50 Most Applied to Colleges in 2023

December 16, 2023

most applied to colleges

The class of 2027 saw a tremendous amount of talented and impressive applicants. While college admissions have always been a competitive process, recent trends prove this idea even more so. With so many colleges to choose from, the most applied to colleges 2023 edition includes some interesting stats. Perhaps you are a recent applicant for the class of 2027 and are looking to see how your application ranks. Or, maybe you are curious about the change in acceptance rates of an institution you’ve had your eye on. While most intuitions remained consistent in their acceptance rates, there was some fluctuation across the board that is important to note.

Additionally, some institutions saw a record number of applicants. With 6 schools on this list topping over 100,000 candidates, it’s safe to say that records were within reach. Overall, the schools that top the list for the most applied to universities vary both in location and selectivity. Interestingly, a few institutions saw changes in acceptance rates that both challenge and solidify recent trends. Let’s take a look at a few key trends and updates that stand out for the most applied to colleges in 2023.

Notable Trends for the Most Applied to Universities – Class of 2027

  • UCLA continues to top the list for the most applied to colleges
  • NYU releases its lowest acceptance rate to date
  • The University of Michigan continues to lower its acceptance rate for a fourth consecutive year, staying below 20%
  • Boston University’s acceptance rate drops 3%
  • California is the state with the most concentrated amount of applications

There are a vast number of wonderful colleges full of opportunity for prospective students. For some, looking to see which school could be right based on the numbers is the best approach. Let’s take a look at the 50 most applied to universities for the class of 2027 to see how your college list stacks up.

50 Most Applied to Colleges – 2023

1)       UC, Los Angeles 145,904 applicants 8.8% acceptance rate

Topping the list for the most applied to colleges in 2023, UCLA has seen a large number of applicants in its last admissions cycle. However, with a competitive acceptance rate, this means about only 12,000 incoming students were admitted. This trend is in keeping with previous years, as the college has gradually become more selective over time.

2)        UC, San Diego 130,830 applicants


24.7% acceptance rate


Another of the most applied to colleges, UC San Diego is known for its ideal location, challenging academics, and value. With over 40,000 students reporting attendance in the fall of 2023, UC San Diego is a large campus. It is one of the most applied to colleges in 2023, and usually earns a top spot on this list. Additionally, certain GPA requirements for both California-based and non-California-based students are required for admission.

Most Applied to Universities (Continued)

3)       UC Berkeley 125,910 applicants 11.6% acceptance rate

A highly selective institution, UC Berkeley admitted roughly 14,500 incoming students for the class of 2027. Interestingly, admissions statistics also reveal that UC Berkeley admitted more California-based students than in previous years by several hundred. In keeping with recent trends, UC Berkeley is usually one of most applied to universities in the country.

4)       UC Irvine 121,095 applicants 25.7% acceptance rate

Overall, UC Irvine earns high rankings for academics, student life, and diversity. Another of the most applied to colleges, UC Irvine looks for strength of academic record, GPA, and extracurriculars to help make decisions about admission.

5)       California State, Long Beach 120,319 applicants 47% acceptance rate

This institution is one of the most applied to colleges because of high ratings for the campus, athletics, and student life. Interestingly, the acceptance rate has increased from previous years. For example, the class of 2025 saw an overall acceptance rate of 31.2%.

Most Applied to Universities (Continued)

6)       New York University ~120,000 applicants 8% acceptance rate

With so many applications for the class of 2027, this year marks one of the most selective admissions cycles for NYU. Additionally, it was also one of the largest admissions cycles for the university, making it one of the most applied to colleges this year. To put this number into perspective, the acceptance rate for the class of 2026 was 12.2%.

7.       UC Santa Barbara 110,876 applicants 27.9% acceptance rate

For the class of 2027, UC Santa Barbara saw admissions trends that showed more out-of-state students were accepted than in previous years. Additionally, the overall admissions rate rose slightly, up from 25.9% for the class of 2026. This trend may indicate that the institution’s acceptance rate may increase over time. This institution is one of the most applied to colleges in 2023.

8)       Northeastern University 96,327 applicants 5.6% acceptance rate

An increasingly difficult school to get into, Northeastern’s acceptance rate dropped again this year; from 6.1% for the class of 2026. This number is also down significantly from its 18% overall acceptance rate for the class of 2025. Northeastern is located in Boston, Massachusetts and is one of the most applied to universities.

Most Applied to Universities (Continued)

9)       UC Davis 94,635 applicants 41.8% acceptance rate

Out of the impressive candidate pool, only 39,601 new students were admitted to UC Davis for the class of 2027. Along with most of the other universities on this list, UC Davis is a large campus, with over 5,300 acres to explore. Additionally, UC Davis earned high ratings for its professors, diversity, and academics.

