Private Colleges with the Best Return on Investment

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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 makes a private college a top return on investment?

What follows is the private colleges portion of our ranking of “best return” bachelor's colleges. 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.

ROI RANKING METHODOLOGY

The data and ranking system details in the link above are shared with our 50 Public Colleges with the Best Return on Investment and 25 Online Colleges with the Best Return on Investment ranking articles.

Note: the Department of Education's IPEDS Datacenter reports the net price and tuition costs listed below, which are subject to change (when colleges report new data). While these data represent average costs across various topics, some colleges may vary their charges for classes taken online. Check each college's Web site for specific online degree tuition rates, or contact their admissions department.

Accredited Private Colleges with the Best Return on Investment

1
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4

Harvard University 

Cambridge, MA

About this school

Harvard University provides its undergrads with a choice of about 50 bachelor's degree programs. Some of the more-interesting majors (which Harvard calls concentrations) include biomedical engineering; environmental science and public policy; folklore and mythology; human developmental and regenerative biology; theater, dance, and media; and women, gender, and sexuality studies. The most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) are computer science, experimental psychology, general economics, general political science and government, and general social sciences.

By many accounts, Harvard is still the most-famous and most-respected university in the U.S. and quite possibly the world. This is borne out by Times Higher Education's 2016 "World Reputation Rankings," where Harvard is Number 1 by a wide margin. However, this granddaddy of American schools is about far more than just its stellar reputation. It provides academic quality, ROI, social impact, student outcomes, and value that are among the best in the country. This includes U.S. News & World Report ranking Harvard at Number 2 overall among all national universities, and No.1 for best value.

  • Max net price: $3,866
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $45,278
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $45,278
  • Graduation rate: 98%
  • Early-career pay: $65,200
  • Mid-career pay: $123,000
  • # applications: 37,307
  • % admitted: 6%
  • # students: 29,652
  • # undergrads: 10,255
  • % retention (full-time): 98%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
5

Brigham Young University–Provo 

Provo, UT

About this school

Including areas of emphasis, Brigham Young University (BYU) provides its undergrads with almost 180 bachelor's degree programs. Within this extensive offering are such diverse options as genetics, genomics, and biotechnology; geography--geospatial intelligence; illustration; music composition; physiology and developmental biology; and wildlife and wildlands conservation. BYU's most-popular programs (by enrollment) are elementary education, English, exercise science, management, psychology, and public health.

While BYU is strong academically, where this school really shines is in the areas of ROI, social impact, student engagement, and value. For example, Forbes ranks this research university as the second-best value in the country. BYU is also second in the engagement category of the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education's college rankings. This category includes such aspects as student-faculty interaction and whether the knowledge a student gains has real-world applications. Meanwhile, Washington Monthly ranks BYU 19th for contribution to the public good, including sixth in the social mobility category.

  • Max net price: $10,391
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $5,150
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $5,150
  • Graduation rate: 80%
  • Early-career pay: $52,300
  • Mid-career pay: $93,500
  • # applications: 13,376
  • % admitted: 48%
  • # students: 33,469
  • # undergrads: 30,221
  • % retention (full-time): 86%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
6

University of Pennsylvania 

Philadelphia, PA

About this school

Undergrads at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn or UPenn) can choose from more than 90 bachelor's degree programs. Some of the unique majors available (known at Penn as concentrations) include actuarial science; biological basis of behavior; digital media design; logic, information, and computation; networked and social systems engineering; and social impact and responsibility. The program classifications that award the most degrees are general biology/biological sciences, general economics, general finance, other communication and media studies, and registered nursing/registered nurse.

Although Penn's vaunted business programs normally take most of the limelight, there is much more to this Ivy League university---which Benjamin Franklin helped found---than the Wharton School. In fact, Penn scores very high on a number of rankings that examine academic quality, ROI, social impact, student outcomes, and value. U.S. News & World Report, for one, ranks it at Number 8 overall among national universities, No.3 for veterans, and No.11 for value. The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education (WSJ/ THE) rankings put Penn at No.4 overall, including No.8 for resources, No.9 for outcomes, and No.13 for engagement.

  • Max net price: $7,636
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $49,536
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $49,536
  • Graduation rate: 95%
  • Early-career pay: $62,200
  • Mid-career pay: $124,000
  • # applications: 37,268
  • % admitted: 10%
  • # students: 24,876
  • # undergrads: 11,588
  • % retention (full-time): 98%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
7

Rice University 

Houston, TX

About this school

Rice University offers over 50 bachelor's degree programs. Among the wide range of subjects available are ancient Mediterranean civilizations, astronomy, computational and applied mathematics, music theory, sport management, and visual and dramatic arts. The most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) are biochemistry, chemical engineering, general computer and information sciences, general psychology, and kinesiology and exercise science.

The biggest strengths Rice provides its students are in the areas of academic quality, return on investment (ROI), student outcomes, and value. U.S. News & World Report ranks it Number 15 overall among national universities, No.5 for undergraduate teaching, No.6 for veterans, and No.14 for value. The Princeton Review's "Top 50--Colleges That Pay You Back" ranking lists Rice as the ninth-best school by that measure in the country. The Brookings Institution's 2015 "Beyond College Rankings" report, meanwhile, has Rice in the Top 15 for the total effect it has on/value it adds to a student's future.

  • Max net price: $6,468
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $42,253
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $42,253
  • Graduation rate: 91%
  • Early-career pay: $62,300
  • Mid-career pay: $113,000
  • # applications: 17,951
  • % admitted: 16%
  • # students: 6,719
  • # undergrads: 3,910
  • % retention (full-time): 97%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
8

Brigham Young University–Idaho 

Rexburg, ID

About this school

Brigham Young University-Idaho (BYU--Idaho or BYUI) provides over 80 bachelor's degree programs. A few of the more intriguing choices available include automotive engineering technology, apparel entrepreneurship, biostatistics, occupational safety and health, recreation management, and web design and development. Some of the most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) are exercise physiology, general business administration and management, public health education and promotion, registered nursing/registered nurse, and speech communication and rhetoric.

Although affordability is its main calling card, BYU--Idaho does also provide students with academic quality, return on investment, social impact, and value that are among the best in its class. A good example of this is Washington Monthly placing the school 10th in its "Best Bang for the Buck--West" ranking. The magazine also ranked BYU--Idaho 20th among national bachelor's universities on its public good ranking (including fifth in the social mobility category). As to academic quality, U.S. News & World Report puts BYUI at 10th among regional colleges in the West.

  • Max net price: $6,153
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $3,830
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $3,830
  • Graduation rate: 61%
  • Early-career pay: $49,200
  • Mid-career pay: $70,900
  • # applications: 6,805
  • % admitted: 100%
  • # students: 43,803
  • # undergrads: 43,803
  • % retention (full-time): 68%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
9

Yale University 

New Haven, CT

About this school

Including the majors that have two degree types available, Yale University provides over 90 bachelor's degree programs. Some of the interesting and/or unique areas of study available include American studies; astrophysics; ethnicity, race, and migration; film and media studies; geology and natural resources; and history of science, medicine, and public health. The program classifications in which students most often get their bachelor's degrees are cell/cellular and molecular biology, general economics, general history, general political science and government, and general psychology.

