Colby admits students as candidates for the degree of bachelor of arts. Admission is highly selective, and evaluation is based on a holistic, contextual assessment of the candidate’s application.

The College actively seeks applicants who exemplify academic excellence, have special qualities or talents to contribute to the Colby community, and represent diverse geographical, racial, ethnic, religious, and economic backgrounds.

To ensure a common educational base, a minimum of 16 academic preparatory units is strongly recommended, including four years of English, three of a single foreign language, three of college preparatory mathematics, two of history or social studies, two of laboratory science, and two years of other college preparatory electives. Most successful candidates for admission present at least 20 academic units.

Colby supports the efforts of secondary school officials and governing bodies to have their schools achieve regional accredited status to provide reliable assurance of the quality of the educational preparation of its applicants for admission.

The average rate of return from first year to sophomore year is 95 percent. The average six-year graduation rate is 87 percent.

Application Deadlines

Early Decision I admission and financial aid: Nov. 15
Notification: by Dec. 15
Spring transfer admission and financial aid: Nov. 15
Notification: by Dec. 15
Early Decision II admission and financial aid: Jan. 1
Notification: by Feb. 15
Regular Decision admission: Jan. 1
Notification: by April 1
Regular Decision financial aid: Jan. 15
Notification: by April 1
Fall transfer admission and financial aid: April 1
Notification: by May 15
Candidate reply date for students admitted Regular Decision: May 1

Application Forms

Application forms are available at There is no fee to apply for admission.


Colby is test optional. Students may choose whether to submit the results of their standardized test scores with their application for admission. Students choosing to submit SAT, ACT, or SAT Subject Test scores may elect to self-report their standardized test scores on the application. Official scores will be required only for students who submitted test results with their application and choose to enroll at Colby. Students seeking to fulfill the College’s foreign language requirement may do so by submitting official test scores that indicate an earned score of 640 or higher on a foreign language Subject Test or receiving a score of a 4 or higher on an AP foreign language exam or scoring a 6 or higher on an International Baccalaureate foreign language exam. Please refer to the Colby AP Exam Policy via the Registrar’s webpage. Information about the tests is available at and at The Colby College institutional codes are 3280 for the SAT and Subject Tests and 1638 for the ACT.

Global Entry Semester Admission

Colby offers two first semester abroad options—in Dijon, France, and Salamanca, Spain—which are described in the Opportunities to Study Off Campus section. Students who participate in one of the College’s first semester abroad programs will earn academic credit and satisfy distribution requirements toward the degree at the same pace as their classmates. Admission to the fall semester abroad program is based on prior foreign language study and personal qualities that suggest a smooth transition to campus in January.

Advanced Standing

Colby participates in the Advanced Placement (AP) program of the College Board. Credits will be recorded on the Colby transcript for official AP scores of 4 or 5, and, where appropriate, advanced course placement will be granted. These credits may also be applied to certain academic areas of the College’s distribution requirement (see Academic Requirements section), but AP credits may not be counted toward the 128 credits required for graduation.

Colby also recognizes the International Baccalaureate (IB) and offers advanced course placement and credit based on individual Higher Level examination results, as well as performance on the full IB Diploma program. At the discretion of individual academic departments, advanced placement may be earned for scores of 6 and 7 on higher-level examinations. A full year of credit toward the 128 credits required for graduation and up to two full semesters toward the residency requirement may be earned for an IB Diploma point total of 36 or better, assuming all examination scores are 5 or better.

Finally, students who receive an A or B (superior level) on A-levels or comparable scores on the Leaving Certificate (Ireland), the Abitur (Germany), or the Baccalauréat (France) may be eligible for advanced placement.

International Students

International applicants whose first language is not English or whose language of secondary school instruction has not been in English must submit results from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), Duolingo English Test (DET), TOEFL Home Edition, or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Need-based financial aid is available to international students. Colby meets one hundred percent of demonstrated need for all applicants. Applicants for financial aid must complete the International Student CSS Profile, which is available online.

A campus advisor is available to international students on immigration and other matters. A multilingual writing specialist teaches a fall course on college-level academic English writing and speaking for international students, WP111 “Communication in Context,” and provides individual tutoring on English writing, reading, and speaking for any international student during the academic year.

Transfer Students

Priority in admissions is to incoming first-year students, though a small number of transfer students are admitted each year. Admission by transfer is open to those with strong academic and personal records from accredited colleges or universities. Application forms are available online at

Credits from accredited institutions are generally accepted for courses that are comparable to those offered at Colby and in which grades of C or better are received. No more than 64 transferable semester credit hours may be applied toward a Colby degree. Campus housing for transfer students is not guaranteed.

Veterans and Yellow Ribbon Program

First-year students receiving Veterans Administration benefits should refer to their Colby Memorandum of Understanding for information regarding major declaration.

Veterans may request advanced standing consideration for completion of service schools before matriculation. Credit is not granted for military service or College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests. All students are bound by Colby’s transfer credit policies which can be found in the transfer section of this catalogue.

Students receiving Veterans Administration benefits will receive a copy of a personalized financial aid letter along with a certified financial planning sheet before the start of the next academic year.

Students who withdraw or take a leave of absence to serve in the United States military may return without obtaining special permission and without change of academic status, assuming the absence does not exceed five years. Exceptions include veterans who receive a dishonorable discharge, bad conduct charge, or who were court-martialed. 

The Yellow Ribbon Program is an agreement between colleges and universities and the Veterans Administration in which higher education institutions help cover the cost of tuition and fees in excess of the amounts payable under the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008.

Non-matriculated Students

Anyone interested in enrolling as a non-matriculated student must contact the Office of Civic Engagement and Community Partnerships for information about the application process. Registration in individual courses then requires the approval of the course instructor and may be limited; matriculated students have priority for admission to courses with limited enrollments.

All persons seeking to take courses for credit must present evidence that they are qualified to pursue the intended courses and must pay the established fee. A limited number of Waterville-area secondary school students may be recommended by their schools to take a course. Adults from the immediate Waterville area who are not degree candidates may qualify to take courses at one-half the usual fee or may audit courses at no charge.

Persons wishing to enroll as auditing students must also contact the Office of Civic Engagement and Community Partnerships and are referred to Auditing Courses in the Academic Procedures section.