The Best STEM Colleges In The US

MIT University
January 16, 2023
What is a STEM Major? Best STEM Colleges In The US FAQs: The Best STEM Colleges In The US


Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/4/22

Considering STEM programs in the United States? Look no further; this is your guide to the best STEM colleges. 

STEM majors are growing rapidly, with projections that STEM occupations will be more in-demand in the near future. Students considering a STEM program should be looking into the best STEM colleges. 

In this guide, we’ll cover what exactly a STEM major is, and our list of STEM colleges and universities will help you select the best STEM college for you!

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What is a STEM Major? 

STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Though it is not always included in the title, computer science also falls under this umbrella term. 

These programs are often challenging but come with a lot of rewards. The US Department of Education states that "literacy in STEM fields is essential." Graduates of STEM programs are high-value in the job market and will find unique opportunities to impact the world post-graduation.  

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that STEM occupations will grow by more than 10% from 2020-2030. This growth is higher than projected for non-STEM occupations. With this knowledge, students should review lists of STEM colleges and universities to explore their interests. 

STEM programs, across all disciplines, teach foundational skills that can be applied in any field. Many top universities describe their STEM programs as equipping students to move on to anything they choose. So, before delving into the best STEM colleges, let’s explore what you can expect from each discipline. 


A science major can be in such a broad range of subjects that students will eventually need to specialize in. Majors can range from biology, chemistry, and physics to biotechnology or environmental science. It is an incredibly large field that can lead to many specializations, so there’s bound to be something that sparks your interest.


In the age of information, technology is as vital as ever. Technology majors will learn how systems work while working to discover new uses for them. Here are a list of technology majors you can take in university:

Technology Majors

During their studies, technology majors may find themselves being cross-educated in engineering or mathematics. 


Engineering students may be introduced to a more theoretical or hands-on approach to education, depending on their program and school of choice. Engineering majors are another category that will cover a vast range of specializations and career paths. 

Engineering is about problem-solving, innovating, and changing environments. This can lead an engineering major anywhere from aerospace engineering and aviation science to mechanical engineering or even civil engineering. 


Mathematics is a key area of study for all STEM programs. Any student pursuing a STEM major will need to take courses in mathematics at one point. The principles of mathematics are also considered useful for any STEM career.

Best STEM Colleges In The US 

Most of the best STEM colleges in the United States are in the Ivy League. These schools have the infrastructure to provide the best education possible. 

The colleges on this list fund many research studies each year, giving students opportunities to participate. The opportunity to learn outside the classroom as an undergraduate student is more considerable at these colleges. 

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), located in Cambridge, MA, was founded in 1861. This college was founded under the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act to "promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes." 

MIT is now one of the most prestigious colleges in the world. It is affiliated with 98 Nobel prize laureates, several of whom teach at the colleges. It also boasts 79 MacArthur fellows and 59 National Medal of Science winners, among many other prestigious award winners. The college currently has an undergraduate admission rate of 4%.  

MIT aims to equip students to answer complex questions through research and challenging opportunities. Over 90% of undergraduates at MIT conduct research alongside faculty. There are many openings for students who want to learn from their MIT experience outside the classroom. 

MIT Aerospace Engineering 

MIT is well respected, and some of its STEM majors are highly ranked. At MIT, majors are called courses. US News & Global Report ranked MIT's Aerospace Engineering course the #1 Best Undergraduate Aerospace/Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering Program. The Aerospace Engineering program allows students to pair in-classroom learning with real-world experience.  

2. California Institute of Technology

Located in Pasadena, Caltech is a highly prestigious science and engineering institute. The private four-year college has produced 38 Nobel Laureates and 64 National Medal of Science Recipients. Students can benefit from the meager 3:1 Student-faculty ratio.  

For those wondering if they will have the opportunity to gain a hands-on experience at Caltech, over half of the students begin conducting research in their first year. Over 90% of undergraduates participate in research at some point. The opportunities to innovate are abundant.  

