Most people have heard of the illustrious eight private schools that make up the Ivy League. But what about high-quality public universities, or "Public Ivy League" schools? Are there any public schools out there that can match the caliber of top private schools? Find out what the Public Ivies are and why you should consider applying to them. Feature image credit: jojolae/Flickr Richard Moll's 1985 book The Public Ivys: A Guide to America's Best Public Undergraduate Colleges and Universities lists 15 public universities Moll considered equivalent to Ivy League schools based on the following four criteria: As a result, the term "Public Ivy" has become a shorthand for especially prestigious public universities and colleges in the US. Moll's original list of Public Ivy League schools consisted of the following 15 schools (listed below in alphabetical order): Moll also identified nine "worthy runners-up," or public colleges and universities that were very high quality but fell just short of Public Ivy status. These were as follows: The College of William and Mary is one of the 15 original Public Ivy schools. (benuski/Flickr) There are more lists of Public Ivy League schools out there besides just the original list created by Moll in 1985, including several lists from Howard and Matthew Greene's The Public Ivies (2001). We've gone through all these lists and gathered the most up-to-date information about the selectivity, academic quality, resources, and prestige of all public universities in America today. Based on our research, we've created a table of what we consider to be the top 26 Public Ivy League schools in the country. The schools have been divided into different tiers (Tier I = blue, Tier II = green, Tier III = yellow) based on selectivity and reputation for academic excellence. Though all the schools on our list of Public Ivy League schools provide great options to students for inexpensive and high-quality education, we wanted to highlight the stand-outs when it came to cost, size, and selectivity.
What Is a Public Ivy School?
What Are the Public Ivies?
Public Ivy Rankings
School State In-State Tuition Out-of-State Tuition Size Acceptance Rate 1 UCLA CA $13,804 $44,830 31,636 11% 2 UC Berkeley CA $14,760 $45,786 31,814 17% 3 UNC Chapel Hill NC $9,036 $36,584 19,742 19% 4 University of Virginia VA $14,878 $50,348 18,066 21% 5 University of Michigan MI $16,178 $53,232 32,282 20% 6 UC Santa Barbara CA $12,570 $42,324 23,196 32% 7 Georgia Tech GA $10,258 $31,370 16,562 21% 8 UC Irvine CA $11,442 $41,196 29,449 29% 9 University of Florida FL $6,380 $28,658 34,931 31% 10 William and Mary VA $17,434 $40,089 6,543 37% 11 UC Davis CA $13,104 $44,130 30,982 49% 12 UC San Diego CA $15,276 $46,302 31,842 38% 13 UT Austin TX $11,766 $40,884 40,916 31% 14 University of Georgia GA $12,080 $31,120 29,765 40% 15 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign IL $17,138 $35,110 34,559 59% 16 UW–Madison WI $10,720 $38,608 33,506 52% 17 Ohio State OH $11,936 $35,019 46,984 54% 18 University of Washington WA $12,076 $39,906 31,384 56% 19 Penn State PA $18,898 $36,476 40,639 49% 20 Purdue IN $9,992 $28,794 37,101 60% 21 Rutgers–New Brunswick NJ $12,536 $29,737 35,844 60% 22 University of Maryland MD $9,000 $36,683 30,875 41% 23 University of Connecticut CT $15,672 $38,340 18,917 49% 24 Clemson SC $15,558 $38,550 21,653 49% 25 Florida State FL $5,616 $18,746 33,482 32% 26 University of Minnesota Twin Cities MN $15,626 $34,556 36,061 52%
The Public Ivy League: Awards Circle
Most people have heard of the illustrious eight private schools that make up the Ivy League. But what about high-quality public universities, or "Public Ivy League" schools? Are there any public schools out there that can match the caliber of top private schools?
Find out what the Public Ivies are and why you should consider applying to them.
Feature image credit: jojolae/Flickr
Richard Moll's 1985 book The Public Ivys: A Guide to America's Best Public Undergraduate Colleges and Universities lists 15 public universities Moll considered equivalent to Ivy League schools based on the following four criteria:
As a result, the term "Public Ivy" has become a shorthand for especially prestigious public universities and colleges in the US.
