Home Schools Your Guide to Early Decision (Plus the Full List of ED Colleges!)

Your Guide to Early Decision (Plus the Full List of ED Colleges!)

It's time to get a priority ticket straight to your dream college.

photo-of-student-accepted-to-eary-decision-college-with-hands-on-top-of-head-relaxing
Photo: stockking/Freepik

If you’ve always known which college you want to attend, what’s stopping you from pre-booking a seat at the table?

With early decision (ED), this fast-track admissions process could see you admitted to college while regular candidates are still writing their college essays.

Our step-by-step guide will let you in on everything you need to know about early decision (ED) — including a complete list of ED colleges in the country!

What Is Early Decision?

Early decision is a binding agreement, which means if you are accepted, you must attend the school and withdraw all other applications.

Unlike early action where you can apply to multiple schools and take your pick, you can only apply to one school through early decision

graphic-showing-difference-between-early-action-early-decision
Early decision requires more commitment than early action. Graphic: The College Post

Needless to say, early decision is not for the faint of heart. It’s perfect if you have a priority school and a solid year’s worth of grades to back your application.

Plus, you need to be extra careful because applying ED to one college means you will have to drop all plans of applying anywhere else.

But before you start getting cold feet, remember, the acceptance rate for early decision is substantially higher than regular acceptance rates.

This is particularly true of premier Ivy League schools. For instance, Brown University admitted almost 16 percent of early decision candidates in fall 2021 compared to just over 4 percent of regular decision applicants.

READ MORE: Early Action vs. Early Decision: What’s the Difference?

When to Apply for Early Decision

Early admissions processes start as early as November, running through December.

That means you’ll need to be armed with a solid GPA, killer recommendations, and a perfect class rank just a few months into your senior year of high school. 

If gathering admissions materials for early decision by November is a challenge, note that some universities also offer an ED II option with a January deadline.

Applying during the second round allows you more time to improve test scores, solidify college preferences, and assess your financial need.

Happy African man in graduation gowns holdin
Applying for early decision shows the college that they’re your number one choice. Photo: G-Stock Studio/Shutterstock

What Are the Advantages of Early Decision?

While applying for early decision is a big step, it definitely comes with some major benefits.

For one, applying for an early decision tells the college that their institution is your first choice. This can impress admissions committees and give you a leg up on the competition. 

Early decision is also a big deal for colleges because they know they are admitting students who are genuinely interested in the school.

Applying early can therefore increase your chances of success. Lehigh University, for example, accepted 66 percent of students in 2020 who applied early, as opposed to 29 percent of those who applied regular decision.

Finally, the importance of early decision as a stress reliever can never be overemphasized. You’ll know by winter break whether you have been admitted, leaving you with enough time to enjoy the remaining months of your senior year.

If your early decision application isn’t accepted, you can always apply to other schools during regular admissions.

What Are the Downsides to Early Decision?

First things first, early decision isn’t for everyone (otherwise, it would be plain old regular decision 😉).

Sure, it gives you a shot at your dream school, but it also means you can’t apply elsewhere during the early round. Making such a big commitment can be pretty scary for some students. 

Secondly, applying to one school means you cannot compare financial aid packages from other institutions. So, unless you’re absolutely confident of your finances, early decision could actually be a major disadvantage. 

Finally, applying for early decision can also be stressful because you need to start preparing way before regular applicants, missing an entire semester’s worth of grades. Plus, with schoolwork piling up, it can always be tempting to wait for regular deadlines.

photo-of-happy-college-girl-outside-with-sun
If you have a dream college in mind, early decision might be for you. Photo: Tutatama/Freepik

Is Early Decision Binding?

ED is binding — although not legally binding, which means schools can’t take legal action against someone who declines the offer. 

Regardless, you can generally only back out of early decision if you have a genuine concern about finances.

For instance, students who find that the school’s financial aid offer is inadequate for them to cover the cost of tuition and other expenses are generally let off the hook.

However, backing out without a good reason can have damaging consequences. Since ED is an honor-bound agreement, the university might inform your high school counselor about your decision.

With your high school making up an important part of the college application process, breaching an early decision contract could even jeopardize your chances at other colleges.

Is Early Decision for You?

Are you the wiz kid of your class, aiming for the Ivy League? Or perhaps the talented swimmer with multiple accolades?

If you are armed with extracurriculars, top grades, great test scores, and the confidence that you’ve found your first-choice school, go for it!  

That said, to apply for early decision, you need to write your essay, take your tests, and wrap up all other application basics by November (and all of this while juggling senior year!) 

Think you can do all of the above? Then you’re good to go!

