Obtaining a college education is a beneficial investment that can lead to long-term, professional success. If you plan to attend postsecondary school, you should consider one of the best universities in the USA. Find out all the aspects of your dream school, including campus location, acceptance and graduation rates, and other aspects of student life at these prestigious institutions.

In the United States alone, there are approximately 4,500 accredited higher education institutions. This can make decision-making hard, but don’t fret. In this article, you will find a list of the best schools in the USA and see how USA schools ranked by authoritative sources. Join your fellow students in getting cutting-edge educational experiences at one of the best universities in the USA.


What Attracts Students to Universities in the USA?

Students are attracted to the best universities in the USA because of their high academic standards, quality undergraduate and graduate degree programs, and exceptional student services. As well, students enjoy cultural diversity in campus communities, which creates excellent experiences for learning whilst receiving incredible education.

As the USA is home to some of the world’s best universities, national and international students are drawn to these institutions. Even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, US colleges remain the top choices for international students. In fact, in the 2020 to 2021 academic year, there were 914,095 international students in the US.

USA Schools Ranked: An Overview

USA Rank World Rank on Times Higher Education World Rank on US News Institution
1 2 9 California Institute of Technology
2 2 1 Harvard University
3 4 3 Stanford University
4 5 2 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
5 7 16 Princeton University
6 8 4 University of California, Berkeley
7 9 12 Yale University
8 10 15 The University of Chicago
9 11 6 Columbia University
10 13 9 Johns Hopkins University

The Best Universities in the USA, Explained

The best universities in the USA provide services to aid in the education process, including full access to library resources.
The best universities in the USA provide services to aid in the education process, including full access to library resources.

The best USA schools ranked are based on their status in the Times Higher Education rankings. Below, you will find a detailed explanation of what makes these schools worth your time and consideration, as well as the college requirements for these schools. Additionally, all of the information presented in this section has been sourced from the universities’ websites.

1. California Institute of Technology

California Institute Of Technology
California Institute Of Technology
  • Campus Location: Pasadena, CA
  • Acceptance Rate: 6.4%
  • Graduation Rate: 89%
  • US News Country Rank: #9

California Institute of Technology, also known as Caltech University, is a science and engineering university based in Pasadena, California. Caltech boasts its affiliation with NASA, as well as its ownership of the Seismological Laboratory. The independently-owned private school currently has almost 1,000 undergraduate students, and 1,300 graduate students. At Caltech, you can study biology, chemistry, or geological and planetary sciences, among other fields.

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2. Harvard University

Harvard University
Harvard University
  • Campus Location: Cambridge, MA
  • Acceptance Rate: 5%
  • Graduation Rate: 98%
  • US News Country Rank: #1

Harvard University is one of the best and most prestigious universities in Massachusetts. Its enormous campus is 5,000 acres in Cambridge, MA, has 12 degree-granting schools, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, two theaters, five museums, and the world’s most extensive academic library. Also, Harvard medical school is connected to ten hospitals.

Harvard has over 400 student organizations, athletic teams, and student services like nonremedial tutoring, the women’s center, and placement service on campus. As well, it has human health and security services, 24-hour emergency phones, and controlled dorm access to ensure student safety.

3. Stanford University

Stanford University
Stanford University
  • Campus Location: Stanford, CA
  • Acceptance Rate: 4%
  • Graduation Rate: 90%
  • US News Country Rank: #6

Stanford University is a research university located in California offering paid and free online classes, in-person undergraduate and graduate studies, and certificate programs. Stanford’s most popular majors include computer and information sciences, support services, interdisciplinary studies, and engineering. Student services include nonremedial tutoring, financial aid, placement service, daycare, and career counseling.

The 600 official student organizations at Stanford include the Stanford Daily student newspaper and The Associated Students of Stanford University student body government. They also have 30 religious organizations and seven community centers for people of color and marginalized groups.

4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Campus Location: Cambridge, MA
  • Acceptance Rate: 4.1%
  • Graduation Rate: 98%
  • US News Country Rank: #2

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or commonly referred to as MIT, is a research university based in Cambridge, MA, specializing in applied sciences and engineering. MIT tuition and fees are $53,450 for undergraduate programs, but 64 percent of its enrolled undergraduate students receive grants, scholarships, or financial aid amounting to $50,864.

5. Princeton University

Princeton University
Princeton University
  • Campus Location: Princeton, NJ
  • Acceptance Rate: 6%
  • Graduation Rate: 90%
  • US News Country Rank: #16

Princeton University is an excellent school for students interested in bachelor’s degrees in research-related fields, as that is what they are primarily known for. There are nearly 1,300 education experts in this prestigious learning environment and over 5,000 current students in undergraduate degree programs. Its award-winning faculty boasts 27 Nobel Prize winners spread over its 36 academic departments.

