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How can you tell which college is right for you? How do you know you’re getting the best value for your tuition money? Using data reported to the National Center for Education Statistics and Wintergreen Orchard House from the 2014-15 school year, StartClass — an education site part of the Graphiq network — has ranked the 100 best American universities.

RELATED: Forget the Ivy League — these schools offer the biggest bang for your buck

Colleges are sorted according to their StartClass Rank, which is comprised of the following factors:


  • Academic Excellence (30 percent): This includes the institution’s four-year graduation rate, full-time retention rate, student-faculty ratio and endowment per student, among other things.
  • Expert Opinion (20 percent): StartClass compiled the latest college rankings from several publications, such as Forbes and U.S. News.
  • Admissions Selectivity (18.6 percent): This takes into account the college’s acceptance rate, average ACT and SAT scores as well as the percent of freshmen in the top half of their high school graduating class.
  • Career Readiness (18.6 percent): This is largely determined by the post-graduation salaries of the school’s alumni.
  • Financial Affordability (12.9 percent): Determined by the university’s average net price, financial aid and other factors.

It’s important to keep in mind that these data points don’t measure all the many factors that can impact a person’s college experience. Our list aims to show which universities provide the most academic value, and ranks schools based on the quality of their statistical makeup. For students evaluating their collegiate options, this should serve as a helpful starting point.

RELATED: Stay home, save money — these are the best public colleges in every state

100. Smith College

  • Location: Northampton, Mass.
  • Tuition: $44,724
  • Acceptance rate: 42.2 percent

Smith College is a private women’s liberal arts college founded in 1871. It is named after its founder, Sophia Smith, who, at age 65, used her inheritance money to create an institution of higher education for women.

99. DePauw University

  • Location: Greencastle, Ind.
  • Tuition: $42,746
  • Acceptance rate: 56.6 percent

DePauw University is a private liberal arts college founded in 1837. It has Methodist heritage and was originally known as Indiana Asbury University.

98. Pepperdine University

  • Location: Malibu, Calif.
  • Tuition: $46,692
  • Acceptance rate: 35.5 percent

Pepperdine University is a private research university founded in 1937. The school has an average ACT score of 27.

97. University of Georgia

  • Location: Athens, Ga.
  • Tuition:
    • In-state: $10,836
    • Out-of-state: $29,046
  • Acceptance rate: 55.7 percent

The University of Georgia is a public research university founded in 1785, making it the first state-chartered college in Georgia.

96. Union College

  • Location: Schenectady, N.Y.
  • Tuition: $48,384
  • Acceptance rate: 41.1 percent

Union College is a private liberal arts university founded in 1795. Three well-known fraternities — Kappa Alpha Society, Sigma Phi and Delta Phi — were founded at Union College, earning the school the nickname “The Mother of Fraternities.”

95. George Washington University

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Tuition: $48,760
  • Acceptance rate: 43.8 percent

George Washington University is a private research university founded in 1821. Before 1904, it was called the Columbian College in the District of Columbia.

94. Brigham Young University

  • Location: Provo, Utah
  • Tuition: $5,000*
  • Acceptance rate: 47 percent

Brigham Young University is a private research university that is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The school was founded in 1875 by Brigham Young, the former president of the LDS Church.

*Note: BYU charges different tuition fees for LDS and non-LDS students. The tuition listed here represents the price for LDS students for the 2014-15 school year.

93. University of Rochester

  • Location: Rochester, N.Y.
  • Tuition: $46,960
  • Acceptance rate: 36.4 percent

The University of Rochester is a private research university founded in 1850. The college is well known for its Eastman School of Music, which was founded in 1921 and is considered among the best music schools in the world.

92. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering

  • Location: Needham, Mass.
  • Tuition: $46,681
  • Acceptance rate: 12 percent

The Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering is a private engineering college founded in 1997. Its namesake was an engineer, entrepreneur and professional baseball player who founded the Olin Corporation, a Fortune 1000 company.

91. Boston University

  • Location: Boston, Mass.
  • Tuition: $46,664
  • Acceptance rate: 34.5 percent

Boston University is a private research university founded in 1839. It has historically been affiliated with the United Methodist Church but is now nonsectarian.

90. Skidmore College

  • Location: Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
  • Tuition: $47,464
  • Acceptance rate: 37.3 percent

Skidmore College is a private liberal arts college that was founded in 1903. It was originally a women’s school but began admitting men to its regular undergraduate program in 1971.

