Best Colleges Rankings

The Official Rankings of Best Colleges in the US

Top Test Prep studied the nation’s top college undergraduate programs, both college and university-style institutions. Using metrics like average salary of alumni, graduation rates, acceptance rates, alongside level of diversity, our college rankings experts  ranked the Top Twenty colleges in the country. Check out the list below to see the best of the best colleges in the US.


The Best Colleges in the US – Official Ranking of Top Colleges

1. Yale University Yale ranked consistently at the top of all the metrics used for college rankings. Yale edged out Harvard and Princeton because of its selectivity and graduation rates.
Without doubt, Yale’s academics rank among the best of the best. Political science, humanities, government, and a host of other subject areas are Yale’s strengths. Yale opens doors for its graduates.
2. Harvard University Harvard continues to set the standard for universities worldwide. With a massive endowment, brilliant faculty and student body, as well as top-flight facilities and research opportunities, Harvard could top this list as easily as Yale.
3. Princeton University Princeton ranks third on this list because of the average salary of their alumni, both starting and mid-career. Princeton is always vying for the top spot because of its strong emphasis on its undergraduates as well as its top notch research programs.
4. Stanford University The best school on the West Coast, bar none, and a clear choice for a top five position. Fantastic science programs and research opportunities are paired with a focus on areas traditionally considered the province of the liberal arts college, like languages.
5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Famous for its unmatched science and engineering programs, MIT also places emphasis on the humanities for its undergraduate students. This is the place to go for “hard science” on the East Coast.
6. Columbia University Columbia University, in New York City, offers some of the best and most rigorous programs in the Ivy League, and does all of it from its surprisingly tight-knit campus. The best of both worlds in many ways, Columbia offers small-school focus in a big-school setting.
7. California Institute of Technology Caltech cracks the top 10 on this year’s list no only because of its strong science and engineering programs, but also because of its ability to place its alumni in high paying jobs. Caltech also had the highest average SAT score of admitted students at a whopping 2300.
8. Dartmouth College The most rural of the Ivies, Dartmouth actually benefits from the seclusion with the bonus it receives to campus life and the increased focus on its undergraduate students and the time that they will spend there.
9. University of Chicago Chicago is known for the rigor of its programs. This is absolutely a school for the academically serious undergraduate. At the same time, the city’s proximity offers a welcome diversion from studies.
10. Duke University Duke University offers some of the most highly regarded academic programs in the country, and truly emphasizes the undergraduate experience. Modeled on the Ivies, Duke provides rigorous school work without detracting from the rollicking social atmosphere of a large Southern school.
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11. University of Pennsylvania Rigorous academics, strong all-around programs with a variety of majors, and exemplary student retention make Pomona one of the few exceptions to a field that is typically dominated by the Northeast. The weather is a plus.
12. Brown University Brown, out of all the Ivies, certainly offers the least restrictive and most open-ended program of study. A pass-fail grading system with no GPA makes Brown an attractive choice for students who are more concerned with content than percentage grades. Students are encouraged and supported by the faculty in their quest for intellectual fulfillment and the “right” course of study.
13. Williams College The best of the small liberal arts colleges, Williams has everything that a well-rounded student could desire, including an incredibly small class size and a level of access to professors impossible to find at larger institutions.
14. Vanderbilt University Located in Nashville, Tennessee, Vanderbilt is clearly one of the top choices if you are looking for a southern school. Strong athletic programs mixed with an intellectual student body make Vanderbilt a unique experience for students.
15. Swarthmore College A highly intellectual student body, with rigorous and varied academics. Swarthmore prides itself on fostering a “life of the mind”. On paper, the smartest of the small liberal arts crowd.
16. Pomona College Rigorous academics, strong all-around programs with a variety of majors, and exemplary student retention make Pomona one of the few exceptions to a field that is typically dominated by the Northeast. The weather is a plus.
17. Northwestern University Located at a happy distance from Chicago, Northwestern is close enough to put its students in striking range without scattering them in a fully urban campus. Northwestern is particularly known to those studying journalism and medicine.
18. Cornell University Housed in beautiful Ithaca, New York, Cornell has a heavy focus on its undergrads. Should they continue at Cornell, they can continue on into the graduate schools of Medicine, Engineering or the top-ranked Veterinary Medicine or Hotel Management schools.
19. Washington University in St. Louis While WashU is primarily known for its strong med school, its undergrad programs are strong all across the board. High quality of life for its student body as well as strong research opportunities make WashU an ideal choice for students who want a top notch education but are wary of the traditional big name schools.
20. Amherst College Typically vies with Williams for the top spot in the Northeast liberal arts schools, combining strong athletics with an academically superior environment, Amherst is a perennial contender and the most selective of the “Little Ivies”

This list of best colleges in the US includes definitive rankings to help guide students who are applying to the top colleges and universities. We have included both national colleges and liberal arts schools, to give applicants a better perspective on how the two compare.   These are official college rankings sanctioned by the TTP expert college rankings team.  If you are applying to the nation’s top colleges, contact the team to discuss your options and get college counseling.

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