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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.

Methodology: How and Why We Rank by Influence …

What is Desirability?

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

Harvard University
# 1

Harvard University

#1 institution's overall influence
#2 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$50K

Acceptance

5%

Graduation

97%

Student body

25K

Median SAT/ACT

1520/34

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.
Northwestern University
# 2

Northwestern University

#28 institution's overall influence
#24 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$55K

Acceptance

8%

Graduation

94%

Student body

19K

Median SAT/ACT

1490/34

Evanston, IL

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The founding of Northwestern University was spearheaded by the physician and politician John Evans, for whom the town of Evanston, Illinois, is named. The school is a private institution whose campus lies along Lake Michigan, just north of Chicago.
Stanford University
# 3

Stanford University

#10 institution's overall influence
#1 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$51K

Acceptance

4%

Graduation

94%

Student body

14K

Median SAT/ACT

1495/33

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 London
# 4

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.
New York University
# 5

New York University

#16 institution's overall influence
#44 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$52K

Acceptance

20%

Graduation

85%

Student body

47K

Median SAT/ACT

1410/31

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 Pennsylvania
# 6

University of Pennsylvania

#17 institution's overall influence
#10 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$56K

Acceptance

8%

Graduation

95%

Student body

27K

Median SAT/ACT

1485/33

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).
University of California, Berkeley
# 7

University of California, Berkeley

#6 institution's overall influence
#29 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$14K

Acceptance

15%

Graduation

92%

Student body

41K

Median SAT/ACT

1425/33

Berkeley, CA

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The University of California, Berkeley is a public research university in Berkeley, California. Established in 1868 as the state's first land-grant university, it is the oldest campus of the University of California system and a founding member of the Association of American Universities. Among its 14 colleges and schools, the university employs over 2,500 faculty and enrolls some 31,000 undergraduate and 12,000 graduate students, and its 180 academic departments and 80 interdisciplinary research units offer over 350 degree programs. Berkeley is ranked among the world's top universities by ma...
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
# 8

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

#9 institution's overall influence
#3 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$52K

Acceptance

7%

Graduation

93%

Student body

14K

Median SAT/ACT

1535/35

Cambridge, MA

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The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, founded shortly before the American Civil War and universally known as “MIT,” is located just across the Charles River from downtown Boston. Starting from the MIT campus, if you walk, cycle, or drive in a westerly direction along Massachusetts Avenue (“Mass Ave,” to the locals), or ride the Red Line underneath it, you soon arrive at Harvard Square, with the bulk of the town of Cambridge sandwiched in between. Thus, MIT is not unlike a bookend paired with Harvard, geographically speaking, and academically speaking, as well, it looks upon itself very mu...
University of Southern California
# 9

University of Southern California

#39 institution's overall influence
#30 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$56K

Acceptance

13%

Graduation

92%

Student body

37K

Median SAT/ACT

1440/32

Los Angeles, CA

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The University of Southern California (USC) was founded as the first private research university in the state (five years before Stanford) largely through the efforts of Judge Robert Widney, one of the most prominent citizens of Los Angeles at that time.
University of California, Los Angeles
# 10

University of California, Los Angeles

#23 institution's overall influence
#31 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$13K

Acceptance

14%

Graduation

91%

Student body

44K

Median SAT/ACT

1405/32

Los Angeles, CA

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The University of California, Los Angeles is a public 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.
Columbia University
# 11

Columbia University

#3 institution's overall influence
#6 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$53K

Acceptance

6%

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.
University of Michigan
# 12

University of Michigan

#15 institution's overall influence
#37 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$16K

Acceptance

23%

Graduation

91%

Student body

42K

Median SAT/ACT

1420/32

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.
Cornell University
# 13

Cornell University

#14 institution's overall influence
#14 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$55K

Acceptance

11%

Graduation

94%

Student body

24K

Median SAT/ACT

1465/33

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.
University of Chicago
# 14

University of Chicago

#5 institution's overall influence
#8 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$57K

Acceptance

7%

Graduation

94%

Student body

12K

Median SAT/ACT

1520/34

Chicago, IL

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The University of Chicago is one of the foremost universities in the world academically, albeit one of the youngest in that august company. In spite of its relatively recent founding, the school has been associated with some of the world’s most important scientific achievements, above all, the first controlled, self-sustaining, nuclear chain reaction (atomic fission), which was achieved in late 1942 by a team led by the legendary Italian physicist, Enrico Fermi, in a laboratory beneath a football field on the Chicago campus.
Yale University
# 15

