The 2021 Top Consensus Ranked Colleges & Universities list is a composite ranking designed to show prospective college students where their top choices rank across the board. The College Consensus ranking of best colleges and universities combines data from the most respected college ranking publications and the most reliable student review sites online.
How Do We Create Our 2021 Ranking of the Best Colleges?
The College Consensus methodology pulls together rankings from U.S. News & World Report, The Wall Street Journal, Money, and Wallethub, averaging all of a given school’s numbers to get the Publisher Rating. Then we average student reviews from sites like Cappex, Niche, Student Review, and more, to get the full picture of how students see their colleges, which we call the Student Review Rating. Put them together, and we have the College Consensus.
The top universities ranking is the real deal – the ranking of the best colleges nationwide. Regardless of size, location, form, or classification, these are the colleges and universities that have the best schools ranking based on publisher and student ratings. It’s not mixing apples and oranges – it’s crunching the numbers, pure and simple, to see which colleges the experts admire, and which ones the students love. Read more about our rankings methodology and sources at our about page.
What Makes the 2021 College Consensus Ranking Different?
This ranking of the best colleges will look different from other similar rankings, simply because it’s an aggregate ranking. It’s not reliant on self-reported surveys sent out to the schools, or disgruntled students reviews, or mystery shopper investigations: it’s everything, objectively analyzed and ranked. Some colleges that get overlooked in other rankings get their chance to shine; some universities that hog all the glory get their proper place in the ecosystem.
This ranking covers all of the colleges and universities in America, regardless of size, location, or classification. College Consensus has also broken down rankings of the Best National Research Universities, for students who want the opportunities a major research institution offers. For students interested in a more intimate, residential experience, we have also ranked the Best National Liberal Arts Colleges. For students interested in online learning, see our ranking of the Best Online Colleges & Universities.
The Top Consensus Ranked Colleges & Universities are listed in descending order by their Consensus score.
Yale UniversityNew Haven, CT
Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridge, MA
Stanford UniversityStanford, CA
Princeton UniversityPrinceton, NJ
Washington and Lee UniversityLexington, VA
Pomona CollegeClaremont, CA
Harvard UniversityCambridge, MA
Duke UniversityDurham, NC
Williams CollegeWilliamstown, MA
Vanderbilt UniversityNashville, TN
Dartmouth CollegeHanover, NH
Claremont McKenna CollegeClaremont, CA
University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia, PA
Brown UniversityProvidence, RI
University of Michigan-Ann ArborAnn Arbor, MI
University of Notre DameNotre Dame, IN
Rice UniversityHouston, TX
Amherst CollegeAmherst, MA
Cornell UniversityIthaca, NY
Columbia University in the City of New YorkNew York, NY
University of ChicagoChicago, IL
University of Virginia-Main CampusCharlottesville, VA
University of California-Los AngelesLos Angeles, CA
University of California-BerkeleyBerkeley, CA
Washington University in St LouisSaint Louis, MO
Bowdoin CollegeBrunswick, ME
California Institute of TechnologyPasadena, CA
Northwestern UniversityEvanston, IL
University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel Hill, NC
Grinnell CollegeGrinnell, IA
Bryn Mawr CollegeBryn Mawr, PA
Hamilton CollegeClinton, NY
Swarthmore CollegeSwarthmore, PA
Bates CollegeLewiston, ME
Wellesley CollegeWellesley, MA
California State University-StanislausTurlock, CA
University of FloridaGainesville, FL
California State University-ChicoChico, CA
Georgetown UniversityWashington, DC
University of California-Santa BarbaraSanta Barbara, CA
University of California-DavisDavis, CA
Wesleyan UniversityMiddletown, CT
University of California-IrvineIrvine, CA
University of Wisconsin-MadisonMadison, WI
Vassar CollegePoughkeepsie, NY
Colby CollegeWaterville, ME
The University of Texas at AustinAustin, TX
Middlebury CollegeMiddlebury, VT
Colgate UniversityHamilton, NY
Georgia Institute of Technology-Main CampusAtlanta, GA
Tufts UniversityMedford, MA
College of the OzarksPoint Lookout, MO
Harvey Mudd CollegeClaremont, CA
Davidson CollegeDavidson, NC
Purdue University-Main CampusWest Lafayette, IN
University of Washington-Seattle CampusSeattle, WA
University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignChampaign, IL
Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and ArtNew York, NY
Carleton CollegeNorthfield, MN
California State University-Long BeachLong Beach, CA
Massachusetts Maritime AcademyBuzzards Bay, MA
Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimore, MD
William & MaryWilliamsburg, VA
University of Southern CaliforniaLos Angeles, CA
Emory UniversityAtlanta, GA
University of RichmondUniversity of Richmond, VA
Haverford CollegeHaverford, PA
University of California-San DiegoLa Jolla, CA
Citadel Military College of South CarolinaCharleston, SC
Texas A & M University-College StationCollege Station, TX
Barnard CollegeNew York, NY
California State University-San BernardinoSan Bernardino, CA
Colorado CollegeColorado Springs, CO
California State University-NorthridgeNorthridge, CA
Mount Holyoke CollegeSouth Hadley, MA
Boston CollegeChestnut Hill, MA
Carnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburgh, PA
William Jewell CollegeLiberty, MO
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Blacksburg)Blacksburg, VA
California State University-Dominguez HillsCarson, CA
College of the Holy CrossWorcester, MA
California Polytechnic State University-San Luis ObispoSan Luis Obispo, CA
