Application Deadlines for Top Colleges and Universities

Learn When Your College Applications Need to Be Submitted

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.

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 2017–2018 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 1Late March / Early April
ColumbiaJanuary 1Late March
CornellJanuary 2Early April
DartmouthJanuary 1Late March
DukeJanuary 2April 1
HarvardJanuary 1Late March
PrincetonJanuary 1End of March
StanfordJanuary 2April 1
University of PennsylvaniaJanuary 5April 1
YaleJanuary 2April 1
Compare ACT scores for the Ivy League
Compare SAT scores for the Ivy League


Application Deadlines for Top Liberal Arts Colleges
CollegeApplication DeadlineNotification Date
AmherstJanuary 1April 1
CarletonJanuary 15April 1
GrinnellJanuary 15Late March
HaverfordJanuary 15May 1
MiddleburyJanuary 1Late March / Early April
PomonaJanuary 1April 1
SwarthmoreJanuary 1April 1
WellesleyJanuary 15Late March
WesleyanJanuary 1Late March
WilliamsJanuary 1April 1
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Compare SAT scores for these schools

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?