We scored our desirability ranking based on yield (the percentage of accepted students who enroll), admissions, test scores, endowment, student-to-faculty ratio, retention, as well as climate and the quality of facilities, housing, and dining. When we adjusted our overall school desirability ranking to include only schools with ten thousand or more students, the list is dominated by large state schools. But there are some outliers: Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, with 30,000 students, comes in at No. 13. BYU is owned by the Mormon church and is the biggest religious university, and the third-largest private university, in the country. Ninety-eight percent of its students are Mormon, and it's the faith's primary institute of higher education, which explains why, on this list, its yield is second only to Harvard's
Contributing editor Peter Bernstein and researcher Courtney Kennedy drew on dozens of sources to compile these rankings including information from the National Center for Education Statistics, The Washington Monthl, and College Prowler. A portion of the data they used is represented in the following school profiles, but for the full methodologies, see our FAQ here. And if you're not a rankings fan, take a look at this piece by Colin Diver, the president of Reed College, about why schools dislike rankings and how families can use them wisely as part of their college decision-making process.
For more from College Prowler, visit their website.
Just in case Harvard University hasn't earned enough distinctions since its founding as the first institution of higher learning in the United States in the mid-1600s, Newsweek adds a few more to America's preeminent university, chief among them the school's rank as the number one most desirable school in the country.
The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based university also earns top billing as the most desirable urban school and the most desirable large school. With eight presidents, 24 senators, and 43 billionaires among its alumni, it's no wonder the school lands squarely on the No. 1 spot for future power brokers. It comes in at No. 2 for brainiacs with 17 Nobel Prize winners and 24 students going on to become Rhodes Scholars over the last decade or so. And of course graduates were no slouches when they arrived on the prestigious campus either, averaging 35 on the ACT and 1580 on the SATs. Lending credence to the theory that strong bodies go with strong minds, the school earns the 25th spot for jocks.
It's no surprise that the school only accepts about 8 percent of applicants. Of the school's more than 26,000 students, about 10,000 are undergrads, and the school boasts a 7:1 student-to-faculty ratio.
Tuition and fees for the 2009-2010 academic year were roughly $37,000, which is an increase of about 2 percent from the previous year. Sixty-two percent of students received financial aid. The school's student body is more than half female, 15 percent Asian, 7 percent black and 6 percent Hispanic.
The University of Pennsylvania, a private Ivy League college in Philadelphia is on seven of Newsweek's "best of" lists, ranking 13th on our list of most desirable colleges; eighth on the list of most desirable urban colleges; second for most desirable large campus; sixth in schools best for future power brokers; first for gay-friendliness and diversity; and finally, 18th among the 25 best colleges for the super-smart.
Admission is competitive, with just 17 percent of the 22,718 applicants for the class of 2013 receiving acceptance letters. Additionally, 96 percent of the students admitted for the fall 2009 school year were from the top 10 percent of their graduating high-school class and scored an average of 1520 on the SAT. Penn retains 95 percent of its students each year, and data shows that 88 percent of students graduate from the school in four years.
The undergraduate population at the school is 10,337, with 84 percent of students coming from outside Pennsylvania. The campus consists of 51 percent women and minorities make up 39.6 percent: After Caucasians at 37 percent, Asian-Americans are the next populous at 16 percent, followed by African-Americans at 7 percent and Hispanics at 5 percent. The student-to-faculty ratio is 6 to 1.
Tuition for the 2009-2010 school year was $53,250 with 61 percent of students receiving some form of financial aid.
In addition to being named by Newsweek as the 24th most desirable school in the country and the third most desirable large school, Cornell University ranks 25th for brainiacs. This well-rounded package also comes in at No. 11 for athletes and No. 20 for gay-friendliness.
The school has more than 20,000 students, nearly 14,000 of them undergraduates. To be counted among the 21percentof accepted applicants, you'll need an average 33 on the ACT and 1500 on the SAT. Notable alumni include one U.S. senator, two fortune 100 CEOs and eight billionaires, as ranked by Forbes.
About 9 percent of students play on one of 30 varsity sports teams at this Ithaca, New York-based school. The school also has about 90 intramural sports.
Co-founder Ezra Cornell's mission to establish in 1865 an institution "where any person can find instruction in any study" is maintained today with a diverse student body that is 49 percent white, 16 percent Asian, 5 percent black and 6 percent Hispanic. The school is among the best for women in science, counting among its graduates five "women of NASA" and six eminent female physicists.
Tuition and fees neared $38,000 for the 2009-2010 academic year, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Founded in 1880, the University of Southern California started out with just 53 students and ten teachers. Today, the private college welcomes around 17,000 undergraduates each year who enjoy a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio, making the college the fourth most desirable large campus and the 15th most desirable urban school on Newsweek's lists.
