The 25 Most Desirable Urban Schools

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For students who crave the additional enrichment that an urban environment offers, this is your list.  We based our overall 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.  And when we adjusted our overall school desirability ranking to include only schools located in large or midsize cities, Harvard, Yale, and MIT wound up in the top three slots. Two of the three may be in the Boston area--which is home to some 80 undergraduate institutions--but, according to this list, the most desirable city is New York, where you find Columbia University, Cooper Union, NYU, and Barnard, the only single-sex school on the list, and one of  five original Seven Sisters colleges that remain all women.
 
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 Monthly, 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.

Harvard-university-ed04 Rose Lincoln / Courtesy of Harvard University

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.

yale-university-ed04 Courtesy of Yale University

Yale University--the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States--continues to attract the best and the brightest from across the globe. Whether you're a brainiac, future power broker, or a jock there's probably something for you at Yale.  
 
Located on 250 acres in downtown New Haven, Connecticut, Yale ranked No. 2 on Newsweek's list of most desirable schools. But it's not easy to get in: Yale only accepts 10 percent of its applicants, and 96 percent of enrolling students graduated in the top 10 percent of their high-school class. Those standards may help explain why Yale, No. 1 on Newsweek's list of brainiac schools, has produced 17 Rhodes Scholars and 6 Nobel Prize winners over the last decade or so. Five U.S. presidents, 15 senators, and 16 billionaires also spent their undergraduate years at Yale, helping to propel the Ivy into the No. 2 slot on Newsweek's list of best schools for future power brokers.  
 
The Yale Bulldogs also made the top ten in Newsweek's list of colleges stocked with jocks. In fact, 16 percent of Yalies play on the school's 30 varsity sports teams, and the college offers nearly 79 intramural sports. With its largely Collegial Gothic architecture, Yale also took the No. 2 spot on Newsweek's list of most desirable urban schools. To spend the 2010-2011 year in this multi-honored place, students can expect to pay $49,800 in tuition, room, and board.

mit-ed04 Courtesy of Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Internationally known by three simple letters, the Cambridge-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology gains a host of distinctions from Newsweek, including fifth most desirable school in the nation and third most desirable urban school.  
 
It's no surprise that MIT is also seventh for brainiacs (of the only 12percentof applicants accepted, they averaged a 34 on the ACT and 1560 on the SAT and the school boasts 11 Nobel Prize-winning graduates over the last decade or so) and No. 14 for future power brokers (alum include four members of the House, four Fortune 100 CEOs and six billionaires). What may be surprising is that Newsweek also places the school at No. 15 for athletes (22 percent of students participate at the varsity level and 53 intramural sports are played).   
 
MIT is packed with a diverse student body (No. 10 on the list), which is 37 percent white, 25 percent Asian, 8 percent black and 12 percent Hispanic. Though its nearly $38,000 tuition isn't cheap, and even grew close to 4 percent for the most recent academic year, more than 60 percent of MIT students received financial aid. The school has just over 4,000 undergraduates and a student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1.

columbia-university-ed04 Eileen Barroso / Courtesy of Columbia University

Columbia University has sealed its position as a "best value" school, thanks to strong value rankings in US News, Kiplinger, Princeton Review and Forbes, which have cast the school as offering high-quality academics at a reasonable price.   
 
Located in New York City's Upper West Side, Columbia University was established by royal charter in 1754 as King's College and remains one of the premier schools in the United States. Newsweek plants it at No. 6 on the Most Desirable Schools list as well as the fourth most desirable urban school.  Twelfth on Newsweek's schools for brainiacs, The Ivy League school is highly selective, with only 11 percent of applicants admitted as students. The fewer than 8,000 undergrads that enroll enjoy a student-to-faculty ratio of 6:1.   
All that individual attention seems to pay off--third on the list for future power brokers, Columbia produces alums who frequently find themselves in illustrious positions. With a gay-friendly culture (No. 12 on the list) and non-whites representing more than one-third of its students, Columbia is the 17th most diverse school in Newsweek's rankings.    
 
Though the school's tuition and fees for the 2009-2010 academic year totaled more than $41,000, more than half of Columbia's student population receives financial aid, many of them institutional grants. The school's endowment neared $6 billion in 2009.

cooper-union-ed04 Leo Sorel / Courtesy of Cooper Union

Cooper Union may be a small college--its campus spans just a few city blocks in New York's East Village and serves only 920 undergraduates--but its list of accolades is not. This highly selective arts college is No. 7 on Newsweek's list of most desirable schools, the fifth most desirable urban college and tops the list of most desirable small schools.  
 
