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American universities and colleges have been ranked among the most prestigious in the world, mainly due to high levels of research and strong funding. These institutions attract international students, researchers, and professors who seek academic excellence.

When it comes to determining how many universities there are in the United States, it is a constantly changing number. The short answer: There were 4,298 post-secondary degree-granting institutions in the United States as of the 2017-2018 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

The long answer: it depends on how college campuses are counted, as many institutions have opened satellite locations. The number is also subject to change in a higher education landscape that has experienced numerous recent campus closings and mergers.

Click on Some of the Options for Different Study Modes

Education is “like any industry in the sense that you have activity with companies that grow, open, close, change, merge continuously,” says Guilbert C. Hentschke, dean emeritus of the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California.

Although the U.S. Department of Education has more than 4,000 colleges and universities, US News ranks only about 1,400 schools as eligible for inclusion in the top university rankings.

To be eligible, a school must be regionally accredited and offer four-year degree programs. With more than 4,000 additional schools or campuses to choose from, students have a wealth of undergraduate options available, whether they are seeking an education at a research-oriented university, a small liberal arts college or a professional school.

That number can be overwhelming and “stress-inducing for students. To help narrow those options, students are advised to develop criteria for determining what is most important and then find colleges that best fit those academic priorities.

To get an idea of a college, prospective college students are advised to visit and become familiar with the campus and degree programs and “talk to professors while on campus, talk to students and alumni. It’s really about being a good consumer. ”

While students who live in the U.S. can take numerous college tours, this can be more difficult for international applicants. To close this gap, students abroad often turn to free resources such as EducationUSA, a network of counseling centers supported by the U.S. State Department, or to paid consultants.

Public vs. Private Universities

Of the 4,298 institutions listed by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), there were 1,626 public schools, 1,687 private nonprofit schools, and 985 for-profit schools in the fall of 2017.

The data divide the institutions into categories such as four-year colleges and universities and two-year schools, often known as community colleges.

College in the United States

Schools with “College” in their name often are smaller institutions that emphasize undergraduate education, Johanna Fishbein, director of college counseling at the Dover Campus of the United World College of South East Asia, an international school, said by e-mail. This is not a strict rule, as there are a number of exceptions.

Some schools, known as liberal arts colleges, provide students with an education in a wide range of academic areas rather than having them specialize early in a particular subject.

Because liberal arts colleges are rare outside the United States, prospective international students are not always familiar with them, says Carly Mankus, senior assistant dean for international admissions at Franklin and Marshall College, a liberal arts school in Pennsylvania.

Prospective students also may mistakenly believe that liberal arts institutions focus only on the humanities, say admissions experts. But many of these schools also offer degrees in the sciences.

Another common misconception is that schools with “colleges” in their name do not offer many research opportunities, said Fishbein, who serves as president of the International Association for University Admissions Council.

But, for example, 65 percent of Franklin and Marshall students participate in research before they graduate, Mankus says. Another type of school in the United States with “college” in its name is a community college. These are two-year schools that award associate’s degrees and career-related certificates.

Community colleges vary in enrollment size, some are large, despite having “college” in their name.  Some students begin their education at a community college and then transfer to a four-year college or university to complete a bachelor’s degree.

University College in the United States

Many schools with “universities” in their name are larger institutions that offer a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs. Public universities are some of the most important schools, sometimes enrolling tens of thousands of students. These schools are also very committed to producing research.

But it is a misconception that all schools with “universities” in their name are great, says Chelsea Keeney, assistant director of international student recruitment at the University of Minnesota: Twin Cities.

Some are relatively small, such as Marymount California University, which had a total enrollment of 985 students in the fall of 2016, according to U.S.News. Private universities include, among many institutions, some of the Ivy League schools, such as Princeton University.

Sometimes the confusion for international students, Keeney says, is the fact that large universities often are made up of smaller divisions called colleges. Each of these universities has a specific academic focus, such as business, engineering or social work. The study of liberal arts types is not exclusive to smaller universities.

Some, but not all, colleges have a core curriculum for undergraduate students, which means that students take a variety of general education courses before focusing on their major.

