Private Colleges with the Best Return on Investment

by TBS Staff

Updated October 19, 2022

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When most people think private college, the dollar signs start filling their heads. However, just because a college or university is private does not mean it can't be an excellent higher education value. A private college that opens doors to a notable graduate school or to a renowned company may, in fact, provide a greater return for one's education dollar. We're here to make that research easier.

What follows is the undergraduate private colleges with the best ROI. As with the public colleges, the emphasis for return on investment is for student/family yearly incomes of $48,000 or less. Colleges listed here are private, nonprofit, and grant bachelor's degrees.

Accredited Online Colleges

Accredited Private Colleges with the Best Return on Investment

#1 Private Colleges with the Best Return on Investment

Stanford University

  • Stanford, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Stanford University offers programs designed with busy students in mind. Located in California, the private institution provides on-campus and online programs. At the school, 5% of programs offer online enrollment options.

The college also has 89 master's degrees, with 11 master's programs available online. In both modalities, enrollees take rigorous classes and benefit from a supportive learning community. Faculty mentors and academic advisors work with degree-seekers to create an individualized course of study. Learners benefit from institutional resources such as career workshops, mock interviews, and job fairs. Bachelor's degree-seekers have a 94% graduation rate.

Prospective students can reach out to the financial aid office to learn about their eligibility for funding. According to the most recent data, learners with financial aid make up 70% of the student body.

Average Tuition
In-state
$52,857
Out-of-state
$52,857
Retention Rate
99%
Admission Rate
4%
Students Enrolled
17,249
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
5% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#2 Private Colleges with the Best Return on Investment

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • Cambridge, MA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology prioritizes flexibility in its degree-granting programs. Located in Cambridge, the private institution offers both in-person and online degree programs.

Enrollees benefit from several learning formats that fit their schedule and needs. Degree-seekers can work with faculty members and their academic advisor to customize their degree path to suit their personal and professional goals. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers strong career planning resources, including career workshops, mock interviews, and job fairs. The undergraduate programs report a 95% graduation rate.

Prospective students can contact the financial aid office to learn more about funding opportunities. According to the most recent data, 74% of learners receive financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$53,450
Out-of-state
$53,450
Retention Rate
99%
Admission Rate
7%
Students Enrolled
11,520
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
0% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#3 Private Colleges with the Best Return on Investment

Princeton University

  • Princeton, NJ
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Princeton University stands out for its commitment to higher education. Learners enrolled at the private institution take classes on campus and online.

Enrollees benefit from multiple learning formats designed for diverse schedules. Degree-seekers work closely with faculty mentors to design an individualized course of study based on their transfer credits, interests, and career goals. Learners can access top-notch institutional resources during their time at Princeton University, including career workshops, mock interviews, and job fairs. Undergraduate degree-seekers have a 98% graduation rate at the school.

The financial aid office connects prospective students with internal and external funding opportunities. Today, 63% of the student body receives financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$51,870
Out-of-state
$51,870
Retention Rate
98%
Admission Rate
6%
Students Enrolled
8,419
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#4 Private Colleges with the Best Return on Investment

Harvard University

  • Cambridge, MA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Harvard University offers a flexible route to a college degree. The private institution enrolls learners online and on its Cambridge, Massachusetts, campus.

Enrollees can choose the format that matches their learning style and schedule. Degree-seekers individualize their course of study by selecting electives and minors based on their interests and career goals. Learners hone their skills for the job market with resources like career workshops, mock interviews, and job fairs. The undergraduate programs report a 97% graduation rate.

Prospective students work with the financial aid office to create a package of aid to cover degree costs. Of the total student body, 73% of learners receive a financial aid award.

Average Tuition
In-state
$47,730
Out-of-state
$47,730
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
5%
Students Enrolled
31,655
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
18% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#5 Private Colleges with the Best Return on Investment

Brigham Young University

  • Provo, UT
  • 4 years
  • Campus

The flexible programs at Brigham Young University offer a variety of options for degree-seekers. Learners enrolled at the private institution participate in online and on-campus classes offered at the main campus in Provo.

Enrollees can choose the format that matches their learning style and schedule. The programs provide customization options such as electives and concentrations so degree-seekers can meet their personal and professional goals. Brigham Young University offers strong career planning resources, including career workshops, mock interviews, and job fairs. Undergraduate degree-seekers can expect a 78% graduation rate.

