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What makes one college better than another? The answer would depend on whom you are asking. What is important to one student and his/her education may not be as significant to another. Is it a smaller teacher to student ratio? Is it research facilities? How about technology infrastructure? Is it the retention rate of the school? Or does the average GPA of the students make the difference? If it were the GPA, the difficulty of the curriculum would have to be evaluated too in order to compare similar schools of equivalent quality. Many factors should be and are taken into consideration in determining which schools are truly among the top colleges or universities in the country. Unfortunately, the factors used in developing the formulas vary by who is calculating the rankings and there is often a consensus on which factors are most important.
When you review a list of the top ranked schools in the country, do not accept the rankings with blind faith. You should look at the factors used in the formula to determine the rankings. Decide for yourself which of the factors incorporated into the formula are important to you. If a number of the factors are not integral factors which you would take into consideration when making your final decision as to which school you will attend, then the order of the rankings may not actually be significant for you. Instead, you could determine which may be the best schools based on a review of several ranking lists. A school which appears in the top ten, twenty, or even fifty on several lists is statistically likely to encompass many of the factors which you find important in a college or university.
At College Crunch, we’ve created a META ranking system which takes into account a variety of factors that we feel are important for a solid college education. Because we take an “enabling” philosophy of education at College Crunch, we’ve weighted towards what we feel are factors which enable a student to learn and thrive in college. For us, things like technology infrastructure, a diverse teacher and student body, and opportunities for self-directed research are heavily influencers. On the other hand, things like average GPA and the number of published papers by professors are much less important primarily because we do not feel that these are indicators of an enabling education. In addition, we have calibrated our rankings with data collected from a number of other reputable top college and university lists. After considering factors that would be most important to us as college students, here is the list that we’ve come up with for the top colleges and universities of 2009:
1. University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private institution located in Hyde Park, on the South Side of Chicago. Founded by John D. Rockefeller, the first classes were held in 1892. The University has 14,600 students and 2,100 faculty. Seven current faculty members have won Nobel Prizes. To attend the University of Chicago as an on-campus student, the annual cost is $52,450. The University of Chicago not only has one of the best research and technology infrastructures in the world, but it has also climbed into almost every top 10 undergrad list out there. That’s no fluke. The school has everything you could want. A diverse student body, high quality teachers, access to city life and an unsurpassed emphasis on research opportunities, even for undergrads.
2. Harvard University
Harvard University was first established in 1636. The University currently has 1900 permanent faculty members and 20,000 students. The average tuition including room and board is $47215 a year. Harvard is one of the leading research centers in the country and offers degrees in a diverse number of programs of study.
3. Yale University
The charter for Yale was granted in 1701 as an Arts and Sciences university. Yale has grown and expanded over the centuries to develop into one of the leading universities in the country and the world. Yale has a faculty of 3500 and a student body of 11,000. Yale strives to ease the burden of education from low income families by offering student aid and preventing the need for burdensome loans. Though it is difficult to locate the actual amount of tuition for attending Yale as a residential student, it is estimated around $54,500.
4. Princeton University
Princeton was chartered originally as a college in 1746. Princeton later became a University in 1896. Princeton University is a committed research university taking pride in their achievements and striving to reach new levels of understanding. The university has 850 full-time faculty and 4850 undergraduate students. The cost of attending Princeton University is around $35,500 a year. But Princeton strives to eliminate the tuition as a blockade for students attending the university.
5. Amherst College
Amherst College is known as one of the best liberal arts colleges in the United States. It was founded in 1821 and has 1,680 students and 194 full-time faculty. The annual cost of attending Amherst is $45,650. Just over half of Amherst’s students receive scholarships to help with the cost of their education. The average financial aid package given to Amherst students is $35,055.
6. Stanford University
Stanford University was founded by a California governor in the late 1800s. The University has seven schools of study: business, education, engineering, earth sciences, humanities & sciences, law, and medicine. Stanford University has an undergraduate enrollment of 6422 students. Tuition per semester is around $12,000.
7. Brown University
Brown University is located in Rhode Island. Brown was founded in 1764 as the 7th university to form in the US and is one of the oldest Universities in the country. The school has 6010 students enrolled in undergraduate programs. Brown University encourages the students to construct their own education course through the various programs offered. Tuition with room and board is around $47,400.
8. Cornell University
Located in NY, Cornell has an undergraduate enrollment of 13562. Cornell was founded in the late 1800’s. The University strives to provide an education, regardless of financial status, to individuals who show promise in intellect and character. The school offers degree programs in over 70 studies.