Because of their size, large universities tend to offer a wider range of research opportunities than small universities. “But undergraduate students may need to compete with graduate students for resources and opportunities,” Fishbein said.

Some Names of Universities in the United States

  • Harvard University
  • MIT
  • Yale University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Princeton University
  • Brown University
  • Stanford University
  • Cornell University
  • Duke University
  • Northwest University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • University of Chicago
  • Columbia University
  • Rice University
  • Vanderbilt University
  • University of Southern California
  • University of California
  • University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
  • University of North Carolina
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of California, Davis
  • University of California, San Diego
  • University of Washington-Seattle
  • Purdue University West Lafayette
  • University of Illinois
  • Virginia State University
  • University of Texas
  • University of Florida
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • University of California
  • University of California, Irvine
  • University of Maryland,
  • Texas A&M University-College Station
  • William and Mary
  • United States Naval Academy
  • University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Michigan State University
  • Ohio State University

 Some Private

Many of the top-ranked universities in the United States are classified as private universities, including Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and Yale University.

These universities are funded primarily through student tuition fees, which are generally higher than those at public universities. As a result, private colleges generally have better staff-to-student ratios and higher resource revenues, which may be one reason they rank higher than public colleges in the country. All of the institutions in the prestigious Ivy League group are private universities.

We have assembled the top 100 private universities in the U.S., according to data from the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education US College Rankings 2020. Private universities also dominated the top 100 in the overall ranking.

Several liberal arts colleges, including Williams College, Amherst College and Pomona College, also entered the top 100 private colleges in the U.S.

Most private universities in the United States are non-profit. The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education US College ranking is more student-centered because of its emphasis on results and student participation.

The results of the U.S. Student Survey of more than 170,000 students are incorporated into the analysis. The top 100 private universities in the U.S.

  • Harvard Cambridge University Massachusetts
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge Massachusetts
  • Yale University New Haven Connecticut
  • University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia Pennsylvania
  • California Institute of Technology Pasadena California
  • Princeton University Princeton New Jersey
  • Brown Providence University Rhode Island
  • Stanford University Stanford California
  • Cornell Ithaca University New York
  • Duke University Durham North Carolina
  • Northwestern University Evanston Illinois
  • Dartmouth College Hanover New Hampshire
  • Johns Hopkins University Baltimore Maryland
  • University of Chicago Chicago Illinois
  • Columbia University New York New York
  • Rice University Houston Texas
  • Vanderbilt University Nashville Tennessee
