Top 110 Best Colleges in America: Public, Private & Community Institutions

Top 110 Best Colleges in America: Public, Private & Community Institutions
Imed Bouchrika by Imed Bouchrika
Chief Data Scientist & Head of Content

Despite declining college enrollment rates in the United States, higher education remains a priority for many students today. For the 2019-2020 academic year alone, over 21 million students enrolled in post-secondary institutions across the country (Ma et al., 2020). This figure is spread across more than 4,000 degree-granting post-secondary institutions, which include four-year colleges and universities and community colleges.

To help students who are still weighing their options on where to enroll for the next semester, this article lists down the top 110 best colleges in the U.S., including public and private institutions and community colleges. A short profile of each school is also included to help students make a more informed decision.

The Top 110 Best Colleges in America Table of Contents

  1. How This Ranking Was Made
  2. Top 50 Best Public Colleges
  3. Top 50 Best Private Colleges
  4. Top 10 Best Community Colleges

How This Ranking Was Made

Below is an aggregate ranking of the top colleges and universities in the USA, with equal importance given to public and private institutions. Top community colleges are also included for students interested in these schools. Each ranked list considers all American postsecondary institutions of the type, regardless of location and size.

However, it is best to keep in mind that there are many ways to evaluate the quality of colleges and universities in the USA. For instance, these schools are commonly ranked by factors such as research output, tuition costs, and best value. As such, it is wise to use the ranking below as a rough guide to the best colleges in the USA.

Details on research activity and average early-career salary are taken from compensation software and data company Payscale and The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, respectively, unless otherwise stated.

Top 50 Best Public Colleges

According to a publication of the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences’ The Lincoln Project, American public universities, especially those that are research-intensive, are critical and indispensable to the landscape of higher education in the country. The same publication further explains that these universities provide accessible educational opportunities to Americans, especially since public universities can be found in all states of the country.

As of 2020, there are a total of 1,636 public universities in the United States. As a testament to the importance of these universities, educational experts predict a total enrollment of 14.89 million college students at American public universities by 2021.

Source: Digest of Education Statistics 2019

1. University of California, Berkeley

University of California, Berkeley
Source
  • Location: Berkeley, California
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $39,550 / $69,304
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 19:1
  • Average early-career salary: $74,500

The University of California, Berkeley was the state’s first land-grant university and also the first campus of the University of California system. Aside from being one of the top 110 best colleges in the country, the university is known for its academic excellence in the sciences, gaining recognition for its programs in engineering, biological sciences, and earth sciences.

2. University of Michigan

University of Michigan
Source
  • Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $31,484 / $66,698
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 15:1
  • Average early-career salary: $67,800

Founded in 1817, the University of Michigan is one of the eight original “Public Ivies” named so because of their ability to compete with Ivy League schools in academic rigor and faculty quality. The university’s programs in pharmacy, social work, sociology, and nursing-midwifery have achieved high rankings nationally.

3. United States Military Academy

United States Military Academy
Source
  • Location: West Point, New York
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $0
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 7:1
  • Average early-career salary: $84,800

To be admitted to the United States Military Academy, students must be nominated by a member of the U.S. Congress or the country’s president or vice president. Once admitted, cadets can achieve a Bachelor of Science degree in a wide variety of majors such as Applied Statistics and Data Science, Electrical Engineering, and Operations Research.

4. United States Naval Academy

United States Naval Academy
Source
  • Location: Annapolis, Maryland
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $0
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 8:1
  • Average early-career salary: $79,600

Like the United States Military Academy, the United States Naval Academy confers Bachelor of Science degrees in majors such as Aerospace Engineering, Information Technology, and Quantitative Economics. Honors programs and scholarship programs are also available to students.

5. University of Virginia

University of Virginia
Source
  • Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $42,500 / $60,500
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 15:1
  • Average early-career salary: $65,700

Virginia’s flagship university, the University of Virginia is known for its academic excellence in law, engineering, and business. The university’s Academical Village, which was primarily designed by American founding father Thomas Jefferson, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

6. University of California, Los Angeles

University of California, Los Angeles
Source
  • Location: Los Angeles, California
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $36,767 / $66,521
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 18:1
  • Average early-career salary: $65,600

Another original Public Ivy university, the University of California, Los Angeles has produced numerous Nobel Prize laureates, Fields Medalists, and Turing Award winners. The university ranks highly for programs in Fine Arts, Psychology, Education, Sociology, and Public Health, among other subjects.

7. United States Air Force Academy

United States Air Force Academy
Source
  • Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $0
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 8:1
  • Average early-career salary: $81,100

The United States Air Force Academy offers Bachelor of Science degrees in a wide variety of majors, including Astronautical Engineering, Cyber Science, and Space Operations. The academy’s research program has also grown to include 27 research centers in fields such as hypersonic vehicle simulation, warfighter effectiveness research, and air power studies.

8. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Source
  • Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $24,266 / $52,026
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 14:1
  • Average early-career salary: $59,000

The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill has been granting degrees as a public university since the 18th century. The university currently offers over 240 degree programs, and its programs in medicine, pharmacy, public health, and journalism have achieved high national rankings as well.

9. College of William & Mary

College of William & Mary
Source
  • Location: Williamsburg, Virginia
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $40,034 / $63,370
  • Research activity: High
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 11:1
  • Average early-career salary: $62,100

Aside from being the second-oldest institution of higher education in the USA, the College of William and Mary has gained national recognition for student satisfaction and undergraduate teaching (W&M Facts and Rankings, n.d.). The university currently offers more than 80 undergraduate, postgraduate, and professional degree programs.

10. United States Coast Guard Academy

United States Coast Guard Academy
Source
  • Location: New London, Connecticut
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $0
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 7:1
  • Average early-career salary: $76,500

The smallest of the five service academies of the USA, the United States Coast Guard Academy offers Bachelor of Science degrees in nine fields of study, including the sciences and engineering. Students are also commissioned as Coast Guard ensigns upon graduation.

11. University of California, Santa Barbara

University of California, Santa Barbara
Source
  • Location: Santa Barbara, California
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $36,618 / $66,372
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 18:1
  • Average early-career salary: $59,900

The University of California, Santa Barbara offers over 140 undergraduate and graduate degrees in a wide variety of fields, including creative studies, engineering, and the humanities. The university also places a heavy focus on research, being home to 12 National Research Centers, many of which are supported by the National Science Foundation.

12. University of Washington (Main Campus)

University of Washington (Main Campus)
Source
  • Location: Seattle, Washington
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $29,319 / $56,688
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 21:1
  • Average early-career salary: $63,300

The University of Washington is known for its highly competitive programs in computer science and engineering as well as for the quality of its medical and scientific research. According to the National Science Foundation, the University of Washington is also a top-ranked institution in research expenditures.

13. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source
  • Location: Champaign County, Illinois
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $37,908 / $55,698
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 18:1
  • Average early-career salary: $66,000

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers nationally ranked programs in Library and Information Studies, Computer Science, Chemistry, and Psychology, among other programs. The university also operates a Research Park, which is home to innovation centers for startups and multinational corporations.

14. University of Maryland, College Park

University of Maryland, College Park
Source
  • Location: College Park, Maryland
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $27,424 / $53,536
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 18:1
  • Average early-career salary: $62,900

The University of Maryland, College Park offers over 200 undergraduate and postgraduate programs in fields such as agriculture and natural resources, information studies, and public health. Aside from these programs, the university hosts “living learning” programs where students with similar interests can live in the same community and participate in research in these interests.

15. United States Merchant Marine Academy

United States Merchant Marine Academy
Source
  • Location: Kings Point, New York
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $6,614
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 13:1
  • Average early-career salary: $84,300

The United States Merchant Marine Academy currently offers five programs: Marine Transportation, Maritime Logistics and Security, Marine Engineering Systems, and Marine Engineering and Shipyard Management. The academy also offers a Shipboard Training Program and internships to students.

16. University of Wisconsin–Madison

University of Wisconsin–Madison
Source
  • Location: Madison, Wisconsin
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $27,530 / $55,888
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 17:1
  • Average early-career salary: $60,900

The University of Wisconsin–Madison has a comprehensive list of academic offerings, including over 200 undergraduate majors, more than 250 master’s and doctoral programs, and over 9,200 courses. Popular majors at the university include Economics, Computer Sciences, Psychology, and Biology (Data Digest, 2020).

17. University of California, Irvine

University of California, Irvine
Source
  • Location: Irvine, California
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $15,835 / $ 45,589
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 18:1
  • Average early-career salary: $61,100

The University of California, Irvine offers a wide range of programs and courses in fields such as the humanities, engineering, education, business, law, and medicine. The university has achieved high national rankings for its programs in Criminology, English, Education, and Chemistry (University of California–Irvine, n.d).

18. Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Institute of Technology
Source
  • Location: Atlanta, Georgia
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $29,158 / $50,270
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 19:1
  • Average early-career salary: $74,500

As an institute of technology, this university confers bachelor’s degrees in programs such as Aerospace Engineering, Applied Physics, Building Construction, and Neuroscience. The university’s undergraduate programs in engineering, business, computer science, and architecture have also achieved high national rankings (Rankings, n.d.).

19. University of Florida

University of Florida
Source
  • Location: Gainesville, Florida
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $21,430 / $43,708
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 18:1
  • Average early-career salary: $59,600

One of the state’s largest universities, the University of Florida is home to 16 colleges, offering 100 undergraduate majors and over 150 graduate programs. The university also has an Honors Program that offers exclusive courses, scholarships, and study-abroad opportunities to high-achieving students.

20. University of Texas at Austin

University of Texas at Austin
Source
  • Location: Austin, Texas
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $30,148 / $60,462
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 18:1
  • Average early-career salary: $62,100

Students interested in enrolling at the University of Texas at Austin can choose from over 380 undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral programs in fields such as architecture, communication, engineering, fine arts, social work, and education. The university also has a variety of honors programs for more individualized studies.

21. Rutgers University–New Brunswick

Rutgers University–New Brunswick
Source
  • Location: New Brunswick, New Jersey
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $28,482 / $45,264
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 16:1
  • Average early-career salary: $62,200

A regional campus of Rutgers University, Rutgers University–New Brunswick comprises 12 schools in fields of study such as biological and life sciences, criminal justice, fine and performing arts, and humanities and social sciences. The university also has the most extensive network of laboratories, research facilities, and health service centers in New Jersey (Research, n.d.).

22. University of California, Davis

University of California, Davis
Source
  • Location: Davis, California
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $37,652 / $67,406
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 20:1
  • Average early-career salary: $64,300

Students can choose from over 200 undergraduate and graduate programs at the University of California, Davis. As a land-grant university, the school has been recognized for its programs in agriculture, forestry, and animal science. The university is also home to one of the top veterinary schools in the country (Academic Rankings, 2019).

23. Colorado School of Mines

Colorado School of Mines
Source
  • Location: Golden, Colorado
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $37,255 / $57,955
  • Research activity: High
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 16:1
  • Average early-career salary: $75,800

The Colorado School of Mines offers majors and degrees exclusively focused on STEM fields, including Applied Mathematics and Statistics, Geophysical Engineering, Engineering Physics, and Petroleum Engineering. In 2018, the university launched the world’s first master’s and PhD programs in space mining (Colorado Public Radio Staff, 2018).

24. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Source
  • Location: Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $30,942 / $50,740
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 17:1
  • Average early-career salary: $58,800

The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities is the flagship institution of the University of Minnesota System, comprising schools that specialize in fields such as biological sciences, education and human development, liberal arts, and public health. Study-abroad opportunities and online learning programs are also available to students.

25. University of Georgia

University of Georgia
Source
  • Location: Athens, Georgia
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $27,658 / $47,342
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 17:1
  • Average early-career salary: $55,700

Established in 1785, the University of Georgia holds the distinction of being the first state-chartered public university in the U.S. The university currently offers an extensive array of undergraduate and postgraduate programs in fields such as agricultural and environmental science, forestry and natural resources, family and consumer sciences, and public and international affairs.

26. Ohio State University (Main Campus)

Ohio State University (Main Campus)
Source
  • Location: Columbus, Ohio
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: ​​​$​28,074 / ​$51,482
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 19:1
  • Average early-career salary: $58,200

The third-largest university campus in the country, the main campus of Ohio State offers a wide variety of degrees and majors, with its most popular colleges and schools being Arts and Sciences, Engineering, Business, and Education and Human Ecology. The university also offers an Exploration Program for students undecided on their majors.

27. University of Pittsburgh

University of Pittsburgh
Source
  • Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $24,050 / $41,650
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 14:1
  • Average early-career salary: $46,200

The University of Pittsburgh currently admits freshmen undergraduates into colleges and schools focused on the arts and sciences, business administration, engineering, computing and information, and nursing. Many of the university’s colleges and schools are housed in the Cathedral of Learning, the tallest educational building in the Western Hemisphere.

28. California State University, Stanislaus

California State University, Stanislaus
Source
  • Location: Turlock, Stanislaus County, California
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $23,620 / $34,704
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 21:1
  • Average early-career salary: $50,700

California State University, Stanislaus currently offers over 50 undergraduate and master’s programs, with popular programs, including Business Administration, Psychology, Liberal Studies, and Criminal Justice. The Stanislaus campus is the only campus in the California State University system to offer a bachelor’s program in Cognitive Studies.

