50 best colleges on the East Coast

Written by:
March 6, 2021
Bryan Pollard // Shutterstock

50 best colleges on the East Coast

Considering the United States was birthed from a revolution waged along the Eastern Seaboard, it makes sense that the roots of the country's higher education system were planted there as well. Harvard University came first, founded in 1636, predating the Declaration of Independence by 140 years. The nation's oldest institution of higher learning was followed by a slew of state and public universities throughout the 13 colonies.

The East Coast remains home to a number of private and public colleges that consistently top “best of" lists, highlighted by the prestigious Ivy League eight. Stacker combed through Niche's 2021 Best Colleges in America list (current as of February 2021) in order to discover which 50 East Coast schools, old and new, are the cream of the crop.

Niche ranks colleges by analyzing student and alumni reviews, as well as data on academic, admissions, and student life culled from the U.S. Department of Education. Stacker filtered its list to include schools in the District of Columbia and states that border the Atlantic Ocean within 100 miles of their eastern borders: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

Click through the list to find the best schools on the East Coast, and if any of them could beat out the Ivies for the top spot.

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Cynthia Farmer // Shutterstock

#50. Lafayette College

- Location: Easton, PA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,603
- Student to faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 31%
- Graduation rate: 88%
- Six-year median earnings: $68,600
- Two-year employment rate: 93%
- Overall rank: #72

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Nick McPhee // Flickr

#49. Smith College

- Location: Northampton, MA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,490
- Student to faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 32%
- Graduation rate: 89%
- Six-year median earnings: $46,200
- Two-year employment rate: 88%
- Overall rank: #71

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Barbara Kalbfleisch // Shutterstock

#48. University of Miami

- Location: Coral Gables, FL
- Undergraduate enrollment: 10,484
- Student to faculty ratio: 12:1
- Acceptance rate: 27%
- Graduation rate: 83%
- Six-year median earnings: $60,100
- Two-year employment rate: 90%
- Overall rank: #70

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Jennifer Yakey-Ault // Shutterstock

#47. Bates College

- Location: Lewiston, ME
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,832
- Student to faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 12%
- Graduation rate: 91%
- Six-year median earnings: $59,200
- Two-year employment rate: 94%
- Overall rank: #69

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Brian Logan Photography // Shutterstock

#46. Vassar College

- Location: Poughkeepsie, NY
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,442
- Student to faculty ratio: 8:1
- Acceptance rate: 24%
- Graduation rate: 91%
- Six-year median earnings: $54,600
- Two-year employment rate: 93%
- Overall rank: #67

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Villanova University Digital Library // Flickr

#45. Villanova University

- Location: Villanova, PA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 6,565
- Student to faculty ratio: 11:1
- Acceptance rate: 28%
- Graduation rate: 90%
- Six-year median earnings: $77,900
- Two-year employment rate: 95%
- Overall rank: #64

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Joseph Giansante '76 // Wikimedia Commons

#44. Lehigh University

- Location: Bethlehem, PA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 4,982
- Student to faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 32%
- Graduation rate: 90%
- Six-year median earnings: $81,900
- Two-year employment rate: 95%
- Overall rank: #63

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Anna Creech // Flickr

#43. University of Richmond

- Location: Richmond, VA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 3,040
- Student to faculty ratio: 8:1
- Acceptance rate: 28%
- Graduation rate: 89%
- Six-year median earnings: $64,500
- Two-year employment rate: 95%
- Overall rank: #62

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Eric T Gunther // Wikimedia Commons

#42. Virginia Tech

- Location: Blacksburg, VA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 27,180
- Student to faculty ratio: 14:1
- Acceptance rate: 70%
- Graduation rate: 86%
- Six-year median earnings: $62,500
- Two-year employment rate: 96%
- Overall rank: #60

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Ken Wolter // Shutterstock

#41. University of Georgia

- Location: Athens, GA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 27,947
- Student to faculty ratio: 17:1
- Acceptance rate: 45%
- Graduation rate: 87%
- Six-year median earnings: $50,500
- Two-year employment rate: 92%
- Overall rank: #59

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Spohpatuf // Wikimedia Commons

#40. University of Florida

- Location: Gainesville, FL
- Undergraduate enrollment: 32,209
- Student to faculty ratio: 18:1
- Acceptance rate: 37%
- Graduation rate: 88%
- Six-year median earnings: $56,000
- Two-year employment rate: 92%
- Overall rank: #56