Yale University

#7 institution's overall influence
#4 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$53K

Acceptance

6%

Graduation

98%

Student body

15K

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.
University of Pittsburgh
# 16

University of Pittsburgh

#63 institution's overall influence
#987 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$19K

Acceptance

59%

Graduation

81%

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.
Duke University
# 17

Duke University

#31 institution's overall influence
#12 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$56K

Acceptance

9%

Graduation

95%

Student body

15K

Median SAT/ACT

1510/34

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.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
# 18

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

#74 institution's overall influence
#38 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$9K

Acceptance

23%

Graduation

91%

Student body

25K

Median SAT/ACT

1375/31

Chapel Hill, NC

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The University of North Carolina (UNC) system is a large network of 16 public universities with a total student enrollment of around 240,000 souls. The oldest member of the UNC system is the flagship campus in the small, centrally located town of Chapel Hill.
Michigan State University
# 19

Michigan State University

#104 institution's overall influence
#1461 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$16K

Acceptance

78%

Graduation

78%

Student body

43K

Median SAT/ACT

1210/26

East Lansing, MI

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Michigan State University (MSU) was founded in 1855 as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan, the first of its kind in the US. Its original curriculum elevated the study of the natural sciences over the Classical languages and humanities, which was quite unusual at the time.
University of Texas at Austin
# 20

University of Texas at Austin

#42 institution's overall influence
#43 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$11K

Acceptance

39%

Graduation

81%

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.
University of Houston
# 21

University of Houston

#250 institution's overall influence
#1064 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$9K

Acceptance

62%

Graduation

51%

Student body

37K

Median SAT/ACT

1220/25

Houston, TX

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The University of Houston (UH) was established in 1927. With a student body in excess of 46,000, it is the third-largest university in the state of Texas.
DePaul University
# 22

DePaul University

#448 institution's overall influence
#308 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$40K

Acceptance

68%

Graduation

73%

Student body

19K

Chicago, IL

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DePaul University is a private Catholic research university in Chicago, Illinois. Founded by the Vincentianss in 1898, the university takes its name from the 17th-century French priest Saint Vincent de Paul. In 1998, it became the largest Catholic university by enrollment in the United States. Following in the footsteps of its founders, DePaul places special emphasis on recruiting first-generation students and others from disadvantaged backgrounds.
University of Minnesota
# 23

University of Minnesota

#33 institution's overall influence
#890 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$15K

Acceptance

52%

Graduation

78%

Student body

44K

Median SAT/ACT

1375/28

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.
Boston University
# 24

Boston University

#37 institution's overall influence
#56 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$54K

Acceptance

22%

Graduation

87%

Student body

30K

Median SAT/ACT

1415/31

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.
Syracuse University
# 25

Syracuse University

#88 institution's overall influence
#1450 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$52K

Acceptance

50%

Graduation

82%

Student body

23K

Median SAT/ACT

1275/27

Syracuse, NY

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Syracuse University traces its roots to Genesee Wesleyan Seminary, which was founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1831 in Lima, a small town south of Rochester, in the western part of New York state.
Carnegie Mellon University
# 26

Carnegie Mellon University

#47 institution's overall influence
#35 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$55K

Acceptance

17%

Graduation

90%

Student body

16K

Median SAT/ACT

1500/34

Pittsburgh, PA

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In 1900, the Scottish-born industrialist and philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie, donated the funds to establish a vocational college called the Carnegie Technical Schools. In 1912, the Technical Schools’ name was changed to the Carnegie Institute of Technology (CIT).
University of Wisconsin–Madison
# 27

University of Wisconsin–Madison

#25 institution's overall influence
#216 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$11K

Acceptance

52%

Graduation

85%

Student body

36K

Median SAT/ACT

1365/29

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 New School
# 28

The New School

#96 institution's overall influence
#1438 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$49K

Acceptance

57%

Graduation

68%

Student body

10K

Median SAT/ACT

1255/27

New York, NY

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The New School is a private, research university located in and around Greenwich Village in lower Manhattan. It was founded in 1919 as the New School for Social Research.
Berklee College of Music
# 29

