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Top Ten Colleges in the U.S.

Read about some of the best colleges in the U.S. Get information about school rankings, programs offered and school distinctions, so that you can compare similarities.

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Many factors help determine what makes a school one of the best in the nation, such as the quality and variety of undergraduate majors, the reputation of graduate programs and the college's research contributions. Below we'll review the top-notch colleges in the country, all of which contain one or more of these factors.

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School Overviews

The top ten colleges and universities are those with unwavering reputations for excellence in educational programs, faculty and research. Based on these attributes, Harvard University and Princeton University are consistently ranked best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Continue reading to find out more about these and other schools to receive top rankings for 2017.

Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey

School Highlight: Princeton's student-faculty ratio is 5:1.

Princeton University is one of the leading research universities in the United States. This esteemed university ranked as the number one national university according to U.S. News & World Report for 2017. All departments at Princeton University offer a Ph.D. option, including interdepartmental programs. This 4-year private university is known for offering top undergraduate and graduate programs in humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering. Princeton University was one of the first colleges to eliminate student loans from its need-based financial aid package by replacing them with grants to help students matriculate and further their education.

Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts

School Highlight: Harvard operates the world's largest academic library.

In 2017, Harvard University ranked second on the U.S. News & World Report list of best national universities. This 4-year private university consists of thirteen schools - in addition to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences - all of which offer an extensive listing of academic courses. Prevalent among these are Harvard University's Law, Divinity and Medical Schools. Its acceptance rate of 6% is considered 'most selective', making Harvard University one of the most competitive colleges to attend.

The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California

School Highlight: Faculty includes Nobel Laureates as well as National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology and Innovation honorees.

This private institution, ranked 12th among national universities by U.S. News & World Report for 2017, has some of the country's top graduate programs in the engineering and science fields. Computer and information science majors are among the school's most popular, and graduates of Cal Tech have started some well-known, successful companies, such as Compaq and Intel. Additionally, NASA and the Department of Health and Human Services are just some of the organizations contributing grants to fund the school's research efforts.

Top Colleges in the U.S.

The following schools are all included on the recent U.S. News & World Report list of top national universities:

  • Columbia University, located in New York, NY, is tied for fifth in U.S. News & World Report's national university rankings for 2017.
  • Duke University in Durham, NC, is home to one of the ten best private research library systems in the country.
  • The largest research initiatives at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA, include the MIT Energy Initiative and David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.
  • Stanford University students can participate in off-campus learning and service programs, including the Semester in Washington, Bing Overseas Studies program, public service fellowships, alternative spring break and the diversity exchange program. This school is located in Stanford, CA.
  • The University of Chicago in Chicago, IL, operates over 140 research centers and institutes.
  • The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA, is the top school in the Ivy League for students studying abroad, based on data from the Institute of International Education for 2015.
  • Yale University in New Haven, CT, is home to two galleries (Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art) and two museums (Peabody Museum of Natural History and the Collection of Musical Instruments).

The top ten schools listed here feature premium research opportunities and facilities as well as highly ranked academic programs and distinguished faculty. Among some of the highest ranked are Harvard University, Princeton University and the California Institute of Technology.

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