Purdue University
#54 Overall Influence#1204 Desirability Rank

Purdue University

Public research university in West Lafayette, Indiana, United States

By James Barham, PhD

Purdue University was founded in 1869 with substantial financing provided by industrialist John Purdue. Its purpose was to train students in agriculture and engineering. The school officially opened for business in 1874 and grew quickly.

By the end of the nineteenth century, Purdue had been organized into five schools: agriculture, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, and pharmacy. Later, schools of education and home economics were added. An early attempt at creating a medical school was later abandoned.

In other respects, Purdue was spectacularly successful. By 1925 the university was home to the largest number of engineering students in the US. It remained the nation’s largest engineering school for the next half-century.

Today, Purdue operates four satellite campuses: in Hammond, Fort Wayne, Columbus, and Indianapolis. Overall, the Purdue system has a student body approaching 75,000 souls.

Purdue is associated with 13 Nobel Prize winners, including:

  • Physicists, Ben Roy Mottelson, Edward Mills Purcell, Julian Schwinger & Wolfgang Pauli
  • Chemists, Ei-ichi Negishi, Herbert C. Brown & Akira Suzuki
  • Economist, Vernon L. Smith

In addition, the Turing Award winning computer scientist, Alan J. Perlis, spent time here as a researcher.

Among other prominent Purdue-connected individuals, we may note the following:

  • Astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Roger Chaffee & Eugene Cernan
  • Heroic airline pilot, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger
  • Mathematicians, Andrew Majda, Shreeram Shankar Abhyankar & Feydoon Shahidi
  • Computer scientists, Mikhail Atallah, Markus Kuhn & Jill Zimmerman
  • Computer software developer, Sanjiva Weerawarana
  • Physicist, Albert Overhauser
  • Chemist, C.N.R. Rao
  • Chemical engineer, Rakesh Agrawal
  • Molecular biologists, Seymour Benzer & Ronald Breaker
  • Microbiologist, Rita Colwell
  • Nanotechnology pioneers, Supriyo Datta & James Tour
  • Physiologist, Leslie Geddes
  • Economist, Hugo Sonnenschein
  • Anthropologist, Peter Peregrine
  • Novelist and playwright, Booth Tarkington
  • Actors, George Peppard & Kenneth Choi
  • Stand-up comic, Jim Gaffigan
  • Photographer, Margaret Bourke-White


What does this school look for?

Annual Applications




Graduation Rate


Median SAT Score


Median ACT Score



How much does it cost to attend?

Tuition (in-state)


Fees (in-state)


After Graduation

Averages for 10 years after enrolling

Avg Earnings




Campus Life

What's it like to attend this school?

The People

Full time on-campus stats

Student Body






The Campus

Where will you be attending?


Hovde Hall of Administration, West Lafayette IN 47907-2040

On Campus Crime Rates

Property Crime

8 per 100k

Violent Crime

0 per 100k

City Crime Rates

Property Crime

10 per 100k

Violent Crime

1 per 100k

What is Purdue University known for?

Our answer to this is to show you the disciplines in which a school's faculty and alumni have had the highest historical influence. A school may be influential in a discipline even if they do not offer degrees in that area. We've organized two lists to show where they are influential and offer corresponding degrees, and where they are influential through scholarship although they don't offer degrees in the disciplines.

Top areas of influence with degrees offered

#12 World Rank #10 USA Rank
#54 World Rank #19 USA Rank
#64 World Rank #20 USA Rank
#48 World Rank #20 USA Rank
#27 World Rank #22 USA Rank
#33 World Rank #25 USA Rank
Computer Science
#33 World Rank #29 USA Rank
#39 World Rank #33 USA Rank
#64 World Rank #41 USA Rank
#78 World Rank #43 USA Rank
#133 World Rank #47 USA Rank
Earth Sciences
#99 World Rank #50 USA Rank
#107 World Rank #55 USA Rank
#101 World Rank #60 USA Rank
#100 World Rank #63 USA Rank
#144 World Rank #87 USA Rank
Political Science
#160 World Rank #89 USA Rank
#252 World Rank #119 USA Rank
#604 World Rank #232 USA Rank
#662 World Rank #337 USA Rank
Religious Studies
#1675 World Rank #627 USA Rank

Other areas of influence

#165 World Rank #112 USA Rank
Social Work
#1411 World Rank #1009 USA Rank
Criminal Justice

Influential People

Who are Purdue University's Most influential alumni?

Purdue University's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Engineering, Nursing, and Communications. Purdue University’s most academically influential people include Neil Armstrong, Martin Atalla, and David Starr Jordan.

Neil Armstrong
Neil Armstrong

American astronaut and the first human to walk on the moon

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Martin Atalla
Martin Atalla

Electrical engineer

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David Starr Jordan
David Starr Jordan

American ichthyologist and educator

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Seymour Benzer
Seymour Benzer

American geneticist

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Gus Grissom
Gus Grissom

American astronaut

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James Samuel Coleman
James Samuel Coleman

American sociologist

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Booth Tarkington
Booth Tarkington

American novelist

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Chintamani Nagesa Ramachandra Rao
Chintamani Nagesa Ramachandra Rao

Indian chemist

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Arthur G. Hansen

American philanthropist

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George Mueller
George Mueller

NASA official

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Edward Mills Purcell
Edward Mills Purcell

American physicist

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Brian Lamb
Brian Lamb

American journalist and founder of C-SPAN public affairs television network

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