29. Purdue University (Main Campus)

Purdue University (Main Campus)
Source
  • Location: West Lafayette, Indiana
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $22,782 / $41,584
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 13:1
  • Average early-career salary: $64,400

The main campus of Purdue University offers an extensive selection of majors for undergraduates, allowing students to participate in Exploratory Studies before choosing a major. Schools such as the Purdue Polytechnic Institute and the Honors College also provide students with more specialized courses of study.

30. University of California, San Diego

University of California, San Diego
Source
  • Location: San Diego, California
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $33,270 / $63,024
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 19:1
  • Average early-career salary: $65,000

The University of California, San Diego comprises 12 academic divisions and schools, with biology, mathematics, economics, and computer science and engineering being the most popular majors. Undergraduates at the university are also divided into seven residential colleges, each of which can also grant unique degrees.

31. Texas A&M University

Texas A&M University
Source
  • Location: College Station, Texas
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $31,428 / $59,954
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 19:1
  • Average early-career salary: $61,200

One of the largest universities in the USA in terms of student body, Texas A&M University offers more than 390 undergraduate, postgraduate, and professional degrees to interested students. As the only Texan university with land, sea, and space-grant designations, the university is also heavily involved in research projects funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Science Foundation.

32. University of Connecticut

University of Connecticut
Source
  • Location: Storrs, Connecticut
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $33,937 / $56,605
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 16:1
  • Average early-career salary: $62,300

Students at the University of Connecticut can pursue over 20 undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and choose from over 100 majors in fields such as landscape architecture, marketing management, art history, and cognitive science. The university also allows students to pursue interdisciplinary studies and design their own majors through the Individualized Major Program.

33. Brooklyn College (City University of New York)

Brooklyn College (City University of New York)
Source
  • Location: Brooklyn, New York
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $7,440 / $19,110
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 18:1
  • Average early-career salary: $52,500

Brooklyn College is composed of five main schools specializing in business, education, humanities and social sciences, natural and behavioral sciences, and visual, media, and performing arts. Popular undergraduate majors at the college include Psychology, Computer Science, Public Accountancy, and Biology.

34. University of Massachusetts Amherst

University of Massachusetts Amherst
Source
  • Location: Amherst, Massachusetts
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $30,377 / $50,365
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 17:1
  • Average early-career salary: $58,700

The flagship campus of the University of Massachusetts system, the University of Massachusetts Amherst offers over 100 bachelor’s degree programs and over 130 postgraduate programs. Popular majors at the university include Biology, Computer Science, Psychology, and Communication (UMass Amherst Factbook, 2020).

35. Clemson University

Clemson University
Source
  • Location: Clemson, South Carolina
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $32,880 / $55,872
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 16:1
  • Average early-career salary: $58,600

The second-largest university in South Carolina, Clemson University offers over 170 undergraduate majors and minors, along with more than 130 graduate programs. The university is home to seven colleges that focus on fields of study such as education, engineering, business, behavioral, social, and health sciences, and agriculture and forestry.

36. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Main Campus)

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Main Campus)
Source
  • Location: Blacksburg, Virginia
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $23,033 / $42,177
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 14:1
  • Average early-career salary: $47,400

As one of the largest public universities in Virginia, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University currently offers over 110 bachelor’s majors and more than 170 master’s and doctoral majors. These majors include Agribusiness, Childhood Pre-Education, International Public Policy, and Landscape Architecture.

37. North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University
Source
  • Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $24,553 / $44,879
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 14:1
  • Average early-career salary: $60,200

North Carolina State University offers more than 300 undergraduate and graduate programs through its 10 colleges, which focus on fields such as agriculture and life sciences, design, natural resources, management, and textiles. The university’s veterinary medicine program has placed 4th in national rankings (The best veterinary medicine programs, n.d.).

38. Indiana University Bloomington

Indiana University Bloomington
Source
  • Location: Bloomington, Indiana
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $26,186 / $52,566
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 16:1
  • Average early-career salary: $44,900

Indiana University Bloomington is the flagship institution and the largest university in the Indiana University system. The university currently comprises 16 colleges and schools that offer an extensive selection of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, including gender studies, exercise science, cybersecurity, business, nonprofit management, and social psychology.

39. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
Source
  • Location: San Luis Obispo, California
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $28,926 / $44,826
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 18:1
  • Average early-career salary: $66,400

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo is made up of six colleges that offer more than 60 majors for undergraduates. Aside from traditional majors such as Materials Engineering, Agricultural Business, and Child Development, students can opt to pursue blended programs to simultaneously obtain bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

40. Michigan Technological University

Michigan Technological University
Source
  • Location: Houghton, Michigan
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $31,349 / $51,651
  • Research activity: High
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 12:1
  • Average early-career salary: $67,400

Michigan Technological University was established in 1885 to train mining engineers in operating the local copper mines. Today, the university’s roster of programs includes not only STEM fields but also the arts and humanities. Aside from traditional academic programs, the university also offers Air Force ROTC and Army ROTC programs.

41. Auburn University

Auburn University
Source
  • Location: Auburn, Alabama
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $32,678 / $52,838
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 20:1
  • Average early-career salary: $55,500

Auburn University offers more than 150 majors through its 13 colleges and schools, which focus on fields of study such as agriculture, architecture, engineering, forestry and wildlife sciences, and liberal arts. Auburn students can also complete their core curriculum courses abroad through the Auburn University Core Curriculum Program in Rome.

42. California State University, Chico

California State University, Chico
Source
  • Location: Chico, California
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $24,686 / $34,190
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 23:1
  • Average early-career salary: $57,300

The second oldest campus in the California State University system, California State University, Chico currently offers more than 300 majors and minors in fields such as anthropology, geography and planning, multicultural and gender studies, and sustainable manufacturing. Popular majors at the university include Business Administration, Psychology, Pre-Nursing, and Criminal justice (Chico facts, n.d.).

43. CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice

CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Source
  • Location: New York City, New York
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $6,930 / $15,150
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 18:1
  • Average early-career salary: $44,000

A senior college of the City University of New York, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice was established as the only American college focused on the liberal arts, criminal justice, and forensics. Popular majors and programs at the college include Criminal Justice, Public Administration, and Forensic Psychology (Fast Facts, 2019).

