Best public universities in the United States 2022

Submitted by seeta.bhardwa@… on Tue, 09/21/2021 - 11:28

When many people think of the best universities in the US, the Ivy League – a group of eight highly ranked private universities –  comes to mind.

However, while the resources available to the country’s top private institutions can result in them dominating the upper echelons of university and college rankings, the best public universities in the US should not be overlooked. Most public universities in the US are state universities, operated by state governments, and are often grouped into “systems”.

Many US states have at least one public university, and some of the larger states may have many public universities. Such institutions will often offer discounted tuition fees for students who are residents of the state.

Based on data collected by the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education US College Rankings, we’ve put together a list of the top 100 public universities in the US.

The best public universities can be found across the US, but there are clusters of high-ranking institutions in California and New York. Some 27 of the best public universities are present in the top 100 of the overall US College Rankings.

The WSJ/THE US College Rankings is a more student-centred ranking because of its emphasis on student outcomes and engagement. While previously we have used results from the US Student Survey for the ranking, we were unable to conduct a survey in 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, we have used data from the 2019 survey to inform this year’s ranking. The full methodology can be found here.


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Top 5 public universities in the US

1. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor was founded in 1817 with just seven students taught by two professors. By 1866, there were 1,205 students, and the first women were admitted to the university in 1870.

The university was also the first in the US to hold seminars as a method of study.

Student-run newspaper The Michigan Daily was founded in 1890 and is published five days a week during the academic year.

Other student publications include The Michigan Review and The Michigan Independent. Students also run the humour publications Gargoyle and The Every Three Weekly. Several academic journals are also published at the institution.

2. University of California, Los Angeles

Located in the Westwood district of Los Angeles, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is part of the University of California system.

The university offers more than 125 majors and 80 minors for undergraduates, as well as almost 150 graduate degree programmes.

The most popular undergraduate majors are business, economics, biology, psychology, political science and economics.

The university is affiliated with 15 Nobel laureates, 15 MacArthur fellows and 118 National Collegiate Athletic Association titles, while 270 Olympic medals have been won by alumni or students. Additionally, more than 140 companies have been created based on technology developed at UCLA.

Notable alumni include NFL Super Bowl quarterback Troy Aikman; the first African American mayor of Los Angeles, Tom Bradley; actor James Franco; and Taylor Wang, the first Chinese American astronaut.

3. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is one of 17 campuses that are part of the University of North Carolina system.

It was chartered in 1789 and the university started enrolling students in 1795, meaning that it is one of the oldest public universities in the US.

The university offers 74 bachelor’s, 104 master’s, 65 doctoral degree and seven professional degree programmes.

Students can participate in more than 550 student organisations, and the student-run newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, has won national awards for collegiate media.

4. University of California, Berkeley

The University of California, Berkeley is one of 10 research universities affiliated with the University of California system.

Alumni, faculty and researchers include more than 100 Nobel laureates, 20 Academy Award winners, 14 Pulitzer winners, 117 Olympic gold medallists and 13 Fields Medal winners.

The university is split into 14 colleges and schools that include chemistry, engineering, business, natural resources and optometry.

5. University of California, Davis

The University of California, Davis is the third campus of the University of California system to feature in the top five of the US College Ranking.

It was founded primarily as an agricultural campus but has expanded over the past century to cover medicine, law, education, nursing, veterinary medicine and business management.

The university is well known for its commitment to sustainability; one goal is that 25 per cent of food service spending by campus will be on sustainable food products by 2030. An on-campus “biodigester”, which was invented at the university, can turn 50 tonnes of waste into energy for the campus every day.


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Top 100 public universities in the US

