Applying to Colgate
Colgate students are selected from applicants throughout the United States and around the world for the talent and intellect they can contribute to this university community. Academic achievement, reflecting a student’s passion for, and engagement with, the learning process is important to the admission decision. Well-developed special interests, talents, and skills of all kinds can be a significant part of an admission application. In addition, Colgate is committed to attracting people who represent a wide range of intellectual perspectives as well as diverse economic, racial, religious, and geographic backgrounds. In the interest of bringing the best possible applicants to the university, Colgate sets no limits on the number of students admitted from a given secondary school. Colgate does not accept transfer, visiting, or special student applications for the undergraduate degree program from individuals who already possess a bachelor’s degree.
All admission credentials, from the traditional secondary school record to letters of reference that cite intellectual and creative promise, are important. Personal character and qualities that both reflect and determine the productive use of a student’s talent are also important to the admission decision.
The Academic Record
While other considerations are important, the academic record stands at the heart of any admission decision. An academic record is evaluated strictly in terms of course selection and achievement — that is, what a student did with what was available in the school attended.
Academic preparation is usually measured in Carnegie units, with one unit representing a full year’s work in a major academic subject. Applicants with fewer than sixteen units are seldom admitted. The number and difficulty of courses chosen each year is an important measure of academic motivation and achievement. While each student’s record is evaluated individually, the strongest applicants will have completed five major academic courses per year whenever possible. The senior year program is most important as it is the final preparation for college-level work. It should include at least four to five courses, including honors or advanced-level courses such as AP and IB courses. Colgate encourages students to pursue cumulative subjects, such as foreign languages and mathematics, through senior year.
The typical distribution of courses across disciplines for most accepted students is four years of English (especially composition and literature); four years of mathematics; four years of natural and physical sciences, with a lab; four years of social sciences; and at least three years of a foreign language. Colgate encourages elective coursework in the arts and strongly advises students to pursue honors and advanced-level courses in major areas of interest.
All applicants should follow these recommendations to the best of their ability. Scheduling problems or other circumstances that limit course selection should be conveyed in the additional information section of the application. Colgate evaluates applications based on the material available, but further information may be requested. Students are required to submit official documentation of high school degree completion or an acceptable equivalency certificate prior to enrolling at Colgate.
Faculty and counselor recommendations are vital to the admission evaluation. Faculty recommendations must be written by teachers from core academic subjects in an applicant’s 10th, 11th, or 12th grade year. Additional recommendations may also be useful if they are written by those who know an applicant well and have been in a position to evaluate the student’s performance. Good judgment should be used in asking for additional recommendations; too many testimonials can make an application more difficult to interpret and process.
Due to the disruption of teaching and standardized testing worldwide caused by COVID-19, Colgate has adopted a test-optional policy for all applicants through 2026. Transfer admission also remains test-optional.
When students choose to submit standardized test scores, this information provides additional data to demonstrate their overall achievement. When students choose not to submit standardized test scores, the Office of Admission evaluates achievement through all other elements of the application. Students will be at no disadvantage if they choose not to submit test scores.
Colgate will accept self-reported SAT or ACT scores for the purposes of application assessment. These scores must be verified by an official report prior to enrollment.
A domestic candidate requesting institutional need-based financial aid should complete the CSS PROFILE and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). International students and those who do not qualify for federal financial aid must submit only the CSS PROFILE. These forms are due by November 15 for Early Decision I candidates and by January 15 for Early Decision II and regular decision candidates. Transfer applicants should submit the CSS PROFILE and the FAFSA by the admission deadline of the term for which they are applying. Additional information may be obtained by contacting the Office of Financial Aid and at colgate.edu/financialaid.
A candidate must complete and submit an application electronically. Applicants must submit the following required documents: the first-year application, the Mid-Year School report, and an Early Decision Agreement form for students applying under the Early Decision program. An optional Colgate writing supplement is available for students to expand upon their application materials electronically, in their applicant portal. The first-year application includes a School Report and Teacher Evaluation forms for the guidance counselor and two high school teachers to complete and submit. Applications for first-year admission must be submitted by January 15. Applications should be submitted online and require an electronic signature. More information about the application process can be found at colgate.edu/apply.
