While some higher education institutions value selectivity, others take a more inclusive approach to accepting prospective students. These colleges and universities rarely consider a person's background a hindrance to their potential success in college. For several of these schools, this attitude comes from a certain philosophy about education. For instance, the founders of Medgar Evers College, part of the City University of New York, created the school to give young African Americans in Brooklyn a chance to go to college in the 1960s. At Naropa University in Colorado, the school's philosophy comes from Buddhism and centers on social justice, equity, and self-transformation. In addition, Blue Mountain College in Mississippi operates on Christian principles of acceptance and inclusivity.
In this list, you will find institutions of every stripe: small colleges with only a few hundred students; public state universities with over 20,000 students enrolled; community colleges with a wide selection of pre-professional programs; specialized schools that only provide one or a few areas of study; and universities that offer everything from associate to doctoral degrees. These schools span the United States, from the southwest corner of the country in New Mexico to the northeast corner in New Hampshire.
Academy of Art University
|San Francisco, CA||
With an enrollment exceeding 12,000 students, the San Francisco-based Academy of Art University accepts 100% of the students who apply. The for-profit university holds the status as the largest private art and design college in the U.S. The students are from over 112 countries, and they pursue several degrees at the university, including acting, fashion, game development, landscape architecture, and photography. The university also provides online programs in areas such as advertising, graphic design, and web design. Both graduate and undergraduate students attend the university. The school holds accreditation from several programmatic accreditation agencies.
Nontraditional college students may also find programs at the Academy of Art University. The school hosts a pre-college art experience for high school students and continuing education courses for working professionals. The school also encourages active participation in the community; students and alumni display over 70 art shows every year in the San Francisco area.
Bismarck State College
Bismarck State College, a public institution, possesses an acceptance rate of 100%. With fewer than 4,000 enrolled students, Bismarck State remains the third-largest school in the North Dakota University system and primarily offers associate degrees. Students who complete these technical degrees typically head straight into their careers or transfer to a four-year institution. The school offers one bachelor's program: the bachelor of applied science in energy management. The only degree of its kind in the country, this program provides an online curriculum for employed workers in the energy industry who want to advance their careers.
Bismarck State also allows students to enroll in non-degree programs. A cybersecurity center trains students for several certifications. In addition, continuing education courses offer both cybersecurity center and professional development for adults. Personal enrichment classes cover topics like healthy living and personal finance, while professional development classes teach communication skills, computer and technology skills, and business expertise.
California State University-Bakersfield
The 19th school of the 23-campus California State University system, California State at Bakersfield admits all students who apply. Founded in 1965, the school now educates over 10,000 enrolled graduate and undergraduate students. Bakersfield also runs a satellite campus at Antelope Valley.
Students can choose between 50 bachelor's and master's degrees in the schools of arts and humanities; business and public administration; natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering; or social sciences and education. Bakersfield also offers the only public petroleum geology degree west of the Rocky Mountains.
In 2017, the New York Times named Bakersfield the third best college in the U.S. for upward mobility. 82% of students who attended Bakersfield in the 1990s came from low-income families but were able to climb to middle or upper middle class after graduating.
Established in Lawton, Oklahoma in 1908 -- only one year after Oklahoma became a state -- Cameron University now has an acceptance rate of 100% and enrolls about 5,500 students each year. Cameron University was originally known as Cameron State School of Agriculture before it changed its name in 1974. In addition to agriculture degrees, Cameron now offers degrees such as business, communications, and military science. Students can also pursue master's degrees in business, education, and psychology.
Cameron aims to help students graduate without borrowing money. In fact, about two-thirds of students graduate without debt. The "Cameron University Guarantee" dictates that graduates can receive further education at no cost if employers feel that graduates lack in certain skills.
The university also runs a robust distance learning program. Undergraduate students can complete five bachelor's degrees fully online and several other degrees partly online and on campus. Graduate students may also complete an MBA or a master's in organizational leadership online.
College of Staten Island CUNY
|Staten Island, NY||
With nearly 14,000 undergraduate, master's, and doctoral students, the College of Staten Island at the City University of New York accepts 100% of students who apply. The college operates as part of the 25-school CUNY public university system and holds regional accreditation. CUNY created the College of Staten Island in 1956, but it completed its new campus in 1994.
