Best Non-Ivy League Schools are the ones that offer students excellent value for their money; even though they are not recognized as Ivy League schools, they offer education at the level of Ivy League schools or even better. Non-Ivy League schools are much more than the “second tier” of American colleges. While these universities may not be as highly ranked as their Ivy League counterparts, they still offer students exceptional opportunities for growth, education, and career success.
The Ivy League is an athletic conference. The Ivy League is a group of eight universities. They compete in the NCAA’s Division I Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) and are part of the Football Championship Subdivision football conferences. The Ivy League is an academic conference. The term “Ivy League” refers to an association of eight prestigious universities in the northeastern United States: Brown University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Princeton University, Yale University, and Columbia University.
The term “Ivy” originates from “ivy vines,” planted by 17th-century students at colleges in England such as Oxford and Cambridge because they were used as part of the official seal for these institutions. Students associated with these schools often wear blue blazers or jackets emblazoned with school crests and black turtleneck sweaters or shirts with their respective college insignia (most notably Harvard’s crimson H).
- Best Non-Ivy League Schools Ranked
- 1. Stanford University
- 2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- 3. Duke University (Durham, NC)
- 4. Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD)
- 5. University of Chicago
- 6. California Institute of Technology
- 7. Northwestern University
- 8. Vanderbilt University
- 9. Rice University (Houston, TX)
- 10. Washington University in St. Louis
- 11. Williams College
- 12. University of California Berkeley
- 13. Dartmouth College
Best Non-Ivy League Schools Ranked
There are several other high-ranking and performing universities and colleges that are not part of the Ivy League school; these schools include:
- Stanford University
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Duke University (Durham, NC)
- Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD)
- University of Chicago
- California Institute of Technology
- Northwestern University
- Vanderbilt University
- Rice University (Houston, TX)
- Washington University in St. Louis
- Williams College
- University of California Berkeley
- Dartmouth College
1. Stanford University
Stanford University is a private research university located in Palo Alto, California. It was founded in 1891 by former California Governor and U.S. Senator Leland Stanford and his wife, Jane Lathrop Stanford, as a memorial to their son Leland Stanford Jr. He had died of typhoid fever at age 15 the previous year. The school is one of the most selective universities in the United States, with an acceptance rate of 5%.
Since its founding, Stanford has also been associated with high-achieving students: The school’s alumni include Hewlett Packard co-founder David Packard; Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin; Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg; U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis; Apple Inc CEO Tim Cook; filmmaker George Lucas (Star Wars); U2 frontman Bono; Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and former CEO Jeff Bezos’ father Lawrence H.” Larry” Bezos (who founded JAMF Software).
- Acceptance rate: 4%
- SAT/ACT: 1420-1570 SAT, 32-35 ACT
- Undergraduate enrollment: 7,087
2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT, is a private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT has been consistently ranked among the world’s best universities since its founding in 1861 and is home to five schools: Science; Engineering; Architecture and Planning; Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences; Sloan School of Management.
MIT’s School of Engineering is one of the largest in the country, with over 2,100 faculty members providing instruction for 1,250 graduate students across 15 departments. The school offers over 50 undergraduate degree programs as well as graduate degrees in multiple engineering fields, including aeronautics/astronautics (AIAA), bioengineering (ABET accredited), chemical engineering, electrical engineering/computer science (ECE), mechanical engineering/materials science (M.E.).
- Acceptance rate: 7%
- SAT/ACT: 1500-1570 SAT: 34-36 ACT
- Undergraduate enrollment: 4,602
3. Duke University (Durham, NC)
Duke University is a private research university located in Durham, North Carolina, United States. Founded by Methodists and Quakers in the present-day town of Trinity in 1838 to provide an education to all people, regardless of religion or race, Duke’s undergraduate program is highly selective, admitting 6.4% of applicants.
Duke University has over 200 major fields of study and offers over 100 masters and 30 doctoral programs across its 14 schools and colleges. Duke’s campus spans 8,000 acres on three contiguous Durham campuses and a marine lab in Beaufort (North Carolina).