If not, give yourself an extra couple of months to ensure your application wows schools.

The Complete List of Early Decision Colleges

UniversityApplication DeadlineDecision Date
University of South AlabamaAugust 1N/A
UniversityApplication DeadlineDecision Date
Arizona State UniversityNovember 1N/A
Prescott CollegeJanuary 19N/A
UniversityApplication DeadlineDecision Date
University of ArkansasNovember 1N/A
UniversityApplication DeadlineDecision Date
California University of Science and MedicineAugust 1October 1
Claremont McKenna CollegeNovember 1 (ED I),
January 5 (ED II)
By December 15 (ED I),
By February 15 (ED II)
Harvey Mudd CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
January 5 (ED II)
December 15 (ED I),
February (ED II)
Loyola Marymount UniversityNovember 1 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
Mid-December (ED I),
Mid-February (ED II)
Occidental CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
January 10 (ED II)
December 15 (ED I),
February 20 (ED II)
Pitzer CollegeDecember 18 (ED I),
February 15 (ED II)
Late December (ED I),
Late February (ED II)
Pomona CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
January 8 (ED II)
By December 15 (ED I),
By February 15 (ED II)
Santa Clara UniversityNovember 1 (ED I),
January 7 (ED II)
Late December (ED I),
Mid-February (ED II)
Scripps CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
January 5 (ED II)
Mid-December (ED I),
Mid-February (ED II)
University of San FranciscoNovember 1Mid-December
UniversityApplication DeadlineDecision Date
Colorado CollegeNovember 1 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
Mid-December (ED I),
Mid-February (ED II)
University of DenverNovember 1 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
N/A

Connecticut

UniversityApplication DeadlineDecision Date
Connecticut CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
Mid-December (ED I),
Mid-February (ED II)
Fairfield UniversityNovember 15 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
December 15 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
Quinnipiac UniversityNovember 1Mid-December
Sacred Heart UniversityDecember 1December 15
Trinity CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
January 14 (ED II)
Mid-December (ED I),
Mid-February (ED II)
University of Connecticut December 1March 1
University of New HavenDecember 1December 15
Wesleyan UniversityNovember 15 (ED I),
January 1 (ED II)
Mid-December (ED I),
Mid-February (ED II)

