50 Best Private Colleges and Universities for Undergrads 2022

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 for Undergrads 2022

What is a private 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.

Best Private Colleges and Universities for Undergrads 2022
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How do we determine the best private colleges and universities for undergrads?

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 – 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, will 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 freer from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

To rank the influence of schools, we first determine the influence of scholars and professionals based on the number of citations and publications they have had over the past 10 years. In addition to publications and citations, we consider the web links to and from these sources, and the page views of those sources. We then match the influential people to their alma maters and institutions of employment, so that their influence is attributed to the schools. Our machine-learning Influence Ranking algorithm produces a numerical score of academic achievements, merits, and citations across Wikipedia, wikidata, Crossref, Semantic Scholar and an ever-growing body of data. If you are interested in exploring how and why we rank by influence, explore our methodology in more depth.

If you would like to see this ranking without school size considered, visit our best universities in the US ranking.

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 must be a fully accredited non-profit institution.

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50 Best Private Colleges and Universities for Undergrads, 2022

  1. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    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:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    Harvard University

    Cambridge , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    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
    • Medical
    • Law
    • Economics
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Physics
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  3. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    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
    • Physics
    • Earth Sciences
    • Economics
    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics
    • Business
    • Philosophy
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  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
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Engineering
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Law
    • Education
    • Mathematics
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  5. #5

    Princeton University

    Princeton , NJ
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    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
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Computer Science
    • Economics
    • Literature
    • Religious Studies
    • Earth Sciences

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  6. #6

    University of Chicago

    Chicago , IL
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    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:

    • Economics
    • Sociology
    • Anthropology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Philosophy
    • Social Work
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • Law
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  7. #7

    Yale University

    New Haven , CT
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    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:

    • Biology
    • Law
    • Religious Studies
    • Nursing
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Medical
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #8

    Columbia University

    New York , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $64K

    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:

    • Nursing
    • Social Work
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Education
    • Communications
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Law

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  9. #9

    Carnegie Mellon University

    Pittsburgh , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    17%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    17K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1510/34

    What is Carnegie Mellon University known for?

    Carnegie Mellon University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • Economics
    • Mathematics
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Political Science
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  10. #10

    Reed College

    Portland , OR
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $63K

    Acceptance

    42%

    Graduation

    77%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1422/32

    What is Reed College known for?

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

    • Anthropology
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science
    • Economics
    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • Sociology
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  11. #11

    Johns Hopkins University

    Baltimore , MD
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    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:

    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  12. #12

    Georgetown University

    Washington , DC
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    17%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    14K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1465/33

    What is Georgetown University known for?

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

    • Law
    • Political Science
    • Criminal Justice
    • Business
    • Education
    • Communications
    • Religious Studies
    • Nursing
    • History
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. #13

    University of Pennsylvania

    Philadelphia , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    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
    • Medical
    • Social Work
    • Nursing
    • Communications
    • Anthropology
    • Psychology
    • Education
    • Sociology
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. #14

    Duke University

    Durham , NC
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    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:

    • Religious Studies
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Law
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Literature
    • Anthropology
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  15. #15

    Swarthmore College

    Swarthmore , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    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
    • Sociology
    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Physics
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Anthropology
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  16. #16

    Northwestern University

    Evanston , IL
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    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
    • Sociology
    • Communications
    • Economics
    • Anthropology
    • Law
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  17. #17

    Cornell University

    Ithaca , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    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:

    • Physics
    • Engineering
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Chemistry
    • Anthropology
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  18. #18

    Brown University

    Providence , RI
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    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:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  19. #20

    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:

    • Economics
    • Literature
    • Law
    • Sociology
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Religious Studies
    • Computer Science
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  20. #21

    Dartmouth College

    Hanover , NH
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1500/33

    What is Dartmouth College known for?

