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Which colleges and universities are the most influential in the world? And, in what do they excel?

Find the colleges and universities that have made the biggest historical impact in the discipline, country, and timeframe of your choice! We rank universities and colleges from around the world based on the scholarly work of their faculty and alumni, i.e., influence.

Note: The schools featured using this tool are influential in the disciplines selected. This does not necessarily mean that they offer a degree in the selected discipline. For example, Princeton University ranks highly for its influence in law. Given that Princeton is the alma mater of three former US presidents (James Madison, Woodrow Wilson, and John F. Kennedy) and three Supreme Court Justices (Samuel Alito, Elena Kagan, & Sonia Sotomayor), among many other prominent statespeople and law makers, Princeton’s influence in the field of law is undeniable. Nevertheless, they offer degrees in politics and public policy, but not in law specifically.

To find influential schools in the US that offer degrees in your area of interest, use our Custom College Rankings tool.

Methodology: How and Why We Rank by Influence …

What is Desirability?

List of the most influential schools in Nursing, for the years 2000 – 2020

University of London
#1

University of London

#2 institution's overall influence
An institution of higher education named University College London (UCL) was founded in the UK’s largest metropolis and capital city in 1826. A mere three years later, in 1829, a second, similar institution named King’s College London (KCL) opened its doors. Then, a mere decade after the founding of UCL, a third institution known simply as University of London (UL) was founded in 1836 by the merger of UCL and KCL.
Harvard University
#2

Harvard University

#1 institution's overall influence
#2 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$52K

Acceptance

5%

Graduation

96%

Student body

25K

Median SAT/ACT

1515/34

Cambridge, MA

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Harvard University is almost universally acclaimed as the world’s most prestigious university. There is little doubt that its towering reputation is well earned.
#3

University of Colorado

#63 institution's overall influence
The University of Colorado was founded in 1876 in the town of Boulder.
University of Pennsylvania
#4

University of Pennsylvania

#17 institution's overall influence
#10 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$58K

Acceptance

9%

Graduation

96%

Student body

28K

Median SAT/ACT

1505/34

Philadelphia, PA

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The University of Pennsylvania (commonly known as “Penn”) is a leading private research university (note that nearly all US universities named after their state are public-supported—Penn is an exception to this rule).
Columbia University
#5

Columbia University

#3 institution's overall influence
#6 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$61K

Acceptance

7%

Graduation

95%

Student body

28K

Median SAT/ACT

1505/34

New York, NY

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Columbia is the eleventh-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. After New Jersey founded its college (now Princeton University) in 1746, New Yorkers, not wishing to be outdone, established their own college just eight years later. Its original name was King’s College.
City University of New York
#6

City University of New York

#19 institution's overall influence
The City University of New York (CUNY) is a mammoth system of two-year community colleges, four-year liberal arts colleges, and graduate professional schools. This system traces its roots back to the Free Academy, established in Manhattan in 1847. In 1866, the Free Academy changed its name to the City College of New York, which makes today’s City College the oldest institution within the CUNY system.
Yale University
#7

Yale University

#5 institution's overall influence
#4 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$56K

Acceptance

7%

Graduation

97%

Student body

16K

Median SAT/ACT

1515/34

New Haven, CT

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Yale was originally founded under the name of Collegiate School by Connecticut Colony in 1701. It is the fourth-oldest institution of higher learning in the US, after Harvard, the College of William & Mary (in Williamsburg, Virginia), and St. John’s College (in Annapolis, Maryland). Called the “Collegiate School,” its original mission was to train future ministers for the Congregational Church.
Indiana University Bloomington
#8

Indiana University Bloomington

#53 institution's overall influence
#875 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$11K

Acceptance

80%

Graduation

77%

Student body

40K

Median SAT/ACT

1255/27

Bloomington, IN

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Indiana University Bloomington (IUB) was founded in 1820. It is the flagship campus of the IU System.
University of Pittsburgh
#9

University of Pittsburgh

#59 institution's overall influence
#987 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$20K