District of Columbia

American UniversityNovember 15 (ED I), January 15 (ED II)December 31 (ED I), February 15 (ED II)
Catholic University of AmericaNovember 1 (ED I), January 15 (ED II)January 1 (ED I), February 15 (ED II)
George Washington UniversityNovember 1 (ED I), January 5 (ED II)Late December (ED I), Late February (ED II)
UniversityApplication DeadlineDecision Date
Flagler CollegeNovember 1Before December 15
Florida International University
(College of Medicine)
August 1October 1
Florida Southern CollegeNovember 1December 15
Rollins CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
January 5 (ED II)
December 15 (ED I),
February 1 (ED II)
University of MiamiNovember 1 (ED I),
January 1 (ED II)
Late December (ED I),
Late February (ED II)
UniversityApplication DeadlineDecision Date
Agnes Scott CollegeNovember 1Within December
Augusta University
(Medical College of Georgia)
August 1By October 1
Emory UniversityNovember 1 (ED I),
January 1 (ED II)
By December 15 (ED I),
By February 15 (ED II)
Spelman CollegeNovember 1December 15
University of Georgia
(School of Law)
December 1N/A
UniversityApplication DeadlineDecision Date
Augustana CollegeNovember 1November 15
Lake Forest CollegeNovember 1 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
December 15 (ED I),
February 1 (ED II)
Moody Bible InstituteDecember 1N/A
Northwestern UniversityNovember 1Mid-December
University of ChicagoNovember 1 (ED I),
January 4 (ED II)
Mid-December (ED I),
Mid-February (ED II)
Illinois Institute of TechnologyNovember 1 (ED I),
January 1 (ED II)
December 1 (ED I),
Early February (ED II)
Knox CollegeNovember 1November 15
UniversityApplication DeadlineDecision Date
DePauw UniversityNovember 15 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
December 1 (ED I),
February 1 (ED II)
Hanover College November 1N/A
Saint Mary’s CollegeNovember 15By mid-December
Wabash CollegeNovember 15December 5
UniversityApplication DeadlineDecision Date
Grinnell CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
January 1 (ED II)
By late December (ED I),
Early February (ED II)
UniversityApplication DeadlineDecision Date
University of Kansas
(Medical Center)
May 15N/A
UniversityApplication DeadlineDecision Date
Centre CollegeNovember 15January 1
University of Kentucky
(College of Medicine)
August 2N/A
University of Louisville
(School of Medicine)
August 2N/A
UniversityApplication DeadlineDecision Date
Tulane UniversityNovember 1By December 15
UniversityApplication DeadlineDecision Date
Bates CollegeNovember 15 (ED I)
January 1 (ED II)
By December 20 (ED I),
By February 15 (ED II)
Bowdoin CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
January 5 (ED II)
Mid-December (ED I),
Mid-February (ED II)
Colby CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
January 1 (ED II)
By December 15 (ED I),
By February 15 (ED II)
College of the AtlanticDecember 1 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
December 15 (ED I),
January 30 (ED II)
UniversityApplication DeadlineDecision Date
Johns Hopkins UniversityNovember 1 (ED I),
January 3 (ED II)
December 11 (ED I),
February 12 (ED II)
Loyola Marymount University
Maryland Institute College of ArtNovember 1 December 15
McDaniel CollegeNovember 1 (ED I)January 15 (ED II)December 1 (ED I),
February 1 (ED II)
Salisbury UniversityNovember 15December 15
Washington CollegeNovember 15Within 21 days after
submission of requirements
Loyola Marymount UniversityNovember 1N/A
UniversityApplication DeadlineDecision Date
Amherst CollegeNovember 1Early-to-mid December
Babson CollegeNovember 1 (ED I),
January 3 (ED II)
By mid-December (ED I),
By mid-February (ED II)
Boston CollegeNovember 1 (ED I),
January 1 (ED II)
By December 15 (ED I),
By February 15 (ED II)
Bentley UniversityNovember 15 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
Late December (ED I),
Early February (ED II)
Boston UniversityNovember 1 (ED I),
January 4 (ED II)
December 15 (ED I),
February 15 (ED II)
Brandeis UniversityNovember 1 (ED I),
January 1 (ED II)
December 15 (ED I),
February 1 (ED II)
Clark UniversityNovember 15 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
Late December (ED I),
Early February (ED II)
College of the Holy CrossNovember 15 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
December 15 (ED I),
By February 15 (ED II)
Merrimack CollegeNovember 1By November 15
Mount Holyoke CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
January 5 (ED II)
Late December (ED I),
late January (ED II)
Northeastern UniversityNovember 1 (ED I),
January 1 (ED II)
By December 15 (ED I),
By February 15 (ED II)
Smith CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
January 1 (ED II)
N/A
Springfield CollegeDecember 1 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
N/A
Stonehill CollegeDecember 1 (ED I),
February 1 (ED II)
Late December (ED I),
Mid-February (ED II)
Tufts UniversityNovember 1 (ED I),
January 4 (ED II)
Mid-December (ED I),
Mid-February (ED II)
University of Massachusetts
(Medical School)
August 2October 1
Wellesley CollegeNovember 1 (ED I),
January 1 (ED II)
Mid-December (ED I),
Mid-February (ED II)
Wheaton CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
By December 15 (ED I),
By February 1 (ED II)
Williams CollegeNovember 15December 15
UniversityApplication DeadlineDecision Date
Hillsdale CollegeNovember 1Early December
Kalamazoo CollegeNovember 1December 1
UniversityApplication DeadlineDecision Date
Carleton CollegeNovember 15December 15
Hamline UniversityNovember 1N/A
Macalester CollegeNovember 1 (EA I),
January 1 (EA II)
December 5 (EA I),
January 30 (EA II)
