2019-2020 University Catalog 
    Jul 19, 2024  
2019-2020 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


Applying to Colgate

The Applicant

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 and standardized testing 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. Teachers, counselors, and all applicants should know that assistance in identifying such subjective characteristics is welcome.

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 (particularly advanced courses in history); 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 a statement attached to 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.

Standardized Testing

All admission candidates must submit the results of standardized testing according to one of two options:

  1. The SAT Reasoning Test (mathematics and critical reading sections from the old SAT and evidence-based reading and writing, and math sections from the new SAT; optional essay not evaluated)
  2. The ACT Assessment (writing test not required)

Colgate will accept self-reports SAT or ACT scores for the purposes of application assessment. These scores must be verified by an official report prior to enrollment. 

Writing Requirement

The university offers a selection of courses designed to aid students who need more work in English composition. Although the courses are generally available to Colgate students as electives, some matriculating students, identified at the time of admission, may be required to enroll in one or more of these courses. (See “Writing and Rhetoric” in Course Descriptions .)

Financial Aid

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 in Financial Aid  and at colgate.edu/financialaid.

First-Year Admission

Application Procedures

A candidate can complete and submit an application electronically. Applicants must submit the following required documents: the first-year application, a one-page Colgate writing supplement, the Mid-Year School report, and an Early Decision Agreement form for students applying under the Early Decision program. 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 submitted online require an electronic signature. More information about the application process can be found at colgate.edu/apply.

Application Fee

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 students whose permanent mailing address is outside the United States.

Admission Notification

Admission is granted only through notification by the Office of Admission. Regular Admission decisions are announced in late March or early April. 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. Envelopes postmarked after May 1 may not be accepted.

Postponed Enrollment

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.

Accepted applicants who do not matriculate at another institution may ask to postpone their enrollment for up to two semesters or one year after the date of initial expected enrollment. Such a request should be made in writing to the Office of Admission by June 1 of the year in which application has been made, and must be accompanied by a non-refundable $1,000 enrollment deposit. This deposit will hold the student’s place in the class he or she wishes to enter. Applicants who do not pay the $1,000 deposit and who do not matriculate at another institution, or who defer their entrance for more than two semesters, must formally reapply for admission. 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 .

Visiting Colgate

Colgate encourages each prospective applicant to arrange a visit to campus, if possible. 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 an informational interview with a Colgate graduate near their school or home. 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, prospective applicants 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 may choose to explore Colgate in a number of different ways.

  1. Information sessions are available weekdays throughout the year and on many Saturdays. Times may vary, so visits should be confirmed in advance by visiting the website or calling the Office of Admission. Please register at least one week in advance for a Saturday information session and tour by visiting colgate.edu/visit.
  2. Join a campus tour. Student-led tours are scheduled regularly on weekdays and select Saturdays throughout the year. Schedules may vary on or before major holidays. A virtual tour is available at colgate.edu/virtualtour outside of regularly scheduled tours. For information regarding tour schedules, visit colgate.edu/visit.
  3. Saturday Information Sessions. On Saturdays from mid-September to early December and during March and April, prospective students and their families can get an in-depth look at academic and campus life at Colgate. Ideal for first-time visitors, Saturday Information Sessions offer information sessions led by an admission officer, and the opportunity to hear from a faculty member and a Colgate student. A student-led campus tour follows the program. Reservations are required. Visit colgate.edu/visit to register and view the schedule.
  4. Schedule an informational interview. Non-evaluative interviews are conducted by senior admission interns or admission officers and are offered from May of the junior year through December of the senior year. Registration is requested at least three weeks in advance and can be made at colgate.edu/visit.
  5. Visit classes. Faculty welcome student visitors to most classes, as long as there are spaces available and no examinations are planned. Class schedules are available in the Hurwitz Admission Center. Advanced registration is not required.
  6. Spend the night through the Overnight Hosting Program. High school seniors and prospective transfer and visiting students can experience everyday life at Colgate by staying in the residence halls with student hosts. Visits during the week are most productive, allowing time for visiting classes, attending activities, meeting with faculty, and talking with Colgate students. The host program is offered Sundays and select Thursdays from mid-September to mid-November and from early February to early March. Stays are limited to one night. Reservations are requested at least 10 days before an intended stay and can be made by calling the Office of Admission or signing up at connect.colgate.edu/portal/overnight.
  7. Connect with Colgate faculty and staff members. Faculty and other Colgate staff members enjoy talking with prospective students who want to find out more about a particular discipline or campus activity. Please contact any faculty or staff member directly using the campus directory on our web pages if you desire to meet with them during your visit. Prospective students and their families who have questions about financial aid may meet with Office of Financial Aid staff weekdays during regular office hours.
  8. Schedule an alumni informational interview. Prospective students unable to visit campus before applying are encouraged to meet with a Colgate graduate. Please call the Office of Admission or email admissions@colgate.edu for a referral. Colgate alumni admission volunteers are available in most areas of the United States and in some countries abroad. These interviews are informational rather than evaluative.

