30 Best Deals on Colleges that Don’t Require SAT

There are many reasons a college may not require students to submit SAT scores. Sometimes it’s to improve accessibility, other times standardized tests don’t fit well with the college’s philosophy of evaluation. The variance in motivation for colleges that don’t require SAT scores makes this ranking eclectic to say the least. Here you will find a mixture that includes top research universities, top liberal arts colleges, and top public universities. Many of these have quite exacting admissions standards even though SATs are optional. The ranking also includes accessible public and private universities that accept a high percentage of applicants and are quote affordable. In order to rank these colleges and universities against each other, we had to find factors we could use to evaluate them that were shared by all of the candidate schools.

We settled on three factors. Tuition, graduation rate, and student to faculty ratio. Tuition because our site is all about great college deals”, graduation rate because it’s a good indicator of how well a college does at helping all of their students achieve academic success, and student to faculty ratio because individual attention is an important part of higher education. The ranking does not reflect the sheer quality of these colleges and universities. For that there are plenty of rankings out there. This ranking will have great options for you no matter where you fall on the academic spectrum. Are you an academic high achiever whose SAT scores don’t reflect your academic capabilities? We’ve got incredible options for you in this ranking. If your grades aren’t ideal and you need a school that can help you achieve your full potential, we’ve got great options for you.


Author’s Note: Due to the Covid-19 crisis almost every college and university in the United States has made submitting test scores optional for the 2020-2021 academic year. This article spotlights programs that did not require test score submissions before the Covid-19 pandemic.

#1. State University of New York at Potsdam

Score: 100
Website

SUNY Potsdam has great stats, which is especially fantastic when one considers they admit almost 70% of applicants to the university. It’s a great target if you have a good academic record and don’t feel your SAT scores adequately reflect it. Potsdam is accessible, has a great graduation rate, great student to faculty ratio, and isn’t too expensive. The three schools housing programs at Potsdam are the Crane school of music, school or arts and sciences, and school of education and professional studies. The school offers bachelor’s and master’s level degrees, and graduate certificates.

  • Tuition: $18,621
  • Graduation Rate: 89%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 12 to 1

#2. University of South Dakota

Score: 99.26
Website

The University of South Dakota is nationally ranked by U.S. News and World Report among the top 300 schools in the United States overall. The tuition is incredibly affordable, and with an acceptance rate of 86% and no SAT requirement, it’s an incredibly accessible option. University of South Dakota is the flagship public university for the state and has over 10,000 students and well over 100 degree programs at the bachelor’s through doctorate level. It’s tuition for out-of-state students is cheaper than the in-state costs at most other flagship state universities in the country.

  • Tuition: $12,807
  • Graduation Rate: 86%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 16 to 1

#3. California State University Fullerton

Score: 92.88
Website

Cal State Fullerton admits 53% of applicants, making it a pretty accessible university. It’s a great choice for students looking for colleges that don’t require SAT scores. Tuition is reasonable, graduation rate is solid. Colleges and departments that offer degrees within the university include arts, business and economics, communications, education, engineering and computer science, health and human development, humanities and the social sciences, and natural sciences and mathematics.

  • Tuition: $18,804
  • Graduation Rate: 71%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 25 to 1

#4. University of Evansville

Score: 85.43
Website

While tuition at Evansville is on the high side when compared to the public universities in this ranking, it’s on the lower side for private liberal arts colleges and universities. 100% of traditional full-time incoming freshmen receive scholarships at Evansville, which helps defray the cost. A 71% acceptance rate means the school is quite accessible. The graduation rate is quite high for a school that accepts so many students, meaning there must be fantastic infrastructure in place to help struggling students achieve their goals. The very low student to faculty ratio means increased individual attention from professors which is a fantastic feature in a college.

  • Tuition: $37,466
  • Graduation Rate: 91%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 11 to 1

#5. James Madison University

Score: 83.72
Website

James Madison University is a 112 year old public research university in Harrisonburg Virginia. The student to faculty ratio is quite good, especially for a school with over 20,000 students. Tuition is on the high side for public universities on this ranking but reduces dramatically if you are a Virginia resident. JMU accepts 77% of applicants and does not require students to submit SAT scores if they don’t feel their scores reflect their academic ability.

