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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210 (tie)University of Nevada - Las Vegas (UNLV)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$326,000
Total 4 Year Cost$88,500
Grad Rate39%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$21,500
212Oregon State University (OSU) - Main Campus(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$324,000
Total 4 Year Cost$163,000
Grad Rate63%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$26,200
213 (tie)University of Florida (UF)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$321,000
Total 4 Year Cost$169,000
Grad Rate88%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$23,400
213 (tie)University of Vermont (UVM)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$321,000
Total 4 Year Cost$118,000
Grad Rate76%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$33,100
215Pepperdine University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$319,000
Total 4 Year Cost$250,000
Grad Rate84%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$28,400
216Tulane University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$318,000
Total 4 Year Cost$248,000
Grad Rate83%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$36,800
217 (tie)Michigan State University (MSU)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$317,000
Total 4 Year Cost$185,000
Grad Rate79%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$28,200
217 (tie)Southern Methodist University (SMU)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$317,000
Total 4 Year Cost$251,000
Grad Rate77%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$36,000
217 (tie)University of Pittsburgh - Main Campus(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$317,000
Total 4 Year Cost$168,000
Grad Rate82%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$37,600
220Northern Illinois University (NIU)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$316,000
Total 4 Year Cost$114,000
Grad Rate50%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$30,300
221 (tie)Immaculata University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$314,000
Total 4 Year Cost$199,000
Grad Rate61%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$45,300
221 (tie)North Carolina A&T State University(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$314,000
Total 4 Year Cost$65,800
Grad Rate48%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$27,200
221 (tie)University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$314,000
Total 4 Year Cost$84,500
Grad Rate38%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$17,700
224 (tie)University of Rhode Island (URI)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$313,000
Total 4 Year Cost$172,000
Grad Rate59%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$24,600
224 (tie)University of Toledo(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$313,000
Total 4 Year Cost$97,000
Grad Rate44%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$26,300

*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.)

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.