US College Rankings: top universities in the USA

A new ranking of American colleges by Times Higher Education and The Wall Street Journal reveals the top universities in the US.

October 7 2016
cups in college

New US College Rankings reveal a list of the best schools in America, based on unique criteria for measuring excellence.

More than 1,000 American universities are included in the round-up of the best colleges in the United States.

College scores are calculated over four key areas: resources, engagement, student outcomes and the college environment.

The ranking does not award points for selectivity in admissions, focusing instead on the learning gains that students receive once they enter university, measured using indicators such as graduation rate, graduate salaries, loan repayment rates, student engagement and interaction between students and staff.

Based on these measures, the very top universities are all private, not-for-profit institutions, many based in California, New York or Massachusetts.


US College Rankings methodology: designed for students
US universities in the World University Rankings 2016-2017


Prestigious schools such as Stanford, MIT, Columbia and UPenn take the top spots, but the usual suspects aren’t all where we might expect them to place.

CalTech only just achieves a spot in the top 10, while the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, UCLA and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill all make it into the top 30 – the only public institutions to do so.

Most of the top 10 universities have undergraduate populations of significantly fewer than 10,000 students. Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania are the only exceptions, and both have about 10 per cent international students.

The WSJ/THE College Rankings were published by The Wall Street Journal in September 2016. Full results can be found here behind a paywall, or scroll down for the top 100.

WSJ/THE US College Rankings: top 100 universities in the United States

Rank Institution City State Percentage of international students Out of state tuition and fees ($)
1 Stanford University Stanford CA 15.3 44757
2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge MA 9.9 45016
3 Columbia University New York NY 13.5 51008
4 University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia PA 10.2 47668
5 Yale University New Haven CT 20.7 45800
6 Harvard University Cambridge MA 16 43938
7 Duke University Durham NC 8.7 47243
8 Princeton University Princeton NJ 11 41820
9 Cornell University Ithaca NY 10.1 47286
10 California Institute of Technology Pasadena CA 9 43362
=11 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore MD 11.5 47060
=11 Washington University in St Louis Saint Louis MO 8.6 46467
=13 University of Chicago Chicago IL 9.5 48252
=13 Northwestern University Evanston IL 6.2 47251
15 University of Southern California Los Angeles CA 12.7 48280
16 Dartmouth College Hanover NH 8.5 48108
17 Emory University Atlanta GA 15.5 45008
18 Rice University Houston TX 12.3 40566
19 Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh PA 17.1 49022
20 Brown University Providence RI 12.3 47434
21 Vanderbilt University Nashville TN 6.1 43838
22 Williams College Williamstown MA 7.1 48310
23 Amherst College Amherst MA 9.4 48526
24 University of Michigan Ann Arbor MI 7 43377
25 University of Notre Dame Notre Dame IN 4.3 46237
26 University of California, Los Angeles Los Angeles CA 11.7 35583
27 Tufts University Medford MA 7.8 48643
28 Pomona College Claremont CA 7.6 45832
29 Georgetown University Washington DC 16.6 46744
=30 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill NC 2.6 33418
=30 Wellesley College Wellesley MA 11 45078
32 Case Western Reserve University Cleveland OH 8.8 43158
33 New York University New York NY 14.2 46170
34 Swarthmore College Swarthmore PA 8.5 46060
35 Smith College Northampton MA 12.8 44724
36 Middlebury College Middlebury VT 10 46044
=37 University of California, Berkeley Berkeley CA 12.6 35850
=37 Carleton College Northfield MN 8.8 47736
=37 Haverford College Haverford PA 5.5 47214
=37 University of Miami Coral Gables FL 14.3 44350
=37 Purdue University West Lafayette IN 16.5 28804
42 Boston University Boston MA 19.3 46664
43 University of California, Davis Davis CA 6.2 36774
44 Bowdoin College Brunswick ME 4.6 46808
45 Wesleyan University Middletown CT 8.8 47972
46 Claremont McKenna College Claremont CA 14.7 47395
47 Bryn Mawr College Bryn Mawr PA 22.2 45540
48 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign IL 15.8 32621
49 University of California, San Diego La Jolla CA 11.6 36305
50 Lehigh University Bethlehem PA 7.4 44890
=51 Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta GA 10.5 30698
=51 University of Texas at Austin Austin TX 5.1 34836
53 Bucknell University Lewisburg PA 5.9 48498
=54 Colgate University Hamilton NY 8.1 48175
=54 Wake Forest University Winston-Salem NC 3.6 46200
=56 University of Florida Gainesville FL 1.8 28591
=56 University of Virginia Charlottesville VA 6.1 42394
58 University of Rochester Rochester NY 14.4 46960
59 University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh PA 3.4 28168
60 Hamilton College Clinton NY 4.4 47820
61 University of Washington Seattle WA 12.4 33513
62 Oberlin College Oberlin OH 6.6 48682
=63 Boston College Chestnut Hill MA 6.7 47436
=63 Michigan State University East Lansing MI 12.4 35516
65 Trinity College Hartford CT 7.9 49056
66 Colby College Waterville ME 7.9 47350
=67 George Washington University Washington DC 9.6 46725
=67 Macalester College Saint Paul MN 11.9 47195
=67 University of Wisconsin Madison WI 9.1 26660
70 Worcester Polytechnic Institute Worcester MA 12.4 44222
71 Ohio State University Columbus OH 7.5 26537
72 Northeastern University Boston MA 16.7 43440
=73 Lafayette College Easton PA 6 45635
=73 Trinity University San Antonio TX 7.2 36214
=75 Tulane University  New Orleans LA 3.4 48306
=75 Vassar College Poughkeepsie NY 7 49570
77 Davidson College Davidson NC 5.5 45377
=78 Grinnell College Grinnell IA 11.6 45620
=78 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Troy NY 7.5 47908
=80 Barnard College New York NY 9.7 46040
=80 Texas A&M University College Station TX 1.7 26583
82 Drexel University Philadelphia PA 12.5 42164
83 Denison University Granville OH 6.8 45670
=84 Occidental College Los Angeles CA 4.8 47522
=84 University of Richmond Richmond VA 10.1 46680
86 Southern Methodist University Dallas TX 6.8 45940
87 Howard University Washington DC 3.3 23970
88 College of the Holy Cross Worcester MA 0.9 45692
89 Brandeis University Waltham MA 13.1 47475
90 University of Denver Denver CO 9.6 42090
91 DePauw University Greencastle IN 10.6 42746
92 Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Terre Haute IN 8.7 41283
93 William & Mary Williamsburg VA 4.1 39916
94 Kenyon College Gambier OH 4.2 47330
95 Bentley University Waltham MA 16.5 42511
=96 Connecticut College New London CT 5.2 47740
=96 Pennsylvania State University University Park PA 9.2 30452
=96 Scripps College Claremont CA 4.3 47378
99 Stevens Institute of Technology Hoboken NJ 4.1 45366
=100 Franklin and Marshall College Lancaster PA 12.3 48514
=100 University of Maryland, College Park College Park MD 3.3 29720

Editor's note: The information on this page was correct at the time of publication. Since then, Times Higher Education has reissued the US College Rankings. For the most up-to-date 2017 US College Rankings results, always use the overall league table. Click here for more information

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