Colleges That Accept Low SAT Scores

Sure, you wish you’d scored better on the SAT. But colleges that accept low SAT scores just might help you pursue your education goals anyway. We’ve rounded up 15 partner schools that may accept SAT scores at or below the 51st percentile. And, some of them may not require SAT scores at all!

List of 15 Colleges for Students with Low SAT Scores

Many students wonder, “What colleges can I get into with my SAT score?” Here’s a start: the following sponsored listings are for colleges that may require a minimum SAT score* at or below the 51st percentile. That’s potentially good news if your score is on the low side.

Plus, some of the below schools are test-optional or don’t require the SAT at all! Keep in mind that colleges consider other factors besides the SAT, so it’s important to make sure the rest of your application measures up, as well. In addition, SAT and other admissions requirements are subject to change.

1. Purdue University Global

Minimum SAT Score: SAT not required


  • BS in Accounting
  • BS in Cybersecurity
  • BS in Early Childhood Administration
  • BS in Fire Science
  • RN-to-BSN

Admissions Requirements

  • High school diploma, GED, or equivalent
  • Some programs may require an entrance examination

Part of the renowned Purdue University System, Purdue Global offers online education designed for busy adults. They’re home to online programs across many career-focused areas, including competency-based ExcelTrack™ degree programs that may help you earn your degree on a timeline that’s ideal for you.

Plus, Purdue Global offers a risk-free three-week trial period, so you can see if their unique approach to higher education is your style.

2. Walden University

Minimum SAT Score: SAT not required


  • BS in Human Services
  • Bachelor of Social Work
  • BS in Criminal Justice
  • BS in Computer Information Systems
  • BS in Communication

Admissions Requirements

  • High school transcripts
  • Resume

Why choose Walden University? This 100% online university is committed to serving students from diverse backgrounds in career-focused programs designed to help you pursue your goals.

Walden may offer credit for eligible life experience, potentially including prior work and military service. Walden students come from all over the U.S. and around the world, and over 57,000 learners attended the university, as of 2016.

3. Benedictine University

Minimum SAT Score: 1060 (recommended)


  • BA in Biology
  • BA in Communication Arts
  • BA in Elementary Education
  • BA in Graphic Arts & Design
  • BA in International Business and Economics

Admissions Requirements

  • Official high school transcripts
  • Official ACT/SAT Scores
  • Students not meeting minimum admissions requirements may need to submit a personal statement, a letter of recommendation from their high school guidance counselor, and other potential requirements.

Founded in 1887, Benedictine University is a private, Catholic institution in the Benedictine tradition. Students may love this school for its inclusive environment, focus on academic and professional excellence, and commitment to the greater good.

The university offers several paths to pursuing your degree: online, or on campus at locations in Lisle, IL and Mesa, AZ. Interested in potentially studying internationally? Benedictine also has programs in China and Vietnam.

4. University of Saint Mary

Minimum SAT Score: 940


  • Business Administration
  • English
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics

Admissions Requirements

  • Minimum GPA of 2.5
  • ACT or SAT scores
  • High school transcripts

Why choose the University of Saint Mary? This private liberal arts institution based in Leavenworth, Kansas is committed to helping students pursue value-driven lives, through programs spanning a range of career fields.

Choose from over 30 majors, minors, and concentrations – including some online programs. And, enjoy USM’s focus on creating a tight-knit community, where every student matters.

5. Utica College

Minimum SAT Score: No Minimum Score Listed (Submitting scores encouraged, but only required for select programs)


  • BS in Animal Behavior
  • BS in Cybersecurity
  • BA in Economics
  • BA in French
  • BBA in Sports Management

Admissions Requirements

  • Personal statement
  • High school report and transcript
  • One letter of recommendation (preferably from a teacher or counselor)

Founded in 1946, Utica College is a private institution based in the heart of Central New York. Students may love the fact that Utica is a small school with the resources of a large university – including renowned faculty and a diverse range of academic programs.

UC values a personal approach to higher education, with a focus on building relationships and helping students prepare for their lives and professions.

6. Liberty University

Minimum SAT Score: 50% of admitted students have SAT scores within the 1020-1220 range


  • BS in Aviation
  • BFA in Acting
  • BS in Biomedical Sciences (Pre-Med)
  • BS in Mechanical Engineering
  • BS in Religious Studies

Admissions Requirements

  • Official high school transcript
  • ACT, SAT, or CLT scores
  • Admissions essay

Why pursue your education at Liberty University? One of the largest Christian universities in the world, Liberty offers over 550 academic programs across 17 colleges and schools.