89. Babson College

  • Location: Wellesley, Mass.
  • Tuition: $45,120
  • Acceptance rate: 26.3 percent

Babson College is a private business school that was founded in 1919. It was originally created as an all-male institute by Roger W. Babson, a successful entrepreneur and economist in the early 20th century.

88. Wake Forest University

  • Location: Winston-Salem, N.C.
  • Tuition: $46,200
  • Acceptance rate: 34.4 percent

Wake Forest University is a private research university founded in 1834. It was originally called the Wake Forest Manual Labor Institute but was renamed Wake Forest College in 1839.

87. Soka University of America

  • Location: Aliso Viejo, Calif.
  • Tuition: $30,214
  • Acceptance rate: 43.5 percent

Soka University of America is a private liberal arts school founded in 2001. It has an average ACT score of 26.

86. University of Washington

  • Location: Seattle, Wash.
  • Tuition:
    • In-state: $12,394
    • Out-of-state: $33,513
  • Acceptance rate: 55.2 percent

The University of Washington-Seattle is a public flagship research university founded in 1861. Its median post-graduation salary is $49,900.

85. Centre College

  • Location: Danville, Ky.
  • Tuition: $37,100
  • Acceptance rate: 71.6 percent

Centre College is a private liberal arts school that was founded in 1819 by Presbyterian leaders. It has a relatively low 10:1 student-faculty ratio.

84. Rhodes College

  • Location: Memphis, Tenn.
  • Tuition: $41,572
  • Acceptance rate: 60 percent

Rhodes College is a private liberal arts college that was founded in 1848. Its most popular majors include biology, political science and business administration.

83. University of California, Davis

  • Location: Davis, Calif.
  • Tuition:
    • In-state: $13,896
    • Out-of-state: $36,774
  • Acceptance rate: 40.4 percent

UC Davis is a public research university and one of 10 schools in the University of California system. Founded in 1908, it is the third-oldest of all the UC schools.

82. University of Maryland

  • Location: College Park, Md.
  • Tuition:
    • In-state: $9,427
    • Out-of-state: $29,720
  • Acceptance rate: 47.9 percent

The University of Maryland, College Park is a public research university founded in 1856. It is the flagship institution of the University System of Maryland.

81. University of California, Irvine

  • Location: Irvine, Calif.
  • Tuition:
    • In-state: $13,179
    • Out-of-state: $36,057
  • Acceptance rate: 37.4 percent

UC Irvine is a public research university founded in 1965. The school has a median post-graduation salary of $48,000.

80. St. Olaf College

  • Location: Northfield, Minn.
  • Tuition: $41,700
  • Acceptance rate: 51.3 percent

St. Olaf College is a private liberal arts college founded in 1874. It is named after the Patron Saint Olaf II of Norway and is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

79. Occidental College

  • Location: Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Tuition: $47,522
  • Acceptance rate: 42 percent

Occidental College is a private liberal arts college established in 1887. It was founded by members of the Presbyterian Church and has an average ACT score of 29.

78. University of Texas at Austin

  • Location: Austin, Texas
  • Tuition:
    • In-state: $9,830
    • Out-of-state: $34,836
  • Acceptance rate: 39.7 percent

The University of Texas at Austin is a public research university and flagship institution of the University of Texas System. It was founded in 1881 and has over 51,000 total students.

77. Colorado College

  • Location: Colorado Springs, Colo.
  • Tuition: $46,410
  • Acceptance rate: 17.9 percent

Colorado College is a private liberal arts school located near the base of the Rocky Mountains. It was founded in 1874 and now offers 33 majors.

76. Whitman College

  • Location: Walla Walla, Wash.
  • Tuition: $44,800
  • Acceptance rate: 41 percent

Whitman College is a private liberal arts college founded in 1882. Its student-faculty ratio is 9:1, and its average ACT score is 30.

75. University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • Location: Madison, Wis.
  • Tuition:
    • In-state: $10,410
    • Out-of-state: $26,660
  • Acceptance rate: 56.9 percent

74. Scripps College

  • Location: Claremont, Calif.
  • Tuition: $47,378
  • Acceptance rate: 28.4 percent

Scripps College is a private liberal arts women’s college founded in 1926. It is a member of the Claremont Colleges, a liberal arts consortium that also includes undergraduate schools Pomona College, Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College and Pitzer College.