St. Olaf CollegeNovember 1 (EA I),
January 15 (EA II)
By December 3 (EA I),
By February 4 (EA II)
UniversityApplication DeadlineDecision Date
Cox College (Nursing Program Only)June 1N/A
University of Missouri
(School of Medicine)
August 1 October 1
Washington University in St. LouisNovember 1 (EA I),
January 4 (EA II)
December 17 (EA I),
February 14 (EA II)
UniversityApplication DeadlineDecision Date
Nebraska Wesleyan University
(Medical or Dental School Only)
August 1N/A
UniversityApplication DeadlineDecision Date
Dartmouth CollegeNovember 1Mid-December
UniversityApplication DeadlineDecision Date
Drew UniversityNovember 1 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
By December 15 (ED I),
By January 15 (ED II)
Monmouth UniversityNovember 15December 15
Ramapo College of New JerseyNovember 1December 5
Stevens Institute of TechnologyNovember 15 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
December 15 (ED I),
February 15 (ED II)
The College of New JerseyNovember 1 (ED I),
January 1 (ED I)
December 1 (ED I),
February 1 (ED II)
UniversityApplication DeadlineDecision Date
Albany College of Pharmacy and Health SciencesNovember 1February 1
Bard CollegeDecember 1End of December
Barnard CollegeNovember 1Mid-December
Clarkson UniversityDecember 1N/A
Colgate UniversityNovember 15 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
Mid-December (ED I),
Late February (ED II)
Columbia UniversityNovember 1Mid-December
Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and ArtDecember 1February 1
Cornell UniversityNovember 1Mid-December
Fordham UniversityNovember 15By December 20
Hamilton CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
January 5 (ED II)
By December 15 (ED I),
By February 15 (ED II)
Hartwick CollegeNovember 1N/A
Hobart and William Smith CollegesNovember 15 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
Mid-December (ED I),
Mid-February (ED II)
Ithaca CollegeNovember 1By December 15
Jewish Theological SeminaryNovember 15December 15
Manhattan CollegeNovember 15By January 1
Marist CollegeNovember 15 (ED I), February 1 (ED II)Mid-December (ED I),
Mid-February (ED II)
Nazareth CollegeNovember 15Begins early December
New York UniversityNovember 1 (ED I),
January 1 (ED II)
December 15 (ED I),
January 16 (ED II)
Rensselaer Polytechnic InstituteNovember 1 (ED I),
December 15 (ED II)
December 11 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
Rochester Institute of TechnologyNovember 1 (ED I),
January 1 (ED II)
Mid-December (ED I),
Mid-January (ED II)
Sarah Lawrence CollegeNovember 1 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
Late December (ED I),
Early February (ED II)
Siena CollegeDecember 1January 1
Skidmore CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
Mid-December (ED I),
Mid-February (ED II)
St. John Fisher CollegeDecember 1N/A
St. Lawrence UniversityBetween November 1
to February 1
On a continual basis
SUNY College of Environmental Science and ForestryDecember 1Between January 1
to January 15
SUNY GeneseoNovember 1 (ED I),
December 1 (ED II)
December 1 (ED I),
January 1 (ED II)
SUNY Maritime CollegeNovember 1N/A
Syracuse UniversityNovember 15By January 1
Union CollegeNovember 1 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
December 15 (ED I),
February (ED II)
University of RochesterNovember 1 (ED I),
January 5 (ED II)
Mid-December (ED I),
Early February (ED II)
Vassar CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
January 1 (ED II)
Mid-December (ED I),
January/early February (ED II)
Webb InstituteOctober 15Mid-December
Wells CollegeNovember 15N/A
University Application DeadlineDecision Date
Davidson CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
January 6 (ED II)
December 15 (ED I),
February 1 (ED II)
Duke UniversityNovember 1Mid-December
Elon UniversityNovember 1December 1
Guilford CollegeNovember 1November 15
High Point UniversityNovember 1 (ED I),
February 1 (ED II)
November 23 (ED I),
February 1 (ED II)
Meredith CollegeNovember 1November 15
University of North Carolina AshevilleNovember 15 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
December 15 (ED I),
February 1 (ED II)
Wake Forest UniversityNovember 15 (ED I), 
January 1 (ED II)
Rolling basis (ED I),
February 15 (ED II) 
Warren Wilson CollegeNovember 1N/A
University Application DeadlineDecision Date
Case Western Reserve UniversityNovember 1 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
December 4 (ED I), Within 2 weeks of
application completion beginning
January 9 (ED II)
Denison University November 15 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
Rolling basis (one month after
the application deadlines)
College of WoosterNovember 1 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
November 15 (ED I),
February 1 (ED II)
Kenyon CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
Mid-December (ED I),
Early February (ED II)
Miami UniversityNovember 1 (ED I),
December 1 (ED II) 
December 1 (ED I),
February 1 (ED II)
Oberlin College and Conservatory
(College of Arts and Sciences)
November 15 (ED I),
January 2 (ED II)
December 15 (ED I),
February 1 (ED II)
Ohio Wesleyan UniversityNovember 1515 days after the application deadline
Wittenberg UniversityNovember 1December 1
University of Ohio
(College of Medicine)
August 1N/A
University Application DeadlineDecision Date
Lewis & Clark CollegeNovember 1December 15
Reed CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
December 20 (ED II)
December (ED I),
February (ED II)
University Application DeadlineDecision Date
Allegheny CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
February 1 (ED II)
