Best Colleges in America for 50 Different Rankings

The phrase "quality education" means different things to different people, and with the sheer number of colleges and universities to choose from, finding the right needle in the endless haystack of postsecondary schools can be daunting, to say the least. That's why it's so important for students to ask themselves what, exactly, they want to get out of college from the moment they start trying to narrow the incredibly crowded field of options.

Some students are concerned mostly with their field of interest and are drawn to schools with great engineering, science, or journalism programs. Others are more concerned with the location of their school of choice, like those in big cities, near beaches, or in mountain regions or small towns. Others vet their options by looking at practical criteria like graduation rates, post-graduation employment percentages, and alumni networks, while many are forced to narrow the selection first by value and cost.

Top college in America for 50 different rankings
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Ultimately, every prospective student measures potential colleges, universities, and trade schools with a different yardstick, which is why it's so important for them to choose a few categories that matter most and then apply to the very best schools therein that correspond to their qualifications.

Stacker used rankings and categories from Niche's 2021 Best Colleges in America list, as well as rankings from past Stacker college stories, to compile a list of the top schools for 50 different metrics. These metrics range from student population (such as best HBCU) to academics (such as the best school for studying education). While there are a few repeat appearances, no single school appears more than five times.

From the schools that offer the most bang for the buck to the most highly selective and ferociously competitive institutions on earth, there's truly something for everyone when it comes to higher education in the United States. Keep reading to learn which schools earned top billing in the 50 categories that separate one great college or university from another, depending on which student you ask.

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Best private college: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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Best private college: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

- Location: Cambridge, MA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 4,557
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 3:1
- Acceptance rate: 7%
- Graduation rate: 94%
- Six-year median earnings: $104,700
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

With eight Fields Medal winners, 15 Turing Award winners, and nearly 100 Nobel Prize laureates among them, the success of MIT's faculty and alumni tells the tale of the school's status as one of the preeminent polytechnic universities in the country and the world. Its history as a gold mine of research, development, and innovation can be traced to the Industrial Revolution, which MIT was originally founded to expand in the United States. Today, more than 85% of its undergrads engage in faculty-led research across all 30 departments, and MIT holds a place in the small and exclusive club of schools that can boast the trifecta of being land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant institutions.

Best public college: University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
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Best public college: University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

- Location: Ann Arbor, MI
- Undergraduate enrollment: 29,245
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 11:1
- Acceptance rate: 23%
- Graduation rate: 92%
- Six-year median earnings: $63,400
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

In June, the University of Michigan was not shy about boasting that QS World Rankings named it the best public university in all of America, and for good reason—2020 was the fifth year straight that UM topped the site's rankings in that category. It's lauded for its strong research programs, diverse graduate offerings, excellent faculty, and 500,000-strong alumni network.

Best small college: California Institute of Technology
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Best small college: California Institute of Technology

- Location: Pasadena, CA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 948
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 3:1
- Acceptance rate: 7%
- Graduation rate: 92%
- Six-year median earnings: $85,900
- Two-year employment rate: 89%

The previously mentioned MIT has only one true peer and rival in terms of America's top science and engineering polytechnic schools, and it's on the opposite side of the country: Caltech. Like MIT, Caltech is known for its minuscule acceptance rate, highly accomplished alumni, and extraordinary research programs. It operates the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, the Palomar and W. M. Keck Observatories, and the Seismological Laboratory, just to name a few of its more famous research initiatives.

Best big college: Cornell University
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Best big college: Cornell University

- Location: Ithaca, NY
- Undergraduate enrollment: 15,175
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 11%
- Graduation rate: 95%
- Six-year median earnings: $77,200
- Two-year employment rate: 93%

Just eight schools in America have earned a place in the vaunted Ivy League, the collection of elite private universities in the Northeastern United States that are synonymous with ultra-competitive admissions, world-class facilities and faculty, academic excellence, and alumni networks filled with the world's movers and shakers. Among them is Cornell, a land-grant institution whose partnership with New York state is unique among the Ivy League schools—and one that continues to deliver an almost endless stream of funding to the university.