73. College of the Holy Cross

  • Location: Worcester, Mass.
  • Tuition: $45,692
  • Acceptance rate: 43.3 percent

The College of the Holy Cross is a private liberal arts college that was founded in 1843. It has a six-year graduation rate of 93 percent.

72. Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

  • Location: New York, N.Y.
  • Tuition: $41,400
  • Acceptance rate: 15.1 percent

The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art is a private college located in the East Village of Manhattan. Until 2014, the school offered free tuition to all its students, but has recently abandoned its full-scholarship model for the time being.

71. University of California, Santa Barbara

  • Location: Santa Barbara, Calif.
  • Tuition:
    • In-state: $13,865
    • Out-of-state: $36,743
  • Acceptance rate: 36.3 percent

UC Santa Barbara is a public research university founded in 1909. It has a student-faculty ratio of 17:1 and an average ACT score of 28.

70. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • Location: Champaign, Ill.
  • Tuition:
    • In-state: $15,020
    • Out-of-state: $29,646
  • Acceptance rate: 59 percent

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a public research university founded in 1867. It is the flagship campus of the University of Illinois system, which consists of three campuses.

69. Oberlin College

  • Location: Oberlin, Ohio
  • Tuition: $48,682
  • Acceptance rate: 32.7 percent

Oberlin College is a private liberal arts school founded in 1833. It is the first college in the U.S. to accept both men and women as students.

68. Bates College

  • Location: Lewiston, Maine
  • Tuition: $47,030
  • Acceptance rate: 25.4 percent

Bates College is a private liberal arts school founded in 1855. Its most popular majors include psychology, economics and history.

67. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

  • Location: Troy, N.Y.
  • Tuition: $47,908
  • Acceptance rate: 37.5 percent

The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is a private research university. Founded in 1824, it is the oldest technological university in any English-speaking country.

66. Bryn Mawr College

  • Location: Bryn Mawr, Pa.
  • Tuition: $45,540
  • Acceptance rate: 40.5 percent

Bryn Mawr College is a private women’s liberal arts school founded in 1885. It is one of the Seven Sisters colleges, a loose association of seven historically women’s liberal arts colleges in the Northeastern U.S., including Barnard College, Mount Holyoke College, Radcliffe College, Smith College, Vassar College and Wellesley College.

65. Wesleyan University

  • Location: Middletown, Conn.
  • Tuition: $48,272
  • Acceptance rate: 23.9 percent

Wesleyan University is a private liberal arts college founded in 1831. It is named after John Wesley, the founder of Methodism.

64. Bucknell University

  • Location: Lewisburg, Pa.
  • Tuition: $48,498
  • Acceptance rate: 30.7 percent

Bucknell University is a private liberal arts college founded in 1846. It has an average ACT score of 30.

63. University of Florida

  • Location: Gainesville, Fla.
  • Tuition:
    • In-state: $6,313
    • Out-of-state: $28,591
  • Acceptance rate: 45.6 percent

The University of Florida is a public research university founded in 1853. It has nearly 50,000 total students and a high student-faculty ratio of 21:1.

62. Case Western Reserve University

  • Location: Cleveland, Ohio
  • Tuition: $43,158
  • Acceptance rate: 38.3 percent

Case Western Reserve University is a private school founded in 1826. It was originally located in Hudson, Ohio, then moved to Cleveland in 1882.

61. Macalester College

  • Location: St. Paul, Minn.
  • Tuition: $47,195
  • Acceptance rate: 36.3 percent

Macalester College is a private liberal arts school founded in 1874. Its founder, Rev. Edward Duffield Neill, was a chaplain in the Civil War and established Macalester as a Presbyterian-affiliated but nonsectarian school.

60. University of Richmond

  • Location: Richmond, Va.
  • Tuition: $46,680
  • Acceptance rate: 31.8 percent

The University of Richmond is a private liberal arts college founded in 1830. Its most popular majors include business administration, leadership studies and psychology.

59. Lehigh University

  • Location: Bethlehem, Pa.
  • Tuition: $44,890
  • Acceptance rate: 34.3 percent

Lehigh University is a private research university founded in 1865. It has an average ACT score of 30.

