The Top 5 Ranked Colleges and Universities in the US

By Barry Solomon , last updated November 17, 2011

Attending one of the top ranked colleges or universities in the country can be a significant boon to your future success. If you have worked hard during your high school career, have excellent SAT scores, and have good extracurricular activities and feel that you are ready to compete for acceptance to a great college, here are the top five ranked colleges and universities in the United States as reported in the "US News and World Report".

Harvard and Princeton

The top position is shared by two prominent universities. Harvard, located in Cambridge, MA, is the oldest university in the United States and it has the richest endowment of any educational institution in the world. It enrolls 6,641 undergraduates and the annual tuition and fees come to $39,849. The school offers a full range of undergraduate majors and has graduate and professional divisions that are unparalleled. Sharing the top spot is Princeton University in Princeton, NJ. The college enrolls 5,220 students at an annual tuition of $37,000. It has a policy that if you are accepted to the college, you will receive the financing to attend. It does this with a unique no loan policy, which means that financially needy students receive grants to cover any shortfalls that do not have to be paid back. The school offers a broad number of majors, and while it does have graduate and professional programs, they are not nearly as extensive as those offered by Harvard.

Yale University

Third place goes to that bastion of higher learning in New Haven, CT, Yale University. What is unique about Yale is that it offers a small college experience set in the context of a major research institution with a full compliment of graduate and professional programs. It accomplishes this by dividing the entering class into twelve residential colleges. This encourages close peer relationships and extends the learning experience beyond the classroom. Tuition and fees come to $40,500 per year and the enrollment for the school is 5,310 students.

Columbia University

If you want to be in a major international urban environment, then the fourth place institution in New York City is the place for you. Columbia University has three separate undergraduate schools, which include Columbia College, The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the School of General Studies. Columbia is a major research institution with a full compliment of graduate and professional programs on campus. The colleges guarantee anyone who wants to live on campus student housing for all four years, which is no small feat in Manhattan. Total enrollment at the colleges is 5,888 and the annual tuition and fees come to $45,290.

California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Fifth place goes to the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. This premiere school for engineering has an extremely low student to faculty ratio of just 3 to 1 and is involved in major research projects for government and private industry. The enrollment is just 967 and the tuition is $37,704. Tied for fifth place is the other great engineering school, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA. Unlike Cal Tech, it also offers programs in architecture, humanities, management, and social science and has some very prestigious graduate and professional courses of study. Tuition is $40,732 and enrollment is 4,299. Three other institutions also tied for fifth place. Stanford University in Stanford, CA offers a broad range of majors and undergraduates are encouraged to get involved in research projects. The enrollment is 6,940 and the tuition is $40,569. The University of Chicago offers a rich learning experience in the heart of a major city. Annual tuition is $42,783 and enrollment is 5,238. The University of Pennsylvania offers undergraduate programs in arts and sciences, nursing, engineering, and business. Enrollment is 9,865 and tuition is $42,098.

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