Lehigh UniversityBethlehem, PA
California State University-SacramentoSacramento, CA
Wake Forest UniversityWinston-Salem, NC
Scripps CollegeClaremont, CA
Whitman CollegeWalla Walla, WA
Brigham Young University-ProvoProvo, UT
Smith CollegeNorthampton, MA
Lafayette CollegeEaston, PA
Western Washington UniversityBellingham, WA
Macalester CollegeSaint Paul, MN
James Madison UniversityHarrisonburg, VA
Loyola University MarylandBaltimore, MD
Connecticut CollegeNew London, CT
Franklin and Marshall CollegeLancaster, PA
California State University-Channel IslandsCamarillo, CA
Trinity UniversitySan Antonio, TX
University of GeorgiaAthens, GA
Occidental CollegeLos Angeles, CA
Getting an education in your chosen field plays an important role in reaching your career goals. When you are looking at colleges or universities for your education, you want to focus on the best programs for your field. The challenge is comparing your options and selecting the schools that fit your needs and situation.
What Do the Best-Ranked Universities in the US Have in Common?
When you look at US university ranking, you will notice that many schools have a high rank for various reasons. The underlying reasons for the best ranked universities to reach the top of the list depend on the specific details in the list. According to Money, university ranking in USA programs focuses on the outcome of the education.
The best ranked universities in the United States have positive outcomes for their students. A student has support from the college or university to find a job or get started in their career. The universities with the highest ranks also look into the accomplishments of the alumni to measure success after school as an average among all of the students. If the college has a high rate of success among alumni, then the school has a high ranking.
What Makes the Most Prestigious Colleges in the World Stand Out?
When you look for the most prestigious colleges in the world, you want to understand the factors that make the university stand out. The top colleges in the world have a few key factors that stand out from other programs.
According to BBC News, branding plays a key role in prestige among colleges and universities. Schools that have a reputation for research and top quality educators have a higher rating than other universities. The history behind the school also plays a role in their reputation. When a school has a long history of excellence and quality education, it impacts the school’s reputation. Colleges and universities with a long history and a specific reputation stand out due to their history.
The most prestigious colleges in the world also stand out for their connections. The school has power due to connections in the government or in large organizations. The connections help the college or university gain access to funds for research projects or STEM programs. The focus on research helps a college or university stand out, particularly when it has the wealth to allow students and educators access to important tools used in their research projects.
How Do the Top Private Universities and the Best Public Universities Compare?
When you compare universities in the USA, you will inevitably look at the differences between private and public universities. The Washington Post points out that private schools often rank higher than public schools when the schools are put in the same ranking categories. Many systems of ranking universities and colleges develop separate lists for the public and private schools, which raises a concern about comparing the different programs.
The top private universities rank higher than public universities for three key reasons: they have more funds for research, the universities have a long history and the colleges have a high reputation for success after college. Reputation plays an important role in long-term success in a career. Public schools do not have the same level of prestige as a public university, especially when comparing the top ranked private universities to the top ranked public universities.
As a general rule, the top private universities do have a better reputation for excellence. The key consideration is the cost associated with the program. Public programs cost less for tuition, so you will want to evaluate the ranking of the university with the cost of your education. Keep in mind that a private university does offer support to help students start out in their career, but there are also public programs that help with your goals. When you want to attend a top ranked university, you will want to look into the reasons for the ranking system to evaluate the programs that fit your goals.
What are the Pros and Cons of University Education?
The pros and cons of university depend on your situation and your goals. The obvious advantage of education through a university is your career opportunities. A college education helps you network and build up your resume for a successful career. You have more opportunities and you may find that you are able to increase your earnings potential after graduation.
According to Fremont College, a key downside of higher education at a college or university is the time and cost involved in the process. An undergraduate degree takes around four years to complete and higher education may take longer. It also has the cost of tuition each semester. Depending on your field of study, it may not be necessary to seek higher education. You want to look into the details of your career goals before you assume that you need to attend a college or university for your career.
The best colleges and universities give you an advantage in your career and job potential. The key is focusing on the right education and making sure that you are not wasting your time with higher education. By comparing the programs and looking into the rankings of a college or university, you can find a program that fits your goals and helps with your career opportunities.