Their programs focus on theory, practice, and the Christian faith, with the goal of helping students prepare for rewarding careers. Liberty’s massive alumni network of over 250,000 students may be a testimony to the university’s far-reaching impact!

7. St. John’s University

Minimum SAT Score: None listed; a test-optional application is available to eligible students*


  • Childhood Education (grades 1-6)
  • Environmental Science
  • Fashion Studies
  • Homeland Security
  • Psychology

Admissions Requirements

  • Official high school transcript
  • Personal Essay (required for test-optional applicants)
  • Letters of Recommendation (strongly encouraged for test-optional applicants)

*Additional admissions requirements apply, and not all students are eligible to apply test-optional

St. John’s is a Catholic, Vincentian university dedicated to helping students prepare for challenges in a global context. Founded in 1870, the institution has a rich heritage and over 184,000 alumni.

In addition to diverse degree offerings, St. John’s offers many settings in which to learn. Choose from campuses throughout New York City, Long Island, and the world – including Paris and Rome!

8. Indiana Wesleyan University

Minimum SAT Score: 990 (EBRW and Math)


  • Healthcare Administration
  • Hospitality Management
  • Digital Communication
  • Business Information Systems
  • Addictions Counseling

Admissions Requirements

  • Minimum GPA of 2.6
  • High school transcripts
  • ACT or SAT scores

Indiana Wesleyan University is a Christian comprehensive institution affiliated with the Wesleyan Church. Students may love IWU for their commitment to making the world a better place through scholarship, faith, and leadership.

Choose from over 80 undergraduate degree programs, including innovative adult education. IWU serves 3,000 traditional students on its main campus in Marion, IN, as well as 10,000 adult learners both online and on location in Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio.

9. Saint Joseph’s University

Minimum SAT Score: No Minimum Score Listed (Test scores are optional for most applicants)


  • History
  • Food Marketing
  • Business Intelligence & Analytics
  • Criminal Justice
  • German

Admissions Requirements

  • High school transcript
  • Letter of academic recommendation
  • Essay
  • Interview (optional)

Why choose Saint Joseph’s University? This Catholic, Jesuit university is an important part of Philadelphia’s history, with over 160 years of educating students in the liberal arts.

SJU takes pride in its vibrant campus life, potential opportunities for global engagement, and a focus on the greater good. Plus, expansive academic offerings help students prepare for their goals in many professional fields.

10. Lewis University

Minimum SAT Score: None listed; 25th percentile score for accepted students was 940 in Fall 2017.i


  • International Business
  • Allied Health Programs
  • Computer Engineering
  • Pharmacy
  • Political Science

Admissions Requirements

  • Official high school transcript or GED score
  • ACT or SAT test scores
  • Personal statement (optional)
  • Letters of recommendation (optional)

Lewis University is a private Catholic institution, founded on Lasallian values. They’re located in Romeoville, Illinois and offer over 80 undergraduate majors and programs of study.

Students may love the beautiful 410-acre campus, home to 1,200 residents. However, others may appreciate two accessible suburban locations in Oak Brook and Tinley Park; a southwestern site in Albuquerque, NM; and several online programs.

11. Our Lady of the Lake University

Minimum SAT Score: 800


  • Communication and Learning Disorders
  • Kinesiology
  • Music
  • Psychology
  • Technical and Professional Writing

Admissions Requirements

  • Official high school transcript
  • ACT or SAT scores

Why choose OLLU? Committed to helping students make a positive impact on their communities, families, and professions, this Catholic university has been a part of the Texas higher education scene since 1895.

Study at the main, residential campus in San Antonio, or pursue nontraditional programs in San Antonio, Houston, the Rio Grande Valley, or online. Our Lady of the Lake has more than 30 undergraduate majors and minors, spanning the arts and sciences, business, social work, and more.

12. Notre Dame de Namur University

Minimum SAT Score: None listed; 25th percentile score for accepted students was 910 in Fall 2017.i


  • BS in Health Sciences
  • BS in Biological Sciences
  • BA in Liberal Studies
  • BA in Sociology
  • Biological Sciences Teacher Preparation Program (BSTP)

Admissions Requirements

  • High school transcript
  • Personal statement
  • One letter of recommendation (from a counselor or teacher)
  • SAT or ACT scores

As the third oldest college in California, NDNU has a 165+ year history of excellence in academics and social change.

Students may love the Catholic university’s community-based learning programs, designed to help build knowledge while making a difference.

A close-knit university, Notre Dame de Namur serves under 1,000 undergraduates across 14 majors, as well as graduate programs and other learning paths.

