true that a school of rank x is easier to get into than a school with a worse rank.

That being said, if you want to gauge competitiveness I would say that schools with nearby ranks are probably generally similarly competitive. I wouldn't necessarily agree with your school tiers, especially because this depends largely on your particular interests and on who you'd want to work with. But at any rate, there are a handful of schools that have some admissions data that is available from which you could extrapolate rough pictures for other schools.

On another note, your title mentions Princeton and Harvard which would suggest that you probably care more about the overall brand name of the university than the actual strength of the AI/Computer Science programs at these schools anyway.

All that being said, here is a good chunk of the schools I've seen admissions data for:

NOTE: Not all of these are necessarily up to date!

University of Pennsylvania


Princeton University









-I don't have the link anymore, but I have written down that the average admission stat was like Q771/V567 with a 3.6GPA which I probably formed by averaging a few years of data. I can't find this information on their website anymore. I assume this was for PhD admissions only.






Ohio State



-Another school I can't find a link for. I have written down a 770Q/638V/4.9W and 3.53GPA with an acceptance rate of about 10%.



UC Davis


UT Austin

-Can't find a link. Here's what I wrote.

MS GRE: Q776 V613 W4.3

CS: 840 (92 percentile)

GPA: 3.74

PhD GRE: Q790 V619 W4.5

CS: 830 (90 percentile)

GPA: 3.79 830 CS

UC Boulder




NOTE: This is for the entire School of Engineering & Applied Sciences

UMass Amherst


Edited by sgp3213
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Thank you for the response. But I just wanna let you know that I am not looking at brand name. I guess you will know better than me that most good computer science schools are either big public schools or ivy schools with small departments.

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