44. California State University, Los Angeles

California State University, Los Angeles
Source
  • Location: University Hills, Los Angeles, California
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $28,023 / $37,527
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 23:1
  • Average early-career salary: $50,800

California State University, Los Angeles is known for having one of the first forensic science programs in the country. Aside from forensic science, popular programs at the university include criminal justice, counseling, child development, and social work (Facts: Fall 2019, 2020). The university is also known for its Early Entrance Program, which allows students as young as 12 to enter college without intermediary remedial education.

45. State University of New York at New Paltz

State University of New York at New Paltz
Source
  • Location: New Paltz, New York
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $27,070 / $36,980
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 16:1
  • Average early-career salary: $49,900

The State University of New York at New Paltz is made up of six academic schools that offer over 150 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in fields such as liberal arts, business, education, performing arts, and engineering. According to the university, its most popular majors include Psychology, Early Childhood and Childhood Education, Business Administration, and Literacy Education.

46. University of Delaware

University of Delaware
Source
  • Location: Newark, Delaware
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $30,922 / $52,352
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 15:1
  • Average early-career salary: $59,500

The University of Delaware comprises 10 colleges and schools dedicated to fields such as the arts and science, earth, ocean, and environmental studies, engineering, and public policy and administration. The university is also known as one of the few North American universities to offer a major in art conservation.

47. James Madison University

James Madison University
Source
  • Location: Harrisonburg, Virginia
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $28,426 / $45,454
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 16:1
  • Average early-career salary: $58,200

Originally established as a women’s college in 1908, James Madison University currently offers over 130 undergraduate degree programs. Undergraduate majors at the university include Biotechnology, Communication Sciences and Disorders, International Affairs, and Kinesiology. The university is also home to an Honors College that provides an enriched curriculum and study-abroad opportunities.

48. Virginia Military Institute

Virginia Military Institute
Source
  • Location: Lexington, Virginia
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $29,470 / $57,480
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 11:1
  • Average early-career salary: $66,100

Virginia Military Institute was established as the first public Senior Military College in the United States. The institute currently offers undergraduate liberal arts degrees in 14 majors, including Modern Languages and Cultures, Civil Engineering, International Studies, and Applied Mathematics.

49. University of Utah

University of Utah
Source
  • Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $26,642 / $47, 352
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 15:1
  • Average early-career salary: $59,100

The oldest institution of higher education in Utah, the University of Utah comprises 17 colleges and schools that offer majors such as Advanced Financial Analysis, Campaign Management, Disability Studies, and Health Society and Policy. The university also offers certificate programs in a wide variety of fields, including criminology, entrepreneurship, and international relations.

50. Iowa State University

Iowa State University
Source
  • Location: Ames, Iowa
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $21,940 / $37,128
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 19:1
  • Average early-career salary: $57,600

Iowa State University offers over 280 academic programs through its 10 colleges and schools, the largest of which are the College of Engineering, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the Ivy College of Business. The university also offers opportunities for distance education through its degree and certificate programs in fields such as liberal studies, early childcare education, and agronomy.

Top 50 Private Universities

Aside from being some of the oldest colleges in the US, American private universities tend to enjoy a reputation of prestige or esteem. According to former journalist Phil Baty, for instance, a stark divide exists between U.S. public and private universities where global perceptions of excellence are concerned (Wong, 2018).

Perhaps due to this reputation of prestige, enrollment at private American universities is expected to remain stable in the coming years, with the National Center for Education Statistics projecting private American universities to have a combined student body of 5.22 million by 2029.

Source: Digest of Education Statistics 2019

1. Harvard University

Harvard University
Source
  • Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Average cost of attendance: $80,007
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 7:1
  • Average early-career salary: $76,400

Also widely recognized as one of the top 110 best colleges in the world, Harvard University is known as a top producer of Nobel Prize laureates, Fields Medal winners, Rhodes Scholars, and MacArthur Fellows. The university offers undergraduate programs through Harvard College, a liberal arts and sciences college offering more than 3,700 courses in concentrations such as History and Literature, Applied Mathematics, Integrative Biology, and Comparative Study of Religion.

2. Yale University

Yale University
Source
  • Location: New Haven, Connecticut
  • Average cost of attendance: $78,850
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 6:1
  • Average early-career salary: $77,100

Founded in 1701, Yale University has since expanded its original curriculum of theology and sacred languages. Popular majors at the university in 2019 include Economics, Political Science, History, Computer Science, and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (Yale Facts and Statistics, 2020). The university also offers numerous online courses in subjects such as biomedical engineering, environmental studies, and sociology.

3. Stanford University

Stanford University
Source
  • Location: Stanford, California
  • Average cost of attendance: $78,218
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 5:1
  • Average early-career salary: $86,800

Three of Stanford University’s seven schools currently offer undergraduate programs in fields such as aeronautics, architecture, bioengineering, and ethics. Popular majors at the university as of 2019 include Computer Science, Human Biology, Economics, Symbolic Systems, and Engineering (Other Undergraduate Education Facts, n.d.).

4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source
  • Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Average cost of attendance: $73,160
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 3:1
  • Average early-career salary: $88,300

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, more popularly known as MIT, currently six schools and colleges for fields such as engineering, architecture, management, and computing. Interdisciplinary programs and double majors are also available to students. Undergraduates at the university can also participate in research opportunities and pursue their own research projects.

5. Princeton University

Princeton University
Source
  • Location: Princeton, New Jersey
  • Average cost of attendance: $75,210
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 5:1
  • Average early-career salary: $77,300

At Princeton University, undergraduates are divided into six residential colleges, which provide students with housing, dining, advising options, and other resources. Undergraduates can also choose from programs or concentrations in four main areas of study: humanities, engineering, natural sciences, and social sciences.

6. California Institute of Technology

California Institute of Technology
Source
  • Location: Pasadena, California
  • Average cost of attendance: $77,718
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 3:1
  • Average early-career salary: $87,600

The California Institute of Technology, more commonly known as Caltech, is one of the few American technological institutes focused on the pure and applied sciences. Undergraduates at Caltech can choose from over 20 majors spread over six academic divisions, which include Biology and Biological Engineering, Geological and Planetary Sciences, and Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy.

7. University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania
Source
  • Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Average cost of attendance: $79,635
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 6:1
  • Average early-career salary: $76,800

Founded by American Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, the University of Pennsylvania is known for establishing the country’s first medical school and first collegiate business school. The university currently offers over 90 undergraduate majors through the College of Arts and Sciences, the Wharton School, School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the School of Nursing.

8. Duke University

Duke University
Source
  • Location: Durham, North Carolina
  • Average cost of attendance: $78,828
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 6:1
  • Average early-career salary: $75,400

Duke University currently offers over 100 majors and minors, including Art History, Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies, Neuroscience, and Public Policy Studies. Students also have the option to pursue individualized degree programs. Aside from its academic excellence, Duke University’s Gothic campus ranks as one of the best college campuses in terms of aesthetics.

9. Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College
Source
  • Location: Hanover, New Hampshire
  • Average cost of attendance: $79,525
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 7:1
  • Average early-career salary: $75,500

Undergraduate students at Dartmouth College can pursue Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Engineering degrees. The university offers more than 60 majors, including Art History, Biomedical Engineering Sciences, and Government. Students can also choose to take interdisciplinary and specialized programs.

10. Columbia University

Columbia University
Source
  • Location: New York City, New York
  • Average cost of attendance: $82,040
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 6:1
  • Average early-career salary: $76,100

Aside from being one of the United States’ top 110 best college campuses, Columbia University is known as one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the country. Today, the university has grown to include three undergraduate schools and 13 schools for postgraduate and professional studies. The university also offers joint degree programs with institutions such as the Union Theological Seminary and the Juilliard School.

11. Pomona College

Pomona College
Source
  • Location: Claremont, California
  • Average cost of attendance: $77,749
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 8:1
  • Average early-career salary: $69,100

A member of the Claremont Colleges consortium, Pomona College is known for its selectivity, having one of the lowest acceptance rates among liberal arts colleges in the U.S. The college currently offers 48 majors, which include Environmental Analysis, Media Studies, and Physics and Astronomy. Pomona College students can also take classes at the other member-colleges of the Claremont Colleges consortium.

12. Williams College

Williams College
Source
  • Location: Williamstown, Massachusetts
  • Average cost of attendance: $63,200
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 7:1
  • Average early-career salary: $67,600

As a small liberal arts college, Williams College is made up of only three academic divisions that offer 36 majors, numerous minors and concentrations, and two doctoral programs. These majors include Arabic Studies, Economics, Geosciences, and Theatre, and students have the option to pursue double majors during their course of study.

13. Brown University

Brown University
Source
  • Location: Providence, Rhode Island
  • Average cost of attendance: $80,448
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 6:1
  • Average early-career salary: $71,700

Brown University offers over 80 concentrations or majors to undergraduates, with popular concentrations including Computer Science, Engineering, Biology, English, and Economics (Courses Factbook, n.d.). Students at Brown University can also cross-register at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and pursue the Brown/RISD Dual Degree Program.

14. Amherst College

Amherst College
Source
  • Location: Amherst, Massachusetts
  • Average cost of attendance: $84,458
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 7:1
  • Average early-career salary: $68,100

Amherst College provides a liberal-arts education through 40 majors and more than 850 courses. Aside from majors such as Black Studies, French, Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought, and Theater and Dance, the college offers an open curriculum that allows students to cross-enroll at member colleges of the Five College Consortium.

15. University of Notre Dame

University of Notre Dame
Source
  • Location: Notre Dame, Indiana
  • Average cost of attendance: $76,883
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
  • Average early-career salary: $68,300

The University of Notre Dame comprises eight colleges and schools, six of which offer undergraduate degree programs. These programs include Medieval Studies, Accountancy, Aerospace Engineering, Global Affairs, and Biochemistry. Aside from its academic programs, the university is also known for its campus, which features landmarks such as the Golden Dome and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

16. Rice University

Rice University
Source
  • Location: Houston, Texas
  • Average cost of attendance: $69,557
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 6:1
  • Average early-career salary: $72,400

Undergraduates at Rice University become members of one of 11 residential colleges, the oldest of which were established in 1957, and are expected to adhere to a strict Honor Code. The university offers more than 50 undergraduate majors in six divisions of study, including music, humanities, natural and social sciences, and engineering.

17. Wellesley College

Wellesley College
Source
  • Location: Wellesley, Massachusetts
  • Average cost of attendance: $76,220
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 8:1
  • Average early-career salary: $61,600

Established as a liberal arts college for women, Wellesley College offers more than 50 departmental and interdepartmental majors, including Astrophysics, Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences, and Peace and Justice Studies. Students can also participate in cross-registration programs with other Boston-area universities, such as Brandeis University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

18. Cornell University

Cornell University
Source
  • Location: Ithaca, New York
  • Average cost of attendance: $77,952
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
  • Average early-career salary: $71,600

Cornell University is made up of endowed colleges and state-supported statutory colleges, which are operated in contract with the state of New York. Altogether, these colleges offer 80 undergraduate majors, including Applied Economics and Management, Design and Environmental Analysis, Development Sociology, and Hotel Administration.

19. Georgetown University

Georgetown University
Source
  • Location: Georgetown, Washington, D.C.
  • Average cost of attendance: $69,372
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 11:1
  • Average early-career salary: $69,400

Georgetown University was established in 1789 as the first Catholic and Jesuit institution of higher education in the U.S. The university has since grown to include ten schools that provide undergraduate and graduate education. Majors and programs at the university include Aging and Health, Biological Physics, Comparative Literature, and Finance.

20. University of Chicago

University of Chicago
Source
  • Location: Chicago, Illinois
  • Average cost of attendance: $80,277
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 5:1
  • Average early-career salary: $65,800

One of the most selective universities in the country, the University of Chicago comprises one undergraduate college and eight schools for postgraduate and professional studies. The university’s undergraduate college offers over 50 majors such as Biological Sciences, Philosophy, Law, Letters, and Society, Geophysical Studies, and Comparative Human Development.

21. Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University
Source
  • Location: Baltimore, Maryland
  • Average cost of attendance: $77,397
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 6:1
  • Average early-career salary: $72,800

Considered one of the first research universities in the country, Johns Hopkins University comprises nine academic divisions, three of which offer undergraduate programs. These programs include Behavioral Biology, Computer Engineering, International Studies, and Jazz Performance. Part-time and non-degree programs are also available to students.

22. Wesleyan University

Wesleyan University
Source
  • Location: Middletown, Connecticut
  • Average cost of attendance: $78,435
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 8:1
  • Average early-career salary: $64,600

Students at Wesleyan University have the option to pursue over 1,000 courses in more than 60 major and minor fields of study. Programs at the university include Archaeology, Dance, Education Studies, and Neuroscience and Behavior. Students who are interested in more intensive research can also pursue the university’s BA/MA program.

23. Bowdoin College

Bowdoin College
Source
  • Location: Brunswick, Maine
  • Average cost of attendance: $72,505
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
  • Average early-career salary: $65,200

Bowdoin College is focused on providing a liberal arts education through numerous academic departments and over 40 majors. Popular majors at the college include Government and Legal Studies, Economics, Mathematics, Biology, and Neuroscience. Students at Bowdoin College can also participate in shared programs with the University of Maine, Columbia University, and Dartmouth College.

24. Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University
Source
  • Location: Nashville, Tennessee
  • Average cost of attendance: $75,974
  • Research activity: Very High
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 7:1
  • Average early-career salary: $69,300

Vanderbilt University confers bachelor’s master’s and doctoral degrees through its 10 schools and colleges. Academic programs at the university include Anthropology, Child Development, Biostatistics, Learning and Design, Law, and Medicine. Students can also pursue a number of programs online through the university’s nursing and engineering schools.

25. Northwestern University

Northwestern University
Source
  • Location: Evanston, Illinois
  • Average cost of attendance: $79,342
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 6:1
  • Average early-career salary: $67,000

Northwestern University provides undergraduate and postgraduate education through its 11 colleges and schools. The university offers 4,000 undergraduate courses along with over 100 majors and minors. Students also have the option to pursue double majors and dual degrees, such as BA/BS in Liberal Arts in Engineering and BSJ/BMus in Journalism and Music.

26. Harvey Mudd College

Harvey Mudd College
Source
  • Location: Claremont, California
  • Average cost of attendance: $79,539
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 8:1
  • Average early-career salary: $91,400

Harvey Mudd College offers majors that are heavily focused on the sciences and engineering. Aside from traditional majors, students can also pursue joint majors such as Mathematics and Physics and Chemistry and Biology. The college’s undergraduate engineering program has been ranked as one of the best in the country (Harvey Mudd College Rankings. n.d.).

27. Swarthmore College

Swarthmore College
Source
  • Location: Swarthmore, Pennsylvania
  • Average cost of attendance: $71,110
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 8:1
  • Average early-career salary: $67,700

Swarthmore College is known as one of the first coeducational institutions of higher education in the United States. Students at the college can pursue programs of study in a broad range of fields, such as Peace and Conflict Studies, Cognitive Science, and Economics. The college also allows students to design their own academic programs under the mentorship of faculty.

28. Vassar College

Vassar College
Source
  • Location: Dutchess County, New York
  • Average cost of attendance: $75,920
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 8:1
  • Average early-career salary: $59,300

Vassar College comprises 30 departments that offer over 50 majors, and the college also offers interdepartmental and multidisciplinary programs to students. The Independent Program is available to students who want to design their own field of concentration. The college has partnered with Columbia University and Dartmouth College in order to offer dual-degree programs.

29. Brandeis University

Brandeis University
Source
  • Location: Waltham, Massachusetts
  • Average cost of attendance: $73,120
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 10 : 1
  • Average early-career salary: $61,400

Brandeis University comprises five schools and colleges, the largest of which is the Brandeis University College of Arts and Sciences. Through this college, students can pursue a variety of majors in fields such as the humanities, the sciences, and the creative arts. The university allows students to pursue up to three majors.

30. Claremont McKenna College

Claremont McKenna College
Source
  • Location: Claremont, California
  • Average cost of attendance: $76,475
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
  • Average early-career salary: $73,800

Another member of the consortium of Claremont Colleges, Claremont McKenna College is focused on undergraduate education, offering 33 majors. Popular majors at the liberal arts college include Economics, Government, Psychology, Computer Science, and International Relations (Fact Sheet, n.d.). Students can also pursue joint and dual-degree programs at the college.

31. Bates College

Bates College
Source
  • Location: Lewiston, Maine
  • Average cost of attendance: $78,733
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
  • Average early-career salary: $59,100

Bates College is focused on providing undergraduate education in fields of study such as engineering, social sciences, and the humanities. Majors at the college include Digital & Computational Studies, Politics, and Environmental Studies. The college also offers an Honors Program that allows students to undertake independent research in their majors.

32. Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University
Source
  • Location: Lexington, Virginia
  • Average cost of attendance: $77,600
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 8:1
  • Average early-career salary: $66,500

One of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the country, Washington and Lee University was founded in 1749 as the Augusta Academy. Today, the university offers over 70 majors and minors through the College and the Williams School of Commerce, Economics, and Politics. These majors include Accounting and Finance, Cognitive and Behavioral Science, and Integrated Engineering.

33. New York University

New York University
Source
  • Location: New York City, New York
  • Average cost of attendance: $78,742
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
  • Average early-career salary: $56,600

New York University is one of the largest private universities in the country in terms of enrollment, with 10 undergraduate schools and 15 graduate schools. Academic programs at the university include Advanced Mathematical Methods, Bioinformatics, and Journalism & Religion. Students can also choose to participate in accelerated undergraduate and graduate studies.

34. Middlebury College

Middlebury College
Source
  • Location: Middlebury, Vermont
  • Average cost of attendance: $76,946
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 8:1
  • Average early-career salary: $64,200

Founded in 1800, Middlebury College is a small liberal arts college offering over 40 majors and more than 850 courses. The college is also known for being the first institution of higher education in the country to offer a major in environmental studies. In addition, the college administers the Middlebury Language Schools, which enroll over a thousand students every summer.

35. Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University
Source
  • Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Average cost of attendance: $77,395
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 13:1
  • Average early-career salary: $80,800

Carnegie Mellon University was established in 1900 as the Carnegie Technical Schools, but the school has since grown to include seven schools and colleges focused on fields such as engineering, computer science, business, the humanities, and public policy management. The university is also known for its research excellence, housing over 100 research centers and institutes.

36. Davidson College

Davidson College
Source
  • Location: Davidson, North Carolina
  • Average cost of attendance: $70,225
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
  • Average early-career salary: $61,700

Recognized as one of the best national liberal arts colleges in the U.S. (Davidson College Rankings, n.d.), Davidson College offers over 60 majors and minors, along with five pre-professional programs. Students at the college can also participate in over 125 study-abroad programs in more than 40 countries.

37. Barnard College

Barnard College
Source
  • Location: New York City, New York
  • Average cost of attendance: $76,279
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
  • Average early-career salary: $60,000

Barnard College is a women’s liberal arts college that maintains historical ties with Columbia University. Today, the college offers Bachelor of Arts programs in over 40 areas of study, including architecture, economics, film, and human rights. Barnard College also works with Columbia University to provide double majors, joint majors, and accelerated master’s degree programs.

38. Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University
Source
  • Location: Santa Clara, California
  • Average cost of attendance: $48,656
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
  • Average early-career salary: $71,100

Established by a Franciscan friar in 1851, Santa Clara University is California’s oldest institution of higher learning still in operation. Santa Clara University is made up of six colleges and schools that offer more than 40 majors and minors, along with specialized programs for education, medicine, and law. The university also continues to maintain its Jesuit affiliation.