  • Tuition: $29,106
  • Graduation Rate: 84%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 16 to 1

#6. Manhattanville College

Score: 83.55
Website

Manhattanville College is a liberal arts college in Purchase, New York. The school is on the affordable side for liberal arts colleges and maintains a great student to faculty ratio and graduation rate. Student population is just under 2,500 students. A remarkable 90% of applicants to this college are admitted. Making its graduation rate in particular really stand out. It’s rare for a school that admits such a high percentage of applicants to maintain such a strong graduation rate.

  • Tuition: $39,570
  • Graduation Rate: 91%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 11 to 1

#7. Hartwick College

Score: 82.41
Website

Hartwick College is a small liberal arts college in Oneonta, New York. The rural campus is 425 acres, and the college also has a 125 acre environmental campus so if you love having the opportunity to study in nature, Hartwick is a great choice. The school is quite accessible, admitting 80% of applicants, and boasts an incredible 99% graduation/transfer rate. The 35 undergraduate courses of study include actuarial mathematics, anthropology, music, nursing, philosophy, physics, race and ethnic studies, religious studies, sociology, and women’s and gender studies.

  • Tuition: $46,926
  • Graduation Rate: 99%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 10 to 1

#8. Northern Vermont University

Score: 82.06
Website

Northern Vermont University accepts 78% of applicants, has just over 2,500 students, and a great student to faculty ratio. Northern Vermont University is one of the few universities in our ranking with extensive online options. Students who are interested in an online school that doesn’t require SAT scores to be submitted should take a hard look at Northern Vermont University. Online programs include criminal justice, digital communications, early childhood education (90% online), general studies, psychology, and graphic design.

  • Tuition: $26,126
  • Graduation Rate: 74%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 15 to 1

#9. Marist College

Score: 78.82
Website

Marist College is a private liberal arts university and accepts 49% of applicants, meaning it’s reasonably accessible. Student population is just over 5,600 undergraduate students. There are a great number of undergraduate programs available, some examples of which are programs in accounting, American studies, animation, mathematics, art history, athletic training, biochemistry, computer science, cybersecurity, data science and analytics, and digital arts.

  • Tuition: $42,500
  • Graduation Rate: 97%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 16 to 1

#10. Dalton State College

Score: 78.67
Website

Dalton State College won its rank in our ranking primarily by virtue of its incredibly affordable tuition. Dalton State has an open admissions policy, which means anyone who applies is accepted. Making it the most accessible school on our ranking. Anyone with a high school diploma or GED can attend. In addition to traditional programs, Dalton is linked up with Georgia’s EMajor program. Through Georgia’s EMajor program you can take an online degree in business administration, criminal justice, cybersecurity, financial technology, organizational leadership, nursing, or information technology. The cost is incredibly cheap, just $199/credit, or around $5,800 for 30 credits. Dalton is accessible, flexible, and if you go online, you can get your degree from anywhere in the country for very low cost.

  • Tuition: $10,589
  • Graduation Rate: 58%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 23 to 1

#11. Furman University

Score: 78.39
Website

The average class size at Furman University is 14 students. Furman is a liberal arts university that admits 57% of applicants.. Furman strives to turn choosing a major into an experience by providing students with guidance during their first year, helping them choose courses based on their interests, so they can explore the potential majors in which they are interested. There are 60 undergraduate majors at Furman, including programs in anthropology, art history, biology, asian studies, chemistry, church music, music composition, computer science, and physics.

  • Tuition: $50,844
  • Graduation Rate: 98%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 10 to 1

#12. George Mason University

Score: 78.12
Website

George Mason University is a public research university located in Fairfax, Virginia, and is ranked by U.S. News among the top 200 national universities in the United States. George Mason has over 140 undergraduate degree programs and concentration. Students interested in pursuing their degree online will be happy to hear GMU offers 50 hybrid and fully online degrees. This includes degrees in the areas of business and management, education, engineering and technology, health, and science and math. George Mason accepts 87% of applicants, making it a high quality and accessible option.