- Acceptance rate: 9%
- SAT/ACT: 1450-1570 SAT: 33-35 ACT
- Undergraduate enrollment: 6,682
4. Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD)
Johns Hopkins University is an American private research university in Baltimore, Maryland. Founded in 1876 as a collaboration between Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland, it is currently considered one of the top 10 universities in the world. There are four undergraduate schools at Johns Hopkins: the schools of arts and sciences, business, engineering, and public health. The university has six graduate schools: Education, Medicine; Public Health; Dental Medicine; Engineering; Arts & Sciences.
- Acceptance rate: 11%
- SAT/ACT: 1470-1560 SAT: 33-35 ACT
- Undergraduate enrollment: 6,064
5. University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois. It was established in 1890 by John D. Rockefeller, who named it after his father and had a solid connection to the Baptist church. It is highly competitive and has a low acceptance rate (10%). The university’s academic offerings are diverse and include the social sciences, natural sciences, humanities, and many other fields of study.
The school is ranked No. 6 in the U.S. News & World Report Best National Universities rankings for 2019 as well as its top-ranked liberal arts colleges list for 2019-2020; it’s also ranked No. 1 in both Forbes America’s Top Colleges rankings for 2019 and Kiplinger’s Best Values in Private Colleges rankings for 2019-2020 (with an average annual net price of $29k).
- Acceptance rate: 7%
- SAT/ACT: 1490-1570 SAT, 33-35 ACT
- Undergraduate enrollment: 6,552
6. California Institute of Technology
California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is the ideal non-Ivy League school for students who are passionate about STEM fields. Located in Pasadena, California, and founded in 1891, this private research university has a strong reputation for its math, science, and engineering programs. Located on the San Gabriel Mountains overlooking Los Angeles, Caltech offers an impressive quality of education with a small student population of just 2200 undergraduates.
The beautiful campus has lush gardens and tree-lined paths that make learning feel more like taking a walk through nature than attending class. Students enjoy opportunities to participate in research projects on campus and internships around Los Angeles during their time at Caltech. Students also have access to one of the finest libraries in Southern California and study spaces throughout campus, including cafes for coffee breaks during finals week. Caltech is one of only two nationwide schools offering all four years’ worth of undergraduate degrees online, and AACSB International fully accredits it. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools Of Business.
- Acceptance rate: 7%
- SAT/ACT: 1530-1580 SAT, 35-36 ACT
- Undergraduate enrollment: 948
7. Northwestern University
Northwestern University is a private research university in Evanston, Illinois, with campuses in Chicago and Doha, Qatar. Northwestern is one of the top-ten universities in the United States according to U.S. News & World Report (No. 8) and The Princeton Review (No. 9). With an acceptance rate of 13%, it has been ranked by Forbes as one of America’s most selective colleges. At the same time, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance places Northwestern among its 100 best values in public universities.
Northwestern was founded by John Evans, 5th President of the United States, as “Northwestern Military and Naval Academy” on October 22, 1851, until November 1853, when he resigned his post due to health reasons before being reassigned to Fort Snelling, Minnesota where he served until his death May 25, 1857, due to Tuberculosis. It was renamed Evanston College after his death but soon became affiliated with nearby Cook County Normal School, which was established under Illinois State Legislature act no 3707, passed on February 20, 1850, granting such powers granted from separate institutions.
- Acceptance rate: 8%
- SAT/ACT: 1430-1550 SAT, 33-35 ACT
- Undergraduate enrollment: 8,231
8. Vanderbilt University
Vanderbilt University is a private research university in Nashville, Tennessee, United States. Vanderbilt University was Founded in 1873 and is named in honor of shipping and rail magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt, who provided the school with its initial $1 million endowment despite having never been to the South. Vanderbilt’s student body was once largely composed of middle-class southern farmers; today, it has an international reputation with students from more than 140 countries representing all 50 states and several foreign countries. Vanderbilt offers bachelor’s degrees in over 70 majors across its nine schools: College of Arts & Science; School of Engineering; Peabody College; School of Nursing; Gertrude Cox Ingram Honors Program; Blair School of Music; Graduate School and Kenan Flagler Business School.