9. University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania was founded by the illustrious Benjamin Franklin. The university offers degrees in nursing, education, business, law, medicine, veterinary medicine, and communication as well as many others. The school boasts a student body of almost 10,000.The tuition and room and board for an undergraduate is $46,124.
10. Columbia University
Columbia University was founded in 1754. Located in New York City, the college is among the oldest schools. The faculty of 3573 full time instructional staff includes a renowned neurologist. The school’s tuition with room and board reaches almost $50,000. However, Columbia University offers special financial packages to lower income families ($60,000 and below) to prevent the need for the families to provide any financial contributions.
11. Dartmouth College
Dartmouth College is located in New Hampshire and was first instituted in 1769. The college is one of the elite Ivy League colleges. The student body numbers around 4100. Dartmouth College has 29 departments, 10 interdisciplinary programs, and offers graduate programs in arts and sciences, business, engineering, and medicine. Tuition for attending Dartmouth College with room and board is around $47,694. But Dartmouth offers up to 100% coverage for all costs for students who demonstrate the need.
12. University of Maryland
The University of Maryland is located in College Park Maryland. The University began as an agricultural college in 1856. The University of Maryland has since grown into one of the top public universities in the country and ranked among the top 40 worldwide. The school is also one of the top research public universities. The University is a student centered school with an undergraduate student body of more than 25000. More than 100 majors are offered at the University. Student to faculty ration is around 18 to 1. Tuition with room and board amounts to $20,872.
13. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Also known as MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology focuses on science and technology. MIT was founded in 1865 by a scientist intent on creating an institution of scientific relevance. The cost of attending MIT with room and board is around $48,000. MIT has a faculty of around 1009 and boasts an astounding 73 alumni as having won the Nobel Prize.
14. California Institute of Technology
California Institute of Technology claims the home to NASA’s jet propulsion laboratory. Caltech is one of the premier science and technology schools. The school has a student body count of 2133 and a faculty of over 1000. The school has among its alumni and faculty 31 Nobel Prize winners. Tuition with room and board can amount to around $42447.
15. Duke University
Duke University, founded in 1924, is located in North Carolina. The school has a student body of 6340 with a student to faculty ration of 8 to 1. The tuition, including room and board, to attend Duke is $47,810. Duke has 10 undergraduate and graduate or professional schools; including divinity, law, earth sciences, arts & sciences, engineering and business.
16. Northwestern University
Located in Chicago, Illinois, Northwestern University has six schools; arts & sciences, communication, education and social policy, engineering and applied science, journalism, and music. The student body is around 8200 and the faculty is 1047. Tuition with room and board can reach $51,720.
17. Boston College
A private Jesuit university, Boston College was founded in 1863. Boston College is a liberal arts school. The college has 9081 undergraduate students and 675 full time faculty members. Boston College offers 30 undergraduate majors, 16 masters and 13 doctoral programs. Tuition with room and board varies but is around $47,000.
18. Georgia Institute of Technology
Georgia Institute of Technology offers programs in science and technology. The school strives to ‘improve the human condition’ with their research. The school has 19400 students. Tuition, room and board, and other miscellaneous costs average about $35376. This public university is often ranked in the top 10 in the US.
19. Tufts University
Tufts University was founded in 1852. The school strives to produce leaders of their students. Tuft University has 10 schools and offers degree programs in liberal arts, engineering, and the sciences. The university endeavors to develop analytical skills in their students. The school has 3500 employees and 8500 students. Tuition with room and board is around $51,400.
20. Washington University (St. Louis)
Washington University was founded in 1853. Offering more than 90 degree programs, Washington University provides a diverse spectrum of courses of study. Washington University has 6000 undergraduate students. The student to faculty ratio is only 7 to 1. The tuition including room and board is around $48,884.
21. Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins University was founded in 1876 as a research school. The university is considered the premier research institute world wide. The school offers 9 schools of study. The school has almost 20,000 full times students and employs 27,000 full time employees. Tuition alone for a single year is more than $33,900.
22. Georgetown University
Georgetown University was founded in 1789 and is located in the Washington DC area. Georgetown is a catholic university which has international standing. Georgetown has a full time faculty of 1268. Georgetown University has four undergraduate schools and three graduate and professional schools. The cost of attending Georgetown University as an undergraduate is around $35568.
23. Lehigh University
Founded in 1865, the school endeavors to provide their students with an education focused on liberal arts and science. Lehigh University seeks to provide their students with an integrated education; educating across various disciplines of knowledge. The university has more than 90 undergraduate degree programs. The school located in Bethlehem Pennsylvania is home to 4750 undergraduate students with a student to faculty ration of 9 to 1. Tuition, room and board equal $47,250.
