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The Top 10 Universities in America

The United States has some of the best universities in the world, with several different universities listed in the top 10 globally. However, not all students can afford to attend these top universities, so it’s useful to know which universities are worth their price tag before choosing where to apply to college. To get you started, we’ve compiled a list of our top 10 universities in America based on student selectivity, affordability, and overall quality of education.

Harvard University


Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University is one of America’s oldest and most prestigious educational institutions. The school was established in 1636 and today has an undergraduate enrollment of 6,700 students. Undergraduates can choose from more than 100 fields of study and have access to a top-notch library system with millions of volumes, as well as art museums that house some 300,000 pieces spanning 2,000 years. For graduate students there are options like business schools, law schools, medical schools and many others. With a student/faculty ratio of 5:1 it’s easy to make connections at Harvard – even if you’re shy! The campus is gorgeous; it’s hard not to feel inspired when studying here.

Columbia University


With its five schools and impressive 100-plus research centers, Columbia University is one of New York City’s most prominent higher education institutions. With more than 21,000 students on campus, Columbia University offers over 300 undergraduate majors and is consistently ranked as one of best universities in America by U.S. News & World Report, which ranks it sixth overall. Among its notable alumni are former president Barack Obama and singer Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. For those interested in going to business school, The Fuqua School of Business is also consistently ranked among top business schools; U.S. News & World Report ranks it at number 12 out of 250 MBA programs worldwide for 2016–2017, with an average postgraduate salary for graduates of $140,000 per year.

Princeton University


Princeton is known for a brilliant and ambitious student body, as well as its storied history. It’s ranked first among national universities for eight straight years and second overall, behind only Harvard. You might be surprised to learn that Princeton doesn’t offer many sports teams; however, it does offer a significant number of clubs and societies (more than 1,800). It’s also home to more than 20 centers dedicated to research and study in dozens of subjects. Overall, Princeton is known for its emphasis on academics and research—which leads directly to high rates of alumni employment at top-tier companies worldwide. A Princeton degree will surely be one of your best investments.

University of Pennsylvania


Located in Philadelphia, Penn is consistently ranked among top schools for academics and research. U.S. News & World Report currently ranks it as tied for No. 2 with Princeton University, behind only Harvard University. The school offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs across multiple disciplines, including business and engineering; more than half of its students study engineering or science-related topics at an advanced level. Undergraduates can choose from more than 60 majors and 200 degree programs at Penn’s main campus; one of these options is traditional Chinese medicine, a reflection of Penn’s efforts to increase diversity on campus by expanding its course offerings beyond typical liberal arts subjects.

Yale University


Yale is an Ivy League research university located in New Haven, Connecticut. The university’s undergraduate program is one of America’s most competitive, admitting just 7% of applicants. Yale is well known for its prestigious medical school and law school; undergrads can pursue concentrations in everything from astronomy to creative writing to history to literature. What really sets Yale apart, however, are its faculty members; Yale graduates have won a Pulitzer Prize and two Nobel Prizes.

Stanford University


Located just outside of San Francisco, Stanford is one of most famous schools in higher education. It has everything from small classes to some of history’s greatest minds, including faculty such as former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Google co-founder Sergey Brin. Stanford also contains many notable graduates such as Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. Admitted students boast an average SAT score of 2138 and an average high school GPA of 4.33.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)


MIT is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT has eight schools and one college. MIT is a leading research center. MIT’s research funding approaches $1 billion annually, and research contracts during fiscal year 2009 totaled more than $800 million. Alumni include 33 Nobel laureates, 25 heads of state or government (including three U.S. presidents), 44 astronauts and 52 Rhodes Scholars.

California Institute of Technology (Caltech)


Located in Pasadena, California, Caltech is a private research university established in 1891. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 2,370 and average student-to-faculty ratio of 5.8:1. It’s notably famous for its science and engineering programs, consistently ranking as one of the top universities for physics. The school itself has also produced six Nobel Prize winners, two National Medal of Science winners and an Albert Einstein Distinguished Service Award winner since 1985. There are plenty more accolades to go around; it was also selected by Time magazine as one of America’s Best Colleges. That’s certainly saying something.

Duke University


Located in Durham, North Carolina, Duke University is a private research university. It was founded by Methodists and Quakers along with land grants from President Thomas Jefferson. In 1933, tobacco and electric power industrialist James Buchanan Duke established The Duke Endowment, at which time he consolidated several educational institutions to create Duke University. With a campus spanning 8,600 acres and over 6 million square feet of building space, Duke University is also one of world’s largest universities by physical plant. It has nearly 4,000 courses taught by 3,500 faculty members who are supported by more than 16,000 staff members and 718 tutors.

Northwestern University


Founded in 1851, Northwestern University is located just outside of Chicago. The school has a current enrollment of more than 22,000 students and offers more than 250 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. About 80 percent of applicants to Northwestern get accepted and about half of freshmen live on campus. The Princeton Review named Northwestern a top party school in 2014, citing its abundance of house parties, music venues, bars and coffee shops as contributing factors to its ranking. According to Forbes, some notable alumni include celebrities such as Conan O’Brien, Eva Longoria and Patrick Duffy. Former U.S. presidents Barack Obama and Richard Nixon are also among Northwestern’s former students.

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