College Application Deadlines for the Top 50: Every Date That You Need to Know
October 1, 2020
College Application Deadlines for the Top 50: Every Date That You Need to Know
As college application deadlines draw closer, here’s an essential question: do you know when all of the applications for your schools are actually due? If you’re extra enthusiastic about one or two colleges and feel like you’re ready to submit, you might be wondering what your options are when it comes to planning around early decision and early action. If you’re not ready yet, you’re probably looking ahead toward regular decision deadlines. It can certainly help to look at all of the dates side-by-side so that you can weigh your options, plan where you hope to apply in the early or regular rounds, and start gathering all the components for submission.
Each school has its own policies when it comes to implementation of early action, early decision, and regular decision policies. As a result, while many institutions have a November 1 ED deadline or January 1 RD deadline, not all colleges follow the path. You might find that a few of your schools have ED applications due on November 15, while some even accept RD applications up to February. We’ve seen many students assume that schools have applications due on January 1, only to find out they’re actually due on November 30. You don’t want these revelations to come too late. So, to make sure you’re organized and know which applications to prioritize and when to submit them, we’ve provided you with a table of college application deadlines at the top national universities and liberal arts schools, and some final tips as you embark on this defining journey.
College Application Deadlines
In order to understand all of the deadlines, here are definitions for terms you’ll see throughout the table:
- Early action (EA) - Nonbinding admissions process for students to apply to college earlier than the regular deadline, usually in November of senior year. Students receive admissions notifications in December, and if accepted, are not required to commit.
- Early decision I (ED I) - Binding admissions process for students to apply to college earlier than the regular deadline, usually in November of senior year. Students receive admissions notifications in December, and if accepted, are required to commit.
- Early decision II (ED II) - Binding admissions process for students to apply to college closer to the regular deadline in January. Students receive admissions notifications in mid-February, and if accepted, are required to commit.
- Restrictive early action (REA) - Nonbinding process for students to apply earlier than the regular deadline. Students choosing the REA route can’t apply to any ED school, but can pick other EA schools.
- Single choice early action (SCEA) - Nonbinding process for students to apply to their top institution ahead of the regular deadline. Students doing SCEA cannot apply to any other EA or ED schools.
- Regular Decision - Vast majority of students apply regular decision, usually in January, and are notified in late March or early April. Students have no obligation to commit if accepted.
Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the terms, let’s look at the college application deadlines enforced by the top schools around the country.
College Application Deadlines for the Top 50 National Universities
|Ranking||School Name||EA Deadline||ED I Deadline||ED II Deadline||RD Deadline|
|1||Princeton University||November 1 (SCEA) – Removed for 2020-21 academic year due to COVID-19||January 1|
|2||Harvard University||November 1 (SCEA)||January 1|
|3||Columbia University||November 1||January 1|
|4||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||November 1||January 1|
|4||Yale University||November 1||January 2|
|6||Stanford University||November 1 (SCEA)||January 2|
|6||University of Chicago||November 1||November 1||January 4||January 2|
|8||University of Pennsylvania||November 1||January 5|
|9||California Institute of Technology||November 1||January 3|
|9||Johns Hopkins University||November 1||Early Decision II added for 2020-2021 cycle; due January 4||January 2|
|9||Northwestern University||November 1||January 2|
|12||Duke University||November 1||January 2|
|13||Dartmouth College||November 1||January 2|
|14||Brown University||November 1||January 2|
|14||Vanderbilt University||November 1||January 1||January|
|16||Rice University||November 1||January 1|
|16||Washington University in St. Louis||November 1||January 2||January 2|
|18||Cornell University||November 1||January 2|
|19||University of Notre Dame||November 1 (REA)||January 1|
|20||University of California - Los Angeles||November 30|
|21||Emory University||November 1||January 1||January 1|
|22||University of California - Berkeley||November 30|
|23||Georgetown University||EA1 (for in-state) deadline: Oct 15 EA2 (for out-of-state) deadline: Nov 2||January 10|
|24||University of Michigan - Ann Arbor||November 15||February 1|
