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10 Colleges That Received the Most Applications

Josh Moody

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: Colleges, The Short List: Grad School and The Short List: Online Programs to find data that matter to you in your college or grad school search.

With a limited number of open seats, college admissions can be competitive. That's especially true at institutions that receive an abundance of applications, making for tough decisions by admissions teams on which students to accept.

At the University of California--Los Angeles, for example, 113,761 prospective students applied for the fall 2018 term. UCLA accepted 14% of those applicants, U.S. News data shows. While UCLA is the only ranked school to break the 100,000 applicant mark, per U.S. News data, a few others nearly hit that number as well.

[Read: A Complete Guide to the College Application Process.]

The 10 colleges with the most interest saw an average of 84,068 applications. That figure far outpaces the average of 8,632 among the 1,240 ranked schools that reported the number of applications received to U.S. News in an annual survey. But the number of applicants is far lower at some schools, such as Marlboro College in Vermont, which received the fewest applications at 102.

Nine of the 10 schools on this list are National Universities, institutions that often are research-oriented and offer bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. The lone exception is California State University--Long Beach, which is in the Regional Universities (West) category. Regional Universities tend to offer undergraduate and master's programs, but few doctoral options.

Except for San Diego State University, all of the colleges listed are ranked in the top 40 or above in their respective categories.

[See: Explore the 2020 Best National Universities.]

Schools in the University of California system are well represented here, comprising the top six entries. Outside the UC system, two other California schools also made the list, meaning eight of the 10 colleges with the most applications are based in California. The only two non-California schools are New York University and the University of Michigan--Ann Arbor.

Below is a list of the 10 colleges that received the most applications for fall 2018 admission. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report.

University of California--Los Angeles 113,761 20, National Universities
University of California--San Diego 97,901 37 (tie), National Universities
University of California--Irvine 95,065 36, National Universities
University of California--Santa Barbara 92,314 34 (tie), National Universities
University of California--Berkeley 89,621 22 (tie), National Universities
University of California--Davis 76,647 39, National Universities
New York University 71,834 29 (tie), National Universities
California State University--Long Beach 69,578 20 (tie), Regional Universities (West)
San Diego State University 69,043 147 (tie), National Universities
University of Michigan--Ann Arbor 64,917 25 (tie), National Universities

Don't see your school in the top 10? Access the U.S. News College Compass to find application data, complete rankings and much more. Sign up for the U.S. News Extra Help: College Admissions free email newsletter to receive expert advice twice a month.

U.S. News surveyed more than 1,900 colleges and universities for our 2019 survey of undergraduate programs. Schools self-reported myriad data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News' data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While U.S. News uses much of this survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Colleges rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. While the data comes from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News' rankings of Best Colleges, Best Graduate Schools or Best Online Programs. The application data above is correct as of Oct. 8, 2019.

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