The 50 most underrated colleges in America

University of Houston/FacebookThe University of Houston is one of the top five most underrated colleges.
  • There are many wonderful colleges and universities in the US that are sometimes overlooked in major rankings.
  • College preparation and admissions consulting firm CollegeVine identified 50 colleges that offer great educational and career opportunities but don’t always appear at the top of traditional lists.
  • Binghamton University, San Jose State, and City College of New York land in the top five.

While top-rated US colleges are household names, there are plenty of other, sometimes overlooked, schools that offer great educational and career opportunities.

College preparation and admissions consulting firm CollegeVine assembled a ranking of the most underrated colleges and universities in the US. To compile the ranking, it evaluated several career- and outcome-based metrics for each of the schools, including cost of attendance and financial aid, career outcomes, and overall return on investment.

Read more: Here’s the most educated town in every state

Schools were given a score out of 100 for each of those metrics, with schools being rewarded for scoring better on those measures than their traditional rankings from publications like US News and World Report would suggest.

Here are the 50 most underrated colleges in the US, according to CollegeVine’s measures:


50. Hofstra University

Location: Hempstead, NY

Overall score: 79.0

Career outcomes score: 86

Cost and financial aid score: 64

Return on investment score: 87


49. Carnegie Mellon

Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Overall score: 80.7

Career outcomes score: 99

Cost and financial aid score: 64

Return on investment score: 79


48. Stevens Institute of Technology

Location: Hoboken, NJ

Overall score: 81.0

Career outcomes score: 88

Cost and financial aid score: 70

Return on investment score: 85


47. University of Oklahoma

Location: Norman, OK

Overall score: 81.7

Career outcomes score: 76

Cost and financial aid score: 92

Return on investment score: 77


46. University of Arizona

Christian Petersen/Getty

Location: Tucson, AZ

Overall score: 82.3

Career outcomes score: 76

Cost and financial aid score: 96

Return on investment score: 75


44 (tie). University of Delaware

Location: Newark, DE

Overall score: 83.0

Career outcomes score: 75

Cost and financial aid score: 93

Return on investment score: 81


44 (tie). Brigham Young University

Location: Provo, UT

Overall score: 83.0

Career outcomes score: 81

Cost and financial aid score: 85

Return on investment score: 83


43. Bucknell University

Location: Lewisburg, PA

Overall score: 83.7

Career outcomes score: 89

Cost and financial aid score: 76

Return on investment score: 86


42. North Carolina State University

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Location: Raleigh, NC

Overall score: 84.3

Career outcomes score: 76

Cost and financial aid score: 92

Return on investment score: 85


41. American University

American University

Location: Washington, DC

Overall score: 84.7

Career outcomes score: 93

Cost and financial aid score: 68

Return on investment score: 93


40. Virginia Tech

Michael Shroyer/Getty Images

Location: Blacksburg, VA

Overall score: 85.3

Career outcomes score: 76

Cost and financial aid score: 97

Return on investment score: 83


38 (tie). Saint Louis University

Location: St. Louis, MO

Overall score: 86.0

Career outcomes score: 86

Cost and financial aid score: 84

Return on investment score: 88


38 (tie). Case Western

Location: Cleveland, OH

Overall score: 86.0

Career outcomes score: 95

Cost and financial aid score: 79

Return on investment score: 84


37. University of Arkansas

Location: Fayetteville, AR

Overall score: 86.3

Career outcomes score: 79

Cost and financial aid score: 97

Return on investment score: 83


36. Louisiana Tech

Location: Ruston, LA

Overall score: 87.3

Career outcomes score: 81

Cost and financial aid score: 99

Return on investment score: 82


35. Louisiana State

LSU

Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Overall score: 88.0

Career outcomes score: 81

Cost and financial aid score: 99

Return on investment score: 84


33 (tie). Oregon State University

Location: Corvallis, OR

Overall score: 88.7

Career outcomes score: 82

Cost and financial aid score: 96

Return on investment score: 88


33 (tie). San Diego State

Location: San Diego, CA

Overall score: 88.7

Career outcomes score: 82

Cost and financial aid score: 99

Return on investment score: 85


32. The College of New Jersey

Location: Ewing Township, NJ

Overall score: 89.0

Career outcomes score: 84

Cost and financial aid score: 97

Return on investment score: 86


31. Oberlin College

Location: Oberlin, OH

Overall score: 89.3

Career outcomes score: 97

Cost and financial aid score: 77

Return on investment score: 94


30. University of Nebraska – Lincoln

Location: Lincoln, NE

Overall score: 89.7

Career outcomes score: 87

Cost and financial aid score: 98

Return on investment score: 84


29. Ursinus College

Location: Collegeville, PA

Overall score: 90.0

Career outcomes score: 92

Cost and financial aid score: 88

Return on investment score: 90