24. University of Washington
The University of Washington was founded in 1861. The school is located on the west coast of the United States. Though one of the oldest state institutions, the University strives to be on the cutting edge of education and research; searching for the answers to the most difficult and multifarious of the world’s problems. University of Washington has 16 schools with over 100 degree programs. The school employs 3600 teaching faculty and has a student body around 25469. Tuition for in-state residents is around $5710 and $19908 for nonresidents.
25. Pennsylvania State University (University Park)
Also known as Penn State, the university was chartered in 1855. There are 14 colleges of study. The school boasts an astounding 80,000 students. Tuition is determined based on the number of credits and the degree program being pursued but can average around $13,000 a year and around $7600 for room and board.
26. University of North Carolina
University of North Carolina was founded in 1776 making it the nation’s oldest state university. Students can choose from more than 70 majors. The University specializes in medicine and law studies. Tuition with room and board for residents is about $10,436 and $27,940 for nonresident students.
27. New York University
The New York University was founded in 1831. The school has 13 schools. Many of its graduate programs are considered to be top 3 programs in the world. NYU offers studies abroad in over 25 countries. The school has more than 19,000 undergraduate students. Tuition with room and board can amount to about $54,000.
28. University of Michigan (Ann Arbor)
The University of Michigan has 12 schools of study offering 200 degree programs. The University has 26038 undergraduate students enrolled. Tuition, room and board, and all other expenses for residents of Michigan can amount up to $33,239 and nonresident expenses can amount to $49,953.
29. Rice University
Rice University opened in Houston in 1912 based on a charter from the schools visionary dated 1891. The school was established based on the loosely written charter and with the assistance of a doctor who obtained his doctorate at the University of Virginia and had taught at the prestigious University of Chicago, Princeton, and Johns Hopkins. Rice has received top rankings in many of the various respected college ranking publications. Rice has 8 schools of study in the arts and sciences. The school has more than 600 full time teaching faculty and 146 part time. Tuition with room and board is around $36,000 each year.
30. Emory University
Emory University was founded in Georgia in 1836 by the Methodist Episcopal church. Emory University strives to make a positive mark on the world with their students. The school promotes leadership in health care, social action, research while trying to instill ethics. Emory claims to be home to one of the nations oldest illustrious secret societies. The University has 4 undergraduate schools and 7 graduate schools. The school is home to 12755 students in undergraduate and graduate degree programs. And has 12426 faculty and support staff. Tuition with room and board equals around $39,000.
31. University of Notre Dame
The University of Notre Dame is a catholic university located in Indiana. It was started by a young priest and chartered in 1844. The University has four undergraduate colleges; engineering, business, arts and letters, and science. The school offers 32 masters and 25 doctoral degrees. The faculty members are highly regarded and have an impressive 37 fellowships to their credit. An undergraduate degree with room and board will cost around $46,000 each year.
32. Vanderbilt University
Vanderbilt University was founded in 1873 when a Methodist bishop convinced his cousin’s husband of the importance of establishing an institution to bridge the past differences in the country. Vanderbilt is a member of the elite Association of American Universities. The University is a renowned research school. Vanderbilt University has ten schools of learning providing an education in liberal arts and science, music, education, engineering, and human development. There are 6500 undergraduate students attending the school. Tuition and room and board for attending the school will cost around $49,689 each year.
33. University of California (Berkeley)
The University of California was chartered in 1868. It is a public university which has proven to be a leader in education. The school is home to 35,409 students and 2028 faculty members. The school has a student to faculty ratio of 15 t0 1. University of California Berkley has 14 colleges of learning with 120 academic departments. Attending the University and living on campus will cost around $26,586.
34. University of Texas (Austin)
Is a large research based university with over 48,000 students enrolled. The University boasts a wide range of degree programs in both undergraduate and graduate studies. The tuition including housing is just $18,400 yearly. The school has 2500 faculty members. University of Texas is ranked high on many of the college ranking lists and boasts being ranked in one survey as the 15th best in the world.
35. Brandeis University
Brandeis University is located in Massachusetts and was founded in 1948. It is considered among the leading research universities in the country and includes three Pulitzer Prize winners among the alumni. The tuition with room and board is around $44,500. The student body consists of more than 3300 students and the school has a low student to faculty ration of 8 to 1.
36. University of California (LA)
Founded in 1919, this University is considered one of the premier public universities in the country. UCLA offers 118 undergraduate degree programs and about 200 graduate and professional degrees. UCLA has a distinguished teaching faculty of 4016. Tuition for each quarter for residents is around $3223 and for nonresidents it is about $8228.
