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Ranking the best colleges with no application fee

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There are lots of colleges and universities that do not saddle aspiring undergraduates with an application fee. But not all such schools are created equal.

Authority.org has sifted through the evidence and determined that the following are the best colleges with no application fee.

Here is our list:

1. Colorado College

Apply to Colorado College

Authority.org “score” : 99.1
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Average net price: $28,390
Acceptance rate: 13.5%
Graduation rate: 87.7%

Colorado Springs hosts the US Olympic Committee, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Intel, and other major organizations and corporations. It is also home to Colorado College and its 2,000+ undergraduates. Besides foregoing an application fee, Colorado College offers 42 major programs and has a very attractive student to faculty ratio of 10:1.

Colorado College is considered one of the most innovative liberal arts colleges in the nation. The school also takes full advantage of its idyllic location to offer a range of outdoor activities related leadership, the environment and other timely concerns.

2. Smith College

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Authority.org “score” : 99
Location: Northampton, MA
Average net price: $28,123
Acceptance rate: 31%
Graduation rate: 86.6%

Located in historic Northampton, Massachusetts just minutes up I-91 from Springfield, Smith College is a small, highly selective college dedicated to the education of women. Among other things Smith is renowned for its student housing, comprising 41 former private residences in Victorian, Gothic, and other styles.

Smith goes out of its way to provide a comfortable, secure, intellectually challenging environment for its students. Nearly 87% of all students complete the full 4-year program. Smith students may also attend classes at other nearby colleges and Universities via the school’s membership in the Five Colleges Consortium.

3. Wellesley College

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Authority.org “score” : 98.7
Location: Wellesley, MA
Average net price: $20,826
Acceptance rate: 22.1%
Graduation rate: 92%

Wellesley is a prestigious private college located just outside Boston with graduates that include Madeleine Albright, Diane Sawyer, and Nora Ephron. Admissions to the school is competitive, and enrollment is deliberately kept low to maintain the quality of the academic experience. Wellesley has the largest endowment of any women’s college in the world ($2.2 billion).

Wellesley students use words like ‘rigorous’, ‘inspiring’, and ‘intense’ to describe the atmosphere at the school. The school is also steeped in traditions, including ‘Lake Day’ and ‘Marathon Monday’. Each sophomore class also gets to plant a tree on campus with a plaque at the tree’s base denoting which class it represents.

4. US Military Academy at West Point

Apply to West Point

Authority.org “score” : 98.4
Location: West Point, NY
Average net price: $0
Acceptance rate: 11%
Graduation rate: 83.8%

Having no application fee is one thing. But West Point takes things an order of magnitude further by being absolutely tuition-free and providing students with an annual stipend of about $10,000. Of course, everything has a price. And the price of attending West Point tuition-free is called the ‘Tactical Noncommissioned Officer’. But if you don’t mind the discipline, West Point is the place to be.

West Point emphasizes leadership and intellectual rigor. West Point graduates will make a real impact on the world around them and are expected to live up the highest ideals of military service. Interestingly, the most popular major at West Point is business, with mechanical engineering a close second.

5. Carleton College

Apply to Carleton College

Authority.org “score” : 96.5
Location: Northfield, MN
Average net price: $30,493
Acceptance rate: 21.2%
Graduation rate: 94.5%

The marketing for Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, emphasizes the joy of learning. The town of Northfield is just a short drive south of Minneapolis and is often cited by students for its livability, openness, safety and charm. While it would be wrong to characterize the atmosphere at Carleton College as being ‘wacky’, it is decidedly laid-back and offbeat.

Carleton College offers 30+ major programs and is regularly cited as being in the top 20 of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges. The high graduation rate is indicative of the fact that most of the students here love the experience and are keen to see it through.

6. Grinnell College

Apply to Grinnell College

Authority.org “score” : 96.3
Location: Grinnell, IA
Average net price: $30,808
Acceptance rate: 29%
Graduation rate: 85.7

Grinnell is a small college (1,679 undergraduates) with a big, Ivy League college feel. Located in Grinnell, Iowa, the school occupies a beautiful campus with historic overtones that betray its impressive $2 billion endowment. The school features low acceptance and high graduation rates, with notable alumni including Nobel chemist Thomas Cech, Intel co-founder Robert Noyce, and jazz luminary Herbie Hancock.

While Grinnell is something of a carefully guarded secret, it is far from an insular experience. Students are able to take advantage of dual degree programs with major universities, including Columbia, CalTech, and Dartmouth. If you are searching for an Ivy League experience without the Ivy League price tag, Grinnell is a good option.

7. Tulane University

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Authority.org “score” : 95.1
Location: New Orlean, LA
Average net price: $37,692
Acceptance rate: 21.5%
Graduation rate: 83.2%

Tulane takes its name from businessman Paul Tulane, who stepped in during the post Civil War period and helped the then University of Louisiana recover from five years of closures and financial losses. After being renamed in Tulane’s honor, the University went on to become one of the cornerstones of the New Orleans community and is today the city’s largest employer, public or private.

The admissions process to Tulane is considered competitive, with only 17 percent of applicants being accepted. A reflection of the quality of the student body is the fact that nearly 84% of freshmen complete the entire 4-year program. The school offers 60 undergraduate degree programs and features an attractive student to professor ratio of 11:1.

8. St. Olaf College

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Authority.org “score” : 94
Location: Northfield, MN
Average net price: $29,757
Acceptance rate: 43.2%
Graduation rate: 87.3%

The motto of Northfield, Minnesota is ‘Cows, Colleges, and Contentment’. It reflects the preponderance of surrounding farmland, the laid back nature of the town’s 20,000 residents, and the presence of both Carleton College (see above) and St. Olaf College. St. Olaf has just over 3,000 undergrads, accepts about 43% of applicants and is named for Olaf II, who reigned as King of Norway 1,000 years ago.

St. Olaf College offers more than 40 degree programs and has a student to teacher ratio of 12:1. St. Olaf is regularly named among the country’s best liberal arts colleges and has a much-heralded music program that dates back more than a century. In 2011 King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway visited the school.

9. Oberlin College

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Authority.org “score” : 93.8
Location: Oberlin, OH
Average net price: $48,027
Acceptance rate: 33.7%
Graduation rate: 87.6%

Not far from the south shore of Lake Erie in Oberlin, Ohio is the oldest co-ed liberal arts college in the US. Oberlin College has long been a beacon of enlightenment and inclusiveness accepting the first African Americans in 1835 and the first female college students in the US in 1837. The founders of Oberlin were also active in the abolition movement (1) and long before the Civil War demanded an immediate end to slavery.

Oberlin offers more than 50 areas of concentration and is widely considered to be one of the most innovative liberal arts colleges in the country. For evidence of this innovative spirit look no further than the school’s ‘art rental program’ wherein students can ‘rent’ works by renowned artists such as Picasso and Andy Warhol for a mere $5 per semester.

10. Colby College

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Authority.org “score” : 92.6
Location: Waterville, ME
Average net price: $24,111
Acceptance rate: 15.8%
Graduation rate: 93.6%

What is today Colby College was established when Maine was still part of Massachusetts. Over the years, it has attracted top-flight academic talent and amassed an endowment that currently exceeds $800 million. Colby occupies 714 acres of Mayflower Hill on the outskirts of Waterville, Maine and appears regularly on lists of the best liberal arts colleges in the nation

Colby offers more than four dozen majors that span nearly two dozen different departments. Economics, English, history, biology and government are some of the most popular majors. The college is very selective in who it admits and limits enrollment to around 2,000 total students. At some point during their time at Colby, nearly 2/3 of those students will study abroad.

11. Kenyon College

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Authority.org “score” : 92.2
Location: Gambier, OH
Average net price: $31,704
Acceptance rate: 33.8%
Graduation rate: 87.4%

Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio was founded nearly 200 years ago and in the ensuing years has graduated a US President (Rutherford Hayes), a Supreme Court Justice (David Davis), world-famous actors (Paul Newman), and an assortment of writers, athletes, and other luminaries. Money to found the college originally came from England, although today the school is very much part of the American landscape.

Philander Chase founded the college as a way to train clergy for growing frontier communities. Today’s undergrads, however, focus mostly on economics, psychology, political science, and English. The school is considered somewhat selective, accepting only 33% of applicants. It is also one of the more expensive colleges on our list, with an average net cost of more than $31,000.

12. University of Dayton

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Authority.org “score” : 90.8
Location: Dayton, OH
Average net price: $32,721
Acceptance rate: 71.7%
Graduation rate: 78.6%

The University of Dayton offers more than 80 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to its more than 11,000 students. Like Kenyon College, it is based in Ohio and is considered more expensive than average, even when financial aid is factored in. So the lack of an application fee will be sorely appreciated. Dayton is an R2 research institution, performing some $166 million in research during 2019.

Hundreds of Dayton students are engaged in engineering research alongside the 640 full-time researchers employed by the school’s research institute. But engineering is not the only draw. Other popular majors include education, business, the arts, and law. All applicants to the school are automatically considered for a merit scholarship worth up to $109,000.

