If anyone with a college degree could slide easily into an Ivy League graduate school program, nothing would set these top-notch schools apart from the masses. With highly selective admissions processes and low acceptance rates, getting into the likes of Harvard, Princeton, Yale or the other Ivy League institutions is a challenge that only the best and the brightest can meet.

Proving It By Percent

One method of evaluating the difficulty level of any graduate school's acceptance is the percentage of students that the school admits. This represents the number of students that the school accepts in reference to the number that apply. For example, Harvard University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences admits roughly 9 percent of the students who apply annually. Likewise, Princeton's graduate acceptance rate for humanities students was also 9 percent. This means that, in Princeton's case, out of 1,494 applicants, only 135 were accepted.

Separate and Not Equal

While as a whole the Ivy League schools are well-known as difficult -- at best -- to get into, each school has slightly differing entrance requirements. Additionally, the different graduate programs among the schools -- as well as in an individual institution -- may have varying admissions criteria. This makes some programs at some schools ore selective than others. For example, Harvard's Master of Laws program accepts roughly 180 students per academic year, while Yale's admits between 22 and 25.

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Moving On Up

Depending on the level of the gradate degree in question is, getting into an Ivy League program is more -- or less -- challenging. Ivy League institutions, like other universities, offer master's, doctoral and professional degrees at the post-bachelor's level. While it would seem that doctoral-level programs are more difficult to get into in comparison to master's degrees, this isn't always the case in every Ivy League school. For example, Princeton's highly selective overall master's acceptance rate -- for all masters-level programs at the university -- was 8 percent in the 2013-14 school year, while the Ph.D. rate was 12 percent. Although there is some variation among different levels of degrees, as a whole all graduate programs in Ivy League schools are more than challenging to get into.

Counting the Criteria

Whether a student is applying to a Master's of Arts in English, a Juris Doctorate law degree, medical school or a business administration program, the admissions criteria for Ivy League institutions is often much more stringent than it is for other types of universities. For example, the University of Pennsylvania's Law School's class of 2016 profile shows that 75 percent of students had at a GPA of roughly 3.94. Harvard's humanities graduate students also show well above average scores when it comes to admission criteria, with a 2013-14 average of 164 -- both verbal and quantitative -- out of 170 on the GRE exam. Looking at the admitted student profiles, it's clear that getting into an Ivy League school takes top-notch scores.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.