Best colleges National Universities

Best national universities

National Universities include large public universities economically advantageous to in-state residents, and the storied private universities catering to the nation's elite students. Schools included in our national universities category must offer a wide variety of undergraduate majors, as well as a variety of masters and doctoral programs. 

Interested in how we calculate our rankings? Read our methodology.

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Net cost: The median annual cost of all students that receive any aid. This does not refer to the “sticker price”, the price listed by the college.

Earnings: The median earnings of all bachelor-level students 10 years after enrollment. This includes both students that do and do not graduate, across all majors.

Payback: The amount of time in years it takes to pay off the median net cost by the median earnings. For this calculation, the median earning of high school graduates (in the school’s home state) are deducted from the median earnings.

Earningsplus: The difference between the school’s median earnings and the median earnings for all schools in the same state.

Rankings: The ranking order is based on the economic score. The economic score is calculated using a school’s payback and earningsplus performance.

Net cost
Payback
Earnings
EarningsPlus
Rankings
Ranking methodology
#1 in National University

Princeton University

Princeton, New Jersey

Economic score: 0.31

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $11,317

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: Under a year

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $95,689

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $50,066

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 6%
Graduation rate: 97%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#2 in National University

Stanford University

Stanford, California

Economic score: 0.36

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $11,496

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: Under a year

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $97,798

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $47,119

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 6%
Graduation rate: 96%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#3 in National University

CUNY City College

New York, New York

Economic score: 0.37

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $2,385

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: Under 6 months

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $55,741

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $51

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 51%
Graduation rate: 54%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#4 in National University

University of Florida

Gainesville, Florida

Economic score: 0.45

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $6,302

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: Under a year

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $64,463

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $19,742

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 32%
Graduation rate: 88%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#5 in National University

Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta, Georgia

Economic score: 0.49

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $14,739

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1 year

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $88,196

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $46,303

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 22%
Graduation rate: 90%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#6 in National University

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Economic score: 0.50

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $16,636

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: Under a year

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $111,222

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $43,464

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 8%
Graduation rate: 96%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#7 in National University

California Institute of Technology

Pasadena, California

Economic score: 0.52

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $24,274

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.2 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $112,166

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $61,487

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 7%
Graduation rate: 93%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#8 in National University

University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Economic score: 0.70

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $15,336

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.2 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $75,842

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $31,796

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 27%
Graduation rate: 93%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#9 in National University

Duke University

Durham, North Carolina

Economic score: 0.70

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $27,020

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.6 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $93,115

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $51,044

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 8%
Graduation rate: 96%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#10 in National University

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Economic score: 0.71

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $25,802

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.4 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $103,246

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $49,668

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 9%
Graduation rate: 97%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#11 in National University

University of California-Berkeley

Berkeley, California

Economic score: 0.74

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $15,329

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.2 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $80,364

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $29,685

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 18%
Graduation rate: 93%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#12 in National University

Missouri University of Science and Technology

Rolla, Missouri

Economic score: 0.74

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $14,262

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.3 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $80,289

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $32,969

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 82%
Graduation rate: 68%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#13 in National University

Vanderbilt University

Nashville, Tennessee

Economic score: 0.75

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $19,432

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.4 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $79,872

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $36,117

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 12%
Graduation rate: 94%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#14 in National University

Rice University

Houston, Texas

Economic score: 0.77

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $16,999

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.3 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $77,683

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $32,736

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 11%
Graduation rate: 95%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#15 in National University

Georgetown University

Washington, District of Columbia

Economic score: 0.82

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $28,909

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.6 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $96,375

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $47,089

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 17%
Graduation rate: 94%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#16 in National University

University of California-Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California

Economic score: 0.83

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $14,279

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.2 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $73,744

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $23,065

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 15%
Graduation rate: 92%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#17 in National University

University of California-San Diego

La Jolla, California

Economic score: 0.85

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $14,232

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.3 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $74,771

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $24,092

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 37%
Graduation rate: 89%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#18 in National University

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Economic score: 0.86

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $12,352

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.3 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $61,915

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $19,844

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 26%
Graduation rate: 90%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#19 in National University

University of Washington-Seattle Campus

Seattle, Washington

Economic score: 0.88

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $13,297

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.3 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $68,925

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $23,966

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 56%
Graduation rate: 84%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#20 in National University

Harvard University

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Economic score: 0.89

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $15,386

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.1 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $84,918

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $17,160

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 6%
Graduation rate: 98%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

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