Moll's original list of Public Ivy League schools consisted of the following 15 schools (listed below in alphabetical order):
Moll also identified nine "worthy runners-up," or public colleges and universities that were very high quality but fell just short of Public Ivy status. These were as follows:
The College of William and Mary is one of the 15 original Public Ivy schools. (benuski/Flickr)
There are more lists of Public Ivy League schools out there besides just the original list created by Moll in 1985, including several lists from Howard and Matthew Greene's The Public Ivies (2001).
We've gone through all these lists and gathered the most up-to-date information about the selectivity, academic quality, resources, and prestige of all public universities in America today.
Based on our research, we've created a table of what we consider to be the top 26 Public Ivy League schools in the country. The schools have been divided into different tiers (Tier I = blue, Tier II = green, Tier III = yellow) based on selectivity and reputation for academic excellence.
Though all the schools on our list of Public Ivy League schools provide great options to students for inexpensive and high-quality education, we wanted to highlight the stand-outs when it came to cost, size, and selectivity.
#1: Most Selective
- UCLA (11% admissions rate)
- UC Berkeley (17% admissions rate)
These two highly competitive schools in the University of California system are not only extremely selective, but also academically rigorous and prestigious universities.
#2: Least Selective
- Purdue (60% admissions rate)
- Rutgers--New Brunswick (60% admissions rate)
Purdue and Rutgers are great choices if you're looking to attend a top Public Ivy but don't have the GPA and test scores to get into the most competitive schools.
#3: Cheapest for In-State Students
- Florida State University ($5,616/year)
- University of Florida ($6,380/year)
If you live in Florida and are looking to stay in-state for school, it's hard to do much better than the University of Florida or Florida State. Both schools' four-year tuition costs are barely half of what you'd pay for one year at an Ivy League or comparable private school.
Also, sun. Sun is nice (says the woman who chose to go to school in New England). (Boston Public Library/Flickr)
#4: Cheapest for Out-of-State Students
- Florida State University ($18,746/year)
If you want to attend a Public Ivy school but your state schools don't make the cut, then Florida State is a great option for you. You'll get the public school cost with the Public Ivy standards of academic rigor, resources, and name recognition.
#5: Smallest Undergraduate Population
- College of William and Mary (6,543 undergraduates)
If you're looking for a medium or even a smaller Public Ivy school experience, then William and Mary is the best bet for you, particularly if you apply to the honors program. While larger than most of the top liberal arts colleges, William and Mary is still comparable in size to smaller Ivy League schools such as Columbia and Brown.
#6: Largest Undergraduate Population
- Ohio State University (46,984 undergraduates)
If you want the big school, lose-yourself-in-a-crowd feel while still getting a good education, then OSU in Columbus is a great pick for you.
Should You Apply to Public Ivy League Schools?
So why attend a Public Ivy League school over an equally or more prestigious private school? In this section, I'll go over the five most crucial factors of cost, selectivity, size, academics, and athletics.
Because they're public universities, Public Ivy schools are significantly more cost-effective for in-state students than either Ivy League or other top-tier private schools.
In fact, the average cost for the 26 schools listed above came in at about $14,000/year for in-state students —that's definitely lower tuition than for any academically comparable private schools, which are closer to $45,000/year.
For out-of-state students, however, tuition at the Public Ivies can get pricey, especially for the best schools. The price range for the top seven Public Ivies goes all the way from the still-low cost of $31,370/year at Georgia Tech to the much higher cost of $53,232/year at the University of Michigan, which is basically the same price as a top private college.
So while public Ivy schools can still be cheaper than equivalent private schools if you live out-of-state, they are definitely more cost-effective if you live in the same state.
There is a wide range of selectivity among schools in the public Ivy League, from the most competitive schools like UCLA and UC Berkeley to the relatively less selective schools like the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Rutgers University.
