Colleges That Accept the Most Applicants

The U.S. News Short List, separate from our overall rankings, is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas. Be sure to explore The Short List: College, The Short List: Grad School and The Short List: Online Programs to find data that matter to you in your college or graduate school search.

The chances of getting into a four-year college can be high or low, depending on a prospective student’s standardized test scores, high school grades and letters of recommendation, among other factors. At some universities, though, just about every applicant can bet on being admitted.

At 18 schools, there was a 100 percent acceptance rate in fall 2016. These institutions had the highest acceptance rate among 1,256 ranked universities and colleges that submitted these data to U.S. News in an annual survey.

[Learn which colleges receive the most applications.]

In fall 2015, only nine schools had a 100 percent acceptance rate. California State University–Bakersfield, Florida’s Pensacola State College and Montana State University–Billings are some of the schools that are new to the list.

Cameron University in Oklahoma, which had a 99.7 acceptance rate in fall 2015, reached 100 percent last fall.

Among all schools that reported the data, the average acceptance rate was 65 percent. Alice Lloyd College, a Regional College in Kentucky, had the lowest acceptance rate: 4 percent. Regional Colleges focus on undergraduate education, and grant fewer than half of their degrees in liberal arts fields.

[Find out which colleges have the lowest acceptance rates.]

Ten of the schools on the list for fall 2016 are labeled RNP, which means Rank Not Published. These schools rank in the bottom one-fourth of their ranking category. U.S. News calculates a rank for the school but has decided not to publish it.

Below are the 18 schools with the highest acceptance rate in fall 2016. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report.

School name (state) Fall 2016 acceptance rate U.S. News rank and category
Indian River State College (FL) 100 RNP, Regional Colleges (South)
University of Pikeville (KY) 100 RNP, National Liberal Arts Colleges
Wayne State College (NE) 100 109 (tie), Regional Universities (Midwest)
New Mexico Highlands University 100 RNP, Regional…

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