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

    • Business
    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Earth Sciences
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Economics
    • Philosophy
    • Religious Studies

    Most Influential Alumni

  21. #23

    Williams College

    Williamstown , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    15%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1480/33

    What is Williams College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Anthropology
    • Chemistry
    • Religious Studies
    • Physics
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  22. #24

    Brandeis University

    Waltham , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    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:

    • Sociology
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Anthropology
    • Physics
    • Computer Science
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  23. #25

    Haverford College

    Haverford , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    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:

    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy
    • Mathematics
    • Literature
    • Sociology
    • Anthropology
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Chemistry
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  24. #26

    New York University

    New York , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    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:

    • Law
    • Literature
    • Business
    • Philosophy
    • Nursing
    • Social Work
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Sociology
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  25. #28

    Wesleyan University

    Middletown , CT
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    Acceptance

    21%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    4K

    What is Wesleyan University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  26. #34

    Case Western Reserve University

    Cleveland , OH
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    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
    • Nursing
    • Social Work
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology
    • Chemistry
    • Biology
    • Engineering
    • Physics
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  27. #35

    Wellesley College

    Wellesley , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    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:

    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Sociology
    • Economics
    • Physics
    • History
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Anthropology

    Most Influential Alumni

  28. #36

    Pomona College

    Claremont , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    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:

    • Chemistry
    • Literature
    • Physics
    • Biology
    • Religious Studies
    • Communications
    • Anthropology
    • Philosophy
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  29. #37

    Barnard College

    New York , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    14%

    Graduation

    90%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1430/32

    What is Barnard College known for?

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

    • Anthropology
    • Literature
    • Sociology
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Economics
    • Mathematics
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

  30. #39

    University of Southern California

    Los Angeles , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    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:

    • Social Work
    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Education
    • Criminal Justice
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science
    • Law
    • Communications
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  31. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $50K

    Acceptance

    61%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1295/29

    What is Illinois Institute of Technology known for?

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

    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Economics
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Chemistry
    • Law
    • Business
    • Social Work
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  32. #41

    Hampshire College

    Amherst , MA

    Tuition + fees

    $53K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    <1K

    What is Hampshire College known for?

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

    • Physics
    • Literature
    • Anthropology
    • Mathematics
    • Sociology
    • Communications
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  33. #42

    Claremont McKenna College

    Claremont , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    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
    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • Law
    • Philosophy
    • Sociology
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  34. #43

    Vassar College

    Poughkeepsie , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $63K

    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
    • Anthropology
    • Communications
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Physics
    • Philosophy
    • Earth Sciences

    Most Influential Alumni

  35. #44

    Oberlin College

    Oberlin , OH
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    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:

    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • Education
    • Religious Studies
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Sociology
    • Psychology
    • Economics
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

  36. #46

    Bowdoin College

    Brunswick , ME
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Bowdoin College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Education
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Earth Sciences
    • Physics
    • Religious Studies
    • Economics
    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

  37. #50

    Cooper Union

    New York , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $47K

    Acceptance

    18%

    Graduation

    79%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1417/32

    What is Cooper Union known for?

    Cooper Union’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

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2021 Ranking Archive
  1. California Institute of Technology
  2. Harvard University
  3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  4. Stanford University
  5. University of Chicago
  6. Princeton University
  7. Columbia University
  8. Yale University
  9. Johns Hopkins University
  10. Duke University
  11. Swarthmore College
  12. Northwestern University
  13. Amherst College
  14. Rice University
  15. Carnegie Mellon University
  16. Cornell University
  17. Sarah Lawrence College
  18. Reed College
  19. University of Pennsylvania
  20. Brown University
  21. Barnard College
  22. Brandeis University
  23. Wesleyan University
  24. Vassar College
  25. Hampshire College
  26. Dartmouth College
  27. Georgetown University
  28. Tufts University
  29. Wellesley College
  30. Williams College
  31. Cooper Union
  32. Pomona College
  33. Oberlin College
  34. Bryn Mawr College
  35. Yeshiva University
  36. New York University
  37. Bard College
  38. Haverford College
  39. Washington University in St. Louis
  40. Vanderbilt University
  41. George Washington University
  42. The New School
  43. Claremont McKenna College
  44. Emory University
  45. The Catholic University of America
  46. University of Rochester
  47. Morehouse College
  48. Case Western Reserve University
  49. Kenyon College
  50. University of Southern California

Photo Credit: California Institute of Technology, Beckman Institute. By Canon.vs.nikon, via CC BY-SA 3.0.