Top 10 US Universities That Are NOT Ivy League Schools

06/11/202331 minute read
Top 10 US Universities That Are NOT Ivy League Schools

While the Ivy League universities are often considered some of the best institutions of higher education in the United States, there are many other non-Ivy League universities that also provide outstanding education and opportunities for their students.

From liberal arts colleges to research universities, there are a plethora of high-quality institutions throughout the country that are well worth considering. In this blog, we'll explore the top non-Ivy League universities in the United States


Whether you're a high school student considering your college options, or a parent helping your child make an informed decision, choosing the right university is an important decision.

Ivy League schools are not the world's only esteemed universities, and many other schools excel in delivering a high-quality education that rivals the Ivy League.

Top 10 Non-Ivy League Schools in 2024

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  2. Stanford University
  3. California Institute of Technology
  4. Duke University
  5. Johns Hopkins University
  6. Northwestern University
  7. University of Chicago
  8. University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley)
  9. University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
  10. Vanderbilt University

Top 10 Nonivy Schools

Top 10 Colleges that are NOT in the Ivy League in the U.S.

10. Vanderbilt University

Nashville, Tennessee

Vanderbilt University is the 8th best non ivy league school

Vanderbilt Admission Stats
US News National RankingAcceptance RateUndergraduate Fields of StudyPercentage of International Students
185.6%70+10.4%

Vanderbilt University is a prestigious private research university located in Nashville, Tennessee. It is recognized for its strong academic programs in the sciences, engineering, humanities, and social sciences. The university is also renowned for its research opportunities, cutting-edge facilities, and collaborations with leading institutions worldwide.

Vanderbilt University stands out for its commitment to interdisciplinary education, encouraging students to explore multiple areas of study and collaborate with peers and faculty from diverse backgrounds.

The university also prides itself on its close-knit community, offering a vibrant campus life and a wide range of extracurricular activities. With a dedication to innovation, inclusivity, and service, Vanderbilt University is an excellent choice for students seeking a comprehensive and dynamic college experience.

9. UCLA

Los Angeles, California

How To Get Into Ucla

UCLA Admission Stats
US News National RankingAcceptance RateUndergraduate Fields of StudyInternational Students (Undergrad)
158.8%1409%

UCLA is known for its diverse and inclusive environment. With a sprawling and picturesque campus situated in the heart of Los Angeles, you'll find a melting pot of cultures, ideas, and experiences. This diversity enriches your educational journey and offers you a chance to connect with people from all walks of life.

UCLA's academic programs are top-notch. The university consistently ranks among the best in the world, offering a wide range of majors and a commitment to cutting-edge research. Whether you're interested in engineering, the arts, business, or the sciences, UCLA has something to offer.

The faculty is comprised of world-renowned experts, and you'll have access to resources that will help you succeed in your academic pursuits. Moreover, UCLA's location in Los Angeles provides incredible opportunities for internships, networking, and cultural exploration.

8. University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, California

Uc Berkeley

UC Berkeley Admission Stats
US News National RankingAcceptance RateUndergraduate Fields of StudyPercentage of International Students
1511.7%150+16.2%

UC Berkeley boasts a rich history of groundbreaking research, with numerous Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners among its alumni and faculty. At UC Berkeley, you'll find yourself surrounded by a diverse and intellectually stimulating community.

With a broad range of majors and programs, there's something for everyone. Whether you're passionate about the sciences, humanities, social sciences, or the arts, UC Berkeley offers a wealth of opportunities to explore your interests and expand your knowledge.

Beyond its academic reputation, UC Berkeley is nestled in the vibrant and culturally rich city of Berkeley, just across the bay from San Francisco. You'll be in the heart of the action, with numerous cultural events, restaurants, and outdoor activities at your fingertips.

UC Berkeley is a hub for innovation and activism. It's known for its commitment to social justice and its role in historical movements. As a student here, you can actively engage in causes that matter to you, and the university provides ample resources and support for your initiatives.

7. University of Chicago

Chicago, Illinois

University of Chicago is the 3rd best non Ivy League School

UChicago Admission Stats
US News National RankingAcceptance RateUndergraduate Fields of StudyPercentage of International Students
125.6%5326.6%

The University of Chicago is a highly regarded private research university in Chicago, Illinois. It is known for its rigorous academic programs, particularly in the social sciences, humanities, and physical sciences. The university is unique for its focus on critical thinking and inquiry-based learning, encouraging students to explore big ideas and engage in intellectual discourse.

The university's rich history, innovative research, and dedicated faculty make it a hub for intellectual curiosity and academic achievement. Whether you're passionate about the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, or any other field, UChicago offers a stimulating and intellectually rewarding environment for your academic journey.

A Day in the Life: UChicago Student

6. Northwestern University

Evanston, Illinois

Northwestern is the 6th best non ivy league school

Northwestern Admission Stats
US News National RankingAcceptance RateUndergraduate Fields of StudyPercentage of International Students
97%9022%

Northwestern University is a highly regarded private research university in Evanston, Illinois, with additional campuses in Chicago and Doha, Qatar. It is known for its strong academic programs, including highly-ranked sciences, engineering, and business programs.

The university also boasts a strong focus on research, with state-of-the-art facilities and extensive funding for research projects. In addition to its academic strengths, Northwestern offers a vibrant campus life with many extracurricular activities, including athletics, music, theater, and community service.

Northwestern’s commitment to research and innovation is also highlighted through its partnerships with leading companies and its exceptional programs in fields such as engineering and computer science. If you're looking for a university that seamlessly combines academic rigor with practical application and a stunning campus environment, Northwestern is a standout choice.

