Best National Research Universities

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Best National Research Universities Badge

Our 2016 Ranking of the Best National Research Universities are based exclusively on factors actual college freshmen said were most important to their college decision. According to the most recent nationwide survey published by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, these factors include academic reputation, financial aid offerings, overall cost, and success of graduates in the post-college job market. Each of these factors were weighted equally in our ranking and data was derived from a variety of publicly available sources, including U.S. News & World Report, the National Center for Education Statistics, and PayScale.com.

Top 10 Best National Research Universities

Rank School Location
1 Yale University New Haven, CT
2 Harvard University Cambridge, MA
3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA
4 Stanford University Stanford, CA
5 Columbia University New York, NY
6 California Institute of Technology Pasadena, CA
7 Princeton University Princeton, NJ
8 Duke University Durham, NC
9 University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA
10 Dartmouth College Hanover, NH
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  1. Yale University
    Location

    New Haven, CT

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Yale University was founded in 1701 along 342 acres in New Haven, CT. It is home to 5,430 students. Yale's curriculum encourages students to study both widely and in depth across several disciplines. In addition to probing a major field in depth, students are expected to explore the humanities and arts, social sciences, and natural sciences. Students at Yale enjoy very small classes (76.8 percent have fewer than 20 students) and a very low student/faculty ratio of 6:1. Yale only accepts a very elite 6.9 percent of its applicants, 99 percent of whom return for their sophomore year. Tuition and fees at Yale University total $45,800, but 100 percent of students had their financial needs met in full.

  2. Harvard University
    Location

    Cambridge, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    One of the oldest schools in the country, Harvard University is home to 6,722 students. Harvard's extensive library system houses the oldest collection in the United States and the largest private collection in the world. Harvard boasts an intimate student/faculty ratio of 7:1, 75.6 percent of its classes have fewer than twenty students, and 97.3 percent of freshmen return for their second year. Only the best of the best are accepted into Harvard University, as it has a most selective admission rate of 5.8 percent, 86 percent of whom graduate in four years. The average starting salary for students is $57,700.

  3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Location

    Cambridge, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Massachusetts Institute of Technology is the world's leading institution for education and research in the theoretical and applied sciences. MIT admits 8.2 percent of its applicants, 97.5 percent of whom return for their sophomore year, and 84 percent of whom graduate in four years. The most popular areas of study at the institute are Engineering, Computer Science, Physical Sciences, Biological and Biomedical Sciences, and Mathematics. With a student/faculty ratio of 8:1 and with 68.9 percent of its classes having less than 20 students, students at MIT enjoy a very personalized academic environment. The cost for tuition and fees at MIT total $45,016 per year and 100 percent of students had their financial needs met in full.

  4. Stanford University
    Location

    Stanford, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Stanford University is the elite research university of the western United States. Located in Palo Alto, California, Stanford is home to 7,061 students who are able to learn in one of the nation's most dynamic entrepreneurial environments. The student/faculty ratio is a very small 5:1, class sizes are quite small, with 68.8 percent having less than 20 students, and Stanford has a 98.3 percent freshman retention. The university only accepts 5.7 percent of its applicants and tuition and fees total $44,757 per year.

  5. Columbia University
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Columbia University has a total cost for tuition and fees of $51,008 per year, but 100 percent of its students had their financial needs fully met. Columbia is home to 6,084 students who enter into one of the university's three undergraduate colleges: Columbia College, The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), and the School of General Studies. Columbia has a student/faculty ratio of 6:1, and 81.6 percent of its classes have fewer than twenty students. Ninety-nine percent of students returned for their second year and 88 percent graduate in fours years. The average starting salary for students is $59,200.

  6. California Institute of Technology
    Location

    Pasadena, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    California Institute of Technology was founded in 1891 on 124 acres in Pasadena, CA, 11 miles north of downtown Los Angeles. It is home to only 977 students, who enjoy very small classes (62.7 percent have fewer than 20 students) and a very low student/faculty ratio of 3:1. Cal Tech only accepts 10.6 percent of its applicants, 97.3 percent of whom return for their sophomore year. Tuition and fees at Cal Tech total $43,362 per year, and 100 percent of students had their financial needs met in full and the average graduate pay is $74,800 a year.

  7. Princeton University
    Location

    Princeton, NJ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Ranked as the number one nation university by US News and World Report, Princeton University is home to 5,323 students. Located in the picturesque town of Princeton, NJ, the university boasts an intimate student/faculty ratio of 6:1, with 70.9 percent of its classes having fewer than twenty students, and 98.3 percent of freshmen returning for their second year. Tuition and fees at Princeton University total $41,820 per year, and the average starting pay for graduates is $60,000.

  8. Duke University
    Location

    Durham, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located on 8,709 acres in Durham, NC, Duke University is comprised of 10 schools and colleges. Duke accepts 12.4 percent of its applicants, and its 6,646 students are drawn from all across the nation. With a student/faculty ratio of 7:1 and with 71.1 percent of its class having less than 20 students, students at Duke enjoy a very personalized academic environment. The cost for tuition and fees at Duke University total $47,488 per year and 100 percent of students had their financial needs met in full.

  9. University of Pennsylvania
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Pennsylvania was founded in 1740 by Benjamin Franklin and now offers a compelling mixture of world-class liberal arts coursework and pre-professional education. Located on 302 acres in downtown Philadelphia, Penn is home to 9,712 students. The student/faculty ratio is a small 6:1, class sizes are quite small, with 68.3 percent having less than 20 students, and Penn has a 97.8 percent freshman retention. The university only accepts 12.2 percent of its applicants and tuition and fees total $47,668 per year.

  10. Dartmouth College
    Location

    Hanover, NH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Dartmouth College has a total cost for tuition and fees of $48,108 per year, but 100 percent of its students had their financial needs fully met. Nearly 60 percent of Dartmouth students are involved in the Greek system, and the college offers many student organizations, including The Outing Club—the oldest and largest collegiate outing club in the country. Dartmouth has a student/faculty ratio of 8:1, and 61.8 percent of its classes have fewer than twenty students. Of its 4,276 students, 97.8 percent returned for their second year. The average starting salary for students from Dartmouth College is $55,500.

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