Prospective students can contact the financial aid office to learn more about funding opportunities. Of the student body, 71% of learners receive financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$5,790
Out-of-state
$5,790
Retention Rate
90%
Admission Rate
67%
Students Enrolled
34,318
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
12% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#6 Private Colleges with the Best Return on Investment

University of Pennsylvania

  • Philadelphia, PA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The University of Pennsylvania ranks among the top online colleges. The private institution enrolls learners on its Philadelphia campus and in online programs. The school offers 2% of its programs to distance learners.

Undergraduates select from 93 majors, with one major offering online enrollment. At the graduate level, the college has 141 master's programs, which include three online options. Enrollees can choose the learning format that best fits their needs and schedule. Degree-seekers work closely with academic advisors to select classes that meet graduation requirements and match the student's professional goals. The University of Pennsylvania offers career services like job fairs and workshops to help learners reach their professional goals. The school reports a 96% graduation rate for its undergraduate programs.

The financial aid office connects prospective students with internal and external funding opportunities. Of the student body, 59% of enrollees receive financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$51,156
Out-of-state
$51,156
Retention Rate
98%
Admission Rate
8%
Students Enrolled
26,675
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
6% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#7 Private Colleges with the Best Return on Investment

Rice University

  • Houston, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Rice University offers a flexible route to a college degree. The private institution provides both on-campus and online programs from its Houston campus. Currently, 1% of programs offer online learning formats.

At the graduate level, the college delivers 53 master's programs, including an online master's program. Both modalities offer rigorous academics and supportive learning environments. Degree-seekers can work with faculty members and their academic advisor to customize their degree path to suit their personal and professional goals. Learners make progress toward their professional future thanks to career workshops, mock interviews, and job fairs. As a leader in education, the college reports a 93% graduation rate.

The financial aid office helps prospective students identify funding opportunities to cover degree costs. The school reports that 69% of the student body receives financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$48,330
Out-of-state
$48,330
Retention Rate
98%
Admission Rate
9%
Students Enrolled
7,282
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
5% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#8 Private Colleges with the Best Return on Investment

Brigham Young University-Idaho

  • Rexburg, ID
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Brigham Young University-Idaho stands out for its commitment to higher education. Learners attending the private institution enroll in fully online programs and in-person programs offered in Rexburg. Currently, 18% of programs provide online learning formats.

Undergraduates choose from 80 bachelor's programs, with the option to earn an online degree in 12 fields. Both modalities offer rigorous but supportive learning environments. The programs provide customization options such as electives and concentrations so degree-seekers can meet their personal and professional goals. Career resources include workshops, resume feedback, mock have, and job fairs. Bachelor's degree-seekers hold a 60% graduation rate.

Prospective students may be eligible for internal and external funding opportunities to pay for their degree. Today, 61% of learners at the institution receive financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,208
Out-of-state
$4,208
Retention Rate
70%
Admission Rate
96%
Students Enrolled
39,145
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
70% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#9 Private Colleges with the Best Return on Investment

Yale University

  • New Haven, CT
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Yale University appeals to students with a variety of needs. From its main campus in New Haven, Connecticut, the private institution provides in-person and online programs.

Both modalities offer rigorous but supportive learning environments. Degree-seekers can work with faculty members and their academic advisor to customize their degree path to suit their personal and professional goals. Learners can access top-notch institutional resources during their time at Yale University, including career workshops, mock interviews, and job fairs. At the school, the graduation rate is 97%.

Prospective students work with financial aid advisors to identify scholarship and grant opportunities. Currently, 64% of enrollees use financial aid to pay for school.

Average Tuition
In-state
$55,500
Out-of-state
$55,500
Retention Rate
99%
Admission Rate
6%
Students Enrolled
13,609
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
0% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#10 Private Colleges with the Best Return on Investment

Brown University

  • Providence, RI
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Brown University stands out for its exceptional programs. From its Providence, Rhode Island, campus, the private institution provides on-campus and online enrollment options.

Enrollees in both modalities benefit from rigorous study and supportive learning communities. Faculty mentors and academic advisors help degree-seekers customize the course of study based on their interests and goals. Brown University helps learners reach their career goals with institutional resources such as career workshops and job fairs. The school reports a graduation rate of 96% for its undergraduate programs.

