College Admissions

Early Decision College: Complete List by State (& Growing)

The decision to pick just one college for an Early Decision (ED) deadline is not an easy task when it comes to a price tag of $250,000 to $300,000 for a 4-year college.

There are about 225 colleges in the USA that offer Early Decision I and Early Decision II, and that number is increasing.

Before looking at the Early Decision list of colleges, look at Duke University’s admission figures.

Duke University – Class of 2024

  • Total ED Application – 4,300
  • Accepted – 887
  • Acceptance Rate – 19%
  • Class of 2023
    • 1,745 first-year students
    • The acceptance rate is just 5.7% (Regular Admission)
  • About 51% of Class of 2024 via Early Decision

Here’s another interesting fact to set the context for Early Decision.

According to this report, only 3% of College Students were admitted via Early Decision in 2017 (increased from 2% in 2012) from the entire college application spectrum.


Admission rates are higher for Early Decision.

Yet, only a small percentage of students are admitted via Early Decision.

Why is that?

As a family, you will have the same dilemma.

  • Should we apply via Early Decision?
  • Which college to pick for ED?

What does it mean to apply via Early Decision?

  • Apply in November of the Senior year
  • Apply to your top choice of college.
  • Get admission decision early (by Mid-December)
  • Agree to attend by January first week

So, what do students typically do when they apply for Early Decision?

  • Pick just one college for early decision.
  • Apply for the colleges via Early Action or Regular Admission deadline
  • If admitted into college via Early Decision, then withdraw all other applications

So, what’s the catch? 

  • You may or may not get financial aid.
  • You have to accept before other colleges announce admission results.
  • It’s a binding contract and very little room to get out of the contract.

Here’s a practical problem:

  • Accepted via Early Decision: Time to Celebrate (by Mid-December)
  • Financial Aid Package Noticed: Few days after Decision
  • Parents Contribution: $73,000/Year and Student Loan is $3,500
  • What if a Public University gave Full-Ride scholarship in March?

Early Decision List of Colleges


  1. Claremont McKenna College
  2. Harvey Mudd College
  3. Loyola Marymount University
  4. Occidental College
  5. Pitzer College
  6. Pomona College
  7. Santa Clara University
  8. Scripps College
  9. University of San Francisco


  1. Colorado College


  1. Connecticut College
  2. Sacred Heart University
  3. Trinity College
  4. Fairfield University
  5. Quinnipiac University
  6. Wesleyan University
  7. University of New Haven

District of Columbia

  1. Catholic University of America
  2. American University
  3. George Washington University


  1. Florida Southern College
  2. University of Miami
  3. Flagler College
  4. Rollins College


  1. Emory University
  2. Agnes Scott College
  3. Spelman College


  1. Northwestern University
  2. University of Chicago
  3. Augustana College
  4. Governors State University
  5. Lake Forest College


  1. DePauw University
  2. Earlham College
  3. Saint Mary’s College
  4. Wabash College


  1. Grinnell College


  1. Centre College


  1. Tulane University


  1. Bates College
  2. Colby College
  3. College of the Atlantic
  4. Bowdoin College


  1. Johns Hopkins University
  2. Goucher College
  3. Maryland Institute College of Art
  4. McDaniel College
  5. Salisbury University
  6. Washington College


  1. Amherst College
  2. Boston University
  3. Northeastern University
  4. Tufts University
  5. Boston College
  6. Babson College
  7. Becker College
  8. Bentley University
  9. Brandeis University
  10. Clark University
  11. College of the Holy Cross
  12. Merrimack College
  13. Mount Holyoke College
  14. Smith College
  15. Springfield College
  16. Stonehill College
  17. Wellesley College
  18. Wheaton College
  19. Williams College