58. University of California, San Diego

  • Location: La Jolla, Calif.
  • Tuition:
    • In-state: $13,427
    • Out-of-state: $36,305
  • Acceptance rate: 33.3 percent

UC San Diego is a public research university founded in 1960. It has a median post-graduation salary of $50,000.

57. Kenyon College

  • Location: Gambier, Ohio
  • Tuition: $47,330
  • Acceptance rate: 25.1 percent

Kenyon College is a private liberal arts school founded in 1824. It is the oldest private college in Ohio.

56. Brandeis University

  • Location: Waltham, Mass.
  • Tuition: $47,558
  • Acceptance rate: 35.2 percent

Brandeis University is a private research university founded in 1948. It was named after Louis Brandeis, the first Jewish justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

55. United States Air Force Academy

  • Location: Colorado Springs, Colo.
  • Tuition: N/A
  • Acceptance rate: 16.6 percent

The United States Air Force Academy is a military academy for officer cadets of the U.S. Air Force. It was founded in 1954 and is the youngest of the five U.S. service academies.

54. Lafayette College

  • Location: Easton, Pa.
  • Tuition: $46,385
  • Acceptance rate: 29.7 percent

Lafayette College is a private liberal arts college founded in 1826. The school is named after Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, a French aristocrat and military officer who fought for the U.S. in the American Revolutionary War.

53. Emory University

  • Location: Atlanta, Ga.
  • Tuition: $45,008
  • Acceptance rate: 26.8 percent

Emory University is a private research university founded in 1836. The school has a very small student-faculty ratio of 8:1 and an average ACT score of 30.

52. Carnegie Mellon University

  • Location: Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • Tuition: $49,022
  • Acceptance rate: 24.6 percent

Carnegie Mellon University is a private research university founded in 1900. It was established by renowned industrialist Andrew Carnegie as the Carnegie Technical Schools, and merged with the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research in 1967.

51. Boston College

  • Location: Chestnut Hill, Mass.
  • Tuition: $47,436
  • Acceptance rate: 33.9 percent

Boston College is a private Jesuit Catholic research university founded in 1863 and located just outside of downtown Boston. It began as a liberal arts college but expanded as it added graduate programs and professional schools.

50. United States Naval Academy

  • Location: Annapolis, Md.
  • Tuition: N/A
  • Acceptance rate: 7.9 percent

The United States Naval Academy is a four-year federal service academy founded in 1845. It is the second oldest of the U.S. service academies, and educates officers primarily into the Navy and Marine Corps.

49. University of Southern California

  • Location: Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Tuition: $48,280
  • Acceptance rate: 18 percent

The University of Southern California is a private research university founded in 1880. The school was established by a group led byJudge Robert Maclay Widney, using land donated by prominent members of the community.

48. Georgia Institute of Technology

  • Location: Atlanta, Ga.
  • Tuition:
    • In-state: $11,394
    • Out-of-state: $30,698
  • Acceptance rate: 33.4 percent

The Georgia Institute of Technology is a public research university founded in 1885. Its average ACT score is 31, and it offers 54 different undergraduate degrees.

47. Barnard College

  • Location: New York, N.Y.
  • Tuition: $46,040
  • Acceptance rate: 23.8 percent

Barnard College is a private women’s liberal arts school founded in 1889. It was the first college in New York City that admitted women as students.

46. United States Military Academy

  • Location: West Point, N.Y.
  • Tuition: N/A
  • Acceptance rate: 9.5 percent

The United States Military Academy is a federal service academy founded in 1802, making it the oldest service academy in the country. It is the oldest continuously occupied military post in America.

45. Colby College

  • Location: Waterville, Maine
  • Tuition: $47,350
  • Acceptance rate: 28 percent

Colby College is a private liberal arts school founded in 1813. It began as an all-male school but admitted women in 1871, becoming the first all-male New England college to do so. In 1983, Colby became the first college to issue e-mail accounts to all students.

44. Bowdoin College

  • Location: Brunswick, Maine
  • Tuition: $46,808
  • Acceptance rate: 14.9 percent

Bowdoin College is a private liberal arts school founded in 1794. Its most popular majors include government, economics and mathematics.

43. Colgate University

  • Location: Hamilton, N.Y.
  • Tuition: $48,175
  • Acceptance rate: 26.2 percent

Colgate University is a private liberal arts college founded in 1819. It has a six-year graduation rate of 90 percent, and its median post-graduation salary is $51,500.