While schools in the Public Ivy League are still fairly difficult to get into (particularly when it comes to specific honors programs within the schools), there is no doubt that top-tier private schools and Ivy League universities are significantly more selective.
Compare the admissions rates for top eight most selective of the Public Ivies vs eight of the most highly ranked Ivy League and other top-tier private schools:
|School||Acceptance Rate||Public or Private?|
|UNC Chapel Hill||19%||Public|
|University of Michigan||20%||Public|
|University of Virginia||21%||Public|
The only Public Ivy that even approaches the top private schools in selectivity is UCLA.
Part of the reason Ivy League schools and equivalent private schools (Stanford, MIT, or top liberal arts colleges) have lower admissions rates than Public Ivy schools has to do with school size. The median undergraduate population for an Ivy League institution is around 6,400 students, while for a Public Ivy it's closer to 25,000 students.
Class size is one of the reasons applying to an honors program or college within a Public Ivy League school is so important. In an honors program, you'll likely be in smaller classes and get more individualized attention.
Having rigorous academic programs is a defining characteristic of a Public Ivy League school, and most of the schools on our list have honors programs for high-achieving students who wish to challenge themselves.
However, there is a huge variance in quality both between different schools and among different programs or colleges within the same school.
For instance, UC Davis has one of the best programs in the country for agriculture, but some of their other departments are of relatively low quality (compared to what you'd find at a highly ranked private school). In contrast, UC Berkeley is a great school across most academic fields.
Because of this, it's important to do a little more research into Public Ivy schools than you would for a top-10 private university or college, particularly if you're looking at a second- or third-tier Public Ivy. You don't want to go to a school hoping to get a top pre-med education only to find out they have a weak bio department.
Not only do Public Ivies have some of the top college sports teams in the nation, but they give out athletic scholarships.
While this is true for some top private schools as well (Northwestern being the most prominent example), it's not the case for any Ivy League college and many other top private schools such as MIT and UChicago. If you're a serious athlete and want to be part of a world-class team, then a Public Ivy League school might be a great choice for you.
Similarly, if sports being a big part of campus life and having good sports teams is important to you as a fan, the Public Ivy League schools are a good fit. Nine of the 26 Public Ivies listed above are Big Ten Schools, with strong sports cultures and team spirit.
UConn basketball players have some serious skills. (Mike Mozart/Flickr)
Public Ivy League Schools: The Bottom Line
If you want to apply to an academically rigorous, fairly selective, and well-known public school, you should absolutely consider applying to a Public Ivy. It makes great financial sense to apply to a Public Ivy in your state, and while Public Ivies can get more expensive for out-of-state students, they're still usually cheaper than a private college or university.
Applying to an honors program within a Public Ivy, particularly if it's not in the top level of schools, is a must if you want a high-quality education. Honors programs have the bonus of being smaller and full of more academically driven students than the rest of the student body while at the same time being able to draw on the resources of a larger institution.
Finally, do the research to find out which schools are outstanding in the areas you're interested in studying. You might even discover that the best program in the country for the subject you're interested in is at a Public Ivy school in your state!
Boston Public Library/Flickr
Still wondering about the pros and cons of public universities? Use our discussion of public vs private colleges to figure out which type of school is right for you.
Learn what it takes to get into an Ivy League school with this guide by a Harvard alum.
Want to see if you have what it takes to get into the top private universities in the country? Find out how you stack up against the competition with our article about good SAT scores for the Ivy League Plus schools.
Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:
About the Author
Laura graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College with a BA in Music and Psychology, and earned a Master's degree in Composition from the Longy School of Music of Bard College. She scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and GRE and loves advising students on how to excel in high school.
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While research shows attending a selective institution may not have a notable positive impact on student learning, job satisfaction, or well being, attending an Ivy League or comparably elite university has been found to have a measurable positive effect on future earnings for some student populations.Does it matter if you go to an ivy? ›
While research shows attending a selective institution may not have a notable positive impact on student learning, job satisfaction, or well being, attending an Ivy League or comparably elite university has been found to have a measurable positive effect on future earnings for some student populations.What are the 5 most important things to consider when choosing a college? ›
Before making your choice, consider these factors: cost, location, size, your interests, campus life, graduation rates, and the potential return on your investment.