Colgate requires a non-refundable fee of $60 from all candidates for admission. This fee may be waived upon certification of extreme financial hardship by the guidance counselor or by a school-certified College Board Fee Waiver, or for students who qualify for a fee waiver through the Common Application or Coalition Application. The application fee is also waived for non-US citizens.
Admission is granted only through notification by the Office of Admission. Early decision notifications are released in mid-December. Regular admission decisions are announced in late March. Financial aid candidates normally receive notice of any aid award with their acceptance letters. All accepted candidates wishing to enroll, other than Early Decision candidates (see below), must pay a non-refundable tuition deposit of $500 by May 1.
While most students apply for admission with the intention of entering college the following fall, some accepted applicants may wish to postpone entrance to Colgate for a period of time.
To request deferred enrollment, students must first confirm their intent to enroll at Colgate by the applicable enrollment deadline and submit a $500 enrollment deposit to be eligible.
Students interested in requesting deferred admission must contact the Office of Admission. A request to defer admission form will then be added to the student’s applicant portal, and this form must be submitted by June 1. The form includes space for a 500 word explanation for the purpose of the deferred enrollment request. Requests submitted after June 1 will not be accepted. Upon approval, the student will be required to pay an additional, non-refundable $500 deposit (total $1000 non-refundable deposit) to confirm and finalize their plans to defer their enrollment for one year.
Students admitted from Colgate’s waiting list are not eligible to defer their enrollment.
Students applying for financial assistance must file the CSS PROFILE and FAFSA by January 15 of the year of intended enrollment. Candidates may expect notification of financial aid awards by early April of the spring before entrance.
Advanced Placement and Pre-matriculation Credit
Information regarding advanced placement and pre-matriculation credit can be found in Academic Regulations .
Colgate encourages each prospective applicant to arrange a visit to campus, if possible. Morning and afternoon visit experiences include a brief session by an admission staff member and a student-led tour. While interviews at Colgate are non-evaluative, they give applicants insights about Colgate and the admission selection process.
A prospective applicant who is not able to arrange a campus visit may schedule a virtual informational interview with a Colgate graduate. Additionally, opportunities to explore Colgate virtually, through virtual tours, information sessions, or remote interviews are available to prospective students. Admission staff members recognize that it may not always be possible to visit the campus before applying; still, it is important for the student to see the campus and meet the people who live, study, and work at Colgate before making a final college choice.
The admission staff is happy to assist applicants with arrangements for visits to campus. To ensure that records of campus visitors are as accurate as possible, pre-registration is required and visitors are encouraged to check in at the Hurwitz Admission Center in the James B. Colgate Administration Building upon arrival. If the office is closed, campus maps (digital version at colgate.edu/campusmap) and forms to request admission materials may be found in the visitor box outside the administration building. Prospective students can also connect with current Colgate students listed on the contact a current student web page at colgate.edu/admission-aid/contact-us/contact-current-student.
Special Admission Programs
An Early Decision application indicates that Colgate is a student’s first choice and that the student will withdraw all other applications and attend Colgate if admitted. Not to be confused with early action, Early Decision at Colgate is binding; a signed Early Decision Agreement is required to complete an Early Decision application. The form must be signed by the student, a guidance counselor, and a parent or legal guardian. Students may not apply to more than one college as an Early Decision applicant. As Early Decision programs may vary slightly from college to college, please note the following options and requirements specific to Colgate’s Early Decision program.
Colgate offers two options for Early Decision:
Early Decision Option I Candidates who apply by November 15, including completion of the Early Decision Agreement form, will receive decisions in mid-December. All required application documents should be postmarked no later than November 15.
Early Decision Option II Students who file regular decision applications by January 15 may change their status to Early Decision by filing an Early Decision Agreement form any time by February 1. Notification will occur in mid-February.
For both Early Decision options
- Applicants may be accepted, deferred for reconsideration under regular decision (with notification by late March), waitlisted, or denied admission. Students who are deferred under Option I will not be reconsidered under the Option II timetable.
- Multiple or concurrent Early Decision applications to Colgate and any other colleges are not permitted. Early Decision candidates may file regular decision applications to other colleges, but once admitted to Colgate through Early Decision, all other applications must be withdrawn. Failure to do so may result in withdrawal of Colgate’s offer of admission.
