Top Middle Atlantic Colleges and Universities

A list of 36 of Middle Atlantic's best colleges and universities

National Top Picks: Universities | Public Universities | Liberal Arts Colleges | Engineering | Business | Women's | Most Selective | More Top Picks

The Middle Atlantic region of the United States has some of the best colleges and universities in the world. This list of the top 36 Middle Atlantic colleges includes four Ivy League universities and some of the nation's top liberal arts colleges. The top picks range from schools with over 40,000 students to tiny Cooper Union with fewer than 1,000. Schools on the list include private and public institutions, urban and rural schools, and religious and secular institutions.  The 36 colleges and universities below were chosen based on a range of factors, but most important was student persistence and success: retention rates and 4- and 6-year graduation rates. Also considered were student engagement, selectivity, and financial aid. I have listed the schools alphabetically to avoid the often arbitrary distinctions that separate #1 from #2, and because of the futility of comparing a large research university to a small liberal arts college. Note that I did not include highly specialized schools such as Julliard that have audition or portfolio admissions.

Will You Get In? See if you have the grades and test scores you need to get into any of the top Middle Atlantic colleges with this free tool from Cappex: Calculate Your Chances for Top Middle Atlantic Colleges

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The Middle Atlantic Region

The Middle Atlantic Region
The Middle Atlantic Region.

The 35 colleges and universities in the list below were selected from the Middle Atlantic region: Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

More Regions: New EnglandSoutheast | Midwest | South Central | Mountain | West Coast

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Annapolis - USNA
Annapolis - USNA. Rory Finneren / Flickr

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Barnard College from Broadway
Barnard College from Broadway. Photo Credit: Allen Grove

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Binghamton University
Binghamton University. unforth / Flickr
  • Location: Vestal, New York
  • Enrollment: 14,746 (11,861 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public research university
  • Distinctions: highly ranked public university; 887-acre campus features a 190-acre nature preserve; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; NCAA Division I athletics in the America East Conference
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Binghamton University profile
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Binghamton

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Bucknell University
Bucknell University. aurimasliutikas / Flickr

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Carnegie Mellon University and the Carnegie Museum and Library
Carnegie Mellon University (top) and the Carnegie Museum and Library (bottom). Jimmy Lin / Flickr

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James B. Colgate Hall
James B. Colgate Hall. bronayur / Flickr
  • Location: Hamilton, New York
  • Enrollment: 2,964 (2,947 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: high ranking liberal arts college; picturesque location; high graduation rate; high percentage of students go on to graduate school; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa; NCAA Division I athletics in the Patriot League
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Colgate University profile
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Colgate

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The College of New Jersey
The College of New Jersey. Iggynelix / Wikimedia Commons

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Cooper Union
Cooper Union. moacirpdsp / Flickr
  • Location: Manhattan, New York
  • Enrollment: 988 (927 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: small engineering and art school
  • Distinctions: specialized curriculum in engineering and art; historic building where Abraham Lincoln gave a famous speech on limiting slavery; Manhattan location provides students with many cultural and educational opportunities; highly ranked engineering program; free tuition for all students
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Cooper Union profile
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Cooper Union

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Cornell University Sage Hall
Cornell University Sage Hall. Photo Credit: Allen Grove

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Dickinson College
Dickinson College. ravedelay / Flickr

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Franklin & Marshall University, F&M
Franklin & Marshall University. haydnseek / Flickr

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George Washington University
George Washington University. Alan Cordova / Flickr

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Georgetown University
Georgetown University. tvol / Flickr

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Gettysburg College
Gettysburg College. fauxto digit / Flickr

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Grove City College
Grove City College. nyello8 / Flickr
  • Location: Grove City, Pennsylvania
  • Enrollment: 2,461 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private Christian liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: one of the country's top conservative colleges; excellent value; 16 to 1 student / faculty ratio;  impressive retention and graduation rates; chapel requirement for all students
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Grove City College profile
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for GCC

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Hamilton College
Hamilton College. EAWB / Flickr
  • Location: Clinton, New York
  • Enrollment: 1,864 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: highly ranked liberal arts college; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa; emphasis on individualized instruction and independent research; picturesque location in upstate, New York
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Hamilton College profile
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Hamilton