|24||University of Southern California||No early decision but students wishing to apply for Merit Scholarship must submit applications by December 1||January 15|
|26||Carnegie Mellon University||November 1||January 1|
|26||University of Virginia||November 1||Early decision due November 1 due to COVID-19 (prev. October 15)||January 1|
|28||University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill||October 15||January 15 to get decision by end of March, February 15 to get your decision by mid-April|
|28||Wake Forest University||November 15||January 1||January 1|
|30||New York University||November 1||January 1||January 1|
|30||Tufts University||November 1||January 1||January 1|
|30||University of California - Santa Barbara||November 30|
|30||University of Florida||November 1; Applications after November 2 considered on a space-availability basis until March 1|
|34||University of Rochester||November 1||January 5|
|35||Boston College||November 1||January 1||January 1|
|35||Georgia Institute of Technology||October 15||January 1|
|35||University of California - Irvine||November 30|
|39||College of William and Mary||November 1||January 1||January 1|
|35||University of California — San Diego||November 30|
|39||University of California - Davis||November 30|
|41||Tulane Unviersity||November 15||November 1||January 15|
|42||Boston University||November 1||January 1||January 1|
|42||Brandeis University||November 1||January 1||January 1|
|42||Case Western Reserve||November 1||November 1||January 15||January 15|
|42||University of Texas - Austin||December|
|42||University of Wisconsin - Madison||November 1||February 1|
|47||University of Georgia||October 15||January 1|
|47||University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign||November 1||October 1 for Spring, March 1 for Fall|
|46||Pepperdine University||November 1||January 15|
|49||Northeastern University||November 1||January 1||January 1|
|49||Lehigh University||November 1||January 1||February 1|
College Application Deadlines for the Top 50 Liberal Arts Colleges
|Ranking||School||EA Deadline||ED I Deadline||ED II Deadline||RD Deadline|
|1||Williams College||November 15||January 1|
|2||Amherst College||November 1||January 1|
|4||Pomona College||November 1||January 8||January 1|
|4||Wellesley College||November 1||January 1||January 15|
|6||Bowdoin College||November 15||January 1||January 1|
|6||Claremont McKenna College||November 1||January 5||January 5|
|3||Swarthmore College||November 15||January 1|
|6||US Naval Academy||January 31|
|9||Carleton College||November 15||January 15||January 15|
|9||Hamilton College||November 15||January 1||January 1|
|9||Middlebury College||November 1||January 1||January 1|
|9||Washington and Lee University||December 1||January 15||January 1|
|13||Grinnell College||November 15||January 1||January 15|
|13||Vassar College||November 15||January 1||January 1|
|15||Colby College||November 15||January 1||January 1|
|15||Davidson College||November 15||January 2||January 6|
|15||Haverford College||November 15||January 1||January 15|
|15||Smith College||November 15||January 1||January 15|
|15||US Military Academy (West Point)||February 28|
|20||Colgate University||November 15||January 15||January 15|
|20||Wesleyan University||November 15||January 1||January 1|
|22||Barnard College||November 1||January 1|
|22||Bates College||November 15||January 1||January 1|
|22||University of Richmond||November 1||January 1||January 15|
|25||Colorado College||November 10||November 10||January 15||January 15|
|28||Bryn Mawr College||November 15||January 1||January 15|
|28||Kenyon College||November 15||January 15||January 15|
|28||US Air Force Academy||December 31|
|28||Scripps College||November 15||January 3||January 3|
|28||Soka University of America||November 1||January 15|
|27||Macalester College||November 15||January 1||January 15|
|15||Harvey Mudd College||November 15||January 15||January 5|
|33||Berea College||Rolling Admissions. Important dates: October 31 (Priority #1), February 28 (Priority #2), and April 30 (Final Deadline)|
|34||Mount Holyoke College||November 15||January 1||January 15|
|34||Bucknell University||November 15||January 15||January 15|
|36||College of the Holy Cross||December 15||January 15|
|36||Oberlin College||November 15||January 2||January 15|
|36||Pitzer College||November 15||January 1||January 1|
|36||Skidmore College||November 15||January 15||January 15|
|40||Lafayette College||November 15||January 15||January 15|
|40||Occidental College||November 15||February 1||January 10|
|43||Thomas Aquinas College||Rolling|
|43||Franklin and Marshall College||November 15||January 15||January 15|
|44||Denison University||November 15||January 15||January 15|
|44||Trinity College||November 15||January 15||January 15|
|44||Union College||November 15||January 15||January 15|
|47||DePauw University||November 1||November 15||January 15||February 1|
|47||Dickinson College||November 15||January 15||January 15|