A Day in the Life: Northwestern Student

5. Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, Maryland

Johns Hopkins is the 5th best non Ivy League School

Johns Hopkins Admission Stats
US News National RankingAcceptance RateUndergraduate Fields of StudyPercentage of International Students
96.5%5319%

Johns Hopkins University is a prestigious private research university in Baltimore, Maryland. It is widely recognized for its outstanding academic programs, particularly in the sciences, engineering, and public health.

Johns Hopkins is unique for its emphasis on research, offering extensive opportunities for students to engage in cutting-edge research projects and partnerships with leading institutions worldwide.

The university is also known for its interdisciplinary approach to education, encouraging students to explore multiple fields of study and collaborate with experts from diverse backgrounds.

In addition to its academic strengths, Johns Hopkins offers a vibrant campus life with a wide range of extracurricular activities, including athletics, music, theater, and community service.

With a commitment to excellence, innovation, and social impact, Johns Hopkins University is an excellent choice for students seeking a challenging and impactful college experience.

A Day in the Life: Johns Hopkins Student

4. Duke University

Durham, North Carolina

Duke is the 7th best non ivy league school

Duke Admission Stats
US News National RankingAcceptance RateUndergraduate Fields of StudyPercentage of International Students
76%5318.3%

Duke University is a world-renowned private research university in Durham, North Carolina. It is widely recognized for its top-ranked academic programs, particularly in the sciences, engineering, and business. The university has a unique interdisciplinary approach to education, allowing students to explore multiple fields of study and collaborate with experts from diverse backgrounds.

Duke is also known for its exceptional research opportunities, state-of-the-art facilities, and extensive funding for research projects.

What sets Duke apart is its commitment to service, focusing on creating positive social impact through research and community engagement.

With a vibrant campus life, a diverse student body, and a commitment to excellence, Duke University is an excellent choice for students seeking a challenging and impactful college experience.

The Essay that got Crimson Student Alanna into Duke

3. California Institute of Technology

Pasadena, California

Caltech is the 4th best non Ivy League School

CalTech Admission Stats
US News National RankingAcceptance RateUndergraduate Fields of StudyPercentage of International Students
76.4%2812%

California Institute of Technology, also known as Caltech, is a world-renowned private research university in Pasadena, California. It is widely recognized for its exceptional academic programs, particularly in the sciences, engineering, and mathematics.

Caltech is unique for its intense focus on research, providing extensive opportunities for students to engage in cutting-edge scientific discovery and innovation. The university is also known for its small class sizes and low student-to-faculty ratio, encouraging close collaboration and mentoring relationships between students and faculty.

In addition to its academic strengths, Caltech offers a vibrant campus life with a wide range of extracurricular activities, including athletics, music, theater, and community service.

With a commitment to excellence, innovation, and scientific discovery, Caltech is an excellent choice for students seeking a challenging and transformative college experience.

Big Questions Ep. 22: Caltech

2. Stanford University

Stanford, California

Stanford is the 2nd best non Ivy League school in the world

Stanford Admission Stats
US News National RankingAcceptance RateUndergraduate Fields of StudyPercentage of International Students
33.68%5811%

Stanford University is a world-renowned private research university located in Stanford, California. It is known for its exceptional academic programs, including highly-ranked engineering, business, and computer science programs. Stanford is unique for its focus on innovation and entrepreneurship, with extensive resources and opportunities for students to pursue their own research and start their own businesses.

This interdisciplinary hub encourages students to tackle complex challenges through design thinking and offers a collaborative, hands-on approach to education.

Stanford also boasts a stunning campus with a rich history, and its lush surroundings, including the Stanford Dish Loop, offer the perfect balance between academic pursuits and outdoor recreation.

A Day in the Life: Stanford Student

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, Massachusetts

MIT the best non Ivy League schools

MIT Admission Stats
US News National RankingAcceptance RateUndergraduate Fields of StudyPercentage of International Students (Undergrad)
24.7%5411%

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a top-ranked private research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is widely recognized for its exceptional academic programs, particularly in science, engineering, and technology.

From its Media Lab, which pioneers advancements in digital media and design, to the prestigious MIT Sloan School of Management, a leader in business education, the university provides students with unparalleled opportunities to engage in cutting-edge research and problem-solving.

The unique culture at MIT encourages interdisciplinary collaboration, fostering an environment where you can explore the boundaries of human knowledge and create technologies that redefine the future.

A Day in the Life: MIT Student

Honorable Mentions

Here are some honorable mentions of great universities that didn’t make the list

  • University of Notre Dame
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Rice University
  • Carnegie Melon University
  • Emory University
  • Georgetown University
  • New York University
  • University of Michigan Ann-Arbor
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Virginia

Final Thoughts

All of these schools boast incredible academic resources, student organizations and alumni networks that make them highly competitive for applicants all over the world. But this list is far from exhaustive! In fact, 45 of the top 100 universities in the world are located in the US — meaning the opportunities for a top-tier college education in the US are vast.

At Crimson, we help students identify their best-fit universities based on a variety of criteria including location, size, academics, student organizations and much more, to make sure you find a school that suits all of your unique priorities.

Because our teams work with students to find universities where they can truly thrive, our students are up to 4x more likely to gain admission to leading US universities! To learn more about how Crimson can help you explore all that the US has to offer for ambitious college applicants, visit our Admissions Support page or click the link below to schedule a free consultation with an Academic Advisor.

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