10 Excellent Colleges with Rolling Admission
So much of the college application process is every bit as regimented and time-sensitive as the everyday lives of teenage applicants. After all, you’re used to the alarm on your phone waking you up at 6:45 AM, getting to school by 7:30, first period starting at 7:40 and so on, and so on, throughout your day. Therefore it doesn’t come as a shock when you encounter firm deadlines for early action, early decision, early decision II, regular decision, priority admission, scholarship consideration, and financial aid. A ticking clock is simply the looped soundtrack to your senior year of high school, unless you look at colleges with a rolling admission option.
Rolling admission means that a college offers a wide window of time in which you can submit an application. Rather than waiting for all applications to pour in simultaneously, they evaluate them on a first-come, first-served basis throughout the fall and winter, and sometimes even into the spring or summer—these institutions don’t stop accepting applications until their freshman class is officially filled. While you won’t find rolling admissions options at any Ivy League or Ivy-equivalent university, there are a number of highly-reputable and selective schools that do offer such flexibility.
To make this list relevant to as many people as possible, we included rolling options that fit the following categories:
- The top public universities with rolling admission
- Best liberal arts colleges with rolling admission
- The top engineering/STEM schools with rolling admission
Let’s begin with the category where you can find the greatest number of rolling admissions policies.
Public Universities with Rolling Admission
Roughly one-third of selective public universities in the United States offer rolling admissions. Some of the very finest with this policy include:
1) Baruch College (CUNY)
Want to pursue a renowned business degree at an extremely low tuition cost? Baruch College officially has a February 3rd priority deadline, but begins accepting the first week of September. It is a selective institution with a 43% acceptance rate, so it is best to apply on the early side. The SAT range for attending students 1150-1320 and the average GPA in high school was a 3.3.
2) University of Pittsburgh
In Pitt’s own words, “…it is to your advantage to plan ahead and apply early.” Pitt reviews applications throughout the year, as they arrive, so it is unquestionably wiser to submit early in the cycle. This is particularly true because the university has become quite selective in recent years. The SAT range for students attending the School of Arts and Sciences is 1250-1410. It is even higher in the schools of engineering, business, computer science, and nursing. Those applying to any of these hyper-competitive programs should definitely apply as early as possible.
3) Penn State University
Another Pennsylvania public powerhouse that cracks our list, PSU offers a modified rolling admissions calendar that recently added an early action option. Now, Penn State offers an early action deadline of November 1st and a priority submission deadline of November 30th, so it is wise to act early if you have a strong desire to become a Nittany Lion. Rolling admissions continue until May 1st, but many of those who wait will only find availability at branch campuses, not the university’s famous University Park location. For reference, the middle 50% SAT scores for students admitted to main campus was 1240-1410; it was 1080-1260 for those attending branch campuses. The GPA range was 3.55-3.90 versus 3.07-3.60.
4) Purdue University
Purdue also has an early action deadline of November 1st and a regular decision deadline of January 15th. However, if you want to ensure your very best chance at becoming a Boilermaker, the admissions committee recommends that “you should apply early in your senior year; admission will be much more competitive if you apply later.” Despite a seemingly friendly 60% acceptance rate, admission to Purdue’s West Lafayette campus is highly competitive with members of the Class of 2023 sporting an average GPA of 3.7 and SAT scores between 1190 and 1440.
You may also wish to look at other excellent flagship universities with a rolling option such as: Rutgers University, the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, Indiana University – Bloomington or SUNY schools like Binghamton University or the University at Buffalo.
Liberal Arts Colleges with Rolling Admission
You won’t find too many selective liberal arts schools with a rolling admissions deadline. Such policies are usually the domain of large universities seeking thousands (or tens of thousands) of freshman applicants. Among the limited quality options in this category are:
5) Ripon College
A tiny liberal arts school in Wisconsin, Ripon begins accepting applications as early as September 15th. Yet, they continue accepting applications well into the spring months. With only 800 undergraduates, this college offers 76% of its course sections with fewer than 20 students and boasts a 98% placement rate (employment and graduate school) for graduates within six months of exiting the school. Further, they are extremely generous with financial aid. If you are seeking an intimate learning environment, Ripon may be a solid choice for you.
6) Warren Wilson College
This North Carolina liberal arts school is an incredibly unique experience that is supported by its own student-worked, on-campus farm. The enrollment is similar to that of Ripon and many flock to Warren Wilson to study in majors like Environmental Studies, Biology, and Psychology. A 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio and a robust “integrated learning experience” program make this a one-of-a-kind educational adventure. And if you miss the November EA or ED deadlines, no worries—the rolling admissions window is open all the way until April 15th.
7) Eckerd College
Starting on December 1st, this liberal arts school situated on Florida’s Gulf Coast begins reviewing applications on a rolling basis, giving you a decision within 4-weeks. Once featured in Loren Pope’s Colleges that Change Lives, this gorgeous, waterfront school of just under 2,000 students offers an average class size of just 19. Perhaps best of all, they accept three-quarters of those who apply; the mid-50% SAT range is a fairly accessible 1090-1280.
STEM Universities with Rolling Admissions
Now, we look at a few terrific schools that cater to future engineers/scientists and also offer rolling admissions policies.
8) Milwaukee School of Engineering
With highly-ranked concentrations in Mechanical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Civil Engineering, MSOE is the perfect institution for you…as long as you want to study engineering, of course. They offer an extremely flexible rolling admissions process that enthusiastically urges you to “Apply today!” and promises that the whole process only takes 10 minutes. Ultimately, 62% of students gain acceptance. Successful applicants average a 3.7 GPA and an SAT score between 1160 and 1360.
9) Florida Institute of Technology
FIT is a reputable university with just about the loosest admissions calendar you’ll ever encounter. In their own words, “There is no deadline to apply for undergraduate admission to Florida Tech. Our rolling admission policy means that we accept and review applications for multiple entry terms all throughout the year.” While roughly half of FIT students are enrolled in the College of Engineering, they also confer degrees in the humanities, Business, Psychology, and Communication.
10) New Jersey Institute of Technology
NJIT offers EA I and EA II options in November and December, but has rolling admission until March 1st. This is a flexible option from a university ranking in the top 2% nationwide for graduate return on investment. The undergraduate student body of roughly 8,800 is a high-achieving bunch with average SAT scores right around 1300. Many come to this Newark campus to major in Engineering, Computer Science, or the hard sciences.
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).