While Yale continues to have a stellar reputation both in the U.S. and around the world, this Ivy League icon offers its students much more than just its famous name. Academically, U.S. News & World Report ranks it Number 3 overall among national universities, as well as No.3 for undergraduate teaching and No.3 for value. The WSJ/THE college rankings put Yale at No.5 overall, including No.1 for student outcomes. Additionally, The Princeton Review's "Top 50--Colleges That Pay You Back" ranking lists this research university as seventh best in the country for ROI.

  • Max net price: $6,287
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $47,600
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $47,600
  • Graduation rate: 97%
  • Early-career pay: $60,800
  • Mid-career pay: $102,000
  • # applications: 30,236
  • % admitted: 7%
  • # students: 12,385
  • # undergrads: 5,532
  • % retention (full-time): 99%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
10

Brown University 

Providence, RI

About this school

Undergrads at Brown University can chose from almost 80 bachelor's degree programs. Among the wide range of choices available are such majors (known as concentrations) as business, entrepreneurship, and organizations; cognitive neuroscience; contemplative studies; ethnic studies; modern culture and media; and social analysis and research. The most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) are computer science, general applied mathematics, general biology/biological sciences, general economics, and neuroscience.

In some ways, Brown may be the hidden gem among Ivy League schools. This research university is not only strong academically and diversity-wise, it also provides students with excellent outcomes, ROI, teaching, and value. For instance, in Forbes's ranking of top U.S. colleges (based largely on student debt, satisfaction, and post-graduate success), Brown is eighth overall. In U.S. News & World Report's ranking of national universities, Brown is 14th overall, as well as fourth in undergraduate teaching and 10th in value. Its suitability for low-income students is seen in The New York Times' 2015 college access rankings, where Brown is 22nd overall.

  • Max net price: $7,129
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $49,346
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $49,346
  • Graduation rate: 96%
  • Early-career pay: $58,600
  • Mid-career pay: $116,000
  • # applications: 30,396
  • % admitted: 9%
  • # students: 9,458
  • # undergrads: 6,652
  • % retention (full-time): 98%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
11

Dartmouth College 

Hanover, NH

About this school

Dartmouth College offers more than 50 bachelor's degree programs. Students can choose from such foundational and interesting areas of study as biophysical chemistry, comparative literature, engineering physics, environmental sciences, linguistics, and studio art. The most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) are general biology/biological sciences, general economics, general history, general political science and government, and general psychology.

Dartmouth prides itself on its academic quality, learning experiences, teaching, and value. It ranks very well in all of these areas (and more). For instance, U.S. News & World Report (USNWR) ranks it 11th best overall among all national universities, as well as fifth best for veterans, seventh best for undergraduate teaching, and seventh best for value. In the past, this research university has received Top 10 rankings from USNWR and the Institute of International Education, respectively, for number of internships and study-abroad participation. Currently, Dartmouth is Number 2 in the nation in Forbes' grateful grads ranking (an ROI measure).

  • Max net price: $7,529
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $49,506
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $49,506
  • Graduation rate: 94%
  • Early-career pay: $60,800
  • Mid-career pay: $119,000
  • # applications: 20,507
  • % admitted: 11%
  • # students: 6,350
  • # undergrads: 4,307
  • % retention (full-time): 96%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
12

Vanderbilt University 

Nashville, TN

About this school

Undergrads at Vanderbilt University can choose from almost 70 bachelor's degree programs. Among the diverse areas of study available are such majors as child development; communication of science and technology; computer engineering; environmental sociology; human and organizational development; and medicine, health, and society. The program classifications that award the most degrees are general economics, general political science and government, general social sciences, mechanical engineering, and other multi-/interdisciplinary studies.

Vanderbilt is one of the elite universities in the American South, and is on par with almost any school in the country, by a number of different measures. Consider that, among national universities, U.S. News & World Report ranks Vanderbilt 15th best overall, sixth best for veterans, and 10th best for undergraduate teaching. Meanwhile, when it comes to value, Kiplinger's Personal Finance ranks Vanderbilt as not only the fourth-best value among private universities, but the eighth-best among all colleges in the U.S.

  • Max net price: $6,905
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $44,712
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $44,712
  • Graduation rate: 92%
  • Early-career pay: $57,900
  • Mid-career pay: $98,700
  • # applications: 31,464
  • % admitted: 12%
  • # students: 12,567
  • # undergrads: 6,883
  • % retention (full-time): 97%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
13

Washington and Lee University 

Lexington, VA

About this school

Washington and Lee University (W&L) offers its undergraduates the choice of around three-dozen bachelor's degree programs. Some of the foundational and traditional majors available include art history, chemistry--engineering, journalism, medieval and renaissance studies, strategic communication, and studio art. The most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) are accounting and business/management, general business administration and management, general economics, general English language and literature, and general political science and government.

Prospective students considering attending Washington and Lee will appreciate its academic quality, return on investment, social impact, and value, particularly when comparing it to other schools in its category. Among liberal arts colleges, U.S. News & World Report ranks W&L 11th overall and ninth for value. On Forbes's student-outcomes-based ranking, the school is third best among all colleges in the South, 12th best among liberal arts universities in the country, and 28th best among all colleges in the country. Washington Monthly, meanwhile, ranks W&L seventh among national liberal arts universities for its contribution to the public good.

  • Max net price: $2,132
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $46,417
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $46,417
  • Graduation rate: 91%
  • Early-career pay: $54,500
  • Mid-career pay: $111,000
  • # applications: 5,377
  • % admitted: 24%
  • # students: 2,172
  • # undergrads: 1,854
  • % retention (full-time): 96%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
14

Cornell University 

Ithaca, NY

About this school

Undergrads deciding on a major at Cornell University can select from around 80 bachelor's degree programs. Among the unique choices available are these areas of study: biometry and statistics, design and environmental analysis, development sociology, fiber science and apparel design, international agriculture and rural development, and viticulture and enology. The program classifications in which students most often get their bachelor's degrees are agricultural economics, general biology/biological sciences, hotel/motel administration/management, labor and industrial relations, and other biological and biomedical sciences.

Known both in the U.S. and around the world, Cornell's excellent reputation is one of its biggest assets. That esteem led Times Higher Education to place this Ivy League school at 17th on its "World Reputation Rankings." Of course, that doesn't mean academic quality, research, student outcomes, and value are not also key strengths. In fact, the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education's college rankings (which largely focus on academic quality and success after graduation) put the school at ninth overall in the U.S. Meanwhile, Cornell's research and development spending puts it 12th on the National Science Foundation's rankings.