Acceptance

64%

Graduation

82%

Student body

27K

Median SAT/ACT

1350/30

Pittsburgh, PA

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University of Pittsburgh (“Pitt”) traces its roots to the Pittsburgh Academy, a preparatory school founded in 1787, when Pittsburgh was still a frontier outpost. Defined in this way, Pitt is the oldest continuously chartered educational institution west of the Allegheny Mountains.
University of Minnesota
#10

University of Minnesota

#27 institution's overall influence
#890 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$15K

Acceptance

70%

Graduation

80%

Student body

44K

Median SAT/ACT

1370/28

Minneapolis, MN

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The University of Minnesota (UM) traces its roots to a college preparatory school established in the city of Minneapolis seven years before Minnesota entered the Union in 1858. This school closed its doors during the Civil War, but reopened in 1867.
University of Michigan
#11

University of Michigan

#12 institution's overall influence
#37 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$17K

Acceptance

26%

Graduation

92%

Student body

43K

Median SAT/ACT

1435/32

Ann Arbor, MI

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The flagship campuses of many of the state university systems have superb faculties and excellent academic reputations. However, setting aside Berkeley as a special case, by our criteria the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus is the most distinguished of all these many fine institutions. That is, Michigan has a strong claim to be considered (after Berkeley) the best public research university in the US.
New York University
#12

New York University

#14 institution's overall influence
#44 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$53K

Acceptance

21%

Graduation

84%

Student body

48K

Median SAT/ACT

1440/32

New York, NY

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As the cultural mecca of the US, New York City naturally contains many fine colleges and universities. One of the very best is New York University (NYU), located in Washington Square in Lower Manhattan’s Greenwich Village neighborhood. While NYU is a quintessentially urban school lacking a conventional, pastoral college campus setting, its site is immediately recognizable thanks to Washington Square Arch, which is a replica of the ancient Roman Arch of Titus and very similar in appearance to Paris’s celebrated Arc de Triomphe (though only half its size).
University of California, Los Angeles
#13

University of California, Los Angeles

#21 institution's overall influence
#31 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$13K

Acceptance

14%

Graduation

91%

Student body

44K

Median SAT/ACT

1415/32

Los Angeles, CA

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The University of California, Los Angeles is a public land-grant research university in Los Angeles, California. UCLA traces its early origins back to 1882 as the southern branch of the California State Normal School . It became the Southern Branch of the University of California in 1919, making it the second-oldest of the 10-campus University of California system. UCLA receives the most college applications of any university in the United States and is considered one of the most prestigious universities in the world.
University of Washington
#14

University of Washington

#28 institution's overall influence
#69 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$11K

Acceptance

56%

Graduation

84%

Student body

47K

Median SAT/ACT

1345/30

Seattle, WA

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In the 1850s, the Governor of Washington Territory and some of his Seattle-based friends and business associates, including a prominent Methodist minister, put their heads together to figure out a way to advance two causes close to their hearts: the prospect of statehood for the territory and the economic welfare of the city of Seattle.
Case Western Reserve University
#15

Case Western Reserve University

#109 institution's overall influence
#110 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$51K

Acceptance

30%

Graduation

82%

Student body

9K

Median SAT/ACT

1425/32

Cleveland, OH

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Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) was established in 1967 through the merger of Western Reserve University (founded in 1826) and Case Institute of Technology (founded in 1880).
University of Florida
#16

University of Florida

#60 institution's overall influence
#45 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$6K

Acceptance

31%

Graduation

88%

Student body

46K

Median SAT/ACT

1390/30

Gainesville, FL

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The University of Florida (UF) traces its roots back to East Florida Seminary, which was founded in 1853 in the town of Ocala. The seminary, which was the first publicly supported institution of higher learning in the state, relocated to the city of Gainesville in 1858.
University of California, San Francisco
#17

University of California, San Francisco

#142 institution's overall influence

Student body

1K

San Francisco, CA

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The University of California, San Francisco is a public land-grant research university in San Francisco, California. It is part of the University of California system and it is dedicated entirely to health science. It is a major center of medical and biological research and teaching.
Boston College
#18

Boston College

#194 institution's overall influence
#49 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$58K

Acceptance

26%

Graduation

92%

Student body

13K

Median SAT/ACT

1420/32

Chestnut Hill, MA

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Boston College (BC) was founded in 1863 by the Jesuit religious order. BC is organized into nine colleges and schools. The undergraduate division of the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences alone offers more than 100 academic programs.
Johns Hopkins University
#19

