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Early Decision II: An FAQ and list of participating colleges

Early Decision II: An FAQ and list of participating colleges

admin September 23, 2019

(List of ED II colleges updated August 2018–see below)

Early Decision is quickly becoming a misnomer.  An increasing number of highly selective institutions have initiated a second round of binding admission programs, giving students another chance to commit to a college before acceptance and possibly reap admissions-related benefits in the process. Unlike traditional Early Decision (ED I) programs with deadlines in October or November, Early Decision II allows students to wait until later in the admissions cycle to claim their allegiance to a particular school. Most of these deadlines typically fall in early or mid-January and admissions decisions are typically rendered in early-to-mid February.

Why do colleges offer Early Decision II?

Colleges offer an ED II option primarily as means to improve their yield rates (i.e. the percentage of admitted students who attend)—an important indicator of desirability and one that can have significant influence on a college’s ranking. Effectively, ED II offers institutions a second chance to grab guaranteed enrollees.    

Why would a student apply Early Decision II?

Two reasons, in particular. First, a student may be denied at her first choice college—to which she applied Early Decision—but has a clear second favorite and wants to improve her odds of admission at that institution (see our previous blog post to learn where ED applicants receive the greatest boost). Bowdoin College, for example, admits 43% of their freshman class through the ED I & II cycles. They, like thousands of other schools, show extra love to applicants who pledge attendance.

Second, a student may apply ED to take advantage of the flexibility that a later deadline offers. For example, ED II applicants have more time to improve their standardized test scores, solidify their college preferences and assess their financial need. Students applying ED II also have an opportunity to submit strong grades earned during their senior year, whereas ED I applicants are usually evaluated on the basis of their academic performance through junior year only. Connecticut College explicitly states on their website that standardized tests taken in December of a student’s senior year will be considered in the ED II process.

When exactly is Early Decision II?

Most application deadlines for ED II fall on January 1, at or around the same time as Regular Decision deadlines. ED II applicants usually receive a decision in mid-February. Of course, exact deadlines and policies vary by school. For example, Boston University ED II apps are due by January 3rd, NYU’s are due on New Year’s Day, while Lafayette College offers a deadline of January 15th with the option to convert a regular application into an ED II app all the way until February 1st. Lafayette outwardly tells students on their website that those who choose the ED II option will be given special consideration for admission.

Aside from timing, what other differences exist between Early Decision I and Early Decision II?

None, really. Both offer potential advantages in the admissions process. However, both plans are also binding, meaning that you must attend if admitted.

So which institutions offer Early Decision II?

Plenty. Below, please find a list of selective colleges and universities offering an ED II option:

  • American University
  • Bard College
  • Bates College
  • Boston University
  • Bennington College
  • Bowdoin College
  • Brandeis University
  • Bryant University
  • Bryn Mawr College
  • Bucknell University
  • Carleton College
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • Claremont McKenna Colleges
  • Colby College
  • Colgate University
  • College of the Atlantic
  • College of Wooster
  • Colorado College
  • Connecticut College
  • Davidson College
  • Denison College
  • Dickinson College
  • Emory University
  • Franklin & Marshall College
  • George Washington University
  • Gettysburg College
  • Grinnell College
  • Hamilton College
  • Hampshire College
  • Harvey Mudd College
  • Haverford College
  • Hobart and William Smith Colleges
  • Juniata College
  • Kenyon College
  • Lafayette College
  • Lehigh University
  • Macalester College
  • Middlebury College
  • Mount Holyoke College
  • New York University
  • Northeastern University
  • Oberlin College
  • Occidental College
  • Pitzer College
  • Pomona College
  • Reed College
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Rhodes College
  • Saint Olaf College
  • Sarah Lawrence College
  • Scripps College
  • Sewanee: The University of the South
  • Skidmore College
  • Smith College
  • Swarthmore College
  • Trinity College
  • Trinity University
  • Tufts University
  • Union College
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Miami
  • University of Richmond
  • University of Rochester
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Vassar College
  • Wake Forest University
  • Washington University
  • Washington and Lee University
  • Wellesley College
  • Wesleyan University
  • Whitman College


Andrew Belasco

A licensed counselor and published researcher, Andrew’s experience in the field of college admissions and transition spans more than one decade. He has previously served as a high school counselor, consultant and author for Kaplan Test Prep, and advisor to U.S. Congress, reporting on issues related to college admissions and financial aid.