  • Max net price: $11,665
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $49,116
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $49,116
  • Graduation rate: 93%
  • Early-career pay: $63,200
  • Mid-career pay: $109,000
  • # applications: 41,900
  • % admitted: 15%
  • # students: 21,904
  • # undergrads: 14,315
  • % retention (full-time): 97%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
15

Duke University 

Durham, NC

About this school

Including the majors that provide a choice of BA or BS degree types, Duke University offers its students around 70 bachelor's degree programs. This includes such diverse areas of study as Asian and Middle Eastern studies; Earth and ocean sciences; electrical and computer engineering; evolutionary anthropology; gender, sexuality, and feminist studies; and global cultural studies. The most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) are bioengineering and biomedical engineering, general biology/biological sciences, general economics, general public policy analysis, and registered nursing/registered nurse.

Duke is another one of America's elite Southern universities that rivals any school in the country---or the world. If fact, Times Higher Education puts this school at 18th on its "World University Rankings" (which largely focus on teaching and research). U.S. News & World Report, meanwhile, ranks Duke eighth among all national universities in the country, as well as eighth for best value. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and Times Higher Education (THE) also favor the home of the Blue Devils, putting this school at seventh overall in the U.S., including fourth for student outcomes.

  • Max net price: $11,915
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $49,241
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $49,241
  • Graduation rate: 95%
  • Early-career pay: $61,300
  • Mid-career pay: $119,000
  • # applications: 31,220
  • % admitted: 11%
  • # students: 15,984
  • # undergrads: 6,639
  • % retention (full-time): 97%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
16

Columbia University in the City of New York 

New York, NY

About this school

Columbia University offers about 100 bachelor's degree programs. Students can choose from such unique majors as applied physics; creative writing; human rights; medicine, literature, and society; operations research; and sustainable development. The most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) are computer science, general economics, general political science and government, other research and experimental psychology, and registered nursing/registered nurse.

In addition to its first-rate reputation and impressive history, Columbia offers the highest levels of academic quality, research, student outcomes, and value. WSJ and THE rank this Ivy League stalwart as the third-best college in the U.S. This includes being tied for fourth in student outcomes. U.S. News & World Report ranks Columbia the fifth-best national university in the country, and the sixth-best value. This school is also a great value for low-income students. The New York Times' 2015 college access rankings put Columbia at 21st for ensuring economic diversity.

  • Max net price: $9,142
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $53,000
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $53,000
  • Graduation rate: 95%
  • Early-career pay: $64,000
  • Mid-career pay: $109,000
  • # applications: 36,911
  • % admitted: 7%
  • # students: 28,086
  • # undergrads: 8,102
  • % retention (full-time): 96%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
17

University of Chicago 

Chicago, IL

About this school

Undergrads at the University of Chicago (UChicago) can select from over 50 bachelor's degree programs (including joint degrees). Some of the diverse areas of study available are computational neuroscience; law, letters, and society; molecular engineering; South Asian languages and civilizations; tutorial studies; and visual arts. The most-popular programs (by enrollment) are in biological sciences, economics, English language/literature, mathematics, and political science.

With UChicago's focus on providing an education that enriches and transforms individuals and societies, it should come as no surprise that it is one of the best schools in the country for academic quality. U.S. News & World Report, in fact, ranks this research university in a tie for third among all national universities in the country. However, UChicago also rates very highly on a number of other indicators, including outcomes, research, and value. This includes the Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education ranking it 13th among all colleges in the U.S., including eighth for student outcomes.

  • Max net price: $8,964
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $50,193
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $50,193
  • Graduation rate: 92%
  • Early-career pay: $53,000
  • Mid-career pay: $115,000
  • # applications: 30,069
  • % admitted: 8%
  • # students: 15,391
  • # undergrads: 5,883
  • % retention (full-time): 100%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
18

University of Notre Dame 

Notre Dame, IN

About this school

The University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame or ND) offers around 70 bachelor's degree programs. Students can choose from such intriguing majors as aerospace engineering; applied and computational mathematics and statistics; architecture; film, television, and theatre; information technology (IT) management; and Irish language and literature. Some of the program classifications that award the most degrees are accounting, general psychology, general finance, general marketing/marketing management, and general political science and government.

Although it is known more for its Fighting Irish football teams---and coaching legend Knute Rockne---Notre Dame is one of the best universities in the country for academic quality, student success, and teaching. Forbes' current top college rankings (which are weighted toward student outcomes) put this Catholic research university at 13th in the nation and first in the Midwest. U.S. News & World Report's (USNWR's) best college rankings (which are weighted toward academic quality) put Notre Dame at 15th overall among national universities. USNWR also ranks the school sixth best for veterans and seventh best for undergraduate teaching.

  • Max net price: $11,520
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $47,929
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $47,929
  • Graduation rate: 97%
  • Early-career pay: $61,200
  • Mid-career pay: $104,000
  • # applications: 18,157
  • % admitted: 20%
  • # students: 12,292
  • # undergrads: 8,462
  • % retention (full-time): 98%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
19

Johns Hopkins University 

Baltimore, MD

About this school

Undergrads at Johns Hopkins University (Johns Hopkins or JHU) can select from more than 50 bachelor's degree programs. This includes such unique areas of study as behavioral biology; global environmental change and sustainability; materials science and engineering; medicine, science, and the humanities; recording arts and sciences; and writing seminars. Some of the most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) are bioengineering and biomedical engineering, general business/commerce, general public health, international relations and affairs, and registered nursing/registered nurse.

To many people, Johns Hopkins is about the pinnacle of medical education and medical research. However, JHU is actually very highly rated in a number of areas, including academic quality, overall research, student success, and value. U.S. News & World Report ranks it 10th in the country among all national universities, and the 20th best value. The Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education ranks Johns Hopkins in a tie for 11th overall, including 11th for student outcomes. Of course, research is really where it hangs it hat, and with $2.3 billion in annual R&D spending, it is Number 1 by a wide margin on the National Science Foundation's rankings.

  • Max net price: $10,857
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $48,710
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $48,710
  • Graduation rate: 94%
  • Early-career pay: $61,500
  • Mid-career pay: $94,600
  • # applications: 25,474
  • % admitted: 14%
  • # students: 22,686
  • # undergrads: 6,427
  • % retention (full-time): 97%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
20

Washington University in St Louis 

Saint Louis, MO

About this school

Including concentrations and tracks, undergrads at Washington University in St Louis (WashU) can choose from around 100 bachelor's degree programs. This includes such diverse majors and options as anthropology--global health and environment, comparative arts, Earth and planetary sciences--geochemistry, fashion design, health care management, and middle school teacher education. The program classifications in which students most often get their bachelor's degrees are bioengineering and biomedical engineering, general biology/biological sciences, general finance, general psychology, and mechanical engineering.

For many prospective students, WashU is probably one of the hidden gems here on The Best Schools' ROI rankings. While not as well known as many big-name competitors, it actually beats several of them. Consider that the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education (WSJ/THE) puts WashU in a tie for 11th overall (12th in student outcomes) among all schools in the country. U.S. News & World Report ranks it 19th overall among all national universities and in a tie for 14th in undergraduate teaching. Maybe even more surprising, WashU is 27th in annual R&D spending on the National Science Foundation's rankings.