This coveted institution of higher learning for students pursuing architecture, art or engineering not only offers a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio, but grants every student a full-tuition scholarship, as it has done since its founding in 1859.  
 
For the fortunate 9 percent of applicants who are accepted, and therefore given a free ride, the college, as per its mission statement, "provides close contact with a distinguished, creative faculty and fosters rigorous, humanistic learning that is enhanced by the process of design and augmented by the urban setting."

Brown-university-campus-ed04 Courtesy of Brown University

Founded in 1764, stalwart Brown University is still considered one of the nation's elite institutions of higher learning. This Ivy gains several distinctions in Newsweek's rankings, including tenth most desirable school in the country and sixth most desirable urban school.  And with 92percentof its students coming from the top 10percentof their high-school class, Brown is ranked No. 9 for brainiacs.    
 
Established even before the United States, the school was the first in the nation to accept students regardless of their religious background, and the tradition of diversity carries on today--it's No. 2 on Newsweek's list of diverse schools--as only about 45 percent of the school's students are white, with 16 percent of Asian heritage, 7 percent African-American and 8 percent Latino or Hispanic. The student body is 52 percent female.  Brown is also fourteenth on Newsweek's list of the best gay-friendly schools.  
 
Yet, getting through the doors of this citadel of intellect and broad-mindedness is an elusive quest; only around 14 percent of those who apply are accepted. The school's 6,000 undergrads on average scored a 33 on the ACT and 1540 on the SAT. The Providence, Rhode Island-based school charged about $39,000 for full-time undergraduate tuition and fees during the 2009-2010 academic year, according to U.S. Department of Education estimates.

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A lot of big brains have passed through this small university dedicated to science, technology and engineering studies, including 3 Nobel Prize winners, 54 National Medal of Science winners and 6 Crafoord Prize recipients, which earns the California Institute of Technology the No. 3 spot on Newsweek's list of brainiac schools.
 
The private Pasadena, California-based research college offers a 6:1 student-to-faculty ratio that lands it at No. 3 on Newsweek's Most Desirable Small Schools list, No. 7 on the Most Desirable Urban Schools list and the twelfth most desirable school overall. Its favorable SoCal climate (the 124-acre campus rests northeast of downtown Los Angeles) might have something to do with its impressive 98percentstudent-retention rate and is definitely responsible for the school's No. 3 spot on Newsweek's Great Education, Great Tan list.
 
As promised in its mission statement, the California Institute of Technology "investigates the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology in a singularly collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while educating outstanding students to become creative members of society."  Good if you can get it--only 17percentof applicants do.

university-penn-ed04 Minicola / Courtesy of University of Pennsylvania

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.

duke-university-ed04 Courtesy of Duke University

Adding to numerous accolades since its founding in 1838, Newsweek counts Duke University as the 22nd most desirable school in the country and the ninth most desirable urban school. Newsweek also ranks Duke among its brainiac schools, at No. 14--its students averaged a 34 on the ACT and a 1540 on the SAT and 90 percent come from the top 10 percent of their high-school class.  
 
With African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asians accounting for nearly 40percentof its student body and an appearance on The Advocate's gay-friendly list, Duke takes eighth place among the most diverse schools in the nation and 17th among the best gay-friendly schools. Counting billionaires, Fortune 100 CEOs and high-ranking politicians among its alumni ranks makes Duke the seventh best school for future power brokers.
 
Located in Durham, North Carolina, about half of its 14,000-strong student body is comprised of undergraduates, and the school has a student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1.
 
Tuition and fees for the 2009-2010 academic year was nearly $39,000, a nearly 4 percent increase from the previous year, and only about 22 percent of applicants are admitted.

rice-university-ed04 Courtesy of Rice University

If Newsweek had a list for colleges with the most intriguing provenance, Rice University in Houston, Texas, would most certainly be on it. In 1900, William Marsh Rice, a wealthy investor, was murdered for his money by his lawyer and valet. Luckily, they were found out before they could abscond with the dough, and the funds eventually helped establish the institution that now bears the murdered man's name. Rice University opened September 23, 1912, on the anniversary of Rice's death, with just 77 students and about a dozen faculty.  
 
While there isn't an "intriguing provenance" list, there are several other lists upon which Rice University appears. It made Newsweek's roundup of most desirable colleges overall (No. 25), most desirable urban schools (No. 10), best for brainiacs (No. 20), and best gay-friendly schools (No. 18).
 
