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The 105 smartest public colleges in America

University of Florida fans
University of Florida fans

(Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Does your school make the cut?

If you want to be surrounded by some of the smartest students in the US and get the most bang for your buck, you may want to consider one of the following universities.

From our recent list of the smartest colleges in America, we pulled out the top public schools.

These colleges offer brainpower and affordability, since the average annual cost of attending an in-state four-year public school is $9,100, according to CollegeBoard. Compare that to the average private school cost of $31,200 — a difference of $22,100 a year.

In order to determine a school's overall smarts, Jonathan Wai, a Duke University Talent Identification Program research scientist, analyzed the average standardized test scores that schools report to US News. (Those that did not report scores are not included.)

These tests are often criticized, but research shows that both the SAT and ACT are good measures of general cognitive ability, since just about any mental test measures one's ability to reason.

ACT scores were converted to SAT scores (math + verbal) using this concordance table so all schools could be compared on one metric. Then, an average of the 25th and 75th percentile was computed (see more detail on methods and limitations here).

On the following ranking, a (2) next to the school's name indicates that some or all students aren't required to supply scores; a (3) indicates that the school did not supply all students it has scores for, or did not tell U.S. News if it had; a (4) indicates that the data is from a previous year, rather than from the most recent year; and a (9) indicates that the school may not require scores from all applicants and that it may not have submitted data for all students.

Here are the smartest public colleges in America:

Smarts Rank

School

Average SAT

1

Georgia Institute of Technology

1400

2

University of California—​Berkeley

1390

3

University of Michigan—​Ann Arbor

1380

4

College of William and Mary

1370

5

University of Virginia

1355

6

Colorado School of Mines

1340

6

United States Air Force Academy

1340

8

University of California—​Los Angeles

1325

9

University of Maryland—​College Park

1315

10

University of North Carolina—​Chapel Hill

1305

10

University of Illinois—​Urbana-​Champaign

1305

12

University of California—​San Diego

1300

12

Ohio State University—​Columbus

1300

14

Binghamton University—​SUNY

1290

15

University of Wisconsin—​Madison

1285

15

Missouri University of Science & Technology

1285

15

United States Naval Academy

1285

18

University of Texas—​Austin

1280

18

New College of Florida

1280

20

United States Military Academy

1275

21

University of Pittsburgh

1270

22

University of Florida

1265

22

University of Minnesota—​Twin Cities

1265

22

United States Merchant Marine Academy

1265

25

Clemson University

1255

25

University of Texas—​Dallas

1255

25

United States Coast Guard Academy

1255

28

University of California—​Santa Barbara

1250

28

University of Connecticut

1250

28

Stony Brook University—​SUNY

1250

31

Miami University—​Oxford

1245

31

North Carolina State University—​Raleigh

1245

31

Florida State University

1245

31

Michigan Technological University

1245

35

University of Georgia

1235

36

University of Washington

1230

37

University of Colorado—​Boulder

1225

37

Auburn University

1225

37

University of Alabama—​Huntsville

1225

37

CUNY—​Baruch College (3)

1225

37

Truman State University

1225

37

California Polytechnic State University—​San Luis Obispo (3)

1225

43

SUNY—​Geneseo

1220

44

University of California—​Davis

1215

44

Virginia Tech

1215

44

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey—​New Brunswick (3)

1215

44

University of Massachusetts—​Amherst

1215

44

College of New Jersey

1215

49

University of Maryland—​Baltimore County

1210

50

Purdue University—​West Lafayette

1205

50

University of Alabama

1205

50

University of Tennessee

1205

50

University of South Carolina

1205

54

University of Delaware

1200

55

University of North Carolina—​Asheville

1195

56

Pennsylvania State University—​University Park

1190

56

New Jersey Institute of Technology

1190

56

University of North Carolina—​Wilmington

1190

59

Texas A&M University—​College Station

1185

59

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

1185

59

University of Vermont

1185

59

University of Oklahoma

1185

59

University of Central Florida

1185

59

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

1185

65

University of California—​Irvine

1175

65

Indiana University—​Bloomington

1175

67

Michigan State University

1165

67

University of Iowa

1165

67

University of Missouri

1165

67

Louisiana State University—​Baton Rouge

1165

67

University of Arkansas

1165

67

University of Cincinnati

1165

67

CUNY—​Hunter College

1165

74

University of South Florida

1160

74

Virginia Military Institute (3)

1160

76

Christopher Newport University (2)

1155

77

University at Buffalo—​SUNY

1150

77

George Mason University (2)

1150

77

Salisbury University (9)

1150

77

Appalachian State University

1150

81

University of California—​Santa Cruz

1145

81

University of Nebraska—​Lincoln

1145

81

Iowa State University

1145

81

University of Kansas

1145

81

Arizona State University—​Tempe (2)

1145

81

University of Kentucky

1145

81

Kansas State University (2)

1145

81

Oklahoma State University

1145

81

University of Massachusetts—​Lowell

1145

81

University of Louisville (3)

1145

81

University of Houston

1145

81

University of Minnesota—​Morris

1145

81

University of Wisconsin—​La Crosse

1145

94

James Madison University

1140

94

University of South Florida—​St. Petersburg

1140

96

University of California—​Riverside

1130

96

College of Charleston

1130

96

Georgia College & State University

1130

99

University of Utah

1125

99

Colorado State University

1125

99

University of Illinois—​Chicago (3)

1125

99

Mississippi State University

1125

99

University of Wyoming

1125

99

Montana State University

1125

99

Montana Tech of the University of Montana

1125

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