Special Admission Programs

Early Decision

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.

Candidates who initiate and complete Early Decision applications between November 15 and December 15 may be eligible for consideration in the Early Decision Option I review process at the discretion of the dean of admission. Early Decision applications completed too late for Option I consideration will be evaluated according to Option II.

Early Decision Option II Candidates who file applications between December 15 and January 15 may declare their Early Decision first choice interest in Colgate and receive notification on a rolling basis. Notification of admission will occur within two to four weeks after receipt of the application and all supporting documents, including a completed Early Decision Agreement form.

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 before March 1. Notification will occur within two to four weeks of completion of the application.

For both Early Decision options

  1. Applicants may be accepted, deferred for reconsideration under regular decision (with notification by early April), waitlisted, or denied admission. Students who are deferred under Option I will not be reconsidered under the Option II timetable.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 and TOEFL, if applicable) should be completed by early November for Option I candidates. Option II candidates should complete testing by early December. An application is not complete, and no decision can be made, until all required test results are received. 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. Upon written request from the student, a decision may be postponed until the latest test results are received by Colgate.

An Early Decision candidate applying for financial aid should file the CSS PROFILE and FAFSA by the Early Decision deadline.

Admission and financial aid announcements are delayed for Early Decision candidates until all financial aid forms have been received and processed.

Early Admission

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 totaling $6,000. 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 a quarter-credit course on research design during the spring term of the first year. First-years will ordinarily be housed as a cohort, 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.

Benton Scholars

The Benton Scholars Program was developed as a model for how a liberal arts education can be shaped to fully prepare students to think, act, and create in a world that is increasingly diverse and global. Colgate has a long and proud history of graduating students who lead in all aspects of their lives. This program is part of a university-wide focus on ensuring that this great tradition endures.

The program has been thoughtfully designed to infuse leadership and global themes into the Colgate experience by providing scholars with activities and selected courses that will enrich and bring new perspectives to their experiences on campus and throughout their lives. Like all Colgate students, Benton Scholars have control of their course of study, as well as choice of major and activities. The program builds upon the Colgate experience rather than creating a separate track within it.

Those invited to participate in the Benton Scholars Program are students who have demonstrated not only the ability to think and lead, but also the passion to make a positive impact on the world. This program will sharpen skills, ignite new passions, and provide a platform to think globally about what it means to be a leader in the 21st century. 

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.

International Student Admission

International students whose first language is not English should sit for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). The most competitive candidates for admission generally receive a TOEFL score of 100 or above on the Internet-based test, or an IELTS equivalent of a seven or greater. 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 and the results of either the SAT or the ACT must be submitted. 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.

Previous applicants: Students who previously applied for first-year or transfer admission are welcome to apply for transfer admission. The Office of Admission retains application materials from the past two academic years and will refer to previous application data during the transfer review process. Students who previously applied for first-year admission must submit all transfer application materials; it is not necessary to forward standardized test scores if they were submitted with the first-year application.

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 students entering in the fall and 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 outlined below:

First-year students

  • are permitted a total of six course credits of transfer/pre-matriculation work
  • participate in first-year orientation
  • enroll in first-year seminar during first semester; faculty member becomes adviser
  • participate in first-year residential experience
  • apply using a first-year application
  • may only be admitted for fall term

Transfer students

  • are permitted up to 16 course credits of transfer/pre-matriculation work
  • participate in transfer orientation
  • register for classes with appropriate class year
  • number of required Core courses determined by class year
  • may be able to fulfill Areas of Inquiry requirements with transfer credits
  • obtain on-campus housing based on entering class year
  • apply using a transfer application
  • may be admitted for fall or spring terms

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 for transfer, but it must be understood that no preference is given over other transfer applications, and 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 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 postmarked by the application deadline. For spring admission the deadline is November 1, for fall it is March 15.

Application requirements:

  1. Re-admission form to the Office of Admission
  2. College Official’s Report
  3. Faculty Recommendation
  4. Transcript(s) from institutions attended since withdrawal from Colgate
  5. Mid-Year School report from faculty teaching current classes
  6. Other information may be required based on a review of the student’s record. The Office of Admission will work with the Dean of College division to determine if additional documentation is required.

Financial aid requirements:

All aid applicants must file the CSS PROFILE and the FAFSA.