Best student life: University of Southern California
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Best student life: University of Southern California

- Location: Los Angeles, CA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 19,194
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 13%
- Graduation rate: 92%
- Six-year median earnings: $74,000
- Two-year employment rate: 92%

USC has long been both famous and infamous for its student life, which an April 3, 2019 New York Times article described as: "Spring breaks in Bali, resort-style apartment buildings with rooftop pools and tanning beds, and regular dinners out at Nobu, where a tab for four roommates could easily stretch into four digits." USC was recently at the heart of a highly publicized admissions bribery scandal in which rich, famous parents paid big money and cut serious corners to get their kids into the university, which for generations has been the school of choice for the children of the world's wealthiest and most influential families. USC has worked hard to shed that image by heavily recruiting students from all walks of life, an effort that created an environment where "the children of celebrities and real estate moguls study alongside the children of nannies and dishwashers," according to the Times.

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Best value: United States Merchant Marine Academy
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Best value: United States Merchant Marine Academy

- Location: Kings Point, NY
- Undergraduate enrollment: 996
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 13:1
- Acceptance rate: 22%
- Graduation rate: 84%
- Six-year median earnings: $88,100
- Two-year employment rate: 97%

The United States Merchant Marine Academy has a better two-year employment rate than every school on this list except one and boasts six-year median earnings that are among the highest out of all 50 schools—yet except for modest Midshipmen fees and a few other expenses, students pay nothing to go there. The federal government covers not just tuition but textbooks, uniforms, room and board, and medical and dental care.

Best community college: New Mexico Military Institute
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Best community college: New Mexico Military Institute

- Location: Roswell, NM
- Undergraduate enrollment: 412
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 16:1
- Acceptance rate: 37%
- Graduation rate: 68%
- Six-year median earnings: $39,700
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

Known informally as "The West Point of the West," New Mexico Military Institute "remains the only state-supported co-educational college preparatory high school and junior college in the United States," according to the school. The institute prepares its highly diverse student body with a unique educational framework that includes not just academics but leadership training and character development programs.

Best trade school: Lake Area Technical College
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Best trade school: Lake Area Technical College

- Location: Watertown, SD
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,566
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 17:1
- Acceptance rate: 100%
- Graduation rate: 75%
- Six-year median earnings: $36,900
- Two-year employment rate: 95%

Lake Area Technical College offers 30 programs that vary from welding technology and cosmetology to financial services and registered nursing, including 15 online degrees that can be completed remotely. The school provides more than $400,000 in scholarships and boasts a 99% graduation placement rate. In 2017, it was named the Aspen Prize Best Two-Year College in the Nation.

Best college on the West Coast: Stanford University
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Best college on the West Coast: Stanford University

- Location: Stanford, CA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 7,087
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 5:1
- Acceptance rate: 4%
- Graduation rate: 94%
- Six-year median earnings: $94,000
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

Although it's listed here as the best college on the West Coast, Stanford University is consistently ranked among the very best universities in the entire world—and its intimidating 4% acceptance rate shows just how competitive the private research university is. Like MIT and Caltech, its alumni include a range of success stories, including billionaires, astronauts, members of Congress, presidents, Fields Medal winners, Nobel laureates, and, most notably, entrepreneurs whose companies have produced trillions of dollars in combined revenue and millions of jobs.

Best college in the South: Duke University
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Best college in the South: Duke University

- Location: Durham, NC
- Undergraduate enrollment: 6,659
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 6:1
- Acceptance rate: 9%
- Graduation rate: 96%
- Six-year median earnings: $84,400
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

Duke University is most closely associated with the Blue Devils, a D-1 athletic powerhouse that includes one of the winningest NCAA men's basketball teams of all time. It's also, however, one of the most prestigious and significant private research universities in the country. Its Pratt School of Engineering is highly regarded for both its research and teaching, and Duke University Hospital is widely considered to be one of the top medical centers in the world in terms of both research and treatment.

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Best college in a major city: Columbia University
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Best college in a major city: Columbia University

- Location: New York, NY
- Undergraduate enrollment: 7,666
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 6:1
- Acceptance rate: 6%
- Graduation rate: 96%
- Six-year median earnings: $83,300
- Two-year employment rate: 89%

New York City's Ivy League school is in tough competition for top billing with the likes of NYU and Fordham, but Manhattan's Columbia University certainly earns the title of best in the Big Apple. The acclaimed research university's legacy, after all, is directly tied to its home city. Many of the school's research projects and teaching initiatives are conducted in partnership with both private and public entities of all stripes across New York City.

