Application Deadlines for Top Colleges and Universities

Learn When Your College Applications Need to Be Submitted

Patrick-Nouhailler-Introduction-Princeton.jpg
Princeton University. Patrick Nouhailler / Flickr

The most selective colleges and universities in the country tend to have deadlines between January 1st and January 15th. You'll find that less selective schools often have later deadlines--in February in many cases, although some schools never really close the application process until no more spaces are available (learn about rolling admissions).

In the tables below, you'll find application deadline information and notification dates for top colleges and universities.

You'll see that the deadlines are all within a couple weeks of each other, ranging between December 31st and January 15th (be sure to check each school's admissions website for the most up-to-date information, since application deadlines and notification dates can change from year to year). All information below is from the individual school's websites for the 2013-2014 admissions cycle.

Each of these prestigious universities and colleges posts decisions around April 1st, although some applicants may hear a decision before that time. Students who apply through Early Action or Early Decision will often get a reply in December.

For more admissions information on these colleges, click on the school's name in the table below:

Application Deadlines for Top Universities
CollegeApplication DeadlineNotification Date
BrownJanuary 1stLate March / Early April
ColumbiaJanuary 1stMarch 27th
CornellJanuary 2ndEarly April
DartmouthJanuary 1stEarly April
DukeJanuary 2ndApril 1st
HarvardJanuary 1stLate March
PrincetonJanuary 1stMarch 27th
StanfordJanuary 1stApril 1st
University of PennsylvaniaJanuary 1stMarch
YaleDecember 31stApril 1st
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Application Deadlines for Top Liberal Arts Colleges
CollegeApplication DeadlineNotification Date
AmherstJanuary 1stApril 1st
CarletonJanuary 15thApril 1st
GrinnellJanuary 15thLate March
HaverfordJanuary 15thApril 1st
MiddleburyJanuary 1stlate March / early April
PomonaJanuary 2ndApril 5th
SwarthmoreJanuary 1stApril 1st
WellesleyJanuary 15thApril
WesleyanJanuary 1stearly April
WilliamsJanuary 1stApril 1st
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Keep in mind that you will be better off applying well before these application deadlines. Admissions offices get swamped in early January. If you submit your application a month or more ahead of the deadline, the admissions officers will be less harried when reviewing your materials. Also keep in mind that you'll be demonstrating less-than-ideal organizational skills if your application arrives at the last possible minute.

Applying well ahead of the deadline demonstrates that you work ahead of deadlines, and it can also help demonstrate your eagerness, something that plays into demonstrated interest. Also, if you happen to be missing application materials, you'll have plenty of time to take care of such issues.

Finally, realize that the above deadlines are for regular admission. Deadlines for Early Action and Early Decision are often in the first half of November. If you have a clear top-choice college, applying through Early Action or Early Decision can significantly improve your chances of being admitted. Learn more in this article: Should You Apply to College Early?