Unsurprisingly, given the locale for which it's named, the school also comes in at No. 10 on the list of schools that feature both terrific weather and a smart student body. USC also ranks 19th on the list of schools best for future power brokers and 23rd on the list of best gay-friendly colleges.
Admission to the university is competitive, as USC admitted just 24 percent of its 35,753 applicants in the fall of 2009. Admitted students have an average weighted GPA of 4.05 with an average 1470 on their SATs. Meanwhile, 72 percent of students graduate within four years.
The campus population consists of 50 percent women and 60 percent of students come from within California. Caucasians make up 44 percent of the student body, Asian-Americans 24 percent, Hispanics 13 percent, and African-Americans 5 percent.
Tuition for the 2009-2010 school year was $53,617, with 76 percent of students receiving some form of aid that year.
The University of California's Berkeley outpost has landed on quite a few of Newsweek's "best of" lists--five to be exact. The school is among the most desirable urban schools (No. 16), most desirable large schools (No. 5), most diverse (No. 18), best gay-friendly (No. 2) and best for climate plus academics (No. 9).
That the school nabbed the number 2 spot on Newsweek's best gay-friendly list is no surprise to students. "Berkeley is home to a proud LGBTIQQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer and Questioning) community, which has a large presence on campus and makes the environment feel more tolerant," writes one student on CollegeProwler.com.
The public school has an undergraduate enrollment of just over 25,500, 53 percent of who were women in the fall of 2009. At 42 percent, the Asian-American community makes up the majority of the student body, while Caucasians make up 31 percent, followed by Hispanics at 12 percent and African-Americans at 4 percent. The student-to-faculty ratio is 15 to 1.
Tuition at the University of California, Berkeley for the 2010-2011 school year is $12,461 for in-state students (more than three-quarters of Berkeley's student body hails from the school's home state) and $35,340 for out-of-state residents, with 65 percent of all undergraduates receiving some form of aid. What's more, Berkeley claims to educate more economically disadvantaged students than all of the Ivy League universities combined, with 29 percent of its students receiving Pell Grants.
The nation's first state university, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is on Newsweek's list of most desirable suburban schools and most desirable large colleges, at Nos. 16 and 6, respectively.
In the fall of 2009, the public university enrolled 3,960 first-year students from a record 23,047 applicants--a 21 percent increase over the past five years, the school says. Close to 80 percent of those students were in the top 10 percent of their high-school classes.
The undergraduate population is nearly 17,900 students, with 59 percent women. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill retains 96 percent of its first-year students, and the overall graduation rate is 86 percent. With one president, four senators, one Fortune 100 CEO and two billionaires claiming UNC as their alma mater, the school snags rank No. 13 on Newsweek's list of schools for future power brokers.
NCES data shows that 49 percent of UNC Chapel Hill students do not receive financial aid--a surprising figure given that tuition for in-state students for the 2009-2010 school year was $3,865 and $21,753 for students who come from outside North Carolina.
Founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson, the University of Virginia in Charlottesville has held either the No. 1 or No. 2 spot for the 12 years that U.S. News & World Report has issued its college rankings. Now, the public institution can add several more honors to its list.
The university ranked on several of Newsweek's "best of" lists, most notably as the seventh most desirable large campus. It also ranked 17th among the best suburban schools. Admission to UVA is highly competitive, with just 37 percent of its applicants admitted for the 2009 school year. Among first-year students, 94 percent ranked in the top 10 of their graduating high-school class. Alums that range from senators to Fortune 100 CEOs places it at No. 9 for future power brokers, and its 79 intramural sports and 21 varsity sports earn it tenth place among colleges stocked with jocks.
The school welcomes about 14,300 undergraduates each year, and those students are currently made up of 56 percent females. UVA's student-to-faculty ratio is 18:1. Just 27 percent of the student body hails from outside Virginia and those students paid $43,142 in tuition for the 2009-2010 school year, while their in-state counterparts paid $21,142. Approximately 55 percent of University of Virginia students receive some form of financial aid.
Founded in 1919 with just over 1,000 students, the University of California's Los Angeles campus had 26,500 undergraduates as of the fall of 2009. That figure won't shrink anytime soon: UCLA boasts a 97 percent retention rate for its freshmen. No wonder--the school is among Newsweek's most desirable urban (No. 20) and large (No. 8) schools.
And, like several schools in the University of California system, it sits on the list of schools that offer both terrific weather and strong academics. UCLA comes in at No. 12.
