Colleges With the Highest Acceptance Rates

Our higher education experts at BestColleges have ranked the colleges and universities with the highest acceptance rates that take a more inclusive approach to accepting prospective students. Read on to learn more.
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Updated on August 18, 2023
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This page features colleges with the highest acceptance rates in the United States. However, although these schools may accept most or all of the students who apply, they still offer rigorous academic opportunities and programs.

Many of the schools on this list feature open-admission policies to help maintain equity and inclusivity in their student population. They recognize that students learn in many different ways, and that many learners simply need the opportunity to show they can succeed in a higher education setting.

The following list ranks colleges and universities based on their yearly acceptance rates and the quality of the programs, services, and activities they offer. This ranking only considers nonprofit schools.

Top Colleges With the Highest Acceptance Rates

Colleges and Universities With the Highest Acceptance Rates

  1. Bismarck State College

    Bismarck, ND

    Located in North Dakota's capital city, Bismarck State College tops the list of colleges with the highest acceptance rates. The third-largest institution in the state's public university system, BSC serves approximately 4,000 students each year. The school accepts 100% of applicants.

    The college features a 14-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio and offers a variety of diplomas, certificates, and associate degrees. Students can also pursue bachelor's degrees in energy management and cybersecurity and information technology. Additionally, BSC students can easily transfer into four-year schools across the state and region.

    BSC also operates a Cybersecurity Center, which allows professionals to engage in continuing education and other training opportunities. The center is approved by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency.

    The BSC Foundation awards more than $500,000 in scholarships each year to incoming first-year and second-year students.

  2. College of Staten Island CUNY

    Staten Island, NY

    The College of Staten Island — part of the City University of New York System — accepts 100% of applicants. CSI offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs in business, education, and health sciences.

    The college delivers daytime, evening, and weekend classes to meet the needs of working professionals. CSI's Teacher Education Honors Academy helps the next generation of educators spur passion among young people in science and mathematics. CSI also participates in the Macaulay Honors College of CUNY, which challenges students through research projects, special seminars, and cocurricular opportunities.

    CSI's campus, completed in 1994, features a rural-like setting in the urban environment of Staten Island. In addition to degrees, the college offers continuing education courses.

  3. Cameron University

    Lawton, OK

    Located in Lawton, Oklahoma, Cameron University features a 100% acceptance rate and serves more than 5,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. A private nonprofit university dating back to 1908, CU now offers nearly 50 two-year, four-year, and graduate degrees.

    The university began as an agriculture high school just a year after Oklahoma became a state. CU started offering college-level classes in 1927 and added its first bachelor's degree in 1966. Although agriculture remains a primary focus, the university offers degrees across disciplines like accounting, business administration, communication, information technology, and music. CU also offers study abroad opportunities and an honors program.

  4. California State University-Bakersfield

    Bakersfield, CA

    Accepting all individuals who apply for enrollment, Cal State University, Bakersfield serves more than 11,000 students each year. Learners can choose from more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs in the arts and humanities; business and public administration; social sciences and education; and natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering.

    The university offers the only petroleum geology program in the western United States. The program's Geotechnology Center allows students to explore data and information from thousands of core, gas, oil, and water wells statewide.

    CSUB's Small Business Development Center provides growth, transition, and innovation opportunities to small businesses across the region, while enabling students to take part in internships and learn key skills.

    In addition to its 375-acre main campus in Bakersfield, CSUB features an Antelope Valley satellite campus that serves about 1,000 students.

  5. Dixie State University

    Saint George, UT

    Established in 1911 in southwestern Utah, Dixie State University features a 100% acceptance rate. The campus, which sits adjacent to the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, serves more than 11,000 students, about 60% of whom attend full time. Dixie maintains a 20-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

    Students can choose from 11 associate programs, 45 bachelor's programs, and four graduate tracks. Dixie offers programs in the arts, business and communication, education, health sciences, humanities and social sciences, and science and technology.

    The university emphasizes the importance of student involvement outside the classroom. Dixie's partnerships with local and regional businesses and organizations allows students to take part in internships, fellowships, and other practical experiences to supplement their academic experience.

  6. CUNY Medgar Evers College

    Brooklyn, NY

    Located in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn and operating as part of the City University of New York System, Medgar Evers College accepts 100% of applicants. MEC opened in 1969 after local residents and organizations lobbied the Board of Education for a higher education institution that would largely serve the Black community.

    Today, MEC offers dozens of undergraduate and graduate programs across business; education; liberal arts; professional and community development; and science, health, and technology. The college's Honors Program delivers an advanced curriculum that empowers students to build critical thinking skills through seminar courses and practical experiences.

    The college's namesake, Medgar Evers, was a civil rights activist who challenged the segregation of public schools in Mississippi.

