Admission by schools/colleges, majors vs by university

For Cornell, different schools have different admission policies and acceptance rates; for UCLA, majors declared may play an important role in the admission process, but for Princeton, all admission decisions are made at the university level.
However, these important policies are not listed on CDS. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:
Where can I find a complete list of admission grouping policies for most universities?

There probably isn’t one.

You have to dig around each university’s web site to find out.

Also, lots of universities show prior admission stats, but not by division or major even though they admit by division or major. This can be misleading to potential applicants interested in the more competitive-for-admission divisions or majors.

High schools making Naviance plots should really separate universities’ various divisions or majors when that makes a difference in admission selectivity.


thank you, although it’s a really sad story

This is one of those things where the more you dig into it, the more variables you discover.

Like, if you just look at one specific major, you may find sometimes it could be just in a general college, or it could be in a school within a college. And then either way it could be unrestricted, meaning anyone in that college or school can declare it, or it could be restricted, meaning only some people can declare it. And then there could be first-year admissions into a school/restricted major, or there could be an admissions process during college, or both. And sometimes if you miss first-year you can’t reapply, and sometimes you can. And sometimes the rules are different for transfers from other colleges. And sometimes you can do an “internal transfer” between majors, or entire schools. And sometimes that is easier one direction than the other direction. And so on.

And then any given college broadly speaking could be any sort of combination of these things. And they can change over time. Like, a major that wasn’t restricted in the past might become restricted due to rising popularity.

So given this complexity, it is understandable there isn’t really a list. You instead have to investigate how each college you might be interested in works, and how each relevant subdivision within that college works, and each major works.

On a far side of this spectrum are schools with especially flexible curricula — which offer nearly full accessibility of courses and majors after enrollment as well — such as Amherst, Hamilton, Brown. Smith and Grinnell.

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And in terms of additional options you can add schools that make it relatively easy to design your own major, and also schools that have some sort of pre-existing arrangement to take courses at other colleges and universities, including consortiums and the like.

And then there are fully joint programs, like the William & Mary/St Andrews joint degree program, the Dartmouth Engineering dual degree program, and so on. And of course colleges which have an arrangement with one of their own graduate or professional schools such that if you maintain certain grades as an undergraduate you are guaranteed graduate/professional admissions. All of these are going to have their own admissions procedures.

And just on and on.

On the plus side, the US system is full of amazing variety such that there can be specific programs that are really great for specific kids.

On the minus side, it is ludicrously hard to investigate all that.

As others have implied, liberal arts colleges (LACs) or LAC-like, medium-sized, universities, are the complete opposite of the problem you describe: STEM, Art History, Poli Sci - you name it - are all awarded the same diploma (usually the Bachelor of Arts, or BA), have only one adcom to process your application and usually give you some significant time to decide on a major. Other great examples of this type of college are Dartmouth, Wesleyan University, Tufts, Brandeis, Union College, Smith College (all-women’s), Macalester, and many others.

LACs are not exempt from capacity limitations, although they tend to hit them less often (since the minimum size of a department is proportionally larger at LACs due to their small overall student population). But some LACs like Pomona and Swarthmore have capacity limitation issues in CS, for example.