37. Carnegie Mellon University
The Carnegie Mellon University began when Carnegie Tech and the Mellon Institute of Science converged in 1965. The seven schools of study provide a diverse offering in the fine arts, liberal arts, business, technology and the sciences. The school has more than 5000 students and offers over 80 baccalaureate degree programs. Total tuition and fees amount to around $52110 for campus residents.
38. University of Virginia
The University of Virginia is located in Charlottesville and has an undergraduate student body of 9392. In 2006 it became one of three schools, including Princeton and Harvard to get rid of early admissions on the grounds of economic bias. It’s acceptance rate is typically in the mid 30% range. Thomas Jefferson founded this University in 1819. The school boasts among its alumni Edgar Allan Poe. University of Virginia offers 51 bachelors and 84 master’s degrees. In state tuition with room and board is $20746.
39. University of Florida
The University of Florida is considered one of the five largest Universities in the country. The University began in 1853. The school has 16 colleges and has more than 50,000 students enrolled each year. The University has been the recipient of some of the top awards, rankings, and statuses in the country. The University ranked among the lowest tuition rates among the main universities in the country. Resident tuition with room and board is around $17,300 while nonresidents are about $34,910.
40. Yeshiva University
Yeshiva University began around the year 1928 and is a Jewish school. It is located in New York City and highly esteemed for its commitment to academic rigor. The school offers programs in liberal arts, business, and science in conjunction with Jewish studies. Tuition with room and board for attending the school is around $19,000 making it one of the best values in private higher education.
41. University of California (San Diego)
UC San Diego was founded in 1960 and is well known as a major research university. UCSD would have landed much higher on this list if we were ranking graduate schools, because it has world-class graduate programs in the sciences. The school has 28,500 students. If you want to attend this public university and you plan to live on campus, you are looking at a cost (including room and board) of $23,760.
42. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is located in both NY and Connecticut. The school promotes discovery through research and entrepreneurship through innovation. This engineering school offers degrees in almost 60 fields. The school has 5357 undergraduate students and over 450 faculty members; many with awards and honors. The cost for attending the school as well as room and board can amount to around $51,000.
43. University of California (Santa Barbara)
The University of California Santa Barbara was formed in 1944. The school is a member of the elite Association of American Universities. Among the 1084 faculty are 5 Nobel Prize winners as well as numerous other honors. The school offers colleges. The student to faculty ration is 20 to 1. Tuition and fees for residents are around $31,000 and for nonresidents the cost is about $47,000.
44. Case Western Reserve
Case Western Reserve University was founded in 1826 and is located in Ohio. The school has more than 10,000 undergraduate students and 2646 full time faculty. It is most well known for its medical school and biomedical engineering programs. Tuition alone to attend Case is $34,450. Case has seven professional schools as well as a school of arts and sciences.
45. Loyola University (New Orleans)
Loyola University was founded in 1849 and began as a Jesuit college. The University offers 60 undergraduate degree programs. This University ranks high on many college lists; including Best Southern College, Forbes best American colleges, and best school for obtaining a Master’s.
46. Swarthmore College
Swarthmore College is a private school, but it is open to students of from all income levels. Founded in 1864, the College is located 11 miles southwest of Philadelphia. The student/faculty ratio is kept low at 8:1. Swarthmore’s 1,490 undergraduates are working toward their Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Engineering degrees. The College employs 170 faculty members. Tuition alone at Swarthmore will cost you $36,154; room and board will run an additional $11,314.
47. Fairfield University
Fairfield University is a private school located in Connecticut. The school was founded by the Society of Jesus and continues as a Catholic University. With 34 undergraduate degree programs and 35 graduate programs, the school offers a diverse selection of majors from which to choose. Their undergraduate student count is 4008. Tuition averages around $35,500 per year.
48. Monmouth College
Monmouth College is located in Illinois. The number of undergraduate students enrolled at the college is 1359. The college offers a substantial number of business and education degrees; boasting a total of almost 300 separate degree programs offered at the school. Tuition at this private school is around $30,000 per year for those who live on the campus.
49. Temple University
Temple University is located in the Philadelphia region of Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1884. The four year school offers two associate degree programs; one in horticulture and the other in general studies. Temple also offers 125 bachelors programs, 113 masters, 52 doctoral, and 8 professional. The school is a public university, but is known for its research. Temple has a student body of more than 25,000. Total cost of attending Temple University including room and board amounts to $24,220.
50. Wake Forest University
Wake Forest University is a private liberal arts school located in North Carolina. The school has 6788 students enrolled and a student to faculty ration of 10 to 1. The school has two colleges and five graduate schools. The cost of attending the University is around $36975 with room and board of around $9500.