50 Best Colleges and Universities Ranked for Undergrads in 2022

50 Best Colleges and Universities Ranked for Undergrads in 2022

We rank the best colleges or universities in the US based on the academic influence of the schools’ faculty and alumni. For undergraduate rankings, our unique perspective allows you to see smaller colleges that proportionally outperform larger universities when size advantages are reduced.

Key Takeaways

  • Earning a bachelor’s degree from one of the best colleges or universities in the US will give you an advantage over other candidates in an extremely competitive job market.
  • When choosing which college or university you want to attend, it is important to know what academic program you are interested in and if you want to study at a research university or a liberal arts college.
  • Attending one of the schools on our list will ensure that you will be taught by some of the most influential professors in the world.

Every fall, more than 2 million high-school graduates will enroll in colleges and universities across the United States. With nearly 3,000 4-year schools to choose from, finding the best college for your educational, personal, and professional goals may be challenging. The purpose of this ranking is to help you manage this challenge. We offer a new perspective of the best colleges and universities for earning a bachelor’s degree.

Our ranking of the best colleges and universities is based on the academic impact of the schools’ faculty and alumni. We believe that schools with histories of hiring and developing influential faculty, and nurturing students who become influential in their fields of study, are schools that demonstrate key indicators of academic excellence.

Attention Undergrads!

Choosing the right college for an undergraduate degree is one of the toughest decisions a student makes. Where you attend college can have a lasting impact on both your professional and personal life.

Many undergraduate students choose a college based on emotions, a limited set of criteria, and sometimes, just gut feeling. Although this does not preclude students from their academic success, making a such crucial decision should be done under a higher level of scrutiny.

How to Choose the College for You

When scouting for colleges, it’s important for prospective students to consider a range of factors, like the size, location, cost, campus safety, quality of academic programs, the choice of degree programs or majors, college rankings, and other personal factors. Here are some other things to consider when you choose your college.

Accreditation: Accreditation is a quality assurance process through which a school has been vetted by an officially licensed organization, and its curriculum has been reviewed and verified to meet the basic academic standards for higher education.

Accreditation is assessed by private and nongovernmental accrediting agencies created specifically to review education programs and institutions. These agencies are recognized and reviewed by the United States Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

Most schools provide this information on their website. A university or college can be nationally or regionally accredited. Within an institution, specific departments, programs, or schools can also have their sub-accreditation. This is to guarantee that your degree is recognized by employers and other institutions of higher education.

The Type of College: The National Association for College Admission Counseling lists the most popular types of colleges. Here are some that you should get to know to help you narrow down your college search.

  • Community and Junior Colleges: These are colleges that offer the first two years of liberal arts education or vocational training. After completing, you will earn an associate’s degree. Either you can look for a job after this or continue to a four-year institution.
  • Liberal Arts Colleges: Classes are generally smaller since liberal arts colleges are smaller than universities. This means, more personal attention is given to students by their college professors. Students are exposed to a general sampling of classes instead of focusing only on a specific career path. They can also choose an area of in-depth study as their course “major”.
  • Universities: These are large institutions that include colleges that are focused on preparing for a specific career, like education or nursing. Universities are made up of a wide range of academic colleges; and generally have large class sizes.
  • Women’s Colleges: These are the types of colleges where women are given the chance to enjoy a learning community where they are in the majority. Women colleges also have a larger number of female faculty and administrators. They also produce a high number of science majors.
  • Technical Institutes and Professional Schools: These schools enroll students who already have a career path of their choice. The curriculum is purely focused on preparing students for their respective careers. Career options usually offered at these types of colleges are in fine arts, music, technical sciences, and engineering.

Geographic Location: Do you live in a quaint and quiet neighborhood or a big city? Does a campus party sound fun to you or just a distraction? How about regional culture? Or the weather? Most importantly, can you afford to study out-of-state, especially in bigger and more expensive cities?

The school’s geographic location plays a big part in your college experience. Even if you have the best school but you hate the location, enduring four long years of college (or more) could be a challenge. If you’re looking at colleges in a specific city, make sure that you like it there. The best move is to schedule a trip to get the feel for the city.

