Top 25 Best Mid-East Colleges in the US – 2022 Rankings

Also known as the mid-Atlantic, the mid-east region of the United States is chock full of culture, history, great food, and amazing educational opportunities. Perhaps that’s unsurprising as many of the nation’s very first colleges and universities were built in the area.

For this list, the following states are part of the mid-east US: Delaware, DC, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Ready to see the best colleges in the mid-east? Check them out below.

Top 25 Best Mid-East Colleges

A private Ivy League research university, Princeton University was founded in 1746 and originally known as the College of New Jersey. This makes it the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the country. The school receives around 32,500 applications annually and has an acceptance rate of only 5.8%, making it highly competitive.
Location Princeton, NJ
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 8,419
The University of Pennsylvania was founded in 1740, primarily by Benjamin Franklin, who was also their first president. Franklin Field, where the Quakers play in the NCAA Division I – Ivy League, is named after the founder. With a 98% first year retention rate, 86% of students will go on to graduate in four years. 96% will graduate in six.
Location Philadelphia, PA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 26,675
Columbia has a very low selective acceptance rate of 5.5%, accepting only about 2,300 students out of 42,900 applicants. Top choices in regards to majors include Econometrics, Computer Science, and Political Science. It’s the oldest institution of higher education in the state. Columbia is one of the nine colonial colleges founded before the Declaration of Independence.
Location New York City, NY
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 31,456
With just under 1,600 undergraduate students, Swarthmore College is a smaller school. It was one of the first coeducational colleges in the country. The college is associated with the University of Pennsylvania through the Quaker Consortium, which means students can take classes at the four schools within the arrangement.
Location Swarthmore, PA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,594
A public undergraduate school, the United States Naval Academy’s motto, in Latin, is “Ex Scientia Tridens”, or “From Knowledge, Seapower.” It was established in 1845 and saw disruption and riots during the Civil War that almost caused the government to move the school. Today, just over 4,500 students attend.
Location Annapolis, MD
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 4,538
Cornell University is made up of seven undergraduate colleges and seven graduate divisions. Some famous alumni have been Christopher Reeve, Bill Nye, E.B. White, and Anthony Fauci. 97% of students stay on after the first year, with 93% graduating within six years. Computer Science is the most popular major.
Location Ithaca, NY
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 24,027
John Hopkins University was founded in 1876 and named for its first benefactor. Known as the first research university in the country, its motto in Latin is "Veritas vos liberabit," or “The truth will set you free.” The Blue Jays men’s lacrosse team plays in the Big Ten Conference and has 44 national titles. The two most popular majors are general public health and neuroscience.
Location Baltimore, MD
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 27,079
Carnegie Mellon University has over 14,000 students currently attending, with more graduates than undergraduates. Some popular majors include Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, and Mechanical Engineering. A merger between Carnegie Institute of Technology and the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research in 1900 created the school we know today.
Location Pittsburgh, PA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 14,180
A private Jesuit research university, Georgetown University was founded as the Georgetown College in 1789 by Bishop John Carroll. It’s the oldest Catholic institution of higher education in the country and offers 48 different programs. Past graduates include Bill Clinton, Lyndon B. Johnson, senators, representatives, and other leading politicians.
Location Washington, DC
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 19,593
The United States Military Academy is also known as West Point or the Academy. Only 12% of applicants will receive acceptance letters, but 83.4% of these students will go on to attend. Their motto is Duty • Honor • Country. The entire site of the school is a national landmark and includes historic sites, a museum, and more.
Location West Point, NY
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 4,457
With 57 areas of study, a majority of Hamilton students opt for economics as their major, but mathematics, political science, and general literature are also popular choices. Their motto is in Ancient Greek: Γνῶθι Σεαυτόν, which is “Know thyself.” The school has been coeducational since 1978 after merging with its sister school, Kirkland College.
Location Clinton, NY
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,012
Haverford College is a liberal arts school founded in 1833 by the Religious Society of Friends, also known as Quakers. It’s part of the Tri-College Consortium which means students can attend classes at nearby schools Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore. “Non doctior, sed meliore doctrina imbutus,” or "Not more learned, but steeped in a higher learning" is the school’s motto.
Location Haveford, PA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,317