42. Vassar College

  • Location: Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
  • Tuition: $49,570
  • Acceptance rate: 23.5 percent

Vassar College is a private liberal arts school founded in 1861. It was the first college to offer women courses in art history, physical education, geology, astronomy, music, mathematics and chemistry.

41. Middlebury College

  • Location: Middlebury, Vt.
  • Tuition: $46,044
  • Acceptance rate: 17.2 percent

Middlebury College is a private liberal arts school founded in 1800. In 1823, Alexander Twilight graduated from Middlebury, becoming the first African-American citizen to earn a baccalaureate degree at a U.S. college.

40. University of Virginia

  • Location: Charlottesville, Va.
  • Tuition:
    • In-state: $13,208
    • Out-of-state: $42,394
  • Acceptance rate: 29 percent

The University of Virginia is a public research university founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson. It has an average ACT score of 30 and a median post-graduation salary of $51,000.

39. College of William & Mary

  • Location: Williamsburg, Va.
  • Tuition:
    • In-state: $17,656
    • Out-of-state: $39,916
  • Acceptance rate: 33 percent

The College of William & Mary is a public research university founded in 1693, making it the second-oldest university in the U.S. It was established by King William III and Queen Mary II and is the alma mater of U.S. presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and John Tyler.

38. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
  • Tuition:
    • In-state: $8,336
    • Out-of-state: $33,418
  • Acceptance rate: 28.5 percent

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a public research university founded in 1789, making it the first public institution of higher education in the state. The school offers 127 majors, and it has a student-faculty ratio of 13:1.

37. Grinnell College

  • Location: Grinnell, Iowa
  • Tuition: $45,620
  • Acceptance rate: 28.5 percent

Grinnell College is a private liberal arts school founded in 1846. It was originally located in Davenport, Iowa, under the name Iowa College.

36. University of Michigan

  • Location: Ann Arbor, Mich.
  • Tuition:
    • In-state: $13,486
    • Out-of-state: $41,906
  • Acceptance rate: 32.2 percent

The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor is a public research university founded in 1817, 20 years before Michigan achieved statehood. The school was originally located in Detroit and moved to Ann Arbor in 1837.

35. Carleton College

  • Location: Northfield, Minn.
  • Tuition: $47,736
  • Acceptance rate: 22.8 percent

Carleton College is a private liberal arts school founded in 1866. It has a very high six-year graduation rate of 94 percent, and an average ACT score of 31.

34. Hamilton College

  • Location: Clinton, N.Y.
  • Tuition: $47,820
  • Acceptance rate: 26.3 percent

Hamilton College is a private liberal arts school founded in 1793, making it the third-oldest college established in New York State. Originally an all-boys school, Hamilton became coeducational in 1978 when it merged with Kirkland College.

33. University of California, Los Angeles

  • Location: Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Tuition:
    • In-state: $12,705
    • Out-of-state: $35,583
  • Acceptance rate: 18.6 percent

UCLA is a public research university founded in 1919. It has a median post-graduation salary of $50,000, and 73 percent of its students are in-state.

32. Davidson College

  • Location: Davidson, N.C.
  • Tuition: $45,377
  • Acceptance rate: 21.7 percent

Davidson College is a private liberal arts college founded in 1837. Its average ACT score is 30 and its student-faculty ratio is 10:1.

31. Wellesley College

  • Location: Wellesley, Mass.
  • Tuition: $45,078
  • Acceptance rate: 30.1 percent

Wellesley College is a private women’s liberal arts school founded in 1870. Its most popular majors include economics, political science and English.

30. Haverford College

  • Location: Haverford, Pa.
  • Tuition: $47,214
  • Acceptance rate: 24.7 percent

Haverford College is a private liberal arts school founded in 1833. It was originally founded as an all-boys school and began admitting women in 1976.

29. Claremont McKenna College

  • Location: Claremont, Calif.
  • Tuition: $47,395
  • Acceptance rate: 10.8 percent

Claremont McKenna College is a private liberal arts school founded in 1946. It has a low student-faculty ratio of 8:1 and a median post-graduation salary of $50,000.