N/A
Bryn Mawr CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
January 1 (ED II)
N/A
Bucknell UniversityNovember 15 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
Mid-December (ED I),
Mid-February (ED II)
Carnegie Mellon UniversityNovember 1 (ED I),
January 3 (ED II)
N/A
Dickinson CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
Mid-December (ED I),
Mid-February (ED II)
Drexel UniversityNovember 1Mid-December
Duquesne University (School of Law Only)December 31January 31
Franklin & Marshall CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
December 15 (ED I),
February 15 (ED II)
Gettysburg CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
N/A
Grove City CollegeNovember 1 (ED I),
December 1 (ED II)
December 15 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
Haverford CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
January 5 (ED II)
December 15 (ED I),
February 15 (ED II)
Juniata CollegeNovember 15December 15
Lafayette CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
December 15 (ED I),
February 1 (ED II)
Lehigh UniversityNovember 1 (ED I),
January 1 (ED II)
Mid-December (ED II),
Mid-February (ED II)
Lycoming CollegeNovember 15December 1
Muhlenberg CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
February 1 (ED II)
Mid-December (ED I),
February 15 – 28 (ED II)
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine ArtsNovember 15N/A
Susquehanna UniversityNovember 15December 1
Swarthmore CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
January 4 (ED II)
Mid-December (ED I),
Mid-February (ED II)
University of PennsylvaniaNovember 1Mid-December
Ursinus CollegeDecember 1 (ED I),
February 1 (ED II)
N/A
Washington & Jefferson CollegeDecember 15 (ED I)January 15 (ED I)
University Application DeadlineDecision Date
Brown UniversityNovember 1Mid-December
Bryant UniversityNovember 1 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
December 1 (ED I),
February 15 (ED II)
Providence CollegeNovember 1 (ED I),
January 1 (ED II)
December 1 (ED I),
Late February (ED II)
Rhode Island School of DesignNovember 1 Mid-December
University Application DeadlineDecision Date
Furman UniversityNovember 15 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
December 1 (ED I),
February 1 (ED II)
Wofford CollegeNovember 1December 1
University Application DeadlineDecision Date
Rhodes CollegeNovember 1 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
By November 15 (ED I),
February 1 (ED II)
Sewanee: University of the SouthNovember 15 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
Early December (ED I),
Late January (ED II)
Vanderbilt UniversityNovember 15January 15
University Application DeadlineDecision Date
Austin CollegeNovember 1 (ED I),
February 1 (ED II)
December 4 (ED I),
March 1 (ED II)
Rice UniversityNovember 1N/A
Southern Methodist UniversityNovember 1Mid-December
Texas Christian UniversityNovember 1 (ED I),
February 1 (ED II)
January 1 (ED I),
April 1 (ED II)
Trinity UniversityNovember 1 (ED I),
February 1 (ED II)
December 1 (ED I),
February 15 (ED II)
University Application DeadlineDecision Date
Bennington CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
January 15 (ED II)
Mid-December (ED I),
Mid-February (ED II)
Champlain CollegeNovember 15Mid-December
Marlboro CollegeNovember 1December 1
Middlebury CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
January 3 (ED II)
Mid-December (ED I),
Mid-February (ED II)
University Application DeadlineDecision Date
Christopher Newport UniversityNovember 15December 15
College of William and MaryNovember 1 (ED I),
January 1 (ED II)
Early December (ED I),
Early February (ED II)
Hampden-Sydney CollegeNovember 1N/A
Hollins UniversityNovember 1N/A
Roanoke CollegeNovember 15Rolling after November 5
University of RichmondNovember 1 (ED I),
January 1 (ED II)
December 15 (ED I),
February 15 (ED II)
University of VirginiaNovember 1By mid-February
Virginia Military InstituteNovember 15By December 15
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and
State University (Virginia Tech)
November 1Mid-December
Washington and Lee UniversityNovember 1 (ED I),
January 1 (ED II)
Late December (ED I),
Late January (ED II)
University Application DeadlineDecision Date
Whitman CollegeNovember 15 (ED I),
January 10 (ED II)
Mid-December (ED I),
Early February (ED II)
University of Puget SoundNovember 1By December
University Application DeadlineDecision Date
Beloit CollegeNovember 1December 1
Lawrence UniversityNovember 1December 1
University Application DeadlineDecision Date
Wyoming Catholic CollegeJune 1N/A

There are currently no schools in Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, or West Virginia with ED admissions.


Got your early decision college in your sights? Then what are you doing here — start getting your application ready so you can set sail for the college of your dreams. ⛵️

Frequently Asked Questions About Early Decision

To apply for early decision, you’ll use either the Common Application or a college’s specific application form. You’ll typically need to sign an ED agreement form detailing the plan’s conditions.

Early decision deadlines vary by school, but the most common dates are November if you’re applying for ED I and December to January if you’re eyeing ED2.

The biggest difference between early action and early decision is that while early action is non-binding, early decision is a binding agreement. You can apply to as many schools as you want with EA and, if accepted, choose any of the schools. However, you can apply to only one ED school and, if accepted, you must attend.