Caltech conducts enormous amounts of research every year. They even work with NASA. Caltech manages the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA. Managing the FPL involves sending probes to explore the world around us and analyzing the data.  

Caltech has a total of six academic divisions:

These academic divisions contain 28 majors, which Caltech refers to as options. Students can also choose between 12 different minor programs. US News & Global Report ranked Caltech #1 in Best Global Universities for Space Science

Caltech does not offer Space Science as an option, but the research and quality of education for those pursuing the subject are well respected.  

3. Stanford University

Stanford University is a private research university located in Stanford, California. The college is associated with 55 Nobel Laureates, 20 of which are currently "members of the Stanford community." College students can interact with faculty, especially with a 5:1 student-faculty ratio.  

There are many opportunities to be involved in research at Stanford. The college has a total research budget of $1.69 billion. It has over 7,900 externally-sponsored research projects. A research environment like this is essential for STEM students. It is valuable to be able to graduate from a STEM program with real-world research under your belt.  

Stanford encourages exploration from its students. Its "try it on" policy allows students to more freely declare their majors. Students are encouraged to try majors without worrying about changing their minds. This is great for students interested in more than one STEM discipline.  

Quite a few STEM programs overlap, requiring students to take courses outside their direct major. Many skills and knowledge gained in one STEM program often relate to many others. The best STEM colleges find ways to combine STEM majors in productive ways. Stanford Universities' Applied and Engineering Physics major is an example.  

The Applied and Engineering Physics program helps prepare students for either industrial careers or continued education in any physics or engineering disciplines. It is intended to "enable undergraduate students to obtain a degree that combines a rigorous physics core curriculum with an engineering discipline." 

To learn our expert tips on every step of the Stanford admissions process, read our college guide.

4. University of California Berkeley 

The University of California Berkeley is a public research university in Berkeley, California. The college boasts 23 Nobel Laureates. The college has been involved in many essential discoveries since it was established in 1868.  

US News & World Report ranked UC Berkeley #2 in Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs. The college encourages STEM students to get the most out of their majors through several programs and initiatives like the Cal NERDS program.

Cal NERDS is a program that helps UC Berkeley undergraduate and graduate students gain experience in the fields during their studies. Students have the opportunity to gain real-world experience through research opportunities. The program is a community for STEM students that also offers mentoring from faculty members. 

UC Berkeley has also developed a program geared towards STEM students who plan to teach STEM programs in the future. The CalTeach program offers a Science and Math Education minor for undergraduate students. If you have the desire to teach these subjects to the next generation, this minor program may be for you!

The CalTeach Math and Science minor program involves placements in classrooms ranging from kindergarten to high school. The minor program includes over 100 hours of teaching STEM subjects in these local classrooms. STEM students can begin the process of passing on necessary skills to the next generation, even before graduating.

5. Harvard University

Harvard University is one of the more prestigious and recognizable colleges. It is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is ranked #5 in the world by QS with a score of 98. Harvard is consistently ranked as a top college, making it one of the best STEM colleges. 

Harvard refers to their major programs as concentrations. Students also have the opportunity to take on minors, referred to as a secondary field of study. The college offers over 50 undergraduate concentrations, many of which are STEM programs. 

Harvard STEM Concentrations

The selections of concentrations at Harvard University allows STEM students to truly specialize in their studies. 


Life Sciences

Math and Computation

Physical Science

Students can review the top STEM colleges and decide which specific programs they are interested in. Harvard is just an example of one of the best colleges in the world with STEM programs to choose from. 

6. Princeton University

Princeton University is one of the most prestigious schools in the ivy league. The college is located in Princeton, New Jersey. It currently has a US News & World ranking of #1 in National Universities. Princeton is one of the best STEM colleges and one of the best schools overall on our list of STEM colleges and universities.