Prospective students can contact the financial aid office to learn more about funding opportunities. According to the most recent data, 56% receive financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$57,112
Out-of-state
$57,112
Retention Rate
98%
Admission Rate
7%
Students Enrolled
10,333
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#11 Private Colleges with the Best Return on Investment

Dartmouth College

  • Hanover, NH
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Dartmouth College offers flexible options for a variety of degree-seekers. From its main campus in Hanover, New Hampshire, the private institution provides in-person and online programs.

Both modalities provide rigorous academics and supportive learning communities. Degree-seekers work closely with faculty mentors to customize their program based on unique interests and career goals. Dartmouth College offers career services like job fairs and workshops to help learners reach their professional goals. Undergraduate degree-seekers have a 95% graduation rate at the school.

Prospective students benefit from the financial aid office, which provides guidance on funding opportunities. Currently, 62% of enrollees use financial aid to pay for school.

Average Tuition
In-state
$55,605
Out-of-state
$55,605
Retention Rate
98%
Admission Rate
8%
Students Enrolled
6,606
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
2% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#12 Private Colleges with the Best Return on Investment

Vanderbilt University

  • Nashville, TN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Vanderbilt University ranks among the top online colleges. The private institution provides both on-campus and online programs from its Nashville campus. Of the school's total programs, 1% provide an online learning option.

At the graduate level, the school offers 104 master's programs. Enrollees can choose the learning format that best fits their needs and schedule. Degree-seekers work closely with academic advisors to choose classes that meet graduation requirements and match the student's professional goals. Vanderbilt University helps learners reach their career goals with institutional resources such as career workshops and job fairs. The school reports a 93% graduation rate for its undergraduate programs.

Prospective students work with the financial aid office to identify funding opportunities to cover degree costs. Currently, 68% of enrollees receive some form of financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$50,800
Out-of-state
$50,800
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
9%
Students Enrolled
13,131
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
8% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#13 Private Colleges with the Best Return on Investment

Washington and Lee University

  • Lexington, VA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

Washington and Lee University offers programs designed with busy students in mind. The private institution enrolls learners online and on its Lexington, Virginia, campus.

In both modalities, enrollees participate in rigorous but supportive learning environments. Degree-seekers work closely with faculty mentors to design an individualized course of study based on their transfer credits, interests, and career goals. Washington and Lee University helps learners reach their career goals with institutional resources such as career workshops and job fairs. Undergraduate degree-seekers hold a 94% graduation rate at the school.

Prospective students may be eligible for scholarships, grants, and other forms of financial aid. According to the most recent data, 66% of learners receive financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$53,730
Out-of-state
$53,730
Retention Rate
98%
Admission Rate
19%
Students Enrolled
2,264
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#14 Private Colleges with the Best Return on Investment

Cornell University

  • Ithaca, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The flexible programs at Cornell University offer a variety of options for degree-seekers. The private institution enrolls learners on its Ithaca campus and online.

At the graduate level, the college has 119 master's programs, which include one online option. Enrollees can choose the format that matches their learning style and schedule. Degree-seekers work closely with faculty mentors to design an individualized course of study based on their transfer credits, interests, and career goals. Cornell University offers strong career planning resources, including career workshops, mock interviews, and job fairs. The undergraduate graduation rate is currently 95%.

Prospective students connect with the financial aid office to learn more about internal and external funding opportunities. Out of the total student body, 62% of learners receive a financial aid award.

Average Tuition
In-state
$56,550
Out-of-state
$56,550
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
11%
Students Enrolled
24,027
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
4% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#15 Private Colleges with the Best Return on Investment

Duke University

  • Durham, NC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Duke University prioritizes flexibility in its degree-granting programs. From its main campus in Durham, North Carolina, the private institution provides in-person and online programs. At the school, 1% of programs offer an online enrollment option.

At the graduate level, the college has 92 master's degrees, including two online programs. Both modalities prioritize academic rigor while providing a supportive learning community. Degree-seekers customize their program based on their personal or professional goals by coordinating with faculty mentors and academic advisors. Learners hone their skills for the job market through resources like career workshops, mock interviews, and job fairs. As a leader in education, the college reports a 95% graduation rate.