Best college in the Midwest: Washington University in St. Louis
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Best college in the Midwest: Washington University in St. Louis

- Location: Saint Louis, MO
- Undergraduate enrollment: 7,146
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 7:1
- Acceptance rate: 15%
- Graduation rate: 95%
- Six-year median earnings: $70,100
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

Of all the great schools in the Midwest, Washington University stands out because it checks off so many of the boxes that most students care about. According to U.S. News and World Report, it's one of the top 50 schools nationwide in terms of innovation, the country's #20 school in terms of value, and # 16 overall in national universities.

Best college location: The New School
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Best college location: The New School

- Location: New York, NY
- Undergraduate enrollment: 6,624
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 57%
- Graduation rate: 72%
- Six-year median earnings: $44,500
- Two-year employment rate: 87%

New York is one of the most diverse cities in the world, and The New School's diverse academic offerings reflect that reality. The private research university was founded as a progressive institution focused on social research but is now known for world-class academia, creative arts, and design programs, including those offered by the College of Performing Arts, Parsons School of Design, and the New School for Social Research.

Best college for outdoor activities: Montana State University
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Best college for outdoor activities: Montana State University

- Location: Bozeman, MT
- Undergraduate enrollment: 12,516
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 19:1
- Acceptance rate: 82%
- Graduation rate: 57%
- Six-year median earnings: $43,200
- Two-year employment rate: 92%

Both hip and historic, the city of Bozeman is surrounded by beautiful and rugged but accessible Montana wilderness—and Montana State University makes sure its students have every opportunity to experience the region's many outdoor marvels. The MSU Outdoor Recreation Program offers trips, clinics, courses, adventure leadership programs, and other experiential education, as well as climbing events, bike and ski workshops, and free or reduced rates for resources like bike shops and rental gear.

Best college near the beach: Stanford University
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Best college near the beach: Stanford University

- Location: Stanford, CA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 7,087
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 5:1
- Acceptance rate: 4%
- Graduation rate: 94%
- Six-year median earnings: $94,000
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

From UC Santa Barbara to University of Miami, America is teeming with seaside colleges that lure students to their choice locations near the sun, sand, and surf—but only one of them is Stanford. With a sub-5% acceptance rate, the private research university is consistently ranked among the very best institutions in the world, and its alumni include a who's who of Nobel laureates, Fields Medalists, and other top-in-field academics, entrepreneurs, and public figures. Then there's the school's location on The Peninsula, located just minutes from the San Francisco Bay, the mountains, the Pacific Coast, and Silicon Valley.

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Best college for veterans: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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Best college for veterans: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

- Location: Cambridge, MA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 4,557
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 3:1
- Acceptance rate: 7%
- Graduation rate: 94%
- Six-year median earnings: $104,700
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

MIT is known for its comprehensive financial aid packages, which it developed to ensure that the best and brightest minds don't go elsewhere because they can't afford tuition. Part of that includes special offerings just for veterans, which MIT provides by blending its own aid packages with help in securing federal assistance designed specifically for vets.

Best college for international students: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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Best college for international students: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

- Location: Cambridge, MA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 4,557
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 3:1
- Acceptance rate: 7%
- Graduation rate: 94%
- Six-year median earnings: $104,700
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

Recruiting the greatest minds in the world irrespective of international borders has been part of MIT's mission since its founding in the 19th century—applicants are literally competing with the smartest people in the entire world. Each international student at MIT can lean on the International Students Office, which is dedicated to helping students born abroad adapt to life in Massachusetts and stay current with laws and regulations that affect them, as well as promoting international cooperation in general on campus.

Best college for low-income students: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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Best college for low-income students: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

- Location: Cambridge, MA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 4,557
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 3:1
- Acceptance rate: 7%
- Graduation rate: 94%
- Six-year median earnings: $104,700
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

Getting into MIT is incredibly hard, but paying for a world-class education there doesn't have to be. About one in three undergraduates don't pay any tuition at all thanks to MIT's generous aid offerings, and nearly four out of every five students graduate debt-free.

Best college for adult learners: Columbia University
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Best college for adult learners: Columbia University

- Location: New York, NY
- Undergraduate enrollment: 7,666
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 6:1
- Acceptance rate: 6%
- Graduation rate: 96%
- Six-year median earnings: $83,300
- Two-year employment rate: 89%

Not only does Columbia University make room for learners of all ages, but the school serves adult education by preparing students to become the top professionals in their fields. Columbia's Adult Learning and Leadership Program offers graduate degrees at the master's, doctoral, and advanced certificate levels that culminate in specialized adult learning and leadership qualifications.

