America's Best Colleges 2013

Top Schools Harvard, Princeton, Williams Continue Reign in U.S. News Best Colleges Rankings

US News

The 2013 edition of the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings is out, with stability at the very top of both the National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges lists.

View gallery

.

Columbia graduation (Michael Rubenstein / U.S. News & World Report)

Harvard University and Princeton University remained tied for the top spot in this year's list of Best National Universities, which are typically large institutions that focus on research and grant bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. Williams College still reigns as the lone No. 1 among National Liberal Arts Colleges, schools that emphasize undergraduate education and grant at least half their degrees in liberal arts majors such as philosophy, English, and history.

[Explore the 2013 Best Colleges rankings.]

There was slight movement right below the top National Universities. Last year's five-way tie for fifth dissolved, with the University of Chicago bumping up to tie with Columbia University at fourth and the California Institute of Technology sliding down to 10th. Further down the rankings, one of the biggest moves was made by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, which leapt nine spots from a tie at 50th to a tie at 41st.

Among the National Liberal Arts Colleges, Vassar College jumped up four spots to crack the top 10, tying with Claremont McKenna College. Harvey Mudd College rose from 18th to tie for 12th, and Bard College moved up 15 spots, from a tie at 51st to a tie at 36th.

The top-ranked Regional Universities—schools that offer many undergraduate degrees, some master's, and few doctoral programs—also continued their strongholds in each quadrant of the country: Villanova University remains first in the North, while Rollins College, Creighton University, and Trinity University remain at the top in the South, Midwest, and West, respectively.

There was some juggling, however, among the top Regional Colleges—schools that grant fewer than half their degrees in liberal arts disciplines and, like the Regional Universities, are grouped into four geographic quadrants. In the North, Cooper Union nudged out the United States Coast Guard Academy for the top spot, and down South, High Point University outseated John Brown University. The top Regional Colleges in the Midwest and West, Taylor University and Carroll College, remained in the same spots from last year.

[View photos of the top National Universities.]

At schools across the country, debt is a top concern for students and their parents. A majority of students borrow for college—and some amount of debt can be healthy—but it's important to research your options before you take out a student loan. For reference, U.S. News provides a list of the colleges that graduate students with the most debt, on average, as well as a list of colleges where the most students receive merit aid. U.S. News also ranks Best Value Schools, which provide students with the highest academic quality at the least net cost.

Another piece of the college investment question comes after graduation: Will your school and your major help you to land a job? To help students identify employers recruiting from their colleges, U.S. News has added a "Jobs and Internships" tab on each school profile page. Users can also search by field of study or location to find jobs and internships that employers are looking to fill with graduates from specific schools.

[See nine companies hiring now.]

For students with a clear career path in mind, several updated rankings lists may help them narrow their college options. U.S. News has ranked the Best Undergraduate Business Programs and the Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs—each of which includes specialty rankings, such as Best Accounting Programs, Best Finance Programs, Best Chemical Engineering Programs, and Best Computer Engineering Programs.

Beyond the rankings, which also include new lists of Up-and-Coming Schools and A+ Schools for B Students, users can find a vast array of information on U.S. News school profile pages, and in articles and blog posts written to help students find the right school for them.

The Top 10 National Universities

View gallery

.

Thinkstock

1. Harvard University (tie)

City: Cambridge, MA
Total Enrollment: 19,872
2012-2013 Tuition and Fees: $40,866
Application Deadline: January 1



View gallery

.

Thinkstock

1. Princeton University (tie)

City: Princeton, NJ
Total Enrollment: 7,859
2012-2013 Tuition and Fees: $38,650
Application Deadline: January 1



View gallery

.

Thinkstock

3. Yale University

City: New Haven, CT
Total Enrollment: 11,875
2012-2013 Tuition and Fees: $42,300   
Application Deadline: December 31



View gallery

.

Thinkstock

4. Columbia University (tie)

City: New York, NY
Total Enrollment: 22,885       
2012-2013 Tuition and Fees: $47,246
Application Deadline: January 1



View gallery

.

Thinkstock

4. University of Chicago (tie)
City: Chicago, IL
Total Enrollment: 12,316   
2012-2013 Tuition and Fees: $44,574   
Application Deadline: January 3




View gallery

.

Thinkstock

6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (tie)

City: Cambridge, MA
Total Enrollment: 10,894
2012-2013 Tuition and Fees: $42,050   
Application Deadline: January 1



View gallery

.

Thinkstock

6. Stanford University (tie)

City: Stanford, CA
Total Enrollment: 19,945       
2012-2013 Tuition and Fees: $41,787
Application Deadline: January 1



View gallery

.

Thinkstock

8. Duke University (tie)

City: Durham, NC
Total Enrollment: 15,427       
2012-2013 Tuition and Fees: $43,623
Application Deadline: January 2



View gallery

.

AP

8. University of Pennsylvania (tie)

City: Philadelphia, PA
Total Enrollment: 19,919       
2012-2013 Tuition and Fees: $43,738
Application Deadline: January 1



View gallery

.

AP

10. California Institute of Technology (tie)

City: Pasadena, CA
Total Enrollment: 2,231       
2012-2013 Tuition and Fees: $39,588
Application Deadline: January 1



View gallery

.

Getty Images

10. Dartmouth College (tie)

City: Hanover, NH
Total Enrollment: 6,144       
2012-2013 Tuition and Fees: $45,042
Application Deadline: January 1




The Top 10 National Liberal Arts Colleges


1. Williams College
City: Williamstown, MA
Total Enrollment: 2,109
2012-2013 Tuition and Fees: $44,920
Application Deadline: January 1

2. Amherst College
City: Amherst, MA
Total Enrollment: 1,791
2012-2013 Tuition and Fees: $44,610
Application Deadline: January 1

3. Swarthmore College
City: Swarthmore, PA
Total Enrollment: 1,545   
2012-2013 Tuition and Fees: $43,080
Application Deadline: January 1

4. Middlebury College (tie)
City: Middlebury, VT
Total Enrollment: 2,507   
2012-2013 Tuition and Fees: $44,111
Application Deadline: January 1

4. Pomona College (tie)
City: Claremont, CA
Total Enrollment: 1,586   
2012-2013 Tuition and Fees: $41,438
Application Deadline: January 2

6. Bowdoin College (tie)
City: Brunswick, ME
Total Enrollment: 1,778   
2012-2013 Tuition and Fees: $44,118
Application Deadline: January 1

6. Wellesley College (tie)
City: Wellesley, MA
Total Enrollment: 2,502   
2012-2013 Tuition and Fees: $42,082
Application Deadline: January 15

8. Carleton College
City: Northfield, MN
Total Enrollment: 2,018   
2012-2013 Tuition and Fees: $44,445
Application Deadline: January 15

9. Haverford College
City: Haverford, PA
Total Enrollment: 1,198   
2012-2013 Tuition and Fees: $43,702
Application Deadline: January 15

10. Claremont McKenna College (tie)
City: Claremont, CA
Total Enrollment: 1,321   
2012-2013 Tuition and Fees: $44,085
Application Deadline: January 2

10. Vassar College (tie)
City: Poughkeepsie, NY
Total Enrollment: 2,386   
2012-2013 Tuition and Fees: $46,270
Application Deadline: January 1

View Comments (616)