28. Tufts University

  • Location: Medford, Mass.
  • Tuition: $48,643
  • Acceptance rate: 17.2 percent

Tufts University is a private research university founded in 1852. The school was established by the Universalist Church and is named after Boston businessman Charles Tufts, who gave the church 20 acres of land on which to build the school.

27. Washington University in St. Louis

  • Location: St. Louis, Mo.
  • Tuition: $46,467
  • Acceptance rate: 17.1 percent

Washington University in St. Louis is a private research university founded in 1853. It was founded by St. Louis merchant Wayman Crow and his pastor, William Greenleaf Eliot Jr. The school is named after George Washington.

26. Swarthmore College

  • Location: Swarthmore, Pa.
  • Tuition: $46,060
  • Acceptance rate: 17 percent

Swarthmore College is a private liberal arts college founded in 1864. Its most popular majors include political science, economics and biology.

25. Georgetown University

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Tuition: $46,744
  • Acceptance rate: 17.3 percent

Georgetown University is a private research university founded in 1789. It is the oldest Catholic and Jesuit college in the country.

24. University of California, Berkeley

  • Location: Berkeley, Calif.
  • Tuition:
    • In-state: $12,972
    • Out-of-state: $35,850
  • Acceptance rate: 16 percent

UC Berkeley is a public research university founded in 1868. The school’s average ACT score is 31, and it is StartClass’ highest-ranked public school.

23. Johns Hopkins University

  • Location: Baltimore, Md.
  • Tuition: $47,060
  • Acceptance rate: 16.1 percent

Johns Hopkins University is a private research university founded in 1876. It was established by Baltimore-based railroad investor Johns Hopkins, who spent $7 million to form the university and a nearby hospital, each named after him.

22. Northwestern University

  • Location: Evanston, Ill.
  • Tuition: $47,251
  • Acceptance rate: 13.1 percent

Northwestern University is a private research university founded in 1851. It was established by a group of nine men led by John Evans, for whom the city of Evanston is named.

21. Harvey Mudd College

  • Location: Claremont, Calif.
  • Tuition: $48,594
  • Acceptance rate: 14.2 percent

Harvey Mudd College is a private liberal arts school founded in 1955. It is named after Harvey Seeley Mudd, who was a mining engineer and founder of the Cyprus Mines Corporation. Its tuition is the highest among all colleges in California.

20. Cornell University

  • Location: Ithaca, N.Y.
  • Tuition: $47,286
  • Acceptance rate: 14.2 percent

Cornell University is a private research university founded in 1865. Its median post-graduation salary is $61,900, and it has a low student-faculty ratio of 9:1.

19. Vanderbilt University

  • Location: Nashville, Tenn.
  • Tuition: $43,838
  • Acceptance rate: 13.1 percent

Vanderbilt University is a private research university founded in 1873. Its founder, railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt, gave $1 million to endow and build the school after being convinced by Methodist Bishop Holland N. McTyeire.

18. University of Notre Dame

  • Location: Notre Dame, Ind.
  • Tuition: $46,237
  • Acceptance rate: 21.1 percent

The University of Notre Dame is a private research university founded in 1842. Its founder was a 28-year-old French priest, Rev. Edward Sorin, who named the school “L’Université de Notre Dame du Lac,” meaning The University of Our Lady of the Lake.

17. Brown University

  • Location: Providence, R.I.
  • Tuition: $47,434
  • Acceptance rate: 8.7 percent

Brown University is a private research university founded in 1764. The school was the first Ivy League school to accept students from all religious affiliations, and women were first admitted to Brown in 1891.

16. Rice University

  • Location: Houston, Texas
  • Tuition: $40,566
  • Acceptance rate: 15.1 percent

Rice University is a private research university founded in 1912. The origin of the school is a tale fit for the big screen: Businessman William Marsh Rice, who made his fortune in real estate, bequeathed his fortune to the creation of a university bearing his name, to be built upon his death. In 1900, he was murdered by his valet in a conspiracy conjured up by Rice’s lawyer, Albert T. Patrick. Patrick was convicted and sent to prison, and after the legal process ran its course, Rice University — then known as the Rice Institute — was given a $4.6 million endowment in 1904.

15. University of Chicago

  • Location: Chicago, Ill.
  • Tuition: $49,380
  • Acceptance rate: 8.8 percent

The University of Chicago is a private research university founded in 1890. Its median post-graduation salary is $45,000, and it has an extremely low student-faculty ratio of 6:1.