Students who enroll in traditional degrees can take advantage of opportunities such as studying abroad or earning an accelerated associate degree. Students can join learning communities where they participate in activities with others who share their academic interests as well. The college also runs a few programs for academically gifted students: the Macaulay Honors College, the Verrazano School, and the Teacher Education Honors Academy.
In addition, the College of Staten Island allows nontraditional students, college graduates, and working professionals to enroll in continuing education courses. These classes cover topics such as foreign languages, business skills, and computer and technology proficiency.
CUNY Medgar Evers College
Established in 1970, Medgar Evers College may hold the title of the youngest college in the CUNY system; however, its history reflects its inclusive philosophy toward the student body. In the 1960s, the largely African American community in central Brooklyn identified a need for a public higher education institution in their neighborhood. The state Board of Education complied, and Medgar Evers received its name from African American civil rights activist Medgar Wiley Evers.
Now, Medgar Evers typically accepts all students who apply, and over 7,000 college courses are taken every year. Students may enroll in either associate or bachelor’s degree programs. The school also runs centers focused on specific research areas with a few aimed at helping African American students succeed in college. These include the Caribbean Research Center, the Center for Black Literature, the DuBois Bunche Center, the Center for Law and Social Justice, and the Male Development and Empowerment Center.
Dixie State University
|Saint George, UT||
Located in St. George, Utah, Dixie State University has a track record of accepting all applicants. Although the Church of Latter Day Saints founded the university in 1911, the state of Utah took over in the 1930s and turned it into a public institution. The university enrolled only 385 students in 1963; over a decade later, Dixie State now instructs nearly 9,000 students each semester.
Undergraduate students may choose from 19 associate degrees or 52 bachelor's degrees. The university operates colleges of business and communication, humanities and social sciences, education, science and technology, arts, and health sciences. Students can also earn one of the university's 16 certificate options in areas like computer forensics or multimedia journalism. Students take most courses on campus, but they can sign up for online courses as well.
Associate degree students may enroll in career and technical programs, such as the operations management or early childhood education associate degrees.
|Kansas City, KS||
A Catholic-affiliated institution in Kansas City, Kansas, Donnelly College normally accepts anyone who applies. Federally recognized as both a Hispanic-serving institution and a minority-serving institution, the school's founders in 1949 aimed to create a college for working class students and immigrants. With two bachelor's degrees, four associate degrees, and three nursing programs, students learn skills they can take to four-year universities or their careers.
Donnelly provides several programs for nontraditional college students. Students aged 17 to 20 may take courses at Donnelly while earning high school and college credits -- all free of charge. The Success First program helps Spanish-speaking students work on their English language, reading, and writing skills. Finally, Donnelly's College in Prison program offers courses and associate degrees to inmates at a satellite campus at Lansing Correctional Facility.
Granite State College
Granite State College, a public institution in Concord, New Hampshire, holds a 100% acceptance rate for applicants. The state founded the regionally accredited institution in 1972. Now, over 3,000 students attend Granite State and are enrolled in one of the school's associate, bachelor's, or master's degree programs. About 84% of those students transferred from another school in order to complete their bachelor's degrees, and 90% of students are working professionals.
The school offers several different types of courses in addition to traditional on-campus classes. Students may choose online, blended, and hybrid courses. They may also opt for intensive courses that they can finish at an accelerated pace, or field-based courses.
The college also runs non-degree granting programs. Educators may earn 12 teacher post-baccalaureate certificates in the areas of special, elementary, and secondary education. In addition, employers can partner with Granite State to conduct learning solutions or professional development courses for their employees.
Indian River State College
|Fort Pierce, FL||
With over 23,000 students at its main campus, this community college in Fort Pierce, Florida grants associate degrees, technical certificates, and a few bachelor's degrees. Indian River State College normally does not reject students who apply, and it aims to create low-cost higher education opportunities. In fact, in 2015 the U.S. Department of Education named Indian River one of the most affordable colleges in America.