The student body is made up of 56 percent women. Nearly forty percent of its students are Asian-American. Caucasians account for 33 percent, followed by Hispanics at 15 percent and African-Americans at 4 percent. Almost all students--94 percent--hail from California.
Tuition for in-state students for the 2010-2011 school year is $29,682. At $52,561, the cost for out-of-state students is significantly more. In the 2009-2010 academic year, 52 percent of UCLA undergraduates received financial aid, with the average award totaling $17,000.
School spirit at the University of Florida is pretty sweet, literally. Back in 1965, researchers at the state school invented Gatorade in honor of the football team, the Florida Gators. Now that students don't have to worry about dehydration, they can take full advantage of everything from academics to athletics at UF, which ranks ninth on Newsweek's list of most desirable large schools and No. 21 on Newsweek's list of most desirable urban schools.
Situated on a 2,000-acre campus in Gainesville, Florida, UF offers its 50,000 students more than 100 undergraduate majors in 65 departments.
Although the so-called "Gatorade Trust" supplies UF with royalties, in-state undergrads should still expect to pay $5,020 in tuition and fees and $5,300 for housing in the 2010-2011 school year. Out-of-state students should add $20,140 to projected tuition and fees.
Since its inception in 1831--with a student body of just 158 in its first semester--New York University in New York, New York, has grown to include more than 40,000 students, roughly 19,000 of who are undergraduates. That, and its location in a city of more than 8 million people, has landed it on Newsweek's list of most desirable urban schools (No. 23) and most desirable large schools (No. 10).
Internationally known for its ever-expanding Tisch School of the Arts, which offers BFAs in film and theatre, the school attracts a diverse population, landing it at No. 5 on Newsweek's list. It is also on Newsweek's list of the best among gay-friendly schools (No. 4). "When you think of diversity in college, NYU epitomizes the concept," writes one student on CollegeProwler.com, who gave the school an A+ in diversity. In the fall of 2009, the most recent year data was available, African-Americans made up 4 percent of the school, Hispanics 8 percent and Asian-Americans 19 percent, second only to whites at 44 percent. Nine percent of its students came from outside the U.S.
Tuition at NYU was $38,765 in fall 2009.
Coming in at No. 24 on Newsweek's list of most desirable urban campuses and No. 11 among the most desirable large campuses, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor finds itself exactly where students would expect. "Nearly every academic area is in the top 10, the sports teams warrant immediate respect, the social life is right with the times, and there are so many ways in which to become involved. It's almost impossible to become a couch potato here," writes one student on CollegeProwler.com. No wonder the school also comes in at No. 15 for future power brokers. Noted for its gay-friendliness by both The Advocate and InsideCollege.com positions the school at No. 5 for that ranking.
The public school admitted close to 50 percent of its 29,965 applicants in 2009. Some of those students went on to join the nearly 26,000 undergraduates on campus, which offers a 12 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio.
The student body is comprised of mostly Caucasians, at 65 percent. At 12 percent, Asian-Americans are the next most populous race on campus, followed by African-Americans at 6 percent and Hispanics at 4 percent. The university retains 96 percent of its students, according to National Center for Education Statistics data.
In-state tuition for the 2009-2010 school year was $11,659 and $34,937 for non-Michigan residents. Almost 80 percent of students received aid that year.
Everything's big in Texas, and the University of Texas at Austin is no exception. With around 50,000 students, 37,389 of whom are undergrads, and a massive campus in one of the hippest cities in the nation (home to SXSW, Austin is widely known for its progressive music and arts scene), the school is counted by Newsweek as the 12th most desirable large school in the country.
Founded in 1839, the school is one of the country's power-broker schools, producing 26 members of the House, three Fortune 100 CEOs and nine billionaires. The student body is just over half white, 18 percent Asian, 18 percent Hispanic and 5 percent black.
The state school accepts fewer than half of its applicants, and those who attend averaged a 30 on the ACT and 1350 on the SAT. For the 2009-2010 academic year, in-state students, about 93 percent of the student body, paid just under $9,000 to attend the public school, while out-of-state students paid $30,000. Seventy-one percent of students received financial aid.
Named after a Mormon leader, Brigham Young University was founded in 1875 and maintains its close ties to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with the vast majority of its more than 30,000 undergraduates counted among adherents to the religion. It ranks 13th on Newsweek's list of most desirable large colleges.
The school's Mormon culture is reflected in its honor code, which emphasizes "being honest, living a chaste and virtuous life, abstaining from alcohol and tobacco, using clean language and following other values encompassed in the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ."