  • Tuition: $36,024
  • Graduation Rate: 87%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 17 to 1

#13. University of Arizona

Score: 78.04
Website

The University of Arizona offers a staggering 290 majors counting concentrations. 85% of applicants are admitted, and even though the student population is over 44,000, the school manages to maintain a 15 to 1 student to faculty ratio. University of Arizona is a public research university and offers a wide variety of high-quality STEM degrees, making this a great choice if you’re considering a STEM degree. University of Arizona is ranked #117 among national universities by U.S. News and World Report.

  • Tuition: $36,718
  • Graduation Rate: 84%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 15 to 1

#14. Wesleyan University

Score: 77.47
Website

Wesleyan University was originally founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church but is now a secular university. While applicants are not required to submit SAT scores, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get in. Only 16% of applicants are accepted. Wesleyan is a liberal arts university and is ranked #17 among national liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report. Wesleyan offers 45 majors, 29 minors, and 3 certificates.

  • Tuition: $57,334
  • Graduation Rate: 98%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 8 to 1

#15. Loyola University-Maryland

Score: 76.91
Website

Loyola University in Maryland is a Roman Catholic university in the Jesuit tradition. 80% admitted. At Loyola 80% of students graduate within 4 years. 98% either graduate or transfer out of the school. 99% of students find jobs quickly after graduation. Loyola also admits 80% of applicants which means the quality education the university provides is also quite accessible. The average class size at Loyola is 20, and students can choose between 35 majors and 45 minors. 80% of students also participate in a practicum, internship, or field experience at some point while earning their degree.

  • Tuition: $50,100
  • Graduation Rate: 98%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 12 to 1

#16. Smith College

Score: 76.47
Website

Smith College is a private liberal arts women’s college in Northampton, Massachusetts. As such Smith does not admit men into its undergraduate programs. Transgender men, non-binary, and genderqueer applicants are also not eligible for admission according to Smith’s updated 2015 admissions guidelines. 32% of applicants are admitted. All genders are admitted to graduate programs at Smith. Smith offers 45 undergraduate majors in areas like religion, women and gender studies, physics, music, mathematics and statistics, economics, computer science, classical languages and literatures, philosophy, and biochemistry. Smith is ranked #11 among national liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report.

  • Tuition: $54,224
  • Graduation Rate: 98%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 9 to 1

#17. Denison University

Score: 76.28
Website

Denison University accepts 29% of applicants and is ranked #43 among national liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report. This private liberal arts college was founded in 1831 and is located in Granville Ohio. Denison offers nearly 60 undergraduate programs and concentrations including degrees in international studies, art history and visual culture, astronomy, biochemistry, latin, music, cinema, philosophy, data analytics, economics, and women’s and gender studies.

  • Tuition: $53,830
  • Graduation Rate: 97%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 9 to 1

#18. Hofstra University

Score: 74.91
Website

Hofstra is the largest university on Long Island with over 10,000 students. 68% of applicants are accepted to the university. Hofstra is ranked #162 among national universities by U.S. News and World Report. Hofstra offers over 100 dual degree programs that allow students to combine bachelor’s with master’s degrees, cutting time off earning each individually. Programs offering dual degree options include accounting, international business, information systems and business analytics, journalism, labor studies, linguistics, management, marketing, mathematical economics, mathematics, economics and more.

  • Tuition: $47,510
  • Graduation Rate: 92%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 13 to 1

#19. University of Chicago

Score: 74.10
Website

The University of Chicago is one of the top universities in the United States; it’s ranked 6th among national universities by U.S. News and World Report. The University of Chicago is technically the most expensive school in this ranking. But it should be noted that if you are among the 6% of applicants admitted, the university will meet 100% of your family’s demonstrated financial need. This aid comes in the form of grants, not loans, dramatically cutting down on the student debt for graduates.

  • Tuition: $60,522
  • Graduation Rate: 96%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 5 to 1

#20. College of the Holy Cross

Score: 73.33
Website

Holy Cross is a Roman Catholic Jesuit liberal arts college. It’s one of the oldest catholic colleges in the United States, founded in 1843. Holy Cross accepts 34% of applicants. Out of the 37 undergraduate majors, many of them can be individually designed by the student, allowing for incredible flexibility. Student designed programs include architectural studies, Catholic studies, film studies, health studies, Latin American, Latinx, and Caribbean Studies, medieval and renaissance studies, and gender, sexuality and women’s studies.