Students who earn their associate degree in fields like history and social work may go on to transfer to another four-year institution. However, students who pursue degrees in areas like dental hygiene or culinary management may enter the workforce after graduating. Indian River also runs multiple technical certificate programs. Students may earn certifications that help them become solar energy technicians, for instance, or accounting technology specialists.
Indian River allows students to complete 15 degrees entirely online. Since the college began offering bachelor's degrees in 2008, students can complete the majority of these through Indian River's virtual campus.
Lake-Sumter State College
Each semester, about 6,000 students attend Lake-Sumter State College in Leesburg, Florida.Founded in 1962 as part of the Florida College System, Lake-Sumter typically accepts all students who apply. The school offers nine associate degrees in fields like criminal justice and industrial management technology. Lake-Sumter also allows students to pursue two bachelor's degrees, one in organizational management and the other in nursing.
In addition, many students attend Lake-Sumter to attain their technical certificates in areas such as medical office management, digital forensics, and information technology analysis. Professionals and other non-students may take non-credit courses in technology through the school's Computer Institute. Online courses provide even more options; for instance, someone hoping to earn his/her real estate license can enroll in an online preparation course.
Lake-Sumter works to make its programs affordable. The school raises money through the LSSC Foundation so that it can provide scholarships to students.
Le Moyne-Owen College
The historically black LeMoyne-Owen College possesses a 100% acceptance rate and enrolls about 1,000 students each year. Located in Memphis, Tennessee, the school operates as a private institution with ties to the United Church of Christ. Before LeMoyne-Owen College existed in its current form, a missionary opened the LeMoyne Normal and Commercial School in 1862 for escaped slaves and free African Americans. About a century later, LeMoyne merged with Owen College to become LeMoyne-Owen College.
Students can pursue bachelor's degrees at one of LeMoyne-Owen's five academic divisions: business and economic development, education, fine arts and the humanities, natural and the mathematical sciences, and social and behavioral sciences. They may also study at LeMoyne-Owens to prepare for their teacher licensure. In addition, the school provides accelerated bachelor's degrees in business management or criminal justice for working professionals.
Unique to LeMoyne-Owen, the college's Center for Cyber Defense grants students the opportunity to earn a degree in either criminal justice or computer science with an emphasis in cyber defense.
Metropolitan State University
|St. Paul, MN||
The state of Minnesota founded the public Metropolitan State University in 1971 in order to serve students who needed to balance their studies with their responsibilities as working adults. The university, based in Minneapolis and St. Paul, still serves nontraditional students. Because of this philosophy, the school does not reject any applicants. Nearly everyone who studies at the university enters as a transfer student. Plus, about two-thirds of the student body studies part-time.
About 11,500 students attend Metro State, as Minnesotans commonly call the school. The school offers unique features to help adults earn their degrees, including counting work or life experiences as academic credit. Students can also complete many programs through a hybrid on-campus/distance learning structure or entirely online. Students can choose from a multitude of bachelor's degrees such as child psychology or creative writing. They may also pursue several master's degrees and two doctorate degrees in business administration and nursing practice.
Established in 1974 by a Buddhist monk who had been exiled from Tibet, Naropa University has a unique history. The Boulder, Colorado-based institution boasts values such as self-transformation, mindfulness, and contemplative practice. With an Office for Inclusive Community and a philosophy of promoting equity and social justice, Naropa accepts everyone who applies.
The academic programs at Naropa center on humanities and the arts. Students can earn bachelor's degrees in contemplative art therapy, religious studies, and yoga studies among others. Graduate students may also attend the university and pursue master's degrees in areas like creative writing, divinity, and ecopsychology. Naropa offers a yoga teacher certification and a teaching licensure as well.
The university also operates the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poets, which hosts summer writing residency programs. The Jack Kerouac School attracts poets with their lecture series and hires a Ginsberg Visiting Fellow to instruct students. Writers may receive thousands of dollars in fellowship grants from the school as well.
New Mexico Highlands University
|Las Vegas, NM||
Located at the Las Vegas in New Mexico and with satellite campus locations all over the state, New Mexico Highlands University accepts all who apply and enrolls about 3,500 students each year. The university strives to help everyone earn a college degree, regardless of their history or life circumstances. Therefore, students can apply for several scholarships and other financial aid opportunities. In addition, through the Western Exchange Program, students from other states in the western region of the U.S. may attend school with in-state tuition.
