How To Get Into The Best Colleges In The Northeast

Boston, MA
August 29, 2023


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 8/29/23

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! 

A group of students sitting on the grass

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 10 schools are splendid additions to your college list, there are also other schools to consider. 

We’ll walk you through the top 10 colleges in the Northeast, including general information about admitted students and each school so you can decide which school is best for you!

Top 10 Colleges in the Northeast 

Skyline of a city in the northeastern part of the US

Choosing between the best universities 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: 

  • Acceptance rate: 5.8% 
  • Total students enrolled: 1,500
  • Middle 50% SAT: 760-800 Math, 730-780 EBRW 
  • Middle 50% ACT: 33-35

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! 

2. 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: 

  • Acceptance rate: 4.8%
  • Total admitted students: 1,291
  • Middle 50% SAT: 780-800 Math, 740-780 EBRW 
  • Middle 50% ACT: 34-36

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

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

3. Harvard University 

Harvard University, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is the third-best college on our list. If you're curious about Harvard’s admissions statistics, take a look at the following information:

  • Acceptance rate: 3.41% 
  • Total admitted students: 1,942
  • Most popular intended concentration: Social sciences (28.3%)
  • Middle 50% SAT: 1510
  • Middle 50% ACT: 34

Harvard College boasts that it provides an undergraduate experience, unlike any other school. Harvard’s close-knit community offers world-class faculty, cutting-edge research opportunities, and a diverse campus.

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

4. Yale University 

Yale University, located in New Haven, Connecticut, also shares the third spot as one of the leading Northeastern colleges. Yale’s recent class profile data shows: 

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 where they can choose from various majors, participate in extensive research, and gain international experience by studying abroad or participating in internships!

5. 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

  • Total admitted students: 1,592
  • Middle 50% SAT: 1520-1560
  • Middle 50% ACT: 34-35
  • Average GPA on a 4.0 scale: 3.9 
  • Students in the top 10% of graduating class: 99%

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 and has more research funding than any other school in the country! 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. 

6. University of Pennsylvania 

The University of Pennsylvania for the seventh-best college in the Northeast, alongside Johns Hopkins. UPenn’s recent class profile data shows: 

  • Acceptance rate: 4.1% 
  • Total admitted students: 3,304
  • Middle 50% SAT: 1510-1560
  • Middle 50% ACT: 34-36
  • Average GPA on a 4.0 scale: 3.9 

UPenn focuses on inclusion, innovation, and impact in its campus, research, and community engagement. It also offers four unique undergraduate schools that abide by these three pillars:

  • The College of Arts & Sciences 
  • The Wharton School 
  • The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences 
  • The School of Nursing 

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.  

7. Dartmouth College

Dartmouth is another excellent school that ranks 12th in the nation. It’s located in Hanover, New Hampshire and is well known for its academic excellence, evident through its recent class profile:

  • Acceptance rate: 6%
  • Total students admitted: 1,808
  • Middle 50% SAT: 770 Math, 750 EBRW
  • Middle 50% ACT: 32-35
  • Average GPA: 4.11

As an Ivy League school, Dartmouth is highly prestigious and offers extensive research and networking opportunities to its students. It also boasts of having a small student-to-faculty ratio to provide its students with personalized support.

8. Brown University

Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island, makes the top of the list for thousands of students, yet only a small, accomplished fraction are able to reap the benefits of this esteemed institution:

  • Acceptance rate: 5%
  • Middle 50% SAT: 1500-1570
  • Middle 50% ACT: 34-36
  • Average GPA: 4.08

One of Brown's most distinctive features is its open curriculum, which allows students a high degree of flexibility in designing their own academic paths, giving students the freedom to explore diverse subjects without being tied to strict course requirements!

9. Cornell University

Think you have what it takes to join Cornell, one of the top universities in the world? See how you fare against its recent admits

If you choose this Ithaca-based school, you can feel confident that you will have options and opportunities for exploration. 

With over 100 undergraduate majors, Cornell offers a comprehensive and diverse array of academic pathways, ensuring that students can cultivate a well-rounded education that aligns with their individual interests and aspirations. 

10. Columbia University

Last but certainly not least is Columbia University. Let’s take a look at some of this school’s admissions stats:

  • Acceptance rate: 3.9%
  • Middle 50% SAT: 1505
  • Middle 50% ACT: 34
  • Average GPA: 4.12

While getting into this university will be challenging, doing so will open a world of possibilities for you! With over 500 student-run organizations, students can pursue diverse extracurriculars to help them develop skills that will be valuable in their academic, personal, and professional lives!

Columbia is also home to over 150 research centers, which can foster your interdisciplinary exploration and innovation!

Why Choose College in the Northeast? 

So, why should you consider choosing one of these top Northeastern schools? 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. 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, including: 

  • New York City 
  • Boston 
  • Philadelphia 
  • Baltimore 
  • Washington 

These major cities may be major tourist destinations, but there are many things to see and do for the college crowd. 

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!

Scenic Views and Outdoor Activities

A sea animal in the ocean

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

  • Walk along the beach on Nantucket Island 
  • Hike in the Finger Lakes in New York 
  • Enjoy the stunning vistas in Grand Isle, Vermont 
  • Go whale watching in Boston 

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 

The White House

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

  • The Statue of Liberty 
  • The White House 
  • Ellis Island in New Jersey 
  • Brooklyn Bridge 
  • Fenway Park 
  • Central Park 
  • Lincoln Memorial 
  • Liberty Bell 
  • Niagara Falls 

If you’re a history buff, the Northeast is also home to many museums and historical sites!

Tips for Getting Into Schools in the Northeast

Consider these tips to increase your chances of getting into these high-ranking schools in the Northeast:

  • Maintain a competitive GPA as close to 4.0 as possible 
  • Take advanced courses to prove your preparation for college 
  • Spend an adequate amount of time preparing for your SAT/ACT to ace it!
  • Stand out beyond your academics; prove you’re unique and can add to your desired school’s diversity
  • Do your research and demonstrate your fit with your school’s environment, values, and offerings!

Remember, each school is unique so you should tailor your application according to the traits they seek in students and your own interests!

FAQs: The Best Colleges in the Northeast

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

1. Are There Good Colleges in the Northeast?

Yes, the Northeast is home to some of the most prestigious Ivy Leagues in the nation, such as Harvard, Yale, and Princeton!

2. 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

3. What Are the Most 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, more than 22% of students pay nothing to attend Harvard College, and over half receive need-based scholarships.

4. 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. 

5. 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

6. What Are the Best Small Colleges in the Northeast?

If you prefer smaller schools, here are some options to consider:

All of these schools have fewer than 3,000 undergraduate students!

7. What Is the Cheapest Northeast College?

Boricua College is one of the least expensive colleges in the Northeast, with tuition costs of $6,025 a year. 

8. What Is the Number One Public College in the Northeast?

The best public Northeastern college is Rutgers University, New Brunswick.

Final Thoughts

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, time, and effort!

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