13. Reed College

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Authority.org “score” : 90.3
Location: Portland, OR
Average net price: $31,977
Acceptance rate: 36%
Graduation rate: 81.9%

A few blocks southeast of downtown Portland is small, but highly regarded, Reed College. Reed has been churning out highly-qualified graduates for more than a century, including numerous Churchill Scholars and nearly three dozen Rhodes Scholars. Reed is considered competitive when it comes to admissions. But once accepted, an overwhelming majority of students complete the entire 4-year program.

Majestic Mt. Hood (2) – its 11,249 foot peak perpetually swathed in snow – provides the backdrop to the Reed College campus. The stately architecture of many of the school’s buildings reflect both its aspirational nature and its more than half-billion dollar endowment. At the same time, campus life is laid-back and very agreeable.

14. Trinity University

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Authority.org “score” : 88.5
Location: San Antonio, TX
Average net price: $23,144
Acceptance rate: 38.4%
Graduation rate: 82.6%

Trinity University was cobbled together in the late 19th century from what remained of several Presbyterian colleges that failed during the Civil War. It was not long, however, before the University was on its feet. Today, there are more than 2,500 full-time undergraduates, many of whom make the journey to San Antonio from foreign countries.

The staff, facilities and course offerings at Trinity reflect investments made from the school’s $1.3 billion endowment (large, for such a modest-sized school). While the endowment itself reflects the belief its alumni have in the value of the institution. Trinity is fairly selective in who it admits, but more than 82% of those admissions wind up graduating.

15. Drake University

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Authority.org “score” : 84.7
Location: Des Moines, IA
Average net price: $29,511
Acceptance rate: 68.8%
Graduation rate: 75.3%

Although it is a small to mid-sized institution of just 2,800 undergraduate students, Drake University is highly regarded in the academic community. Drake offers more than 140 majors and 23 master’s and other graduate degree programs. Popular majors include accounting, marketing, journalism, health sciences, and the law.

Students at Drake praise the effort the faculty puts into preparation and presentation of materials, the variety of courses available, and the city of Des Moines for being safe, convenient, and hospitable. More than 3/4 of those who enter Drake as freshmen go on to complete the 4-year program.

16. Rhodes College

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Authority.org “score” : 84.4
Location: Memphis, TN
Average net price: $29,915
Acceptance rate: 51%
Graduation rate: 82.3%

Not everyone drawn to Memphis comes for the Elvis Presley Automobile Museum. Thousands make the pilgrimage every year to attend Rhodes College. Rhodes offers more than four dozen majors in the liberal arts and life sciences and enables students to apply their classroom knowledge to a variety of real-world settings through the Experimental and Applied Learning program.

Classes at Rhodes are typically small, with an average of 14 students per class. Overall the student to faculty ratio is a very student-friendly 10:1. Rhodes is also known for the accessibility of its faculty and its modern, comfortable facilities. And if you have time on the weekend, you can always pop over to see Elvis’ automobile collection.

17. Lawrence University

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Authority.org “score” : 83.9
Location: Appleton, WI
Average net price: $27,436
Acceptance rate: 61.4%
Graduation rate: 76.2%

Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin was founded in the mid-19th century with a $10,000 grant provided by Amos Adams Lawrence (approximately $350,000 in today’s money). The local Methodist Church agreed to match Lawrence’s donation, and the school was chartered in 1847. The school that began in a single room now has more than 1,500 full-time undergraduates.

The school offers more than 70 majors, including computer science, environmental studies, psychology, and much more. Lawrence University is rare in that it also offers students the option of pursuing a 5-year dual degree in the form of a BA from the College, and a BM from its world-class Conservatory.

18. Milwaukee School of Engineering

Apply to the Milwaukee School of Engineering

Authority.org “score” : 83.8
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Average net price: $24,337
Acceptance rate: 62.8%
Graduation rate: 63.6%

The Milwaukee School of Engineering, or MSOE for short, is a private college with about 2,500 full-time undergraduate students. Electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and more are complemented by the school’s more traditional offerings such as actuarial science, business, and nursing.

MSOE features a year-round academic calendar with four 10-week terms. Graduates of MSOE typically are some of the highest earners of any 4-year institution of higher education in the US. For that reason, aspiring engineers from all over the country and the world end up here.

19. Michigan Technological University

Apply to Michigan Tech

Authority.org “score” : 82.3
Location: Houghton, MI
Average net price: $31,349
Acceptance rate: 74.5%
Graduation rate: 64.5%

Michigan Technological University offers its 5,800 students more than 130 degree programs in everything from forestry to business and economics. Of course, the main thrust of the school is engineering. To that end you will find mechanical, electrical, chemical and civil engineering degree programs as well as computer engineering and degrees in various engineering-related fields.

The campus at Michigan Tech annually hosts one of the largest career days of any University in the country with hundreds of companies attending. As such, it is no surprise that within six months of graduation, 93% of Michigan Tech graduates find work in their field. Just for the record, Michigan Tech has also produced dozens of NHL players, including standouts Randy McKay and Brent Peterson.

20. Loyola University of Chicago

Apply to Loyola

Authority.org “score” : 81.8
Location: Chicago, IL
Average net price: $35,033
Acceptance rate: 70.6%
Graduation rate: 73%

Loyola boasts more than 17,000 students who partake each year in its more than 220 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The school maintains half a dozen campuses in the Chicago area as well as one in Rome, Italy. Loyola is one of the largest Catholic colleges in the country, but education here is non-denominational, and the school welcomes students of all religions and backgrounds.

Loyola consistently ranks among the top 100 universities in the nation. And while it has a high acceptance rate of 70%, it manages to shepherd nearly 3/4 of those students through to graduation, which is a testament to the quality of the faculty and facilities. A recent $800 capital improvement campaign has brought the university squarely into the 21st century.

21. Marquette University

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Authority.org “score” : 80.7
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Average net price: $38,421
Acceptance rate: 89.3%
Graduation rate: 79.7%

Marquette is named for Father Jacques Marquette, a 17th century missionary who founded Sault Ste. Marie and St. Ignace, Michigan, and mapped much of the upper Mississippi River Valley. The university that bears his name embodies his spirit of curiosity and open-mindedness and was the first Catholic University in the world to admit female students.

Marquette offers programs in business, communications, engineering, law, health sciences, and much more. Its campus spans much of central Milwaukee, and the school maintains a satellite campus in Washington DC. Marquette has produced more than its share of world-class athletes as well, including NBA stars Dwayne Wade and Doc Rivers, and Olympic speed skating medalist Brian Hansen.

22. Luther College

Apply to Luther College

Authority.org “score” : 79.2
Location: Decorah, IA
Average net price: $24,688
Acceptance rate: 65.1%
Graduation rate: 77.3%

Luther College is the largest single entity in the small midwestern town of Decorah, Iowa. The school’s 2,300 undergraduates live almost exclusively on campus, although they spend much of their free time taking advantage of the natural splendor of the surrounding area.

Students at Luther major in a variety of subjects including biology, English literature, business, and the history of music, to name just a few. Every year nearly a quarter of Luther’s students study abroad. That is one of the highest percentages of foreign study of any 4-year college in the nation.

23. Macalester College

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Authority.org “score” : 79
Location: Saint Paul, MN
Average net price: $29,013
Acceptance rate: 40.6%
Graduation rate: 89.5%

Although it does not get the press afforded the Northeast, the upper Midwest is actually a hotbed of intellectual activity. Macalester College is a perfect example of that. Macalester’s 2,174 undergraduates can select from 40 established majors. Or they are free to formulate their own interdisciplinary major.

Like many other Midwestern schools, Macalester puts a premium on international study. During their four years at the school, nearly half the students will have spent some time studying abroad. Macalester is relatively selective when it comes to accepting applicants and nearly 90% of first-year students end up completing the full four years.

24. Saint Louis University

Apply to Saint Louis

Authority.org “score” : 77.6
Location: St. Louis, MO
Average net price: $31,460
Acceptance rate: 64.4%
Graduation rate: 70.5%

Saint Louis University is located approximately two miles due west of the Gateway Arch in Saint Louis. It has an undergraduate enrollment of 8,050 students who can choose from more than 90 majors, including psychology, computer science, and nursing.

Over the past 20+ years, the school has invested more than $800 million in capital improvements and expansion, including a state-of-the-art $67 million research center associated with its Medical Campus. Saint Louis features a student to professor ratio of 12:1.

25. Gustavus Adolphus College

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Authority.org “score” : 77.1
Location: St. Peter, MN
Average net price: $23,906
Acceptance rate: 67.8%
Graduation rate: 81%

Many of the Europeans who settled in the Upper Midwest hailed from Northern Europe. Particularly Norway and Sweden. Gustavus Adolphus College reflects that influence and is named after the Norwegian King Gustavus Adolphus, who reigned in the early 17th century. Gustavus Adolphus has 2,400 full-time undergraduate students who benefit from the school’s nearly $200 million endowment.

The College has a rich and ongoing relationship with the Nobel Foundation, and each year hosts a science conference that borrows the Nobel name. Gustavus Adolphus College is regularly ranked among the top 50 liberal arts colleges in the nation.

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Best Colleges

Ranking the best trade schools

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Trade schools serve a valuable purpose in the overall economy, training the next generation of professionals while enabling members of the current workforce to enhance their career trajectory.