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Jorge Salcedo // Shutterstock

#39. Boston University

- Location: Boston, MA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 17,396
- Student to faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 19%
- Graduation rate: 88%
- Six-year median earnings: $65,300
- Two-year employment rate: 93%
- Overall rank: #55

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William Silver // Shutterstock

#38. William & Mary

- Location: Williamsburg, VA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 6,300
- Student to faculty ratio: 11:1
- Acceptance rate: 38%
- Graduation rate: 90%
- Six-year median earnings: $58,500
- Two-year employment rate: 94%
- Overall rank: #54

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Kenneth C. Zirkel // Wikimedia Commons

#37. Hamilton College

- Location: Clinton, NY
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,991
- Student to faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 16%
- Graduation rate: 93%
- Six-year median earnings: $60,200
- Two-year employment rate: 91%
- Overall rank: #53

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#36. Wesleyan University

- Location: Middletown, CT
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,928
- Student to faculty ratio: 8:1
- Acceptance rate: 16%
- Graduation rate: 92%
- Six-year median earnings: $54,700
- Two-year employment rate: 90%
- Overall rank: #52

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#35. New York University

- Location: New York, NY
- Undergraduate enrollment: 25,725
- Student to faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 16%
- Graduation rate: 85%
- Six-year median earnings: $61,900
- Two-year employment rate: 91%
- Overall rank: #51

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Wangkun Jia // Shutterstock

#34. Northeastern University

- Location: Boston, MA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 13,864
- Student to faculty ratio: 14:1
- Acceptance rate: 18%
- Graduation rate: 89%
- Six-year median earnings: $67,400
- Two-year employment rate: 95%
- Overall rank: #50

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Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism // Flickr

#33. Boston College

- Location: Chestnut Hill, MA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 9,696
- Student to faculty ratio: 13:1
- Acceptance rate: 27%
- Graduation rate: 94%
- Six-year median earnings: $72,500
- Two-year employment rate: 94%
- Overall rank: #49

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Yeungb // Wikimedia Commons

#32. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

- Location: Chapel Hill, NC
- Undergraduate enrollment: 18,526
- Student to faculty ratio: 13:1
- Acceptance rate: 23%
- Graduation rate: 91%
- Six-year median earnings: $55,600
- Two-year employment rate: 94%
- Overall rank: #48

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Dacoslett // Wikimedia Commons

#31. Davidson College

- Location: Davidson, NC
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,843
- Student to faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 18%
- Graduation rate: 91%
- Six-year median earnings: $58,900
- Two-year employment rate: 88%
- Overall rank: #47

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Fryslan0109 // Wikimedia Commons

#30. Colgate University

- Location: Hamilton, NY
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,936
- Student to faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 23%
- Graduation rate: 91%
- Six-year median earnings: $63,600
- Two-year employment rate: 93%
- Overall rank: #45

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Bryan Pollard // Shutterstock

#29. Wake Forest University

- Location: Winston-Salem, NC
- Undergraduate enrollment: 5,171
- Student to faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 30%
- Graduation rate: 88%
- Six-year median earnings: $63,800
- Two-year employment rate: 94%
- Overall rank: #44

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Wangkun Jia // Shutterstock

#28. Wellesley College

- Location: Wellesley, MA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,391
- Student to faculty ratio: 8:1
- Acceptance rate: 22%
- Graduation rate: 91%
- Six-year median earnings: $60,800
- Two-year employment rate: 94%
- Overall rank: #43

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Spiroview Inc // Shutterstock

#27. Swarthmore College

- Location: Swarthmore, PA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,554
- Student to faculty ratio: 8:1
- Acceptance rate: 9%
- Graduation rate: 94%
- Six-year median earnings: $56,700
- Two-year employment rate: 85%
- Overall rank: #42

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#26. Barnard College

- Location: New York, NY
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,519
- Student to faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 12%
- Graduation rate: 92%
- Six-year median earnings: $57,900
- Two-year employment rate: 90%
- Overall rank: #41

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EQRoy // Shutterstock

#25. Emory University

- Location: Atlanta, GA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 6,985
- Student to faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 16%
- Graduation rate: 90%
- Six-year median earnings: $66,000
- Two-year employment rate: 92%
- Overall rank: #40

