What Are The Smartest Colleges In America? You May Be Surprised To Find Which University Isn't Number One


Every year, tons of websites and publications release rankings of universities from the United States — from the biggest party schools to the best places for hooking up. Business Insider's latest addition to this collection of rankings details the smartest colleges in America, telling us the 50 most intelligent schools across the nation. The list is mostly filled with the names all our parents probably want us to end up, but there are still a few surprises along the way. Guess which university didn't take the number one slot? Hint: It begins with an H, but still scored pretty well.

Business Insider is no stranger to the college ranking game; earlier this year, they conducted a slightly different study to find the 50 best overall colleges in America (with "best" here meaning "how well they prepare you for success after graduation"). The Masschusetts Institute of Technology topped that particular list, thanks to the fact that the median starting salary of graduates is aound $70,000. Runners up included Harvard, Stanford, and Princeton, because of course they did.

This time round, Business Insider used a Duke University Talent Identification Program created by Jonathan Wai In order to determine what constitutes "smartness." The program basically averages the standardized test scores of students in colleges or universities, with the assumption being that the higher the average SAT and ACT scores, the smarter you are. The method might be a little flawed (testing well isn't necessarily indicative of how smart you are), but it's certainly one way to try to measure something that's kind of difficult to quantify.

Here are the top 10; head on over to Business Insider to see the ranking of all 50 smartest schools. Did your alma mater make the cut?

10. Northwestern University

According to Business Insider, 81 percent of students from this Chicago university were either employed or in full-time graduate school after they got their undergrad degree. The average SAT score is 1475.

9. Stanford University

Stanford and Northwestern are technically tied for this spot, and hold such a high position on this list for good reason. Last year, Stanford only accepted around five percent of applicants, making it a haven for the creme de la creme. Like Northwestern, the average SAT score is 1475.

8. Columbia University

New York's very own Columbia University unsurprisingly comes in as one of the smartest schools. The university did, after all, produce the likes of Hunter S. Thompson and Thomas Reardon (the creator of Internet Explorer, which was before my time but an essential piece of Internet history). The average SAT score at Columbia is five points higher than Stanford and Northwestern at 1480.

7. Harvey Mudd College

This Claremont college is best known for its engineering and computer science programs. The average SAT score at the sunny California school is 1494.

6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

According to Business Insider, most students form MIT go on to work at big-name companies like Google, Oracle, McKinsey, and Morgan Stanley. The average SAT score is 1495.

5. Princeton University

Princeton's low acceptance rate (only about 7.4 percent) and reputation for excellent academics, not to mention the average SAT score of 1500, distinguish it as one of the smartest schools in the country.

4. Yale University

As expected, Yale ranks highly with an average 1505 SAT score. Yale students are some of the smartest in the country, perhaps because they have free reign with their course selection — so they don't feel tied down to subjects in which they have no interest. It's also important to note that Princeton and Yale are tied; their average SAT scores are only 10 points apart.

3. Harvard University

Harvard, which is actually tied with number two on this list, is undeniably filled with some of the smartest people in the country. With such a low acceptance rate and high average SAT score (1505), how could it not be?

2. University of Chicago

Almost three quarters of graduates from UChicago report being employed full time or enrolled in graduate school before they even get their undergraduate degree. Combine that with incredibly high SAT and ACT schools and you get a recipe for brilliance.

1. California Institute of Technology

Cal Tech beats out big Ivy names like Harvard, Princeton, and Yale because 98 percent of the school's students placed within the top 10 percent of their high school classes. Furthermore, about 80 percent pursue grad degrees after graduating. With a average SAT score of 1550 and a prestigious STEM program, this Pasadena school steals the show.

BRB — going to go try solving a simple math equation and then feeling mildly sad about my life. You can view the complete top 50 list here.

Images: JoeInSouthernCa/Flickr; northwesternu, stanford, columbia, harvey_mudd, mitpics, princeton_university, yale, harvard, uchicago, caltechedu/Instagram