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.

Find out exactly what you should be paid
RankSchool Name20 Year Net ROI
Total 4 Year Cost
Graduation Rate
Typical Years to Graduate
Average Loan Amount
Rank:1School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$1,123,000Total 4 Year Cost:$249,000Graduation Rate:93%Typical Years to Graduate:4Average Loan Amount:$30,200
Rank:2School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$988,000Total 4 Year Cost:$126,000Graduation Rate:77%Typical Years to Graduate:4Average Loan Amount:$26,700
Rank:3School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$919,000Total 4 Year Cost:$250,000Graduation Rate:94%Typical Years to Graduate:4Average Loan Amount:$30,900
Rank:4School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$919,000Total 4 Year Cost:$195,000Graduation Rate:77%Typical Years to Graduate:4Average Loan Amount:$26,700
Rank:5School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$880,000Total 4 Year Cost:$101,000Graduation Rate:86%Typical Years to Graduate:5Average Loan Amount:$33,500
Rank:6School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$879,000Total 4 Year Cost:$240,000Graduation Rate:97%Typical Years to Graduate:4Average Loan Amount:$18,100
Rank:7School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$847,000Total 4 Year Cost:$250,000Graduation Rate:83%Typical Years to Graduate:5Average Loan Amount:$26,700
Rank:8School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$840,000Total 4 Year Cost:$255,000Graduation Rate:94%Typical Years to Graduate:4Average Loan Amount:$32,200
Rank:9School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$821,000Total 4 Year Cost:$254,000Graduation Rate:97%Typical Years to Graduate:4Average Loan Amount:$27,400
Rank:10School Name:20 Year Net ROI:$804,000Total 4 Year Cost:$242,000Graduation Rate:86%Typical Years to Graduate:4Average Loan Amount:$44,400

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. (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.)

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. 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 research university.

Classified as having a “very high level of research activity” by Carnegie, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT, also often ranks highly 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. The school’s best-known alumni include Buzz Aldrin, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Stanford University is often 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. 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.