The Top 10 Universities Not In The Ivy League: Part 1

September 2, 2021

Choosing your ideal university in the US will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on your life. Getting into any one of these universities is by no means an easy feat, but the reward of admission will certainly prove immeasurable - both personally and professionally. In this blog, we take a closer look at the top 10 universities that are not in the Ivy League. We have listed them according to the world university rankings of Times Higher Education (THE). THE include more than 1500 universities across 93 countries and regions, making these the largest and most diverse university rankings to date.

Each university ranking is based on 13 carefully collaborated performance indicators that measure four areas: Teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook. For a deeper look and understanding in the ranking methodology, click here for more information.

This will be a two-part post, with the countdown beginning here and continuing in Part 2 next week. Read on to find out which universities made the list!

10. Northwestern University

Starting off our list of the top 10 universities not in the Ivy League is Northwestern University. When it opened for business in 1855, Northwestern University had only two academic staff and 10 students. These were all male, but women have been admitted since 1869.

Northwestern owes its existence to the vision of its nine founders who, with no land, limited finances and little knowledge of higher education, determined to create a university for the vast Northwest Territory covering more than five of today’s states. They began planning in 1850 and, three years later, boldly purchased a 379-acre site close to Lake Michigan. They developed the campus at Evanston, named after a founder called John Evans. Despite these humble beginnings, Northwestern has developed into a leading private research university. It has a strong interdisciplinary culture and a commitment to teaching excellence. It now consists of 12 separate schools and colleges and is notable for its research strength in fields including neuroscience, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and the development of new drugs.

Northwestern University is known as an “Ivy of the Midwest”. The school features prestigious, top-tier programs in academics and performing arts, all while being a member of the Big 10 athletic conference. This provides a perfect blend for promising student-athletes.

9. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

The University of Michigan had quite an interesting and rustic beginning. At its campus in Ann Arbor, west of Detroit, cows owned by the faculty once grazed, and as late as 1845, wheat was grown on site as part of a janitor’s remuneration. By 1866, the university had become the largest in the country. Following that strong start almost 150 years ago, the University of Michigan is now one of the biggest research universities in the United States. It boasts alumni including Gerald Ford, former US president; Larry Page, co-founder of Google; and actor James Earl Jones, the voice of Darth Vader.

Together with its unique history, the university has no shortage of bizarre traditions. On campus sits “The Cube”, a huge black object so finely balanced on one corner that students can spin it around despite its great weight. One myth is that the president gives it a push each morning in order to keep the campus running smoothly. When students first arrive at Michigan, they walk through a campus fountain to make them an “Official Wolverine”. After graduation, they walk the other way through the water, signifying their departure to join the professional world. And don’t step on the brass “M” at the centre of the campus, or exam failure awaits.

As you might expect from an institution among the top 10 universities not in the Ivy League, the University of Michigan promises many unique features. These will surely provide you with a distinct on-campus experience, complete with a student population of interesting, diverse individuals.

“The Cube” at the University of Michigan

8. Duke University

Duke University comes in at number 8. Located in the state of North Carolina, it is one of the wealthiest private universities in America. It is also, interestingly, a top producer of international scholars.

About 95% of all students graduate within four years of enrolling. In the 2015 entry class, the most popular majors were public policy, economics, biology, biomedical engineering and psychology. Apart from it’s impressive academic programs, sports and performance art both thrive at Duke University, which has a legendary basketball program, and hosts more than 60 art events a year.

Overall, the university is one of the most competitive to get into. For the “Class of 2019” cohort, only 11.4 per cent of the applicants received a place. Unusually, the university requires undergraduates to live on campus for the first three years. More than 75% of the students also pursue volunteering opportunities, supporting the university’s mission - “knowledge in service to society”.

Making use of extraordinary flexibility in the curriculum, Duke places your educational experience in the palm of your hands. Definitely one to keep in mind!

7. University of California, Los Angeles

Next on our list is the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The campus is home to world-renowned faculty who teach in 230 undergraduate and graduate majors, with more than two dozen academic programmes ranked among the top 20 in their disciplines. The faculty provide more than 5,000 courses annually, with two-thirds of undergraduate classes having fewer than 30 students.

For more activities outside the classroom, UCLA offers 1,000 student organisations. Therefore, students have ample opportunity to pursue interests and projects with each other. The legendary Bruins sports teams include a resurgent basketball program and a constantly competitive football team, along with their top-tier track & field program. This, among many other factors, makes UCLA quite appealing across a broad spectrum of students from many different backgrounds and cultures.

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MARCH 28: The UCLA Bruins celebrate after defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Sweet Sixteen round game of the 2021 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse on March 28, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

6. Johns Hopkins University

Founded in 1876, Johns Hopkins University (JHU) is a private research university based in Baltimore, Maryland. It takes its name from its first benefactor, the American abolitionist, philanthropist and entrepreneur Johns Hopkins.

The university has four campuses in Baltimore with regional satellite campuses throughout Maryland, and a biotech hub north of Washington, DC. More than 3,000 of the university’s students are international, totalling 20% of the student body, and representing 120 different countries. Johns Hopkins has an extremely strong reputation for premed studies, which are the undergraduate degrees required to complete a medical degree at the postgraduate level, and for their medical program.

Notable alumni include Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the USA, the journalist PJ O’Rourke, film director Wes Craven, and the Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Russell Baker.

It’s difficult to articulate a concise answer to the “Why Hopkins?” question. For some students, it’s the research opportunities or the strong emphasis on pre-professional opportunities. For others, it’s the school’s amazing reputation. On the whole, it is a combination of all three and much more.

Among The Best

It is clear to see why these schools form part of the top rankings. Although vastly different from each other, becoming an alumni of any of these universities is a notable achievement. The combination of their strong academics, top tier sports facilities and unique traditions mean that these are certainly worth taking into consideration. Come back next week to find out which schools round out the top 10 universities that are not in the Ivy League!

Remember, it’s always the perfect time to begin your journey towards studying at the university of your dreams. Sign up here for a free consultation with one of our recruitment experts. You could join over 300 student-athletes already placed in the USA, competing at the highest level and earning a world-class degree!


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