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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16Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$676,000
Total 4 Year Cost$252,000
Grad Rate82%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$42,800
17University of Pennsylvania(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$673,000
Total 4 Year Cost$252,000
Grad Rate96%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$25,400
18Missouri University of Science and Technology (S&T)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$654,000
Total 4 Year Cost$147,000
Grad Rate63%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$27,500
19Dartmouth College(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$650,000
Total 4 Year Cost$257,000
Grad Rate95%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$23,200
20Lehigh University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$649,000
Total 4 Year Cost$232,000
Grad Rate87%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$32,100
21Columbia University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$639,000
Total 4 Year Cost$261,000
Grad Rate95%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$31,800
22University of California - Berkeley(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$638,000
Total 4 Year Cost$229,000
Grad Rate91%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$23,300
23New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$635,000
Total 4 Year Cost$184,000
Grad Rate59%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$31,900
24Duke University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$633,000
Total 4 Year Cost$252,000
Grad Rate95%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$24,000
25Yale University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$626,000
Total 4 Year Cost$251,000
Grad Rate96%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$19,700
26 (tie)Cornell University - Ithaca, NY(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$625,000
Total 4 Year Cost$250,000
Grad Rate93%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$29,200
26 (tie)Michigan Technological University(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$625,000
Total 4 Year Cost$107,000
Grad Rate64%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$29,300
28Rice University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$624,000
Total 4 Year Cost$221,000
Grad Rate93%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$30,400
29University of California - San Diego (UCSD), Warren College(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$623,000
Total 4 Year Cost$123,000
Grad Rate86%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$22,600
30Clarkson University - Potsdam, NY(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$620,000
Total 4 Year Cost$235,000
Grad Rate71%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$37,200

*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.