39. Colgate University

Colgate University
Source
  • Location: Hamilton, New York
  • Average cost of attendance: $77,580
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
  • Average early-career salary: $69,700

Colgate University is a private liberal arts college offering a Bachelor of Arts degree in over 56 majors and minors, including Astrogeophysics, Environmental Economics, Philosophy and Religion, and Political Science. The university also offers Scholars Programs for high-achieving students and pre-professional programs in health services, engineering, and business.

40. Emory University

Emory University
Source
  • Location: Atlanta, Georgia
  • Average cost of attendance: $72,964
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 8:1
  • Average early-career salary: $66,400

One of the oldest institutions of higher education in Georgia, Emory University offers bachelor’s, associate, master’s, and doctoral degrees in fields such as the arts and humanities, business, the liberal arts, theology, and public health. The university also offers a dual-degree engineering program through collaboration with the Georgia Institute of Technology.

41. Wake Forest University

Wake Forest University
Source
  • Location: Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  • Average cost of attendance: $77,342
  • Research activity: High
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 11:1
  • Average early-career salary: $61,500

Undergraduates at Wake Forest University pursue a liberal arts curriculum through over 90 majors and minors in fields such as accountancy, bioethics, classical languages, elementary education, and mathematical business. Students also have the option to design their own academic programs through the university’s Open Curriculum program.

42. Haverford College

Haverford College
Source
  • Location: Haverford, Pennsylvania
  • Average cost of attendance: $75,966
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
  • Average early-career salary: $61,300

Founded by Quakers in 1833, Haverford College focuses on providing undergraduate education, awarding Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. The college offers numerous majors, minors, and concentrations in fields such as anthropology, classical culture, health studies, and justice and human rights.

43. Lafayette College

Lafayette College
Source
  • Location: Easton, Pennsylvania
  • Average cost of attendance: $72,005
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 11:1
  • Average early-career salary: $68,400

Known for its selectivity and academic excellence, Lafayette College offers Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in four academic divisions: engineering, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. The college also offers over 20 community-based learning courses and a number of interdisciplinary programs.

44. Lehigh University

Lehigh University
Source
  • Location: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
  • Average cost of attendance: $70,125
  • Research activity: High
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
  • Average early-career salary: $70,300

Recognized as one of the country’s best universities for undergraduate teaching, Lehigh University comprises five colleges and offers over 2,300 academic programs and courses. The university offers more than 100 undergraduate degree programs and majors, including Africana Studies, Arts and Engineering, Finance, and Computer Science and Business.

45. Tulane University

Tulane University
Source
  • Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Average cost of attendance: $77,678
  • Research activity: Very high
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 8:1
  • Average early-career salary: $59,700

One of the first private universities in the country, Tulane University is known for being a pioneer in law and medical education in the U.S. Aside from the school that oversees their majors, undergraduates at the university are also enrolled in the Newcomb-Tulane College, which provides academic services, funding opportunities, and internships.

46. Villanova University

Villanova University
Source
  • Location: Villanova, Pennsylvania
  • Average cost of attendance: $72,435
  • Research activity: High
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 11:1
  • Average early-career salary: $54,000

Named in honor of Saint Thomas of Villanova, Villanova University includes six colleges and schools that offer undergraduate and postgraduate education. The university offers more than 60 bachelor’s programs in areas of study such as the sciences, engineering, nursing, and liberal arts. Though the school is primarily a Catholic university, it remains open to students of all faiths and ethical backgrounds.

47. Bryn Mawr College

Bryn Mawr College
Source
  • Location: Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
  • Average cost of attendance: $88,380
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 8 to 1
  • Average early-career salary: $59,200

Bryn Mawr College is a small women’s college focused on providing undergraduate and postgraduate education centered on the liberal arts. Academic programs at the college include Health Studies, Computational Methods, Education, and Creative Writing. Bryn Mawr College is also known as the first American women’s college to offer a PhD degree.

48. College of the Holy Cross

College of the Holy Cross
Source
  • Location: Worcester, Massachusetts
  • Average cost of attendance: $75,010
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
  • Average early-career salary: $61,300

One of the oldest Catholic colleges in the United States, the College of the Holy Cross offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in over 25 majors. These majors include Chemistry, Environmental Studies, Music, and Psychology. Students at the college also have the option to combine majors and design their own course of study.

49. Scripps College

Scripps College
Source
  • Location: Claremont, California
  • Average cost of attendance: $74,979
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
  • Average early-career salary: $56,100

Named after journalist and philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps, Scripps College is known as an undergraduate women’s institution focused on interdisciplinary education. Popular majors at the university include Biology/Life Sciences, English, Natural Resources and Conservation, Psychology, and Communications/Journalism (About Scripps, n.d.).

50. Kenyon College

Kenyon College
Source
  • Location: Gambier, Ohio
  • Average cost of attendance: $73,930
  • Research activity: No information available
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
  • Average early-career salary: $58,000

A small liberal arts college, Kenyon College offers over 50 majors, minors, and concentrations in four academic divisions: natural science, social science, fine arts, and humanities. The college also provides students with opportunities for designing their own majors and pursuing faculty-mentored independent research.

Top 10 Community Colleges

In the U.S., community colleges commonly offer two-year programs that lead to an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degree. Many of these colleges also offer vocational and technical degrees and certificates. In many cases, undergraduate students can enroll at community colleges as a less expensive way of earning academic credit towards a bachelor’s degree (Community College, 2019).

According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, popular fields of study at community colleges include the liberal arts and sciences, health professions, and business and related programs.

Source: Digest of Education Statistics 2019

1. University of South Carolina Lancaster

University of South Carolina Lancaster
Source
  • Location: Lancaster, South Carolina
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $3,984 / $9,264
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 14:1
  • Earnings six years after graduation: $44,900

Founded in 1959, the University of South Carolina Lancaster is one of the four regional Palmetto Colleges of the University of South Carolina system. This community college currently offers four associate degrees: Associate in Arts, Associate in Science, Associate in Science-Business, and Associate in Science-Criminal Justice. The college also offers bachelor’s degree completion programs for students who have earned sufficient college credit.

2. New Mexico Military Institute

New Mexico Military Institute
Source
  • Location: Roswell, New Mexico
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $15,667 / $22,061
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 12:1
  • Earnings six years after graduation: $39,700

The New Mexico Military Institute is a military junior college known for its academic competitiveness. A designated land-grant institution, the college comprises four academic divisions in fields such as the humanities, mathematics and sciences, and social science. The institute also offers various preparatory programs for further studies at the country’s service academies.

3. College of San Mateo

College of San Mateo
Source
  • Location: San Mateo, California
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $28,288 / $35,932
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 26:1
  • Earnings six years after graduation: $40,700

Part of the San Mateo County Community College District, the College of San Mateo offers over 70 Associate in Arts and Associate in Science degree programs and certificate programs in fields such as business and technology, creative arts, social science, kinesiology, and language arts. The college also offers transfer degrees that guarantee admission to other California-based colleges, including seven of nine University of California campuses.

