Best Value Research Colleges

If your idea of college involves lecture halls led by famous professors doing ground-breaking research, you should consider attending a school that is recognized for its research efforts.  Read More

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1California Institute of Technology (Caltech)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$901,400
Total 4 Year Cost$221,600
Grad Rate93%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$22,160
2Stevens Institute of Technology(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$841,000
Total 4 Year Cost$232,000
Grad Rate79%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$44,000
3Colorado School of Mines(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$831,000
Total 4 Year Cost$112,000
Grad Rate70%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$30,480
4Stanford University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$809,700
Total 4 Year Cost$233,300
Grad Rate96%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$29,880
5Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$798,500
Total 4 Year Cost$224,500
Grad Rate93%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$33,680
6Georgia Institute of Technology(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$796,300
Total 4 Year Cost$86,700
Grad Rate82%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$30,600
7Princeton University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$795,700
Total 4 Year Cost$217,300
Grad Rate97%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$17,040
8Colorado School of Mines(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$771,000
Total 4 Year Cost$172,000
Grad Rate70%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$30,480
9Missouri University of Science and Technology (S&T)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$726,000
Total 4 Year Cost$87,000
Grad Rate63%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$26,400
10Brown University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$723,900
Total 4 Year Cost$229,100
Grad Rate95%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$24,640
11Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$722,100
Total 4 Year Cost$220,900
Grad Rate81%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$43,600
12Georgia Institute of Technology(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$721,300
Total 4 Year Cost$161,700
Grad Rate82%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$30,600
13NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$713,900
Total 4 Year Cost$219,100
Grad Rate57%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$31,280
14Rice University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$708,400
Total 4 Year Cost$204,600
Grad Rate91%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$24,920
15University of California - Berkeley(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$703,100
Total 4 Year Cost$129,900
Grad Rate91%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$23,360

*NOTE: Unranked schools on this list don’t have on-campus living options, so on-campus costs are not available.

The College ROI for Report Research Colleges show students and their families which research universities (defined as those that engage in decent levels of research and award PhDs), research schools are great for students who want to move into careers in academia or work as researchers often focus, or just want the chance to work with professors who are doing cutting-eduge research. (It's important to note though that salary data for the College ROI Report does not include alumni who go on to earn graduate degrees, since we cannot include the cost of graduate school in our calculations.) Regardless of why you want to attend a college with high levels of research activity, consider using PayScale's information to zero in on the best value research colleges before applying.

Ranked second on our national 20 Year Net ROI list, the California Institute of Technology -- or Caltech, as it's more typically called -- is renowned for its high research activity, especially in STEM fields. Located in Pasadena, California, the school boasts annual research expenditures of more than $270 million. It's ranked 65th for research among all universities and 17th among private schools without medical schools. Split into eight academic divisions, Caltech boasts a 20 Year Net ROI of $901,400 without financial aid and $1,029,700 with it. The private university partners with numerous federal agencies with its research, including the Department of Defense, NASA and the Department of Energy. With 24 majors, or "options," and six minors in fields ranging from chemical engineering to computer science, Caltech is a great choice for students who'd like to attend a prestigious, best value research university.

With three national Centers of Excellence, Stevens Institute of Technology, or SIT, is among the best value research colleges in the nation. Because alumni report a median return of investment of $841,000 over the 20 years after graduation, or $948,300 with financial aid, the school easily offers some of the best research school return on investment in the country and is ranked third on our national list. Located in Hoboken, New Jersey, the private university boasts a very high level of research activity while offering nearly 30 undergraduate majors from its four academic schools.

Boasting a 20 Year Net ROI of $809,700 -- or $966,900 with financial aid -- Stanford University is easily among the best value research schools students can consider. Located in Silicon Valley near Palo Alto, Stanford is home to more than 18 research centers, labs and institutes, many of which are located in Stanford Research Park. Ranked sixth on our national list, this prestigious university is made up of seven schools, and its 8,180-acre campus is one of the largest in the United States. Stanford students can take their pick from more than 650 clubs and organizations. Those who graduate will join the ranks of illustrious alumni including the founders of HP, Yahoo!, Google and Nike. 30 living billionaires are associated with Stanford, and 17 astronauts earned their degrees from the school as well.

Classified as having a "very high level of research activity" by Carnegie, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT, also happens to be ranked seventh nationally in terms of 20 Year Net ROI. The school's research expenditures exceeded $718.2 million in 2009, and more than 1,300 researchers are employed by MIT in addition to other faculty. MIT alumni report a median return of investment of $798,500 without financial aid and $943,000 with it, so it's easy to see why the school appears on our College ROI Report Research Colleges. The school's best-known alumni include Buzz Aldrin, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.