2020 Best National University

Schools in the National Universities category, such as the University of Chicago and Carnegie Mellon University, offer a full range of undergraduate majors, plus master’s and doctoral programs. These colleges also are committed to producing groundbreaking research. Read the methodology »

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Overview of Princeton University
Princeton University is a private institution that was founded in 1746. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 5,428, its setting is suburban, and the campus size is 600 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. Princeton University’s ranking in the 2020 edition of Best Colleges is National Universities, #1. Its tuition and fees are $51,870.

Princeton, among the oldest colleges in the U.S., is located in the quiet town of Princeton, New Jersey. Within the walls of its historic ivy-covered campus, Princeton offers a number of events, activities and organizations. The Princeton Tigers, members of the Ivy League, are well known for their consistently strong men’s and women’s lacrosse teams. Students live in one of six residential colleges that provide a residential community as well as dining services but have the option to join one of more than 10 eating clubs for their junior and senior years. The eating clubs serve as social and dining organizations for the students who join them. Princeton’s unofficial motto, “Princeton in the Nation’s Service and the Service of Humanity,” speaks to the university’s commitment to community service.

Princeton includes highly ranked graduate programs through the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and School of Engineering and Applied Science. One unique aspect of Princeton’s academic program is that undergraduate students are required to write a senior thesis, or for students in some engineering departments, take on an independent project. Notable alumni include U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, model/actress Brooke Shields and former first lady Michelle Obama. According to Princeton legend, if a student exits campus through FitzRandolph Gate prior to graduation, he or she may be cursed never to graduate.

Overview of Harvard University
Harvard University is a private institution that was founded in 1636. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 6,788, its setting is urban, and the campus size is 5,076 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. Harvard University’s ranking in the 2020 edition of Best Colleges is National Universities, #2. Its tuition and fees are $51,925.

Located outside Boston in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard is made up of 13 schools and institutes, including the top-ranked Business School and Medical School and the highly ranked Graduate Education School, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Law School and John F. Kennedy School of Government. Harvard’s extensive library system houses the oldest collection in the U.S. and the largest private collection in the world. Beyond books, Harvard’s athletic teams compete in the Ivy League, with an annual football matchup against rival Yale. On-campus residential housing is an integral part of student life, where freshmen live at the center of campus and upperclassmen live in 12 undergraduate houses. Eight U.S. presidents graduated from Harvard, including Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. Other notable alumni include Henry David Thoreau and Helen Keller. Harvard also has the largest endowment of any school in the world.

How was Harvard University founded?

Harvard University was founded in 1636 colonial America by the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The school was initially created to educate members of the clergy, according to the university’s archives. Harvard is named after a Puritan minister – John Harvard – who, in 1638, left his 400-book library and half of his estate to the young school. The first commencement ceremony at Harvard, held in 1642, had nine graduates.

How does Harvard compare to other Ivy League schools?

Of the eight Ivy League schools – including Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University and Yale University – Harvard is one of the most selective. It is also one of the largest, enrolling more than 20,700 students at the start of the 2018 academic year. By comparison, Dartmouth enrolled about 6,500 students during the same period. For a more robust comparison of the Ivy League schools, explore this article.

Who owns Harvard?

Since it is a private, nonprofit institution, Harvard University doesn’t have an owner like a for-profit company does. In terms of its governance structure, Harvard has two boards – the Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers – that govern the university and determine its future policies and plans.

How do I apply to Harvard?

To apply to Harvard College, the university’s undergraduate program, freshman applicants can submit The Common Application, the Universal College Application or the Coalition Application. For more information about other required application materials, such as standardized test scores, visit the Applying section of the Harvard University profile page. Early action applications are due Nov. 1, while regular decision applications need to be submitted by Jan. 1.

How hard is it to get into Harvard?

Harvard is one of the most selective institutions out of all the colleges and universities surveyed for the Best Colleges rankings. Prospective students can apply early action to Harvard, though the university’s website states that submitting an early application does not gain students an advantage in the admissions process.

Overview of Columbia University
Columbia University is a private institution that was founded in 1754. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 6,202, its setting is urban, and the campus size is 36 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar. Columbia University’s ranking in the 2020 edition of Best Colleges is National Universities, #3. Its tuition and fees are $61,850.

Located in New York City, Columbia is comprised of three undergraduate schools – Columbia College, The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science and the School of General Studies – as well as a number of graduate and professional schools, including the highly ranked Business School, Teachers College, Law School and College of Physicians and Surgeons. The university also has a well-regarded College of Dental Medicine and graduate Journalism School. Columbia offers a wide range of student activities, including about 25 Greek chapters, and more than 90 percent of students live on campus. Columbia is affiliated with Barnard College for women, the Union Theological Seminary and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Distinguished alumni include John Jay, founding father and first Supreme Court chief justice, and former President Barack Obama. Columbia also administers the Pulitzer Prizes.

Which borough in New York City is Columbia located in?

Columbia University’s main campus is located in the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City, situated in the Morningside Heights neighborhood. The Columbia University Medical Center – home to the medical, nursing, dental and public health faculties – is located in northern Manhattan in the Washington Heights neighborhood.

What are the admissions criteria for Columbia?

Prospective first-year students can apply to Columbia using The Common Application or the Coalition Application. For more specific information on application requirements for both domestic and international students, see the Applying section of the Columbia University profile page. According to the university’s website, Columbia takes a holistic approach when reviewing applications. This means admissions officers look at more than just students’ grades and test scores, including their extracurricular involvement, recommendations and other factors, such as family circumstances.

When does Columbia release early decision admissions notifications?

Early decision applications to Columbia are due by Nov. 1, and according to the university’s website, students will receive an admission decision in mid-December. According to U.S. News data, 18% of early decision applicants were admitted to Columbia for the 2018-2019 academic year. Regular decision applicants will be notified of their admission status by April 1.

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