We recently ranked the 50 best colleges in America based on how well they prepare students for success, focusing on graduation rate and early-career earnings. Next, we wanted to find out which schools enroll the smartest students.
Jonathan Wai, a Duke University Talent Identification Program research scientist, created a ranking exclusively for Business Insider of the smartest US colleges and universities based on the schools' average standardized test scores.
While these tests are often criticized, research shows that both the SAT and ACT are good measures of general cognitive ability, since they rely on a person's ability to reason. Therefore, these scores give a reasonable snapshot of a school’s overall smarts.
Last year, information was taken directly from the US News & World Report. We updated that ranking by including all the schools that report average SAT and ACT scores to the government. ACT scores were converted to the SAT scale for the purposes of this analysis.
See more detail on methods and limitations here.
Once again, the Pasadena-based California Institute of Technology took the top spot on the list, and the University of Chicago, Harvard, Harvey Mudd College, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology rounded out the top five schools.
Keep scrolling to see the 50 smartest colleges in America.
50. Colgate University — Average SAT: 1369
- Location: Hamilton, New York
- Student population: 2,872
- Tuition: $51,635
- Best known for: Sends its students to top graduate schools like, Columbia University, New York University, Harvard University, and Cornell University.
50. Brandeis University — Average SAT: 1369
- Location: Waltham, Massachusetts
- Student population: 3,621
- Tuition: $49,586
- Best known for: Strong program offerings in English, history, social policy, and health policy.
49. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute — Average SAT: 1372
- Location: Troy, New York
- Student population: 5,864
- Tuition: $49,520
- Best known for: Highly-ranked engineering program.
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