The research team at Authority.org has weighed the relative merits of hundreds of institutions to determine the best trade schools of 2020.

Here is our list:

1. Bates Technical College

Apply to Bates

Authority.org “score” : 98.6
Location: Tacoma, WA
Average net price: $3,913
Acceptance rate: 100%
Graduation rate: 40.5%

Bates Technical College was founded in 1940 as a stand-alone technical program in the basement of an elementary school. The program proved very popular and, within two years, had an official name (the Tacoma Vocational School). In 1944 LaVerne Bates became the school’s director and would ultimately provide the school with its current name. The Bates Technical College practices open enrollment and currently serves some 10,500 students.

Bates Technical College offers Associate Degrees in Applied Science, along with literally hundreds of certificate programs in everything from Culinary Arts to Construction, Information Technology, Engineering Technology, Allied Health, and Business Management. The school also offers numerous apprenticeship opportunities.

2. Manchester Community College

Apply to MCC

Authority.org “score” : 98
Location: Manchester, NH
Average net price: $13,734
Acceptance rate: 100%
Graduation rate: 15.2%

Manchester Community College in Manchester, New Hampshire was founded in 1945 in part to provide returning war veterans with the training they would need to re-enter a changed industrial landscape. The school is located on a 57-acre campus on the Merrimack River just north of downtown Manchester and plays host to more than 3,000 students.

Manchester Community College offers those students more than 60 Associate Degree and professional certificate programs. In addition, the school runs frequent workshops and short-term programs intended to facilitate professional development. Those certificate programs include Accounting, Dental Assistant, Computer Network Technology, Computer-Aided Design, Photography, Marketing, Public Relations and Web Technology.

3. Minnesota State Community and Technical College

Apply to Minnesota State

Authority.org “score” : 96.7
Location: Fergus Falls, MN
Average net price: $10,235
Acceptance rate: 100%
Graduation rate: 36.1%

Minnesota State Community and Technical College was founded in 2003 via the merger of an existing community college and the Northwest Technical College. The combined school offers more than 70 Associate Degree and certificate programs as well as more than two dozen online programs. Currently, there are more than 9,000 full-time, part-time and online students enrolled at the school.

The school offers those students an array of study options. Associate Degrees are offered in Fine Arts, Science, and Applied Sciences. Certificates at Minnesota State Tech are available for Business Administration, Information Technology, HVAC, Construction Management, Cybersecurity, 3D Technologies, Massage Therapy, Paralegal and much more.

4. Fox Valley Technical College

Apply to Fox Valley

Authority.org “score” : 96.5
Location: Grand Chute, WI
Average net price: $9,969
Acceptance rate: 100%
Graduation rate: 57%

Fox Valley Technical College can trace its roots to 1967 when the State of Wisconsin legislature divided the state into 16 educational districts. That move spurred the creation of the Fox Valley Technical Institute, which, in 1987, was renamed the Fox Valley Technical College. Today, the school hosts 6,670 undergraduates on its main campus in Grand Chute and its satellite campus in Oshkosh.

Fox Valley Technical offers its students more than 200 Associate Degree, certificate and diploma programs and operates nearly two dozen apprenticeship programs. The school also runs an FAA-certified flight school (1), which allows students to train as aircraft maintenance or aircraft electronics technicians. This component of Fox Valley is run out of the Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh.

5. State Technical College of Missouri

Apply to STCM

Authority.org “score” : 94.9
Location: Linn, MO
Average net price: $7,918
Acceptance rate: 100%
Graduation rate: 74%

The State Technical College of Missouri was founded in 1961 as the Linn Technical Junior College, and some still refer to it as ‘Linn Tech’. By 1968 the school had outgrown the ‘Junior’ designation, and by the early 1990s it began conferring Associate Degrees. Over the course of the past 20 years, the school has seen its star rise considerably, and it is now often ranked among the best trade schools in the nation.

Missouri State Tech offers dozens of certificate programs designed to enhance a person’s career options. Those courses include Accounting, Agriculture and Turf Equipment, Civil Engineering Technology, Drafting, Heavy Equipment Operations, Biomedical Engineering, Welding, and Aviation Maintenance. To name just a few.

6. San Jacinto College

Apply to San Jacinto

Authority.org “score” : 93.9
Location: Pasadena, TX
Average net price: $8,790
Acceptance rate: 100%
Graduation rate: 29.1%

San Jacinto College was founded in 1960 under the name the East Harris County Union Junior College. The school has gone through a couple of name changes since, while expanding both physically and in the number of programs it offers. The first class way back in 1961 consisted of 876 students. Today, there are more than 28,500 full and part-time students enjoying the high-quality educational programs offered by San Jacinto.

The school offers a dizzying number of certificate and career/technical programs lasting anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. Those programs include Art and Design, Accounting, Business Office Systems, Computer Information Technology, Electronics Technology, Medical Coding, Real Estate, and Welding.

7. Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute

Apply to Ohio State ATI

Authority.org “score” : 93.5
Location: Wooster, OH
Average net price: $17,307
Acceptance rate: 100%
Graduation rate: 41.5%

Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute, or Ohio State ATI as it’s known, was founded in 1969 and given the mandate to provide comprehensive agricultural training. Ohio State ATI is a small school, with just over 600 full-time students. The school practices open enrollment, so there is no need to worry about being squeezed out during the application process.

Ohio State ATI offers courses in wood science, agricultural research, plant nutrition, equine health, soil fertility, greenhouse management, and crop production, to name just a few. The school regularly confers more Associate Degrees in agricultural sciences than any other two-year institution in the country.

8. Hutchinson Community College

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Authority.org “score” : 92.8
Location: Hutchinson, KS
Average net price: $7,698
Acceptance rate: 100%
Graduation rate: 49.9%

Hutchinson Community College is located in the town of Hutchinson, about 1 hour northwest of Wichita. It was founded in 1928 and christened Hutchinson Junior College. Over the years it has undergone numerous name changes and seen its program offerings expand to include Associate Degrees in the art and sciences and numerous transfer programs for those wishing to pursue a BA or BS in a four-year college or university.

Hutchinson also offers a significant number of certificate programs for those looking to learn a new trade or upgrade their marketability. Students can train to be an EMT, home health aid, computer support specialist, diesel mechanic, and more. Some of these courses can be completed in as little as 16 weeks.

9. William Rainey Harper College

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Authority.org “score” : 92.3
Location: Palatine, IL
Average net price: $6,938
Acceptance rate: 100%
Graduation rate: 30.6%

William Rainey Harper College (often simply called Harper College) was established by the state of Illinois in 1965 and named for the first president of the University of Chicago. The school officially opened its doors in 1967 and has been an important part of the Palatine, Illinois community ever since.

William Rainey Harper offers students dozens of ways to earn an Associate Degree before transferring to a four-year college to complete their Bachelor’s. In addition, Harper offers upwards of 40 certificate and diploma programs that enable students to enhance their skillset and increase their earning potential once they enter, or re-enter, the workforce. Certificate programs typically last anywhere from four months to two years.

10. Lake Area Technical Institute

Apply to Lake Area Tech

Authority.org “score” : 91.4
Location: Watertown, SD
Average net price: $12,394
Acceptance rate: 100%
Graduation rate: 70.7%

Lake Area Technical Institute was founded in 1965 and was the first technical school in North Dakota. In the years since its founding, it has gone on to amass a great deal of praise for the quality and diversity of its programs and faculty. The school maintains a student-friendly 17:1 student to faculty ratio, which undoubtedly has something to do with its outstanding reputation.

Lake Area Technical Institute offers 15 online degree programs and 30 on-site study courses, including courses in agriculture, aviation, diesel mechanics, and nursing. More than 2,600 students are currently enrolled in its full-time, part-time and online programs. The school also has an outstanding employment assistance program and successfully finds jobs for 99.9% of those who graduate.

11. Gateway Community College

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Authority.org “score” : 90.7
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Average net price: $7,194
Acceptance rate: 100%
Graduation rate: 25.9%

Originally called Maricopa Technical College, Gateway Community College opened its door in 1968. At the time, it was the only technical college in Arizona, and it is still, by most standards, the best. The school has expanded its offerings right from the start and over the years added a Children’s Learning Center, an Automotive Center, and a Center for Health Careers to its program.

Students who attend Gateway Community College have more than 120 areas of concentration to choose from. Certificate programs include Electrical and HVAC, Phlebotomy, Computer Support Specialist, Dental Assistant, Automotive Repair, Meat Cutter, and Welding. The school also offers numerous Associate Degree programs.

12. Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics

Apply to PIA

Authority.org “score” : 89.8
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Average net price: $28,972
Acceptance rate: 100%
Graduation rate: 86.5%

The Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics (PIA) first opened its doors in 1929. And while many of its students profit from its computer engineering, data processing, truck and bus driver, and other trade programs, most come for the renowned aeronautics training it provides. The school is located in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania at the Allegheny County Airport, where students are sure to get plenty of hands-on experience.

PIA is regularly ranked at or near the top of two-year trade schools by national publications. But because of its cost and relatively narrow focus, we have it a bit lower down our list. Still, if you want a career in aeronautics or aviation, this is the place to be. The school also has a first-class employment assistance program that does a remarkable job placing those who finish the full course.