- Accepted Early Decision candidates must pay a non-refundable enrollment deposit of $500 within two weeks of acceptance.
Standardized testing (SAT Reasoning Test or ACT Assessment) should be completed by early November for Option I candidates wishing to include these scores with their application. Option II candidates should complete testing by early December. Results of early November testing normally will be available from the testing services in time for Option I review if the scores are sent directly to Colgate, or a student may self report their testing upon receiving the results.
An Early Decision candidate applying for financial aid should file the CSS PROFILE and FAFSA, if applicable, by the Early Decision application deadline.
Candidates with strong academic records, who receive the support of their secondary schools, may apply for admission and entrance prior to the final year of secondary school. Members of the admission staff are available to discuss this option with those who are interested.
Alumni Memorial Scholars
The Alumni Memorial Scholars (AMS) program promotes academic and personal achievement through service, leadership, and wide-ranging intellectual inquiry. The program was established in 1945 in tribute to Colgate students and alumni who gave their lives during the First and Second World Wars. Today, it attracts students from across the country and around the world, young men and women whose academic credentials, character, creative talent, and community involvement indicate the potential for high-level engagement both inside and outside the classroom. All Colgate applicants are automatically considered for admission to AMS, so there is no program-specific application. Eligible students will be notified of their acceptance into the AMS program alongside an offer of admission to the university.
Each AMS student in good standing will have access to grant funds. These funds are intended to support independent research projects, internships, academic conference attendance, and other eligible academic programs. In recent years, they have enabled AMS students to visit dozens of countries across six continents. Grant funds may be used all at once or through several smaller requests, as long as the cumulative total does not exceed the maximum. Faculty and staff reviewers must approve all requests.
AMS students benefit from extraordinary access to Colgate’s faculty, staff, and campus resources. Curricular requirements include a special AMS orientation prior to first-year orientation and research design preparation. First-years will ordinarily be housed in the same Residential Commons, and students in all class years are encouraged to attend group excursions, dinners, lectures, and presentations. Questions about AMS admissions should be sent directly to the admission office. For more information about the AMS program, please visit colgate.edu/ams.
Office of Undergraduate Studies (OUS)
The Office of Undergraduate Studies (OUS) Scholars Program is the second oldest scholars program at Colgate, established in 1967 as the “University Scholars Program.” Candidates chosen to be part of the program are a highly select group of students who have demonstrated creativity and determination in the face of personal, economic, and social challenges; they have systematically sought the most demanding academic paths open to them and dedicated themselves to achieving success. The OUS Scholars Program is a vibrant community of scholars who have a history of making significant and meaningful impacts on campus.
The OUS curricular program begins with the Summer Institute, a rigorous five-week, pre-first-year summer session designed to begin the transition to college. With courses taught by a select group of Colgate’s excellent faculty, the Summer Institute fosters close and lasting student-faculty relationships and enhances the academic preparedness of OUS scholars. Each OUS cohort lives and learns together in a supportive family-like environment throughout their first year. This tight-knit community is further developed over four years at Colgate through a series of planned events and experiences, setting the stage for students to take on a wide array of scholarly pursuits, leadership roles, and community engagements.
Eligibility for admission to Colgate through OUS is determined at the time of admission, and no separate application is necessary. Questions about OUS admissions should be sent directly to the admission office. For more information about the OUS program, visit colgate.edu/ous. See Office of Undergraduate Studies (OUS) for additional information.
Colgate is proud to partner with QuestBridge, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting the most exceptional, low-income youth with leading institutions of higher education.
Colgate accepts the QuestBridge application from all QuestBridge finalists and non-finalists during all phases of the first-year application process. Students applying using the QuestBridge application will need to submit a QuestBridge Application Supplement through the Colgate applicant portal.
International Student Admission
International students whose first language is not English should sit for a standardized English proficiency examination. Acceptable exams include: the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the Duolingo English Test. Students studying at an English-medium secondary school can request a TOEFL waiver.
All admission documents should be written in English or accompanied by certified translations from a local consulate, embassy, or school official.
While Colgate welcomes international applicants, there is limited financial assistance for students who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Canadian nationals are eligible for certain loan and work-study programs.
