50 Best Research Universities for Undergrads of 2021

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

50 Best Research Universities for Undergrads of 2021

A research university is a great option for students interested in obtaining STEM degrees. Such students benefit from engaging in experimental inquiry, exploring cutting-edge technologies, and pursuing innovation in a rich and dynamic campus atmosphere. The top research universities give students a chance to work closely with influential professors and choose from a wide range of well-funded degree programs and research opportunities.

What is a research university?

A research university is any university that invests heavily in research, and which consequently provides meaningful and extensive opportunities for its students and faculty to participate in research. The best research universities are classified into different tiers based on their quantifiable commitment to research activities. This tiered ranking is called the Carnegie Classification. This is where terms like R1 university and tier one university come from.

Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

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The following list of research universities is composed of both private and public schools. We’ve identified 394 research universities in the US. Of those, there are 209 public research universities and 185 private research universities in the US. In order to be included in this list of best research universities, a school needs to satisfy the following three 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.

How do we determine research universities are the best?

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.

The best undergrad research schools in the US!” – @AcademicInflux

The Best Research Universities for Undergrads 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

    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
  12. #14

    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
  13. #15

    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
  14. #16

    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
  15. #17

    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
  16. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    17%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    43K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1430/33

    What is University of California, Berkeley known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  17. #22

    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
  18. #23

    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
  19. #27

    University of Michigan

    Ann Arbor , MI
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Acceptance

    26%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    45K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1435/32

    What is University of Michigan known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  20. #28

    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
  21. #31

    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
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. 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
    • Mathematics
    • Law
    • Physics
    • Business
    • Chemistry
    • Economics
    • Education
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  25. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    14%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    45K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1415/32

    What is University of California, Los Angeles known for?

    University of California, Los Angeles’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  26. #38

    Howard University

    Washington , DC
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $28K

    Acceptance

    39%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1205/24

    What is Howard University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  27. #40

    Clark University

    Worcester , MA

    Tuition + fees

    $49K

    Acceptance

    47%

    Graduation

    75%

    Student body

    4K

    What is Clark University known for?

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

    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Education
    • Business
    • Philosophy
    • Physics
    • History
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  28. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $15K

    Acceptance

    37%

    Graduation

    87%

    Student body

    39K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1370/30

    What is University of California, San Diego known for?

    University of California, San Diego’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  29. #43

    Pepperdine University

    Malibu , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    42%

    Graduation

    89%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1340/29

    What is Pepperdine University known for?

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

    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Law
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Communications
    • History
    • Religious Studies

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  30. Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    57%

    Graduation

    87%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1390/31

    What is Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute known for?

    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  31. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    25%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1405/30

    What is University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill known for?

    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  32. #47

    William & Mary

    Williamsburg , VA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $23K

    Acceptance

    42%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1415/32

    What is William & Mary known for?

    William & Mary’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  33. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    56%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    44K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1345/30

    What is University of Washington known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  34. #49

    Syracuse University

    Syracuse , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    83%

    Student body

    23K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1280/28

    What is Syracuse University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  35. #50

    City College of New York

    New York , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    51%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    12K

    What is City College of New York known for?

    City College of New York’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Physics
    • Law
    • History
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO

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