13. Lancaster County Career and Technology Center

Apply to LCCTC

Authority.org “score” : 88.9
Location: Willow Street, PA
Average net price: $12,426
Acceptance rate: 100%
Graduation rate: 77.7%

The Lancaster County Career and Technical Center was established in 1970 when it was called Lancaster County Area Vocational and Technical School. Since then, the school has matured and significantly increased its technical and vocational offerings. The LCCTC accepts students of all ages and backgrounds and provides them the means to find a rewarding place in the workforce.

Students at the LCCTC can choose from a wide range of courses including, but certainly not limited to, automotive repair, computer-aided design, plumbing, welding, vehicle inspection, security, electrician, and EMT. The school also provides comprehensive tutoring, counseling, career advice and job placement assistance for graduates.

14. Carolinas College of Health Sciences

Apply to CCHS

Authority.org “score” : 88.2
Location: Charlotte, NC
Average net price: $16,963
Acceptance rate: 24.4%
Graduation rate: 47.5%

Carolinas College of Health Sciences is a more traditional institution of higher learning in many ways, than some of the other trade schools on our list. Nonetheless, it has a very specific mandate to train young people to become the health professionals of tomorrow. The student-faculty ratio at CCHS is an incredible 5:1, and the school offers non-traditional students credit for life experience.

The Carolinas College of Health Sciences is owned and operated by Carolinas HealthCare System, and students benefit from the real-world clinical experience that relationship provides. The school is small and offers a variety of Associate Degrees. Most students who complete the two-year program have a job waiting for them at the time they graduate.

15. Holmes Community College

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Authority.org “score” : 87.6
Location: Goodman, MS
Average net price: $5,723
Acceptance rate: 100%
Graduation rate: 27.4%

Holmes Community College in Goodman, Mississippi, was founded in 1911. The town of Goodman donated 40 acres of land to the school, and a further 42 acres were purchased to create the school’s 82-acre campus. Holmes offers students a plethora of academic and vocational pursuits and confers Associate Degrees, diplomas and technical certificates.

While some of Holme’s 5,800 students come to study the liberal arts and sciences, most pursue training that will provide a career path or enhance their current career. Areas of study include automotive repair, computer repair, graphic design, welding, construction, and heavy equipment repair. The school maintains an agreeable 22:1 student to faculty ratio so everyone gets the attention they need.

16. Elgin Community College

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Authority.org “score” : 86
Location: Elgin, IL
Average net price: $5,640
Acceptance rate: 100%
Graduation rate: 34.8%

Elgin Community College was founded in 1949 by an act of the Illinois Legislature. The school offers a wide range of courses in the liberal arts and sciences, as well as vocational training, technical training, and career enhancement courses for all kinds of students. In all, Elgin offers more than 130 types of degrees, diplomas, and certificates.

But Elgin Community College does not stop there. They also offer high school equivalency testing, citizenship classes, ESL classes, and more. But it is the technical and vocational training most students come for. Courses cover automotive repair, computer-aided design, dental assistant, EMT training, massage therapy, paralegal, welding and much more.

17. Sowela Technical Community College

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Authority.org “score” : 85.3
Location: Lake Charles, LA
Average net price: $8,441
Acceptance rate: 100%
Graduation rate: 37%

Sowela Technical College in Lake Charles, Louisiana was founded in 1938 by the Louisiana State Legislature. The school went through several incarnations during its first few decades of existence. But since the 1990s, it has grown and matured into one of the most innovative and vibrant centers of learning in the area.

Sowela confers Associate Degrees, technical diplomas and certificates in some two dozen programs including Industrial Production, Secretarial Science, Computer Networking, Criminal Justice and Telecommunications. The school also offers a fast-track 16 week Associate of Applied Science degree for qualified students.

18. Frontier Community College

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Authority.org “score” : 84.9
Location: Fairfield, IL
Average net price: $2,835
Acceptance rate: 100%
Graduation rate: 41.5%

Frontier Community College was founded in 1974 and was initially named Illinois Eastern Community College Continuing Education Facilities in Fairfield. Over the years it has grown into a significant educational institution in its own right. It now offers both two and four-year degrees, along with technical certificates in numerous fields.

Frontier Community College offers programs in the liberal arts, the health sciences, the humanities, and more. It also offers certificates in everything from sports management to automotive technology, graphic design, fire science, paramedicine, and many other subjects. The college also partners with nearby Fairfield University to offer students the chance to pursue a Bachelor’s degree while attending Frontier.

19. Mt. San Antonio College

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Authority.org “score” : 84
Location: Walnut, CA
Average net price: $3,023
Acceptance rate: 100%
Graduation rate: 22.6%

Mt San Antonio College opened its doors in 1946. It’s located in Walnut, California, which happens to be one of the less aggressively developed areas of Los Angeles County. Mt. San Antonio College is one of the largest institutions on our list, with a current enrollment of 30,000 full and part-time students. The highest degree obtainable from MSA is an Associate Degree.

Mt. San Antonio has a highly regarded aircraft maintenance and aviation program that has received national recognition. Students can train to become air traffic controllers. Or they can obtain an Associate Degree in Commercial Flight or Aviation Science, which greatly increases their odds of finding employment in the aviation industry.

20. Johnson College

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Authority.org “score” : 83
Location: Scranton, PA
Average net price: $18,637
Acceptance rate: 96.4%
Graduation rate: 72.7%

Johnson College is named for Orlando S. Johnson, who made his fortune in coal and used some of his money to found the school that bears his name. Johnson College opened in 1912 to provide vocational training to local youths. Over the years it has grown into an impressive junior college offering more than a dozen Associate Degree programs, while still providing top-notch technical training.

95% of Johnson College’s 455 students are full-time, and the school maintains a student-friendly 17:1 faculty/student ratio. The school’s mission is to help students enter into the workforce on solid footing and facilitate career advancement. The beautiful 44-acre campus provides all the amenities a college student would expect, including laboratories, a student resource center, a gymnasium, a cafeteria and more.

21. Western Iowa Tech Community College

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Authority.org “score” : 81.7
Location: Sioux City, IA
Average net price: $8,349
Acceptance rate: 100%
Graduation rate: 41.9%

Western Iowa Technical Community College was founded in 1966. Its main campus is located in Sioux City, with smaller satellite campuses in Cherokee, Le Mars, Denison, and Mapleton. WITCC confers Associate Degrees and issues certificates and diplomas, depending on the field of study. And there is a lot to study at WITCC. A full 170+ programs.

Western Iowa Tech hosts about 2,500 full-time students and nearly 4,000 part-timers. The school maintains an agreeable faculty to student ratio of 25:1, and those faculty members are very well regarded. Those looking to hone their workforce credibility will find a lot to sink their teeth into at WITCC, including programs in agribusiness, carpentry, industrial welding, residential plumbing, and cybersecurity, just to name a few.

22. Asnuntuck Community College

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Authority.org “score” : 80.5
Location: Enfield, CT
Average net price: $8,920
Acceptance rate: 100%
Graduation rate: 45.4%

Asnuntuck Community College was founded in 1972 and awarded a total of 32 Associate Degrees to members of its first graduating class in 1974. There are currently some 1,600 students at Asnuntuck. Some are pursuing technical training to enhance their employment options while others will move on to traditional four-year colleges after graduation.

Asnuntuck derives its name from the Native American word for ‘fresh water’ and is a reference to the nearby Connecticut River. A high percentage of Asnuntuck students are pursuing technical training at the school’s Manufacturing Technology Center. The MTC facilitates the transition from school to work life, and nearly all MTC graduates have a good job waiting for them when they leave the school.

23. Ridgewater College

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Authority.org “score” : 80.3
Location: Willmar, MN
Average net price: $11,782
Acceptance rate: 100%
Graduation rate: 47.5%

Two hours west of Minneapolis in the town of Willmar you’ll find Ridgewater College. The college currently serves some 3,700 full and part-time students who study everything from agribusiness to arts and humanities and nursing. The school maintains a better than average faculty to student ratio of 20:1 and operates within the standard semester-based academic year.

Ridgewater College was founded in 1996 and has proven quite popular. It is often ranked the number 1 community college in the state. Students interested in honing their job skills may study construction trades, automotive trades, engineering, information technology, public safety, marketing, cosmetology, and much more. For non-traditional students, the school offers credit for life experience.

24. Southwest Wisconsin Technical College

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Authority.org “score” : 79.4
Location: Fennimore, WI
Average net price: $9,875
Acceptance rate: 100%
Graduation rate: 56.1%

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College was founded in 1967. It was created by the legislature for the express purpose of training young people to work on the modern farm. It has since expanded to cover more than 70 areas of concentration. The school is located in Fennimore, Wisconsin, about two hours due west of Madison on US 18.

SWTC serves a nine-county area and offers everything from traditional liberal arts to vocational training. The school runs a much-heralded Farm Operations and Management program that covers as aspects of running a 21st-century agricultural enterprise. There’s also a cosmetology department that runs a working salon which provides skincare and other services to students and the public.

