Early Action and Early Decision Acceptance Rates 2021-2022

Padya Paramita

Early Action and Early Decision Acceptance Rates 2021-2022

We’ve arrived at that fateful time—it’s nearly the end of December and almost all top colleges have started notifying students whether they’ve been accepted, denied, or deferred in the early application round. You might be curious about what the early action and early decision acceptance rates 2021-2022 look like for the Class of 2026. As the numbers start to become publicized, it can help to take a look at each of them side-by-side to get a sense of the selectivity across the highest-ranked schools this year. 

For a lot of institutions, the early round is when a big portion of the class starts to take shape—Penn expects the accepted early decision pool to make up 51% of the Class of 2026! And it’s only going to get tougher from here. If you’re applying early decision II, in the regular decision round, or even next year, reviewing these numbers can give you an impression of what to expect. Regardless of which stage you’re at currently in your process, take note of some of the top schools’ early action and early decision acceptance rates 2021-2022, alongside how they were last year, and what the data and trends look like for top colleges. We will continue to update the table as colleges publicize more data.

Early Action and Early Decision Acceptance Rates at Top Schools 2021-2022

School Early Round Acceptance Rate 2021-2022
Princeton Does not publicize data
MIT 4.7%
Columbia Does not publicize data
Harvard 7.9%
Yale 10.9%
Stanford Does not publicize data
Brown 14.6%
UPenn 15.6%
Cornell Does not publicize data
Notre Dame 17%
Dartmouth 20.1%
Duke 21%
Vanderbilt 24.1%
UVA 31.6% (ED)
Williams College 33%
Emory 36.5%

These admit numbers shown by the EA and early decision acceptance rates 2021-2022 fall among some of the lowest in history. This comes after a cycle where we saw a huge fall in acceptance rates after many colleges received record numbers of applications in the 2020-2021 cycle, the first after the arrival of COVID-19 to the landscape. Although some school’s acceptance rates have gone up very slightly, the percentage increase isn’t too high. Students have continued to take advantage of the majority test optional policies and applied to top colleges. In the table below you will find the acceptance rates from the past two cycles as well, so that you can compare how the numbers have fared.

How the Numbers Compare to Previous Years

School Early Round Acceptance Rate 2021-2022 Early Round Acceptance Rate 2020-2021 Early Round Acceptance Rate 2019-2020
MIT 4.7% 4.8% 7.4%
Harvard 7.9% 7.4% 13.9%
Yale 10.9% 10.5% 13.8%
Brown 14.6% 15.9% 17.5%
UPenn 15.6% 15% 19.7%
Notre Dame 17% 21.6% 21.1%
Dartmouth 20.1% 21.2% 25.5%
Duke 21% 17% 21%
Vanderbilt 24.1% 18.1% 20.7%
UVA 31.6% (ED) 33% (ED) 35% (ED)
Emory 36.5% 38.9% 40.2%

As you can see, the changes in acceptance rates are equally split between increases and decreases. Even if a college has become less selective, the difference isn’t too palpable—for example Harvard’s acceptance rate has only increased to 7.9% from 7.4% while Yale’s has increased from 10.5% to 10.9%. The early action and early decision acceptance rates 2021-2022 have actually gone down at several schools, including MIT, Brown, Notre Dame, and Dartmouth.

Early Action and Early Decision 2021-2022: Admissions Trends

Application Numbers are Down

Vying for a place at the top colleges have remained competitive, as they will receive thousands of applications during the regular decision round. Check out the differences in application numbers at some of the top schools between this cycle and the last below:

School Early Round Application Numbers 2021-2022 Early Round Application Numbers 2020-2021
MIT 14,781 15,036
Harvard 9,406 10,087
Columbia 6,305 6,435
Yale 7,288 7,939
Brown 6,146 5,540
Dartmouth 2,633 2,644
Duke 4,015 5,036

Due to the continued pandemic, the number of early action and early decision applications—while not as high as last year’s— was still booming. At Dartmouth, 2,633 students applied in the early decision cycle, compared to 2,644 last year. Meanwhile, Yale received 7,288 single-choice early action applicants this year, which is down 9% compared to last year when Yale had 7,939 apply early. 9,406 candidates applied to Harvard this year, whereas the Cambridge school’s REA plan saw 10,087 candidates in the 2020-2021 cycle. Brown is the only school on the list whose number of applications has gone up.

More Top Colleges Continue to Withhold Data

Columbia joined Stanford and Cornell last year in keeping its early action and early decision acceptance rates under wraps—and continues to do so. This year, Princeton has made a similar decision.  In a statement released by the school, the number one ranked national university said, “We know this information raises the anxiety level of prospective students and their families and, unfortunately, may discourage some prospective students from applying.For this reason, we have in recent years stopped reporting the annual admission rate, as well as the admission rate by SAT score range and average GPA. We have now made the decision not to release admission data during the early action, regular decision and transfer admission cycles. Instead, we will publish an announcement later in 2022 that focuses on the enrolled students who will join Princeton as the Class of 2026.”

Admissions Trends By School


MIT’s numbers continued to be the most competitive among the early action and early decision acceptance rates 2021-2022. This year, 14,781 students applied for early admission—this is a small decrease from last year’s record high of 15,036, but still higher than any pre-pandemic application count. The school also mentioned that it deferred 9,489 students, who will be considered during the regular action round—making up almost 65% of applicants! Meanwhile, 3,959 candidates were denied admission.


Harvard admitted 740 students to the Class of 2026 from a pool of 9,406 who applied early action. Last year, Harvard admitted 747 of 10,086 early applicants to join the Class of 2025 in its early action round. This had been a record—the number of applicants to the university in 2020-2021 increased by 57% from 2019-2020, while it had accepted 148 fewer students. The school has recently announced that it will be test optional for the next four years—until the admissions cycle for the Class of 2030. 


As mentioned, Yale’s application numbers went down by 9%. This early cycle, 31% of students who applied through early action were deferred for reconsideration in the spring, 57% were denied admission, and 1% of applications were withdrawn or incomplete. Last cycle, 50% of students who applied through early action were deferred for reconsideration in the spring, 38% were denied admission, and 1% of applications were withdrawn or incomplete.


Columbia has only publicized the fact that the Manhattan-based institution received 6,305 applications According to the Columbia Spectator, although slightly fewer than the 6,435 students who applied early decision to the class of 2025, the number of early applications for the class of 2026 is still significantly higher than the 4,318 early decision applicants for the class of 2024. 


According to the Duke Chronicle, Duke admitted 855 students to the Class of 2026 through the early decision application cycle. With 4,015 Early Decision applications, the new students represent a 21% early decision acceptance rate 2021-2022, 4% higher than the 17% rate for the Class of 2025. The Class of 2024 also had a 21% Early Decision acceptance rate.


Brown University accepted 896 students to the class of 2026 from a pool of 6,146 early decision applicants. The early acceptance rate, number of applicants and number of accepted students were all record numbers at this Providence college. Last year, the university accepted 15.9% of early applicants from a pool of 5,540 students.

Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the early action and early decision acceptance rates 2021-2022 and admissions trends at some of the most prestigious colleges and universities, make sure that the schools on your list are still a suitable fit for you if you’re still applying. As you take the final steps in revising your essays and updating your activities list, use the data to your advantage and make the decision that’s best for you. Good luck!

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