  • University of Southern California Los Angeles California
  • Washington University in St Louis St Louis Missouri
  • Amherst College Amherst Massachusetts
  • Williams College Williamstown Massachusetts
  • Emory University Atlanta Georgia
  • Pomona College Claremont California
  • Wellesley College Wellesley Massachusetts
  • Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
  • Swarthmore College Swarthmore Pennsylvania
  • Georgetown University Washington DC
  • Tufts University Medford Massachusetts
  • New York University New York
  • University of Notre Dame Notre Dame Indiana
  • Claremont McKenna College Claremont California
  • Haverford College Haverford Pennsylvania
  • Carleton College Northfield Minnesota
  • Smith College Northampton Massachusetts
  • Wesleyan University Middletown Connecticut
  • Boston University Boston Massachusetts
  • Bowdoin College Brunswick Maine
  • Colgate University Hamilton New York
  • University of Miami Coral Gables Florida
  • Barnard College New York New York
  • Case Western Reserve University Cleveland Ohio
  • Bryn Mawr College Bryn Mawr Pennsylvania
  • Davidson College Davidson North Carolina
  • Lehigh University Bethlehem Pennsylvania
  • Vassar College Poughkeepsie New York
  • Grinnell College Grinnell Iowa
  • University of Rochester Rochester New York
  • Boston College Chestnut Hill Massachusetts
  • Hamilton College Clinton New York
  • Mount Holyoke College South Hadley Massachusetts
  • Bates College Lewiston Maine
  • Scripps College Claremont California
  • University of Richmond Richmond Virginia
  • Wake Forest University Winston-Salem North Carolina
  • Washington and Lee University Lexington Virginia
  • George Washington University Washington DC
  • Bucknell University Lewisburg Pennsylvania
  • Reed College Portland Oregon
  • Pitzer College Claremont California
  • Macalester College Saint Paul Minnesota
  • Southern Methodist University Dallas Texas
  • Tulane University New Orleans Louisiana
  • Lafayette College Easton Pennsylvania
  • Santa Clara University Santa Clara California
  • Trinity College Hartford Connecticut
  • Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles California
  • Franklin & Marshall College Lancaster Pennsylvania
  • Kenyon College Gambier Ohio
  • Northeastern University Boston Massachusetts
  • Skidmore College Saratoga Springs New York
  • Drexel University Philadelphia Pennsylvania
  • Oberlin College Oberlin Ohio
  • Occidental College Los Angeles California
  • Dickinson College Carlisle Pennsylvania
  • Gettysburg College Gettysburg Pennsylvania
  • Whitman College Walla Walla Washington
  • Connecticut College New London Connecticut
  • Brandeis Waltham University Massachusetts
  • Colorado College Colorado Springs Colorado
  • Trinity University San Antonio Texas
  • University Of The Pacific Stockton California
  • Seattle University Seattle Washington
  • Union College Schenectady New York
  • DePauw University Greencastle Indiana
  • Denison Granville University Ohio
  • Howard University Washington DC
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute Worcester Massachusetts
  • Babson College Wellesley Massachusetts
  • Saint Louis University Saint Louis Missouri
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Troy New York
  • Syracuse University Syracuse New York
  • Holy Cross College Worcester Massachusetts
  • Creighton University Omaha Nebraska
  • Simmons College Boston Massachusetts
  • Villanova University Villanova Pennsylvania
  • American University Washington DC
  • University of Denver Denver Colorado
  • Wheaton College (Massachusetts) orton Massachusetts
  • Bentley University Waltham Massachusetts
  • Rhodes College Memphis Tennessee