Although the Provo, Utah-based school accepts 77 percent of applicants--many from within the state--Brigham Young students post among the highest SAT and ACT scores for religious schools rated by Newsweek, averaging a 1340 and 30, respectively. The student body is split almost evenly among men and women. The U.S. Department of Education estimates the annual expense for a full-time undergraduate student to attend Brigham Young for the 2009-2010 academic year was just over $4,290, making it quite affordable compared with other universities.
As the largest university in Washington, D.C., it's no surprise that George Washington University attracts students interested in political science, law and international studies. Chartered by Congress in 1821, the school made good on a hope of George Washington's to open a school in the nation's capital. It is now the 14th most desirable large school on Newsweek's list.
Newsweek also ranks GW the 14th most diverse school in the nation, with a student body that is ten percent Asian, seven percent African-American, seven percent Hispanic and five percent from outside the United States. Fifty-six percent of George Washington students are women. Though the school has a student population of more than 25,000, less than half are undergrads.
George Washington University accepts just over a third of its applicants and has a student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1. Tuition and fees grew by 3 percent for the 2009-2010 academic year to nearly $42,000, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
At No. 15 on Newsweek's list of most desirable large campuses is the University of Maryland at College Park. "It's universities like this that have contributed to the popular expression of college being four of the best years of your life," writes one student on CollegeProwler.com.
Founded in 1856, the school had 24,583 undergraduates enrolled as of the fall of 2009. The student-to-faculty ratio is 18 to 1. Male students are the majority here, with 47 percent of students at the school being female. Whites make up 58 percent of the student body, Asian-Americans 15 percent, African-Americans 12 percent and Hispanics six percent. The majority of students--76 percent--come from within Maryland.
In-state students will pay $22,115 in tuition for the 2010-2011 school year, while out-of-state students can expect to pay $38,530 in tuition and fees.
It may be located in a place called Manhattan, but Kansas State University is as rural as it gets, securing its place as Number 19 on Newsweek's list of top 25 rural schools. Though located in a small town-- the "Little Apple," as it is sometimes called--K State has a big student body, with 23,500 students, (18,000 of them undergraduates) and lands at No. 16 on Newsweek's list of most desirable large schools.
Founded in 1858 as Bluemont Central College, the school accepts 56 percent of its applicants, and those who attend averaged a 26 on the ACT and 1280 on the SAT. The Big 12 participates in the NCAA Division I.
Tuition and fees for in-state students for the 2009-2010 academic year was nearly $7,000, while out-of-state students paid more than $17,500. At least 90 percent of the student body received financial aid.
Google "University of Nebraska Lincoln" and the second top result is Huskers.com, home to the university's Athletic Department. The school is set to join the Big Ten conference in 2011-2012 and slam-dunks the No. 1 spot on Newsweek's list of colleges stocked with jocks.
But UNL is more than the sum of its Heisman Trophy winners (which happens to be three). It was the first institution west of the Mississippi River to award a doctoral degree (in physics in 1896) and claims to be the birthplace of ecology as a discipline and home to the world's first undergraduate psychology laboratory, which helps account for its 17th rank among the most desirable large schools.
Student enrollment at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is just under 25,000. Tuition for the 2009-2010 academic year was approximately $7,362 for Nebraska residents; double that for out-of-state students at $14,724.
Founded in 1925, the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, is on Newsweek's list of most desirable large campuses, at No. 18.
Even with 10,422 undergraduates, over 50 percent of undergraduate classes at this private college have 16 or fewer students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in the fall of 2009 the University of Miami received 21,845 applications and admitted 39 percent of those applicants. Further data shows that the school will retain around 90 percent of its full-time students.
As for the student body, it is made up of 53 percent women, 47 percent men and the majority--45 percent--of the student population is Caucasian. At 23 percent, Hispanics are the next largest segment, followed by African-Americans (8 percent) and Asian-Americans (5 percent).
Tuition for the 2009-2010 school year was $26,640. That year, 85 percent of University of Miami students received some form of aid.
Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, finds itself at Number 19 on Newsweek's list of most desirable large schools. In 2009, 15,521 students made up the undergraduate student body, with 33 percent of the freshman class coming from within Massachusetts.
Given its large size, Northeastern has committed itself to sustainability. In 2007, it became a founding member of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, a collection of colleges whose aim is to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions among institutions of higher learning.
The cornerstone of Northeastern's learning experience is its co-op program, in which students alternate semesters of study with full-time employment in areas related to their academic majors. "[It's] the single most amazing thing about this college," writes one student on CollegeProwler.com. "You will learn so much and have a springboard for your career (if not a job offer)."
Expenses at the private university for the 2010-2011 school year total $36,380 and in 2009, 80 percent of freshman received financial aid.
With 26,142 students enrolled in the fall of 2009, the University of Georgia in Athens is 20th on Newsweek's list of most desirable large schools. The public school also ranks on the list best for athletes, at No. 24, thanks to its membership in the Southeastern Conference and status as an NCAA Division 1 school.
Tuition for the 2009-2010 school year was $18,000 for Georgia residents and $36,210 for out-of-state students. The most recent data available showed 91 percent of students at the University of Georgia received aid toward tuition in the 2007-2008 school year.
At 58 percent, women make up the majority of the student body. Eighty-two percent of the student population identify as Caucasian, 7 percent as Asian-American, 7 percent as African-American and 2 percent as Hispanic.
Clemson University gains several distinctions from Newsweek. Its small-town location places it among the most desirable rural schools at No. 23, while its nearly 20,000-strong student body makes it No. 21 on the list of most desirable large schools. Meanwhile, with four percent of its students participating in one of 15 varsity NCAA Division I sports, an additional 61 intramural sports offered, and about a third of the school's expenditures allocated to athletics, Clemson is considered one of the top colleges for jocks at No. 20.
Academic brawn remains a priority however as only half of Clemson's applicants are admitted. Those who attend average a 30 on the ACT and 1320 on the SAT. The school boasts a 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio.
In-state students paid just over $11,000 in tuition and fees to attend for the 2009-2010 academic year, while out-of-state students paid $25,388. No surprise, then, that more than 60 percent of its students hail from its home state of South Carolina.
Often referred to simply as Baruch, CUNY Bernard M Baruch College is situated on Lexington Avenue in New York City and is ranked the 22nd most desirable large school in the country by Newsweek.
Part of its allure is its relative affordability and high rate of financial aid. According to U.S. Department of Education data, in-state students pay less than $5,000 a year in tuition and fees, and out-of-state students pay just about double that. However, 85 percent receive financial aid. Those spots are coveted, however, as only 26 percent of applicants are admitted, and those who do average a 1230 on the SAT.
With nearly 13,000 undergraduates, the school attracts many business majors, who hope to fulfill the school's motto: The American dream still works.
The University of Central Arkansas lands on two Newsweek lists: It is No. 23 among the most desirable large campuses and the 24th most desirable rural school. One student on CollegeProwler.com sums up why students love the public school's location in Conway, Arkansas: "Our town is swarming with college students because University of Central Arkansas is not the only college around. We have two other college campuses, Hendrix and Central Baptist College."
The school has an undergraduate enrollment of just over 11,000, 56 percent of who are women. At 71 percent, Caucasians make up the majority of the student body, followed by African-Americans at 15 percent, Hispanics at 2 percent and Asian-Americans at 2 percent. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the school retains 72 percent of its first-year students and the overall graduation rate is 41 percent.
Tuition, including room and board, for the 2009-2010 school year was $18,038 for in-state students and $23,243 for non-Arkansas residents. That year, 86 percent of students received some form of financial aid.
With over 38,000 undergraduates and a 5,000-acre campus in College Station, Texas, Texas A&M University is No. 24 on Newsweek's list of most desirable large colleges.
Not only does the school appeal to Americans, however, but international students have caught on, too. More than 4,500 students from 120 countries are currently enrolled, the school says. These students are divided almost equally between men and women who study in over 250 degree programs.
"Here in College Station, everything revolves around the university," writes one student on CollegeProwler.com. "There is a sense of family throughout the town, everyone is kind to one another and everyone seems to care about everyone and everything, down to the general upkeep of the town."
Tuition at the private school is around $8,000 for in-state residents and $22,184 for students hailing from out of state. Roughly 75 percent of the student body receives financial aid.
With 28,690 undergraduate students attending classes at its 935-acre campus, the University of Wisconsin at Madison is the 25th most desirable large campus on Newsweek's lists. It is also among the top 25 schools for future power brokers.
Founded in 1848, today the public institution is organized into 20 schools with over 2,000 faculty members, making for a 22 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio. The student population consists of 52 percent women and 48 percent men, the majority of which--56 percent--are from Wisconsin. At 77 percent, Caucasians are the dominant race here, followed by Asian-Americans at 5.6 percent, Hispanics at 3.6 percent and African-Americans at 3 percent.
The university admitted 59 percent of its 22,613 applicants in 2009. Those students had an average SAT score of 1380 and an average ACT of 30. The four-year graduation rate stands at 48 percent.
Tuition for the 2009-2010 school year was $8,313 for in-state students, $23,063 for out-of-state attendees. Sixty-two percent of students received financial aid that year.