Whether a Big 10 university or rural liberal-arts college, nearly every school tries to recruit top athletes, but some campuses are more committed to sports than others. Which are best for students who value sports as much as class? We considered the percentage of students on varsity teams, the number of varsity and intramural sports offered on campus, and the amount of money spent on athletics vs. instruction. Among the in the top 10, two stand out: Bates and Bowdoin, both small liberal-arts colleges in Maine.
About our Rankings:
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.
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.
With 18 men’s and women’s NCAA Division 1 athletic teams, the University of Tulsa (TU), located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is No. 2 on Newsweek’s list of the 25 best schools for sports nuts.
Founded in 1894, the private Presbyterian college admits 50 percent of its applicants. The university has 3,084 undergraduate students who experience a student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1. Sixty-five percent of students at TU graduated in the top 10 percent of their high-school class. Additionally, TU students have an average SAT score of 1260 and an average ACT score of 28.
Tuition for the 2009–2010 school year was $41,295 with 94 percent of students receiving aid. Just 47 percent of TU students come from the Sooner State. The campus consists of 54 percent males, 46 percent females, with 16 percent of students coming from a multicultural background. Caucasians make up 62 percent of students, non-resident aliens 14 percent, African-Americans 6 percent, Hispanics 4 percent and Asian-Americans 3 percent.
From NCAA championships to intramural sports, the University of Alabama is a haven for athletes, which is why the college finds itself at No. 3 on Newsweek’s list of colleges stocked with jocks.
Available athletics include football, basketball, golf, softball and more, plus sports for students with disabilities. The University of Alabama has claimed 17 NCAA titles, 13 of which were earned by the football team (women’s gymnastics landed the other four).
Academically, the school had a record 10 students named to USA Today’s 2010 All-USA College Academic Team. Enrollment at the University of Alabama comes in at around 30,000 undergraduate, professional and graduate students, 68 percent of who were from Alabama in 2009. International students made up 29 percent of the student body, with 12 percent of students identifying as African-American, 2 percent as Hispanic-American and 1 percent as Asian-American. Fifty-three percent of students in the fall of 2009 were women.
The private liberal arts college costs $19,284 per year for in-state residents and $31,484 for those attending from out of state.
Located in Lewiston, Maine, Bates College is rooted in inclusiveness. Founded in 1855 by abolitionists, it was one of the first higher-learning institutions to admit people of color, and later, women. Today, the college says it maintains its all-inclusive standards by prohibiting fraternities and sororities on campus.
Approximately 1,700 people make up the student body at Bates, 47 percent of which play on varsity teams, placing it in the No. 4 spot on Newsweek’s list of schools for athletes. With its Peace Corps–friendly student body and 21 percent of its federal work-study funds spent on community service, Bates ranks as the sixth most service-minded school.*
All those athletes and altruists must enjoy the school’s 109 acres (which include the Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area for environmental research and education, 40 miles northeast of campus on Maine’s coast) as the school claims an impressive 96 percent return rate for first-year students.
Those who attended Bates in 2009 spent $51,300 on tuition, room, board and fees, and the college’s average grant per student in the fall of 2008 was $31,175.
*For the complete college rankings from Washington Monthly, visit their website at: www.washingtonmonthly.com.
Selective, athletic, intellectually rigorous and historic Bowdoin College is the 18th most desirable school in the country, according to Newsweek’s rankings. Located in scenic Brunswick, Maine, the school also finds itself fourth on the list for most desirable rural schools and the sixth most desirable small school.
The private school, with only 1800 undergraduates, is very selective, admitting less than one in five applicants. Those who attend scored high on both the SAT and ACT, averaging 1510 on the former and 33 on the latter. The school offers more than 40 majors, with the most popular majors in the social sciences, including economics and political science, which may account for Bowdoin’s 24th place on Newsweek’s list for future powerbrokers. The school also takes spot No. 25 for its service-minded culture.*
The student body exercises their bodies as much as their minds, with 39 percent playing on one of 28 varsity teams. There are an additional 51 intramural sports on offer, making Bowdoin the fifth-ranked jock school.