- Acceptance rate: 11.6%
- GPA: 3.8 or higher
- SAT/ACT: 1470-1570 SAT, 33-35 ACT
- Undergraduate enrollment: 13,796
9. Rice University (Houston, TX)
Rice University is a private research university located in Houston, Texas, United States. It is consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the United States and has been for many years. Rice is also ranked as the best value for international students by U.S. News & World Report. The school was initially founded in 1912 by William Marsh Rice as a preparatory school for boys from wealthy families who would go on to attend Yale or Harvard. Today, it offers undergraduate programs through its academic schools, including Arts & Humanities; Business; Engineering; Humanities & Social Sciences; Natural Sciences & Mathematics; Technology Management; and Music & Fine Arts.
- Acceptance rate: 10.9%
- SAT/ACT: 1500-1560 SAT, 34-35 ACT
- Undergraduate enrollment: 4,076
10. Washington University in St. Louis
Washington University in St. Louis was founded in 1853 as the first higher education institution in St. Louis, Missouri. It is a private research university and is highly regarded for its medical and law schools. The university also has top rankings for its business programs, including a substantial endowment fund that allows students to study at one of the most prestigious universities across the country while still earning a reasonable degree. Washington University’s campus is located in Clayton, MO, which has been ranked among “America’s Best Suburbs” by Forbes Magazine due to its excellent public school system and being home to several Fortune 500 companies.
- Acceptance rate: 16%
- SAT/ACT: 1480-1560 SAT, 33-35 ACT
- Undergraduate enrollment: 15,539
11. Williams College
Williams College is a private liberal arts college in Williamstown, Massachusetts. It was established in 1793 as the Academy of Williamstown and then renamed Williams College after receiving its charter from the state of Massachusetts on February 2, 1793. The college is a member of the Ivy League and has been called “the Harvard of the East” and “the Princeton of New England.”
The college currently enrolls 1,944 undergraduates at its 153-acre (62 ha) campus on Mount Greylock, with an average class size of 14 students. Undergraduates come from 46 states and territories and from more than 60 countries around the world; international students represent 18 percent of all undergrads. Williams offers over 70 majors in four academic divisions: Humanities, Social Sciences; Natural Sciences & Mathematics; and Social Action & Public Policy Studies.
- Acceptance rate: 13%
- SAT/ACT: 1410-1550 SAT, 32-35 ACT
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,073
12. University of California Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley, is located in Berkeley, California. The university has a total undergraduate enrollment of 22,000 students and 1,500 faculty members teaching. UC Berkeley also has a special graduate enrollment of 8,000 students. The school opened its doors to students on October 22, 1868, as the University Farm in Oakland; it was renamed the State Agricultural College of California in 1869 and officially became known as the University of California at Berkeley in 1959.
- Acceptance rate: 15%
- Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1300-1530 SAT, 28-34 ACT
- Undergraduate enrollment: 30,853
13. Dartmouth College
Dartmouth College is a private Ivy League research university in Hanover, New Hampshire, United States. It is known for its rigorous academics, strong liberal arts focus, and tradition of service. The college was founded in 1769 by Eleazar Wheelock with help from the New Hampshire State Legislature.
The school was initially named “Rockingham Academy”; it was renamed after the town of Dartmouth when it was incorporated as the town of Hanover in 1784. Dartmouth College possesses a unique identity among America’s top universities because of its history and ethos; it has a long-standing commitment to undergraduate teaching and offers an excellent graduate program, including doctoral studies in several disciplines.
- Acceptance rate: 6.2%
- SAT/ACT: 1500-1560 SAT, 33-35 ACT
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1217
We hope that this list has given you a clearer idea about the best non-Ivy League schools in the U.S. This information will help you decide what non-Ivy league school to attend when you’re ready to apply for the tertiary institution to attend. All of these non-Ivy league schools will offer you a sound education as much as the Ivy League schools provide and more.