Johns Hopkins University

#22 institution's overall influence
#21 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$55K

Acceptance

11%

Graduation

93%

Student body

25K

Median SAT/ACT

1510/34

Baltimore, MD

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Johns Hopkins was designed from its origin to contribute to the cutting edge of scientific discovery. With time, this goal has been fully achieved, leading to the top-tier research institution that the university is today. The school is named after its founding benefactor, the entrepreneur and philanthropist Johns Hopkins, who contributed $7 million (approximately $145 million in today’s money) to create both the university and an associated hospital.
Vanderbilt University
#20

Vanderbilt University

#98 institution's overall influence
#16 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$52K

Acceptance

12%

Graduation

92%

Student body

11K

Median SAT/ACT

1510/34

Nashville, TN

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Vanderbilt University was founded in 1873 as the Central University of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (known as Central University, for short).
Emory University
#21

Emory University

#104 institution's overall influence
#41 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$54K

Acceptance

19%

Graduation

91%

Student body

13K

Median SAT/ACT

1445/32

Atlanta, GA

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Emory University is a private, research university originally founded in Oxford, Georgia, in 1836 by the Methodist Episcopal Church as Emory College.
Stanford University
#22

Stanford University

#10 institution's overall influence
#1 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$54K

Acceptance

5%

Graduation

94%

Student body

15K

Median SAT/ACT

1505/33

Stanford, CA

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Stanford University was founded by Leland Stanford, a wealthy railroad magnate and erstwhile US Senator from California, as well as a former Governor of the Golden State. He placed the university in an unincorporated area about 30 miles south of San Francisco, adjacent to the town of Palo Alto (which he also founded). The campus lies in what is now known as Silicon Valley, which contributes greatly to the immense intellectual and economic influence of the private, research university that still bears the Stanford family name. Today, Stanford University is perhaps the closest thing to a true Iv...
University of Oxford
#23

University of Oxford

#8 institution's overall influence
The University of Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world, which affords it an aura of awe and respect that no amount of money can buy.
University of the Philippines
#24

University of the Philippines

#158 institution's overall influence
The University of the Philippines is a state university system in the Philippines, and is the country's national university. Founded by the American colonial government on June 18, 1908 for the Filipinos, it was established through the ratification of Act No. 1870 of the 1st Philippine Legislature to provide "advanced instruction in literature, philosophy, the sciences and arts, and to give professional and technical training" to eligible students regardless of "age, sex, nationality, religious belief and political affiliation." UP has institutional autonomy as the country's national universi
University of Cincinnati
#25

University of Cincinnati

#151 institution's overall influence
#1179 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$11K

Acceptance

76%

Graduation

68%

Student body

33K

Median SAT/ACT

1235/26

Cincinnati, OH

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The University of Cincinnati (UC) was founded in 1819. It is the oldest university in Ohio and—with a student population of more than 46,000—the second-largest.
Monash University
#26

Monash University

#183 institution's overall influence
Monash University is a public research university based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Named for prominent World War I general Sir John Monash, it was founded in 1958 and is the second oldest university in the state. The university has a number of campuses, four of which are in Victoria , and one in Malaysia. Monash also has a research and teaching centre in Prato, Italy, a graduate research school in Mumbai, India and a graduate school in Suzhou, China. Monash University courses are also delivered at other locations, including South Africa.
Georgetown University
#27

Georgetown University

#39 institution's overall influence
#19 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$56K

Acceptance

17%

Graduation

95%

Student body

14K

Median SAT/ACT

1465/33

Washington, DC

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Georgetown University is a Catholic institution of higher learning that was founded in 1789 by John Carroll, Archbishop of Baltimore.
Rutgers University
#28

Rutgers University

#50 institution's overall influence
Rutgers University’s full official name is Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
Duke University
#29

Duke University

#29 institution's overall influence
#12 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$58K

Acceptance

8%

Graduation

95%

Student body

15K

Median SAT/ACT

1525/34

Durham, NC

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Duke began life as Brown’s Schoolhouse, on a site in what is now the town of Trinity in Randolph County, North Carolina, a little over 70 miles west of its current location in the city of Durham.
National University of Ireland
#30