Prospective students work with the financial aid office to identify funding opportunities to cover degree costs. Today, 63% of learners at the institution receive financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$55,880
Out-of-state
$55,880
Retention Rate
98%
Admission Rate
8%
Students Enrolled
16,686
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
6% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#16 Private Colleges with the Best Return on Investment

Columbia University in the City of New York

  • New York, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Columbia University in the City of New York offers a flexible route to a college degree. From its main campus, the private institution provides in-person and online programs. Currently, 3% of programs enroll online learners.

The college also has 140 master's degrees, including 12 online options. Both modalities prioritize academic rigor while providing a supportive learning community. The programs offer a great deal of flexibility for degree-seekers to customize their course of study based on career goals. Career workshops, mock interviews, and job fairs help learners reach their professional goals. The school's undergraduate programs report a graduation rate of 95%.

Prospective students may be eligible for internal and external funding opportunities to pay for their degree. According to the most recent data, learners with financial aid make up 59% of the student body.

Average Tuition
In-state
$57,763
Out-of-state
$57,763
Retention Rate
99%
Admission Rate
5%
Students Enrolled
31,456
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
6% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#17 Private Colleges with the Best Return on Investment

University of Chicago

  • Chicago, IL
  • 4 years
  • Campus

The University of Chicago provides diverse enrollment options for degree-seekers. The private institution enrolls learners on campus and in online programs.

Enrollees can choose the format that matches their learning style and schedule. Customization options such as electives, minors, and concentrations let degree-seekers create an individualized course of study. Learners benefit from institutional resources such as career workshops, mock interviews, and job fairs. The undergraduate programs report a 95% graduation rate.

Prospective students connect with the financial aid office to learn more about internal and external funding opportunities. According to the most recent data, 57% of learners use financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$57,642
Out-of-state
$57,642
Retention Rate
99%
Admission Rate
6%
Students Enrolled
17,452
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#18 Private Colleges with the Best Return on Investment

University of Notre Dame

  • Notre Dame, IN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The University of Notre Dame prioritizes flexibility in its degree-granting programs. The private institution welcomes degree-seekers to its campus while also offering online programs. Of the school's total programs, 1% offer online enrollment.

The college also has 61 master's degrees, including an online option. The school's learning options benefit enrollees seeking a supportive learning community. Degree-seekers work with faculty members and academic advisors to customize the degree based on their personal and professional goals. Learners hone their skills for the job market thanks to resources like career workshops, mock interviews, and job fairs. As a leader in education, the college reports a 96% graduation rate.

The financial aid office helps prospective students identify funding opportunities to cover degree costs. Currently, 68% of enrollees use financial aid to pay for school.

Average Tuition
In-state
$55,046
Out-of-state
$55,046
Retention Rate
98%
Admission Rate
16%
Students Enrolled
12,683
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
3% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#19 Private Colleges with the Best Return on Investment

Johns Hopkins University

  • Baltimore, MD
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Johns Hopkins University provides flexible study to learners from all walks of life. Located in Baltimore, Maryland, the private institution grants degrees in person and online. Of the school's total programs, 21% offer online enrollment.

At the graduate level, the college delivers 124 master's programs, including 30 online master's programs. Enrollees in both modalities benefit from rigorous study and supportive learning communities. Degree-seekers work with faculty members and academic advisors to customize the degree based on their personal and professional goals. Learners hone their skills for the job market with institutional resources, including resume reviews, career counseling, and job fairs. A leader in student success, the school reports a graduation rate of 93%.

Prospective students benefit from the financial aid office, which provides guidance on funding opportunities. Out of the student body, 67% of learners receive financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$55,350
Out-of-state
$55,350
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
11%
Students Enrolled
27,079
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#20 Private Colleges with the Best Return on Investment

Washington University in St. Louis

  • Saint Louis, MO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The flexible programs at Washington University in St. Louis offer a variety of options for degree-seekers. Learners enrolled at the private institution take classes on campus and online.

The college also has 86 master's degrees, of which three are offered online. Both modalities provide rigorous academics and supportive learning environments. Faculty mentors and academic advisors help degree-seekers customize the course of study based on their interests and goals. Washington University in St. Louis helps learners reach their career goals with institutional resources such as career workshops and job fairs. Undergraduate degree-seekers have a 95% graduation rate at the school.

The financial aid office connects students with funding opportunities to help offset degree costs. Currently, 51% of enrollees receive financial aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$54,250
Out-of-state
$54,250
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
14%
Students Enrolled
16,191
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
6% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

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