Top 25 Best Test-Optional Colleges in the US | 2021 Rankings

Best test-optional colleges badgeAs the years go by (and more recently due to Covid-19), more and more colleges are deciding to make the ACT and SAT optional instead of mandatory. In fact, some of the most famous colleges in the US have dropped the admission test requirements.

So here are the top 25 best test-optional colleges!

Note: Colleges who have temporarily suspended ACT / SAT requirements in the wake of Covid-19 will not be included. The colleges on this list have permanently gone test-optional.

Top 25 Best Test-Optional Colleges

The University of Chicago has a long and rich history -- it houses the largest university press in America, it has the second-oldest student improvisational troupe, and developed radiocarbon dating, to name a few. Thus, it’s not surprising that over 32,000 students apply to the University of Chicago every year or that the school has a 99% first-year retention rate.
Location Chicago, IL
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 17,002
The Juilliard School is one of the most prestigious music, art, and dance schools, so it’s not surprising that over 2,800 students send in an application every year. However, Juilliard is extremely selective, only admitting 200 students -- many of whom had to attend auditions to even be considered. The small student body means that the average student-to-faculty ratio is 5:1 and 96% of freshmen come back to Juilliard for their sophomore year.
Location New York, NY
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 942
Students at Bowdoin have few core curriculum requirements and can even participate in joint engineering programs with three other universities. Some of the more popular majors students choose at Bowdoin include Political Science and Government, Econometrics and Quantitative Economics, and Biology.
Location Brunswick, ME
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,828
The college operates on a 4-1-4 semester schedule, with a one month winter semester for students to take a course, conduct research, or participate in an internship. Studying abroad is also popular with students. Some popular majors at Colby College include Economics, Political Science and Government, and Biology.
Location Waterville, ME
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,000
New York University’s motto -- “Perstare et praestare” -- translates to “To persevere and to excel.” The alumni from NYU certainly have gone on to excel, and include notable names like Martin Scorsese, Alan Menken, Spike Lee, and Lady Gaga among many, many others. NYU has a cozy 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio.
Location New York City, NY
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 51,847
Dandelion yellow and Rochester blue are the official school colors of UR. The students there are known as the Yellowjackets and their mascot’s name is Rocky. Located on the banks of the Genesee River, UR’s student body consists of 55% undergraduates and 45% graduate students. The acceptance rate is 30%.
Location Rochester, NY
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 11,817
Since the bachelor’s degree is the highest level of education offered, you’ll only find undergraduate students on campus. On average, first-year students score between 27 -- 32 on the ACT and 1280 -- 1450 on the SAT. The College of the Holy Cross has an acceptance rate of 34%. The student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1.
Location Worcester, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,939
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Joss Whedon, and Michael Bay are just a few of the notable alumni of Wesleyan University. Located near the Connecticut River, Wesleyan has an acceptance rate of 16%. Of the 13,260 some applications sent in every year, WU will accept about 2,160 of them. The school has a 96% first-year retention rate and a 4-year graduation rate of 88%.
Location Middletown, CT
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 3,217
Of all the students studying on campus, a whopping 98% of them are undergraduates. The university has an acceptance rate of 34% and an 86% four-year graduation rate. Popular majors at Bucknell include Accounting, Economics, Psychology, Biology, and Political Science. Their colors are Bucknell orange and blue.
Location Lewisburg, PA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 3,668
Located a stone’s throw away from the nation’s capital, George Washington University’s students are nicknamed the Colonials. Given its proximity to major political landmarks, it should come as no surprise that GWU is the alma mater of many notable political figures. Elizabeth Warren, Allen Dulles, J. Edgar Hoover, and Mark Felt are just a few such alumni.
Location Washington, DC
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 28,172
Bates College is considered both a Little Ivy and a Hidden Ivy, so it’s not surprising that over 7,600 students apply to the college annually. Some of the most popular majors at Bates include Political Science and Government, Economics, and Psychology. Class sizes are typically around 10 students to 1 faculty member, and Bates College boasts a 94% first-year retention rate.
Location Lewiston, ME
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,832
As the largest member of the Seven Sisters, Smith College only accepts women for undergraduate studies, though men can apply to their graduate school. One of the most popular majors offered at Smith College is engineering, which isn’t surprising -- Smith was the first all-women’s college to offer engineering as a major.
Location Rochester, NY
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,903