Best women's college: Barnard College
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Best women's college: Barnard College

- Location: New York, NY
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,519
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 14%
- Graduation rate: 92%
- Six-year median earnings: $57,900
- Two-year employment rate: 90%

Founded more than three decades before women were allowed to vote, Barnard is "devoted to empowering young women to pursue their passions," according to the school's own mission statement. What started as one of the only institutions in the country where women could receive an education as rigorous as those offered to their brightest male counterparts, Barnard is now one of the most competitive schools in America, regardless of gender.

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Best Hispanic-serving institution: University of California - Santa Barbara
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Best Hispanic-serving institution: University of California - Santa Barbara

- Location: Santa Barbara, CA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 22,601
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 22:1
- Acceptance rate: 32%
- Graduation rate: 82%
- Six-year median earnings: $55,300
- Two-year employment rate: 91%

UC-Santa Barbara is a dream school for many because of its proximity to some of the finest beaches in Southern California and in the country, but it's also a school with a long record of striving for diversity—in fact, the entire UC network can say the same. Like SoCal itself, UC-Santa Barbara is home to a prominent Hispanic community spread across the faculty, staff, and student body. In 2015 it became the fourth UC campus and the first member of the American Association of Universities to be named a Hispanic-Serving Institution.

Best men's college: Wabash College
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Best men's college: Wabash College

- Location: Crawfordsville, IN
- Undergraduate enrollment: 881
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 65%
- Graduation rate: 71%
- Six-year median earnings: $56,300
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

A small school with big aspirations, Wabash College is a nationally ranked private liberal arts college that boasts more than 40 full academic programs. The Princeton Review has named it among the top 10 schools in the country for career services, Greek life, and intramural sports; in the top five for the ability of students to access their professors; and #1 for its internship opportunities and alumni network.

Most diverse: Lynn University
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Most diverse: Lynn University

- Location: Boca Raton, FL
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,049
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 18:1
- Acceptance rate: 70%
- Graduation rate: 55%
- Six-year median earnings: $39,300
- Two-year employment rate: 85%

U.S. News and World Report listed Lynn University as the #1 most international school in the region in 2016, a distinction it has held consistently ever since. Its commitment to diversity is reflected not only in the number of international students it receives, but also the number of domestic students it sends abroad. More than 100 Lynn students participate in the Center for Learning Abroad initiatives, which includes 80 programs in 28 countries.

Best of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Spelman College
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Best of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities: Spelman College

- Location: Atlanta, GA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,123
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 11:1
- Acceptance rate: 39%
- Graduation rate: 75%
- Six-year median earnings: $47,000
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

One of more than 100 designated Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Spelman College is an icon of both African American higher education and women's education in America. Although it became Spelman in 1924, the college has roots dating back to 1881, less than 20 years after the end of the Civil War and slavery in the United States. It has deep historical ties to Morehouse University, a Historically Black men's college that's also located in Atlanta.

Best for student athletes: Duke University
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Best for student athletes: Duke University

- Location: Durham, NC
- Undergraduate enrollment: 6,659
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 6:1
- Acceptance rate: 9%
- Graduation rate: 96%
- Six-year median earnings: $84,400
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

Duke is home to the mighty Blue Devils, and for student athletes, acceptance into the university's world-famous D-1 program represents the pinnacle of college athletics. Duke's sports program is a global organization that boasts partnerships with corporate sponsors like Nike. Its athletes have access to not only championship sports programs but also the Duke Sports Science Institute, athletic employment opportunities, sports performance programs, world-class athletic medicine, one of the greatest marching bands on the planet, and an intensely loyal and supportive fan base.

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Best college athletics: University of Florida
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Best college athletics: University of Florida

- Location: Gainesville, FL
- Undergraduate enrollment: 32,209
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 18:1
- Acceptance rate: 39%
- Graduation rate: 90%
- Six-year median earnings: $56,000
- Two-year employment rate: 92%

Students who crave a spot among the fan base of one of the most celebrated and successful NCAA athletic programs in America would be hard-pressed to do better than the University of Florida, where the Gators regularly deliver championships across nearly 20 D-1 sports. The most famous of them all is the University of Florida football team, which is among the top programs in the NCAA—and its rivalry with the Florida State Seminoles is the stuff of legend.

