10 Best Colleges with Automatic/Guaranteed Admissions
For many teens, the college admissions process has become one of the most stress-inducing experiences of their young lives. For some, the rewards are worth the sacrifice of applying to a dozen of schools, composing countless supplemental essays, and retaking the SATs over and over, hoping that their Superscore will put them over the top. For others, the opacity and uncertainty of a prolonged admissions experience is simply not necessary in order for them to punch a ticket to their dream school.
Those wishing to eschew a lengthy and harrowing process may look toward schools that possess criteria for automatic/assured/guaranteed admission. This simplified system, offered by a number of excellent institutions, lets you know upfront that candidates who have x GPA and y SAT/ACT scores will be guaranteed admission into their freshman class. What follows are ten well-regarded schools with automatic admission policies:
1) Tulane University
The only private university to crack our list happens to hold the number one position. Despite its non-public status, Tulane does offer a guaranteed admission program for graduates of Louisiana high schools—a pretty nice deal for a school whose overall acceptance rate has fallen to a paltry 11%. Of course, the set of criteria is understandably fairly extensive. A candidate can only qualify for guaranteed admission if they:
- Apply early decision by November 1st
- Live in Louisiana
- Graduated from a Louisiana high school at the time of application
- Have a 31 ACT or 1450 SAT score
- Possess a 3.6+ core GPA (unweighted)
- Complete 4 years of English, 3 years of social sciences, 3 years of lab science, 3 years of mathematics, and 2 years of foreign language
- Have no disciplinary violations
- Have not attended another college post-high school graduation
2) University of Texas at Austin
Once upon a time (technically the late 1990s), any Texan who finished in the top 10% of their high school class could automatically gain admission to the University of Texas at Austin. Now, this public gem is so popular and highly-ranked that the cutoff has been lowered to the top 6%. Under state law, 75% of first-year, in-state students must be admitted automatically to the university, so a massive number of students enter UT Austin solely through meeting the class rank criteria each year.
3) Texas A&M University
For now, there are two ways to be automatically admitted to the Lone Star State’s engineering and agricultural powerhouse. The most common route is simply by placing in the top 10% of any public or private graduating class in the state of Texas. The second way, which will be eliminated in the fall of 2021, is to be in the top quarter of your class and possess an SAT score of 1360 (with a minimum math score of 620 and a minimum reading score of 660) or a composite ACT score of 30 (minimum of 27 on both English and Math).
4) Arizona State University
One of the few schools that also offers guaranteed admission to non-residents, Arizona State only needs you to meet ONE of the following requirements:
- Place in the top 25% in high school graduating class
- Earn 3.0 unweighted GPA in competency courses
- Earn an ACT score of 22 (24 for nonresidents)
- Earn an SAT of 1120 (1180 for nonresidents)
While earning a guaranteed acceptance from ASU is slightly more difficult from out-of-state, becoming a Sun Devil is a fairly straightforward process. It is also important to note that this criteria only applies for general admission to the university and that some programs have more stringent requirements. For example, the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering require a minimum SAT of 1210.
5) The University of Iowa
While not quite as confusing as the Iowa caucuses (even in a non-2020 year), the state’s system for guaranteed admission into its public universities, including the esteemed University of Iowa, does require a bit of homework in order to fully grasp. Acceptance into the University of Iowa’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences is automatic for those with a 245 Regent Admission Index (RAI) score (255 for nonresidents). This score is computed using an applicant’s GPA, number of years of high school courses completed in core subject areas, and SAT/ACT results. For example, an 1100 SAT score and a 3.3 GPA would get a student to the required 245. A student with a lower figure in one area would need a higher number in the other area in order to offset the difference.
6) Truman State University
Any student with a 1260 SAT/27 ACT and a 2.5 GPA is granted automatic admission into Truman State University. This includes anyone from outside of the Show Me State who desire to join this mid-sized institution known for its quality liberal arts and science education.
7) University of Kansas
The home of the beloved Jayhawk Nation has as straightforward of an admissions process as one could hope for, and it doesn’t matter whether you hail from Kansas, Kentucky, or Kalamazoo, Michigan. If you sport a 21 ACT/1060 SAT and a 3.25 GPA or a 24 ACT/1160 SAT and a 3.0 GPA, you can purchase your tickets for Allen Fieldhouse in advance.
8) University of Missouri
The school affectionately referred to as “Mizzou” has a fairly extensive chart designed to tell you if you qualify for admission; if you don’t, you’ll still receive a full review, but there are no guarantees. Candidates from high schools that have class rank are judged on a combination of their rank and their SAT/ACT scores. For candidates graduating from high schools that do not rank, GPA is used as a substitute. To give you a rough idea of what type of credentials you would need to earn an acceptance, someone with an 1160 GPA would only need a 2.0 GPA but an individual with a 950 SAT would need a 3.65 GPA.
9) Washington State University
One of the few auto-admit universities not to factor in standardized test scores, WSU offers assured admission to any high school student with either a 3.6 GPA or placement inside the top 10% of their graduating class. All candidates do, however, need to have taken either the SAT or ACT—their results just will not be held against them. In fact, you can actually be awarded scholarship money based on strong test scores. This assured admission program exists for students from anywhere in the United States, not just Washington residents.
10) Florida Public Universities
Okay, so this one isn’t for a singular institution like the nine previous entries, but rather for the right to attend one of 12 public universities in the state of Florida. The “Talented Twenty” program is open to any Florida high school student in the top 20% of their high school class who has taken the SAT or ACT, and has completed all 18 high school units as listed in the regulations for Florida public university admission. Unfortunately, this program does not offer any guarantee as to which school(s) you will be admitted to. Florida State University and the University of Florida are still both highly-competitive institutions that reject many applicants who finished in the top 20% of their class.
Note: The University of California system technically guarantees admission to at least one campus for any resident in the top 9% of their class; unfortunately, those schools have become so ultra-competitive that many qualifying students have not been able to find a UC home in recent years. California now states that if you are in the top 9% and they don’t make a spot for you, “you’ll be offered a spot at another campus if space is available.” Not much of a guarantee… For this reason, it was omitted from our list.
Dave has over a decade of professional experience that includes work as a teacher, high school administrator, college professor, and independent educational consultant. He is a co-author of the books The Enlightened College Applicant (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Colleges Worth Your Money (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020).