Best Value Research Colleges

If you're passionate about studying the latest data, if you want to be involved in cutting-edge studies held in state-of-the-art facilities, and if your goal is to learn from world-famous professors doing ground-breaking research, attending a school recognized for its research efforts could be your best bet.

The College ROI Report for research colleges -- defined as those that engage in significant levels of research and award PhDs -- shows research schools are great for students who want to move into careers in academia or work as researchers, or students just want the chance to work with professors who are doing leading research.  Read More

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1California Institute of Technology (Caltech)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$973,000
Total 4 Year Cost$230,000
Grad Rate92%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$19,000
2Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$972,000
Total 4 Year Cost$232,000
Grad Rate91%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$32,200
3Stanford University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$854,000
Total 4 Year Cost$240,000
Grad Rate95%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$29,100
4Colorado School of Mines(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$846,000
Total 4 Year Cost$118,000
Grad Rate76%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$33,400
5Georgia Institute of Technology(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$833,000
Total 4 Year Cost$91,500
Grad Rate82%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$31,700
6Princeton University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$820,000
Total 4 Year Cost$224,000
Grad Rate97%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$14,100
7Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$811,000
Total 4 Year Cost$243,000
Grad Rate88%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$31,500
8University of California - Berkeley(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$806,000
Total 4 Year Cost$133,000
Grad Rate91%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$23,300
9Colorado School of Mines(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$783,000
Total 4 Year Cost$181,000
Grad Rate76%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$33,400
10Stevens Institute of Technology(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$781,000
Total 4 Year Cost$239,000
Grad Rate82%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$45,800
11Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$776,000
Total 4 Year Cost$228,000
Grad Rate85%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$43,000
12University of Pennsylvania(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$760,000
Total 4 Year Cost$243,000
Grad Rate96%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$25,400
13 (tie)Georgia Institute of Technology(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$756,000
Total 4 Year Cost$168,000
Grad Rate82%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$31,700
13 (tie)Missouri University of Science and Technology (S&T)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$756,000
Total 4 Year Cost$87,500
Grad Rate63%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$27,500
15Harvard University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$739,000
Total 4 Year Cost$235,000
Grad Rate98%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$20,300

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

(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.)

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 $973,000 without financial aid and $1,100,000 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.

Classified as having a "very high level of research activity" by Carnegie, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT, also happens to be ranked second 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 $972,000 without financial aid and $1,120,000 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.

Boasting a 20 Year Net ROI of $854,000 -- or $1,010,000 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.