  • Max net price: $12,227
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $48,093
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $48,093
  • Graduation rate: 93%
  • Early-career pay: $56,700
  • Mid-career pay: $103,000
  • # applications: 29,259
  • % admitted: 17%
  • # students: 14,688
  • # undergrads: 7,504
  • % retention (full-time): 96%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
21

Georgetown University 

Washington, DC

About this school

Georgetown University (Georgetown or GU) offers around 60 bachelor's degree programs. Students can choose from such majors as American musical culture; human science; justice and peace studies; management, leadership, and innovation; operations and information management; and science, technology, and international affairs. The most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) are general economics, general finance, general political science and government, general psychology, and international relations and affairs.

Georgetown is well known for both athletics (especially Hoyas basketball) and academics. GU is highly rated in the areas of academic quality, social impact, student success, and value. U.S. News & World Report ranks it 20th among all national universities in the country. Forbes's ranking (which mainly focuses on student outcomes) puts this Jesuit, Catholic research university at 21st overall in the U.S. As to value, especially for lower-income students, Georgetown is second in Washington Monthly's "Best Bang for the Buck--Southeast" ranking. The magazine also ranks GU ninth among national universities for its contribution to the public good.

  • Max net price: $12,932
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $48,611
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $48,611
  • Graduation rate: 94%
  • Early-career pay: $55,400
  • Mid-career pay: $114,000
  • # applications: 19,478
  • % admitted: 17%
  • # students: 18,459
  • # undergrads: 7,562
  • % retention (full-time): 96%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
22

Northwestern University 

Evanston, IL

About this school

Undergrads at Northwestern University (Northwestern or NU) have over 90 bachelor's degree programs available to them. Among the majors students can choose from are such diverse areas of study as human development and psychological services, learning and organizational change, manufacturing and design engineering, music theory and cognition, science in human culture, and social policy. Some of the most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) include general drama and dramatics/theatre arts, general economics, general political science and government, general psychology, and journalism.

From academic quality and overall value, to research and student outcomes, Northwestern continues to be one of the top universities in the U.S. and around the world. U.S. News & World Report ranks it tied for 12th overall among all national universities and 18th for value. Forbes ranks NU the 15th best college/university in the nation. Times Higher Education (THE) ranks it 20th among worldwide universities (based largely on research and teaching). Meanwhile, the WSJ/THE college rankings put Northwestern in a tie for 13th overall in the country, including sixth for resources and 18th for outcomes.

  • Max net price: $12,982
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $49,047
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $49,047
  • Graduation rate: 93%
  • Early-career pay: $56,800
  • Mid-career pay: $102,000
  • # applications: 32,122
  • % admitted: 13%
  • # students: 21,655
  • # undergrads: 8,839
  • % retention (full-time): 97%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
23

Tufts University 

Medford, MA

About this school

Undergrads deciding on a major at Tufts University can select from over 70 bachelor's degree programs. The wide range of choices available include such subjects as architectural studies, biopsychology, community health, engineering psychology (human factors), geological sciences, and international literary and visual studies. The most-popular programs (by degrees awarded) are biology, computer science, economics, fine arts, and international relations.

In addition to its place here on TBS's best private college ROI rankings, Tufts scores well on lists that focus on academic quality, student success, and value. For instance, Forbes ranks this "Little Ivy" the 18th best college in the nation. (The ranking is based largely on student outcomes.) Kiplinger's Personal Finance ranks Tufts as the 23rd-best value among private universities. Meanwhile, U.S. News & World Report's academic-quality-focused ranking puts this school at 27th among all national universities.

  • Max net price: $10,574
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $50,604
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $50,604
  • Graduation rate: 93%
  • Early-career pay: $56,700
  • Mid-career pay: $106,000
  • # applications: 19,063
  • % admitted: 16%
  • # students: 11,137
  • # undergrads: 5,290
  • % retention (full-time): 97%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
24

Lehigh University 

Bethlehem, PA

About this school

Including specializations, dual degrees, and majors that have two degree types, Lehigh University offers students more than 100 bachelor's degree programs. Some of the more interesting areas of study include arts and engineering, business information systems, chemistry polymers, global studies, science and environmental writing, and supply chain management. The program classifications that award the most degrees are accounting, chemical engineering, computer science, general finance, and mechanical engineering.

Lehigh prides itself on providing a quality education with unique learning experiences and opportunities that enable students to achieve significant success in their lives and careers. Perhaps the best measure of the university's success in accomplishing this is seen in the 2015 Brookings Institution "Beyond College Rankings." That examination of the value colleges add to their students' future successes (based on earnings power, loan repayment rate, and mid-career salary) saw Lehigh make it into the Top 20 among all schools in the country---tying with Stanford.

  • Max net price: $16,584
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $46,230
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $46,230
  • Graduation rate: 88%
  • Early-career pay: $62,900
  • Mid-career pay: $112,000
  • # applications: 12,843
  • % admitted: 30%
  • # students: 7,054
  • # undergrads: 5,075
  • % retention (full-time): 95%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
25

Carnegie Mellon University 

Pittsburgh, PA

About this school

Including supplemental options (concentrations, minors, tracks), Carnegie Mellon University (Carnegie Mellon or CMU) offers students well over 100 bachelor's degree programs. This includes such areas of study as behavioral economics, policy, and organizations; logic and computation; music and technology; professional writing; and statistics and machine learning. The most-popular program classifications at CMU (by degrees awarded) are chemical engineering, computer science, electrical and electronics engineering, mechanical engineering, and systems science and theory.

By a variety of measures---including academic quality, student success, and value---Carnegie Mellon is one of the top universities in the country, and around the world. The 2015 Brookings Institution "Beyond College Rankings" places this Andrew-Carnegie-founded school in the Top 5 in the U.S. The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education (WSJ/ THE) college rankings place CMU at 19th overall in the country. THE's own world rankings place the school at 23rd globally. This is to say nothing of all the Nobel Prizes, Stockholm Prizes, Turing Awards, Academy Awards, Emmy Awards, and Tony Awards its alumni and faculty have won.

  • Max net price: $20,839
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $50,665
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $50,665
  • Graduation rate: 88%
  • Early-career pay: $69,400
  • Mid-career pay: $119,000
  • # applications: 20,547
  • % admitted: 24%
  • # students: 12,963
  • # undergrads: 6,049
  • % retention (full-time): 98%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
26

Colgate University 

Hamilton, NY

About this school

Undergrads at Colgate University can choose from over 50 bachelor's degree programs. This includes such diverse majors as astrogeophysics, classical studies, environmental geography, mathematical economics, Native American studies, and women's studies. The program classifications in which students most often get their bachelor's degrees are general economics, general English language and literature, general history, general political science and government, and neuroscience.

Colgate is not only a top university in its category and region, but nationally, as well. For instance, The Princeton Review's "Top 50--Colleges That Pay You Back" ranking lists this "Little Ivy" as being the 15th-best for ROI of any college in the country. U.S. News & World Report ranks it in a tie for 12th overall, and 18th for value, among all national liberal arts colleges. Meanwhile, Washington Monthly ranks Colgate ninth for its contribution to the public good (including eighth for student social mobility) among all national liberal arts universities.