25. North Dakota State College of Science

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Authority.org “score” : 78.6
Location: Wahpeton, ND
Average net price: $11,010
Acceptance rate: 100%
Graduation rate: 52.7%

North Dakota State College of Science was founded in 1903 by the North Dakota legislature. It offers students the chance to study more than 80 different subjects and obtain a degree, diploma, or certificate, depending on the program. The school offers traditional liberal arts courses as well as technical programs designed specifically to enhance a person’s employment potential.

North Dakota State College of Science is located near the border with Minnesota, about two hours drive south of Fargo. The school offers technical programs related to agriculture, auto body repair, Caterpillar heavy equipment servicing, culinary arts, building construction and more.

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Best Colleges

Ranking the best value colleges

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The best value colleges and universities offer a combination of a quality academic program and an attractive net price.

The research team at Authority.org examined more than 100 colleges known to provide an above-average academic experience to determine which are the best value colleges of 2020.

Here is our list:

1. Stanford University

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Authority.org “score” : 99.5
Location: Stanford, CA
Average net price: $13,261
Acceptance rate: 4.7%
Graduation rate: 93.8%

Stanford University was founded in 1885 by Leland and Jane Stanford. Leland Stanford was an entrepreneur who wound up serving one term as California Governor and two terms as a US Senator from California. Jane Stanford would wind up running the university for years after her husband’s death.

Stanford hosts 7,000 undergraduates and is renowned for its International Relations program, its School of Engineering, and for being extremely selective in the admissions process. Notable alumni include SpaceX founder Elon Musk, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, golfer Tiger Woods, astronaut Sally Ride and novelist John Steinbeck.

2. US Military Academy at West Point

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Authority.org “score” : 99.4
Location: West Point, NY
Average net price: $0
Acceptance rate: 11%
Graduation rate: 83.8%

When it comes to value, it is hard to beat the US Military Academy at West Point. Not only does the academy waive the application fee, but they also waive tuition and provide an annual stipend of some $10,000. In other words, you will make money attending West Point. Of course, that would not mean much if the education was second-rate. Fortunately, it is anything but.

The US Military Academy at West Point was founded in 1801 and currently hosts 4,300 cadets. Cadets study everything from information technology, physics, and engineering to history, philosophy, and psychology. Notable alumni include former Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight Eisenhower, current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, novelist Edgar Allen Poe, and 2nd man on the moon Buzz Aldrin.

3. Princeton University

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Authority.org “score” : 98.5
Location: Princeton, NJ
Average net price: $10,027
Acceptance rate: 6.4%
Graduation rate: 96.8%

Princeton University was founded in 1746, making it one of the oldest colleges in the US. It is located on a 600-acre campus in rural New Jersey that is famous for its neo-gothic, or ‘collegiate gothic’ architecture. Princeton is a relatively small school enrollment-wise with 8,300 total students but is typically rated among the best overall universities in the nation.

Princeton admits only 6% of applicants, with 97% of those admitted completing the four-year undergraduate program. Notable Princeton alumni include Presidents James Madison and Woodrow Wilson, Vice President Aaron Burr, and Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayer, and Elena Kagan. Current Fed Chairman Jerome Powell is another Princeton alum.

4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Authority.org “score” : 98
Location: Cambridge, MA
Average net price: $18,971
Acceptance rate: 7.2%
Graduation rate: 89.9%

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was founded in 1861 by Barton Rogers, a former University of Virginia professor who had relocated to Boston. Barton’s idea was to establish a school to address the technological challenges of the day and to meld that technical education with a standard liberal arts curriculum. Today the school occupies much of the north side of the Charles River opposite Boston’s Back Bay.

At a net cost per year of nearly $19,000 it might seem like MIT is not such a great value. However, that cost must be measured against the incredible prestige of having MIT on your resume. Notable alumni include second man on the moon Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin, former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, astronaut Ronald McNair, and world-renowned architect I.M. Pei.

5. Harvard University

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Authority.org “score” : 97.8
Location: Cambridge, MA
Average net price: $14,327
Acceptance rate: 5.2%
Graduation rate: 97.6%

Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the US. It also has the largest endowment of any university in the world, currently valued at some $40 billion. Tuition and fees at Harvard add up to more than $52,000. But the school goes out of its way to arrange financial aid for its students, thereby drastically reducing their net cost.

Harvard will make sure you can pay your tuition, but you must be accepted first. And that is not easy. The school takes only 5% of applications. Like MIT, Harvard’s value must be judged by the doors it opens. Notable alumni include former presidents Barack Obama, John F. Kennedy, John Adams and John Quincy Adams.

6. Yale University

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Authority.org “score” : 97.1
Location: New Haven, CT
Average net price: $18,627
Acceptance rate: 6.9%
Graduation rate: 96.9%

Yale University was founded in 1701 and is the third-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States after Harvard and the College of William and Mary. Yale is a mid-sized school with 6,000 undergraduates and some 7,500 graduate students. Yale occupies nearly 400 acres of central New Haven and is the largest employer in the city.

Yale is notable for its outstanding libraries, the Yale University Art Gallery, the Peabody Museum of Natural History, and its world-class faculty. Notable alumni include Presidents William Howard Taft, Gerald R. Ford, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. Other distinguished alumni include actress Meryl Streep and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

7. Duke University

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Authority.org “score” : 96.3
Location: Durham, NC
Average net price: $19,785
Acceptance rate: 9.9%
Graduation rate: 96.2%

Duke University can trace its roots to 1838 when it was founded by Methodists and Quakers and given the name The Brown School. The school would undergo several more name changes before settling on Duke in honor of wealthy benefactor James Buchanan Duke. The school offers undergraduates 50 majors and 52 minor areas of study.

Duke University enjoys the benefits of a nearly $9 billion endowment. It currently hosts some 16,000 full-time students and occupies an enormous suburban campus of 9,000 acres. Prominent Duke alumni include former President Richard Nixon, journalist Charlie Rose and current Apple CEO Tim Cook.

8. Rice University

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Authority.org “score” : 95.7
Location: Houston, TX
Average net price: $20,237
Acceptance rate: 15.9%
Graduation rate: 90.6%

Rice University (officially William Marsh Rice University) was founded in 1912 and occupies a 300-acre campus in Houston, Texas. Rice University offers its undergraduate population of some 4,000 students more than 50 major areas of concentration. The school is known for its world-class research centers and receives more than $100 million in research grants annually.

The university was founded using money donated by industrialist William Marsh Rice, who left the 2020 equivalent of $200 million to facilitate the creation of the school that bears his name. Notable alumni include former US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former US Secretary of State James Baker, astronaut Peggy Whitson, and billionaire inventor/philanthropist Howard Hughes.

9. UNC Chapel Hill

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Authority.org “score” : 94.7
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
Average net price: $16,032
Acceptance rate: 23%
Graduation rate: 90%

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the oldest public university in the country. It was founded in 1789 and is the only public university in the US to confer Bachelor’s Degrees during the 18th century. During the Civil War, the university fell on hard times and was ultimately forced to close between 1870 and 1875. Today, however, it boasts 19,000 undergraduates and 11,000 graduate students.

Students at UNC Chapel Hill can pick from 71 major areas of study. There are also more than 180 graduate and doctoral degree programs. While state law requires 82% of students be from North Carolina, there is still plenty of room for out of state students. Notable alumni include 11th President of the United States James Polk, former US Senator John Edwards, and basketball star Michael Jordan.

10. Brigham Young University

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Authority.org “score” : 92.5
Location: Provo, UT
Average net price: $12,974
Acceptance rate: 52.4%
Graduation rate: 59.2%

Brigham Young University is a private school owned and run by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The university occupies an idyllic location between Utah Lake on the west and the Wasatch Mountains on the east. The school is known for its numerous research programs. Today, BYU as its known hosts more than 30,000 undergraduate students.

Many notable scientists have been associated with BYU over the years including the inventor of television, Filio T. Farnsworth, Nobel Prize winning physicist Robert Millikan, and the inventor of the artificial diamond H. Tracy Hall. Notable alumni include Senator Mitt Romney, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young and Boston Celtics President Danny Ainge.

11. University of Virginia

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Authority.org “score” : 92.3
Location: Charlottesville, VA
Average net price: $23,680
Acceptance rate: 27.3%
Graduation rate: 93.3%

The University of Virginia can trace its lineage to 1819 when it was founded by former President Thomas Jefferson. The original governing board of the university included three presidents; Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe. Jefferson’s helped devise the curriculum, chose the location and designed many of the original buildings.

The university excels in the field of hypersonic flight research. The US Air Force, the National Science Foundation, and other government institutions have granted the school many millions of dollars to study the issue. UV’s library is one of the biggest of any American university, containing more than five million items, including two original copies of the Declaration of Independence.

12. Columbia University

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Authority.org “score” : 90.6
Location: New York, NY
Average net price: $21,195
Acceptance rate: 6.6%
Graduation rate: 95.7%

Columbia University was founded in 1754 and is the oldest institution of higher learning in New York State. The school was originally named ‘Kings College’, but renamed in the aftermath of the American Revolution. Columbia today is a selective school, admitting only 6% of applicants.

Columbia is well-regarded for its international relations program, medical school, business school, and law school. Notable alumni include Alexander Hamilton, legendary investor Warren Buffet, aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart, current US Attorney General William Barr, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and former President Barack Obama (class of ’83).