Berklee College of Music

#126 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$44K

Acceptance

48%

Graduation

61%

Student body

7K

Boston, MA

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Berklee College of Music is a private music college in Boston, Massachusetts. It is the largest independent college of contemporary music in the world. Known for the study of jazz and modern American music, it also offers college-level courses in a wide range of contemporary and historic styles, including rock, hip hop, reggae, salsa, heavy metal and bluegrass. Berklee alumni have won 297 Grammy Awards, more than any other college, and 99 Latin Grammy Awards. Other notable accolades for its alumni include 34 Emmy Awards, 7 Tony Awards and 8 Academy Awards.
University of Catania
# 30

University of Catania

#1208 institution's overall influence
The University of Catania is a university located in Catania, Sicily. Founded in 1434, it is the oldest university in Sicily, the 13th oldest in Italy, and the 29th oldest university in the world. With a population of over 60,000 students, it is the main university in Sicily.
University of Oregon
# 31

University of Oregon

#129 institution's overall influence
#547 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$12K

Acceptance

83%

Graduation

72%

Student body

22K

Median SAT/ACT

1185/25

Eugene, OR

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The University of Oregon (UO) was established in 1876. UO is organized into five colleges, which altogether offer a total of 316 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Most programs follow a 10-week quarter system.
Tufts University
# 32

Tufts University

#70 institution's overall influence
#25 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$56K

Acceptance

15%

Graduation

92%

Student body

11K

Median SAT/ACT

1455/32

Medford, MA

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Tufts University was founded as Tufts College in 1852 in the Boston Metropolitan Area--suburb of Medford, north of Cambridge. The school was built under the auspices of the Universalist Church of America on 20 acres of land donated by businessman and philanthropist Charles Tufts. Today, the university also has a satellite campus located in downtown Boston.
University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
# 33

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

#45 institution's overall influence
#162 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$17K

Acceptance

62%

Graduation

85%

Student body

52K

Median SAT/ACT

1330/29

Champaign, IL

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The University of Illinois began life as the Illinois Industrial University, located in the city of Urbana. Although the original intention of lawmakers and the preference of many state residents was for the new school to concentrate on vocational training, the university’s first president, John Milton Gregory, wisely insisted on offering a full spectrum of liberal arts and science courses.
University of Phoenix
# 34

University of Phoenix

#1254 institution's overall influence
The University of Phoenix is a for-profit university headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona. Founded in 1976, the school confers certificates and degrees in over 100 certificate programs and degree programs at the certificate, associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree levels. It is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and has an open enrollment admission policy, accepting all applicants with a high-school diploma, GED, or its equivalent as sufficient for admission. In 2017, the school's parent company, Apollo Education, was acquired by Apollo Global Management, an Am...
Princeton University
# 35

Princeton University

#8 institution's overall influence
#5 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$50K

Acceptance

5%

Graduation

97%

Student body

7K

Median SAT/ACT

1505/33

Princeton, NJ

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Although only the ninth-oldest university in the country, Princeton is one of the most historic. Originally founded as the College of New Jersey, the school’s sixth presidents, the Scottish theologian and educator John Witherspoon, signed the Declaration of Independence—the only college leader to do so. The next year, George Washington’s colonials dealt a small but significant blow to Lord Cornwallis’s superior forces at the Battle of Princeton on January 3, 1777. The victories at the earlier Battle of Trenton and at Princeton had an important positive effect on American morale, leading ...
Georgetown University
# 36

Georgetown University

#71 institution's overall influence
#19 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$54K

Acceptance

15%

Graduation

94%

Student body

14K

Median SAT/ACT

1450/32

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.
University of Colorado Boulder
# 37

University of Colorado Boulder

#162 institution's overall influence

Tuition + fees

$12K

Acceptance

82%

Graduation

70%

Student body

32K

Median SAT/ACT

1255/28

Boulder, CO

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The University of Colorado Boulder , colloquially referred to as CU or Colorado, is a public research university in Boulder, Colorado. It is the flagship university of the University of Colorado system, and was founded in 1876, five months before Colorado became a state. CU Boulder is a member of the Association of American Universities, a selective group of major research universities in North America, and is classified as an R1 University, meaning that it engages in a very high level of research activity. According to the National Science Foundation, the university spent $514 million on rese...
University of Cincinnati
# 38

University of Cincinnati

#185 institution's overall influence
#1179 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$11K

Acceptance

73%

Graduation

67%

Student body

32K

Median SAT/ACT

1265/26

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.
Indian Institute of Management Calcutta
# 39

