DC’s Best Private Colleges of 2021

Private colleges, unlike large public institutions, can be a great option for students wanting a more intimate campus experience, more personal attention from excellent professors, and more immediate access to support services. Here is our list of the best private colleges in DC.

DC’s Best Private Colleges of 2021

What are DC’s Colleges & Universities?

DC’s Best Overall

What is a public college? And what is the difference between a private and public college?

Public and private colleges and universities operate under different business models — one is a private company with private funding; the other is owned by the state and receives both state and federal funding to operate. If you’re weighing the pros and cons of private vs. public college, consider that many public colleges provide diverse course offerings, influential professors, and an excellent return on your investment.

Public colleges are schools that receive most of their funding from tax revenues. As a result, the cost of a four-year degree at a public university is often lower than the equivalent cost at a private college — especially for students attending a public school in their home state. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the average annual cost (tuition, fees, room and board for full-time students) at a four-year public university was slightly over $20,000. In contrast, private universities cost, on average, nearly $43,000 annually.

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This list is composed entirely of private colleges and universities that offer four-year undergraduate degrees. We’ve identified 7 private universities in DC. The list below of the best private universities in the state satisfies the following conditions:

  1. It must be a private, non-profit institution.
  2. It must be fully accredited.
  3. It must offer a broad range of bachelor’s degrees.

How do we determine DC's best private colleges and universities?

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why, at the undergraduate level, we rank the best colleges and universities based on what we call “Concentrated Influence”. Concentrated Influence takes the combined influence score of a college or university’s top academic influencers (including faculty and alums) and divides it by the school’s total number of undergraduates.

Using concentrated influence gives small and mid-sized schools an opportunity to shine by taking away the size advantage of larger universities. A small school with proportionately more influential faculty than a large school, whose influence in absolute terms may be bigger, will nonetheless score higher in a concentrated influence ranking. Our approach highlights undergraduate schools that truly rank for excellence, regardless of size.

If you are serious about finding the best colleges and universities for a bachelor’s degree, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching and whether their graduates are themselves advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence.

Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Concentrated Influence provides a ranking that is free from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

Find out more about our ranking methodology here.

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Best Private Colleges & Universities in DC

  1. #1

    Georgetown University

    #38 institution's historical influence
    #19 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    17%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    14K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1465/33

    Washington, DC

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    What is Georgetown University known for?

    Georgetown University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Law
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Education
    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    George Washington University

    #72 institution's historical influence
    #76 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    43%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    21K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1375/31

    Washington, DC

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    What is George Washington University known for?

    George Washington University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Law
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Engineering
    • Communications
    • Education
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

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  3. #3

    The Catholic University of America

    #277 institution's historical influence
    #261 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $48K

    Acceptance

    82%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    5K

    Washington, DC

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    What is The Catholic University of America known for?

    The Catholic University of America’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Law
    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Physics
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • History
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  4. #4

    Howard University

    #135 institution's historical influence
    #220 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $27K

    Acceptance

    39%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1205/24

    Washington, DC

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    What is Howard University known for?

    Howard University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Law
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • History
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    American University

    #177 institution's historical influence
    #113 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $50K

    Acceptance

    39%

    Graduation

    79%

    Student body

    12K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1300/29

    Washington, DC

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    What is American University known for?

    American University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Political Science
    • Law
    • Business
    • Education
    • Communications
    • Literature
    • Economics
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #6

    Gallaudet University

    #1063 institution's historical influence
    #131 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Acceptance

    63%

    Graduation

    44%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    915/16

    Washington, DC

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    What is Gallaudet University known for?

    Gallaudet University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Communications
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Biology
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #7

    Trinity Washington University

    #2126 institution's historical influence
    #460 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $25K

    Acceptance

    96%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    1K

    Washington, DC

    View profile

    What is Trinity Washington University known for?

    Trinity Washington University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Literature
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • Communications
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

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