  1. Hillsdale College
  2. Kalamazoo College


  1. St. Olaf College
  2. Hamline University
  3. Carleton College
  4. Macalester College


  1. Washington University in St. Louis

New Hampshire

  1. Dartmouth College

New Jersey

  1. Stevens Institute of Technology
  2. College of New Jersey
  3. Drew University
  4. Ramapo College of New Jersey

New York

  1. Columbia University
  2. Cornell University
  3. New York University
  4. Rochester Institute of Technology
  5. Syracuse University
  6. Alfred University
  7. Sarah Lawrence College
  8. Bard College
  9. St. John Fisher College
  10. St. Lawrence University
  11. SUNY Geneseo
  12. SUNY Maritime College
  13. Barnard College
  14. Clarkson University
  15. Colgate University
  16. Five Towns College
  17. Manhattan College
  18. Marist College
  19. Nazareth College
  20. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  21. Siena College
  22. Skidmore College
  23. Fordham University
  24. Hamilton College
  25. Hartwick College
  26. Hobart and William Smith Colleges
  27. Ithaca College
  28. Union College
  29. University of Rochester
  30. Vassar College
  31. Webb Institute
  32. Wells College

North Carolina

  1. Duke University
  2. High Point University
  3. Wake Forest University
  4. Davidson College
  5. Elon University
  6. Meredith College


  1. Case Western Reserve University
  2. College of Wooster
  3. Denison University
  4. Kenyon College
  5. Miami University
  6. Ohio Wesleyan University
  7. Wittenberg University


  1. Lewis & Clark College
  2. Reed College


  1. Carnegie Mellon University
  2. University of Pennsylvania
  3. Drexel University
  4. Swarthmore College
  5. Duquesne University
  6. Franklin & Marshall College
  7. Gettysburg College
  8. Grove City College
  9. Haverford College
  10. Juniata College
  11. Lafayette College
  12. Muhlenberg College
  13. Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
  14. Susquehanna University
  15. Allegheny College
  16. Bryn Mawr College
  17. Bucknell University
  18. Dickinson College
  19. Lehigh University
  20. Lycoming College
  21. Ursinus College
  22. Washington & Jefferson College


Rhode Island

  1. Brown University
  2. Bryant University
  3. Providence College
  4. Rhode Island School of Design

South Carolina

  1. Furman University
  2. Wofford College


  1. Vanderbilt University
  2. Rhodes College
  3. University of the South


  1. Rice University
  2. Southern Methodist University
  3. Texas Christian University
  4. Austin College
  5. Trinity University


  1. Marlboro College
  2. Middlebury College
  3. Bennington College
  4. Champlain College
  5. Sterling College


  1. Virginia Tech
  2. College of William and Mary
  3. Hollins University
  4. University of Richmond
  5. University of Virginia
  6. Virginia Military Institute
  7. Christopher Newport University
  8. Hampden-Sydney College
  9. Lynchburg College
  10. Roanoke College
  11. Washington and Lee University


  1. University of Puget Sound
  2. Whitman College


  1. Beloit College
  2. Lawrence University


There are about 4,000 higher education institutions in the USA.

Over 80% of them have an acceptance rate above 50%.

About 50 of them have an acceptance rate of less than 20%. 

Some of this Early Decision list of colleges, also offer Early Decision I and Early Decision II.

For instance, the College of William and Mary offers Early Decision I and Early Decision II.


college of willian mary early decision


As stated, the only way to get out of the binding contract from Early Decision if there’s a significant change in the family’s financial circumstance that impacts the ability to pay for college. If the economic situation did not change, then the family is stuck with $250,000 of the price tag.

Early Decision or Not?

It would come down to the parent’s wealth and affordability.

Most ED students tend to come from wealthy families who can afford to pay $300,000 for a 4-year college, irrespective of the financial aid package.

In selective high schools, almost every student would be eligible for a merit-based scholarship. With the binding contract, schools can now use the available money to give grants for need-based students.

So, how do you win at this highly selective college application game?

Additional Reading:

Summary: List of Early Decision Colleges

  • Most ED schools are private and highly selective
  • 4-year college cost will ve around $300,000
  • It’s a binding contract (tough to get out)
  • The acceptance rate is much higher than regular admission
  • Families will not have an option to compare the options

Next Steps: College Planning Webinar


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