Best Colleges and Universities for Undergrads
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If you would like to see this ranking without school size considered, visit our best universities in the US ranking.

We’ve identified a total of 1,392 colleges and universities in the US that meet our criteria. Of those, 637 are public institutions and 755 are private institutions. This list focuses on schools that offer bachelor’s degrees, and includes both public and private colleges and universities. In order to be included in this list of best colleges, a school needs to a regionally accredited nonprofit college or university.

50 Best US Colleges & Universities 2022

  1. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    4%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1555/35

  2. #2

    Harvard University

    Cambridge , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    4%

    Graduation

    97%

    Student body

    24K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1520/34

  3. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    4%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    13K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1545/35

  4. #4

    Stanford University

    Stanford , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    4%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    13K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1495/33

  5. #5

    Princeton University

    Princeton , NJ
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    4%

    Graduation

    98%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1510/33

  6. #6

    University of Chicago

    Chicago , IL
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    Acceptance

    6%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    13K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1535/34

  7. #7

    Yale University

    New Haven , CT
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    5%

    Graduation

    97%

    Student body

    14K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1520/34

  8. #8

    Columbia University

    New York , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $64K

    Acceptance

    4%

    Graduation

    97%

    Student body

    26K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1515/34

  9. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    14%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    16K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1510/34

  10. #10

    Reed College

    Portland , OR
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $63K

    Acceptance

    44%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    1K

  11. #11

    Johns Hopkins University

    Baltimore , MD
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    8%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    27K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1515/35

  12. #12

    Georgetown University

    Washington , DC
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    12%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    14K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1465/33

  13. #13

    University of Pennsylvania

    Philadelphia , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    Acceptance

    6%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    28K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1515/34

  14. #14

    Duke University

    Durham , NC
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    6%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    14K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1520/34

  15. #15

    Swarthmore College

    Swarthmore , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    8%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1467/32

  16. #16

    Northwestern University

    Evanston , IL
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    7%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    20K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1490/34

  17. #17

    Cornell University

    Ithaca , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1470/33

  18. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    14%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    43K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1420/32

  19. #19

    Brown University

    Providence , RI
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    Acceptance

    6%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1500/34

  20. #21

    Amherst College

    Amherst , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1495/33

  21. #22

    Dartmouth College

    Hanover , NH
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    6%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1500/33

  22. #24

    Williams College

    Williamstown , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    2K

  23. #26

    Haverford College

    Haverford , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    18%

    Graduation

    90%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1440/33

  24. #27

    University of Michigan

    Ann Arbor , MI
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Acceptance

    20%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    44K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1430/32

  25. #28

    New York University

    New York , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    13%

    Graduation

    87%

    Student body

    49K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1455/32

  26. #30

    Wesleyan University

    Middletown , CT
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    Acceptance

    19%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    3K

  27. #37

    Wellesley College

    Wellesley , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    16%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1435/32

  28. #38

    Pomona College

    Claremont , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    7%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    2K

  29. #39

    Barnard College

    New York , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    11%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1434/32

  30. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    Acceptance

    13%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    38K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1435/32

  31. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    11%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    46K

  32. #45

    University of Virginia

    Charlottesville , VA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $20K

    Acceptance

    21%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1415/32

  33. #46

    Claremont McKenna College

    Claremont , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    11%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1415/32

  34. #47

    Vassar College

    Poughkeepsie , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $63K

    Acceptance

    20%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1440/33

  35. #48

    Oberlin College

    Oberlin , OH
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    34%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1315/30

  36. #50

    Bowdoin College

    Brunswick , ME
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    2K

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Find the Best Colleges and Unviersities in Your Discipline of Choice

The Best Undergraduate Colleges and Universities by disciplines

Earn a Degree That is Close to Home

You know by now that the best colleges and universities in the US offer a stellar education and the chance to edge out competition in the job market upon graduation.

But if attending a liberal arts school that is close to home is also important to you, check out our Complete List of Colleges and Universities by State.