  • Tuition: $54,740
  • Graduation Rate: 95%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 10 to 1

#21. Bowdoin College

Score: 72.98
Website

The guiding principle of education at Bowdoin College is “–that if you give smart, kind, young people access to the best education on earth, they will use it to create good in the world.” While this is a college that doesn’t require SAT scores, it still only admits 9% of applicants. The need-blind admission process means the school does not factor financial need into their admissions decisions at all. They want students who are a good fit for the school regardless of wealth. Bowdoin has 39 undergraduate majors, and many more minors and concentrations.

  • Tuition: $56,350
  • Graduation Rate: 97%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 9 to 1

#22. Bates College

Score: 72.68
Website

Bates College, located in Lewiston, Maine, has been in operation for more than 150 years. Bates has 35 majors in subjects like biology, chemistry, economics, geology, German, Chinese, neuroscience, music, philosophy, physics, and religious studies. While the college doesn’t require SAT scores, the acceptance rate is just 12% so it’s still quite competitive to get in.

  • Tuition: $56,683
  • Graduation Rate: 97%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 10 to 1

#23. Rollins College

Score: 72.17
Website

For students interested in studying science, Rollins College has the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges Scholars Program. This is a program that allows students who intend to major in science and engineering to do real work, on real problems facing the world today while they are earning their degree. Rollins offers more than 30 majors and even more minors. Students interested in STEM can choose between programs in biochemistry/molecular biology, biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, neuroscience, and physics.

  • Tuition: $51,700
  • Graduation Rate: 99%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 10 to 1

#24. Brandeis University

Score: 70.83
Website

Half of the undergraduates at Brandeis pursue a double major, and students can actually major in up to three subjects, and with 43 total majors, that’s a lot of options. Some interesting and synergistic combinations for ambitious students who want to triple major might include applied mathematics, economics, and international and global studies. Or philosophy, film, television and interactive media, and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, or history, islamic and middle eastern studies, and mathematics. Brandeis encourages and facilitates a fully interdisciplinary approach to learning.

  • Tuition: $57,561
  • Graduation Rate: 95%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 10 to 1

#25. Fisher College

Score: 70.53
Website

95% of Fisher graduates are employed or in an advanced degree program within a year of graduation. Fisher offers both online bachelor degrees and traditional degrees. Online undergraduate degrees include criminal justice, human resource management, information technology (with concentrations in cybersecurity, game development and software engineering) management, marketing, communication and media studies, liberal arts, and psychology. Fisher also offers associate degrees online in computer technology, and general studies.

  • Tuition: $37,922
  • Graduation Rate: 74%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 16 to 1

#26. Ithaca College

Score: 70.45
Website

Ithaca College is a private liberal arts university located in Ithaca, New York that admits 73% of applicants. Student population is just over 6,200 undergraduate students. Graduates from the business program have a 93% placement rate in jobs or grad school, and that’s based on 92% of alumni reporting their results. Bloomberg named them the #6 business school in the state of New York and the competition there is quite strong. In addition to the business school there are also schools of communications, health sciences and human performance, humanities and sciences, and music, all housing multiple undergraduate programs.

  • Tuition: $45,274
  • Graduation Rate: 74%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 10 to 1

#27. University of Puget Sound

Score: 69.96
Website

The University of Puget Sound is a private Christian university of the United Methodist Church, located in Tacoma, Washington. The school admits 85% of applicants and maintains a fantastic graduation rate and student to faculty ratio. The University of Puget Sound offers 44 undergraduate programs in areas like bioethics, chemistry, mathematics and computer science, economics, neuroscience, philosophy, classics and ancient mediterranean studies, exercise science, theatre arts, physics, and politics and government.

  • Tuition: $57,940
  • Graduation Rate: 96%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 11 to 1

#28. Wake Forest University

Score: 68.95
Website

Wake Forest University is a private research university with the motto “For Humanity.” 30% of applicants are admitted to the school, and the undergraduate student body numbers just over 5,200. While Wake Forest used to be a baptist university, it made the transition over time to a nonsectarian model. Wake Forest is ranked #27 among national universities by U.S. News and World Report. Wake Forest offers 45 undergraduate degree programs in areas like theatre, studio art, statistics, religious studies, psychology, neuroscience, physics, linguistics, Jewish studies, and international studies.

