Top 25 Best Colleges in the Northeast | 2019 Rankings

The Northeast region of the United States is home to a great number of colleges and universities with rich histories, and some schools are even older than the United States itself! As demonstrated by this list, the Northeast is certainly known for prestigious universities.

For the purposes of our rankings, we’ve included the following states in the Northeast: Maine, New Hampshire,  Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, and DC.

Check out College Raptor’s top 25 best colleges in the Northeast.

25. Haverford College

  • Flickr user Roger W

    Location: Haverford, PA

  • Student Enrollment: 1,268
  • College Type: Private

“Non doctior, sed meliore doctrina imbutus” is the official school motto of Haverford, meaning “Not more learned, but steeped in a higher learning.” The average ACT score of incoming freshmen is between 30 and 34; for the SAT between 1410 and 1540. Haverford has a six year graduation rate of 90%.

24. Middlebury College

  • Flickr user daiji

    Location: Middlebury, VT

  • Student Enrollment: 2,549
  • College Type: Private

Middlebury is the oldest college in the state of Vermont, founded back in 1800. Economics, Political Science, Environmental Studies, Psychology, and Neuroscience are the five most popular majors on campus. It was the first institute of higher learning in the country to award a Bachelor’s degree to an African-American student—Alexander Twilight, class of 1823.

23. Hamilton College

  • Hamilton College

    Source: Flickr user chuckthewriter

    Location: Clinton, NY

  • Student Enrollment: 1,883
  • College Type: Private

Named for trustee Alexander Hamilton in 1812, this college is exclusive to undergraduate students. There’s a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio and the most popular major on campus is Economics. Nearly 6,000 applications are sent in every year. Continental blue and buff are the official school colors.

22. Colby College

  • Flickr user Roman Boed

    Location: Waterville, ME

  • Student Enrollment: 1,879
  • College Type: Private

Of the over 11,000 applications sent in, Colby will accept around 1,800 of them given the 16% acceptance rate. There is a 91% four year graduation rate. Colby has two unique official school colors, Colby blue and priscilla. The athletic teams are known as the Mules. The most popular major on campus is Economics.

21. Boston College

Boston College’s Greek school motto of “Αἰέν ἀριστεύειν” translates to mean “Ever to excel,” a fitting phrase for this historic college. Baldwin the Eagle is BC’s mascot, and students wear maroon and gold to cheer on the athletic teams. Boston College has an impressive 95% first year retention rate.

20. Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

  • Flickr user Dan DeLuca

    Location: New York, NY

  • Student Enrollment: 964
  • College Type: Private

With its small student body and prestigious art program, it’s no surprise that Cooper Union’s acceptance rate is quite selective–13%. The most popular majors are Fine / Studio Arts, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Architecture. For every 9 students, there’s 1 faculty member.

19. Tufts University

  • Flickr user Steve McFarland

    Location: Medford, MA

  • Student Enrollment: 11,489
  • College Type: Private

Over 20,000 applications are sent into Tufts every year, and with a 15% acceptance rate, only about 3,000 get accepted. There is a nearly even split between graduate and undergraduate students on campus, 52% and 48% respectively. Their mascot is Jumbo the Elephant, and their school colors are Tufts Blue and brown.

18. Georgetown University

  • Flickr user Josh

    Location: Washington, DC

  • Student Enrollment: 18,525
  • College Type: Private

Georgetown counts presidents, kings, Supreme Court Justices, and diplomats among their alumni. It is located right next to the historic Potomac River. The university has a 90% 4 year graduation rate, and a student-to-faculty ratio of 11:1. 60% of the students at Georgetown are at the graduate level.

17. United States Coast Guard Academy

  • Flickr user Coast Guard News

    Location: New London, CT

  • Student Enrollment: 986
  • College Type: Public

The USCGA offers 8 possible majors to their cadets: Business, Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Oceanography, Political Science, Operations Research, Naval Architecture / Marine Engineering, and Electrical Engineering. They have an 84% four year graduation rate and an impressive 97% first year retention rate.

16. Johns Hopkins University

  • Flickr user Let Ideas Compete

    Location: Baltimore, MD

  • Student Enrollment: 23,917
  • College Type: Private

Considered the first research university in the United States, Johns Hopkins has more graduate students (75% of total enrolled students) than undergrads. Incoming freshmen have impressive test scores, on average 32–35 or 1480–1570 on the ACT or SAT respectively. Their school colors are Hopkins blue, white, and black, and their athletic teams are known as the Blue Jays.

15. Wellesley College

A member of the original Seven Sisters Colleges, Wellesley is a women’s school that was chartered back in 1870 (though classes didn’t start until five years later). For every 7 students, Wellesley has 1 faculty member. Economics and Biology are the two most popular majors on campus.

14. Cornell University

  • Flickr user J. Maughn

    Location: Ithaca, NY

  • Student Enrollment: 22,319
  • College Type: Private

A member of the famed Ivy League, many Cornell alumni have gone on to achieve fame of their own. Some notable names include Bill Nye, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, E.B. White, Christopher Reeve, and Toni Morrison. Of the total students enrolled, 65% of them are at the undergraduate level.

13. Franklin W Olin College of Engineering

  • Flickr user Sean Munson

    Location: Needham, MA

  • Student Enrollment: 378
  • College Type: Private

This college is truly unique. Known for its relatively young status (founded in 1997) and incredibly small student body, Olin has high standards for its applicants–a score of 32–35 on the ACT or a 1480–1570 on the SAT is the average. Olin has three majors available to study: Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering.

