DC’s Best Research Universities of 2021

Interested in attending a STEM school in DC? Our ranking of top research universities for bachelor’s degrees displays schools that will best prepare you for STEM careers.

DC’s Best Research Universities of 2021

What are DC’s Colleges & Universities?

DC’s Best Overall

Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

A research university is a great option for students interested in obtaining STEM degrees. Research universities invest heavily in research, which consequently provides meaningful and extensive opportunities for its students and faculty to participate in research. There are 6 research universities in DC, the top 5 satisfy our criteria. The list below of the best research universities in the state satisfies the following four conditions:

  1. It must be a fully accredited university.
  2. It must offer doctoral degrees across the range of STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).
  3. It must report high levels of research activity based upon the number of research and/or practice doctorates awarded each year.
  4. It must have a graduation rate of greater than 60%.

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How do we determine DC's best 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 Research Universities in DC for Undergraduates

  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

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  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

    View profile

    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

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