The Public Ivies offer an Ivy League education at a public university price, according to Richard Moll, who coined the term in his 1985 book "The Public Ivys."What is the acceptance rate for Public Ivy? ›
- Acceptance Rate: 37% (out-of-state: 31%; in-state: 44%)
- Average GPA: 4.3.
- In-state tuition: $17,434.
- Out of state tuition: $40,089.
The Easiest Ivy League schools to get into
Cornell is the easiest and youngest Ivy League school. It was established in 1865 and is situated in Ithaca, New York. Out of 49,114 candidates, Cornell accepted 5,330, for an admission percentage of around 10.9%.
Courses and Grades
A student's grades in college-preparatory classes remain the most significant factor in college admission decisions.
- Public vs. Private. ...
- Financial Aid/Loans. Financial aid can have a huge impact on a student's decision, and in fact, can be the leading factor. ...
- Location, Location, Location. ...
- Size. ...
- Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility. ...
- Research/Internship Opportunities.
Acceptance rates among Public Ivies vary quite a bit. For instance, UCLA admits 8.6 percent of its applicants (and fewer every year), while the College of William & Mary admits 37 percent, and Georgia Tech admits 17 percent. Most Public Ivies tend to have rates somewhere in the 10–30 percent range.What is the cheapest ivy? ›
Princeton. Princeton is commonly regarded as the “cheapest Ivy” thanks to its extensive financial aid offerings. 62% of admitted students receive financial aid.
- Be sure to have good grades and test scores. ...
- Try not to be late – apply early. ...
- Come up with an exceptional personal statement. ...
- Demonstrate True Depth in Your Extracurricular Activities. ...
- Create a well-thought-out high school curriculum. ...
- Do well in your interview.
Dartmouth University is the Ivy League school that receives the least amount of applications. On average, they receive nearly 23,000 applications each year, and this year they received 28,841 applications.What is the least competitive ivy? ›
Cornell is considered the "easiest" Ivy League to get into because it has the highest Ivy League acceptance rate. While it's easier, statistically speaking, to get into Cornell, it's still challenging. It's also important to remember that students apply directly to one of Cornell's eight undergraduate colleges.What is the hardest ivy to get into? ›
You will surely have to impress its admissions officers in a grand way if you want to spend your college years there. By the way, it's not just the hardest of the Ivies to go to. Harvard University is also the oldest Ivy around. It was founded way back in 1636, which is nearly 400 years ago!
Princeton University is the highest scoring Ivy League to make the top ten list of universities with the best financial aid packages.
And maybe, you can get into a top tier college with a low GPA. We've always stated that the lowest GPA student we've ever helped get into an Ivy League school had a 3.3 unweighted GPA. And we're not saying that we could get anyone in with a 3.3 GPA. But it has happened before – and the student was Asian American too.Which Ivy has the smartest students? ›
|Smarts Rank||Overall Smarts Rank||School|
The second-easiest Ivy League school to get into, Dartmouth College was founded in 1769. Dartmouth is the smallest Ivy League school, but don't be fooled by its diminutive undergraduate class size—the school has a large number of offerings.
Overall, selective colleges value a rigorous course load over perfect grades. An Ivy League school might accept a student who had all As and one or two Bs in the highest-level classes, but it probably wouldn't accept a student who had flawless grades in all mid- or low-level classes.Can you get into ivys with b? ›
Realize that you don't need straight "A" grades to get into the Ivy League, but every "B" on your transcript is lessening your chance of admission. Most successful Ivy League applicants have unweighted GPAs that are up in the 3.7 range or higher (3.9 or 4.0 is more common).