  7. Granite State College

    Concord, NH

    Located in Concord, New Hampshire, Granite State College focuses on the needs of adult learners and working professionals. The school accepts 100% of applicants and serves over 2,000 active undergraduate and graduate students each year.

    Roughly 80-90% of GSC students take courses exclusively online. The college also provides blended, in-person, and hybrid courses. Most students transfer into GSC from other institutions, and about half attend full time. Because GSC serves a large number of working adults, the college offers numerous intensive classes that students can complete at an accelerated pace.

    The college also features a robust employer partnership program, preparing graduates to qualify for in-demand jobs in high-need fields statewide, regionally, and nationally.

  8. Metropolitan State University

    Saint Paul, MN

    Metropolitan State University, part of the Minnesota State University System, accepts 100% of applicants. The university's urban campus sits blocks away from the Minnesota state capitol building and downtown St. Paul.

    Metropolitan State's programs meet the needs of working professionals through a variety of online, evening, and weekend classes. Most learners enter as transfer students from other institutions, and more than 60% of students attend classes part time.

    More than 11,000 students attend Metropolitan State. The university offers more than 50 undergraduate programs and 18 graduate degrees, including doctorates in business administration and nursing practice. Many programs award credit based on relevant life or work experience.

  9. Lake-Sumter State College

    Leesburg, FL

    Founded in 1962, Lake-Sumter State College operates three campuses in the Orlando area in Leesburg, Clermont, and Sumterville. The college serves more than 6,000 students each year, offering eight associate degrees and two bachelor's degrees, including a BS in nursing.

    LSSC's programs focus on preparing students for in-demand careers. The college offers technical certificates in subjects like business management, engineering technology support, digital forensics, and information technology analysis. Students can also participate in an honors program that features an accelerated curriculum and opportunities for advanced learning through practical experiences, research, and cocurricular activities.

    Additionally, the nonprofit LSSC Foundation raises money throughout the year to provide scholarships to students.

  10. Donnelly College

    Kansas City, KS

    A nonprofit Catholic institution, Donnelly College accepts almost all applicants. The federal government recognizes the college as a Hispanic-serving and minority-serving institution. DC primarily serves working class students and immigrants.

    The college oversees certificate programs in nursing, four associate programs, and bachelor's programs in business leadership and information systems. Many graduates transfer into four-year degree tracks at schools nearby DC's campus in Kansas City, Kansas.

    DC offers high school students opportunities to earn college credit. The college also operates the Success First program, which helps Spanish-speaking students improve their reading, writing, and language skills.

What Does "Acceptance Rate" Mean for Colleges?

A college's acceptance rate indicates the percentage of applicants who are approved to begin taking classes at the school each year. Schools calculate their acceptance rates by dividing the number of accepted students by the total number of applications submitted.

Colleges with the highest acceptance rates allow most (or all) applicants to take classes and work toward a degree.

Certain prestigious institutions — such as Harvard University, Princeton University, and Stanford University — maintain very low acceptance rates in the single digits. However, this is fairly rare. According to the Pew Research Center, the typical U.S. college or university admits more than half of its applicants each year.

Do Acceptance Rates Matter?

Although a college's acceptance rate may indicate a sense of exclusivity, there does not appear to be a significant correlation between acceptance rates and the quality of the educational experience students receive once enrolled. In fact, many universities and colleges with high acceptance rates offer some of the most rigorous academic programs and research opportunities in the country.

Generally, schools with low acceptance rates only accept the students they consider to be the "top" applicants. Alternatively, schools with open-admission policies often attract students with more diverse life experiences.

Is It Bad If a College Has a High Acceptance Rate?

Prospective students should not place too much weight on acceptance rates. This number only takes into account the raw number of people who apply to an institution compared to the number of applicants the institution admits.

Schools that serve large populations of working professionals and those that aim to welcome students who have a wide array of life experiences often maintain high acceptance rates. At the same time, these schools likely offer students similar levels of quality and opportunity as more exclusive institutions.

Colleges with the highest acceptance rates may provide a more diverse, challenging, and interesting academic environment than other schools.

How Can I Increase My Admission Chances?

You can bolster your application in numerous ways to increase your chances of being admitted. A good GPA and above-average standardized test scores may indicate an ability to succeed in college. Admissions departments also consider an applicant's volunteer, community service, and professional experience.

As part of your application, you may need to write a personal essay or statement. This essay offers you the chance to explain exactly why you believe you will do well in college. The quality of this personal essay may be a key factor in earning admission to college.

Find Additional Resources

The Student Guide to College Planning

Your Guide to College Applications

Tips to Increase Your Admission Chances

Explore Related Rankings is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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