The 50 Best Colleges In America

colleges

What are the best colleges in America?

Business Insider set out to answer this question based on the only factor that matters: how much a college will help you succeed in your future career.

Jump right to the list >
We think a great college should:

  • teach you skills that will help you in whatever profession you choose–namely, writing, speaking, and critical thinking (CURRICULUM)
  • give you a credential that will impress future recruiters, employers, colleagues, and graduate schools (BRAND), and
  • give you access to a network of influential alumni and classmates who can help you in your career (NETWORK)

We asked our readers to to help us rank colleges according to these criteria. And our readers say Massachusetts Institute of Technology is the best college in the country.

While US News and Forbes evaluate colleges on obscure factors, such as alumni giving rate and freshman retention rate, our list comes from a survey of the people who matter most to your future career — other professionals, employers and executives.  80 per cent of the respondents have hired at least 1-10 people. 39 per cent said they were in senior management.

This survey was open to our readers for the past month. They responded with an overwhelming endorsement of the Ivy League and a few select universities — MIT, Stanford, the California Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago.

Large universities ranked high on our list, thanks presumably to good name recognition.

Notably low on our list are liberal arts colleges, like Williams and Amherst. Although these schools are ranked highly by others publications, they apparently carry less weight in the real world.

So, let’s get to it…

Scroll through America’s Best Colleges >
 

See the whole list on one page >
Read our methodology >
See what top recruiters really think >
With assistance from Leah Goldman.

#50 Wake Forest

Wake Forest scored 2.67 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #72
US News: #25 for universities

#49 University of Southern California

USC scored 2.70 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #112
US News: #23 for universities

Comments: 'USC has by far the best business undergrad program in terms of classes, professors, skill set of the students, networking and job placement. Students graduate with much more polished skills than any of the UC schools (Berkeley, UCLA mostly, others don't really compare) and are more ready for the job force. In my experience interviewing kids from all the California area schools and a handful of other schools, no school has impressed me more than USC.'

#48 Colgate University

Colgate scored 2.73 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #28
US News: #21 for colleges


#47 Bowdoin College

Bowdoin scored 2.73 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tie breaker: Bowdoin had 6.2% excellent ratings, while Colgate had 3.8% excellent ratings.

Forbes: #40
US News: #6 for colleges


#46 George Washington University

George Washington University scored 2.74 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #291
US News: #51 for universities


#45 University of Wisconsin--Madison

University of Wisconsin scored 2.74 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tie breaker: Wisconsin had 4.3% excellent ratings, while GWU had 4.2% excellent ratings.

Forbes: #212
US News: #45 for universities

Comments: 'The excellent schools balance the academic, network and social aspect of education. In my opinion, the University of Wisconsin - Madison offers the best combination of any school listed.'

#44 Vassar College

Vassar College scored 2.79 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating

Forbes: #23
US News: #12 for colleges


#43 College of William and Mary

College of William and Mary scored 2.88 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #46
US News: #31 for universities


#42 Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Tech scored 2.9 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating

Forbes: #242
US News: #35 for universities

#41 Wesleyan University

Wesleyan scored 2.9 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tie breaker: Wesleyan University had 9.0% excellent ratings, while GIT had 6.1% excellent ratings.

Forbes: #15
US News: #12 for colleges


#40 Harvey Mudd College

Harvey Mudd scored 2.92 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #22
US News: #18 for colleges

#39 Boston College

Boston College scored 2.94 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #27
US News: #31 for universities


#38 University of Texas--Austin

University of Texas--Austin scored 2.99 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #138
US News: #45 for universities


#37 Rensselaer Polytech Institute

Rensselaer Polytech Institute scored 2.99 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tie breaker: RPI had a 8.4% excellent ratings, while Texas had 6.7% excellent ratings

Forbes: #317
US News: #41 for universities

#36 Tufts University

Tufts University scored 3.01 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #34
US News: #28 for universities

Comments: 'I think Tufts is a school which may not always be on many people's radar, but has a great undergraduate focus, as well as a healthy endowment to invest in its students which it handles smartly.'

#35 Wellesley College

Wellesley College scored 3.02 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #12
US News: #4 for colleges


#34 Middlebury College

Middlebury scored 3.02 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tie breaker: Middlebury College had 9.9% excellent ratings, while Wellesley had 9.1% excellent ratings.

Forbes: #26
US News: #4 for colleges


#33 Washington University in St. Louis

Washington University in St. Louis scored 3.03 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #76
US News: #13 for universities


#32 Emory University

Emory University scored 3.08 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #53
US News: #20 for universities


#31 University of California--Los Angeles

University of California--Los Angeles scored 3.11 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #71
US News: #25 for universities

#30 Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University scored 3.11 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tie breaker: Vanderbilt had 8.4% excellent ratings, while UCLA had 7.6% excellent ratings.

Forbes: #43
US News: #17 for universities


#29 Rice University

Rice University scored 3.14 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #25
US News: #17 for universities

Comments: 'Rice has been consistently undervalued for years.'

#28 Swarthmore College

Swarthmore College scored 3.15 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #7
US News: #3 for colleges

#27 University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill

UNC--Chapel Hill scored 3.2 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #62
US News: #30 for universities

#26 University of Notre Dame

University of Notre Dame scored 3.2 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tie breaker: Notre Dame had 12% excellent ratings, while UNC had 7.8% excellent ratings.

Forbes: #33
US News: #19 for universities


#25 New York University

New York University scored 3.29 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #173
US News: #33 for universities

#24 University of Michigan--Ann Arbor

University of Michigan--Ann Arbor scored 3.35 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #92
US News: #29 for universities


#23 Amherst College

Amherst College scored 3.43 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #3
US News: #2 for colleges

#22 University of Virginia

University of Virginia scored 3.44 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #44
US News: #25 for universities

Comments: 'Virginia offers many excellent opportunities to work with other students and become a leader. The interaction with the faculty is amazing, and their networks a wonderful asset when looking for jobs.The alumni network permeates every industry and is growing globally.'

#21 Williams College

Williams College scored 3.47 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #1
US News: #1 for colleges

#20 Georgetown University

Georgetown University scored 3.52 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #52
US News: #21 for universities

#19 United States Military Academy

United States Military Academy scored 3.63 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #4
US News: #16 for colleges

Comments: 'West Point and the other military academies provide a foundation in the intangibles of leadership that is simply unachievable anywhere else.'

#18 Northwestern University

Northwestern University scored 3.66 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #18
US News: #12 for universities


#17 United States Naval Academy

United States Naval Academy scored 3.68 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #29
US News: #16 for colleges

#16 Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University scored 3.72 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #108
US News: #23 for universities


#15 Duke University

Duke University scored 3.75 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #41
US News: #9 for universities


#14 Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University scored 3.77 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #88
US News: #13 for universities


#13 Brown University

Brown University scored 3.79 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #45
US News: #15 for universities


#12 University of California--Berkeley

University of California--Berkeley scored 3.84 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #65
US News: #22 for universities

#11 University of Chicago

University of Chicago scored 3.91 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #20
US News: #9 for universities

Comments: 'The brand of Ivy schools carry it further, but the calibre and intensity of other schools (ie, MIT, CalTech, University of Chicago) produce tougher, more adaptable students.'

#10 Cornell University

Cornell University scored 3.97 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #70
US News: #15 for universities


#9 University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania scored 4.06 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #36
US News: #5 for universities

Comments: 'Penn: strong growth in application numbers, definitely on par with Harvard, Yale, and Princeton'

#8 Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College scored 4.14 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #30
US News: #9 for universities

Comments: 'Excellent was reserved (w/ the exception of Harvard) for colleges where there is direct access to full professors and small class sizes. I found that this was an excellent advantage at Dartmouth, in contrast to my peers at other Ivys that often had large classes and mostly interacted with TAs. Those universities are great for grad studies, but not so great for undergrad.'

#7 Columbia University

Columbia University scored 4.15 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #13
US News: #4 for universities


#6 California Institute of Technology

California Institute of Technology scored 4.22 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #19
US News: #7 for universities

#5 Princeton University

Princeton University scored 4.37 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #2
US News: #2 for universities

Comments: 'I have been very impressed with undergrads from Penn, Dartmouth, Princeton and Michigan. The kids are able to come in and start working from day one. Many other undergrads from prestigious schools come in and they either do not have it up there or seem to not want to work.'

#4 Yale University

Yale University scored 4.39 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #10
US News: #3 for universities


#3 Harvard University

Harvard University scored 4.46 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #8
US News: #1 for universities


#2 Stanford University

Stanford University scored 4.49 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #6
US News: #5 for universities

#1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology scored 4.61 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Forbes: #5
US News: #7 for universities

Comments: 'MIT is tops because a far higher % of its current students will shape the future of civilisation than those at any other US school.'

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