Grade point averages are a much better predictor of success at college than standardized tests, according to new research.Do colleges like to see improvement? ›
Colleges notice if and how your grades improved (or didn't) over time. If your grades were lower at the beginning of high school and then improved, the upward trend may count in your favor. But if you experienced a dip in grades your junior year, colleges will notice that too.Do colleges look at senior year grades? ›
The important thing to know is that colleges do look at your senior year grades. So, a weaker performance in senior year than in previous grades can impact your application and college admissions decisions.What five factors contribute to success in college? ›
- Defined Career Path. Successful college students do not enter their studies with an unclear and murky understanding of exactly what it is they would like to do in life. ...
- Study Habits. ...
- Social Skills. ...
- Stress Management. ...
- Self-Confidence. ...
- About Author.
Most colleges consider grades and class rigor top factors in the admissions process. High SAT/ACT scores can impress admissions committees, even at test-optional schools. Students can demonstrate interest by applying early decision and visiting the campus.What makes you stand out to colleges? ›
Stand-out applications showcase achievement, merit, and previous academic success. Taking honors classes or AP courses can give you a significant advantage. Most colleges generally prefer applicants with a B in an honors program over those with an A in standard courses because it shows initiative.What should I look for in a college checklist? ›
- A CHECKLIST OF CONSIDERATIONS. WHEN CHOOSING A COLLEGE.
- SUCCESSFUL OUTCOMES.
- CAMPUS SIZE.
- RESIDENCE LIFE.
- Distance from home.
- Available majors and classes.
- Housing options.
- Makeup of the student body.
- Available extracurricular activities.
- Campus atmosphere.
To find the right college fit for you, think about what you need in four different categories: academics, campus culture, financial aid, and career services. For 28 years, we've surveyed students at hundreds of colleges about their experiences on campus.Has anyone got into all 8 ivies? ›
"I just decided to shoot my shot at all of them and see if it would land," says Ashley Adirika, a Nigerian American teen who was accepted into all eight Ivy League schools.
1. Which Ivy League School has the highest acceptance rate? Recent data shows Cornell University is the Ivy League school with the highest acceptance rate.Which schools send most students to Ivy League? ›
- The Spence School, New York, NY. ...
- Phillips Academy Andover, Andover, MA. ...
- Roxbury Latin School, West Roxbury, MA. ...
- Horace Mann School, The Bronx, NY. ...
- Brearly School, New York, NY. ...
- Collegiate School, New York, NY. ...
- Trinity School, New York, NY.
If you're wondering which Ivies have the best party scenes, this guide breaks it down. The best Ivy League party schools are Dartmouth and Penn, followed by Cornell. But if you put yourself out there and meet the right people, you can have an incredible social life at any of them.What is the smallest Ivy undergrad? ›
Dartmouth is the smallest Ivy, with a total enrollment of about 7,000 students.Which Ivy is the most beautiful? ›
The Ivy League with the best campus is Princeton. It's reputed as having the prettiest campus. But beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.Does public ivy matter? ›
The Public Ivies are a group of prestigious public schools that have a stellar reputation for academic excellence. These colleges and universities are known for providing an Ivy League-level education at a fraction of the cost (when attending in-state).What extracurriculars do Ivy Leagues look for? ›
- Starting a club. Many students struggle to find an extracurricular activity that picks their interests. ...
- Participate in a summer program. ...
- Competing in academic events. ...
- Writing for the school newspaper. ...
- Joining the theater program. ...
- Doing an internship.
Can an average student get into Ivy League? While it can be challenging for an average student to get into an Ivy League school, it is not impossible. The admissions process for Ivy League schools is highly selective.Which Ivy has the best dorm? ›
The Ivy League schools, as would be expected, have excellent dorm life options. Columbia, an Ivy League school with an outstanding history and reputation, carries inclusion and diversity from the classroom to the larger Columbia community.
Preppiest. Princeton University—Princeton, NJ—8,623 undergraduate students. Princeton is one of the most conservative Ivies (the other is Dartmouth).
What is the least "snobby" Ivy League? The correct answer is almost certainly Cornell.What is the third easiest Ivy League to get into? ›
- Harvard – 4.6% acceptance rate.
- Cornell – 8.7% acceptance rate.