Rice University prides itself on its 5 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio and its tuition--$31,430 in 2009--which it says is "substantially less" than what's charged at "comparable private institutions." In 2009, the school had 3,279 undergraduates, about half of who were from Texas. The male-to-female ratio was nearly even, and these students were predominantly white, followed by Asian-American, Hispanic, multi-racial, African-American and Native American.

washington-university-ed04 Whitney Curtis / Courtesy of Washington University in St. Louis

With approximately 6,000 undergraduate students, Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, is a medium-size, private university. It lands in the 11th spot on Newsweek's list of best urban campuses and 19th on the list of colleges for the super-smart.  
 
Named for George Washington, the school was founded in 1853 thanks in part to poet T.S. Eliot's grandfather, who was a Unitarian minister concerned with the lack of higher education opportunities in the Midwest. Today admission to the university is competitive; the school admitted just 22 percent of its 23,105 applicants last year.  
 
Washington University offers its students a 7:1 student-to-faculty ratio and a four-year graduation rate of 84 percent. The campus makeup is 50 percent male, 50 percent female and 59 percent of students are Caucasian, 13 percent Asian-American, 10 percent African-American and 3 percent Hispanic.  
 
Tuition for the 2009-2010 school year was $54,533 and 66 percent of students received some form of financial aid that year.

university-of-chicago-ed04 Courtesy of University of Chicago

The University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois, finds itself on five of Newsweek's "best of" lists: At No. 12, the private institution is one of the nation's 25 most desirable urban colleges; ten Rhodes scholars and four Nobel Prize winners put it in the top 10 (No. 8) of colleges for the super-smart. The university comes in at the No. 13 spot on the list of most diverse colleges and No. 25 for gay friendliness; and finally, with seven senators and ten billionaires among its alumni, the school is tenth on the list of colleges best for future power brokers.
 
The university has just over 5,000 undergraduates--99 percent are age 24 or younger. The student body is evenly split between men and women, and 45 percent of those students are Caucasian, 14 percent Asian or Pacific Islander, 9 percent Hispanic, and 6 percent African-American. The school, which sees 92 percent of its students graduate, retains 98 percent of its first-year students.  
 
Tuition for the 2009-2010 school year was $56,630. About 71 percent of students at the University of Chicago receive some form of financial aid.

vanderbilt-university-ed04 Daniel Dubois / Courtesy of Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, ranks 13th on Newsweek's list of 25 most desirable urban colleges. And yet, even with its urban surroundings, the campus is a national arboretum featuring over 300 species of trees and shrubs.  
 
According to the school's own data for the 2009-2010 school year, 6,738 full-time undergraduates attended Vanderbilt; 54 percent of them women, 46 percent men. A whopping 81 percent of students hail from out of state and paid--along with their in-state counterparts--$37,632 to attend the private university, with 62 percent of them receiving some form of financial aid. If the average prevails, around 84 percent of students can expect to graduate within four years. The student-to-faculty ratio is 8 to 1.  
 
The school admitted just 20 percent of its 19,353 applicants in 2009.  
 
At 55 percent, Caucasians make up the majority of the student body, followed by African-Americans at 9 percent, Asian-Americans at 8 percent and Hispanics at 6 percent. (Eighteen percent chose not to identify.)

georgetown-university-ed04 Courtesy of Georgetown University

Founded in 1789 by a priest, Georgetown University is the oldest Catholic university in the United States. Deemed the 14th most desirable urban school, Georgetown is renowned for its academic excellence: Students posted an average score of 32 on the ACT and 1460 on the SAT, and three-quarters of students graduated in the top 10 of their high school classes. Coming in at No. 16 on Newsweek's list of schools for brainiacs, Georgetown University has produced four Rhodes Scholars, among many other distinguished award winners. Gaining eighth place on Newsweek's list of best power-broker colleges, Georgetown counts among graduates 20 members of the House, two presidents, six senators, one Fortune 100 CEO and one billionaire.
 
Its melting-pot hometown of Washington, DC, might contribute to the school's all-inclusive atmosphere.  Georgetown comes in at No. 23 on Newsweek's list of most diverse schools, and No. 24 on the nation's best gay-friendly colleges.  
 
The school's 7,000 undergraduates make up just less than half of the student body and attend one of four undergraduate schools, spread across three campuses. The school offers an 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Students paid on average $39,000 to attend for the 2009-2010 academic year, a 3 percent increase from the previous year, according to U.S. Department of Education data.

university-of-southern-california-ed04 Mark Berndt / Courtesy of University of Southern California

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 our list of the 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.

uc-berkley-climate-ed04 Steve McConnell / Courtesy of University of California, Berkeley

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.

barnard-ed04 Asiya Khaki / Courtesy of Barnard College

From its humble beginnings in 1889 as a single class of 14 students and six faculty members that convened in a brownstone building in Manhattan, New York, Barnard College now offers a liberal-arts education to nearly 2,500 undergraduates, placing it as the 17th most desirable urban school and the 20th most desirable small school.  
 
