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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301 (tie)Sam Houston State University(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$265,000
Total 4 Year Cost$80,700
Grad Rate53%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$25,800
301 (tie)University of Tennessee(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$265,000
Total 4 Year Cost$111,000
Grad Rate69%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$26,000
303University of La Verne(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$263,000
Total 4 Year Cost$212,000
Grad Rate59%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$33,200
304University of Nebraska at Omaha(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$262,000
Total 4 Year Cost$79,000
Grad Rate45%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$20,600
305 (tie)University of California - Riverside (UCR)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$261,000
Total 4 Year Cost$223,000
Grad Rate69%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$22,900
305 (tie)University of South Florida - Main Campus(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$261,000
Total 4 Year Cost$126,000
Grad Rate67%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$30,000
307Idaho State University (ISU)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$260,000
Total 4 Year Cost$133,000
Grad Rate33%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$24,000
308 (tie)Temple University(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$259,000
Total 4 Year Cost$162,000
Grad Rate69%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$34,000
308 (tie)Wayne State University - Detroit, MI(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$259,000
Total 4 Year Cost$145,000
Grad Rate34%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$22,900
310SUNY - College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$258,000
Total 4 Year Cost$97,600
Grad Rate68%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$26,000
311 (tie)University of New Orleans (UNO)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$256,000
Total 4 Year Cost$134,000
Grad Rate34%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$19,900
311 (tie)University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$256,000
Total 4 Year Cost$190,000
Grad Rate90%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$26,600
313 (tie)Cleveland State University(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$255,000
Total 4 Year Cost$102,000
Grad Rate39%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$25,900
313 (tie)Florida Atlantic University (FAU)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$255,000
Total 4 Year Cost$137,000
Grad Rate46%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$24,900
313 (tie)University of California - Santa Cruz (UCSC)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$255,000
Total 4 Year Cost$229,000
Grad Rate77%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$23,400

*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.