  • Tuition: $55,440
  • Graduation Rate: 88%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 10 to 1

#29. Bryn Mawr College

Score: 68.76
Website

Bryn Mawr College is a private women’s liberal arts college that accepts 33% of applicants. Men are not accepted to the undergraduate programs at the university but may apply for graduate programs. Bryn Mawr partners with Swarthmore College and Haverford College, enabling students to take classes at any of the three campuses and some programs even require students to take classes at multiple campuses to earn their degree. The partnership with Haverford is so close students can even major in programs offered by Haverford that aren’t offered at Bryn Mawr.

  • Tuition: $54,440
  • Graduation Rate: 84%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 9 to 1

#30. Sarah Lawrence College

Score: 68.71
Website

Sarah Lawrence College was originally a women’s college but became coeducational in 1968. While coeducational women still outnumber men at the college at a rate of about 4 to 1. Sarah Lawrence’s acceptance rate is 53% for both men and women applying to the college. Sarah Lawrence’s educational approach is highly personalized. Each student chooses their areas of interest and creates an interdisciplinary program for themselves in collaboration with their professors and advisors. 90% of the classes are small and discussion based seminars. And students meet 1 on 1 with their professor for personalized instruction every other week.

  • Tuition: $57,520
  • Graduation Rate: 89%
  • Student to Faculty Ratio: 9 to 1

Frequently Asked Questions

Why not include colleges that temporary suspended SAT submission requirements for Covid-19?

Almost every list of colleges that don’t require SATs has been updated to include the schools that temporarily lifted requirements. It’s pretty easy to find that information if you’re looking for it. But that can actually make it harder for students who are more concerned with next year than this year. It’s unclear how many of those colleges might make those measures permanent. We wanted to create a resource for students who are making decisions for the 2021-2022 school year.

Why don’t these colleges and universities require SATs and ACTs?

There are many reasons why these colleges don’t require SATs or ACTs. Some want to make the school more accessible to a broader range of students. Others don’t believe that ACTs or SATs are an accurate measure of academic ability. Still others recognize some of the inherent biases within the ACTs and SATs that make it difficult for students of some regions, or from some socioeconomic backgrounds to score highly on the tests. The tests can also be gamed if students have access to special tutoring services that may not be available to all students, giving them an advantage. Colleges and universities that are aware of these shortcomings often decide to give students the option of whether or not to submit their scores.

Are colleges that don’t require SATs or ACTs good?

As you might have gleaned from reading our ranking, universities not requiring students to submit SAT or ACT scores does not reflect on the quality of the college or university. Our ranking features many top liberal arts universities, top public universities, and top private research universities. There are also lesser known colleges and universities that are quite affordable and accessible. The variation of quality among universities that don’t require SATs to be submitted is much like the variation in quality among universities that do require SAT and ACT scores to be submitted.

What is the difference between a university, a research university, and a liberal arts university?

The difference is in the goals of the universities in question, and the methods they use to achieve those goals. Liberal arts universities tend to use an interdisciplinary approach to topics that is designed to provide students with an understanding, not just of the material required for their major, but how it relates to other disciplines and professions, and society overall. Research universities tend to focus their efforts on research in the various areas of study they offer. They are a great opportunity for students to get involved in important research from the very beginning of their college career. Universities that don’t fall into either of those categories typically are focused on professional training, preparing students to enter the workforce or to pursue an advanced degree in their area of interest.

How do I know which style of college or university that doesn’t require SATs is right for me?

Only you can determine which college or university is right for you. Maybe several in this ranking caught your attention. If that’s the case, the next step is to explore what they offer. Maybe they’re one of the colleges that will be resuming classes soon, and you would prefer a traditional experience to online learning. Check those out. Maybe you like the particular philosophy or approach of the college. Talk to an admissions counselor and ask them questions to find out if the school is right for you. Read about the college’s history and values. Check out the accomplishments of their graduates. See how the college is ranked regarding the specific programs you are interested in. Picking a college is an important choice. Take the time you need to determine which one will give you the experience and education you want.

Other articles of interest:

By Adam Birch
June 2020