National University of Ireland

#88 institution's overall influence
The National University of Ireland is a federal university system of constituent universities and recognised colleges set up under the Irish Universities Act, 1908, and significantly amended by the Universities Act, 1997.
University of Texas at Austin
#31

University of Texas at Austin

#33 institution's overall influence
#43 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$11K

Acceptance

32%

Graduation

83%

Student body

45K

Median SAT/ACT

1355/30

Austin, TX

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By rights, the University of Texas (known within Texas itself as “UT,” for short) ought to be 40 years older than it is. In 1839, the Republic of Texas officially set aside 40 acres of prime real estate in the center of the new country’s capital city, Austin, as the site for the campus of a national university. The Texas Congress also granted 288,000 acres of land, mainly in the western regions of the Republic, as a financial endowment for the future university.
Boston University
#32

Boston University

#46 institution's overall influence
#56 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$56K

Acceptance

20%

Graduation

87%

Student body

33K

Median SAT/ACT

1425/32

Boston, MA

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Boston University (universally known as “BU”) traces its roots to a Methodist Church training college, the Newbury Biblical Institute, founded in Newbury, Vermont, by a group of Boston-based Methodist ministers and elders. Ten years later, in 1849, the school was transferred to the much larger town (and state capital) of Concord, New Hampshire, where it operated as the Concord Biblical Institute for 20 more years. Finally, in 1869, it moved again, this time to Boston itself, under the new name of the Boston Theological Institute.
Purdue University
#33

Purdue University

#62 institution's overall influence
#1204 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$10K

Acceptance

67%

Graduation

78%

Student body

42K

Median SAT/ACT

1315/28

West Lafayette, IN

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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.
University of Toronto
#34

University of Toronto

#24 institution's overall influence
The University of Toronto received its royal charter in 1827 from King George IV. Originally known as King’s College, it was the first institution of higher learning in the colonial Province of Upper Canada (consisting of mostly what is now southern Ontario).
Cornell University
#35

Cornell University

#15 institution's overall influence
#14 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$57K

Acceptance

11%

Graduation

93%

Student body

25K

Median SAT/ACT

1480/33

Ithaca, NY

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Cornell University was founded in turbulent times. With the Civil War winding down, and less than two weeks after President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, the Governor of New York signed the school’s official charter in the state capital, Albany, where only the day before Lincoln’s funeral procession had passed through the city’s streets.
Seattle University
#36

Seattle University

#606 institution's overall influence
#307 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$47K

Acceptance

83%

Graduation

75%

Student body

6K

Median SAT/ACT

1235/27

Seattle, WA

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Seattle University is a private Jesuit university in Seattle, Washington. SU is the largest independent university in the Northwestern United States, with over 7,500 students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs within eight schools.
Wayne State University
#37

Wayne State University

#147 institution's overall influence
#842 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$15K

Acceptance

69%

Graduation

47%

Student body

20K

Median SAT/ACT

1120/24

Detroit, MI

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Wayne State University is a public research university in Detroit, Michigan. It is Michigan's third-largest university. Founded in 1868, Wayne State consists of 13 schools and colleges offering approximately 350 programs to more than 26,000 graduate and undergraduate students. Wayne State University, along with the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, compose the University Research Corridor of Michigan. Wayne State is classified among "R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity".
University of Sydney
#38

University of Sydney

#56 institution's overall influence
The wave of expansion of Homo sapiens out of its African birthplace reached the continent of Australia around 40,000 years ago, or more. However, the first visit of Europeans to the land down under did not occur until 1606, when the Dutch explorer Willem Janszoon made landfall at what is now the town of Weipa on the western shore of the Cape York Peninsula in northern Queensland.
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
#39

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

#1715 institution's overall influence

Tuition + fees

$10K

Student body

5K

Lubbock, TX

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The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center is a public medical school based in Lubbock, Texas, with additional campuses in Abilene, Amarillo, Dallas, El Paso and the Permian Basin. TTUHSC serves more than 100 counties in the western portion of Texas. The university is a separate institution from Texas Tech University; both universities are among four universities that are part of the Texas Tech University System.
University of Cambridge
#40