Other Public

Most public universities in the United States are state universities, operated by the state government, and often grouped into “systems.

Every state in the U.S. is required to have at least one public university, although some of the larger states may have many public universities. Such institutions will often offer discounted tuition for in-state students.

Based on data collected by the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education US College Rankings, we have compiled a list of the top 100 public universities in the US.

The best public universities can be found in the United States, but there are groups of top institutions in California and New York. About 25 of the best public universities are present in the top 100 of the overall ranking of US universities.

Top 100 Public Universities in the USA

  • University of California, Los Angeles Los Angeles California
  • University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor Michigan
  • University of North Carolina Chapel Hill North Carolina
  • University of California, Berkeley Berkeley California
  • University of California, Davis California
  • University of California, San Diego La Jolla California
  • University of Washington-Seattle Seattle Washington
  • Purdue University West Lafayette West Lafayette Indiana
  • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Illinois
  • University of Virginia Charlottesville Virginia
  • University of Texas Austin Texas
  • University of Florida Gainesville Florida
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison Wisconsin
  • Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta Georgia
  • University of California Santa Barbara California
  • University of California, Irvine Irvine California
  • University of Maryland, College Park Maryland
  • Texas A&M University-College Station
  • William and Mary Williamsburg Virginia
  • United States Naval Academy Annapolis Maryland
  • University of Illinois at Chicago Chicago Illinois
  • Michigan State University East Lansing Michigan
  • Ohio State University Columbus Ohio
  • University of Minnesota Twin Cities -Minneapolis Minnesota
  • University of Pittsburgh Campus Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
  • North Carolina State University Raleigh North Carolina
  • University of Connecticut Storrs Connecticut
  • Penn State (main campus) University of Pennsylvania Park
  • Stony Brook University Stony Brook New York
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and Blacksburg State University Virginia
  • University of Buffalo New York
  • Indiana University Bloomington Bloomington Indiana
  • University of utah Salt Lake City Utah
  • Rutgers University New Brunswick New Jersey
  • University of Arizona Tucson
  • University of Georgia Athens Georgia
  • University of Delaware Newark Delaware
  • University of iowa Iowa City Iowa
  • Binghamton University, State University of New York-Vestal New York
  • University of Colorado Boulder Roca Colorado
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst Massachusetts
  • Colorado School of Mines Golden Colorado
  • Virginia Military Institute Lexington Virginia
  • Washington State University Pullman Washington
  • University of Colorado Denver Denver Colorado
  • George Mason University Fairfax Virginia
  • Temple University Philadelphia Pennsylvania
  • Clemson Clemson University South Carolina
  • University of California, Riverside California
  • California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo California
  • State University of New York Albany New York
  • Houghton Michigan University of Technology
  • University of Science and Technology Missouri-Rolla Missouri
  • CUNY City College of New York New York
  • University of Oklahoma Norman Oklahoma
  • CUNY Hunter College New York New York
  • Florida State University Tallahassee Florida
  • Miami University Oxford Ohio
  • Arizona State University Tempe Arizona
  • CUNY Bernard M. Baruch College New York New York
  • University of Kansas Lawrence Kansas
  • University of Oregon Eugene Oregon
  • Southern Illinois University Carbondale- Carbondale Illinois
  • New Jersey-New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • Wyoming University Laramie Wyoming
  • Auburn University Chestnut Alabama
  • University of California Santa Cruz California
  • Rutgers-Newark New Jersey University
  • University of Alabama Birmingham Alabama
  • University of Hawaii’i at Mānoa Honolulu Hawaii
  • Ewing New Jersey College
  • San Diego State University San Diego California
  • University of Tennessee-Knoxville Knoxville Tennessee
  • University of Nevada, Reno Reno Nevada
  • Rutgers-Camden University Camden New Jersey
  • University of South Florida Tampa Florida
  • James Madison University Harrisonburg Virginia
  • University of Maryland Baltimore Maryland
  • University of Vermont. Burlington Vermont
  • Iowa State University Ames Iowa
  • San Jose State University San Jose California
  • CUNY Queens College Queens New York
  • Oregon State University Corvallis Oregon
  • Louisiana State University Baton Rouge Louisiana
  • Illinois State University Normal Illinois
  • University of Washington-Bothell Bothell Washington
  • SUNY-Siracusa College of Environmental Science and Forestry New York
  • Wayne State University Detroit Michigan
  • University of Central Florida Orlando Florida
  • University of Mississippi University of Mississippi
  • Rowan University Glassboro New Jersey
  • University of Texas at Dallas Richardson
  • California State University Long Beach California
  • CUNY Brooklyn College Brooklyn New York
  • Kentucky University Lexington Kentucky
  • University of Toledo Ohio
  • University of Cincinnati- Uptown Cincinnati Ohio
  • University of Missouri-Kansas City Kansas City
  • University of Minnesota Morris Morris Minnesota
  • SUNY New Paltz New Paltz New York

Universities to Study Medicine in the United States

Studying medicine in the U.S. is only available as a graduate option, so you can start a medical program after completing a four-year pre-med degree in a subject such as biology, chemistry or neuroscience.

This degree will prepare you for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), which is required for entry into medical school. There are 172 medical schools in the US that offer a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree, so there is a lot to choose from if you are thinking about studying medicine in the US.

The following 100 universities are ranked the highest for their medical research in the United States:

  • Harvard University Boston, MA
  • Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
  • Stanford University Stanford, CA
  • University of Pennsylvania (Perelman) Philadelphia, PA
  • University of California – San Francisco San Francisco, CA
  • Columbia University New York, NY
  • University of California – Los Angeles (Geffen) Los Angeles, CA
  • Washington University in St. Louis St. Louis, MO
  • Cornell University (Weill) New York, NY
  • Mayo Clinic (Alix) School of Medicine Rochester, MN
  • New York University (Langone) New York, NY
  • University of Washington Seattle, WA
  • Duke University Durham, NC
  • University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA
  • Yale University New Haven, CT
  • University of Chicago (Pritzker) Chicago, IL
  • University of Michigan – Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI
  • Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN
  • Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai New York, NY
  • Northwest University (Feinberg) Chicago, IL
  • University of California – San Diego La Jolla, CA
  • Baylor College of Medicine Houston, TX
  • University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC
  • Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, OH
  • Emory University Atlanta, GA
  • University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Dallas, TX
  • University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA
  • University of Wisconsin Madison Madison, WI
  • Oregon Health & Science University Portland, OR
  • Boston University Boston, MA
  • Ohio State University Columbus, OH
  • University of Alabama Birmingham Birmingham, AL
  • University of California Davis Sacramento, CA
  • University of Colorado Aurora, CO
  • University of Southern California (Keck) Los Angeles, CA
  • Brown University (Alpert) Providence, RI
  • University of Rochester Rochester, NY
  • Albert Einstein College of Medicine Bronx, New York
  • University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, OH
  • University of Iowa (Carver) Iowa City, IA
  • University of Maryland Baltimore, MD
  • University of Utah Salt Lake City, UT
  • University of Florida Gainesville, FL
  • University of Minnesota Minneapolis, MN
  • Dartmouth College (Geisel) Hannover, NH
  • University of California Irvine Irvine, CA
  • University of Massachusetts Worcester Worcester, MA
  • Georgetown University Washington, DC
  • Indiana University Indianapolis Indianapolis, IN
  • University of Illinois Chicago, IL
  • Wake Forest University Winston Salem, North Carolina
  • University of Connecticut Farmington, CT
  • University of Miami (Miller) Miami, FL
  • University of South Florida Tampa, FL
  • University of Texas Health Science Center – Houston (McGovern) Houston, TX
  • Stony Brook University SUNY Stony Brook, NY
  • Thomas Jefferson University (Kimmel) Philadelphia, PA
  • Tufts University Boston, MA
  • University of Hawaii – Manoa (Burns) Honolulu, HI
  • George Washington University Washington, DC
  • Medical College of Wisconsin Milwaukee, WI
  • South Carolina University of Medicine Charleston, SC
  • Temple University (Katz) Philadelphia, PA
  • University of Texas Health Science Center – San Antonio San Antonio, TX
  • University of Arizona – Tucson Tucson, AZ
  • University of Nebraska Medical Center Omaha, NE
  • University of Kansas Medical Center Kansas City, KS
  • University of Vermont Burlington, VT
  • Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, VA
  • Rush University Chicago, IL
  • University of Texas Medical Branch – Galveston Galveston, TX
  • Hofstra University Hempstead, NY
  • Saint Louis University St. Louis, MO
  • University of Kentucky Lexington, KY
  • Rutgers New Jersey Medical School – Newark Newark, NJ
  • Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School – New Brunswick New Brunswick, NJ
  • University of Buffalo – SUNY (Jacobs) Buffalo, NY
  • University of New Mexico Albuquerque, NM
  • University of Oklahoma Oklahoma City, OK
  • University of Tennessee Health Science Center Memphis, TN
  • Wayne State University Detroit, MI
  • University of Missouri Columbia, MO
  • Texas A&M Health Science Center Bryan, TX
  • University of Augusta Augusta, GA
  • Drexel University Philadelphia, PA
  • University of South Dakota (Sanford) Sioux Falls, SD
  • West Virginia University Morgantown, WV
  • University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
  • University of California – Riverside Riverside, CA
  • Eastern Virginia School of Medicine Norfolk, VA
  • Texas Tech University Health Science Center Lubbock, TX
  • University of South Carolina Columbia, SC
  • Central Michigan University Mt Pleasant, MI
  • East Carolina University (Brody) Greenville, NC
  • East Tennessee State University (Quillen) Johnson City, TN
  • Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine Blacksburg, VA
  • Florida Atlantic University (Schmidt) Boca Raton, FL
  • Florida State University Tallahassee, FL
  • Howard University Washington, DC
  • Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine Erie, PA
  • Lincoln Memorial University (DeBusk) Harrogate, TN
  • Marshall University (Edwards) Huntington, WV
  • Michigan State University College of Human Medicine Grand Rapids, MI
  • Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine East Lansing, MI
  • Nova Southeastern University Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine (Patel) Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • Ohio University Athens, OH
  • Oklahoma State University Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Rocky Vista Parker University, CO
  • Rowan University (Cooper) Camden, NJ
  • Rowan Stratford University School of Osteopathic Medicine, NJ

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