The 50 Best Colleges in The U.S. – 2016 University Rankings

College Raptor's 2016 Top 50 Best Colleges

Our Top 50 Best College award is the most-selective honor in our 2016 Best Colleges rankings.

We analyzed data on each school from thousands across the country and selected the 50 best of the four-year colleges throughout the nation. This list includes schools of all sizes, with varying majors and both public and private institutions.

In our rankings, we looked at factors such as graduation rates, student loan default rates, selectivity, and campus diversity to evaluate the quality of each college and award those schools that were the 50 best based on a combination of all criteria.

Here are the top 50 colleges in the U.S.:

 

50. Brandeis University

A view of Brandeis University.

Source: Flickr user khargrav.

Waltham, MA

Undergraduate enrollment: 3,614

Learn more about Brandeis University


 

49. Grinnell College

A view of Gates Tower at Grinnell College.

Source: Flickr user silversprite.

Grinnell, IA

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,721

Learn more about Grinnell


 

48. Boston College

A campus building at Boston College.

Source: Flickr user masstransit.

Chestnut Hill, MA

Undergraduate enrollment: 9,698

Learn more about Boston College


 

47. Hamilton College

A campus building at Hamilton College

Source: Flickr user chuckthewriter.

Clinton, NY

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,926

Learn more about Hamilton College


 

46. Colgate University

A view of the Colgate University campus

Colgate University Across Taylor Lake” by Balon GreyjoyOwn work. Licensed under CC0 via Commons.

Hamilton, NY

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,890

Learn more about Colgate University


 

45. University of California-Los Angeles

Part of the University of California-Los Angles campus

Royce Hall post rain” by AltonOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Los Angeles, CA

Undergraduate enrollment: 28,674

Learn more about UCLA


 

44. Davidson College

Part of the Davidson College campus

Source: Flickr user melystu.

Davidson, CA

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,788

Learn more about Davidson College


 

43. Emory University

A campus building at Emory University

By Revesq (Own work (Revesq)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Atlanta, GA

Undergraduate enrollment: 7,836

Learn more about Emory


 

42. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Part of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus

UNC South Building” by YeungbOwn work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons.

Chapel Hill, NC

Undergraduate enrollment: 18,370

Learn more about UNC Chapel Hill


 

41. Harvey Mudd College

Part of the Harvey Mudd College campus

By The original uploader was Imagine at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Claremont, CA

Undergraduate enrollment: 807

Learn more about Harvey Mudd


 

40. Barnard College

Lehman Hall at Barnard College

2014 Barnard College Lehman Hall” by Beyond My KenOwn work. Licensed under GFDL via Commons.

New York, NY

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,489

Learn more about Barnard College


 

39. Wesleyan University

Part of the Wesleyan University campus

Wesolin” by Original uploader was Ychennay at en.wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Middletown, CT

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,906

Learn more about Wesleyan University


 

38. Soka University of America

A view of the Soka University of America campus

By Beyond My Ken (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Aliso Viejo, CA

Undergraduate enrollment: 412

Learn more about Soka University of America


 

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37. Middlebury College

A view of the Middlebury College campus

Midd wiki 2“. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikipedia.

Middlebury, VT

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,495

Learn more about Middlebury College


 

36. Johns Hopkins University

A view from Levering Plaza at Johns Hopkins University

View from Levering Plaza” by Iracaz – iPhone photo. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikipedia.

Baltimore, MD

Undergraduate enrollment: 6,117

Learn more about Johns Hopkins University


 

35. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

A view of a University of Michigan-Ann Arbor campus building

Source: Flickr user beckstei.

Ann Arbor, MI

Undergraduate enrollment: 28,283

Learn more about Michigan


 

34. University of California-Berkeley

A view of the University of California-Berkeley campus

UCBerkeleyCampus” by brainchildvn on Flickr – Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.

Berkeley, CA

Undergraduate enrollment: 25,951

Learn more about UC – Berkeley


 

33. Tufts University

The Tisch library entrance at Tufts University

Tufts Tisch library entrance” by HereToHelpOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Medford, MA

Undergraduate enrollment: 5,180

Learn more about Tufts


 

32. Vassar College

Thompson Library at Vassar College

Thompson Library (Vassar College)” by Noteremote. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Poughkeepsie, NY

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,477

Learn more about Vassar College


 

31. Carleton College

A view of Carleton College

By Dogs1337 (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Northfield, MN

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,045

Learn more about Carleton College


 

30. Haverford College

Haverford, PA

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,187

Learn more about Haverford College


 

29. College of William and Mary

Williamsburg, VA

Undergraduate enrollment: 6,271

Learn more about the College of William and Mary


 

28. Georgetown University

A view of Georgetown University

Georgetown Riverview” by PatrickneilOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Washington, DC

Undergraduate enrollment: 7,636

Learn more about Georgetown


 

27. Claremont McKenna College

Part of the Claremont McKenna College campus

Source: Flickr user campusgrotto.