6. University of California Berkeley

University of California Berkeley
University of California Berkeley
  • Campus Location: Berkeley, CA
  • Acceptance Rate: 18%
  • Graduation Rate: 91%
  • US News Country Rank: #4
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The University of California—Berkeley is California’s first land-grant research university. It hosts numerous leading research institutes, such as the Space Sciences Laboratory and Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, and has played critical roles in many scientific advancements like the Manhattan Project. Its 14 colleges, including the Haas School of Business, College of Engineering, and College of Chemistry, house the 350 programs it offers.

7. Yale University

  • Campus Location: New Haven, CT
  • Acceptance Rate: 7%
  • Graduation Rate: 97%
  • US News Country Rank: #12

Yale University is a 373-acre private institution with 14 professional schools, such as the top-ranked Law School and highly ranked School of Management, School of Medicine, and School of Nursing. It is known for its excellent drama and music programs, with notable alumni, including award-winning actress Meryl Streep, Washington Post investigative journalist and editor Bob Woodward, and actor Edward Norton.

8. The University of Chicago

  • Campus Location: Chicago, IL
  • Acceptance Rate: 7%
  • Graduation Rate: 95%
  • US News Country Rank: #15

The University of Chicago is a private institution known for its rigorous academic and enrichment programs, such as basketball and wrestling programs. Its 217-acre campus with ivy-covered Gothic buildings in Hyde Park houses its undergraduate college, various graduate divisions, and professional schools The university boasts 91 Nobel Prize winners in its ranks. Former President Barack Obama was a professor at its Law School for 12 years.

9. Columbia University

  • Campus Location: New York, NY
  • Acceptance Rate: 6%
  • Graduation Rate: 96%
  • US News Country Rank: #6

Originally named King’s College, Columbia University is known for administering the Pulitzer Prizes. It has a 36-acre campus in New York City, Columbia, that houses its three undergraduate schools: Columbia College, The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the School of General Studies.

Among its highly ranked and well-regarded graduate and professional schools are Business School, Teachers College, Law School, College of Physicians and Surgeons, College of Dental Medicine, and graduate Journalism School. Some of its notable alumni are John Jay, the founding father and first Supreme Court chief justice, and former President Barack Obama.

10. Johns Hopkins University

  • Campus Locations: Baltimore, MD
  • Acceptance Rate: 9%
  • Graduation Rate: 93%
  • US News Country Rank: #9

Johns Hopkins University, known as America’s first research university, has four campuses in and around Baltimore and Washington DC. One of the university’s famous facilities is the Johns Hopkins Hospital, a teaching hospital highly ranked in many specialties. Around 60 percent of its undergraduate students are pursuing double-majors or minors.

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The university has nine academic divisions encompassing its undergraduate and graduate programs, including the top-ranked Bloomberg School of Public Health, School of Education, Whiting School of Engineering, School of Medicine, and the well-known music and dance Peabody Institute.

How We Created Our List of the Best Schools in the USA

In order to create our list, we followed the Times Higher Education 2022 World University Rankings. This ranking was created by evaluating teaching, research, citations, international outlook, and industry outcomes of over 1,600 institutions from around the world. Complementary information was retrieved from the US News Best National University Rankings.

Is a Top University in the USA Right for You?

A top university in the USA is right for you if it aligns with your educational and professional goals. The top universities in the US are also the top universities in the world. If you’re able to earn your undergraduate or graduate degree at one of these prestigious universities, there’s a whole world of opportunity available to you.

Aside from reputation and prestige, these elite universities and colleges offer the highest quality of education, amazing course material, exemplary outdoor activities, and a fantastic learning experience. If these things appeal to you, applying to one of these top universities is an excellent choice.

Best Universities in USA FAQ

Why is it hard to get into the best universities in the USA?

It’s hard to get into the best universities in the USA because of the rigorous admission requirements and low acceptance rate. Graduating from one of the best universities in the US opens up exclusive career opportunities, making these institutions highly competitive.

How are universities and colleges ranked?

Universities and colleges are ranked by different organizations. For example, US News and other organizations calculate college rankings based on data such as the school’s academics, student financial aid, admission rates, and graduation rates. However, different organizations use different formulas to calculate their college rankings.

What are the factors used to rank universities and colleges?

The US News compiles its list based on 17 key indicators. These ranking factors include graduation rate performance, undergraduate academic reputation, and faculty resources.

Are international students eligible to apply?

Yes, international students are eligible and encouraged to apply to these universities. The best universities in the USA accept international students as long as they pass the admission test and screening process.Venus profile photo