Most liberal: American University
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Most liberal: American University

- Location: Washington, D.C.
- Undergraduate enrollment: 7,952
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 12:1
- Acceptance rate: 32%
- Graduation rate: 80%
- Six-year median earnings: $61,000
- Two-year employment rate: 92%

Chartered by an act of Congress in the late 19th century, American University boasts more than 160 academic programs and renowned colleges like the School of International Service and the Washington College of Law. American also holds the distinction of being carbon neutral thanks to electricity powered by 100% renewable energy.

Most conservative: Brigham Young University - Idaho
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Most conservative: Brigham Young University - Idaho

- Location: Rexburg, ID
- Undergraduate enrollment: 18,335
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 22:1
- Acceptance rate: 97%
- Graduation rate: 57%
- Six-year median earnings: $42,700
- Two-year employment rate: 78%

On the other end of the political spectrum from American is Brigham Young University's Idaho campus, which is as deeply red as Washington D.C., is blue. The college is owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and its students are bound by an honor code that forbids sexual relationships and the consumption of alcohol, drugs, tobacco, coffee, and tea.

Best Christian college: Duke University
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Best Christian college: Duke University

- Location: Durham, NC
- Undergraduate enrollment: 6,659
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 6:1
- Acceptance rate: 9%
- Graduation rate: 96%
- Six-year median earnings: $84,400
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

Originally founded by Methodists and Quakers in the early 19th century, Duke now places its Divinity School at the center of the university's Christian heritage. It's also home to nearly two-dozen Religious Life groups that focus not just on Duke's founding sects but also religions like Catholicism, Islam, Hinduism, Adventism, Episcopalianism, and Judaism.

Best Catholic college: University of Notre Dame
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Best Catholic college: University of Notre Dame

- Location: Notre Dame, IN
- Undergraduate enrollment: 8,607
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 18%
- Graduation rate: 97%
- Six-year median earnings: $78,400
- Two-year employment rate: 95%

If Roman Catholicism had an academic headquarters in the United States, it would have to be Notre Dame, one of the most famous colleges in the county, thanks largely to the legendary Fighting Irish football program. In terms of undergraduate education, the private Catholic research university—with its 43 Holy Cross priests in residence—is considered to be one of the best schools in America.

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Best Jewish college: The Jewish Theological Seminary
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Best Jewish college: The Jewish Theological Seminary

- Location: New York, NY
- Undergraduate enrollment: 147
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 6:1
- Acceptance rate: 47%
- Graduation rate: 82%
- Six-year median earnings: $Not available
- Two-year employment rate: Not available

Some of the most important Jewish thinkers and leaders in the world are graduates of the Jewish Theological Seminary, which is a foundational pillar of conservative Judaism not only in the United States but across the global Jewish diaspora. The seminary provides professional and academic training for rabbis, cantors, educators, and other spiritual and community leaders.

Hardest to get into: California Institute of Technology
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Hardest to get into: California Institute of Technology

- Location: Pasadena, CA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 948
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 3:1
- Acceptance rate: 7%
- Graduation rate: 92%
- Six-year median earnings: $85,900
- Two-year employment rate: 89%

The vast majority of highly qualified, highly accomplished candidates who apply to Caltech will never get in. Those who do, however, will be counted among an elite few who earn their degrees at the university that—along with MIT—is almost universally recognized as the pinnacle of science, technology, and engineering academia on the planet.

Best college with no application fee: Carleton College
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Best college with no application fee: Carleton College

- Location: Northfield, MN
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,077
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 20%
- Graduation rate: 93%
- Six-year median earnings: $54,200
- Two-year employment rate: 91%

Although it's a small liberal arts school, Carleton College has made a big name for itself—and not just because of its waived application fee. U.S. News and World Report's 2021 ranking lists it among the top 30 schools in terms of value, #9 among national liberal arts colleges, and #1 in undergraduate teaching.

Best fully online college: Everglades University
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Best fully online college: Everglades University

- Location: Boca Raton, FL
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,921
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 18:1
- Acceptance rate: 69%
- Graduation rate: 59%
- Six-year median earnings: $42,100
- Two-year employment rate: 81%

Everglades University maintains physical campuses, but students don't have to visit to enroll, and all degrees are available online. Its 12 undergraduate programs and five graduate offerings include a range of interesting degrees, including aviation/aerospace, alternative medicine, crisis and disaster management, and entrepreneurship.

Best college food: University of California - Los Angeles
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Best college food: University of California - Los Angeles

- Location: Los Angeles, CA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 31,009
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 18:1
- Acceptance rate: 14%
- Graduation rate: 91%
- Six-year median earnings: $60,700
- Two-year employment rate: 89%

It's not hard to fathom that the country's best campus eats would be found in the global cuisine mecca that is Los Angeles. As early as 2015, the school was profiling its dorm food, as reimagined by the famous staff of UCLA chefs. Among the offerings were North African-style honey-roasted chicken with Lebanese rice, toasted rice-crusted trout with coconut curried lentils, and grilled Persian-style lamb chops on a bed of cooked spelt.

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Best campus: University of California, Los Angeles
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Best campus: University of California, Los Angeles

- Location: Los Angeles, CA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 31,009
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 18:1
- Acceptance rate: 14%
- Graduation rate: 91%
- Six-year median earnings: $60,700
- Two-year employment rate: 89%

UCLA's sprawling campus is spread across 419 acres of choice Southern California land. Busy and bustling yet peaceful and serene, its beautifully manicured grounds and architecturally significant structures are scattered around amenities like a botanical garden, sculpture garden, meteorite gallery, planetarium, and several acclaimed museums.

Best Greek life: Florida State University
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Best Greek life: Florida State University

- Location: Tallahassee, FL
- Undergraduate enrollment: 29,040
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 21:1
- Acceptance rate: 37%
- Graduation rate: 83%
- Six-year median earnings: $46,400
- Two-year employment rate: 93%

FSU's tradition of Greek life has more than a century of history. More than 6,000 Seminoles make up more than 40 chapters of recognized fraternities and sororities dedicated to "individual and community development focused on the values of leadership, scholarship, brotherhood/sisterhood, and service."

Best college dorms: High Point University
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Best college dorms: High Point University

- Location: High Point, NC
- Undergraduate enrollment: 4,504
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 14:1
- Acceptance rate: 77%
- Graduation rate: 65%
- Six-year median earnings: $39,000
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

High Point students spend their days and nights living among nearly two-dozen residence halls and university-owned houses. The housing options—which took the #1 spot not only with Niche, but also with the Princeton Review—include double-occupancy rooms, single rooms, and three- and four-person suites.

Safest college: Piedmont College
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Safest college: Piedmont College

- Location: Demorest, GA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,153
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 60%
- Graduation rate: 50%
- Six-year median earnings: $40,600
- Two-year employment rate: 93%

In terms of student safety, Piedmont College ranks first out of 1,336 colleges and universities, a fact that Piedmont is promoting heavily during the COVID-19 crisis. The school also took the #4 spot among small schools in Georgia.

Best party school: University of Wisconsin
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Best party school: University of Wisconsin

- Location: Madison, WI
- Undergraduate enrollment: 29,375
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 17:1
- Acceptance rate: 52%
- Graduation rate: 87%
- Six-year median earnings: $56,200
- Two-year employment rate: 95%

Some schools, like Brigham Young, are governed by strict honor codes that forbid students from using profanity or indulging even in caffeine. Others, like the University of Wisconsin...not so much. In 2016, the Princeton Review named UW the #1 party school in America, and after the university was briefly dethroned, it recaptured that notorious title once again.

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Best academics: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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Best academics: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

- Location: Cambridge, MA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 4,557
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 3:1
- Acceptance rate: 7%
- Graduation rate: 94%
- Six-year median earnings: $104,700
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

MIT's world-renowned academic training includes programs in 30 departments in five schools and one college. The top engineers and scientists of the future get their education at the School of Architecture and Planning, the School of Engineering, the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, the Sloan School of Management, the School of Science, and the Schwarzman College of Computing.

Best professors: Yale University
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Best professors: Yale University

- Location: New Haven, CT
- Undergraduate enrollment: 5,939
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 6:1
- Acceptance rate: 6%
- Graduation rate: 97%
- Six-year median earnings: $83,200
- Two-year employment rate: 92%

With a 6% acceptance rate, Yale is known worldwide as one of the most competitive and prestigious schools on Earth. That kind of reputation isn't possible without faculty capable of delivering an education envied by college deans everywhere. Yale's highly coveted faculty positions are filled by the world's finest instructors, who are among the most accomplished leaders in their respective fields.

Best liberal arts college: Pomona College
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Best liberal arts college: Pomona College

- Location: Claremont, CA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,559
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 7:1
- Acceptance rate: 8%
- Graduation rate: 94%
- Six-year median earnings: $58,100
- Two-year employment rate: 90%

The most competitive liberal arts college in America, Pomona College's single-digit acceptance rate makes it the most highly selective school of its kind. It boasts one of the biggest per-student endowment rates in the country, and many of those students have gone on to become highly distinguished alumni. Among them are Pulitzer Prize winners, Olympic athletes, U.S. senators, Fulbright scholars, and Tony, Grammy, Emmy, and Academy Award winners.

Best college for biology: Harvard University
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Best college for biology: Harvard University

- Location: Cambridge, MA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 7,210
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 7:1
- Acceptance rate: 5%
- Graduation rate: 98%
- Six-year median earnings: $89,700
- Two-year employment rate: 89%

The most famous and esteemed college in the world, Harvard is synonymous with academic excellence—and its biological and biomedical sciences department is a big part of the reason why. Delivered through the Harvard Medical School, those talented and lucky enough to be accepted into the program leave with Ph.D.s.

Best college for Business: University of Pennsylvania
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Best college for Business: University of Pennsylvania

- Location: Philadelphia, PA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 10,605
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 6:1
- Acceptance rate: 8%
- Graduation rate: 95%
- Six-year median earnings: $85,900
- Two-year employment rate: 91%

As an Ivy League school, the University of Pennsylvania is one of the most prestigious higher learning institutions in the world, and its Wharton Business School is almost universally recognized as the finest—not to mention the oldest—business school on Earth. President Trump went to Wharton, as did Warren Buffett, the world's most successful investor, Tesla's Elon Musk, and the CEOs of companies like PepsiCo, Johnson & Johnson, Boeing, GE, Oracle, Comcast, and Pfizer.

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Best college for Education: Vanderbilt University
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Best college for Education: Vanderbilt University

- Location: Nashville, TN
- Undergraduate enrollment: 6,789
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 7:1
- Acceptance rate: 10%
- Graduation rate: 94%
- Six-year median earnings: $69,000
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

Although it's only one of Vanderbilt's 10 schools and colleges, the Peabody College of Education and Human Development is almost like a university of its own. Consistently ranked among the top graduate schools for education in America—it also provides undergraduate and professional education—Peabody offers 17 master's, three Ed.D. programs, and six Ph.D. programs taught by 166 faculty members who collaborate with students at 18 research centers.

Best college for Communications: Northwestern University
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Best college for Communications: Northwestern University

- Location: Evanston, IL
- Undergraduate enrollment: 8,161
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 6:1
- Acceptance rate: 8%
- Graduation rate: 95%
- Six-year median earnings: $69,000
- Two-year employment rate: 92%

Like so many other great universities, the Northwestern School of Communication's bona fides are evident in the accomplishments of its alumni—Julia Louis-Dreyfus studied there, as did Warren Beatty, Megan Mullally, Stephen Colbert, and David Schwimmer. All programs in the school are based on a unique modular system.

Best college for Performing Arts: American Musical and Dramatic Academy
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Best college for Performing Arts: American Musical and Dramatic Academy

- Location: New York, NY
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,676
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 24%
- Graduation rate: 65%
- Six-year median earnings: $28,000
- Two-year employment rate: 93%

Accomplished Broadway actors, choreographers, and directors, as well as casting agents, movie producers, and film directors are among the faculty who teach at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. The unique instruction model is based on "cross-training," where students receive education in acting, dance, movement, speech, and voice no matter their individual disciplines.

Public college with the best ROI: Maine Maritime Academy
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Public college with the best ROI: Maine Maritime Academy

- Location: Castine, ME
- Undergraduate enrollment: 958
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 11:1
- Acceptance rate: 55%
- Graduation rate: 76%
- Six-year median earnings: $95,600
- Two-year employment rate: 96%

Mariner, the Maine Maritime Academy's publication, has rightfully hyped a 2019 Washington Post article on the school's notable return on investment. With an impressive $95,600 six-year median earnings rate, publications like Washington Monthly, U.S. News and World Report, and Money Magazine all list MMA among the very best values in higher education, beating out even Harvard.

Private college with the best ROI: Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
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Private college with the best ROI: Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

- Location: Albany, NY
- Undergraduate enrollment: 854
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 72%
- Graduation rate: 66%
- Six-year median earnings: $124,700
- Two-year employment rate: 98%

The Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences boasts the highest six-year median earnings on this list by far—but the school's long-term ROI is equally impressive. It's ranked # 1 for 20, 30, and 40 years after enrollment, with earnings of $2.72 million commonplace after four decades in the workforce.

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