50 Best Colleges and Universities Ranked for Undergrads in 2022 – Academic Influence

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We rank the best colleges or universities in the US based on the academic influence of the schools’ faculty and alumni. For undergraduate rankings, our unique perspective allows you to see smaller colleges that proportionally outperform larger universities when size advantages are reduced.
Every fall, more than 2 million high-school graduates will enroll in colleges and universities across the United States. With nearly 3,000 4-year schools to choose from, finding the best college for your educational, personal, and professional goals may be challenging. The purpose of this ranking is to help you manage this challenge. We offer a new perspective of the best colleges and universities for earning a bachelor’s degree.
Our ranking of the best colleges and universities is based on the academic impact of the schools’ faculty and alumni. We believe that schools with histories of hiring and developing influential faculty, and nurturing students who become influential in their fields of study, are schools that demonstrate key indicators of academic excellence.
Methodology
The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why, at the undergraduate level, we rank the best colleges and universities based on what we call “Concentrated Influence”. Concentrated Influence takes the combined influence score of a college or university’s top academic influencers – faculty and alums – and divides it by the school’s total number of undergraduates.
Using concentrated influence gives small and mid-sized schools an opportunity to shine by taking away the size advantage of larger universities. A small school with proportionately more influential faculty than a large school, will score higher in a concentrated influence ranking. Our approach highlights undergraduate schools that truly rank for excellence, regardless of size.
If you are serious about finding the best colleges and universities for a bachelor’s degree, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching and whether their graduates are themselves advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence.
Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Concentrated Influence provides a ranking that is freer from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.
To rank the influence of schools, we first determine the influence of scholars and professionals based on the number of citations and publications they have had over the past 10 years. In addition to publications and citations, we consider the web links to and from these sources, and the page views of those sources. We then match the influential people to their alma maters and institutions of employment, so that their influence is attributed to the schools. Our machine-learning Influence Ranking algorithm produces a numerical score of academic achievements, merits, and citations across Wikipedia, wikidata, Crossref, Semantic Scholar and an ever-growing body of data. If you are interested in exploring how and why we rank by influence, explore our methodology in more depth.
If you would like to see this ranking without school size considered, visit our best universities in the US ranking.
We’ve identified a total of 1,392 colleges and universities in the US that meet our criteria. Of those, 637 are public institutions and 755 are private institutions. This list focuses on schools that offer bachelor’s degrees, and includes both public and private colleges and universities. In order to be included in this list of best colleges, a school needs to a regionally accredited nonprofit college or university.
Tuition + fees
$59K
Acceptance
4%
Graduation
93%
Student body
2K
Median SAT/ACT
1555/35
California Institute of Technology’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$56K
Acceptance
4%
Graduation
97%
Student body
24K
Median SAT/ACT
1520/34
Harvard University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$56K
Acceptance
4%
Graduation
96%
Student body
13K
Median SAT/ACT
1545/35
Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$56K
Acceptance
4%
Graduation
96%
Student body
13K
Median SAT/ACT
1495/33
Stanford University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$56K
Acceptance
4%
Graduation
98%
Student body
7K
Median SAT/ACT
1510/33
Princeton University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$62K
Acceptance
6%
Graduation
96%
Student body
13K
Median SAT/ACT
1535/34
University of Chicago’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$60K
Acceptance
5%
Graduation
97%
Student body
14K
Median SAT/ACT
1520/34
Yale University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$64K
Acceptance
4%
Graduation
97%
Student body
26K
Median SAT/ACT
1515/34
Columbia University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$59K
Acceptance
14%
Graduation
93%
Student body
16K
Median SAT/ACT
1510/34
Carnegie Mellon University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$63K
Acceptance
44%
Graduation
73%
Student body
1K
Reed College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$59K
Acceptance
8%
Graduation
95%
Student body
27K
Median SAT/ACT
1515/35
Johns Hopkins University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$60K
Acceptance
12%
Graduation
95%
Student body
14K
Median SAT/ACT
1465/33
Georgetown University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$62K
Acceptance
6%
Graduation
96%
Student body
28K
Median SAT/ACT
1515/34
University of Pennsylvania’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$60K
Acceptance
6%
Graduation
96%
Student body
14K
Median SAT/ACT
1520/34
Duke University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$56K
Acceptance
8%
Graduation
94%
Student body
2K
Median SAT/ACT
1467/32
Swarthmore College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$61K
Acceptance
7%
Graduation
95%
Student body
20K
Median SAT/ACT
1490/34
Northwestern University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$61K
Acceptance
9%
Graduation
94%
Student body
25K
Median SAT/ACT
1470/33
Cornell University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$14K
Acceptance
14%
Graduation
93%
Student body
43K
Median SAT/ACT
1420/32
University of California, Berkeley’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$62K
Acceptance
6%
Graduation
96%
Student body
9K
Median SAT/ACT
1500/34
Brown University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$53K
Acceptance
9%
Graduation
92%
Student body
8K
Median SAT/ACT
1515/35
Rice University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$61K
Acceptance
9%
Graduation
92%
Student body
2K
Median SAT/ACT
1495/33
Amherst College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$61K
Acceptance
6%
Graduation
94%
Student body
6K
Median SAT/ACT
1500/33
Dartmouth College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$48K
Acceptance
63%
Graduation
80%
Student body
5K
Median SAT/ACT
1275/27
Yeshiva University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$60K
Acceptance
9%