  • Max net price: $12,034
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $49,970
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $49,970
  • Graduation rate: 90%
  • Early-career pay: $56,500
  • Mid-career pay: $113,000
  • # applications: 8,724
  • % admitted: 27%
  • # students: 2,861
  • # undergrads: 2,853
  • % retention (full-time): 95%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
27

University of Southern California 

Los Angeles, CA

About this school

Including areas of emphasis, concentrations, and tracks, the University of Southern California (USC) offers more than 170 bachelor's degree programs. Among this array of options are such unique areas of study as arts, technology, and the business of innovation; health promotion and disease prevention studies; interactive entertainment; non-governmental organizations and social change; and writing for screen and television. The most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) are accounting, general business administration and management, general psychology, international relations and affairs, and speech communication and rhetoric.

Although USC's Trojans often get much of the mainstream national spotlight, this research university is scholastically one of the best in the country. The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education college rankings place the school at 15th overall in the country (including 17th for student outcomes). U.S. News & World Report ranks USC 23rd among all national universities, and the 13th best college for veterans. Meanwhile, with annual R&D spending topping $690 million, USC is 28th on the National Science Foundation's rankings.

  • Max net price: $16,754
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $50,277
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $50,277
  • Graduation rate: 92%
  • Early-career pay: $56,100
  • Mid-career pay: $100,000
  • # applications: 51,924
  • % admitted: 18%
  • # students: 43,401
  • # undergrads: 18,810
  • % retention (full-time): 96%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission
28

Stevens Institute of Technology 

Hoboken, NJ

About this school

Undergrads at the Stevens Institute of Technology can choose from almost three-dozen bachelor's degree programs. This includes such majors as computational science, cybersecurity, engineering management, marketing, science communication, and visual arts and technology. The most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) are chemical engineering, computer science, general business administration and management, general civil engineering, and mechanical engineering.

While students can expect a high level of academic quality at Stevens, the real benefit of graduating from this technology-focused research university are the significant outcomes it helps garner. This is why the 2015 Brookings Institution "Beyond College Rankings" puts Stevens in the Top 20 schools in the country, just one point behind Stanford. The university's total value-added score (289 out of 300) is based on the individual scores it earned in three key categories: earnings power, loan repayment rate, and mid-career salary.

  • Max net price: $19,022
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $47,190
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $47,190
  • Graduation rate: 82%
  • Early-career pay: $65,600
  • Mid-career pay: $117,000
  • # applications: 6,540
  • % admitted: 44%
  • # students: 6,359
  • # undergrads: 2,976
  • % retention (full-time): 94%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
29

Lafayette College 

Easton, PA

About this school

Lafayette College offers more than 50 bachelor's degree programs. This includes such areas of study as anthropology and sociology, engineering and international studies, film and media studies, religion and politics, women's and gender studies. The program classifications in which students most often get their bachelor's degrees are general biology/ biological sciences, general economics, general political science and government, general psychology, and mechanical engineering.

Prospective students looking for a small liberal arts college that provides academic quality, hands-on learning experiences, ROI, and value---all while aiding their future successes---will definitely want to consider Lafayette. This "Little Ivy" not only ranks well against similar schools, but it punches above its weight in many categories. For instance, Forbes ranks Lafayette 55th overall, and the 53rd best value, among all colleges/universities in the country. Also, this college is 18th on Business Insider's 2015 mid-career earnings ranking and is in the Top 30 in Brookings' value-added rankings, beating out such luminaries as Harvard, Penn, and Yale.

  • Max net price: $13,918
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $47,010
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $47,010
  • Graduation rate: 90%
  • Early-career pay: $55,900
  • Mid-career pay: $107,000
  • # applications: 7,465
  • % admitted: 30%
  • # students: 2,533
  • # undergrads: 2,533
  • % retention (full-time): 95%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
30

Brigham Young University–Hawaii 

Laie, HI

About this school

Students at Brigham Young University-Hawaii (BYU--Hawaii or BYUH) can choose from about two-dozen bachelor's programs (over 60 if areas of emphasis and tracks are counted). This includes such majors as information technology, hospitality and tourism management, mathematics, Pacific Island studies, secondary education, and social work. The most-popular programs (by enrollment) are biological science, business management, computer and information science, exercise and sport science, and international cultural studies.

While affordability may seem to be BYU--Hawaii's biggest strength, the university also provides students with a high level of academic quality and return on investment. U.S. News & World Report ranks the school 14th among regional colleges in the West for overall academic quality. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education's (ED's) College Scorecard shows that BYU--Hawaii has an average annual net price that is more than 27 percent less than the national average, with typical median earnings about 24 percent above the national average.

  • Max net price: $9,640
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $5,100
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $5,100
  • Graduation rate: 50%
  • Early career pay: $44,500 (median)
  • Mid-career pay: $74,400 (median)
  • # applications: 2,869
  • % admitted: 36%
  • # students: 2,718
  • # undergrads: 2,718
  • % retention (full-time): 60%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission
31

Santa Clara University 

Santa Clara, CA

About this school

Santa Clara University (SCU) offers its undergrads around 50 bachelor's degree programs. This includes such diverse areas of study as biochemistry, ethnic studies, Latin language and literature, public health science, studio art, and web design and engineering. The program classifications that award the most degrees at SCU are general finance, general marketing/marketing management, general political science and government, general psychology, and speech communication and rhetoric.

Santa Clara's biggest strengths are in the areas of academic quality, social impact, and value. U.S. News & World Report ranks SCU second overall, and second for veterans, among regional universities in the West. Meanwhile, Kiplinger's Personal Finance ranks this Jesuit, Catholic school as the 33rd best value among all private universities in the country. In regards to the public good it provides, Washington Monthly ranks SCU at 36th among all national master's universities.

  • Max net price: $22,964
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $45,300
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $45,300
  • Graduation rate: 84%
  • Early-career pay: $61,900
  • Mid-career pay: $121,000
  • # applications: 14,899
  • % admitted: 49%
  • # students: 8,680
  • # undergrads: 5,385
  • % retention (full-time): 95%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission
32

Park University 

Parkville, MO

About this school

Undergrads at Park University are able to select from about three-dozen bachelor's degree programs. This includes such unique areas of study as fitness and wellness, interior design, military history, organizational communication, and public administration. The most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) are criminal justice/law enforcement administration, general business administration and management, general human resources management/personnel administration, general management information systems, and social psychology.

With its focus on providing affordable and innovative ways to address the educational needs of a variety of students, Park is an excellent choice for both adult and military students. The Military Times ranks it the fifth-best choice for veterans among online and non-traditional schools. Washington Monthly ranks Park as the third-best four-year college in the country for adult learners. This school also provides ROI and value for traditional students, too. The U.S. ED's College Scorecard shows that Park has an average annual net price almost 40 percent less than the national average, with typical median earnings over 32 percent above the national average.