13. Williams College

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Authority.org “score” : 90
Location: Williamstown, MA
Average net price: $18,979
Acceptance rate: 14.6%
Graduation rate: 95.6%

Williams is a small but highly respected liberal arts college located in western Massachusetts that was founded in 1793. The estate of the founder, Ephraim Williams, stipulated that donated money should be used to establish a ‘free school’. Over the course of the intervening 200+ years, there has been robust debate over exactly what that means.

Williams is the second oldest college in Massachusetts after Harvard. It offers undergraduates 36 major areas of study and has a small number of graduate students. Notable alumni include the 20th President of the United States James Garfield, former AOL CEO Steve Case, former New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, and television journalist Mika Brezinski.

14. Colgate University

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Authority.org “score” : 88.9
Location: Hamilton, NY
Average net price: $23,058
Acceptance rate: 28.1%
Graduation rate: 89.6%

Colgate University was founded in 1819 and occupies a spacious campus in upstate New York State not far from Syracuse. The school offers its nearly 3,000 undergraduates 56 major areas of study. It also runs a small but highly regarded Master of Arts in Teaching program. The school is considered selective, accepting only 28% of applicants.

Colgate is renowned for its foreign study program, which sends students to study for full semesters in Japan, India, China, Australia, and elsewhere. During their four years at the school, nearly 2/3 of all undergrads will wind up studying abroad. That is one of the highest percentages of any American college or university.

15. Georgia Institute of Technology

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Authority.org “score” : 88.2
Location: Atlanta, GA
Average net price: $13,291
Acceptance rate: 23.4%
Graduation rate: 84.5%

The Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech for short) was founded in 1885 as part of the federal government’s Reconstruction efforts. It began by offering degrees in mechanical engineering only but quickly broadened its focus. Today, more than 32,000 students attend Georgia Tech.

Georgia Tech is one of 52 institutions nationwide designated Space Grant colleges, and many of its students are directly involved in research related to outer space and space flight. The school offers students 36 undergraduate majors and nearly four dozen minor areas of concentration. In addition to its space research and engineering programs.

16. United States Merchant Marine Academy

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Authority.org “score” : 87.4
Location: Kings Point, NY
Average net price: $6,796
Acceptance rate: 22.2%
Graduation rate: 97.2%

The United States Merchant Marine Academy was founded in 1943 and is located in Kings Point within view of the Throgs Neck Bridge over the East River in New York. It is one of the nation’s service academies and trains officers for the Merchant Marine and various branches of the military.

People come to the USMMA for different reasons, but all are bound to fulfill the academy’s service obligation. This can be done by working in the civilian maritime industry, joining the Naval Reserve, working on a US-flagged merchant vessel or joining the armed forces of the United States. Notable alumni include astronaut Mark Kelly, former Rear Admiral Philip H. Green, and former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card.

17. University of Florida

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Authority.org “score” : 86.3
Location: Gainesville, FL
Average net price: $12,343
Acceptance rate: 42%
Graduation rate: 86.7%

The University of Florida was founded in 1853 in Ocala, Florida, and moved to its current Gainesville home in 1906. The University is one of the five largest in the nation by enrollment, with more than 52,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The school is also a college sports powerhouse whose various teams (known as the ‘Gators’) have won more than 40 national championships.

The University of Florida offers more than 100 majors for undergraduates and some 200 graduate degree programs. The Reitz Student Union on campus assists students with career development and job placement. Notable alumni include former Senator Bob Graham, former North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue, actress Faye Dunaway, astronaut Kevin Ford and Senator Marco Rubio.

18. Cal State Polytechnic Institute

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Authority.org “score” : 85.1
Location: Pomona, CA
Average net price: $6,976
Acceptance rate: 55.1%
Graduation rate: 63%

California State Polytechnic Institute is one of the state’s two public polytechnic institutions of higher learning. It was founded in 1938 and is located about an hour due east of downtown Los Angeles in Pomona, California. The school is driven in large part by STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) research grants.

Given its focus on high-end research and its very reasonable net cost Cal State Polytechnic is an attractive choice for many seeking a high ROI on the college investment. Notable alumni include aviation pioneer Burt Rutan, astronauts Gregory Chamitoff and Frederick Sturckow, and former Congressman Jeff Denham.

19. James Madison University

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Authority.org “score” : 84.6
Location: Harrisonburg, VA
Average net price: $10,018
Acceptance rate: 75.2%
Graduation rate: 82.8%

James Madison was founded in 1908 as an all-female school that would prepare women for jobs in the burgeoning industries of the south. In 1946 the school began to accept men for the first time, and today its student body is approximately 60% female to 40% male. The school offers 115 degree programs at the Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral levels.

James Madison has quietly established a reputation for being one of the top universities in the American south. While it is not considered overly selective, it does demand a high degree of intellectual rigor of its students, many of whom go on to prominent careers. Notable alumni include Kathy J. Warden, CEO of Northrop Grumman, and numerous state representatives and mayors.

20. University of California Los Angeles

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Authority.org “score” : 83
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Average net price: $14,309
Acceptance rate: 16.1%
Graduation rate: 91.3%

The University of California Los Angeles is one of the oldest public universities in California and the largest, enrollment-wise. It’s 43,500 students partake of 337 degree programs covering the entire academic spectrum. The school can trace its origins to 1881. But it wasn’t until 1919 that it acquired a permanent home.

UCLA is nationally recognized as a leading university in the fields of medicine, dentistry, and public health. The university’s film school is also a magnet for those intent on breaking into the movie industry in nearby Hollywood. In addition, the school is highly regarded for its engineering program. And, of course, many people from other states are drawn to the agreeable LA climate.

21. Purdue University

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Authority.org “score” : 82.9
Location: West Lafayette, IN
Average net price: $13,746
Acceptance rate: 57.5%
Graduation rate: 74.6%

Purdue University was founded in 1869 with money donated by entrepreneur John Purdue and land donated by the federal government under the Morrill Land-Grant Act (1). The school opened its doors in 1874 with a focus on technology and agriculture. That first year saw 39 students. Today, nearly 32,000 students are enrolled in the school’s undergraduate and graduate programs.

Purdue offers students more than 200 majors to choose from in everything from applied sciences to criminal justice and mechanical engineering. Purdue has also made many notable contributions to the nation’s space flight program and has graduated more current and former astronauts than any other American College or University.

22. Vanderbilt University

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Authority.org “score” : 82.2
Location: Nashville, TN
Average net price: $19,959
Acceptance rate: 10.9%
Graduation rate: 92%

Vanderbilt University is named for its founder, 19th-century railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt. The school opened its doors in 1873 with Vanderbilt’s $1 million cash endowment as setting the school on solid ground right out of the gate. Today, the Vanderbilt University endowment has grown to $6.25 billion, and the school enrolls more than 13,000 full-time students.

Vanderbilt is renowned for its Peabody College of Education, its Blair School of Music, and its Owen Graduate School of Management. In addition, the world-class Vanderbilt University Medical Center serves the health and wellness needs of the Nashville community and beyond.

23. University of Texas

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Authority.org “score” : 81.7
Location: Austin, TX
Average net price: $13,308
Acceptance rate: 36.5%
Graduation rate: 79.3%

The University of Texas at Austin is one of the nation’s largest universities by enrollment with 40,000 undergraduate students and nearly 10,000 graduate and Doctoral students. UT was founded in 1883 and became a full university in 1929. The school has a $4 billion endowment and plays host to the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library, and operates numerous research facilities.

The school is a major recipient of STEM grants and has globally recognized schools of pharmacy and engineering. The school is also a significant force driving the growth of the technology industry in and around Austin. For those interested in athletics the Texas Longhorns are a perennial college football powerhouse.

24. University of Iowa

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Authority.org “score” : 81.5
Location: Iowa City, IA
Average net price: $15,103
Acceptance rate: 86%
Graduation rate: 71%

The University of Iowa was founded in 1847. It is the oldest university in the state and also one of the largest, with 24,000 undergraduates and 9,000 postgraduate students. The university is classified as an ‘R1’ research institution by the Carnegie classification board (2), indicating ‘very high research activity’. Iowa is also known for its programs in fine arts and the law.

The University of Iowa is considered a ‘public Ivy’ institution, meaning the school provides an Ivy League type experience at a public university price. The university has produced a number of renowned writers, including playwright Tennessee Williams, Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Marilynne Robinson and Flannery O’Connor, winner of the National Book Award for fiction.

25. Florida State University

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Authority.org “score” : 80.8
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Average net price: $14,582
Acceptance rate: 49.2%
Graduation rate: 79.5%

Florida State University was founded in 1851 and has grown into the second-largest university by enrollment in Florida, with more than 41,000 students. The school is a renowned research institution, earning an ‘R1’ designation from Carnegie. An indication of the school’s commitment to leading-edge research is its contribution to the Large Hadron Collider outside Geneva, Switzerland.

Florida State University also makes significant contributions to the social sciences, including criminal justice, penology, various aspects of public policy, and more. The school also leads the Sunshine State in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics grants that drive a high degree of intellectual rigor. Given all that, the very reasonable net cost represents a significant value.

