50 Best Private Colleges and Universities 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.

50 Best Private Colleges and Universities of 2021

What is a private college? What’s the difference between private vs. public college?

Private colleges are independent, non-profit schools that receive their funding through a combination of endowment income and student tuition fees, rather than from public tax dollars. If you’re weighing the pros and cons of private vs public college, consider that private colleges are often smaller, offering more individualized experiences, including opportunities for dynamic classroom discussions, independent research, and one-on-one relationships with your instructors.

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We’ve identified 755 private universities in the United States. This list is composed entirely of private universities and colleges that offer four-year undergraduate degrees. In order to be included in our list of the best private colleges and universities, a school needs to satisfy the following three conditions:

  1. It must be a non-profit institution.
  2. It must be fully accredited.
  3. Its student body must have at least 1,000 students.

How do we determine the best private colleges & universities?

Methodology

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.

These are the best private colleges and uni­ver­si­ties in the US!” – @AcademicInflux

The Best Private Colleges & Uni­ver­si­ties in the US

  1. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    7%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1545/35

    What is California Institute of Technology known for?

    California Institute of Technology’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Physics
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Engineering
    • Chemistry
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Economics
    • Earth Sciences

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  2. #2

    Harvard University

    Cambridge , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    5%

    Graduation

    98%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1515/34

    What is Harvard University known for?

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

    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Law
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  3. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $53K

    Acceptance

    7%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    14K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1540/35

    What is Massachusetts Institute of Technology known for?

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Economics
    • Biology
    • Business
    • Chemistry
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  4. #4

    Stanford University

    Stanford , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    5%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    15K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1505/33

    What is Stanford University known for?

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

    • Computer Science
    • Biology
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • Economics
    • Physics
    • Law

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  5. #5

    University of Chicago

    Chicago , IL
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    7%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    13K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1535/34

    What is University of Chicago known for?

    University of Chicago’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Mathematics
    • Economics
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Law
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  6. #6

    Princeton University

    Princeton , NJ
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $49K

    Acceptance

    6%

    Graduation

    98%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1515/34

    What is Princeton University known for?

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

    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • Physics
    • Computer Science
    • Literature
    • Economics
    • Engineering
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  7. #7

    Columbia University

    New York , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    7%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    28K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1505/34

    What is Columbia University known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Law
    • Philosophy
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  8. #8

    Yale University

    New Haven , CT
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    7%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    16K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1515/34

    What is Yale University known for?

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

    • Law
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  9. #9

    Johns Hopkins University

    Baltimore , MD
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    11%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    26K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1510/34

    What is Johns Hopkins University known for?

    Johns Hopkins University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • Physics
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Engineering
    • Political Science
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  10. #10

    Duke University

    Durham , NC
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    8%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    15K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1525/34

    What is Duke University known for?

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

    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • Business
    • Law
    • Psychology
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  11. #11

    Swarthmore College

    Swarthmore , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    97%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1460/33

    What is Swarthmore College known for?

    Swarthmore College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Education
    REQUEST INFO
  12. #12

    Northwestern University

    Evanston , IL
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    19K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1495/34

    What is Northwestern University known for?

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

    • Business
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Law
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Economics
    • Communications
    • Engineering
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  13. #13

    Amherst College

    Amherst , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    12%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1415/32

    What is Amherst College known for?

    Amherst College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Law
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  14. #16

    Cornell University

    Ithaca , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    11%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    26K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1480/33

    What is Cornell University known for?

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

    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Literature
    • Business
    • Philosophy
    • Medical
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  15. #19

    University of Pennsylvania

    Philadelphia , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    28K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1505/34

    What is University of Pennsylvania known for?

    University of Pennsylvania’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Engineering
    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology
    • Mathematics
    • Law
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  16. #20

    Brown University

    Providence , RI
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    8%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1505/34

    What is Brown University known for?

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

    • Mathematics
    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Engineering
    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  17. #22

    Brandeis University

    Waltham , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    33%

    Graduation

    89%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1435/31

    What is Brandeis University known for?

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

    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • History
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  18. #23

    Wesleyan University

    Middletown , CT
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    21%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    4K

    What is Wesleyan University known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • Religious Studies
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  19. #24

    Vassar College

    Poughkeepsie , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    25%

    Graduation

    88%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/32

    What is Vassar College known for?

    Vassar College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Physics
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  20. #25

    Hampshire College

    Amherst , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $52K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    <1K

    What is Hampshire College known for?

    Hampshire College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  21. #29

    Wellesley College

    Wellesley , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    20%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/32

    What is Wellesley College known for?

    Wellesley College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Economics
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  22. #32

    Pomona College

    Claremont , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1465/33

    What is Pomona College known for?

    Pomona College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Chemistry
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Physics
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  23. #33

    Oberlin College

    Oberlin , OH
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    35%

    Graduation

    86%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1380/31

    What is Oberlin College known for?

    Oberlin College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  24. #35

    Yeshiva University

    New York , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $46K

    Acceptance

    67%

    Graduation

    77%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1270/27

    What is Yeshiva University known for?

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

    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Law
    • Philosophy
    • Religious Studies
    • Mathematics
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Physics
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  25. #36

    New York University

    New York , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    21%

    Graduation

    88%

    Student body

    49K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1440/32

    What is New York University known for?

    New York University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Business
    • Law
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Medical
    • Economics
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  26. #37

    Bard College

    Annandale-On-Hudson , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    57%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    3K

    What is Bard College known for?

    Bard College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Economics
    • History
    • Biology
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  27. #38

    Haverford College

    Haverford , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    18%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1460/33

    What is Haverford College known for?

    Haverford College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Physics
    • Religious Studies
    • Chemistry
    • Psychology
    REQUEST INFO
  28. #42

    The New School

    New York , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $50K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1265/27

    What is The New School known for?

    The New School’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Engineering
    • Philosophy
    • Economics
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Education
    • Communications
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  29. #43

    Claremont McKenna College

    Claremont , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    13%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1435/32

    What is Claremont McKenna College known for?

    Claremont McKenna College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • Law
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Psychology
    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  30. #46

    University of Rochester

    Rochester , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    35%

    Graduation

    86%

    Student body

    12K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1405/32

    What is University of Rochester known for?

    University of Rochester’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Physics
    • Computer Science
    • Economics
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Mathematics
    • Engineering
    • Business
    REQUEST INFO
  31. #47

    Morehouse College

    Atlanta , GA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $29K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1081/20

    What is Morehouse College known for?

    Morehouse College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Religious Studies
    • Literature
    • History
    • Engineering
    • Communications
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science
    REQUEST INFO
  32. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $53K

    Acceptance

    30%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1425/32

    What is Case Western Reserve University known for?

    Case Western Reserve University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  33. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    16%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    40K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/32

    What is University of Southern California known for?

    University of Southern California’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO

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