  • Max net price: $9,056
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $11,470
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $11,470
  • Graduation rate: 43%
  • Early-career pay: $43,400
  • Mid-career pay: $69,700
  • # applications: 998
  • % admitted: 40%
  • # students: 11,720
  • # undergrads: 10,639
  • % retention (full-time): 59%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
33

Boston College 

Chestnut Hill, MA

About this school

Boston College (BC) offers over 70 bachelor's degree programs (including majors with two degree types). Some of the diverse areas of study students can choose from include applied psychology and human development, corporate reporting and analysis, criminal and social justice, nursing, operations management, and theology. The most-popular programs at BC (by enrollment) are biology, communication, economics, finance, and political science.

Boston College continues to be one of the top universities in the country on a number of key measures, including academic quality, student outcomes, and value. Forbes ranks this Jesuit, Catholic research university 22nd overall among all schools in the country. U.S. News & World Report places it 31st overall among all national universities. Meanwhile, Kiplinger's Personal Finance ranks BC as the 20th best value among all American private universities.

  • Max net price: $15,714
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $49,324
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $49,324
  • Graduation rate: 92%
  • Early-career pay: $56,800
  • Mid-career pay: $98,900
  • # applications: 29,486
  • % admitted: 29%
  • # students: 14,354
  • # undergrads: 9,796
  • % retention (full-time): 95%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
34

Illinois Institute of Technology 

Chicago, IL

About this school

Undergrads at Illinois Institute of Technology (Illinois Tech or IIT) can choose from about 40 (largely STEM-focused) bachelor's degree programs. This includes such areas of study as behavioral health and wellness, bioinformatics, consumer research analytics and communication, digital humanities, and social and economic development policy. The program classifications in which IIT students most often get their bachelor's degrees are architecture, computer science, electrical and electronics engineering, general civil engineering, and mechanical engineering.

Illinois Tech's biggest strengths are its return on investment (ROI), student outcomes, and value. U.S. News & World Report ranks this research university as the 36th best value among all national universities in the country. That value particularly extends to lower-income students: IIT is 18th on Washington Monthly's "Best Bang for the Buck--Midwest" rankings. Meanwhile, confirmation of this school's contribution to a student's future success is evident in its Top 20 placement on the Brookings Institution's 2015 value-added rankings.

  • Max net price: $15,755
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $42,962
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $42,962
  • Graduation rate: 73%
  • Early-career pay: $59,900
  • Mid-career pay: $105,000
  • # applications: 4,403
  • % admitted: 53%
  • # students: 7,792
  • # undergrads: 2,989
  • % retention (full-time): 87%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
35

Milwaukee School of Engineering 

Milwaukee, WI

About this school

Including specializations and tracks, the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) offers around 20 bachelor's degree programs. This includes such intriguing areas of study as actuarial science, biomolecular engineering, construction management, and user experience and communication design. The most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) are computer software engineering, electrical and electronics engineering, mechanical engineering, and registered nursing/registered nurse.

MSOE's academic quality, commitment to student success, overall value, and focus on real-world learning all help contribute to excellent student outcomes. A good confirmation of this added value is its Top 15 placement in the Brookings Institution's "Beyond College Rankings." The school's other areas of strength are illustrated by U.S. News & World Report's current rankings. Among regional universities in the Midwest, MSOE is 11th overall, as well as the eighth-best value and 11th-best choice for veterans.

  • Max net price: $16,990
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $36,540
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $36,540
  • Graduation rate: 64%
  • Early-career pay: $63,500
  • Mid-career pay: $92,000
  • # applications: 2,326
  • % admitted: 65%
  • # students: 2,906
  • # undergrads: 2,681
  • % retention (full-time): 87%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
36

Middlebury College 

Middlebury, VT

About this school

Undergrads at Middlebury College can choose from over 40 bachelor's degree programs. This includes such diverse majors as dance; film and media culture; gender, sexuality, and feminist studies; history of art and architecture; molecular biology and biochemistry; and physics. The program classifications that award the most degrees are environmental studies, general economics, general psychology, general political science and government, and other English language and literature/letters.

By any number of measures---including academic quality, student outcomes, teaching, and value---Middlebury is not just one of the nation's best liberal arts colleges, it is among the best schools of any kind. For instance, Forbes ranks this "Little Ivy" the 34th-best college/university in the country. Similarly, although utilizing different variables, the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education ranks Middlebury the 36th-best college in the U.S. Kiplinger's Personal Finance, meanwhile, lists this school as the 11th best value among all American colleges.

  • Max net price: $7,470
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $47,828
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $47,828
  • Graduation rate: 94%
  • Early-career pay: $49,200
  • Mid-career pay: $85,200
  • # applications: 8,891
  • % admitted: 17%
  • # students: 2,558
  • # undergrads: 2,542
  • % retention (full-time): 97%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
37

Wesleyan University 

Middletown, CT

About this school

Wesleyan University offers its students around four-dozen bachelor's degree programs. This includes such interesting areas of study as archaeology, astronomy, Latin American studies, religion, Romance studies, and science in society. The most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) are general economics, general English language and literature, general political science and government, general psychology, and physiological psychology/psychobiology.

Yet another institution from the group known as the "Little Ivies," Wesleyan rivals both Ivy League schools and other elite U.S. colleges on a number of fronts. For instance, this liberal arts school is the ninth-best college in the country on Forbes's "America's Top Colleges" list. Kiplinger's Personal Finance, meanwhile, considers it one of the best values in the nation: 16th among all colleges. According to The New York Times, Wesleyan does a lot for low-income students. That publication's "College Access Index" has this school at 38th for its economic diversity efforts.

  • Max net price: $9,811
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $48,974
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $48,974
  • Graduation rate: 94%
  • Early-career pay: $50,000
  • Mid-career pay: $95,100
  • # applications: 9,822
  • % admitted: 22%
  • # students: 3,138
  • # undergrads: 2,897
  • % retention (full-time): 95%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
38

Wheaton College 

Wheaton, IL

About this school

Undergrads at Wheaton College can choose from around four-dozen bachelor's degree programs. This includes such diverse areas of study as biblical archaeology, Christian education and ministry, computer science, environmental science, music in pedagogy, and urban studies. The most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) are business/managerial economics, general English language and literature, general health services/allied health/health sciences, general psychology, and speech communication and rhetoric.

Not to be confused with the Massachusetts college of the same name, this Christian liberal arts college---a former stop on the Underground Railroad---is located in Illinois. A top school in its category and region, Wheaton's biggest strengths revolve around academic quality, ROI, student outcomes, and value. Forbes ranks it the 13th best college in the Midwest. Money magazine---in "The 50 Best Liberal Arts Colleges"---ranks Wheaton 25th in the country. Also, in addition to being 38th among all colleges for overall value (Kiplinger's), Wheaton is 46th for economic diversity (The New York Times).

  • Max net price: $15,962
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $32,950
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $32,950
  • Graduation rate: 89%
  • Early-career pay: $43,300
  • Mid-career pay: $96,900
  • # applications: 1,971
  • % admitted: 71%
  • # students: 2,929
  • # undergrads: 2,463
  • % retention (full-time): 95%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
39

Northeastern University 

Boston, MA

About this school

Including concentrations and combined majors, Northeastern University offers over 150 bachelor's degree programs. This includes such interesting and unique areas of study as business administration and interactive media, data science, digital art and game design, information science and journalism, music industry, and pharmaceutical sciences. The program classifications in which students most often receive their bachelor's degrees are general business/commerce, general communication, general psychology, mechanical engineering, and registered nursing/registered nurse.

