What Are the Top Educational Institutions in the U.S.?

This article discusses some of the highest-ranked educational institutions in the U.S. Learn about what sets these schools apart and what it takes to be accepted.

Overview of Top Schools

With over 5,700 colleges and universities across the country, the U.S. is home to many educational institutions. Newspapers and magazines publish ranking information highlighting the top schools. Read on for more information about the top educational institutions in the U.S.

Important Statistics About 3 Top Institutions

Princeton Harvard Yale
School Type 4-year, Private not-for-profit 4-year, Private not-for-profit 4-year, Private not-for-profit
Student to Faculty Ratio 6 to 1 8 to 1 6 to 1
Acceptance Rate (2014) 7% 6% 6%
Graduation Rate 97% 98% 96%

Highest-Ranking Educational Institutions

The U.S. has the second-highest number of higher educational institutions in the world, behind only India, reports the United Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Students who are looking for a postsecondary education have a wide variety of schools from which to choose, and the selection process can be a difficult one. Students should account for the type of institution they want to attend (community college, public university, private institution), the school's location and its program options. Students who want to narrow down the selection further may want to look at school rankings.

Educational institutions can be ranked in a variety of ways, including by their program offerings, diversity or financial advantages. U.S. News & World Report compiles several rankings lists, including an overall Best Colleges list. As of 2016, the publication ranks the top five U.S. institutions of higher learning in the following order:

  • Princeton University
  • Harvard University
  • Yale University
  • Columbia
  • Stanford University

Princeton University

Also a member of the Ivy League, Princeton University is considered a top research university. Though more known for its emphasis on undergraduate programs, Princeton University also enrolls nearly 2,500 graduate students.

Harvard University

As the oldest higher educational institution in the U.S., Harvard University sustains a faculty of 2,400 professors and enrolls nearly 20,000 students. Harvard University is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is a member of the elite Ivy League.

Yale University

Yale University, located in New Haven, Connecticut, is the third-oldest college in the U.S. and also belongs to the Ivy League. A faculty of just over 3,600 teaches over 11,000 graduate and undergraduate students.

Columbia University

Located in New York City, Columbia University is a private school that enrolls more than 8,000 undergraduate students. Only about seven percent of students who apply to Columbia are accepted.

Stanford University

Located in California, between San Francisco and San Jose, Stanford University has top libraries, museums and research facilities. Over half of its nearly 15,000 students are enrolled in graduate programs.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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