The prestigious Fields Medal for mathematics was awarded to Princeton professor June Huh in 2022. Two other Princeton professors also received awards at the same ceremony. Princeton boasted a total of five Nobel Prize laureates in 2021. The categories ranged from physics and chemistry to economic science. 

Princeton University gives undergraduate students the opportunity to learn from and connect with their high-caliber faculty through their summer research programs. These programs give students real-world research experience covering STEM subjects. 

The college has established several STEM education initiatives to help cultivate a meaningful STEM education. LabMatch is a program designed to help early undergraduate students gain experience through mentorship. 

7. Yale University

Yale University is one of the best colleges with STEM programs. The well-respected ivy league university has over 65 Nobel prize laureates associated with the school. Located in New Haven, CT, Yale has a QS University ranking of #18 in the world. It is one of the best STEM colleges. 

In 2018, Yale University petitioned to reclassify its economics major as a STEM program. The economics major still has its STEM classification, making it easier for international students to qualify for two-year extensions in their studies. Yale has pioneered this transition ahead of many other colleges. 

Students at Yale will have access to advanced laboratories and are involved in leading research initiatives. There are continual opportunities for real-world experiences as well as mentorship with the faculty. Yale University is one of the best colleges for STEM majors. 

8. Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University offers over 400 programs, though it may be best known for its science majors. Johns Hopkins is a private research university in Baltimore, Maryland. The college boasts 29 associated Nobel Prize laureates. 

Johns Hopkins has created a pre-health track to support these students interested in attending medical school. Any student, with any major, is eligible for the pre-health track, preparing them for medical school throughout their undergraduate studies. Johns Hopkins reports that 80% of their pre-health students are accepted to medical school. 

Johns Hopkins supports interdisciplinary learning, which can be very beneficial for STEM majors. Students can combine their interests in different STEM programs and connect them with related areas. 

Johns Hopkins’ Engineering programs are a great example of how students can be a part of a program that merges their personal preferences. If you would like to study science and engineering, for example, you may want to pursue biotechnology or even bioengineering, with concentrations in fields like biomaterials engineering and biomechanics. 

Johns Hopkins offers hundreds of programs with very specific majors that can give students the opportunity to tailor their ideal STEM education. This makes Johns Hopkins one of the best STEM colleges. 

9. University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania is an Ivy League college that boasts 25 affiliated Nobel Prize laureates. The college located in Philadelphia is home to the prestigious Wharton School of Business. US News & World Report ranks the University of Pennsylvania number eight of the Best National Universities

The University of Pennsylvania offers majors and minors in all STEM categories. It is also the last Ivy League college to classify a major in economics as a STEM program. Therefore, by taking an economics major at the Wharton School, you will obtain a Bachelor of Science in Economics.

FAQs: The Best STEM Colleges In The US

Still have questions about the best STEM colleges? Keep reading for answers to these frequently asked questions on our list of STEM colleges and universities. 

1. What College Has the Best STEM Program?

All of the colleges on our list of the best STEM colleges are excellent options for STEM students. The best STEM college for you to attend will depend on your area of study. 

2. What Is the Most Popular STEM Degree?

While all programs in the STEM category are growing, science programs are more consistently popular. This includes medicine for students hoping to become doctors, physicians, or consultants. 

3. What Is the Best STEM Subject?

The demand for STEM majors in the workforce is growing. Consider your interests and review the programs offered by STEM colleges to determine the best STEM subject for you.

4. Which Ivy League Has the Best STEM Program?

US World & News Report ranks MIT as the best college for math and engineering programs. MIT is also in the top three of the best science programs.

5. How Do I Get Into A Top US STEM Program?

Take a look at the video below where an ex-college admissons officer reveals the secrets of getting into the most competitive STEM programs in the US.

Final Thoughts

There is significant growth projected for STEM occupations in the job market. Students can benefit from reviewing the best STEM colleges to explore their interests. 

Our list of STEM colleges and universities makes this process much simpler. Explore the colleges with STEM programs that we’ve highlighted in this article to start your research on the best STEM colleges.

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