westThe American West is full of prestigious colleges and universities. While you may think of California as a powerhouse with many of these schools, don’t forget about the other states that also have great schools. Check out the list of the best of the best in the west below.

25. University of California—Santa Cruz

Wikimedia Commons user: Amerique

Wikimedia Commons user: Amerique

Location: Santa Cruz, CA

Student Enrollment: 17,866

College Type: Public, 4-year or above

UC Santa Cruz is considered to run as a residential college system for undergraduates, meaning students typically enter straight into one of the ten different colleges, and stay in that college for their time as an undergraduate. Notable alumni include: Huey P. Newton, Maya Rudolph, and Reyna Grande.

Learn more about the University of California-Santa Cruz

24. Loyola Marymount University

Wikimedia Commons user: Mishigaki

Wikimedia Commons user: Mishigaki

Student Enrollment: 9,515

Location: Los Angeles, CA

College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Loyola Marymount University, with its mascot Iggy the Lion, is one of the largest Roman Catholic universities on the West Coast. The school has an 11:1 student-faculty ratio, and a 51% acceptance rate. Incoming freshman have average ACT scores between 24 and 29, and average SAT combined scores between 1,127 and 1,317.

Learn more about Loyola Marymount University

23. Gonzaga University 

Wikimedia Commons user: SCUMATT

Wikimedia Commons user: SCUMATT

Location: Spokane, WA

Student Enrollment: 7,352

College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Settled along the Spokane River, Gonzaga boasts unique artwork and top men’s and women’s basketball teams. It’s top five majors are: Business, Biology, Mechanical Engineering, Psychology, and Accounting.

Learn more about Gonzaga University

22. Pepperdine University

Flickr user: Edward Blake

Flickr user: Edward Blake

Location: Malibu, CA

Student Enrollment: 7,417

College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Besides being the set location for the first two seasons of Zoey 101, Pepperdine is also known for it’s beautiful campus. The university has a 38% acceptance rate, and a 94% first-year retention rate. The top three majors are: Business Administration, Psychology, and Economics.

Learn more about Pepperdine University

21. University of California-Davis

Wikimedia Commons user: Daderot

Wikimedia Commons user: Daderot

Location: Davis, CA

Student Enrollment: 34,508

College Type: Public, 4-year or above

Although it began with the name “University Farm”, the University of California-Davis campus is located in the Sacramento Valley and is home to public art known as The Egghead Series. The top three majors are: Research and Experimental Psychology, Economics, and Business.

Learn more about the University of California-Davis

20. Thomas Aquinas College

WIkimedia Commons user: Forestwalton

Wikimedia Commons user: Forestwalton

Location: Santa Paula, CA

Student Enrollment: 378

College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Thomas Aquinas is a liberal arts, Roman Catholic college that offers one degree; a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts. The ceiling of the campus library is made of wood from a 17th-century Spanish monastery. The average ACT composite for an incoming student ranges between 26 and 31, and the average SAT combined scores range between 1,181 and 1,380.

Learn more about Thomas Aquinas College

19. Pitzer College

Flickr user lida

Flickr user lida

Location: Claremont, CA

Student Enrollment: 1,076

College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Formed as a women’s college Pitzer is a highly selective college, with a 13% acceptance rate for incoming students. The top 3 majors at Pitzer are: Environmental Science, Psychology, and Political Science. Pitzer’s mascot is the Sagehen named Cecil.

Learn more about Pitzer College

18. Reed College

Wikimedia Commons user Another Believer

Wikimedia Commons user Another Believer

Location: Portland, OR

Student Enrollment: 1,394

College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

The average ACT composite scores for Reed College range between 29 and 33, and the average SAT combined scores are between 1,294 and 1,472. The school also boasts a 9:1 student-faculty ratio.