14. Washington and Lee University

  • Location: Lexington, Va.
  • Tuition: $45,617
  • Acceptance rate: 19.5 percent

Washington and Lee University is a private liberal arts school founded in 1749. The school was originally called Augusta Academy and was renamed Washington University after receiving a donation from George Washington. Robert E. Lee served as the university president for five years until his death in 1870, upon which the school was given its current name.

13. Dartmouth College

  • Location: Hanover, N.H.
  • Tuition: $48,108
  • Acceptance rate: 11.5 percent

Dartmouth College is a private research university founded in 1769. The school became coeducational in 1972.

12. Pomona College

  • Location: Claremont, Calif.
  • Tuition: $45,832
  • Acceptance rate: 12.2 percent

Pomona College is a private liberal arts school founded in 1887. It is the founding member of the Claremont Colleges, which is a consortium of five undergraduate and two graduate schools located in Claremont, Calif.

11. Duke University

  • Location: Durham, N.C.
  • Tuition: $47,243
  • Acceptance rate: 11.4 percent

Duke University is a private research university founded in 1838. It has an average ACT score of 32 and a student-faculty ratio of 7:1.

10. Amherst College

  • Location: Amherst, Mass.
  • Tuition: $48,526
  • Acceptance rate: 13.8 percent

Amherst College is a private liberal arts school founded in 1821. It was originally a men’s college and became coeducational in 1975. Amherst is a member of the “Little Three” colleges, an unofficial athletic conference of three elite New England liberal arts colleges, along with Wesleyan University and Williams College.

9. University of Pennsylvania

  • Location: Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Tuition: $47,668
  • Acceptance rate: 10.4 percent

The University of Pennsylvania is a private research university founded in 1740. It was founded by Benjamin Franklin with the goal of having a liberal arts-like curriculum, though this plan was never fully adopted. Instead, the school used a more traditional curriculum when it held its first classes in 1751, more than a decade after its initial founding.

8. Columbia University

  • Location: New York, N.Y.
  • Tuition: $51,008
  • Acceptance rate: 6.9 percent

Columbia University is a private research university founded in 1754. It was established by royal charter of King George II as King’s College. It is the oldest institution of higher learning in New York State. The school was renamed Columbia University in 1896.

7. California Institute of Technology

  • Location: Pasadena, Calif.
  • Tuition: $43,362
  • Acceptance rate: 8.8 percent

The California Institute of Technology is a private research university founded in 1891. Its median post-graduation salary is $66,500, and it has a student-faculty ratio of 3:1.

6. Williams College

  • Location: Williamstown, Mass.
  • Tuition: $48,310
  • Acceptance rate: 19.3 percent

Williams College is a private liberal arts school founded in 1793. Its six-year graduation rate is 96 percent, and it has an average ACT score of 32.

5. Yale University

  • Location: New Haven, Conn.
  • Tuition: $45,800
  • Acceptance rate: 6.3 percent

Yale University is a private research university founded in 1701. It was originally located in Saybrook, Conn., as the Collegiate School. It moved to its current location in 1716 and was renamed Yale College in 1718.

4. Stanford University

  • Location: Stanford, Calif.
  • Tuition: $45,195
  • Acceptance rate: 5.1 percent

Stanford University is a private research university founded in 1885. It has the lowest acceptance rate in the country, and its average ACT score is 34.

3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • Location: Cambridge, Mass.
  • Tuition: $45,016
  • Acceptance rate: 7.9 percent

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private research university founded in 1861. Informally referred to as “Boston Tech” in its early stages, the school faced a long delay during its first years due to the Civil War. The first classes were held in 1865.

2. Princeton University

  • Location: Princeton, N.J.
  • Tuition: $41,820
  • Acceptance rate: 7.4 percent

Princeton University is a private research university founded in 1746. It was originally established as the College of New Jersey in Elizabeth, N.J. It moved to Newark in 1747, then to its current site in 1756. It was renamed Princeton University in 1896.

1. Harvard University

  • Location: Cambridge, Mass.
  • Tuition: $43,938
  • Acceptance rate: 6 percent

Harvard University is a private research university founded in 1636. It is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The school emerged as a national research university in the late 19th century under its president, Charles W. Eliot. Harvard has produced eight U.S. presidents and over 150 Nobel laureates.

Nick Selbe, StartClass |