4. University of South Carolina Sumter

University of South Carolina Sumter
Source
  • Location: Sumter, South Carolina
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $3,894 / $9,264
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 15:1
  • Earnings six years after graduation: $34,300

University of South Carolina (USC) Sumter started offering classes in 1973, conferring two-year associate’s degrees. The college offers Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees with concentrations in fields such as criminal justice, sociology, liberal studies, business, and human services. Students can also pursue Bachelor’s Degree completion programs through the college’s partnerships with USC Columbia and USC Aiken.

5. CUNY Stella & Charles Guttman Community College

CUNY Stella & Charles Guttman Community College
Source
  • Location: New York City, New York
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $5,194 / $8,074
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 15:1
  • Earnings six years after graduation: No information available

Established in 2012, the Guttman Community College offers Associate of Arts and Associate of Applied Science degrees in fields such as business administration, information technology, and liberal arts and sciences. The community college also offers several pre-college programs, which include seminars and workshops, to help students improve their college readiness.

6. Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute

Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute
Source
  • Location: Wooster, Ohio
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: ​​$28,074 / $51,482
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 15:1
  • Earnings six years after graduation: $46,100

The largest institution of its kind in the country, the Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute is the associate-degree granting program of the Ohio State University. This community college offers Associate of Applied Science degrees in numerous programs and majors, including Agricultural Education, Animal Sciences, Agronomy, and Food Business Management.

7. Tennessee Technology Center at Jackson

Tennessee Technology Center at Jackson
Source
  • Location: Jackson, Tennessee
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $3,936
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 15:1
  • Earnings six years after graduation: $27,800

Tennessee Technology Center at Jackson is a member of the state’s system of technical training schools, first offering courses in 1965. The school offers a wide range of full-time programs, including Administrative Office Technology, Computer Information Systems, Industrial Electricity, and Practical Nursing.

8. Fox Valley Technical College

Fox Valley Technical College
Source
  • Location: Grand Chute, Wisconsin
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $17,272 / $19,228
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 11:1
  • Earnings six years after graduation: $36,100

Established in 1967, Fox Valley Technical College offers over 200 study programs leading to associate’s degrees, technical diplomas, and specialized certificates. The college offers education in a wide range of fields, including agribusiness science and technology, landscape construction, laboratory science, and forest management.

9. Marion Military Institute

Marion Military Institute
Source
  • Location: Marion, Alabama
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $16,168 / $22,168
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 16:1
  • Earnings six years after graduation: $42,700

The oldest military junior college in the country, Marion Military Institute confers Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees, with curricula centered around humanities and fine arts, natural sciences and math, and history, social, and behavioral sciences. Specialized preparatory programs such as the Service Academy Program are also available to students.

10. Lake Area Technical College

Lake Area Technical College
Source
  • Location: Watertown, South Dakota
  • Average in-state/out-of-state cost of attendance: $16,264
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 17:1
  • Earnings six years after graduation: $36,900

Lake Area Technical College was established in 1965 as South Dakota’s first technical school. This community college has since grown to offer on-campus and online programs in various fields of study, including agriculture, building trades technology, cosmetology, energy operations, law enforcement, precision machining, and robotics.

Best Practices for Choosing a College

The benefits of pursuing higher education are well-documented but equally important is making the right choice when it comes to the university or college to attend. One study, for instance, found that graduation rates improve when students choose a university or college where the level of academic skill exceeds their own (Goodman et al., 2015).

To help students make a sound decision on where to pursue higher education, below are some best practices:

  • Create a shortlist of universities or colleges. The college search can quickly turn into an overwhelming process, and creating a shortlist can help students maintain focus. Factors such as location, tuition costs, and available programs can help narrow down the list.
  • Engage with schools of interest. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, universities and colleges are finding more ways than ever to reach out to potential enrollees. Virtual tours and “meet a student” chats provide a good way to get a feel of campus life without violating safety protocols.
  • Get in touch with admissions officers. Admissions officers can provide detailed answers to a wide variety of questions about a university’s academic environment and campus culture. For instance, admissions officers can sufficiently address questions about important college choice factors such as academic support and career readiness.

 

References:

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  4. Colorado Public Radio Staff. (2018, August 14). School of Mines debuts the world’s first degree program for space mining. Colorado Public Radio
  5. Community college. (2019, September 26). EducationUSA
  6. Courses factbook. (n.d.). Brown University. Retrieved January 7, 2021, from Brown University
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  8. Data digest 2019-2020. (2020). Retrieved January 11, 2021, from University of Wisconsin–Madison
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  11. Facts: Fall 2019 (61). (2020). Retrieved January 11, 2021, from California State University, Los Angeles
  12. Fast facts. (2019, November 14). Retrieved January 11, 2021, from John Jay College of Criminal Justice
  13. Goodman, J., Hurwitz, M., & Smith, J. (2015). College access, initial college choice and degree completion. National Bureau of Economic Research
  14. Harvey Mudd College Rankings. (n.d.). U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved January 8, 2021, from U.S. News and World Report
  15. Higher Education Research and Development Survey Fiscal Year 2018 (2019). Higher education R&D expenditures, ranked by FY 2018 R&D expenditures: FYs 2009–18 [Table]. National Science Foundation.
  16. Ma, J., Pender, M., & Welch, M. (2019). Education Pays 2019: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society. Trends in Higher Education Series. College Board
  17. Ma, J., Pender, M., & Libassi, C. (2020). Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid 2020. Trends in Higher Education Series. College Board
  18. Other undergraduate education facts. (n.d.). Stanford University. Retrieved January 5, 2021, from Stanford University
  19. Public research universities: Why they matter. (2015). American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  20. Rankings. (n.d.). Retrieved January 6, 2021, from Georgia Tech
  21. Research. (n.d.). Retrieved January 6, 2021, from Rutgers University-New Brunswick
  22. The best veterinary medicine programs in America, ranked. (n.d.). U.S. News & World Report
  23. UMass Amherst Factbook (2020). Undergraduate Students by Major, Fall 2011 to 2020 [Table]. University of Massachusetts Amherst
  24. University of California–Irvine – Overall Rankings. (n.d.). Retrieved January 6, 2021, from US News
  25. Wong, A. (2018, September 11). At private colleges, students pay for prestige. The Atlantic
  26. W&M facts and rankings. (n.d.). Retrieved January 6, 2021, from College of William & Mary
  27. Yale facts and statistics. (2020). Retrieved January 6, 2021, from Yale University

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