Learn more about Reed College

17. University of Washington-Seattle

Flickr user Joe Mabel

Flickr user Joe Mabel

Location: Seattle, WA

Student Enrollment: 44,784

College Type: Public, 4-year or above

UW-Seattle’s first graduate, Clara Antoinette McCarty Wilt, received her bachelor’s degree in science. Commonly referred to as “U-Dub”, the top 3 majors at the school are: Speech Communication and Rhetoric, Psychology, and Biology.

Learn more about the University of Washington-Seattle

16. Whitman College

Wikimedia Commons user Adamsofen

Wikimedia Commons user Adamsofen

Location: Walla Walla, WA

Student Enrollment: 1,498

College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Originally founded as a seminary, Whitman College is now a four-year liberal arts college. The average ACT composite scores range between 27 and 32, and the average SAT combined scores range between 1,208 and 1,420. The institution also boasts at 9:1 student-faculty ratio.

Learn more about Whitman College

15. University of California—Irvine

Flickr user Mathieu Marquer

Flickr user Mathieu Marquer

Location: Irvine, CA

Student Enrollment: 30,051

College Type: Public, 4-year or above

The top 3 majors at UC-Irvine are: Biology, Public Health, and Social Psychology. Thanks to a student-run contest, the school mascot is an anteater nicknamed Peter, who has even appeared on Conan.

Learn more about the University of California-Irvine

14. Occidental College

Wikimedia Commons user The Port of Authority

Wikimedia Commons user The Port of Authority

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Student Enrollment: 2,040

College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

The average ACT composite score for an incoming freshman is between 27 and 31, and the average SAT combined score is typically between 1,227 and 1,380. The top 5 majors are: Economics, Political Science, Biology, International Relations, and Psychology.

Learn more about Occidental College

13. University of California—Santa Barbara

Flickr user Marcus Bernales

Flickr user Marcus Bernales

Location: Santa Barbara, CA

Student Enrollment: 23,051

College Type: Public, 4-year or above

UC-Santa Barbara has an acceptance rate of 33% and gets around 70,000 applications each year. The UC-Santa Barbara campus is known for being very bicycle-friendly, and is also considered a Public Ivy.

Learn more about the University of California-Santa Barbara

12. University of California—San Diego

Wikimedia Commons user Daderot

Wikimedia Commons user Daderot

Location: La Jolla, CA

Student Enrollment: 30,709

College Type: Public, 4-year or above

UC-San Diego is a public, sea-grant and space-grant university. The top 3 majors are: Economics, Psychology, and Computer Science. Two popular campus traditions include the Pumpkin Drop that happens during Halloween, and the Watermelon Drop that occurs each spring.

Learn more about the University of California-San Diego

11. Scripps College

Wikimedia Commons user Lure Photography

Wikimedia Commons user Lure Photography

Location: Claremont, CA

Student Enrollment: 988

College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Scripps College is a women’s liberal arts college, and incoming students sport impressive ACT and SAT scores. The college has a 10:1 student-faculty ratio, and is well-known for it’s beautiful campus.

Learn more about Scripps College

10. Soka University of America

Wikimedia Commons user Bobak Ha'Eri

Wikimedia Commons user Bobak Ha’Eri

Location: Aliso Viejo

Student Enrollment: 417

College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Soka University has an 8:1 student-faculty ratio, and offers a Bachelors in Liberal Arts. Although there is only one degree, there are four areas of emphasis that students can choose from: Environmental Studies, Humanities, Social and Behavioral Studies, and International Studies.

Learn more about Soka University of America

9. University of Southern California

Flickr user Ken Lund

Flickr user Ken Lund

 Location: Los Angeles, CA

Student Enrollment: 42,453

College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

USC has an acceptance rate of only 18%, and the average ACT composite scores for incoming students range between 29 and 34, and the average SAT combined scores range between 1,299 and 1,483. The university boasts a 9:1 student-faculty ratio, and a 96% first year retention rate.