Northeastern's ongoing focus on being a global university of the future has seen it experience consistent gains in a number of areas, including academic quality, diversity, innovation, experiential learning opportunities, and teaching. In fact, this research university is now one of the top schools in the nation. U.S. News & World Report ranks it in a tie for 39th overall among all national universities, and seventh for having the most innovative improvements. In 2016, Northeastern won Insight Into Diversity's Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award, making it one of the most-inclusive and -diverse schools in the country.

  • Max net price: $21,092
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $45,530
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $45,530
  • Graduation rate: 84%
  • Early-career pay: $57,800
  • Mid-career pay: $89,100
  • # applications: 50,523
  • % admitted: 28%
  • # students: 19,940
  • # undergrads: 13,697
  • % retention (full-time): 97%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
40

York College Pennsylvania 

York, PA

About this school

York College of Pennsylvania offers around 60 bachelor's degree programs. Some of the unique majors available include forensic chemistry, intelligence analysis, nuclear medicine technology, radiography, recreation and leisure administration, and respiratory care. The most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) are criminal justice/law enforcement administration, general business administration and management, general psychology, public relations/image management, and registered nursing/registered nurse.

York's main focus is on ensuring its students have what they need to achieve career success. It does this through providing a cost-effective, top-flight education supplemented by real-world learning opportunities and a traditional college experience. This is why two of the university's main strengths are return on investment and student outcomes. For instance, the U.S. Department of Education's (ED's) College Scorecard shows that those York graduates who have received financial aid and are working 10 years after admission have a median salary that is almost 42 percent above the national average.

  • Max net price: $17,690
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $18,240
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $18,240
  • Graduation rate: 57%
  • Early-career pay: $48,800
  • Mid-career pay: $73,600
  • # applications: 13,235
  • % admitted: 43%
  • # students: 4,739
  • # undergrads: 4,537
  • % retention (full-time): 78%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
41

University of Rochester 

Rochester, NY

About this school

Undergrads deciding on a major at the University of Rochester (Rochester or U of R) have a wide range of choices available to them. Among the 80 or so bachelor's degree programs on offer (including majors with two degree types) are such unique subjects as audio and music engineering, bioethics, brain and cognitive sciences, epidemiology, geomechanics, and optical engineering. The program classifications that award the most degrees are general biology/biological sciences, general economics, general music performance, general psychology, and registered nursing/registered nurse.

By many measures, Rochester is equal to almost any big-name school on this TBS return-on-investment list. Consider that, U.S. News & World Report ranks this school in a tie for 32nd among all national universities, and considers it the 23rd best value. Brookings, meanwhile, puts Rochester in the Top 25 in the country for the value it adds to a student's future success. This research university also has a very unique educational feature---it has no general education requirement. Known as the "Rochester Curriculum," students develop their own course of study and have the space to take as many as three majors.

  • Max net price: $14,240
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $48,260
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $48,260
  • Graduation rate: 88%
  • Early-career pay: $55,400
  • Mid-career pay: $94,400
  • # applications: 17,912
  • % admitted: 34%
  • # students: 11,105
  • # undergrads: 6,304
  • % retention (full-time): 96%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
42

Case Western Reserve University 

Cleveland, OH

About this school

Case Western Reserve University (CWRU or Case Western) offers students more than 90 bachelor's degree programs. Among the wide array of majors available are such interesting areas of study as art education, data science and analytics, gerontological studies, nutritional biochemistry and metabolism, polymer science and engineering, and world literature. The most-popular programs at CWRU (by enrollment) are biology, biomedical engineering, computer science, mechanical engineering, and nursing.

Case Western is one of those all-around excellent schools that sometimes does not get its due. From academic quality and research, to student outcomes and value, CWRU can stand with virtually any university in the nation. In fact, the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education ranks it the 32nd best college in the country. U.S. News & World Report ranks it in a tie for 37th among national universities and the 43rd best value. The "Beyond College Rankings" from Brookings puts CWRU in the Top 25 in the U.S., based on its total scores in three areas: earnings power, loan repayment, and mid-career salary.

  • Max net price: $18,645
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $44,560
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $44,560
  • Graduation rate: 81%
  • Early-career pay: $58,600
  • Mid-career pay: $92,600
  • # applications: 22,807
  • % admitted: 36%
  • # students: 11,340
  • # undergrads: 5,121
  • % retention (full-time): 94%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
43

Wellesley College 

Wellesley, MA

About this school

Including interdepartmental majors, Wellesley College offers its students the choice of about 60 bachelor's degree programs. This includes such diverse subjects as Africana studies, astrophysics, cinema and media studies, cognitive and linguistic sciences, geosciences, and peace and justice studies. The most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) are general biology/biological sciences, general economics, general political science and government, general psychology, and neuroscience.

Wellesley is one of the Seven Sisters schools, a group of elite women's colleges that were essentially counterparts to the Ivy League schools. This particular liberal arts college not only continues to be for women only, it remains one of the top schools in the country. The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education ranks it in a tie for 30th among the best colleges in the U.S. Kiplinger's Personal Finance lists it as the 10th-best value among all American colleges. U.S. News & World Report places Wellesley third overall among the nation's liberal arts colleges, and 10th for undergraduate teaching.

  • Max net price: $9,735
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $46,836
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $46,836
  • Graduation rate: 93%
  • Early-career pay: $51,000
  • Mid-career pay: $83,900
  • # applications: 4,623
  • % admitted: 30%
  • # students: 2,510
  • # undergrads: 2,510
  • % retention (full-time): 95%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
44

Clarkson University 

Potsdam, NY

About this school

Clarkson University offers around 30 bachelor's degree programs. Some of the intriguing areas of study available to undergraduate students include biomolecular science, business intelligence and data analytics, digital arts and sciences, financial information and analysis, innovation and entrepreneurship, and social documentation (an integrated double major). The most-popular programs (by enrollment) are all related to engineering in some way: aeronautical engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering, engineering and management, and mechanical engineering.

Although Clarkson is strong academically and research-wise, the biggest benefits it provides are in the areas of return on investment, student outcomes, and value. In fact, according to the "Beyond College Rankings" from Brookings, this research university is in a tie with MIT and the Polytechnic Institute of New York University for the title of the top school in the country---based on the tangible benefits each school provides to their alumni's future outcomes. U.S. News & World Report, meanwhile, lists Clarkson as the 19th-best value (based largely on cost and cost vs. academic quality) among all national universities.