Claremont, CA

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,316

Learn more about Claremont McKenna College


 

26. Cornell University

A campus building at Cornell University

Source: Flickr user [email protected].

Ithaca, NY

Undergraduate enrollment: 14,393

Learn more about Cornell University


 

25. Washington and Lee University

Lexington, VA

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,855

Learn more about Washington and Lee


 

24. Bowdoin College

Brunswick, ME

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,795

Learn more about Bowdoin


 

23. Wellesley College

Wellesley, MA

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,474

Learn more about Wellesley College


 

22. Rice University

Lovett Hall at Rice University

Lovett Hall” by The original uploader was AniRaptor2001 at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Houston, TX

Undergraduate enrollment: 3,965

Learn more about Rice Uniersity


 

21. University of Virginia-Main Campus

A view of the University of Virginia-Main Campus campus

Source: Flickr user marc_buehler.

Charlottesville, VA

Undergraduate enrollment: 16,087

Learn more about the University of Virginia


 

20. Vanderbilt University

Benson Tower at Vanderbilt University

Bensontower” by Dansan4444Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Commons.

Nashville, TN

Undergraduate enrollment: 6,835

Learn more about Vanderbilt


 

19. Washington University in St Louis

Brookings at Washington University in St. Louis

Brookings“. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

St Louis, MO

Undergraduate enrollment: 7,336

Learn more about Washington University in St Louis


 

18. Brown University

Robinson Hall at Brown University

Brown university robinson hall 2009a” by chensiyuan – chensiyuan. Licensed under GFDL via Commons.

Providence, RI

Undergraduate enrollment: 6,455

Learn more about Brown


 

17. University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, IN

Undergraduate enrollment: 8,477

Learn more about Notre Dame


 

16. Duke University

A view of the Duke University campus

Source: Flickr user OHinOZ.

Durham, NC

Undergraduate enrollment: 6,646

Learn more about Duke


 

15. Northwestern University

An arch at Northwestern University

By Rdsmith4 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Evanston, IL

Undergraduate enrollment: 9,283

Learn more about Northwestern University


 

14. Amherst College

A view of the Amherst College campus

Source: Flickr user David Brooks.

Amherst, MA

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,785

Learn more about Amherst College


 

13. Dartmouth College

An aerial view of Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College campus 2007-10-20 09” by Kane5187Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Hanover, NH

Undergraduate enrollment: 4,276

Learn more about Dartmouth


 

12. Swarthmore College

Swarthmore, PA

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,534

Learn more about Swarthmore


 

11. Williams College

Towers at the Williams College campus

Ephtowers” by SERSeanCrane – Flickr. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons.

Williamstown, MA

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,096

Learn more about Williams College


 

10. California Institute of Technology

A building at the California Institute of Technology campus

Source: Flickr user joebehr.

Pasadena, CA

Undergraduate enrollment: 977

Learn more about Cal Tech


 

9. Pomona College

Part of the Pomona College campus

Source: Flickr user wlcarchitectsphotography.

Claremont, CA

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,610

Learn more about Pomona College


 

8. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY

Undergraduate enrollment: 7,970

Learn more about Columbia


 

7. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA

Undergraduate enrollment: 11,525

Learn more about the University of Pennsylvania


 

6. University of Chicago

Chicago, IL

Undergraduate enrollment: 5,703

Learn more about the University of Chicago


 

5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus

Source: Flickr user infanticida.

Cambridge, MA

Undergraduate enrollment: 4,528

Learn more about MIT


 

4. Stanford University

Part of the Stanford University campus

Source: Flickr user naotakem.

Stanford, CA

Undergraduate enrollment: 7,274

Learn more about Stanford


 

3. Yale University

Students walking at Yale University

Source: Flickr user [email protected].

New Haven, CT

Undergraduate enrollment: 5,430

Learn more about Yale


 

2. Harvard University

Part of the Harvard University campus

Source: Flickr user [email protected].

Cambridge, MA

Undergraduate enrollment: 10,534

Learn more about Harvard


 

1. Princeton University

A building at Princeton University

Princeton (6035183309)” by popejon2 from Paddington, Australia – PrincetonUploaded by russavia. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.

Princeton, NJ

Undergraduate enrollment: 5,323

Learn more about Princeton


 

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

View all of the 2016 Best Colleges rankings from College Raptor

Kaeli Nieves-Whitmore

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