University of Cambridge

#4 institution's overall influence
Founded in 1209, the University of Cambridge is one of the oldest universities in the world (or, at least, in Europe, not to prejudge the claims of several Islamic institutions to that title).
University of Wisconsin–Madison
#41

University of Wisconsin–Madison

#25 institution's overall influence
#216 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$11K

Acceptance

57%

Graduation

87%

Student body

36K

Median SAT/ACT

1390/29

Madison, WI

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The University of Wisconsin was founded at the same time that the eastern part of the Wisconsin Territory became the new state of Wisconsin and entered the union. In accord with its charter, the new state university was physically located in the state capital, Madison.
The Catholic University of America
#42

The Catholic University of America

#273 institution's overall influence
#261 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$48K

Acceptance

82%

Graduation

74%

Student body

5K

Washington, DC

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The Catholic University of America was founded in 1887 by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Catholic University is organized into 12 schools, which collectively offer some 250 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs. In addition, the university is home to 22 research centers, institutes, and laboratories.
University of Rochester
#43

University of Rochester

#82 institution's overall influence
#61 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$56K

Acceptance

35%

Graduation

85%

Student body

11K

Median SAT/ACT

1405/32

Rochester, NY

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The University of Rochester traces its roots to the Baptist Education Society of the State of New York, founded in 1817 in the town of Hamilton in central New York state. Its primary function was to train Baptist clergymen. In 1823, the educational society changed its name to the Hamilton Literary and Theological Institution.
South University
#44

South University

#2276 institution's overall influence

Tuition + fees

$17K

Graduation

6%

Student body

<1K

Savannah, GA

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South University is a private university with its main campus in Savannah, Georgia, United States. The university is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. South University identifies itself as non-profit but the U.S. Department of Education classifies the institution as for-profit.
Long Island University
#45

Long Island University

#545 institution's overall influence

Tuition + fees

$38K

Acceptance

85%

Graduation

40%

Student body

10K

Median SAT/ACT

1185/25

Brookville, NY

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Long Island University is a private university with two main campuses, LIU Post and LIU Brooklyn, in the U.S. state of New York. It offers more than 500 academic programs at its main campuses, online, and at multiple non-residential. LIU has NCAA Division I athletics and hosts the annual George Polk Awards in journalism.
University of Edinburgh
#46

University of Edinburgh

#13 institution's overall influence
In spite of dating back to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the University of Edinburgh is only the fourth-oldest university in Scotland (after St. Andrews, Glasgow, and Aberdeen), hence the sixth-oldest in the English-speaking world (with Oxford and Cambridge, of course, in first and second positions).
University of Virginia
#47

University of Virginia

#37 institution's overall influence
#40 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$18K

Acceptance

23%

Graduation

95%

Student body

25K

Median SAT/ACT

1430/32

Charlottesville, VA

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The University of Virginia (UVA) was very much the personal project of the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. Virginia already had a venerable and distinguished university, the College of William & Mary, which is the second-oldest in the country&mdash;founded right after Harvard&mdash;and was Jefferson’s own alma mater.
#48

Makerere University

#430 institution's overall influence
Makerere University, Kampala is Uganda's largest and oldest institution of higher learning, first established as a technical school in 1922. It became an independent national university in 1970. Today, Makerere University is composed of nine colleges and one school offering programmes for about 36,000 undergraduates and 4,000 postgraduate. The main administrative block recently was gutted by fire in September of 2020 and the cause of the fire is yet to be established
Pennsylvania State University
#49

Pennsylvania State University

#73 institution's overall influence

Tuition + fees

$18K

Acceptance

76%

Graduation

69%

Student body

47K

Median SAT/ACT

1190/26

University Park, PA

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Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) was founded in 1855 as the Farmers’ High School of Pennsylvania.
Grand Canyon University
#50

Grand Canyon University

#2508 institution's overall influence
#336 overall school desirability

Tuition + fees

$17K

Acceptance

81%

Graduation

41%

Student body

82K

Phoenix, AZ

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Grand Canyon University is a private for-profit Christian university in Phoenix, Arizona. Based on student enrollment, Grand Canyon University was the largest Christian university in the world in 2018, with 20,000 attending students on campus and 70,000 online.

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