Learn more about the University of Southern California

8. Santa Clara University

Flickr user Paul Nelson

Flickr user Paul Nelson

Location: Santa Clara, CA

Student Enrollment: 9,015

College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Known for producing Rhodes and Fulbright Scholars, Santa Clara has also produced Olympians with 14 gold medals. The top 5 majors are: Finance, Marketing, Psychology, Speech Communication and Rhetoric, and Political Science.

Learn more about Santa Clara University

7. University of California—Los Angeles

Flickr user Ignacio Andrade

Flickr user: Ignacio Andrade

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Student Enrollment: 41,845

College Type: Public, 4 year or above

An impressive 93,000 some applications are submitted to UCLA. The university has a 17% acceptance rate, so only about 16,000 are accepted per year. It has a 96% first-year retention rate. There are countless notable alumni, including: composer John Williams, CEO of YouTube Susan Wojcicki, and director Francis Ford Coppola, among many others.

Learn more about the University of California–Los Angeles

6. Claremont McKenna College

Flickr user Craig Stanfill

Flickr user Craig Stanfill

Location: Claremont, CA

Student Enrollment: 1,324

College Type: Private, nonprofit, 4 year or above

With its school motto of “Crescit cum commercio civitas” which means “Civilization prospers with commerce.” Therefore it’s no surprise that Economics is the most common major on campus—followed by Political Science and Psychology. It’s a highly selective school, with an 11% acceptance rate.

Learn more about Claremont McKenna College

5. Harvey Mudd College

Flickr user CampusGrotto

Flickr user: CampusGrotto

Location: Claremont, CA

Student Enrollment: 804

College Type: Private, nonprofit, 4 year

This Liberal Arts college puts a great focus on science, mathematics, and engineering. Academics are very important to the school, and incoming freshmen have impressive exam scores—between 32 and 35 on average for the ACT, and between 1,408 and 1,560 for the SAT.  Their school colors are gold and black.

Learn more about Harvey Mudd College

4. University of California—Berkeley

Flickr user: Mike Procario

Flickr user: Mike Procario

Location: Berkeley, CA

Student Enrollment: 37,565

College Type: Public, 4 year or above

UC Berkeley is the oldest of the 10 research universities associated with the University of California system. Their school motto “Fiat lux” means “Let there be light.” With their signature colors of Berkeley Blue and California Gold, UC Berkeley students are nicknamed the Golden Bears. The most common major on campus is Economics, followed by Cell and Molecular Biology and Electrical Engineering.

Learn more about University of California–Berkeley

3. Pomona College

Flickr user: Dave & Margie Hill

Flickr user: Dave & Margie Hill

Location: Claremont, CA

Student Enrollment: 1,650

College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Pomona is well-known for its career preparation programs, with on-campus internships and research opportunities for students. The college has a 93% four year graduation rate, and a 7:1 student to faculty rate.

Learn more about Pomona College

2. California Institute of Technology

Flickr user: Lana L.

Flickr user: Lana L.

Location: Pasadena, CA

Student Enrollment: 2,209

College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

The average ACT composite score for incoming students ranges from 34 to 36, and the average SAT combined score ranges from 1,504 to 1,584. “The truth shall make you free” as the CalTech motto states, and while the school is well-known for academics and alumni, it is also known for the pranks that happen on campus.

Learn more about the California Institute of Technology

1. Stanford University

Flickr user: Robbie Shade

Flickr user: Robbie Shade

Location: Stanford, CA

Student Enrollment: 16,963 

College Type: Private, not-for-profit, four year or above

Stanford University has a 4:1 student to faculty ratio and an average ACT score of 33. Of the nearly 17,000 enrolled students, 97% live on central campus which is primarily located in Silicon Valley. Its location fosters an innovative, entrepreneurial mindset and culturally diverse student population.

Learn more about Stanford University

Each of these rankings is based on an analysis of data about the school’s selectivity, financial health, academic rigor, and student success. We’ve outlined our full methodology here.