13. Regis College

Minimum SAT Score: None listed; Regis is test-optional, with some exceptions.


  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Communication
  • Dental Hygiene
  • Education
  • Exercise Science

Admissions Requirements

  • Official secondary school transcript
  • First-quarter senior grades/midterm grades
  • Essay
  • Letter of recommendation
  • SAT or ACT scores (if you were homeschooled, or if you are applying to the nursing program or St. George’s University Accelerated Medical/Veterinary School Program)

A Catholic coed university located in the Boston area, Regis College has been helping students pursue their professional goals since 1927. Regis offers programs across four schools:

  1. Arts & Sciences
  2. Business & Communication
  3. Health & Sciences
  4. Nursing

The school serves over 3,000 learners, about 90% of whom live on campus. Students may appreciate Regis College’s commitment to service, engagement, and global involvement.

14. Ashford University

Minimum SAT Score: No SAT scores required


  • BA in Social and Criminal Justice
  • BA in Applied Behavioral Science
  • BA in Human Resources Management
  • BA in Business Information Systems
  • BA in Early Childhood Education

Admissions Requirements

  • High school diploma, GED, or equivalent
  • Must be 22 or older, with possible exceptions
  • Must meet minimum technology requirements

Why Choose Ashford? This unique university offers 100%-online degree programs, designed for the adult learner.

You generally must be at least 22 to study at Ashford, and the 60 flexible programs may help you balance your studies with life’s other responsibilities. Plus, since Ashford is dedicated to serving nontraditional learners, the admissions process may consider your potential – not your test scores.

15. Lynn University

Minimum SAT Score: No minimum listed; Lynn is test-optional.


  • Advertising, Social Media and Public Relations
  • Air Traffic Controller
  • Commercial Pilot
  • Computer Animation
  • Data Analytics

Admissions Requirements

  • Personal statement
  • Official transcripts
  • Letter of recommendation from a high school counselor or teacher
  • Activity resume listing extracurricular activities, volunteer work, etc.
  • SAT or ACT scores (optional)

Lynn University is a private college based in Boca Raton, Florida – close to Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale/Miami. Students may love Lynn’s small size and passion for innovation, including iPad-powered learning, designed to help expand the classroom’s boundaries.

Around 3,000 people study at Lynn, in programs across academic areas like Aeronautics, Education, Music, and much more.

Did You Know?

The first SAT was administered in 1926. At the time, the test took just a little over 90 minutes and consisted of 315 questions.

4 Things You Should Know About Applying to Colleges That Accept Low SAT Scores

Getting into college with low SAT scores may be possible – particularly if you focus on schools that may look beyond standardized tests to get an idea of students’ potential.

Of course, getting a lower-than-average score on the SAT is disappointing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your college goals are out of reach.

1. How Important Are SAT Scores for College Admission?

Your SAT scores may have more weight at some colleges than at others. Contacting an admissions representative may be a good way to learn more about how your prospective school evaluates applicants.

But there are some schools where your SATs don’t necessarily have to impact admissions decisions at all: test-optional schools.

During recent years, going test-optional has become a bit more popular among colleges and universities that hope to recognize student potential beyond ACT or SAT scores. Applying to test-optional schools may be available to students meeting certain requirements.

For instance, international students or homeschooled students may still need to submit test scores. But if you don’t feel your SAT results reflect the full extent of your academic performance, applying test-optional may be one way to get around a low score.

2. Understand How Your Score Compares

As of 2018 the 51st percentile SAT score is 1060, meaning 51% of test-takers score below 1060. But your percentile is not the only number you need to know.

Check to see if your prospective school publishes a minimum acceptable SAT score or the average SAT score of accepted students. You may also be able to find SAT stats for your target school through the National Center for Education Statistics.

Understanding how your score measures up to your prospective school’s standards should give you a clearer picture of whether or not that particular college may be a realistic prospect.

3. Make Sure Your Application Shines

Whether you’re applying to college with a low SAT score or taking the test-optional route, the rest of your application may matter more than ever.

In fact, some test-optional schools require or recommend addition application materials – like an essay or letters of recommendation – from students who choose not to send test scores. It’s wise to maximize any opportunities during the admissions process to showcase your potential beyond test scores.

4. Don’t Just Look for Colleges That Take Low SAT Scores

Look for the college that feels like your ideal fit. Consider factors like whether the colleges you’re considering are known for your prospective major, what organizations or activities you may be interested in pursuing while in school or whether you want to study on campus or online.

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