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Best Colleges

Ranking the best colleges for criminal justice

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Students wishing to engage in the study of criminal justice have hundreds of programs to choose from, although not all are created equal.

The research team at Authority.org has examined the academic landscape and determined which are the best colleges for criminal justice in 2020.

Here is our list:

1. George Washington University

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Authority.org “score” : 98.9
Location: Washington, DC
Average net price: $31,956
Acceptance rate: 41%
Graduation rate: 83.5%

George Washington University was chartered in 1821 following an act of Congress. It is located just down the Potomac River from the capital and currently hosts a little more than 11,000 undergraduates. Students are drawn to GW for numerous reasons, including its proximity to the center of power and the multitude of learning opportunities such a location can afford.

The Criminal Justice major at George Washington will find the program rigorous and comprehensive. Undergraduates with a minimum GPA of 3.3 have the option of adding a minor in law to their course load. Special Honors in Criminal Justice are available to those students achieving a final GPA of 3.5 or higher.

2. CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice

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Authority.org “score” : 98.3
Location: New York, NY
Average net price: $3,843
Acceptance rate: 38.7%
Graduation rate: 35.6%

Parts of what would become the City College of New York in 1961 could trace their roots to the 1840s. John Jay College of Criminal Justice was not one of them. It was not founded until 1964 when it was called the College of Police Science (COPS). A year later, COPS was renamed for the first Chief Justice of the US Supreme Courts, John Jay, It also had its mission modified somewhat to focus more on Criminal Justice rather than policing.

CUNY John Jay offers students a variety of Criminal Justice majors, including crime prevention, corrections and rehabilitation, the structure and workings of the court, crime control, and many more. CUNY John Jay may be the most affordable school on our list. But don’t make the mistake of thinking it will be a walk in the park, since only 35% of students complete the program.

3. Northeastern University

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Authority.org “score” : 97.6
Location: Boston, MA
Average net price: $13,549
Acceptance rate: 19%
Graduation rate: 83%

Northeastern occupies large swaths of central Boston from the Fens to the Longwood Medical Area. Northeastern is considered an R1 research institution, the highest rank a university can achieve. But its School of Criminology and Criminal Justice is also considered a top choice. Class sizes tend to be smaller than you will find at other universities, enabling more direct contact with instructors.

At Northeastern School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, you can choose from various areas of concentration including juvenile justice, human trafficking, criminal law and terrorism, and the mechanisms of incarceration, to name a few. You also have the option of combining your Criminal Justice studies with related topics like psychology and political science.

4. American University

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Authority.org “score” : 96.8
Location: Washington, DC
Average net price: $36,567
Acceptance rate: 29.4%
Graduation rate: 80.7%

The American University was founded in 1814 near the end of the War of 1812. Today it hosts more than 7,400 undergraduates in eight colleges. Those wishing to pursue a Criminal Justice major can do so through the School of Public Affairs’ Department of Justice, Law and Criminology. The department is highly regarded for its research centers, which serve the local, national and international community.

Undergraduates may obtain a BA in Justice and Law or a BA in Law and Society. Both degree programs integrate aspects of law, humanities, and social sciences into the curriculum. Students are taught how to make the most of contemporary research methods and provided the opportunity to perform internships that enhance their real-world appreciation for Criminal Justice and its mechanisms.

5. Pennsylvania State University

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Authority.org “score” : 96.7
Location: University Park, PA
Average net price: $30,373
Acceptance rate: 50.3%
Graduation rate: 85.3%

The Department of Sociology and Criminology at Penn State is widely considered one of the best in the country. Graduates of the Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice program typically go on to long, rewarding careers in law, corrections, protective services, court administration, social services, and more.

Penn State also offers a BA in Criminology, which tends to include more of the standard liberal arts curriculum than the aforementioned BS in Criminal Justice. Typically, students in the BS program will develop more rigorous research skills and learn more about the science of criminology, including incarceration, ethics and policing.

6. Pace University

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Authority.org “score” : 95.9
Location: New York, NY
Average net price: $29,588
Acceptance rate: 79.6%
Graduation rate: 52.6%

Pace University in New York City was started by a pair of brothers in 1906. The school was coeducational from the start but concentrated solely on accountancy and other business practices. The brothers intended to offer classes under their brand name nationwide, but concerns about quality control caused them to scrap that effort and concentrate on their NYC school. Today, Pace has 12,700 graduate and undergraduate students, many of whom are pursuing degrees in Criminal Justice.

Those studying Criminal Justice at Pace will explore a diverse range of related topics including the public policy implications of crime, the unique challenge created by stateless terrorism, how constitutional issues impact Criminal Justice, and more. Pace also offers an MA in Public Safety and a hybrid program that combines a BS in Criminal Justice with a JD.

7. Rutgers University

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Authority.org “score” : 94.8
Location: Newark, NJ
Average net price: $13,524
Acceptance rate: 58%
Graduation rate: 80.6%

Rutgers was founded in 1766, making it of the 10 oldest colleges in the country. The school offers more than 250 undergraduate and graduate degree programs along with a slew of Doctoral programs as well. Rutgers occupies more than 6,000 acres of campus split between New Brunswick, Camden and Newark.

Rutgers offers a BS in Criminal Justice program where students explore myriad topics including the impact of police on society, how to effectively reduce local crime, Criminal Justice theory, and much more. The school blends the study of Criminal Justice with aspects of the traditional liberal arts curriculum to prepare graduates to work in a variety of fields, from corrections to private security.

8. George Mason University

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Authority.org “score” : 94
Location: Fairfax, VA
Average net price: $19,779
Acceptance rate: 81.3%
Graduation rate: 69%

The school now known as George Mason University was founded in 1957 as an arm of the University of Virginia. In 1972 it split from the larger university and in the years since has experienced impressive growth. Today, there are more than 26,000 undergraduates at George Mason, including many enrolled in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society, or CLS.

The CLS offers both a BA in Criminal Justice and a BS in Criminology, Law and Society. Students majoring in other subjects such as psychology have the option of minoring in Criminology or Criminal Justice. Also, there is a highly-regarded Master’s program in Criminal Justice and a Doctoral Program in Criminology, Law and Society.

9. Florida State University

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Authority.org “score” : 93.2
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Average net price: $14,582
Acceptance rate: 49.2%
Graduation rate: 79.5%

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Established in 1851, just six years after Florida became the 27th state, Florida State University is widely considered one of the best public universities in the US. Today there are more than 41,000 undergraduates enrolled at Florida State. The school enjoys the benefits of its $700 million endowment and is considered an “R1: Doctoral University”, meaning it engages in “very high research activity”.

Research at FSU is not confined to particle physics. The school offers a highly-rated program in Criminology and Cyber Criminology wherein students are taught to hone their research abilities using the latest technologies. Undergraduates in the program will need to complete up to 52 credit hours directly related to the program and are required to maintain a 2.0 GPA in order to continue.

10. University of Cincinnati

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Authority.org “score” : 91.5
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Average net price: $23,498
Acceptance rate: 76.5%
Graduation rate: 62.1%

The University of Cincinnati was founded in 1819, making it one of the oldest colleges in Ohio. The school has four campuses, including the main campus in the Clifton Heights neighborhood of Cincinnati, where students pursue degrees in Criminal Justice. Total enrollment at the university is more than 44,000, with 35,500 being undergrads and the rest graduate students.

Cincinnati offers a BS in Criminal Justice through their College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services. The program is academically rigorous and includes courses in effective research methods, statistics, corrections, and the roots of criminal activity. Criminal Justice students must declare a minor comprised of six courses and complete an internship in an agency related to Criminal Justice.

11. University of Miami

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Authority.org “score” : 90.6
Location: Miami, FL
Average net price: $29,184
Acceptance rate: 36.2%
Graduation rate: 80.9%

The University of Miami was established in 1925, has a billion-dollar endowment, and is a nationally recognized college football powerhouse. It also happens to be renowned for its medical school and its Criminal Justice programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. There are currently some 18,000 undergraduates at the school along with 11,000 graduate students.

The BA in Criminology provides students with the knowledge and tools they need to assume leadership positions related to crime and justice. Courses cover contemporary research techniques, criminal justice theories, juvenile crime, processing techniques, and incarceration methods, among other things.

12. University of Illinois at Chicago

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Authority.org “score” : 90.3
Location: Chicago, IL
Average net price: $13,866
Acceptance rate: 77.1%
Graduation rate: 59.8%

The University of Illinois at Chicago was founded in 1867 and based in Champaign-Urbana. Following World War II, what was supposed to be a temporary location on Navy Pier was opened in Chicago. This would eventually move to its current location downtown. The school currently enrolls more than 21,000 undergraduates and 12,000 graduate students.

A BA in Criminology, Law and Justice introduces students to the roots of criminal activity, covers the impact of crime, and examines how society as a whole reacts to the phenomenon of criminal behavior. Courses include Principles of Criminal Law, Law and Society, Criminal Justice Organizations and more.