The school offers multiple bachelor's degree programs in humanities, science, and business. Students may also pursue an MBA, nursing RN-to-BSN, and master's degrees in education through online programs. New Mexico Highlands also runs four certificate programs in geographic information sciences, fine arts, and social work.
Both nontraditional and traditional students attend New Mexico Highlands. About two-thirds of freshmen students live on campus and participate in school activities like sports and clubs.
Pensacola State College
With 26,000 students enrolled at multiple campuses, Pensacola State University provides undergraduate and graduate degrees, continuing education courses, and vocational certificates. The public university serves nontraditional students and working professionals, and it accepts 100% of the students who apply.
Many programs prepare students for vocational and technical careers. The college offers several pathways for students who want to go this route. Students may pursue associate degrees or advanced technical or vocational certificates. These career prep programs include fields like barbering, culinary arts, radiography, and health information technology. Professionals who want to advance their careers may opt to enroll in one of the bachelor's degree programs, which include business management, cybersecurity, and nursing programs.
High school students may enroll in programs at Pensacola State as well. They can earn college credit through dual enrollment or graduate quickly through the accelerated Collegiate High School program. Pensacola State also runs a GED program for students who did not finish high school.
Part of the Utah System of Higher Education, Snow College instructs over 5,000 students on its campus in Ephraim, a town in rural Utah. Leaders from the Church of Latter Day Saints originally founded the college in 1888, but the state of Utah took over in 1931. Snow offers associate degrees in addition to two bachelor's degrees: one in music, and one in software engineering. Students at Snow typically either receive training for technical careers or plan to transfer to another college or university upon graduation. The college consistently accepts all applicants.
Snow also partners with Utah State University for its business program. Students pursuing degrees in business administration or marketing start by earning their associate degree at Snow before making a seamless transfer to Utah State to complete their bachelor's degree. In addition, students may take a selection of Snow's courses online -- a helpful option for students who work and need flexibility.
University of Maryland-University College
The University of Maryland University College does not reject applicants -- and with 90,000 students worldwide, the university certainly has a high enrollment. Although a public, state-run university with regional accreditation, the school also operates globally through its expansive online degree system.
Most students enrolled at University College -- both in Maryland and online -- do not classify as traditional college students. The median age of students land at 30, and more than 80% of these students also work. In Maryland, 46% of students identify as minorities. The school also offers special programs for veterans, military service members, and their families. For instance, University College allows military-affiliated students to accelerate their degrees by granting credits for military experience.
The academic programs at University College cover just about every topic: marketing, East Asian studies, investigative forensics, finance, and nursing to name a few. The school offers bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and doctoral degrees as well.
University of Pikeville
The Presbyterian-affiliated University of Pikeville operates as a private liberal arts university in Pikeville, Kentucky. With just over 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students, the university maintains a 100% acceptance rate. Nearly all freshmen receive financial aid.
In addition to the College of Arts & Science, students may enroll at Pikeville's business and education schools. Pikeville also runs several programs within the fields of health science. The Elliott School of Nursing, Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine, and the Kentucky College of Optometry all train students to go into medicine or nursing. The school offers four graduate programs: an MBA, a teacher leader master of arts in education, a doctor of osteopathic medicine, and a doctor of optometry.
Pikeville also offers three online degrees for working professionals who want to advance their careers. These professionals can enroll in the online MBA, the teacher leader master's program, or the RN-to-BSN program.
The University of Texas at El Paso
|El Paso, TX||
Over 25,000 students attend the University of Texas at El Paso, a public research university. The university typically does not reject potential students, and about 80% of the student body consists of Mexican-Americans. The location of El Paso makes the university equally accessible to students from Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico. Founded in 1914, El Paso operates as the second-oldest school in the University of Texas system.
El Paso offers several degrees, including 74 undergraduate programs, 76 master's degrees, and 22 doctoral degrees. Students may enroll in the colleges of business, education, engineering, health science, liberal arts, and science. El Paso also runs a school of nursing and a school of pharmacy. The Extended University provides opportunities for students to complete their degrees online. Students may also enroll in professional certificate programs, as well as non-degree or certificate-granting community enrichment courses. Adults can enroll in these courses to learn about crafts, hobbies, and fitness.