  • Max net price: $21,220
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $44,630
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $44,630
  • Graduation rate: 72%
  • Early-career pay: $61,700
  • Mid-career pay: $117,000
  • # applications: 6,906
  • % admitted: 68%
  • # students: 3,910
  • # undergrads: 3,257
  • % retention (full-time): 88%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
45

Alfred University 

Alfred, NY

About this school

Alfred University (Alfred or AU) provides its undergraduate students with around 40 bachelor's degree programs to choose from. This includes such unique majors as athletic training, biomaterials engineering, gerontology, glass engineering science, health fitness management, and renewable energy engineering. The program classifications that award the most degrees are accounting, ceramic arts and ceramics, general business administration and management, general psychology, and mechanical engineering.

Those considering attending Alfred will probably be most attracted to its campus and setting, research opportunities, return on investment, small class sizes, and student outcomes. Undergrads at AU don't just have the opportunity to conduct research, but are encouraged, and in some cases required, to do so. This may be part of the reason why the university maintains a 98 percent "career outcomes" rate for its graduates. Maybe more impressively, Brookings ranks AU as among the best in the nation for the value it adds to/effect it has on its graduates' mid-career salaries (Top 60) and earnings power (Top 70).

  • Max net price: $13,747
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $26,261
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $26,261
  • Graduation rate: 60%
  • Early-career pay: $48,600
  • Mid-career pay: $80,800
  • # applications: 3,640
  • % admitted: 68%
  • # students: 2,286
  • # undergrads: 1,806
  • % retention (full-time): 75%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
46

Ohio Northern University 

Ada, OH

About this school

Undergrads at Ohio Northern University (ONU) can select from more than 70 bachelor's degree programs. Among the diverse choices available to them are majors such as advertising design, international theatre production, medical laboratory science, pharmaceutical and healthcare business, risk management and insurance, and youth ministry. The most-popular programs (by enrollment) are accounting, biology, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, and nursing.

With its connection to the United Methodist Church, ONU provides a focus on education that is both about personal and professional growth, and contributing to a better world. As such, it should come as no surprise that this school scores very well when it comes to social impact. Washington Monthly ranks it 10th among all bachelor's universities for its contribution to the public good. At the same time, ONU is among the best in the nation for the added value it provides to each student's future successes. Specifically, the university is in the Top 40 on the Brookings Institution's "Beyond College Rankings."

  • Max net price: $20,560
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $28,810
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $28,810
  • Graduation rate: 69%
  • Early-career pay: $50,700
  • Mid-career pay: $94,400
  • # applications: 3,108
  • % admitted: 69%
  • # students: 3,238
  • # undergrads: 2,401
  • % retention (full-time): 86%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
47

Worcester Polytechnic Institute 

Worcester, MA

About this school

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) offers around three-dozen bachelor's degree programs (including dual-degree options). Some of the majors students can declare include actuarial mathematics; bioinformatics and computational biology; economic science; interactive media and game development; international and global studies; and society, technology, and policy. The most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) are all STEM-related: bioengineering and biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, computer science, electrical and electronics engineering, and mechanical engineering.

WPI is another one of the hidden gems on The Best Schools' return-on-investment rankings. Business Insider rates it one of the country's 50 most-underrated colleges. A number of top lists---measuring everything from academic quality and teaching, to student outcomes and value---name this research university one of America's best. Among all national universities, U.S. News & World Report ranks WPI 60th overall (tie), 18th for undergraduate teaching (tie), and 42nd for value. Brookings ranks the university in the Top 25 for its contribution to a student's future success.

  • Max net price: $26,515
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $45,590
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $45,590
  • Graduation rate: 85%
  • Early-career pay: $65,300
  • Mid-career pay: $112,000
  • # applications: 10,172
  • % admitted: 49%
  • # students: 6,573
  • # undergrads: 4,299
  • % retention (full-time): 96%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
48

Wake Forest University 

Winston Salem, NC

About this school

Wake Forest University offers its undergrads over 40 bachelor's degree programs (including those majors with two degree types). Some of the diverse areas of study available to students include art history, biophysics, Japanese language and culture, mathematical business, music performance, and religious studies. The program classifications in which students most often receive their bachelor's degrees are general biology/biological sciences, general business/commerce, general communication, general finance, and general political science and government.

Wake Forest is another school that is often known more for its sports teams than its academics. However, educationally it continues to be one of the very best schools in the nation. Consider that U.S. News & World Report ranks this school 27th best among all American national universities, fifth best for undergraduate teaching, and 28th best for value. Prospective students applying to Wake Forest should also know that it does not require standardized test scores. It prefers to judge a prospect's ability on their overall high school career. When it adopted this pioneering direction in 2008, it was one of the very few top schools to do so.

  • Max net price: $13,603
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $47,682
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $47,682
  • Graduation rate: 88%
  • Early-career pay: $49,300
  • Mid-career pay: $98,800
  • # applications: 13,281
  • % admitted: 29%
  • # students: 7,837
  • # undergrads: 4,871
  • % retention (full-time): 93%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
49

Carleton College 

Northfield, MN

About this school

Students at Carleton College who are trying to decide on a major can select from over 30 bachelor's degree programs. This includes such areas of study as African/African-American studies, cinema and media studies, French and francophone studies, linguistics, physics, and political science/international relations. The program classifications that award the most degrees are computer science, general biology/biological sciences, general chemistry, general economics, and general psychology.

Although it is somewhat lesser-known than other top-level liberal arts colleges, Carleton continues to be one of the best schools of its kind in the country---and by some measures, one of the best of any kind. Consider that Forbes ranks this school the 27th best college/university in the nation and the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education ranks it in a tie for 37th. The Princeton Review's "Top 50--Colleges That Pay You Back" ranking lists Carleton at 28th in the country for ROI. Meanwhile, U.S. News & World Report ranks it in a tie for seventh academically among national liberal arts colleges, but with the best undergraduate teaching.

  • Max net price: $11,760
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $49,263
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $49,263
  • Graduation rate: 95%
  • Early-career pay: $46,900
  • Mid-career pay: $98,800
  • # applications: 6,722
  • % admitted: 21%
  • # students: 2,014
  • # undergrads: 2,014
  • % retention (full-time): 96%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
50

Occidental College 

Los Angeles, CA

About this school

Occidental College (Oxy) offers around three-dozen bachelor's degree programs. This includes such majors as cognitive science, critical theory and social justice, geology, group language, kinesiology, and urban and environmental policy. The most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) are general biology/biological sciences, general economics, general political science and government, general psychology, and international relations and affairs.

The biggest strengths Occidental has beyond ROI are community engagement, diversity, location, small class sizes, and value. Its deep commitment to community service (and service learning) is how the college made the 2013 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll (with Distinction) and earned the 2015 Carnegie Foundation Community Engagement Classification. In addition to its overall value, Oxy is an excellent choice for low-income students: it is 32nd on The New York Times' 2015 college access rankings. Of course, one cannot forget Oxy's most-famous alumni---President Barack Obama. The college is said to be the starting point for what became his destiny.

  • Max net price: $16,157
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $49,248
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $49,248
  • Graduation rate: 88%
  • Early-career pay: $49,200
  • Mid-career pay: $117,000
  • # applications: 5,911
  • % admitted: 45%
  • # students: 2,023
  • # undergrads: 2,021
  • % retention (full-time): 93%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission
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End of list, bravo!

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