Top Middle Atlantic Colleges and Universities

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

The Middle Atlantic Region
The Middle Atlantic Region.

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

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 England | Southeast | Midwest | South Central | Mountain | West Coast

Annapolis (United States Naval Academy)

Annapolis - USNA
Annapolis - USNA. Rory Finneren / Flickr

Barnard College

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

Binghamton University (SUNY Binghamton)

Binghamton University
Binghamton University. unforth / Flickr
  • Location: Vestal, New York
  • Enrollment: 17,292 (13,632 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

Bucknell University

Bucknell University
Bucknell University. aurimasliutikas / Flickr

Carnegie Mellon University

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

Colgate University

James B. Colgate Hall
James B. Colgate Hall. bronayur / Flickr
  • Location: Hamilton, New York
  • Enrollment: 2,890 (2,882 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

The College of New Jersey

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

Columbia University

Cooper Union

Cooper Union
Cooper Union. moacirpdsp / Flickr
  • Location: Manhattan, New York
  • Enrollment: 964 (876 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

Cornell University

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

Dickinson College

Dickinson College
Dickinson College. ravedelay / Flickr

Franklin & Marshall College

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

George Washington University

George Washington University
George Washington University. Alan Cordova / Flickr

Georgetown University

Georgetown University
Georgetown University. tvol / Flickr

Gettysburg College

Gettysburg College
Gettysburg College. fauxto digit / Flickr

Grove City College

Grove City College
Grove City College. nyello8 / Flickr
  • Location: Grove City, Pennsylvania
  • Enrollment: 2,336 (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

Hamilton College

Hamilton College
Hamilton College. EAWB / Flickr
  • Location: Clinton, New York
  • Enrollment: 1,883 (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

Haverford College

Haverford College Path
Haverford College Path. edwinmalet / flickr

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins University. Laughidea / Wikimedia Commons

Lafayette College

Easton, Pennsylvania
Easton, Pennsylvania. Retromoderns / Flickr

Lehigh University

Lehigh University
Lehigh University. conormac / Flickr

Muhlenberg College

Muhlenberg College
Muhlenberg College. JlsElsewhere / Wikimedia Commons

New York University

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

Penn State University

Penn State University Football
Penn State University Football. nick knouse / Flickr
  • Location: University Park, Pennsylvania
  • Enrollment: 47,789 (41,359 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

Princeton University

Princeton University
Princeton University. _Gene_ / Flickr

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

RPI - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
RPI - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. DannoHung / Flickr
  • Location: Troy, New York
  • Enrollment: 7,363 (6,265 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

St. Lawrence University

Saint Lawrence University - Richardson Hall
Saint Lawrence University - Richardson Hall. Photo Credit: Tara Freeman, SLU Photographer

SUNY Geneseo

SUNY Geneseo
SUNY Geneseo. bdesham / Flickr
  • Location: Geneseo, New York
  • Enrollment: 5,602 (5,512 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

Swarthmore College

Swarthmore Parrish Hall
Swarthmore Parrish Hall. EAWB / flickr

University of Maryland

University of Maryland
University of Maryland. synaethesia / Flickr

University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania. rubberpaw / Flickr
  • Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Enrollment: 24,960 (11,716 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

University of Pittsburgh (Pitt)

University of Pittsburgh
University of Pittsburgh. shadysidelantern / Flickr
  • Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Enrollment: 28,664 (19,123 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

University of Rochester

University of Rochester
University of Rochester. daniel.green / Flickr
  • Location: Rochester, New York
  • Enrollment: 11,209 (6,386 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

Vassar College

Vassar College
Vassar College. samuenzinger / Flickr
  • Location: Poughkeepsie, New York
  • Enrollment: 2,424 (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

Villanova University

Villanova University
Villanova University. Lauren Murphy / Flickr

West Point (United States Military Academy)

West Point
West Point. markjhandel / Flickr

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