Most common US Universities Singaporean applicants apply to

Although Singapore is known for sending thousands of students to UK universities each year, many recent applicants are increasingly inclined toward the US for the different academic experience it promises – one that prides extracurricular involvement and flexibility in academic exploration. Drawing on the data we’ve gathered from ten years-worth of university consulting – during which we’ve helped over a thousand students gain admission to the schools of their dreams – we compiled a list of the most common US university choices amongst Singaporean applicants. 

Because the process of choosing universities is a very individualized one, you should by no means treat this as an exhaustive list of all your options. There are thousands of other great universities out there, and each comes with specialties and idiosyncrasies worth exploring. Treat this list instead as a reference – a starting point to the application journey on which you will soon embark.

The Ivy League

Brown University Columbia University
Cornell University Dartmouth College
Harvard University Princeton University
University of Pennsylvania Yale University

As expected, the Ivy Leagues frequently feature in students’ university lists. In fact, it’s safe to say that nearly every aspiring US applicant we’ve come across has applied to at least one of these eight household names.

Because each Ivy League boasts their own unique package of strengths,  no particular school has proven to be more sought-after than the rest. In fact, though Harvard, Princeton, and Yale are considered to be the most prestigious of the lot, the other five colleges are still extremely popular amongst applicants, growing closer to the Big Three in competitiveness with each admissions cycle.

Ivy League Adjacents

California Institute of Technology Duke University
Johns Hopkins University Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Northwestern University Stanford University
University of Chicago

The above universities – while not Ivy Leagues in name – are no less competitive. Unofficially known as “Tier 1 universities,” these schools have acceptance rates of below ten percent (and declining). Take MIT, for example. Their admissions statistics alone tell us that the vast majority of their applicants are more than academically qualified – yet their acceptance rate sits at 6.7%.

However, their selectivity comes with good reason, as these schools, like the Ivy Leagues, are world-renowned for their vast resources and cutting-edge research – all of which are made abundantly accessible to those fortunate enough to attend.

Reach vs. Target: A Fine Line

Boston University Carnegie Mellon University
Emory University New York University
Northeastern University Tufts University
University of Southern California

While less competitive than the aforementioned schools, these so-called “Tier 2 universities” still possess acceptance rates of between 10% and 20%. Even for the most qualified of students, these choices would have to be considered as no less than “Hard Targets,” while for others, they are more-than-likely “Reaches.”

Public vs. Private

Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Los Angeles University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)
University of Michigan University of Texas, Austin

While all the schools featured so far have been private universities, there is also a significant subset of public universities that most students consider at some point their application journey. From ranking to ranking, the above choices are consistently listed among the top ten public universities in the US, and among the top hundred in the world. Like their private counterparts, most of these institutions are extremely reputable, with extensive offerings and strong research systems. Public universities, however, are typically much larger than private universities and are vastly attended by in-state students, who receive subsidized tuition fees.


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