27 (tie). University of Illinois – Chicago

Location: Chicago, IL

Overall score: 90.7

Career outcomes score: 89

Cost and financial aid score: 96

Return on investment score: 87


27 (tie). University of Kansas

Jeff Zehnder/Shutterstock

Location: Lawrence, KS

Overall score: 90.7

Career outcomes score: 86

Cost and financial aid score: 99

Return on investment score: 87


25 (tie). Drexel University

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Overall score: 91.0

Career outcomes score: 95

Cost and financial aid score: 85

Return on investment score: 93


25 (tie). Kansas State University

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Location: Manhattan, KS

Overall score: 91.0

Career outcomes score: 87

Cost and financial aid score: 99

Return on investment score: 87


24. Miami University – Oxford

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Location: Oxford, OH

Overall score: 91.3

Career outcomes score: 92

Cost and financial aid score: 89

Return on investment score: 93


21 (tie). University of New Mexico

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Location: Albuquerque, NM

Overall score: 91.7

Career outcomes score: 85

Cost and financial aid score: 99

Return on investment score: 91


21 (tie). Oklahoma State University

Ken Wolter/Shutterstock

Location: Stillwater, OK

Overall score: 91.7

Career outcomes score: 85

Cost and financial aid score: 100

Return on investment score: 90


21 (tie). University of Texas – El Paso

Location: El Paso, TX

Overall score: 91.7

Career outcomes score: 83

Cost and financial aid score: 100

Return on investment score: 92


20. Texas Tech University

Location: Lubbock, TX

Overall score: 93.0

Career outcomes score: 88

Cost and financial aid score: 99

Return on investment score: 92


19. University of Utah

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Location: Salt Lake City, UT

Overall score: 93.3

Career outcomes score: 89

Cost and financial aid score: 100

Return on investment score: 91


18. University of Idaho

Location: Moscow, ID

Overall score: 93.7

Career outcomes score: 90

Cost and financial aid score: 100

Return on investment score: 91


14 (tie). Santa Clara University

Location: Santa Clara, CA

Overall score: 94.0

Career outcomes score: 98

Cost and financial aid score: 87

Return on investment score: 97


14 (tie). University of Missouri

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Location: Columbia, MO

Overall score: 94.0

Career outcomes score: 91

Cost and financial aid score: 98

Return on investment score: 93


14 (tie). University of Wyoming

Location: Laramie, WY

Overall score: 94.0

Career outcomes score: 90

Cost and financial aid score: 100

Return on investment score: 92


14 (tie). Washington State University

Facebook/Washington State University

Location: Pullman, WA

Overall score: 94.0

Career outcomes score: 93

Cost and financial aid score: 97

Return on investment score: 92


13. Loyola University Maryland

Location: Baltimore, MD

Overall score: 94.3

Career outcomes score: 98

Cost and financial aid score: 87

Return on investment score: 98


10 (tie). Wellesley College

Location: Wellesley, MA

Overall score: 95.0

Career outcomes score: 100

Cost and financial aid score: 86

Return on investment score: 99


10 (tie). University of Iowa

Location: Iowa City, IA

Overall score: 95.0

Career outcomes score: 93

Cost and financial aid score: 97

Return on investment score: 95


10 (tie). West Virginia University

Steve Heap/Shutterstock

Location: Morgantown, WV

Overall score: 95.0

Career outcomes score: 91

Cost and financial aid score: 100

Return on investment score: 94


9. Babson College

Location: Wellesley, MA

Overall score: 95.3

Career outcomes score: 100

Cost and financial aid score: 86

Return on investment score: 100


7 (tie). Fordham University

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Location: New York, NY

Overall score: 95.7

Career outcomes score: 99

Cost and financial aid score: 89

Return on investment score: 99


7 (tie). University of Texas – Austin

Location: Austin, TX

Overall score: 95.7

Career outcomes score: 95

Cost and financial aid score: 92

Return on investment score: 100


6. Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Location: Worcester, MA

Overall score: 96.0

Career outcomes score: 96

Cost and financial aid score: 94

Return on investment score: 98


5. George Mason University

Location: Fairfax, VA

Overall score: 96.3

Career outcomes score: 99

Cost and financial aid score: 91

Return on investment score: 99


4. City College of New York

Location: New York, NY

Overall score: 97.0

Career outcomes score: 97

Cost and financial aid score: 98

Return on investment score: 96


3. Binghamton University

Location: Binghamton, NY

Overall score: 97.3

Career outcomes score: 99

Cost and financial aid score: 95

Return on investment score: 98


2. University of Houston

Location: Houston, TX

Overall score: 98.0

Career outcomes score: 95

Cost and financial aid score: 99

Return on investment score: 100


1. San Jose State

Location: San Jose, CA

Overall score: 99.3

Career outcomes score: 99

Cost and financial aid score: 99

Return on investment score: 100

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