Graduation
94%
Student body
2K
Williams College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$60K
Acceptance
39%
Graduation
88%
Student body
7K
Median SAT/ACT
1415/32
Brandeis University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$61K
Acceptance
18%
Graduation
90%
Student body
1K
Median SAT/ACT
1440/33
Haverford College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$17K
Acceptance
20%
Graduation
94%
Student body
44K
Median SAT/ACT
1430/32
University of Michigan’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$57K
Acceptance
13%
Graduation
87%
Student body
49K
Median SAT/ACT
1455/32
New York University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$63K
Acceptance
11%
Graduation
94%
Student body
11K
Median SAT/ACT
1455/33
Tufts University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$62K
Acceptance
19%
Graduation
91%
Student body
3K
Wesleyan University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$59K
Acceptance
41%
Graduation
86%
Student body
12K
Median SAT/ACT
1420/32
University of Rochester’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$61K
Acceptance
10%
Graduation
94%
Student body
<1K
Median SAT/ACT
1530/34
Harvey Mudd College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$59K
Acceptance
13%
Graduation
93%
Student body
13K
Median SAT/ACT
1520/34
Washington University in St. Louis’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$57K
Acceptance
7%
Graduation
93%
Student body
11K
Median SAT/ACT
1520/34
Vanderbilt University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$56K
Acceptance
39%
Graduation
87%
Student body
1K
Bryn Mawr College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$55K
Acceptance
30%
Graduation
84%
Student body
9K
Median SAT/ACT
1430/32
Case Western Reserve University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$61K
Acceptance
16%
Graduation
92%
Student body
3K
Median SAT/ACT
1435/32
Wellesley College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$57K
Acceptance
7%
Graduation
93%
Student body
2K
Pomona College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$60K
Acceptance
11%
Graduation
93%
Student body
3K
Median SAT/ACT
1434/32
Barnard College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$59K
Acceptance
15%
Graduation
96%
Student body
13K
Median SAT/ACT
1475/33
University of Notre Dame’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$62K
Acceptance
13%
Graduation
92%
Student body
38K
Median SAT/ACT
1435/32
University of Southern California’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$50K
Acceptance
66%
Graduation
71%
Student body
5K
Median SAT/ACT
1295/29
Illinois Institute of Technology’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$53K
Acceptance
75%
Graduation
62%
Student body
<1K
Hampshire College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$13K
Acceptance
11%
Graduation
92%
Student body
46K
University of California, Los Angeles’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$20K
Acceptance
21%
Graduation
94%
Student body
25K
Median SAT/ACT
1415/32
University of Virginia’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$58K
Acceptance
11%
Graduation
93%
Student body
1K
Median SAT/ACT
1415/32
Claremont McKenna College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$63K
Acceptance
20%
Graduation
93%
Student body
2K
Median SAT/ACT
1440/33
Vassar College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$60K
Acceptance
34%
Graduation
82%
Student body
3K
Median SAT/ACT
1315/30
Oberlin College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$55K
Acceptance
13%
Graduation
90%
Student body
13K
Median SAT/ACT
1455/32
Emory University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:
Tuition + fees
$58K
Acceptance
9%
Graduation
94%
Student body
2K
Bowdoin College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

In pursuing a bachelor’s degree, you will need to choose between three kinds of schools: research universities, liberal arts colleges, and online colleges.
Research universities are colleges and universities whose faculty are active in research and publishing. Research universities offer a wide array of doctoral programs, especially in the sciences. They tend to be big, with tens of thousands of students.
Do you prefer a larger university setting, such as largest public university in your state? Research universities are typically big, offering degrees in many different disciplines. Is a big high-powered research environment the thing for you. If not, you should think about a liberal arts college. In deciding on an undergraduate institution, ask yourself what sort of environment will best help you to be happy and excel.
Learn more about research universities by reading about the best research universities in the US.
Often referred to as “teaching colleges” liberal arts colleges put a premium on undergraduate studies and offers a broad range of subjects for students to study. A college of liberal arts typically provides smaller class sizes, more direct engagement with professors, and, most importantly, the opportunity to sample a wide range of subject areas on the way to a bachelor’s degree.
Learn more about liberal arts colleges by reading about the best liberal arts colleges in the US.
Online colleges are typically the same colleges and universities you could attend in-person, but for certain degree programs the college or unviersity has made the degree programs available to be completed online. For over 5 million students, online degree programs allow students to earn their degrees in the most flexible format available. Online degrees are as respected as the on-campus degress you could earn from the same schools. There’s usually no disctinction between the two degrees, and your degree and transcript will not say that the degree was earned online. Online degree programs are offered by a vast majority of colleges and universities, and the number of offering continues to grow. Whehter you are searching for an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate, there’s a good chance you can earn your degree online from a respectable online college.
If you’re interested in an online bachelor’s degree, check out what the best online colleges offer, or search our online degrees for the exact program that interests you. In either case, you will find well respected colleges and universities that offer online degrees.
You know by now that the best colleges and universities in the US offer a stellar education and the chance to edge out competition in the job market upon graduation.
But if attending a liberal arts school that is close to home is also important to you, check out our Complete List of Colleges and Universities by State.
Whether you’re just getting started on your college search, you’re looking for survival tips on your way to a bachelor’s degree, or you’re preparing for the transition into grad school, we’ve got guides, how to’s and tons of other valuable resources to keep you moving forward in your educational journey.
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