10)   University of Michigan – Ann Arbor 87,066 applicants 17% acceptance rate

With a slightly lower acceptance rate than for the class of 2026, this year proved to be more selective. The University of Michigan is known for its rigorous academics and increased standards for admission and is quickly becoming one of the most applied to colleges. For example, the acceptance rate for the class of 2024 was 26%.

Most Applied to Universities (Continued)

11)   USC 80,790 applicants 10% acceptance rate

Located in Los Angeles, USC is known for its athletics, academics, and impressive campus. Its acceptance rate has become increasingly selective over the years. For the class of 2026, the acceptance rate was 12%.

12)   Boston University 80,484 applicants 11% acceptance rate

One of the most applied to universities, Boston University’s acceptance rate has dropped significantly this year. For example, for the class of 2026, the overall acceptance rate was 14%. This institution typically requires competitive test scores and GPA for admission.

13)   Florida State 71,788 applicants 24% acceptance rate

Known for its athletics and quality of student life, Florida State is one of the most applied to colleges. For the class of 2027, the acceptance rate increased slightly. For example, it went up from 23% for the class of 2026.

Most Applied to Universities (Continued)

14)   Cornell University ~68,000 applicants 7.3% acceptance rate

One of the most applied to colleges, Cornell has a long tradition of high academic standards. However, interestingly, the acceptance rate for the class of 2027 has increased. For example, the class of 2026 saw an acceptance rate of 6.91%.

15)   University of Wisconsin – Madison 65,000 applicants 54.4% acceptance rate

Wisconsin is a moderately selective university known for its athletics, student life, and academics. Overall, applications are up from the class of 2026, with an increase of about 5,000 applications. This recent trend could move the institution up the list as one of the most applied to colleges. However, the acceptance rate has also become more selective compared to previous years.k

Most Applied to Colleges 2023 – Continued

Institution Total Applicants Acceptance Rate
16)  University of Pennsylvania 59,000 5.5%
17)  Columbia University 57,129 3.9%
18)  Harvard University 56,937 3.4%
19)  University of Virginia 56,439 16.3%
20)  Georgia Institute of Technology 52,500 16%
21)  Yale 52,250 4.4%
22)  Northwestern University 52,225 7.0%
23)  Brown University 51,302 5.1%
24)  Duke University 49,469 6%
25)  University of Connecticut (UConn) 48,000 56%

Most Applied to Colleges 2023 – Continued

26)  Virginia Tech) 47,128 57%
27)  Vanderbilt University 47,120 5.6%
28)  Fordham University 44,893 50%
29)  Syracuse University 42,089 42%
30)  Johns Hopkins University 38,200 6.3%
31)  Boston College 36,525 15.1%
32)  Tufts University 34,000 9.5%
33)  Emory University 33,534 10.2%
34)  Rice University 31,049 7.7%
35)  Tulane University 30,769 13%
36)  Dartmouth College 28,841 6.1%

Most Applied to Colleges 2023 – Continued

37)  University of Notre Dame 28,351 12%
38)  MIT 26,914 4.7%
39)  Villanova University 23,721 20.5%
40)  Colgate University 21,127 11.6%
41)  American University 18,984 44%
42)  Santa Clara University 18,839 42%
43)  Lehigh University 18,414 28.5%
44)  Colby College 17,800 6.4%
45)  College of William and Mary 17,500 32%
46)  University of Richmond 15,757 22%
47)  Wesleyan University 14,499 15.7%
48)  Swarthmore College 14,287 6.8%
49)  Middlebury College 13,297 5.5%
50)  Amherst College 12,700 9%
51) Providence College 12,400 48%

Most Applied to Colleges 2023 – In Review

Overall, it is apparent that some institutions require a high standard for admission. Thus, their acceptance rates continue to fall. With increased selectivity, some students may be worried about their chances. But, what can they do to prepare?

It is important to note that California-based schools have recently dropped the SAT or ACT requirement from their admissions process. So, this means standardized tests may not be the defining factor in a school’s decision.

However, more weight is then put on a student’s GPA, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, and supplemental essays. Ensuring that each candidate submits a polished and unique statement of purpose and essay can make a big difference to help your application stand out among the thousands.

Additionally, ensuring that your academic record is consistent and impressive, in terms of GPA and rigor of classes, can help make the difference between an acceptance or not. Schools that focus on a holistic admissions process look for an application that showcases your personality, work ethic, and aspirations. Highlighting these qualities will help differentiate your application.

For even more tips on how to make your application stand out, you can check out these related articles: