If you're in the midst of college application season, then you know it's time to take action. For some of you, that might be early action, which pushes your deadlines up a couple months.
This guide has the complete list of colleges that offer early action, along with advice on the best way to prepare for an early deadline. Before getting to the list, let's go over the ins and outs of the early action admission plan.
What You Need to Know About Early Action
Many schools offer the option of early action. This plan means that you'll both apply earlier than the regular deadline and find out earlier whether or not you got accepted. The most common deadlines for early action are November 1 and November 15. These deadlines are not flexible; you must get all your materials, including recommendation letters and test scores, to the school by the stated deadline.
Since you apply early, you'll also be notified of the admissions decision early. The most common notification is in mid-December, so you should find out whether you were accepted, denied, or deferred before you go on holiday break.
The possibility of having your application deferred is another unique feature of applying early action. If the early applicant pool is particularly competitive, then the admissions committee might push your application into the regular decision pool and review it again in January or February. If you get deferred and are very interested in the school, then you could call its admissions office and ask if there's anything else you can send to strengthen your application before its next review.
Unlike early decision, early action is not binding. You should have until the national response deadline of May 1 to tell your school whether you'll be attending or not. That means you can still compare admissions and financial aid offers from other colleges, even if you applied to them regular decision, before accepting an offer and sending your deposit.
There is one circumstance where early action has a restriction, though. Some schools, namely Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and Stanford, offer only a restrictive or single-choice early action plan.
Restrictive early action plans don't obligate you to accept an offer of admission, but they do mean you can't apply to any other schools early action. For most other colleges, you can apply early to as many schools as you want. But if you're applying to Harvard early action, then you can't apply early anywhere else early action. You'll have to wait until regular decision deadlines for your other schools.
Given that early action deadlines are typically in November, what should your application timeline look like?
Your Timeline for Applying Early Action
There's no point applying early action if you don't have a strong application to send. If you want to apply early, then you should be prepared with all your application materials before the November deadline.
There are a bunch of moving parts when it comes to applying to college, so you should start months or even a year in advance planning out each one. Read on for suggestions about how to plan out your SAT or ACT dates, recommendation letters, official transcript, and essays.
Plan Your SAT or ACT Test Dates
Students almost always improve when they retake the SAT or ACT and study in between each administration. If you're applying early action, then the October test date for the SAT is probably the very last opportunity you'd have to take it.
Your SAT scores are released three weeks after you take the test. Fall test dates could be risky in case of delays, and you wouldn't really have time to see these scores before deciding whether or not to send them. Ideally, you'd be finished testing before this October test date if you're applying early action.
Your last opportunity to take the ACT would likely be the September test date, assuming your scores are available in time. Again, if you want to apply early action, you'd feel less pressure if you're already all set with your test scores by the fall of senior year.
You might take the SAT or ACT for the first time in the spring of sophomore year, then again in the fall of junior year, and finally in the spring of or summer after junior year. Pushing this forward, you could take it first in the fall of junior year and then again in the spring or summer.
If you still see room for improvement, you'd have that last opportunity to test in the fall of senior year. Make sure your list of score recipients is up to date in your College Board or ACT account, since your official score reports need to arrive by the deadline.
Ask Early for Your Letters of Recommendation and Transcript
Another important consideration is your letters of recommendation. You want to ask at least a month before you deadlines, so ask by October 1 if your early action deadline is November 1.
It can also be a good idea to ask your junior year teachers at the end of junior year. Your academic work will be fresh in their mind, and they'll have the summer to work on your rec letter.
Since your guidance office handles sending out your official transcript, you should make this request a month in advance of deadlines, as well.
Work On Your Essays Over the Summer
You also should start thinking about and drafting your personal essay, and any other supplemental essays, over the summer before senior year. You don't want to write your personal essay in a day. It's a very important part of your application that you should spend weeks to months on.
You should start by reading the essay prompts and letting ideas simmer in the back of your mind. You might find the perfect topic pops into your head when you're out for a jog or getting ready for school in the morning. Then you should give yourself time to go through several drafts and revisions, as well as get feedback from teachers and maybe friends and parents.
Writing your personal essay is a process that takes time; you're trying to present a meaningful and insightful story about your identity in only 650 words! Give yourself time to think about, prepare, and revise a strong and memorable personal essay. You'll be glad you did once you get into your busy schedule of classes and activities senior year.
Since gathering and completing all these things takes a few months, you want to make sure to keep track of everything in an organized way.
Keep Track of Your Schedule
To recap, here's a possible timeline for the process of applying early action:
- Leave yourself enough available test dates to take the SAT and ACT. You may take it in the spring of sophomore year, fall of junior year, and spring of junior year. Your last test date will be in the fall of senior year.
- Ask your teachers and counselor for recommendations by October 1 or at the end of junior year.
- Request your transcript and any other documents you need your school to send by October 1, as well.
- Work on your personal essay (and any other essays) over the summer, leaving yourself a few weeks or months to brainstorm, draft, get feedback, and revise.
- Work on your application throughout the fall of senior year, proofread several times, and make sure it's ready to go by the stated deadlines.
As you can see, this whole process starts at least four months before the early action deadline, and much earlier including your SAT or ACT testing dates and preparation.
Early action can be a great option, because it shows admissions committees that you're enthusiastic about the school and on top of things. Plus, you can find out months earlier than normal whether you got into your college(s). As long as you plan and prepare in time, then you should have a strong and impressive application to send off to your early action colleges.
Now, let's take a look at some popular schools that offer early action and what their deadlines are. After that, you'll find the complete list of early action schools and deadlines.
Early Action Deadlines of Popular Schools
As you can see, most of these schools have an early action deadline of November 1, with the exception of UNC Chapel Hill. In the full list below, you'll find some more variation in terms of early action deadlines.
|Boston College||November 1|
|UNC Chapel Hill||October 15|
|University of Illinois at Chicago||November 1|
|University of Chicago||November 1|
|University of Michigan||November 1|
|University of Notre Dame||November 1|
|University of Virginia||November 1|
* indicates Restrictive Early Action
Beyond these popular schools, there are hundreds of other early action colleges - we'll go over them next.
Complete List of Colleges and Early Action Deadlines
This long list of early action schools is in alphabetical order. If you're looking for a particular school and don't feel like scrolling, you might hit "Ctrl + f," type in the first few letters, and be brought right to it.
|School||State||Early Action Deadline||Notification||Website|
|Abilene Christian University||TX||November 1||Official Link|
|Adelphi University||NY||December 1||December 31||Official Link|
|Agnes Scott College||GA||November 15||December 15||Official Link|
|Assumption College||MA||November 1||December 15||Official Link|
|Auburn College||AL||December 15|
|Augustana College||IL||November 1||December 1|
|Austin College||TX||December 1||January 15||Official Link|
|Azusa Pacific University||CA||November 15||January 15||Official Link|
|Babson College||MA||November 1||January 1||Official Link|
|Bard College||NY||November 1||January 1||Official Link|
|Bay Path College||MA||December 15||January 2||Official Link|
|Baylor University||TX||November 1||January 15||Official Link|
|Becker College||MA||November 15||December 15||Official Link|
|Bellarmine University||KY||November 1||November 15||Official Link|
|Bennington College||VT||December 1||January 27||Official Link|
|Berklee College of Music||MA||November 1||January 31||Official Link|
|Binghamton University||NY||November 1||January 15||Official Link|
|Biola University||CA||November 15||January 15||Official Link|
|Birmingham-Southern College||AL||November 15||December 15||Official Link|
|Bloomfield College||NJ||November 28||Official Link|
|Boston College||MA||November 1||December 25||Official Link|
|Bridgewater State University||MA||November 15||December 15||Official Link|
|Bryant University||RI||November 15||January 15||Official Link|
|Butler University||IN||November 1||December 20||Official Link|
|Caldwell University||NJ||December 1||December 31||Official Link|
|California Baptist University||CA||December 15||January 31||Official Link|
|California Institute of Technology||CA||November 1||December 15||Official Link|
|California Lutheran University||CA||November 1||January 15||Official Link|
|Carthage College||WI||July 26||September 15||Official Link|
|Case Western Reserve University||OH||November 1||December 15||Official Link|
|Catholic University of America||DC||November 1||December 15||Official Link|
|Centenary College of Louisiana||LA||December 15||Official Link|
|Centre College||KY||December 1||January 15||Official Link|
|Chapman University||CA||November 1||January 10||Official Link|
|Christendom College||VA||December 1||December 15||Official Link|
|Christopher Newport University||VA||December 1||January 15||Official Link|
|Clark University||MA||November 1||December 15||Official Link|
|Cleveland State University||OH||May 1||Official Link|
|Coe College||IA||December 10||Official Link|
|Colby-Sawyer College||NH||December 1||Official Link|
|College of Charleston||SC||November 1||January 1||Official Link|
|College of Idaho||ID||November 21||December 15||Official Link|
|College of Mount St. Vincent||NY||November 15||Official Link|
|College of Saint Benedict||MN||November 15||December 15||Official Link|
|College of St. Rose||NY||December 1||December 15||Official Link|
|College of Wooster||OH||November 15||December 31||Official Link|
|Colorado College||CO||November 10||December 18||Official Link|
|Colorado State University||CO||December 1||Official Link|
|Columbia University, School of General Studies||NY||March 1||May 1||Official Link|
|Concordia College New York||NY||November 15||December 15||Official Link|
|Concordia University Irvine||CA||December 1||December 15||Official Link|
|Cornell College||IA||December 1||February 1||Official Link|
|Curry College||MA||December 1||December 15||Official Link|
|DePaul University||IL||November 15||January 15||Official Link|
|DePauw University||IN||December 1||Official Link|
|Dickinson College||PA||December 1||February 1||Official Link|
|Dowling College||NY||December 31||Rolling, notification begins January 31||Official Link|
|Duquesne University||PA||December 1||January 15||Official Link|
|Earlham College||IN||December 1||February 1||Official Link|
|Eastern Oregon University||OR||February 1||Rolling||Official Link|
|Eckerd College||FL||November 15||December 15||Official Link|
|Elon University||NC||November 10||December 20||Official Link|
|Emerson College||MA||November 1||December 15||Official Link|
|Emmanuel College||GA||November 1||December 15||Official Link|
|Erskine College||SC||November 1||November 15||Official Link|
|Fairfield University||CT||November 1||December 20||Official Link|
|Fordham University||NY||November 1||December 20||Official Link|
|Framingham State University||MA||November 15||December 15||Official Link|
|Furman University||SC||November 15||December 20||Official Link|
|George Fox University||OR||November 1||December 15||Official Link|
|Georgetown University||DC||November 1||December 15||Official Link|
|Georgia College and State University||GA||November 1||December 1||Official Link|
|Georgia Institute of Technology||GA||October 15||January 10||Official Link|
|Georgia State University||GA||November 15||January 30||Official Link|
|Gonzaga University||WA||November 15||January 15||Official Link|
|Gordon College||MA||November 15||December 1||Official Link|
|Goucher College||MD||December 1||February 1||Official Link|
|Grace College||IN||December 1||Official Link|
|Green Mountain College||VT||November 1||Official Link|
|Greensboro College||NC||December 15||January 15||Official Link|
|Gustavus Adolphus College||MN||November 1||Official Link|
|Hamline University||MN||December 1||December 20||Official Link|
|Hampden-Sydney College||VA||December 15||February 15||Official Link|
|Hampshire College||MA||December 1||February 1||Official Link|
|Hampton University||VA||November 1||December 15||Official Link|
|Hanover College||IN||October 15||December 20||Official Link|
|Harvard College||MA||November 1||Official Link|
|Hellenic College||MA||December 1||Official Link|
|Hendrix College||AR||November 15||December 15||Official Link|
|High Point University||NC||November 14||December 18||Official Link|
|Hillsdale College||MI||December 15||Official Link|
|Hofstra University||NY||November 15||January 15||Official Link|
|Hollins University||VA||November 15||December 1||Official Link|
|Howard University||DC||November 1||December 24||Official Link|
|Illinois College||IL||December 1||Official Link|
|Illinois Wesleyan University||IL||November 1||Official Link|
|Iona College||NY||December 1||December 19||Official Link|
|Ithaca College||NY||December 1||February 1||Official Link|
|John Carroll University||OH||December 1||December 20||Official Link|
|Kalamazoo College||MI||November 1||December 20||Official Link|
|Kean University||NJ||November 15||Official Link|
|Knox College||IL||November 1||December 31||Official Link|
|La Salle University||PA||October 15||December 15|
|Lake Forest College||IL||October15||Official Link|
|Lasell College||MA||November 15||December 1||Official Link|
|Lawrence University||WI||November 1||Official Link|
|Le Moyne College||NY||November 15||December 15||Official Link|
|Lenoir-Rhyne Univerity||NC||November 7||December 21||Official Link|
|Lesley University||MA||December 1||December 23||Official Link|
|Lewis & Clark College||OR||November 1||December 31||Official Link|
|LIM College||NY||November 15||December 15||Official Link|
|Linfield College||OR||November 15||January 15||Official Link|
|Longwood University||VA||December 1||January 15||Official Link|
|Loyola Marymount University||CA||November 1||December 20||Official Link|
|Loyola University Maryland||MD||November 15||January 15||Official Link|
|Lycoming College||PA||November 15||December 15|
|Lynn University||FL||November 15||December 15||Official Link|
|Maine Maritime Academy||ME||November 30||February 1|
|Manhattanville College||NY||December 1||December 31|
|Marist College||NY||November 15||January 30||Official Link|
|Marlboro College||VT||January 15||Rolling, notification begins February 1||Official Link|
|Massachusetts College of Art and Design||MA||December 1||January 5||Official Link|
|Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts||MA||December 1||December 15||Official Link|
|Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences||MA||November 1||December 19||Official Link|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||MA||November 1||December 20||Official Link|
|Massachusetts Maritime Academy||MA||November 1||December 31||Official Link|
|Master's College||CA||November 15||December 22||Official Link|
|McDaniel College||MD||November 15||December 22||Official Link|
|Menlo College||CA||November 15||January 15||Official Link|
|Merrimack College||MA||November 15||December 15||Official Link|
|Miami University||OH||December 1||February 1||Official Link|
|Mills College||CA||November 15||December 1||Official Link|
|Millsaps College||MS||November 15||January 15||Official Link|
|Minneapolis College of Art and Design||MN||December 1||December 15||Official Link|
|Molloy College||NY||December 1||December 15||Official Link|
|Monmouth University||NJ||December 1||January 15||Official Link|
|Montserrat College of Art||MA||December 1||December 15||Official Link|
|Morehouse College||GA||November 1||December 15||Official Link|
|Mount St. Mary's University||MD||December 1||December 25||Official Link|
|New York Institute of Technology||NY||November 1||December 31||Official Link|
|North Carolina State University||NC||October 15||January 30||Official Link|
|Northeastern University||MA||November 1||December 31||Official Link|
|Northwest Nazarene University||ID||November 15||January 15||Official Link|
|Northwest University||WA||January 15||February 15||Official Link|
|Notre Dame de Namur University||CA||December 1||Official Link|
|Oakwood University||AL||March 30||April 15||Official Link|
|Oglethorpe University||GA||November 15||December 20||Official Link|
|Ohio State University||OH||November 1||January 15||Official Link|
|Ohio Wesleyan University||OH||December 1||January 15||Official Link|
|Old Dominion University||VA||December 1||January 15||Official Link|
|Oregon State University||OR||November 1||December 20||Official Link|
|Pace University||NY||November 1||January 1||Official Link|
|Patrick Henry College||VA||November 1||Rolling||Official Link|
|Point Loma Nazarene University||CA||November 15||December 21||Official Link|
|Presbyterian College||SC||November 15||December 15||Official Link|
|Princeton University||NJ||November 1||December 15||Official Link|
|Purchase College||NY||November 15||December 15|
|Radford University||VA||December 1||January 15||Official Link|
|Randolph College||VA||November 15||Official Link|
|Randolph-Macon College||VA||November 15||January 1||Official Link|
|Regis College||MA||December 1||December 23||Official Link|
|Rhodes College||TN||November 15||January 15||Official Link|
|Rider University||NJ||November 15||December 15||Official Link|
|Roger Williams University||RI||November 1||Official Link|
|Sacred Heart University||CT||December 15||Official Link|
|Saint Anselm College||NH||November 15||January 15||Official Link|
|Saint John's University||MN||November 15||December 15||Official Link|
|Saint Joseph's University||PA||November 15||December 25||Official Link|
|Saint Mary's College of California||CA||November 15||January 15||Official Link|
|Saint Michael's College||VT||November 1||January 1||Official Link|
|Salisbury University||MD||December 1||January 15||Official Link|
|Salve Regina University||RI||November 1||December 25||Official Link|
|Santa Clara University||CA||November 1||December 23||Official Link|
|School of the Art Institute of Chicago||IL||November 15||February 15||Official Link|
|Seattle Pacific University||WA||November 15||January 5||Official Link|
|Seattle University||WA||November 15||December 23||Official Link|
|Seton Hall University||NJ||November 15||December 30||Official Link|
|Sewanee: University of the South||TN||December 1||Official Link|
|Shepherd University||WV||November 15||December 15||Official Link|
|Siena College||NY||December 1||January 7||Official Link|
|Simmons College||MA||November 1||December 15||Official Link|
|Soka University of America||CA||November 1||December 1||Official Link|
|Southern Methodist University||TX||November 1||December 31||Official Link|
|Southern New Hampshire University||NH||November 15||December 15||Official Link|
|Southwestern University||TX||December 1||February 15||Official Link|
|Spelman College||GA||November 15||December 31||Official Link|
|St. John's College||MD||November 15||December 15||Official Link|
|St. John's College||NM||November 15||December 15||Official Link|
|St. Joseph's College of Maine||ME||November 15||December 17||Official Link|
|Stanford University||CA||November 1||December 15||Official Link|
|State University of New York at New Paltz||NY||November 15||December 15||Official Link|
|State University of New York College at Cortland||NY||November 15||Official Link|
|State University of New York College at Oneonta||NY||November 15||December 15||Official Link|
|State University of New York Institute of Technology||NY||November 15||December 15||Official Link|
|Sterling College||VT||December 15||January 15||Official Link|
|Stonehill College||MA||November 1||December 31||Official Link|
|Suffolk University||MA||November 15||December 15||Official Link|
|Susquehanna University||PA||November 1||December 1||Official Link|
|Sweet Briar College||VA||December 20|
|Tarleton State University||TX||March 1||Official Link|
|Temple University||PA||November 1||Official Link|
|Texas Christian University||TX||November 1||January 1||Official Link|
|Texas Lutheran University||TX||December 15|
|Thomas College||ME||December 15||December 31||Official Link|
|Transylvania University||KY||December 1||December 20||Official Link|
|Trinity University||TX||November 1||December 15||Official Link|
|Trinity Washington University||DC||December 1||January 1||Official Link|
|Tulane University||LA||November 15||December 15||Official Link|
|Unity College||ME||December 15||Official Link|
|University at Buffalo||NY||November 15||January 15|
|University of Akron||OH||November 1||Official Link|
|University of Arkansas||AR||November 1||December 15||Official Link|
|University of Chicago||IL||November 1||December 17||Official Link|
|University of Cincinnati||OH||December 1||Official Link|
|University of Colorado Boulder||CO||November 15||February 1||Official Link|
|University of Dallas||TX||November 1||January 15||Official Link|
|University of Dayton||OH||November 1||February 15||Official Link|
|University of Denver||CO||November 1||January 15||Official Link|
|University of Evansville||IN||December 1||Official Link|
|University of Georgia||GA||October 15||December 1||Official Link|
|University of Illinois at Chicago||IL||November 2||Official Link|
|University of Kentucky||KY||December 1||Rolling||Official Link|
|University of Maine||ME||December 1||January 31||Official Link|
|University of Maine at Farmington||ME||November 15||January 8||Official Link|
|University of Mary Washington||VA||November 15||January 31||Official Link|
|University of Maryland||MD||November 1||January 31||Official Link|
|University of Maryland Baltimore County||MD||November 1||December 15||Official Link|
|University of Massachusetts Amherst||MA||November 1||Rolling, notification begins December 15||Official Link|
|University of Massachusetts Boston||MA||November 1||Official Link|
|University of Massachusetts Dartmouth||MA||November 15||December 15||Official Link|
|University of Massachusetts Lowell||MA||November 1||December 15||Official Link|
|University of Miami||FL||November 1||January 20||Official Link|
|University of Michigan||MI||November 1||December 24||Official Link|
|University of New England||ME||December 1||Official Link|