Tuition for the 2009–2010 academic year averaged around $40,000, and about 45 percent of students received financial aid. The student body is 66 percent white, 12 percent Asian, 10 percent Hispanic, 6 percent African-American and 51 percent female. Eighty-three percent hail from out of state.
*For the complete college rankings from the Washington Monthly, visit their website at www.washingtonmonthly.com.
Ohio State University has appeared on quite a few “lists” in its 140 years of existence. Most recently, it ranked 18th in U.S. News & World Report’s 2010 “America’s Best Colleges” findings and 11th in Smart Money magazine’s roundup of national schools offering the best return on tuition investment. Now, the Columbus, Ohio–based campus can lay claim to yet another honor: No. 6 on Newsweek’s list of colleges stocked with jocks.
A member of the Big Ten—the oldest conference of Division 1 sports—OSU claims the largest self-supporting athletics program in the country, with the department of athletics having transferred around $29 million to the university for various campus-based initiatives and improvements during the 2009–2010 school year.
But sports aren’t the only thing the school is known for: OSU says it spent $716 million in 2009 on research in such areas as climate change, cancer and advanced materials.
Auburn University is among the best schools for athletes, ranking seventh on Newsweek’s list of sports-minded colleges. Nearly 41 percent of the school’s expenditures are on athletics and three percent of its students play one of 17 NCAA Division I varsity sports, competing in everything from football and women’s basketball to swimming and diving. The school participates in the Western Division of the Southeastern Conference as the Auburn Tigers. Additionally, many students participate in one of 68 intramural sports.
The four-year public school is located in Auburn, Alabama. Founded in 1856 as the East Alabama Male College, within decades Auburn University became the first co-ed school in Alabama and remains one of the biggest schools in the state with around 20,000 undergraduates. The school accepts 80 percent of its applicants and offers a student-to-faculty ratio of 18:1.
Along with Wesleyan University and Amherst College, Williams College is part of the “Little Three,” the small-liberal-arts-school version of the “Big Three” that consists of Harvard, Princeton and Yale. And Williams shares the limelight with its Big and Little counterparts on several of Newsweek’s lists: It’s No. 17 for future powerbrokers, No. 16 on most desirable schools overall, No. 2 on most desirable rural Schools, No. 4 on most desirable small schools and No. 10 for brainiacs.
Undergraduate enrollment at Williams College is roughly 2,000, with the majority of students pursuing a degree in economics, followed by English. If that sounds like a student body of polar opposites, consider this: Approximately 50 percent of all Williams College students participate in varsity sports, putting it eighth on Newsweek’s list of colleges stocked with jocks.
Another unusual aspect of Williams College is an academic year that operates on two four-course semesters, plus a one-course January term. An all-male college until 1970, Williams began to phase out fraternities in 1962.
During the 2009–2010 school year, students paid $49,880 for tuition, fees, and room and board.
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. 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 powerbrokers.
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.
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 powerbrokers, 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.
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 21 percent of 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.
Located in Fayetteville, the University of Arkansas (U of A) was founded in 1871. While the school bills itself as a large research university, it’s getting attention from Newsweek for its sports. With more than 56 percent of the school’s expenditures going to athletics, U of A comes in at No. 12 for best colleges for jocks.
“It is a [Southeastern] Conference school, so athletics are great,” says one student of the NCAA Division 1 athletics program on CollegeProwler.com. “The school spirit and traditions here are great.”
Undergraduate enrollment is a little more than 15,400, with men making up the majority at 51 percent. Caucasians make up 82 percent of the student body, followed by African-Americans at 4.8 percent, Hispanics at 3.3 percent, and Asian-Americans at 2.8 percent.
Tuition and fees for the 2009–2010 school year was $6,459 for in-state residents and $15,336 for out-of-state students with an extra $7,732 for room and board.
Ranking No. 1 on Newsweek’s list of most desirable rural schools and the eighth most desirable school in the country, it’s no wonder that only about 15 percent of the applicants are invited to matriculate at this sought-after Hanover, New Hampshire, gem. The student population, totaling almost 6,000 students, more than 4,000 of which are undergraduates, is offered a low student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1, contributing to Dartmouth College’s No. 1 ranking on U.S. News & World Report’s list of schools with a “Strong Commitment to Teaching.”