Indian Institute of Management Calcutta

#647 institution's overall influence
Indian Institute of Management Calcutta is a public business school located in Joka, Kolkata, West Bengal, India. It was the first Indian Institute of Management to be established, and has been recognized as an Institute of National Importance by the government of India in 2017. Programmes offered by IIM Calcutta include a two-year full-time MBA, a one-year MBA for experienced executives, and a Doctor of Business Administration programme. IIM Calcutta is one of only three triple accredited business schools in India, and the first to get the recognition. It is also the only business school in ...
University of Washington
# 40

University of Washington

#43 institution's overall influence
#69 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$11K

Acceptance

49%

Graduation

84%

Student body

46K

Median SAT/ACT

1340/29

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.
Emory University
# 41

Emory University

#113 institution's overall influence
#41 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$51K

Acceptance

19%

Graduation

91%

Student body

13K

Median SAT/ACT

1435/32

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.
University of Virginia
# 42

University of Virginia

#44 institution's overall influence
#40 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$17K

Acceptance

26%

Graduation

94%

Student body

24K

Median SAT/ACT

1415/32

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—founded right after Harvard—and was Jefferson’s own alma mater.
Brown University
# 43

Brown University

#36 institution's overall influence
#7 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$55K

Acceptance

8%

Graduation

96%

Student body

9K

Median SAT/ACT

1485/33

Providence, RI

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Brown began life as the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (officially) or Rhode Island College (unofficially). It is the twelfth-oldest institution of higher learning in the US.
Juilliard School
# 44

Juilliard School

#51 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$45K

Acceptance

8%

Graduation

92%

Student body

1K

New York, NY

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The Juilliard School is a private performing arts conservatory in New York City. Established in 1905, the school trains about 850 undergraduate and graduate students in dance, drama, and music. It is widely regarded as one of the world's leading drama, music and dance schools, with some of the most prestigious arts programs.
University of South Australia
# 45

University of South Australia

#996 institution's overall influence
The University of South Australia is a public research university in the Australian state of South Australia. It is a founding member of the Australian Technology Network of universities, and is the largest university in South Australia with approximately 32,000 students.
University of Miami
# 46

University of Miami

#209 institution's overall influence
#106 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$50K

Acceptance

32%

Graduation

82%

Student body

14K

Median SAT/ACT

1340/30

Coral Gables, FL

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The University of Miami (UM) was founded in 1925. UM offers 132 bachelor’s and 148 master’s degrees, as well as 67 doctorates. Among the most popular of UM’s academic programs are those in business, management, and marketing, in biological and biomedical sciences, and in health professions.
University of California, San Francisco
# 47

University of California, San Francisco

#148 institution's overall influence

Student body

1K

San Francisco, CA

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The University of California, San Francisco is a public 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.
San Francisco Art Institute
# 48

San Francisco Art Institute

#687 institution's overall influence
#662 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$47K

Acceptance

95%

Graduation

40%

Student body

0K

San Francisco, CA

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San Francisco Art Institute is a private college of contemporary art in San Francisco, California. Founded in 1871, SFAI is one of the oldest art schools in the United States and the oldest west of the Mississippi River. Approximately 400 undergraduates and 200 graduate students are enrolled. The institution is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design , and is a member of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design .
University of Exeter
# 49

University of Exeter

#241 institution's overall influence
The University of Exeter is a public research university in Exeter, Devon, South West England, United Kingdom. It was founded and received its royal charter in 1955, although its predecessor institutions, St Luke's College, Exeter School of Science, Exeter School of Art, and the Camborne School of Mines were established in 1838, 1855, 1863, and 1888 respectively. In post-nominals, the University of Exeter is abbreviated as Exon. , and is the suffix given to honorary and academic degrees from the university.
Portland State University
# 50

Portland State University

#528 institution's overall influence
#448 student desirability

Tuition + fees

$8K

Acceptance

90%

Graduation

48%

Student body

21K

Median SAT/ACT

1120/21

Portland, OR

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Portland State University is a public research university in Portland, Oregon. It was founded in 1946 as a post-secondary educational institution for World War II veterans. It evolved into a four-year college over the following two decades and was granted university status in 1969. It is the only public urban university in the state of Oregon that is located in a large city. It is governed by a board of trustees. PSU is classified among "R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity".