How To Get Into The Best Colleges In The Northeast

Boston, MA
September 19, 2022
Top Seven Colleges in the Northeast Why Choose College in the Northeast? Choosing the Best College to Attend in the Northeast FAQs: The Best Colleges in the Northeast


Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/4/22

The Northeast is home to many excellent colleges. Whether you’re from the Northeast and want to stick close to home, or you’re ready to see what the region has to offer, read on to learn more about the best colleges in the Northeast! 

The Northeast has many top colleges, attracting students from all parts of the country. After all, the Northeast is the birthplace of the Ivy League. Although these eight schools are splendid additions to your college list, there are also other schools to consider. 

We’ll walk you through the top seven colleges in the Northeast, including general information about admitted students and each school. There are many reasons to consider choosing a Northeastern college: if you’re wondering which school is best for you, read on to learn more!

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Top Seven Colleges in the Northeast 

Choosing from the best colleges in the Northeast starts with learning more about each school. Class profile data, admissions statistics, and general school info can help you make an informed choice. Our list is based on U.S. News World and Report’s best national universities ranking

#1 Princeton University 

Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, is ranked the best university in the Northeast and the country. The school’s class profile data shows: 

Princeton is the country’s fourth-oldest college. As a world-renowned research university, the school is “distinctive among research universities in its commitment to undergraduate teaching.” The school’s curriculum encourages undergraduates to explore different subject areas. 

Princeton’s informal motto is, “In Service of Humanity.” This motto is meant to demonstrate the contributions Princetonians make in their communities and the world. Princeton’s core values include: 

Princeton University is an excellent option if you’re looking for a sense of community and are committed to serving the greater good. 

#2 Columbia University

Columbia University in New York, NY, is the second-best Northeastern college. These are some important enrolment statistics

Columbia University strives to “attract a diverse and international faculty and student body, to support research and teaching on global issues, and to create academic relationships with many countries and regions.” The school has provided its students with high-caliber instruction for more than 250 years.

There is truly something for everyone with Columbia’s more than 100 programs of study and 200 research opportunities. Undergraduate students can apply to Columbia College or Columbia Engineering, depending on their interests and goals. 

The school also has more than 100 study abroad programs for students interested in gaining a better global understanding while satisfying wanderlust. If you want to achieve mastery in your chosen discipline and work toward a better future, Columbia may be the college for you. 

#3 Harvard University 

Tied with Columbia University for second-best school in the country, Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is third on our list. Harvard College admissions statistics show: 

Although Harvard College didn’t release data about test scores and GPAs, its prestige and ranking suggest academic aptitude is a crucial selection factor. Harvard College boasts that it provides an undergraduate experience, unlike any other school. Harvard’s close-knit community offers

Harvard College emphasizes a “liberal arts and sciences” education for all its students so students can learn to understand the world around them to change it for the better. The school’s core curriculum provides students the tools they need “to think critically, reason analytically, and write clearly.” 

Students who want to be challenged by difficult questions, unfamiliar concepts, and new interdisciplinary ideas will thrive at Harvard College. 

#4 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 

MIT, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is also ranked as the second-best school in the country. Recent class profile data shows more information about MIT: 

MIT’s community strives to make the world a better place through high-quality education, research, and innovation. The school describes itself as “fun and quirky, elite but not elitist, inventive and artistic, obsessed with numbers, and welcoming to talented people regardless of where they come from.” 

In terms of undergraduate education, MIT emphasizes a hands-on approach to learning. Undergraduate students work closely with faculty to tackle the world’s greatest challenges, find answers to fundamental questions, and turn ideas into tangible actions. 

MIT seeks students who demonstrate: 

If you’re someone who loves collaboration and learning by doing, MIT’s educational model aligns with your passions. 

#5 Yale University 

Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, is No.5 on of best colleges in the Northeast. Yale College’s recent class profile data shows: 

Yale College had a test-optional policy for the most recent admissions cycle data, so the school didn’t release average SAT and ACT scores.

Yet another Ivy League school on our list, Yale was founded in 1701. Today, Yale is “committed to improving the world today and for future generations through outstanding research and scholarship, education, preservation, and practice.” 

All undergraduate students attend Yale College. Undergraduate students can: 

If you feel you would thrive in an intimate learning environment focusing on liberal arts, Yale College may be the right fit for you. 

#6 University of Pennsylvania 

The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia is among the best colleges in the U.S. UPenn’s  recent class profile data shows: 

Although GPAs aren’t shown due to varying high school rankings and grading policies, UPenn states that your performance in high school is the most critical selection factor. 

UPenn focuses on inclusion, innovation, and impact. The school offers access and affordability to create a dynamic campus community, integrated knowledge to lead to research discoveries, and an urban campus dedicated to community engagement through these three pillars. 

UPenn has four undergraduate schools

Many Penn students engage in interdisciplinary studies, with almost 100 majors to choose from among the four schools. Most undergraduate students study at the College of Arts & Sciences.  

If you’re a community-centric person curious about various study areas, UPenn is an excellent school to add to your college list. 

#7 John Hopkins University 

Seventh on our list is John Hopkins University, located in Baltimore, Maryland. The university’s prestige is evident based on its recent admissions statistics

John Hopkins University’s mission statement is, “To educate its students and cultivate their capacity for lifelong learning, to foster independent and original research, and to bring the benefits of discovery to the world.” In more than 140 years since the school’s inception, research and teaching are crucial to America’s first research university. 

The school places itself at the intersection of “drive and creativity," with more than 50 majors and 40 minors for undergraduate students to choose from. Classroom sizes tend to be relatively intimate at JHU, with 74% of classes made up of fewer than 20 students. 

JHU seeks students with insatiable curiosities ready to find answers and work alongside others to explore and find solutions. The school has more research funding than any other school in the country, making it a hotbed for groundbreaking research at every study level. 

If you’re interested in conducting or assisting in research, or you’re pursuing a pre-med major to prepare for medical school, JHU is a great school to consider.

Why Choose College in the Northeast? 

So, why should you consider choosing one of these best colleges in the Northeast? There are benefits to attending a Northeastern college, whether you’re from the region or relocating. 

The Northeast Is Home to Many of the Nation's Best Schools 

The Northeast is the home of the eight Ivy League schools. While some of them were covered in our list, the others are Brown University, Dartmouth College, and Cornell University. 

There are also many other top-ranked non-Ivy League schools in the Northeast. Some of the other best Northeastern schools include Carnegie Mellon University, New York University, Tufts University, the University of Rochester, and Boston College. 

The Northeast has the highest number of top-ranked colleges based on its density compared to any other part of the country. 

The Northeast Includes Many Urban Centers 

The Northeast is home to some of the nation’s major cities: 

These major cities may be major tourist destinations, but there are many things to see and do for the college crowd. Whether you’re interested in fine dining and shopping or just exploring the city, there’s always something to do. 

The proximity to these major cities can be helpful for undergraduate students looking for work post-graduation. Bigger cities typically mean more opportunities for graduates. Some major companies regularly look for Northeastern college graduates. Securing employment after graduation may be easier! 

Scenic Views and Outdoor Activities

If bustling cities aren’t your bag, the Northeast is home to some of the most scenic views in the country. You can: 

Along with these stunning places to visit, the Northeast has many spots to kayak, canoe, cycle, hike, and even horseback ride. 

Rich History to Explore 

As one of the oldest parts of America, there is no shortage of landmarks to visit. While you’re in the Northeast, you can visit

This is just a small selection of things to see. The Northeast is home to many museums and historical sites. If you're a history buff or want to understand the country’s history better, the Northeast is a great region to live in or visit.

Choosing the Best College to Attend in the Northeast 

Between all these best colleges in the Northeast, how do you choose which one is best for you? Ultimately, the decision is yours alone to make. However, considering these factors can help.


Location is one of the first things students consider. Do you want to be closer to your hometown, or are you comfortable being further away from your family? Do you want to be closer to a bustling city, or is a college in a rural area more your speed? Determine your values and preferred learning style to understand what locations work best for you. 

Campus Size 

Campus size is another crucial consideration. Do you think you’d thrive best in a more intimate campus environment? Or do you want to be dazzled by a larger student body? 

Campus and class sizes are essential to students. Some students wouldn’t mind sitting in a lecture hall with 300 other students, while others might consider it less than ideal. There’s no wrong answer: the choice is yours! 

Program Offerings

This is arguably the most important factor to consider: does the school cater to your passions and interests? Will what’s offered at these schools help you grow and achieve your goals? 

For instance, students interested in medical school might want to attend John Hopkins University over Princeton, while engineering hopefuls may see MIT as the ultimate school for them. 

Again, there’s no wrong answer: you may have to do some soul searching to determine what you want and what school is best for you.

FAQs: The Best Colleges in the Northeast

Do you still have questions about attending the best colleges in the Northeast? These FAQs answer some of the most common questions.

1. What Is the Best Liberal Arts College in the Northeast? 

According to U.S. News World and Report, Williams College is the best liberal arts college in the Northeast

2. What Are the Best Affordable Colleges in the Northeast? 

Students (and parents) care about affordability, especially when tuition costs seem to rise each year. Based only on tuition fees, as reported by U.S. News, Harvard University is the best affordable college in the Northeast. In fact, 20% of students pay nothing to attend Harvard College, and over half receive need-based scholarships.

However, many of these schools offer considerable financial aid for students. If you’re wondering how to make college more affordable, check each school’s websites to see what types of aid they offer. 

3. Should I Only Apply to Ivy League Colleges? 

Generally, applying to only Ivy League colleges isn’t in any student’s best interest. Ivy League acceptance rates are low: you don't want to put all your eggs in one basket. These schools are considered “reach schools” because of their selectivity and low acceptance rates. 

You want to ensure your college list is diverse: picking out safety, target, and reach schools makes a balanced college list. 

4. Can I Apply to Only Northeast Colleges? 

If you’re absolutely sure you’re not willing to live and study in any other part of the U.S., there’s no reason you can’t only apply to Northeast schools. Ensure each school can cater to your needs and goals before you apply. 

5. What Are the Most Selective Northeast Colleges? 

According to acceptance rate data, some of the most selective colleges in the Northeast include Columbia University, Harvard University, MIT, and Yale University. 

6. How Do I Boost My Chances of Acceptance at a Northeast College? 

If you want to boost your chances of acceptance, a good place to start is boosting your SAT or ACT scores and ensuring you strive for a high GPA. Good grades and high scores can lay the foundation for a successful application. 

However, you’ll also need to craft compelling narratives and ensure your college applications are well-rounded. If you’re unsure how to boost your profile, consider seeking an admissions consultant’s help.

Final Thoughts

The Northeast has a high concentration of top-ranked colleges, including Ivy League schools. Whether you’re looking for the best liberal arts college or the most affordable, this region has it all. 

Attending school in the Northeast means you can enjoy a high-quality education surrounded by bustling cities, scenic views, and fascinating historical sites. 

Ultimately, the Northeastern colleges you choose to apply to depend on your preferences, including location, class and campus size, and whether or not the school offers programs that spark your interest. 

Getting into the best colleges in the Northeast may not be easy, but you can boost your chances with perfected college applications. With enough effort and time, you’ll have the best shot at attending the best college in the Northeastern school of your choice!

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