12. Dartmouth College

  • Flickr user Dennis Yang

    Location: Hanover, NH

  • Student Enrollment: 6,409
  • College Type: Private

Dartmouth’s latin school motto, “Vox clamantis in deserto”, translates to mean “A voice crying out into the wilderness.” It has a 7:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and a 4 year graduation rate of 86%. Of the total students at Dartmouth, 67% are undergraduates, while the remaining 33% are graduate students.

11. Brown University

  • Flickr user thurdl01

    Location: Providence, RI

  • Student Enrollment: 9,781
  • College Type: Private

As an Ivy League school, it should come as no surprise that admittance is very selective. Of the over 30,000 applications received, Brown will admit only 8% of them. Additionally, average ACT and SAT scores are impressive, between 31–35 and 1420–1570 respectively. Fitting its name, one of the official school colors is brown, the other two are cardinal and white.

10. Amherst College

  • Flickr user Henry C

    Location: Amherst, MA

  • Student Enrollment: 1,849
  • College Type: Private

Established initially as a men’s college, Amherst opened its doors to women in 1975. Nowadays there’s a nearly even split between men and women, at 49.9% and 50.1% respectively. Incoming freshman score, on average, 32–34 on the ACT and 1450–1550 on the SAT. Amherst sports purple and white as their school colors.

9. Swarthmore College

  • Flickr user Simon

    Location: Swarthmore, PA

  • Student Enrollment: 1,543
  • College Type: Private

“Mind the Light” is the motto of Swarthmore, where the school colors are garnet and grey. While a small school, this college sees nearly 9,500 applications a year, though just over 1,000 are accepted. Economics, Biology, and Engineering are among the most popular majors on campus, followed by Computer Science and Experimental Psychology.

8. Williams College

  • Flickr user Peter Rintels

    Location: Williamstown, MA

  • Student Enrollment: 2,150
  • College Type: Private

The purple and gold-wearing athletic teams at Williams College are cheered on by an interesting mascot—the Purple Cow. On average, incoming freshmen score between 31 and 35 on the ACT, and between 1420 and 1570 on the SAT. With an acceptance rate of 15%, Williams College admits nearly 1,300 students annually.

7. United States Naval Academy

  • Flickr user Butch Dalisay

    Location: Annapolis, MD

  • Student Enrollment: 4,528
  • College Type: Public

“Ex Scientia Tridens” translated to “From knowledge, seapower” is an apt school motto for this naval academy. Around 1,300 students are admitted each year. Several different engineering fields are popular majors on campus, including System Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Ocean Engineering, and Aerospace / Aeronautical / Astronautical Engineering.

6. Columbia University in the City of New York

  • Flickr user Andreas Komodromos

    Location: New York, NY

  • Student Enrollment: 29,372
  • College Type: Private

Founded before the creation of the Declaration of Independence, Columbia is full of history—including awarding the very first M.D. degree in the US. Columbia also awards the coveted Pulitzer Prize every year. It is located in Harlem, right on the Hudson River. They have a 6 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio.

5. University of Pennsylvania

  • Flickr user Rob Pettengill

    Location: Philadelphia, PA

  • Student Enrollment: 24,960
  • College Type: Private

Founded by the great Benjamin Franklin, UPenn was one of nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution. The top five most popular majors on campus are Finance, Registered Nursing, Political Science and Government, Economics, and Biology. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the school colors are a patriotic red and blue.

4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • Flickr user Andrew Hitchcock

    Location: Cambridge, MA

  • Student Enrollment: 11,376
  • College Type: Private

“Mens et Manus” is the Latin motto of this impressive school, translating to “Mind and Hand.” MIT is practically synonymous with academic excellence, and incoming freshmen score an average of 1500–1570 on the SAT, an average between 33 and 35 on the ACT. MIT is both a Land Grant and a Space Grant school.

3. Yale University

  • Flickr user Francisco Anzola

    Location: New Haven, CT

  • Student Enrollment: 12,458
  • College Type: Private

The first PhD ever awarded in the US came from Yale University. Economics, Political Science, and History are the most popular majors on campus. Students can enjoy one-on-one interactions with their professors, as the student-to-faculty ratio is 6:1. Yale also boasts an impressive 99% first year retention rate.

2. Harvard University

  • Flickr user Paul Geffen

    Location: Cambridge, MA

  • Student Enrollment: 29,908
  • College Type: Private

Harvard is among the oldest universities in the US, founded back in 1636. It’s Latin motto of “Veritas” means truth—a fitting motto for a school known for its law, political science, and social science programs. Students need impressive academics at Harvard, since the average ACT score is between 32–36, and SAT scores are between 1470 and 1590.

1. Princeton University

  • Flickr user Kah-Wai Lin

    Location: Princeton, NJ

  • Student Enrollment: 8,181
  • College Type: Private

Princeton is one of the most well-known universities in the country, and for good reason. Several alumni have gone on to become impressive leaders in their fields, including: Alan Turing, Jimmy Stewart, Michelle Obama, and Sonia Sotomayor. As an Ivy League school, it’s not surprising that Princeton has a low acceptance rate of only 6%.

About our methodology

Colleges are ranked based on a combination of factors, including graduation rates, campus diversity, endowment per student, and other data as reported via the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for the most recently-available enrollment year. Some colleges may have been excluded from rankings based on certain criteria, including specialization and classification. Learn about our full methodology.

Interested in any of these schools? Check out College Raptor’s free match tool to see if they’re a good fit for you!

College Raptor Staff

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