13. Michigan State University

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Authority.org “score” : 89.8
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Average net price: $21,001
Acceptance rate: 26.5%
Graduation rate: 90.1%

Michigan State University was founded in 1855 and during the intervening century and a half has grown into one of the most important institutions of higher education in the midwest. Today, it hosts more than 33,000 undergraduate and graduate students and offers a wide array of BA, BS, MA and PhD programs.

The BS in Criminal Justice from the Michigan State School of Criminal Justice covers an impressive array of disciplines and related course work. Students study Public Policy, Law, Justice, and more, as well as taking more traditional liberal arts courses. The school offers Master’s programs in Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement and Forensic Science, and a Doctoral Degree in Criminal Justice.

14. Texas Christian University

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Authority.org “score” : 88.1
Location: Fort Worth, TX
Average net price: $37,344
Acceptance rate: 41.1%
Graduation rate: 75.4%

Texas Christian University can trace its roots to 1873 when two brothers, Randolph and Addison Clark, set up the Add-Ran Male and Female College in Fort Worth. The college moved twice before finally returning to Fort Worth in 1910. Today, the school has nearly 9,000 undergraduates and some 1,500 graduate students and offers 117 major areas of study.

Texas Christian has a highly-regarded Criminal Justice program that provides students an in-depth look at this complex and ever-evolving subject. Students take foundational courses in Criminology, Research Methods in Criminal Justice, and numerous courses that examine criminal justice theory. Policing, law, incarceration, the role of the courts and more are also examined.

15. University of Maryland

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Authority.org “score” : 87.8
Location: College Park, MD
Average net price: $18,517
Acceptance rate: 44.5%
Graduation rate: 84.6%

The University of Maryland was founded in 1862 and is the largest university in Maryland. Currently, there are more than 41,000 students enrolled at the school in any one of 92 undergrad major programs or the nearly 200 Master’s and Doctoral programs. Students come to Maryland from all 50 states and more than 120 countries.

The Maryland Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice is home to the university’s Criminal Justice programs. Those programs cover the entire spectrum of Criminal Justice from juvenile delinquency to crime prevention, the role of the police and the courts, and the vexing issue of dealing with both state-sponsored and lone-wolf terrorism.

16. University of California at Irvine

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Authority.org “score” : 86.6
Location: Irvine, CA
Average net price: $24,048
Acceptance rate: 29%
Graduation rate: 71%

The University of California at Irvine was established in 1965. The campus is located about an hour east of the center of LA and is known for being among the most modern in the nation. UC Irvine currently offers nearly 90 undergraduate and 130 graduate and Doctoral degrees, including a Bachelor’s in Criminology, Law and Society.

UC Irvine students pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice can focus on Criminology, Homeland Security, Forensic Sciences, Private Security, Transnational Crime, and more. Related courses cover things like social media crime, juvenile crime, inequality, and immigration. The school also offers a pair of Master’s Degrees, one in Criminology, Law and Society, and the other in Legal and Forensic Psychology. UC Irvine also offers a Doctoral Degree in Criminology, Law and Society

17. UMass Lowell

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Authority.org “score” : 85.4
Location: Lowell, MA
Average net price: $19,322
Acceptance rate: 68.8%
Graduation rate: 55.5%

Founded in 1894 The University of Massachusetts at Lowell – commonly called UMass Lowell – is a public research university and part of the UMass system. UMass Lowell has more than 18,000 full-time students, making it among the state’s largest public universities. It offers undergraduates 120 degree programs and a further 68 degree programs for Master’s and Doctoral candidates.

The UMass Lowell School of Criminology and Justice Studies is one of the most popular on campus. It offers a BS in Criminal Justice and Criminology. Students can choose to concentrate on various aspects of Criminal Justice, including the police, violent crime, incarceration and corrections, homeland security, and the connection between mental health and crime. Each program emphasizes the importance of rigorous research and critical thinking.

18. Washington State University

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Authority.org “score” : 83.9
Location: Pullman, WA
Average net price: $19,322
Acceptance rate: 73.1%
Graduation rate: 63.9%

Washington State University was founded in 1890 and is among the oldest land-grant colleges in the West. Land grant colleges were colleges founded on federally owned land for the express purpose of establishing institutions of higher learning. Today, Washington State hosts more than 24,000 undergraduate students and more than 5,000 graduate and Doctoral students.

The Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State is the oldest such department in the United States. It takes an interdisciplinary approach to the issue of Criminal Justice, examining its causes, dissecting the various responses to it, and exploring alternatives. Students hoping to major in Criminal Justice at the University must have at least 24 credit hours complete and a GPA of at least 2.5.

19. Molloy College

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Authority.org “score” : 82.4
Location: Rockville Center, NY
Average net price: $27,949
Acceptance rate: 76%
Graduation rate: 75.7%

Molloy College in Rockville Center NY may seem an unlikely spot for a much-heralded Criminal Justice program. But the BS in Criminal Justice offered by the school is widely respected nationwide. Molloy College was founded as a female-only Christian college but switched to coeducational during the 1980s. Molloy offers degree programs at the Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral levels.

Students in the Bachelor of Science program in Criminal Justice see the issue from both the purely academic, classroom perspective, and from a real-world perspective. The course covers the myriad aspects of Criminal Justice including policing, incarceration, the role of civic organizations, education, court procedures and more.

20. Marist College

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Authority.org “score” : 81.1
Location: Poughkeepsie, NY
Average net price: $35,290
Acceptance rate: 46%
Graduation rate: 76%

Not far from Molloy College is Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. Marist was founded in 1905 by the Marist Brothers and was originally focused on producing Christian-oriented educators. Over time the number and variety of degree programs expanded and today, the school offers 46 areas of concentration for undergrads (including Criminal Justice) and another 13 for graduate students.

Marist offers a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice with the opportunity for a double major in Criminal Justice and Psychology. Courses cover topics such as the role of police in America, methods of incarceration, the role and mechanics of the courts, and juvenile delinquency.

21. Liberty University

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Authority.org “score” : 80.5
Location: Lynchburg, VA
Average net price: $27,573
Acceptance rate: 29.8%
Graduation rate: 42.6%

Liberty University was founded in 1971 by the Reverend Jerry Falwell and Elmer Towns. In less than 50 years, the school has grown into one of the largest universities in the country by enrollment, with nearly 110,000 undergraduate and graduate students attending classes in person or online.

Liberty University offers a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice. Students can choose to concentrate on issues such as juvenile crime and punishment, homeland security, strategic intelligence, or criminal justice in the context of public administration.

22. Boston University

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Authority.org “score” : 79.3
Location: Boston, MA
Average net price: $37,065
Acceptance rate: 25.1%
Graduation rate: 85.1%

Boston University occupies both sides of Commonwealth Avenue in Boston between Fenway Park and the neighborhoods of Brighton and Allston. Currently, there are some 34,000 students enrolled at the school representing all 50 states and more than 100 countries. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. received his Doctorate in Systematic Theology at BU, and his legacy makes the school a magnet for many interested in social and criminal justice.

BU offers students a BS in Criminal Justice. The program takes a multi-pronged approach to the subject bringing together aspects of social policy, corrections and incarceration policies, policing techniques, and the roots of criminal activity. Graduates are expected to be proficient in theories related to the causes of crime, have specialized knowledge about law and policing, and have highly developed research capabilities.

23. Temple University

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Authority.org “score” : 78
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Average net price: $23,366
Acceptance rate: 56.7%
Graduation rate: 70.8%

Temple College was founded in 1884 and by 1907 achieved university status and was renamed Temple University. No other school in Pennsylvania contributes more professional practitioners to the Pennsylvania labor force than Temple. Today there are more than 40,000 full-time students studying at the school in either an undergraduate or graduate capacity.

Temple offers a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice through the College of Liberal Arts. The program is designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the nature, causes, and responses to criminal activity. Students examine the issue from both the governmental and personal side, as well as the laws, policies, and approaches used to control it.

24. University of Oklahoma

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Authority.org “score” : 77.6
Location: Norman, OK
Average net price: $19,254
Acceptance rate: 74%
Graduation rate: 65.3%

The University of Oklahoma was founded in 1890 17 years before Oklahoma became a state (1). Today it is one of the largest universities in Oklahoma with some 31,700 undergraduate and graduate students. The school offers more than 150 majors, 160 Master’s programs, and dozens of Doctoral Degree programs.

The University offers a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice designed to produce problem solvers ready to take positions of responsibility at all levels of society. The core curriculum for the BS in Criminal Justice includes Statistics in Criminal Justice, Theories of Criminal Behavior, Deviance and Social Control, and Comparative Justice Systems.

25. University of New Haven

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Authority.org “score” : 75.7
Location: West Haven, CT
Average net price: $33,380
Acceptance rate: 87.8%
Graduation rate: 53.8%

The University of New Haven (UNH) is actually located in neighboring West Haven, where it occupies a 122-acre campus. The school was founded in 1920 as a junior college and for several decades shared classrooms and some faculty with Yale University. In 1960 it moved to its current site and today hosts some 5,200 undergrads and nearly 1,800 graduate students.

The university offers a Bachelor of Science degree through the Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences. Students are given significant leeway in customizing their program, although core curriculum items are non-negotiable. That core curriculum includes Crime Analysis, Investigative Services, Crime Victim Services, and Correctional Rehabilitation.

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