|47||Sewanee - University of the South||December 1||November 15||January 15||February 1|
|47||Whitman College||November 15||January 15||January 15|
|46||Connecticut College||November 15||January 1||January 1 for Fall, November 1 for Spring|
|46||Centre College||December 1||November 15||January 15|
|49||Gettysburg College||November 15||January 15||January 15|
Navigating College Application Deadlines
Early action and early decision deadlines provide certain advantages for applicants, most notably higher acceptance rates. Since colleges receive fewer applications in the ED or EA round, even just statistically, your chances increase. If you get into your dream school early decision or early action, you can be done with college applications! That said, your decision should be a calculated one. Students who apply in the early rounds have their act together. Take a careful look at the early action and early decision sections of the college application deadlines and decide whether you’ll be ready to hit submit when November rolls around, considering that you’ll be going up against some very strong and organized candidates.
Early decision II policies come in handy in case you need more time. Since you get more time but are still able to demonstrate a high level of commitment by applying ED II, you can always apply in January if November isn’t the best time. However, early decision is a big commitment. You’re going to sign an agreement confirming that you’ll attend the institution if accepted. So you need to make your decision very carefully.
You’re not required to commit to your early action school – you might want to see which schools you’re accepted to regular decision and explore your financial and academic options. But you still have to bring your A-game to early action schools, especially because colleges know that you may or may not commit. Applying to an institution which only offers early action while you have a mediocre profile isn’t the best idea. Since admissions officers know you’re not bound to say yes, they’ll be less inclined to accept you if you don’t impress them right off the bat.
While regular decision acceptance rates tend to be lower than ED or EA rates, if you believe applying RD is the way to present the strongest profile you possibly can, it may be best to wait. But remember that for any of the rounds you’ll be competing against thousands of applicants from all over the world for a spot. Even if at this point you can’t control your grades or test scores, you have to work carefully on polishing your personal statement, writing strong supplemental essays, and ensuring your teachers have sent in their recommendation letters on time. While the odds are statistically stacked against you, RD admission is very much a possibility.
Tips to Follow When Looking at College Application Deadlines
- Don’t Submit Your Application Too Early - When looking through these college application deadlines, you might be wondering whether admissions officers evaluate your commitment towards the school based on how long before the deadline you submit your application. The answer is no. You don’t get any type of advantage if you submit on October 1st instead of October 31st for a November 1st deadline. While you need to make the deadline, you also need to make sure your work is clean and absolutely spotless. Admissions officers will notice typos, so don’t sacrifice the quality of your work to be early.
- Watch Out for Portal Glitches - While you shouldn’t rush to finish up too far in advance, you shouldn’t risk submitting too close to college application deadlines The application systems aren’t glitch-free and technical difficulties are always a possibility. In order to avoid any last-minute emergencies that can potentially jeopardize all of your hard work, prepare yourself to finish everything at least a day or two early so that you can avoid any unforeseen scenarios.
- Think About Your Schedule - When it comes to planning around college application deadlines, you also have to remember that you are a teenager and you need to have fun once in a while. The early application deadlines are right after Halloween and the regular application deadlines closely follow Christmas. If you wish to participate in the festivities, make a long-term schedule that ensures that you wrap up the final touches on all your requirements before college application deadlines come knocking on your door.
College application deadlines are crucial in helping you understand the college application timeline. Keeping them in the back of your head as you work through your personal statement, standardized tests, and supplemental essays can help set things into motion. They can act as the driving force to motivate you to not only complete all your requirements on time, but to perfect them. By jotting down when your applications are due, you can make sure you’ve got all you need and take one step closer to impressing your dream college. Good luck!
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