- Brown – 5% acceptance rate.
- Dartmouth– 6.2% acceptance rate.
- University of Pennsylvania– 7.7% acceptance rate.
- Princeton– 5.8% acceptance rate.
- Yale – 6.3% acceptance rate.
- Columbia– 3.9% acceptance rate.
1. What's the easiest Ivy League school to get into? While all Ivy League schools have a low acceptance rate, Cornell University has the highest acceptance rate among them. Cornell's acceptance rate is 11%, but try not to get too hung up on the numbers.Do jobs care if you went to an Ivy League? ›
Most employers do not care. They will never see an ivy league applicant walk through their door. It will look really good on an application. But chances are, if you graduate from an ivy league school, you are going to be competeing against other ivy league kids.Do I have to go to an Ivy League to be successful? ›
There Are Many Schools of Comparable Caliber.
You may want to consider these top non-Ivy League schools and these public universities known as the “public Ivies.” You don't need to go to an Ivy to get a great education and land your next great role.
Ivy League schools expect you to have outstanding grades, and it's practically a prerequisite to applying. Unless you've experienced an extreme illness or a life-changing experience, Ivy League schools expect you to have a good GPA of at least 4.0.Does going to a prestigious college matter? ›
Prestigious universities typically receive more applications than available seats, and applicants with the best GPAs and admission test scores are selected. In addition to training the brightest minds, a prestigious university also has the best of the best faculty to train them.What is the most accepting Ivy League? ›
1. Which Ivy League School has the highest acceptance rate? Recent data shows Cornell University is the Ivy League school with the highest acceptance rate.Do Ivy Leagues interview everyone? ›
Do Ivy League Schools Interview All Applicants? Ivy League schools can't guarantee that every applicant will be offered an interview (mostly due to limited alumni interviewers). However, you won't be disadvantaged in the admissions process if you're not offered an interview.Do Ivy Leagues care about one B? ›
Realize that you don't need straight "A" grades to get into the Ivy League, but every "B" on your transcript is lessening your chance of admission. Most successful Ivy League applicants have unweighted GPAs that are up in the 3.7 range or higher (3.9 or 4.0 is more common).
As you might expect, the colleges that produce the most billionaires are largely Ivy League universities. But even for those who never reach 10 figures, Ivy League universities can still generate wealth.How many CEOs went to Ivy League? ›
Whitler, found an interesting pattern that might shock some: Most of the F100 CEOs didn't attend Ivy League schools. Eighty-nine percent of Fortune 100 CEOs graduated from non-Ivy League schools, according to research, with just 11% actually attending prestigious Ivy League schools.Do all CEOs go to Ivy Leagues? ›
Furthermore, the majority of CEOs earned their degrees at lesser-known universities, not the Ivy Leagues.How do you stand out in Ivy League admissions? ›
- Start early. ...
- Do thoughtful college research. ...
- Take time to write strong essays. ...
- Answer optional supplemental questions. ...
- Submit supplemental materials. ...
- Emphasize uniqueness, leadership, and impact. ...
- Submit test scores strategically.
Princeton. Princeton is commonly regarded as the “cheapest Ivy” thanks to its extensive financial aid offerings. 62% of admitted students receive financial aid. The school meets full demonstrated need and 83% of recent seniors graduated debt-free, in part due to Princeton's complete no-loan financial aid policies.Do employers care where you went to college? ›
84% say the institution a candidate attended is a 'very important' or 'important' factor. 71% are more likely to move forward with a candidate who attended a top-tier school. 66% are more likely to move forward with a candidate who attended their own alma mater.Should I tell a college they are my top choice? ›
While you might not want to come outright and say it, there is no harm in telling your college that they are your top choice. However, you should use creative avenues to express your interest. Many college essays ask you why you want to attend, so this is the perfect opportunity.Is Yale losing its prestige? ›
As for Yale, it has been dropping steadily in the rankings of multiple international ranking entities for years - ARWU, QS and Times Higher Education - just to name a few. The days [when Yale] was known for engineering are long past.