10 Universities That Receive the Most Applications

At each of the 10 schools on this list, more than 45,000 prospective students applied.


At University of California—Los Angeles, 72,697 students applied for fall 2012.

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The U.S. News Short List, separate from our overall rankings, is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas. Be sure to explore The Short List: College and The Short List: Grad School to find data that matters to you in your college or grad school search.

California has long been the most populous state in the U.S., and recent data show that it's also a popular destination among prospective college students.

Of the 10 schools that received the most applications for fall 2012, eight were in California, according to data submitted to U.S. News by 1,242 ranked institutions.

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University of California—Los Angeles leads the group, just as it did for fall 2011 admissions. It received 72,697 applications from prospective first-time, first-year degree-seeking students. Other California schools in the top 10 list include University of California—Irvine, which received 56,508 applications, and San Diego State University, which received 51,364 applications.

San Diego State is new to the list, replacing Drexel University. The Pennsylvania school received 40,586 applications for fall 2012 – a sharp decline from the 48,450 applications it received for the previous year.

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The average number of applications among all schools that submitted data was 6,805. The recently closed Chancellor University, a for-profit school, received the fewest applications: three.

Below is a list of the 10 colleges and universities that received the most applications from potential first-time students for fall 2012. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report. 

School (state) Number of applications U.S. News rank and category
University of California—Los Angeles 72,697 23, National Universities
University of California—Berkeley 61,731 20, National Universities
University of California—San Diego ​ 60,805 39, National Universities
University of California—Irvine 56,508 49, National Universities
California State University—Long Beach 54,970 32, Regional Universities (West)
University of California—Santa Barbara 54,762 41, National Universities
St. John's University (NY) 51,634 152, National Universities
San Diego State University 51,364 152, National Universities
University of California—Davis 49,333 39, National Universities
Pennsylvania State University—University Park 47,552 37, National Universities

Don't see your school in the top 10? Access the U.S. News College Compass to find application data, complete rankings and much more. School officials can access historical data and rankings, including of peer institutions, via U.S. News Academic Insights.

U.S. News surveyed nearly 1,800 colleges and universities for our 2013 survey of undergraduate programs. Schools self-reported myriad data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News' data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While U.S. News uses much of this survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Colleges rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. While the data come from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News' rankings of Best Colleges or Best Graduate Schools. The application data above are correct as of July 15, 2014.