Public University Rank 2022 US College Rank 2022 University City State
1 24 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor Michigan
2 27 University of California, Los Angeles Los Angeles California
3 33 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill North Carolina
4 =36 University of California, Berkeley Berkeley California
5 =40 University of California, Davis Davis California
6 =43 University of California, San Diego La Jolla California
=7 =45 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign Illinois
=7 =45 University of Washington -Seattle Seattle Washington
9 47 United States Military Academy West Point New York
10 48 Purdue University West Lafayette West Lafayette Indiana
11 54 University of Florida Gainesville Florida
12 =55 University of Virginia (Main campus) Charlottesville Virginia
13 =58 University of Wisconsin -Madison Madison Wisconsin
14 60 University of Texas at Austin Austin Texas
15 =69 Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta Georgia
16 75 United States Naval Academy Annapolis Maryland
17 76 University of California, Santa Barbara Santa Barbara California
18 78 William & Mary Williamsburg Virginia
19 79 Texas A&M University-College Station College Station Texas
20 80 University of Maryland, College Park College Park Maryland
21 =81 Michigan State University East Lansing Michigan
22 83 University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh campus Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
23 85 University of Minnesota Twin Cities Minneapolis Minnesota
24 87 University of California, Irvine Irvine California
25 91 University of Illinois at Chicago Chicago Illinois
26 97 Indiana University Bloomington Bloomington Indiana
27 =99 Ohio State University (Main campus) Columbus Ohio
28 103 University of Connecticut Storrs Connecticut
29 =104 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Blacksburg Virginia
30 =117 North Carolina State University Raleigh North Carolina
31 124 University at Buffalo Buffalo New York
32 125 Stony Brook University Stony Brook New York
33 131 University of Arizona Tucson Arizona
34 133 University of Utah Salt Lake City Utah
35 =136 Rutgers University-New Brunswick New Brunswick New Jersey
=36 =141 University of Massachusetts Amherst Amherst Massachusetts
=36 =141 Penn State (Main campus) University Park Pennsylvania
38 =143 University of Georgia Athens Georgia
39 =152 University of Delaware Newark Delaware
40 =158 Virginia Military Institute Lexington Virginia
41 163 SUNY Binghamton University Vestal New York
42 =166 Temple University Philadelphia Pennsylvania
43 169 University of Iowa Iowa City Iowa
44 =173 Florida State University Tallahassee Florida
45 =177 New Jersey Institute of Technology Newark New Jersey
46 =179 George Mason University Fairfax Virginia
=47 =182 Clemson University Clemson South Carolina
=47 =182 University of Colorado Boulder Boulder Colorado
=49 =184 University of California, Riverside Riverside California
=49 =184 Colorado School of Mines Golden Colorado
51 188 SUNY University at Albany Albany New York
52 189 California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo California
53 =192 Missouri University of Science and Technology Rolla Missouri
54 =210 Michigan Technological University Houghton Michigan
55 =212 CUNY City College of New York New York New York
=56 =214 Arizona State University (Tempe) Tempe Arizona
=56 =214 University of Colorado Denver /Anschutz Medical Campus Denver Colorado
=58 =219 Iowa State University Ames Iowa
=58 =219 University of Kansas Lawrence Kansas
60 =227 Miami University Oxford Ohio
61 =234 CUNY Bernard M. Baruch College New York New York
62 =238 Washington State University Pullman Washington
63 241 University of Oregon Eugene Oregon
64 =242 Southern Illinois University Carbondale Carbondale Illinois
=65 =244 University of Hawai’i at Mānoa Honolulu Hawai'i
=65 =244 University of Oklahoma Norman Oklahoma
=67 =251 Rutgers University-Newark Newark New Jersey
=67 =251 San Diego State University San Diego California
68 =253 SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry Syracuse New York
=69 =256 CUNY Hunter College New York New York
=69 =256 University of Wyoming Laramie Wyoming
71 260 University of Maryland, Baltimore County Baltimore Maryland
72 =261 The College of New Jersey Ewing New Jersey
73 =264 University of California, Santa Cruz Santa Cruz California
74 =271 University of South Florida (Tampa) Tampa Florida
75 275 University of South Carolina-Columbia Columbia South Carolina
76 =276 Mizzou - University of Missouri Columbia Missouri
77 278 University of Mississippi University Mississippi
=78 =279 Louisiana State University Baton Rouge Louisiana
=78 =279 The University of Tennessee-Knoxville Knoxville Tennessee
=78 =279 Wayne State University Detroit Michigan
81 283 University of Minnesota Morris Morris Minnesota
82 =284 Auburn University Auburn Alabama
83 =286 James Madison University Harrisonburg Virginia
84 290 University of Cincinnati – Uptown Cincinnati Ohio
=85 =291 Colorado State University, Fort Collins Fort Collins Colorado
=85 =291 Rutgers University-Camden Camden New Jersey
=85 =291 San Jose State University San Jose California
88 =297 University of Central Florida Orlando Florida
89 =299 California State University, Long Beach Long Beach California
90 =299 University of Vermont Burlington Vermont
91 =302 University of Kentucky Lexington Kentucky
92 =306 University of Alabama at Birmingham Birmingham Alabama
93 =306 University of Washington -Bothell Bothell Washington
=94 =310 University of Nevada, Las Vegas Las Vegas Nevada
=94 =310 Oregon State University Corvallis Oregon
96 =313 Oklahoma State University Stillwater Oklahoma
97 =317 Indiana University -Purdue University Indianapolis Indianapolis Indiana
=98 =323 University of Houston Houston Texas
=98 =323 University of Texas at Dallas Richardson Texas
100 =327 University of Missouri-Kansas City Kansas City Missouri
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Find the best public universities in the US using Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education’s US College Rankings data

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