Barnard College is a private women’s liberal arts college located on the banks of the Hudson River. The school was actually founded in response to Columbia University not admitting women. Today, it’s part of the Seven Sisters, an association of women’s liberal arts colleges in the country. Their motto is “Hepomene toi logismoi” (Greek) or “Following the Way of Reason.”
Location New York City, NY
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,631
Vassar offers 50 majors with the most popular being Economics, Research and Experimental Psychology, Biology/Biological Sciences, and Political Science and Government. They have an acceptance rate of just under 24%. A few people who have graduated or attended Vassar include Anne Hathaway, Jane Fonda, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and Anthony Bourdain.
Location Poughkeepsie, NY
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,439
Commonly called NYU, you can find this university in the heart of Manhattan. They have a relatively low acceptance rate of 16.2%. Liberal Arts and Sciences is the top major, but Registered Nursing and Business are not far behind. The school has produced a number of famous alumni including Martin Scorsese, Jack Dorsey, Robert Muller III, and Alec Baldwin.
Location New York City, NY
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 52,885
The University of Maryland at College Park is a larger school with over 30,000 undergraduates and over 10,000 graduates. A majority of incoming students attending are from Maryland, New York, and New Jersey. It’s often called a “Public Ivy,” because of its comparable education to Ivy League schools, and has extremely high research activity. Computer Science is the most popular major.
Location College Park, MD
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 40,743
Colgate University is known as a “Hidden Ivy” and a “Little Ivy.” The school regularly makes lists naming the most beautiful campuses in the United States. 99% of the students at Colgate study at the undergraduate level. However, the school offers up to the master’s degree level of education. Maroon and white are the official school colors.
Location Hamilton, NY
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,992
Villanova University is the oldest Catholic university in Pennsylvania. It’s also the only Augustinian university in the country. The school still has deep religious roots and the administration is led by priests. Their motto is “Veritas, Unitas, Caritas” or “Truth, Unity, Charity.” Jill Biden and Howie Long are two famous alumni who have attended Villanova.
Location Villanova, PA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 10,848
The Juilliard School is a performing arts conservatory. Students learn dance, drama, and music, with stringed instruments and dance being the most popular majors. Some famous alumni are Robin Williams, Ving Rhames, Val Kilmer, and Viola Davis. The institution is extremely competitive, with 7% of applicants accepted.
Location New York City, NY
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 960
Also known simply as JTS, the seminary accepts about 57% of students who apply. It’s main building is located along the Hudson River. There are slightly more graduate students at JTS than undergraduates, at 57% and 43% respectively. Though many alumni have gone onto careers in theology, many have also had noteable careers in music, academia, and politics.
Location New York City, NY
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 335
Lafayette College is known as a Hidden Ivy and a Little Ivy. Although the college is based in Pennsylvania, there is a small satellite campus in New York City. The school is named after General Lafayette, a hero of the American Revolution. Lafayette’s campus is located on the historic Delaware River.
Location Easton, PA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,662
The University of Rochester is a private research university that was founded in 1850. Alumni and faculty have gone on to win Nobel Prizes, Grammy Awards, Pulitzer Prizes, and more. Today, the school has a 10 to 1 student to faculty ratio, 94% first year retention rate, and an 85% six year graduation rate. The campus is tucked in the bends of the Genesee River.
Location Rochester, NY
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 12,233
The United States Merchant Marine Academy’s motto is Acta Non Verba in Latin, or “Deeds not Words” in English. The Academy accepts just under 25% of applicants and the only available majors to students are Marine Science/Merchant Marine Officer, Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, and Systems Engineering.
Location Kings Point, NY
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 1,025
Lehigh University’s motto in Latin is “Homo minister et interpres naturae,” which means “Man, the servant and interpreter of nature.” Known as the Mountain Hawks, the athletes at Lehigh University compete in track, field hockey, lacrosse, rowing, and other sports. Clutch the Mountain Hawk is their mascot.
Location West Bethlehem, PA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 6,953
This private research university was chartered by the United States Congress in 1821. George Washington personally advocated for a national university in the U.S. capital until his death. Alumni include J. Edgar Hoover, Belva Ann Lockwood, J. William Fulbright, and several foreign leaders. International Affairs and Relations is the most popular major.
Location Washington, DC
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 27,814

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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.

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