Admission by Transfer Application Procedures
Colgate considers well-qualified candidates from other colleges who seek to enter with advanced standing for transfer admission. Admission may be granted in the fall or spring. The application deadline for fall admission is March 15; for spring, November 1. (Candidates are notified of the admission decision by early May and early December, respectively.) A non-refundable application fee of $60 must accompany each application. This fee may be waived upon certification of extreme financial hardship or if the student has received a waiver from the Common or Coalition Application. The application fee is also waived for students whose permanent mailing address is outside the United States. Colgate does not accept transfer, visiting, or special exemption student applications for the undergraduate program from individuals who already possess a bachelor’s degree.
Competition for admission with advanced standing is rigorous. Most successful transfer applicants will have achieved at or above the 3.00 (B) grade level during their previous college experience. Participants in the Visiting Student Program (see below) are eligible to apply for transfer to Colgate but should not expect to receive preferential treatment.
Application requirements: In addition to an application for transfer admission, Colgate reviews a full report of the candidate’s secondary school record. Official transcripts of all completed college studies should be forwarded immediately. The College Official’s Report should be completed and submitted by the dean of each college attended, and the Faculty Recommendation should be completed by a faculty member who has taught the student and who can comment on the student’s academic potential. Additional information about applications can be found at colgate.edu/apply.
Transfer credit is generally allowed for courses taken through a strong liberal arts curriculum in which a grade of C or better has been earned. Credit toward graduation may be granted for no more than the equivalent of 16 Colgate course credits. After enrolling at Colgate, transfer students are subject to the rules for transferring of credit which apply to matriculated Colgate students. See Transfer Student Program .
Financial aid: Colgate is able to offer need-based institutional financial aid to transfer students. Institutional aid for transfer students is limited to the number of semesters needed to complete the degree requirements, as determined by the registrar, at the time of admission.
Transfer applicants anticipating a need for help with financing their education must submit the CSS PROFILE and the FAFSA by March 15 for the fall term and November 1 for the spring term. Additional information may be obtained in Financial Aid and at colgate.edu/financialaid.
First-Year versus Transfer Admission for Students with Advanced Standing
Colgate University defines a transfer applicant as someone who has enrolled in a degree-seeking program at a college or university. A student who possesses an associate’s degree must normally apply to Colgate as a transfer student.
Students who have supplemented their high school curriculum with college-level classes in a non-degree-seeking program and students who have enrolled in a high school enrichment program associated with a college may have the option of applying to Colgate as either a first-year student or a transfer student. The benefits and limitations for these options are available at colgate.edu/admission-aid/apply/transfer-other-applicants.
Visiting Student Program
A student who wishes to attend Colgate for a term as a visiting student should complete an application form. Members of the Visiting Student Program are eligible to apply at a later date as transfer applicants, but it must be understood that no preference is given over other transfer applications; visiting students must meet the same standards as candidates not in attendance. Visiting students are not eligible to receive Colgate financial aid.
For students wishing to enroll, a non-refundable tuition deposit of $500 is required within two weeks of receipt of the official acceptance letter.
Students applying for admission as visiting students should visit the admission web pages: colgate.edu/admission-financial-aid.
Special Exemption Students
The special exemption student option is almost invariably limited to a few area residents who, for personal reasons, wish to enroll for one term and for less than a full course load. Special exemption student status is an exception; the Colgate campus does not readily lend itself to part-time, non-residential students. Special exemption students must plan to commute, as there is no provision in the residential facilities for those taking less than a full academic program. Students must complete the application and pay a non-refundable application fee of $60. Special exemption students receive no extraordinary consideration or priority at registration.
For students wishing to enroll, a non-refundable tuition deposit of $500 is required within two weeks of receipt of the official acceptance letter.
Students applying for admission as special exemption students should visit the admission web pages: colgate.edu/admission-financial-aid.
Students who withdrew from or were withdrawn from Colgate may need to apply for readmission; however, readmission to Colgate is not guaranteed. Please be aware that to earn a Colgate degree, readmitted students will be subject to certain academic requirements in place at the time of readmission. Admission and financial aid application materials must be submitted by the application deadline. For spring admission the deadline is November 1, for fall it is March 15. Application requirements can be found at colgate.edu/admission-aid/apply/transfer-other-applicants.