Best public universities in the United States 2022
Find the best public universities in the US using Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education’s US College Rankings data
Top 10 public universities in the US
Scroll down for the full list of the best public universities in the US
|Public University Rank 2022||US College Rank 2022||University||City||State|
|1||24||University of Michigan-Ann Arbor||Ann Arbor||Michigan|
|2||27||University of California, Los Angeles||Los Angeles||California|
|3||33||University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||Chapel Hill||North Carolina|
|4||=36||University of California, Berkeley||Berkeley||California|
|5||=40||University of California, Davis||Davis||California|
|6||=43||University of California, San Diego||La Jolla||California|
|=7||=45||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||Champaign||Illinois|
|=7||=45||University of Washington -Seattle||Seattle||Washington|
|9||47||United States Military Academy||West Point||New York|
|10||48||Purdue University West Lafayette||West Lafayette||Indiana|
When many people think of the best universities in the US, the Ivy League – a group of eight highly ranked private universities – comes to mind.
However, while the resources available to the country’s top private institutions can result in them dominating the upper echelons of university and college rankings, the best public universities in the US should not be overlooked. Most public universities in the US are state universities, operated by state governments, and are often grouped into “systems”.
Every US state is required to have at least one public university, although some of the larger states may have many public universities. Such institutions will often offer discounted tuition fees for students who are residents of the state.
Based on data collected by the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education US College Rankings, we’ve put together a list of the top 100 public universities in the US.
The best public universities can be found across the US, but there are clusters of high-ranking institutions in California and New York. Some 27 of the best public universities are present in the top 100 of the overall US College Rankings.
The WSJ/THE US College Rankings is a more student-centred ranking because of its emphasis on student outcomes and engagement. While previously we have used results from the US Student Survey for the ranking, we were unable to conduct a survey in 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, we have used data from the 2019 survey to inform this year’s ranking. The full methodology can be found here.
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Top 5 public universities in the US
5. University of California, Davis
-The University of California, Davis is the third campus of the University of California system to feature in the top five of the US College Ranking.
-It was founded primarily as an agricultural campus but has expanded over the past century to cover medicine, law, education, nursing, veterinary medicine and business management.
The university is well known for its commitment to sustainability; one goal is that 25 per cent of food service spending by campus will be on sustainable food products by 2030. An on-campus “biodigester”, which was invented at the university, can turn 50 tonnes of waste into energy for the campus every day.
4. University of California, Berkeley
-The University of California, Berkeley is one of 10 research universities affiliated with the University of California system.
-Alumni, faculty and researchers include more than 100 Nobel laureates, 20 Academy Award winners, 14 Pulitzer winners, 117 Olympic gold medallists and 13 Fields Medal winners.
The university is split into 14 colleges and schools that include chemistry, engineering, business, natural resources and optometry.
3. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
-The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is one of 17 campuses that are part of the University of North Carolina system.
-It was chartered in 1789 and the university started enrolling students in 1795, meaning that it is one of the oldest public universities in the US.
The university offers 74 bachelor’s, 104 master’s, 65 doctoral degree and seven professional degree programmes.
Students can participate in more than 550 student organisations, and the student-run newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, has won national awards for collegiate media.
2. University of California, Los Angeles
-Located in the Westwood district of Los Angeles, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is part of the University of California system.
-The university offers more than 125 majors and 80 minors for undergraduates, as well as almost 150 graduate degree programmes.
The most popular undergraduate majors are business, economics, biology, psychology, political science and economics.
The university is affiliated with 15 Nobel laureates, 15 MacArthur fellows and 118 National Collegiate Athletic Association titles, while 270 Olympic medals have been won by alumni or students. Additionally, more than 140 companies have been created based on technology developed at UCLA.
Notable alumni include NFL Super Bowl quarterback Troy Aikman; the first African American mayor of Los Angeles, Tom Bradley; actor James Franco; and Taylor Wang, the first Chinese American astronaut.
1. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
-The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor was founded in 1817 with just seven students taught by two professors. By 1866, there were 1,205 students, and the first women were admitted to the university in 1870.
-The university was also the first in the US to hold seminars as a method of study.
Student-run newspaper The Michigan Daily was founded in 1890 and is published five days a week during the academic year.
Other student publications include The Michigan Review and The Michigan Independent. Students also run the humour publications Gargoyle and The Every Three Weekly. Several academic journals are also published at the institution.
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