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What Are The Best Universities in The United States?

Most people will agree that the key to a successful future starts with a solid education. The United States has some of the best universities in the world, and according to the 2022 Global Ranking of Universities, four of the top five universities are located in the U.S.

Not only does the U.S. offer some of the best educational opportunities in the world, it also attracts the top global academic talent. Keep reading to learn more about these schools and how to apply to them.

A Guide to The Best Universities in The U.S.

According to Wikipedia, the U.S. has the most students in the world with 4,599 educational institutions spread across the country (as of 2022). Among these universities are institutions that are internationally-renowned, including the ones listed below.

Harvard

Founded in 1636 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, this prestigious institution is the oldest in the country. Harvard also has the most economic resources in the world, with a $39 billion endowment in 2018. 49 Nobel prize winners are Harvard alumni, and their students often go on to hold positions of power in the public and private sectors around the world. 

Important information about Harvard:

  • Only 5% of applicants are accepted.
  • In 2022, the average cost of attendance with scholarships and government assistance is $15,386 a year; without aid, the annual cost is $75,891.
  • 96% of incoming students finish their program of study.
  • The most popular major is Economics.

Princeton

Princeton is one of the best universities in the United States and is consistently ranked in the top 5 universities according to US News and World Report. Located in Princeton, New Jersey, it’s one of the wealthiest universities in the world with an annual endowment of $23,000,000,000.

Important information about Princeton:

  • Only 6% of applicants are accepted.
  • In 2022, the average cost of attendance with scholarships and government assistance is $11,317; without aid, the annual cost is $68,044.
  • 97% of incoming students finish their program of study.
  • The most popular major is Computer Science.

Yale

Yale is a private university located in New Haven, Connecticut. Roughly 12,000 students attend Yale each year, and its courses encompass all disciplines. That said, the university is especially known for its social science courses. Yale is the third-oldest university in the United States and has the second-largest university library in the world.  

Important information about Yale:

  • Only 7% of applicants are accepted.
  • In 2022, the average cost of attendance with scholarships and government assistance is $17,549; without aid, the annual cost is $79,370.
  • 97% of incoming students finish their program of study.
  • The most popular major is Economics.

University of Chicago

Founded in 1890 and located in Chicago, Illinois, this university has over 16,000 students and six schools: Medical, Business, Law, Social Work, Education, and Politics. Among their alumni are 92 Nobel prize winners and 13 billionaires.

Important information about the University of Chicago:

  • Only 7% of applicants are accepted.
  • In 2022, the average annual cost of attendance with scholarships and government assistance is $17,549; without aid, the annual cost is $81,531.
  • 97% of incoming students finish their program of study.
  • The most popular major is Economics.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Approximately 10,000 students attend, and there's a strong emphasis on engineering. 78 Nobel prize winners are MIT alumni, and the university is considered to be one of the most prestigious institutions in the world.

More important information about MIT:

  • Only 7% of applicants are accepted.
  • In 2022, the average annual cost of attendance with scholarships and government assistance is $16,636; without aid, the annual cost is $72,462.
  • 94% of incoming students finish their program of study.
  • The most popular major is Computer Science.

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University is located in Baltimore, Maryland. More than 20,000 students attend the six schools: Engineering, Medical, Nursing, Education, and Business. Among their alumni are 36 Nobel prize winners, and the university is regularly ranked at the top on lists of the best universities in the United States.

Important information about Johns Hopkins University:

  • Only 11% of applicants are accepted.
  • In 2022, the average annual cost of attendance with scholarships and government assistance is $29,342; without aid, the annual cost is $67,667.
  • 93% of incoming students finish their program of study.
  • The most popular major is Public Health.

Duke

Located in Durham, North Carolina, Duke University was founded in 1838. Over 15,000 students attend this university and major in a wide variety of disciplines. Duke is considered to be one of the best universities in the United States and has produced 10 Nobel prize winners.

More important information about Duke:

  • Only 8% of applicants are accepted.
  • In 2022, the average annual cost of attendance with scholarships and government assistance is $27,020; without aid, the annual cost is $77,069.
  • 95% of incoming students finish their program of study.
  • The most popular major is Computer Science.

Brown

Brown University is located in Providence, Rhode Island and has a student body of roughly 7500. Students can choose between 100 courses at the undergraduate and 50 at the graduate level. It’s the 7th oldest university and one of the most academically prestigious institutions in the country. 

Important information about Brown:

  • Only 8% of applicants are accepted.
  • In 2022, the average annual cost of attendance with scholarships and government assistance is $29,392; without aid, the annual cost is $80,448.
  • 95% of incoming students finish their program of study.
  • The most popular major is Computer Science.

University of California-Berkeley (UC Berkeley)

Located in Berkeley, California, this institution is one of the best public universities in the world. Over 30,000 students attend, and the school specializes in engineering, math, and social sciences. 91 Nobel prize winners are Berkeley alumni, and in 2021 it was ranked America’s top college by Forbes magazine - the first ever Public university to achieve this distinction.

Important information about UC Berkeley:

  • 17% of applicants are accepted.
  • In 2022, the average annual cost of attendance with scholarships and government assistance is $15,329; without aid, the annual cost is $41,528.
  • 91% of incoming students finish their program of study.
  • The most popular major is Computer Science.

Georgetown University

Georgetown is located in Washington, D.C. It’s the oldest Catholic university in the U.S., and many prominent politicians are alumni, such as Felipe de Borbón (the King of Spain), Bill Clinton (the former President of the United States), Abdallah II of Jordan (the King of Jordan) and Laura Chinchilla (the Costa Rican head of state.)

Important information about Georgetown University:

  • 17% of applicants are accepted.
  • In 2022, the average annual cost of attendance with scholarships and government assistance is $28,909; without aid, the annual cost is $78,754.
  • 95% of incoming students finish their program of study.
  • The most popular major is International Relations.

FAQs

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What is the best university to study at in the United States?

That depends on your interest, budget, extracurricular activities, and personal circumstances. We recommend that you research which universities offer courses and majors that fit your interests and are willing to provide financial aid. Then cast a wide net and apply to several universities.

How much does it cost to attend a university in the United States?

The highest annual tuition rate in the U.S. is $81,531 (University of Chicago). However, the overwhelming majority of students apply for financial aid in the form of scholarships and private or government-funded loans. Below is a summary of the statistics collected by the Education Data organization:

  • The average cost of in-state tuition for public universities is $25,487 per year or $101,948 over the course of four years of study.  
  • Out-of-state tuition for public universities costs an average of $43,161 per year, or $172,644 for four years.
  • Students who attend private universities pay an average of $53,217 per year, or $212,868 total for four years.
  • While a bachelor’s degree has traditionally taken four years to complete, only 39% of students graduate within this period of time.
  • 60% of students take six years to graduate with a bachelor's degree and spend an average of $152,922 on the cost of attendance.
  • Students who can’t work full-time lose an average of $40,612 in annual income.
  • Students who take out student loans pay an average of $1,898 in interest per year, and the average borrower takes 20 years to pay off their loans. 
  • Taking the loss of income and loan interest into account, a bachelor's degree can cost up to $400,000 on average.

Education is an investment in your future!

We hope this information has been useful in helping you choose which universities to apply to. A college education can be a stepping stone to a brighter intellectual, cultural, social, and economic future. If you have any questions or comments about higher education or anything else on our site, feel free to contact us.