Though Barnard College is distinct and independent from Columbia University, the all-women college has deep ties to the Ivy across the road, sharing courses, academic resources and student organizations. Barnard, along with Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Radcliffe, Smith, Vassar and Wellesley, is also one of the "Seven Sisters" colleges.  
 
The school's curriculum offers a BA in 50 fields from the social sciences, arts, natural sciences and humanities. Students average a 31 on the ACT and 1440 on the SAT. Perhaps one of the most selective all-women's colleges in the country, Barnard accepts only 28 percent of applicants.

john-hopkins-ed04 Courtesy of John Hopkins University

Since it opened its doors in 1876, Johns Hopkins University has gained renown for its research, academics and influence, and Newsweek throws a few more bravos at the school, naming it the 17th best school for brainiacs and the 18th most desirable urban school in the country.  
 
The school has graduated five members of the House, one U.S. senator, one U.S. president, one Fortune 100 CEO and three billionaires, as ranked by Forbes. Students spent just over $39,000 to attend the private Baltimore, Maryland-based research university during the 2009-2010 academic year, a nearly 4 percent increase from the previous year.  
 
About a third of the school's nearly 20,000 students are undergraduates, who on average scored a 33 on the ACT and 1510 on the SAT. The school is selective, as only about a quarter of applicants are accepted. The school's student-to-faculty ratio is 11:1, and popular majors include biology and other health-related fields, engineering and social sciences.

colorado-college-ed04 Courtesy of Colorado College

Sometimes referred to simply by its initials, CC, Colorado College (No. 21 on Newsweek's list of most desirable small schools) attracts around 2,000 undergraduates every year, who pursue a liberal arts degree through its unconventional "block plan." Instead of dividing its academic year into the more traditional quarter or semester structure, each year is divided into eight blocks--plus an optional half block. Through the block system, students focus on only one class during each three-and-a-half-weeks block, instead of taking several classes at once.  
 
The school, which opened in 1874, is selective (it accepts roughly a quarter of its applicants) and caters to bright students (entrants average a 32 on the ACT and 1400 on the SAT).
 
Sitting in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado College's 90-acre campus lies in the heart of Colorado Springs, which plants it at No. 19 on Newsweek's Most Desirable Urban Schools list.

ucla-ed04 Stephanie Diani / Courtesy of University of California, Los Angeles

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.

university-of-florida-ed04 Ray Carson / Courtesy of University of Florida

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.

reed-college-ed04 Courtesy of Reed College

Reed College earns a few distinctions in Newsweek's study, as its Portland, Oregon, location (a city that is often featured on lists of "best places to live in America," including Outside and Money magazines') give it 22nd place on the list of most desirable urban campuses; its 1,400-strong student body helps make it one of the best small schools and its large minority enrollment contributes to its ranking as the 21st most diverse school in the country.  
 
The nonsectarian school prides itself on its culture, campus and curriculum, offering students what it considers to be one of "the nation's most intellectually rigorous undergraduate experiences, with a highly structured academic program balancing broad distribution requirements and in-depth study in a chosen academic discipline."
 
The private liberal arts school accepts less than a third of its applicants, and those who do attend earn, on average, a 32 on the ACT and 1470 on SAT.  The school offers a 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio.

new-york-university-ed04 Courtesy of New York University

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 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.

university-michigan-ed04jpg Martin Vloet / Courtesy of University of Michigan

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.

Carnegie-Mellon-ed04 Courtesy of Carnegie Mellon University

The inception of Carnegie Mellon University stretches back to 1900 when steel industrialist Andrew Carnegie founded the Carnegie Technical Schools, but the school didn't gain the second half of its name until a merger in the 1960s with Mellon Institute of Industrial Research. Throughout its history, the school has had strong ties to science and engineering, and ranks as the 25th most desirable urban school by Newsweek.   
 
Among Carnegie Mellon's seven schools, nearly half concentrate on the sciences, including the Carnegie Institute of Technology, Mellon College of Science and School of Computer Science. The school offers a student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1. Undergraduates make up about half of the nearly 11,000 students.  
 
The annual expense for a full-time undergraduate to attend the Pittsburgh-based university during the 2009-2010 academic year was almost $41,000, according to U.S. Department of Education estimates.

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