With a student body that is 55 percent white, 14 percent Asian, 8 percent black and 7 percent Hispanic and an ongoing commitment to Native American education (in the past 40 years, more than 700 Native Americans have attended Dartmouth) this Ivy is the 24th most diverse school on Newsweek’s list.
Influential alums earn Dartmouth 11th place for powerbrokers. Its nearly 25 percent participation in varsity sports positions the Big Green at No. 13 for athletics, and average student scores of 34 on the ACT and 1550 on the SAT make it 13th on our best schools for brainiacs list.
Taking advantage of these accolades isn’t cheap, however. According to U.S. Department of Education estimates, tuition and fees were almost $39,000 for the 2009–2010 academic year, nearly five percent more than the previous year.
Founded in 1746, Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, is the fourth-oldest college in the United States (Harvard, founded in 1636, is the oldest, followed by the College of William & Mary and Yale, respectively).
The Ivy finds itself on a slew of Newsweek’s “best of” lists, ranking among the best schools for diversity (No. 9), best gay-friendly (No. 10), most desirable overall (No. 4), as well as the second most desirable suburban school in the country. Its output of two presidents, three senators and eight billionaires lands it at No. 5 for future powerbrokers, and with 20 percent of its student body on varsity teams, Princeton earns 14th place on schools for jocks.
Princeton admitted just 10.1 percent of students who applied in 2009, 95 percent of whom were in the top 10 percent of their high-school class. No wonder it comes in at No. 4 on our list of the best schools for brainiacs. The school currently has 5,047 undergraduates and boasts a 5:1 student-to-faculty ratio. American minorities make up roughly 32 percent of the undergraduate student body. Men only have a slight edge over women when it comes to enrollment numbers.
Tuition for the 2009–2010 school year was $50,620. Currently, 58 percent of Princeton’s students receive financial aid, with aid grant for the class of 2013 averaging $35,309.
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 on our list of best schools for brainiacs (of the only 12 percent of applicants accepted, they averaged a 34 on the ACT and 1560 on the SAT) and No. 14 for future powerbrokers (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
Middlebury College rakes in several honors in Newsweek’s rankings, including the 23rd most desirable school in the country, the fifth most desirable rural school and the ninth most desirable small school. No wonder that its acceptance rate is a very selective 21 percent, with entrants averaging a 33 ACT score and 1490 SAT score.
Fifty intramural and 25 varsity sports as well as one-third of its students on varsity teams help catapult the small school to No. 16 among schools for jocks.
Middlebury College is also renowned for its commitment to environmental stewardship through its curricular offerings and eco-friendly practices on campus. However, a Middlebury education extends well beyond its idyllic home in Vermont’s Green Mountains, with a robust study-abroad program that spans more than 40 countries and opportunities at more than 90 programs and universities worldwide.
Talk about a well-rounded applicant. One of seven of The Claremont Colleges, which its founders modeled after England’s Oxford University, Claremont McKenna casts itself as an intellectually stimulating and socially fulfilling, yet intimate, school, given its roughly 1,200 undergraduates. It places at No. 20 on Newsweek’s Most Desirable Schools list (No. 8 on Most Desirable Suburban Schools and No. 7 on Most Desirable Small Schools). Perhaps that desirability is tied into its sunny California locale—the school is 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles—since it takes seventh place on that list as well.
Claremont McKenna College is one of the most selective liberal-arts colleges in the nation, accepting only 19 percent of its applicants. While its academic programs, competitive application process and high test scores propel it to No. 24 among best colleges for brainiacs, the school also offers a robust sports program with 46 intramural sports leagues and 19 varsity sports, making it No. 17 in colleges stocked with jocks.
Emphasizing education in economics, government and international relations, Claremont McKenna is the starting point for many careers in law, business, government and public policy. Founded in 1946 as Claremont Men’s College, the private school went co-ed in 1976.
“Know thyself.” That’s Hamilton College’s motto. Perched above the village of Clinton, New York, the so-called “college on the hill” gives its 1,812 undergraduates an unusual amount of freedom to pursue their academic goals. At Hamilton, No. 22 on Newsweek’s list of most desirable small schools, there are no distribution requirements. Instead, faculty members help each student develop his or her own individualized academic program.