VanderCook College of Music
Located in Chicago, the VanderCook College of Music offers three programs: a bachelor of music education, a bachelor of music, and a master of music education. With a 100% acceptance rate, VanderCook enrolls about 330 students in total. The school operates as a private, nonprofit institution, and it shares a campus with the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Like any other education student, the music education students at VanderCook must earn their teacher licensure. Students must complete a semester of student teaching and take Illinois' teacher licensure examinations. VanderCook allows graduate students to choose between two different master's program structures. In the traditional program, students typically complete the degree within two years. The summer program allows students to finish their degrees through three intensive summer sessions. Non-degree students and professionals may also enroll in continuing education courses.
VanderCook offers several internal scholarships and grants for its students, ranging from $200 to $2,500 renewable annually.
Weber State University
The Church of Latter Day Saints founded Weber Stake Academy in 1889, but the state of Utah took over in 1933. The school only became Weber State University about six decades later, but it now operates as one of Utah's major higher education institutions. With student enrollment at about 28,000, the university typically accepts everyone who applies. Weber offers over 200 certificates and degrees, including 14 graduate degrees at seven colleges. Although the university's main campus is in Ogden, the school includes several additional campuses and centers.
Weber offers undergraduate students opportunities to conduct their own research as well. The Weber Research Scholars Program grants students a $500 renewable scholarship to fund their research each year. In addition, students can apply for long-term and short-term grants, as well as travel grants, to help them manage research costs. Weber also provides more than $90 million to graduate and undergraduate students in general financial aid every year.
Blue Mountain College
|Blue Mountain, MS||
Located in northeastern Mississippi, Blue Mountain College accepts nearly all potential students and enrolls around 600 students each year. Founded in 1873, the private liberal arts school has held onto its affiliation with the Mississippi Baptist Convention for nearly a century. Although some students attend Blue Mountain in order to pursue degrees in Bible studies or Christian ministry, the college features several other academic programs as well. Students can find degrees in business, music, exercise science, biology, criminal justice, and the humanities. Blue Mountain also offers three master's in education degrees: elementary education, literacy, and secondary education in biology.
Blue Mountain provides several health science degrees in conjunction with larger colleges and universities as well. For instance, a student may earn his/her bachelor's degree in nursing by taking courses at both Blue Mountain and a nearby university.
Blue Mountain may operate on a smaller scale than a large state university, but it still runs a robust internship program so that students can gain real-world experience. The college coordinates internship spots for its students at nearby banks, hospitals, and other organizations.
Montana State University-Billings
Part of the Montana public university system, Montana State at Billings offers several academic options for students with different goals, from associate and pre-professional degrees to bachelor's and graduate degrees. MSUB also administers 240 online classes, which affords working students the flexibility to pursue hybrid degrees. The university accepts most candidates who apply, and it enrolls about 4,500 students each year.
MSUB operates multiple programs to help students succeed in school. For instance, the university partnered with local companies and organizations to provide students with over 200 internship opportunities. The Honors Program for undergraduate students organizes mentorships between students and professionals, as well as courses unique to the honors program. The MSUB Extended Campus runs community programs for non-college students, including courses like "Make Your Own Gin" and "Basic Entomology for Fly Fishers." The Extended Campus also provides professional development opportunities such as grant writing, training, and paralegal certificate courses.
New England College
The regionally-accredited New England College, which enrolls about 2,700 students each year, rarely rejects applicants. The university operates as a private, nonprofit institution, and all residential undergraduate students receive financial aid. About a third of its students pursue their degrees online. The school offers associate, bachelor's, and master's degree programs as well as a doctorate of education.
New England College administers three special programs for veterans and students currently in military service. Through the CDET Partner Program, Marine Corps members may transfer credits they earned in Marine training to apply to select NEC master's and bachelor's degrees, including an M.A. in international relations or a B.A. in homeland security and emergency preparedness. The MARSOC program allows Marine Corps special operations members to take online courses at reduced tuition prices. The JSOU Partner Program guarantees academic credit to students who have taken courses from the Joint Special Operations University.