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Haverford College Path
Haverford College Path. edwinmalet / flickr

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Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins University. Laughidea / Wikimedia Commons

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Easton, Pennsylvania
Easton, Pennsylvania. Retromoderns / Flickr

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Lehigh University
Lehigh University. conormac / Flickr

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Muhlenberg College
Muhlenberg College. JlsElsewhere / Wikimedia Commons

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New York University Bobst Library
New York University Bobst Library. davidsilver / Flickr

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Penn State University Football
Penn State University Football. nick knouse / Flickr
  • Location: University Park, Pennsylvania
  • Enrollment: 45,628 (38,954 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public research university
  • Distinctions: large school with wide-ranging academic offerings; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences, membership in the Association of American Universities for research strengths; athletic teams compete in the NCAA Division I Big Ten Conference
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Penn State University profile
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Penn State

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Princeton University
Princeton University. _Gene_ / Flickr

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RPI - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
RPI - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. DannoHung / Flickr
  • Location: Troy, New York
  • Enrollment: 6,538 (5,321 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: technology-focused private university
  • Distinctions: engineering school with a strong undergraduate focus; near the state capital in Albany; good financial aid; competitive Division I hockey team
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the RPI profile
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for RPI

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Saint Lawrence University - Richardson Hall
Saint Lawrence University - Richardson Hall. Photo Credit: Tara Freeman, SLU Photographer
  • Location: Canton, New York
  • Enrollment: 2,457 (2,361 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private master's-level university
  • Distinctions: 12 to 1 student / faculty ratio; chapter of of Phi Beta Kappa for strengths in the liberal arts and sciences; attractive campus located near the St. Lawrence river; long progressive and coeducational history; Division I hockey team
  • Explore the Campus: St. Lawrence Photo Tour
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the St. Lawrence University profile
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for St. Lawrence

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SUNY Geneseo
SUNY Geneseo. bdesham / Flickr
  • Location: Geneseo, New York
  • Enrollment: 5,683 (5,485 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public liberal arts college
  • Explore the Campus: SUNY Geneseo Photo Tour
  • Distinctions: good value for both in-state and out-of-state students; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strengths in the liberal arts and sciences; located on the western edge of the Finger Lakes region
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the SUNY Geneseo profile
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Geneseo

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Swarthmore Parrish Hall
Swarthmore Parrish Hall. EAWB / flickr

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University of Maryland
University of Maryland. synaethesia / Flickr

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University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania. rubberpaw / Flickr
  • Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Enrollment: 24,832 (11,765 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private research university
  • Distinctions: member of the Ivy League; membership in the Association of American Universities for strong research programs; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; rich history (founded by Benjamin Franklin)
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the University of Pennsylvania profile
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Penn

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University of Pittsburgh
University of Pittsburgh. shadysidelantern / Flickr
  • Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Enrollment: 28,766 (18,427 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public research university
  • Distinctions: wide-ranging strengths including philosophy, medicine, engineering and business; membership in the Association of American Universities for strong research programs; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; athletic teams compete in the NCAA Division I Big East Conference
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the University of Pittsburgh profile
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Pitt

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University of Rochester
University of Rochester. daniel.green / Flickr
  • Location: Rochester, New York
  • Enrollment: 10,290 (5,643 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private research university
  • Distinctions: member of the Association of American Universities for strong research; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; top-ranked programs in music and optics
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the University of Rochester profile
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for U of R

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Vassar College
Vassar College. samuenzinger / Flickr
  • Location: Poughkeepsie, New York
  • Enrollment: 2,386 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: 9 to 1 student / faculty ratio; average class size of 17; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strengths in the liberal arts and sciences; 1,000-acre campus includes over 100 buildings, picturesque gardens and a farm; located 75 miles from NYC in the Hudson Valley
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Vassar College profile
  • GPA, SAT and ACT graph for Vassar

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Villanova University
Villanova University. Lauren Murphy / Flickr

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West Point
West Point. markjhandel / Flickr

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Calculate Your Chances

Calculate Your Chances of Being Admitted
Calculate Your Chances of Being Admitted.

See if you have the grades and test scores you need to get into one of these top Middle Atlantic colleges and universities with this free tool from Cappex: Calculate Your Chances of Getting In