The private liberal-arts school, which also came in at No. 18 on Newsweek’s list of most desirable suburban schools, is an ideal place for the scholar-athlete. More than 30 percent of Hamilton students participate in sports, whether that’s one of nearly 30 sports competing at the NCAA Division III level or one of 47 intramural sports that range from the traditional (golf and rugby) to the unconventional (Ultimate Frisbee and even the “streaking team,” established in 2002), making it the 18th most athletic school on the list.
The University of Oklahoma, or OU, is a public college with close to 20,000 undergraduates. The school in Norman, Oklahoma, is well known for its sports programs, particularly football. The Sooners have won seven NCAA Division 1 National Football championships—just one of the reasons the school lands at No. 19 on Newsweek’s list of 25 colleges stocked with jocks.
The University of Oklahoma receives over 10,000 applicants each year. Ultimately, 78 percent of those students earn admission and enter into OU’s classrooms, which offer a student-to-faculty ratio of 17 to 1. Sixty-four percent of those students graduate within four years.
The majority of OU students, 67 percent, are from Oklahoma. The undergraduate population is evenly split between men and women, and at 74 percent, the school is largely white, followed by American-Indians at 7 percent, Asian-Americans and African-Americans at 6 percent, and Hispanics at 5 percent.
Tuition for the 2009–2010 school year was $19,790 for in-state students and $29,771 for non-Oklahoma residents. Eighty-two percent of students receive financial aid.
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.
Rudy, one of the most highly regarded sports films of all time, is about one Notre Dame student’s intense desire to play for the university’s football team. Years later, that intense desire persists—the college ranked No. 21 on Newsweek’s list of colleges stocked with jocks. The private college in Notre Dame, Indiana, also lands at No. 7 on our list of most desirable suburban schools, No. 19 for most desirable overall and No. 16 for schools best for future powerbrokers.
Founded in 1842, the Catholic university now welcomes around 8,300 undergraduates to its campus each year. Admission is highly competitive, with five applicants for each freshman seat. Notre Dame also says that women, first admitted in 1972, now account for 47 percent of the undergraduate student body. National Center for Education Statistics data identify 77 percent of the student body as Caucasian, 9 percent Hispanic, 7 percent Asian-American and 4 percent African-American.
Tuition for the 2009–2010 school year was $51,297, with 76 percent of students receiving some form of financial aid.
The University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon, is an NCAA Division 1 school and No. 22 on Newsweek’s list of colleges for athletes.
Founded in 1876, the public school welcomes around 18,500 undergraduates each year, 63 percent of who are from Oregon. Those students pay $20,796 in tuition, while non-Oregonians pay $38,436, with 68 percent of all students receiving some form of financial aid.
The University of Oregon admits 85 percent of applicants each year, and the median GPA for entering freshmen is 3.54. UO, as the school is called, retains 84 percent of its freshmen and on average, those students will graduate in 13 terms, or just over four years. The student-to-faculty ratio is 24 to 1.
The student body is evenly split between men and women. At 73 percent, the majority of students are white, followed by Asian-Americans at 6 percent, Hispanics at 4 percent and African-Americans at 2 percent.
One of the oldest Jesuit Catholic universities in the country, Boston College was founded in 1861 with three teachers and 22 students, but has grown to host nearly 10,000 undergrads, with applications to attend the school surging by 75 percent over the past decade. Yet, the school remains selective in its student body, admitting only about a quarter of those who apply.
With nine percent of students playing one of 27 varsity sports in the NCAA’s Division I and 43 intramural sports on offer, Newsweek counts the school as a great place for jocks, placing it at No. 23 of 25, More than 7,300 undergraduates participate in the sports annually but the focus on sports does not overshadow education—the school ranks sixth in the nation in terms of Division 1 student-athlete graduation rates and the school’s student-to-faculty ratio is 14:1.
Boston College claims a $1.4 billion endowment. The U.S. Department of Education estimates the annual expense for a full-time undergraduate education at Boston College for the 2009–2010 academic year was $39,130.
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.
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 powerbrokers. 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.