Located not far from the Connecticut River, is a liberal arts college for women. It is part of the Seven Sisters, all-women’s schools created to rival the Ivy Leagues. Holyoke is the oldest of the Sisters, founded in 1837. Computer Science, Biology, Econometrics, English, and Experimental Psychology are the top 5 most popular majors.
Location Hadley, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,335
The second oldest college in Connecticut, Trinity became coeducational back in 1969. On average, incoming students score between 28 -- 32 on the ACT and 1330 -- 1460 on the SAT. Trinity’s acceptance rate is 33% and a 4-year graduation rate of 79%. Often called a Little Ivy or one of the Hidden Ivies, Trinity’s most popular major is Political Science.
Location Hartford, CT
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,235
Wake Forest University has a lot to offer to its students, from its multitude of majors to hundreds of student organizations. The university is extremely selective, accepting only 29% of its 13,000 annual applicants. Students should expect an average class size of 10 students to every 1 faculty member, and Wake Forest University has an impressive 96% first-year retention rate.
Location Winston-Salem, NC
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 8,401
Connecticut College was originally an all-women’s school after Wesleyan University stopped admitting women, though Connecticut College did eventually switch to co-ed. Over 1,800 students attend the school, and 86% of them receive a form of institutional and grant aid. Incoming students typically score between 28 to 32 on the ACT and 1,340 to 1,450 on the SAT.
Location New London, CT
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,844
Of the nearly 6,090 applications sent in every year, Union College will accept around 2,620 of them, giving the school an acceptance rate of 43%. Students will be happy to know that Union doesn’t require an application fee. 95% of first-year students return to continue their education at Union. 78% of students will complete their degree within the standard 4 years.
Location Schenectady, NY
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,197
Student-athletes of Skidmore College compete as the Thoroughbreds (commonly nicknamed the T-breds) and wear green and yellow to show off their school pride. On average, the first-year students scored between 26 and 31 on the ACT, and 1250 and 1430 on the SAT. Skidmore has an acceptance rate of 30%.
Location Saratoga Springs, NY
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,613
Whitman College was founded in 1859 and was the first college in the Pacific Northwest to have a Phi Beta Kappa Chapter, as well as the first school in America to require comprehensive exams if students wanted to graduate. Today, almost 1,500 students attend Whitman College, many of whom major in fields such as Biology, Psychology, and Economics.
Location Walla Walla, WA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,475
Since the official school colors of Providence College are black and white, it makes sense that one of the mascots is a Dalmatian. Located in Rhode Island’s state capital, the faculty of Providence College includes Dominican Friars and Sisters. 66% of students on campus receive financial aid from the school to help pay for their education.
Location Providence, RI
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 4,674
Colorado College, a private liberal arts school, runs on a block schedule, where students take classes for three-and-a-half weeks and have four-and-a-half days off. Around 9,460 students apply to the college every year, but Colorado College is extremely selective, only accepting 14% of all applicants.
Location Colorado Springs, CO
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,144
While most colleges have Latin mottos, Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s is German. “Lehr und Kunst" means "Learning and Skilled Art.” Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and Mechatronics are the most popular majors. WPI has an impressive 96% first-year retention rate and a 4-year graduation rate of 82%.
Location Worcester, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 6,874
Unlike many schools, Stevens Institute of Technology has an even split of undergraduate and graduate students. Located on the Hudson River, Stevens’ colors are red and gray. Mechanical Engineering, Business, and Computer Science are the top three most popular majors on campus. Their mascot is Attila the Duck.
Location Hoboken, NJ
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 6,929
Furman University was established in 1826, making it the oldest private university in South Carolina. Around 700 students enroll in the university every year and 94% of them receive some form of grant or institutional aid. The average student-to-faculty ratio at Furman is 10 to 1 and over a quarter of the freshman class is from South Carolina.
Location Greenville, SC
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,947
Sports teams at Fairfield University are known as the Stags. The creature is also prominently displayed on the university’s seal and in a statue on campus. A few popular sports on campus include lacrosse, rowing, swimming and diving, field hockey, and golf. Fairfield has an acceptance rate of 57%.
Location Fairfield, CT
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 5,273

Interested in any of these schools? Check out College Raptor’s free match tool to see if they’re a good fit for you!

Methodology

Colleges are ranked based on a combination of factors, including graduation rates, campus diversity, endowment per student, and other data as reported via the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for the most recently-available enrollment year. Some colleges may have been excluded from rankings based on certain criteria, including specialization and classification. Learn about our full methodology.

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