|University of New Hampshire||NH||November 15||Rolling, notification begins December 15||Official Link|
|University of New Haven||CT||December 15||January 15||Official Link|
|University of North Carolina at Asheville||NC||November 15||December 15||Official Link|
|University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||NC||October 15||January 30||Official Link|
|University of North Carolina at Charlotte||NC||November 1||January 20||Official Link|
|University of North Carolina at Wilmington||NC||November 1||January 20||Official Link|
|University of Notre Dame||IN||November 1||December 21||Official Link|
|University of Oregon||OR||November 1||December 15||Official Link|
|University of Redlands||CA||November 15||Rolling, notification begins January 15||Official Link|
|University of Rhode Island||RI||December 1||January 31||Official Link|
|University of San Francisco||CA||November 15||January 1||Official Link|
|University of Scranton||PA||November 15||December 15||Official Link|
|University of St. Thomas||TX||December 1||December 15||Official Link|
|University of Tampa||FL||November 15||December 15||Official Link|
|University of the Pacific||CA||November 15||January 15||Official Link|
|University of Tulsa||OK||November 1||December 15||Official Link|
|University of Utah||UT||December 1||January 15|
|University of Vermont||VT||November 1||December 15||Official Link|
|University of Virginia||VA||November 1||January 31||Official Link|
|University of Virginia's College at Wise||VA||February 1||February 15||Official Link|
|Ursinus College||PA||November 1||Rolling, notification begins February 1||Official Link|
|Vanguard University of Southern California||CA||December 1||Official Link|
|Villanova University||PA||November 1||December 20||Official Link|
|Wabash College||IN||November 1||December 19||Official Link|
|Warren Wilson College||NC||November 15|
|Washington & Jefferson College||PA||January 15||February 15||Official Link|
|Washington College||MD||December 1||January 15||Official Link|
|Wells College||NY||December 15||February 1||Official Link|
|Wesleyan College||GA||January 15||Official Link|
|Westmont College||CA||October 15||December 15||Official Link|
|Wheaton College||IL||November 1||January 1||Official Link|
|Wheaton College||MA||November 1||December 31||Official Link|
|Wheelock College||MA||December 1||December 20||Official Link|
|Whittier College||CA||November 15||December 31||Official Link|
|Whitworth University||WA||November 30||Rolling, notification begins December 20||Official Link|
|Willamette University||OR||November 15||December 31||Official Link|
|William Paterson University||NJ||December 1||January 15||Official Link|
|Wittenberg University||OH||December 1||January 1||Official Link|
|Wofford College||SC||November 15||Official Link|
|Worcester Polytechnic Institute||MA||November 1||December 20||Official Link|
|Worcester State University||MA||November 15||December 15|
|Yale University||CT||November 1||December 15||Official Link|
Most schools with early action allow you to apply to as many colleges as you want. Just double check to make sure you know whether your school's early action is restrictive or single choice.
If you apply early action, then you could rest easy come December with the knowledge of where you'll be attending college next fall. Just don't fall prey to senioritis - you'll still be sending senior year grades along to your colleges!
While you'll spend a lot of time on your essays and prepping for tests, you also want to put effort into filling out your application forms. This guide goes into detail about how to write about your extracurricular activities on your applications.
Are you wondering about the differences between early action and early decision? Did you know that early decision isn't necessarily "early"? Learn more about early decision and how it differs from early action here.
Maybe you're tired of reading articles and just want to learn about how to apply to college from a snazzy infographic. Read your mind, right? Check out this awesome infographic on How to Get Into Your Top-Choice College.
Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:
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Rebecca graduated with her Master's in Adolescent Counseling from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has years of teaching and college counseling experience and is passionate about helping students achieve their goals and improve their well-being. She graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University and scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT.