The 50 Best Colleges In America

Stanford University aerial viewWikimedia CommonsStanford University claims the No. 1 spot on our list.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. After a four-year reign atop our annual list of the Best Colleges in America, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) slipped to second place.

For the first time in years, Stanford University took the top spot on our list. In fact, schools with strong tech and engineering programs reigned over our list, with Cal Tech rounding out the top 3 schools.

For our sixth annual ranking of the Best Colleges In America, we surveyed over 1,500 people who said they had hiring experience in a variety of fields, from finance to tech.
Respondents rated top colleges across the country based on how well they prepare students for success.

Click here to see the colleges »

Click here to go to a one-page list of the top 25 colleges »

Read the full methodology for this list »

48. Boston University

BU scored a 2.98 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $48,984

BU 'is no small operation,' with more than 33,000 undergrad and graduate students and 10,000 faculty and staff. With over $US375 million in research funding last year, each member of the community has a chance to grow and incite change.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

45. Cooper Union

Cooper Union scored a 3.02 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $41,220

Cooper Union is no stranger to 'best' lists. The New York City-based school ranked sixth in the nation among undergraduate engineering colleges according to U.S. News and World Report, and appeared on Business Week's round-up of the best design schools for creative talent in the country.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

44. Lehigh University

Lehigh scored a 3.03 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $46,955

Lehigh may be considered a party school, but that doesn't mean that its students and alumni are messing around. The Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, school took the top spot on our list of the top 10 party schools worth your money, with a mind-boggling Return On Investment of $US526,900.

'Lehigh University has one of the best ROI and starting salaries of any of these schools,' said one survey taker from the class of 2012.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

43. Washington University in St. Louis

Wash U in St. Louis scored a 3.07 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $46,157

Wash U students are true go-getters. Three out of four students pursue multiple majors or minors, with more than 40% expanding their horizons by studying abroad.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

42. College of William and Mary

William and Mary scored a 3.07 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $40,174

The professors at William & Mary are so great that the school was ranked No. 2 on U.S. News' list of colleges with the best undergraduate teaching. There's a 12:1 student-faculty ratio, and the classes are small, with almost half the classes having fewer than 20 students.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

41. Babson College

Babson scored a 3.08 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $47,890

Babson College has a top-notch reputation for fostering entrepreneurship on its Massachusetts campus and in the real world. It's ranked the best school for entrepreneurship by U.S. News and Entrepreneur magazine.

One survey participant said that 'Babson students are in a league of their own' when it comes to being prepared for the workforce.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

40. Bowdoin College

Bowdoin scored a 3.08 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $47,512

This small liberal arts school in Brunswick, Maine, ranked at No. 5 on U.S. News' list of National Liberal Arts Colleges. The school has a strong political science program, and is also known for its economics, sciences, and languages programs.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

39. University of Texas -- Austin

UT -- Austin scored a 3.08 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $34,860*

In the last eight years, UT raised $US3.1 billion, which it is funelling into the school. The public school is renowned for its business and engineering programs, and was ranked No. 8 on U.S. News' list of the best undergraduate business programs and No. 10 on U.S. News' list of the best undergraduate engineering programs.

*Tuition at UT -- Austin varies by program; listed is the tuition and fees for the liberal arts program.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

38. Middlebury College

Middlebury scored a 3.09 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $48,044

Middlebury is a top liberal arts school that's ranked at No. 7 on U.S. News' list of the best National Liberal Arts Colleges. Located on 350 acres in Vermont's rural Champlain Valley, Middlebury believes that the environment is 'crucial to our identity,' and 7% of students major in environmental studies.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

36. Boston College

BC scored a 3.18 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $47,910

BC has a strong undergraduate business school, which was ranked No. 4 by Businessweek and No. 21 by U.S. News. While only 133 students are Jesuit, the Catholic tradition is embedded in the history and mission of the school.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

35. Swarthmore College

Swarthmore scored a 3.18 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $46,060

Swarthmore is a top liberal arts school that may cost a lot to attend, but pays off big, with alumni having an average mid-career salary of $US109,000. The Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, school offers more than 600 courses to its undergrads.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

34. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

RPI scored a 3.2 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $50,574

Rising five spots on our list, the Rensselaer, New York-based school was named the fifth-best engineering college in the country by USA Today. More than half of its undergraduate student body majors in engineering.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

33. Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt scored a 3.25 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $48,672

One survey participant says, 'Judging by a few employees and many other targeted employees, Vanderbilt does the greatest job at producing job applicants with communication skills, common sense, and striking intelligence.' Nearly 60% of the Class of 2013 are currently employed, while 31% are enrolled in post-graduate studies at the Nashville-based school.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

32. University of North Carolina -- Chapel Hill

UNC -- Chapel Hill scored a 3.25 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $36,496

The nation's first state university topped Kiplinger's Personal Finance and The Princeton Review's annual roundups of the best value public colleges this year, for offering students a high-quality education at an affordable price.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

31. University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame scored a 3.27 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $48,487

For the last five years, Businessweek has named the Fighting Irish's Mendoza College of Business the best undergraduate business school in the country. 'People here challenge themselves to figure out how we can use business for a source of good,' a recent graduate told the publication.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

30. University of California -- Los Angeles

UCLA scored a 3.27 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $38,977

Throughout its nearly 100 years of existence, UC -- Los Angeles has produced 13 Nobel laureates, 12 Rhodes scholars, 111 NCAA titles, 250 Olympic medals, and more than 100 companies created based on technology developed at UCLA.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

28. New York University

NYU scored a 3.31 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $44,668*

Students searching for a global experience will certainly find one here. NYU sends more students to study abroad than any college in the U.S., and sends them away for longer: Most U.S. students who study abroad spend on average 8 weeks abroad, while NYU students spend at least 16 weeks.

*Tuition at New York University varies by college; listed is the tuition and fees for the College of Arts and Science.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

27. Emory University

Emory scored a 3.32 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $46,220

Located in Georgia's historic Druid Hills neighbourhood, Emory University received more than $US500 million for research funding in 2013. Four in five undergrads report having an opportunity to work with faculty on a research project, according to a recent survey by the school.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

26. Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Tech scored a 3.33 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $33,498

This year, PayScale named Atlanta's Georgia Tech among the top 10 U.S. colleges that are worth the money. The 20-year net return on investment is around $US755,000, yielding an annual ROI of 11.9% for in-state students.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

25. Amherst College

Amherst scored a 3.38 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $64,006*

While Amherst has an extended and convoluted history of banning fraternities and sororities on campus, students can find endless networking opportunities within the Five College Consortium. Amherst belongs to a community of colleges that include Smith, UMass Amherst, Mount Holyoke, and Hampshire, which allows students to take classes at any of the schools.

*Amherst lists a comprehensive fee on its website, which includes room and board in the total cost.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

24. University of Michigan -- Ann Arbor

U of M scored a 3.39 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $43,049

With more than 540,000 living Michigan alumni, the Alumni Association provides valuable benefits and programs that let its members tap into that vast network. Members enjoy dedicated career development services, including resume and cover-letter reviews and access to career-related podcasts and monthly conference calls.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

23. Rice University

Rice scored a 3.41 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $41,141

Students who wish to continue their studies at the Houston, Texas-based Rice will be pleased to discover that eight of its graduate programs rank among the nation's top 20, according to U.S. News and World Report. From bioengineering to entrepreneurship to computer science, a varied and prestigious array of programs provides resources available to the entire student population.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

22. Harvey Mudd College

HMC scored a 3.42 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $50,794

Earlier this year, Business Insider released its list of the colleges with the best return on investment. Claremont, California's Harvey Mudd College found itself atop the ranking, with a $US229,500 total price tag to graduate and a total 20-year income of $US980,900.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

20. Georgetown University

Georgetown scored a 3.44 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $50,266

'Georgetown University provides an incredibly rich and valuable experience for their undergraduates that results in preparing its students for success after graduation,' said one survey taker. 'The combination of a bright, engaged, diverse student body; faculty that combine theory and real-world application of knowledge; (and) a campus located in an incredible city with limitless resources ... makes Georgetown incredibly unique.'

Georgetown is the oldest Catholic and Jesuit university in the country.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

19. University of Virginia

U.Va. scored a 3.45 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $40,040

Since U.S. News began a separate list of the top 50 public universities, U.Va. has never been ranked lower than second. In-state students comprise more than 70% of the student population.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

18. Northwestern University

Northwestern scored a 3.49 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $51,130

Northwestern's journalism program consistently ranks among the best in the country, leading the way to a digital future. The Medill School offers exclusive opportunities such as a residency program that enables students to work part of the year as reporters or public relations specialists at media outlets across the country, in Latin America, Qatar, and South Africa.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

17. University of California -- Berkeley

UC -- Berkeley scored a 3.57 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $41,229

UC -- Berkeley hosts more than a dozen different career opportunities fairs and events each year. Some are aimed at all undergrads seeking employment or internships, and some are geared towards students in specific fields of study like finance or engineering.

Tuition rates are reduced for California residents.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

12. Dartmouth College

Dartmouth scored a 3.67 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $51,294

The beautiful New Hampshire school is the smallest of the Ivies, but just as prestigious. The college also guarantees free tuition for students coming from families with total incomes of $US100,000 or less, ensuring that all are able to attend regardless of ability to pay.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

11. United States Military Academy

West Point scored a 3.68 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: N/A

Applying to West Point is a long and arduous process that starts as early as middle school. But it's worth it once you're in. Provided you're admitted to this highly selective institution, attendance is free after a minimum five-year term of service, and graduates are guaranteed a career in the Military should they choose not to return to civilian life.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

10. United States Naval Academy

The U.S. Naval Academy scored a 3.7 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: N/A

The U.S. Naval Academy is completely free to attend -- even room and board -- provided you complete the required five years of Military service. Its graduates have gone on to become astronauts, politicians, Rhodes scholars, and even President of the United States.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

8. University of Chicago

The University of Chicago scored a 3.73 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $49,380

The University of Chicago jumped up four spots this year. Students reap the benefits of college life in a big city -- not just socially, but academically, too. The university's Chicago Studies programs give students the opportunity to immerse themselves in the diverse communities of the Windy City through internships, volunteer work, and other enriching experiences.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

7. Columbia University

Columbia scored a 3.74 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $49,801

Columbia University musicians have the opportunity to enroll in one of two programs Columbia offers in partnership with New York neighbour The Juilliard School: the Columbia-Juilliard Exchange, where students cross-register for weekly music lessons from Juilliard faculty; and the Joint Program Bachelor of Arts/Masters of Music, a five- to six-year offering that typically results in a rewarding career in music.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

5. Harvard University

Harvard scored a 3.8 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $44,938

This is the first time in the past four years that Harvard has dropped below the top three in our ranking. But the Crimson school is still as competitive as ever; Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana joked at this year's convocation that 'it's easier to become dean of Harvard College than it is to get into the College.' But the post-grad payout pays off -- the average Harvard graduate earns $US60,000 a year in his or her first job out of school.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

1. Stanford University

Stanford scored a 4.15 out of 5 on Business Insider's rating.

Tuition and fees: $45,407

Stanford jumped up from No. 2 last year to take the top spot on our list. Stanford's undergraduate student body has just under 7,000 coeds -- each one part of the lucky 5.1% of applicants who were admitted to what is considered the best college on the West Coast and, this year, also in the country.

A survey participant emphasised 'Universities need to prepare their graduates with technology and innovation. Stanford stands out on top!'

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a survey that asked over 1,500 professionals with hiring experience how well colleges prepare their students for success after graduation. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

Now see which schools have the best campuses.

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