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Margaret Berry // Shutterstock

#24. Middlebury College

- Location: Middlebury, VT
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,551
- Student to faculty ratio: 8:1
- Acceptance rate: 15%
- Graduation rate: 93%
- Six-year median earnings: $58,200
- Two-year employment rate: 87%
- Overall rank: #38

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Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism // Flickr

#23. Amherst College

- Location: Amherst, MA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,855
- Student to faculty ratio: 7:1
- Acceptance rate: 11%
- Graduation rate: 95%
- Six-year median earnings: $65,000
- Two-year employment rate: 90%
- Overall rank: #37

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Kristi Blokhin // Shutterstock

#22. Washington & Lee University

- Location: Lexington, VA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,825
- Student to faculty ratio: 8:1
- Acceptance rate: 19%
- Graduation rate: 94%
- Six-year median earnings: $76,100
- Two-year employment rate: 94%
- Overall rank: #36

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Popova Valeriya // Shutterstock

#21. Colby College

- Location: Waterville, ME
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,000
- Student to faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 10%
- Graduation rate: 89%
- Six-year median earnings: $58,100
- Two-year employment rate: 92%
- Overall rank: #35

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Jackbauerinvc // Wikimedia Commons

#20. Haverford College

- Location: Haverford, PA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,308
- Student to faculty ratio: 8:1
- Acceptance rate: 16%
- Graduation rate: 90%
- Six-year median earnings: $60,700
- Two-year employment rate: 92%
- Overall rank: #34

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Colin D. Young // Shutterstock

#19. Williams College

- Location: Williamstown, MA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,042
- Student to faculty ratio: 6:1
- Acceptance rate: 13%
- Graduation rate: 95%
- Six-year median earnings: $59,000
- Two-year employment rate: 90%
- Overall rank: #33

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Joseph Sohm // Shutterstock

#18. United States Military Academy at West Point

- Location: West Point, NY
- Undergraduate enrollment: 4,589
- Student to faculty ratio: 7:1
- Acceptance rate: 12%
- Graduation rate: 85%
- Six-year median earnings: null
- Two-year employment rate: null
- Overall rank: #32

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Kevin D. Walsh // Shutterstock

#17. Tufts University

- Location: Medford, MA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 5,508
- Student to faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 15%
- Graduation rate: 94%
- Six-year median earnings: $75,800
- Two-year employment rate: 92%
- Overall rank: #31

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Kim Kelley-Wagner // Shutterstock

#16. University of Virginia

- Location: Charlottesville, VA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 15,990
- Student to faculty ratio: 15:1
- Acceptance rate: 24%
- Graduation rate: 95%
- Six-year median earnings: $61,200
- Two-year employment rate: 94%
- Overall rank: #29

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EQRoy // Shutterstock

#15. Georgia Institute of Technology

- Location: Atlanta, GA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 14,318
- Student to faculty ratio: 18:1
- Acceptance rate: 21%
- Graduation rate: 90%
- Six-year median earnings: $79,100
- Two-year employment rate: 95%
- Overall rank: #27

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EQRoy // Shutterstock

#14. Bowdoin College

- Location: Brunswick, ME
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,825
- Student to faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 9%
- Graduation rate: 95%
- Six-year median earnings: $65,500
- Two-year employment rate: 93%
- Overall rank: #26

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Flapane // Wikimedia Commons

#13. Georgetown University

- Location: Washington, DC
- Undergraduate enrollment: 6,990
- Student to faculty ratio: 11:1
- Acceptance rate: 14%
- Graduation rate: 95%
- Six-year median earnings: $93,500
- Two-year employment rate: 92%
- Overall rank: #25

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Jay Yuan // Shutterstock

#12. Carnegie Mellon University

- Location: Pittsburgh, PA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 6,343
- Student to faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 15%
- Graduation rate: 90%
- Six-year median earnings: $83,600
- Two-year employment rate: 91%
- Overall rank: #22

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#11. Johns Hopkins University

- Location: Baltimore, MD
- Undergraduate enrollment: 5,595
- Student to faculty ratio: 7:1
- Acceptance rate: 11%
- Graduation rate: 93%
- Six-year median earnings: $73,200
- Two-year employment rate: 91%
- Overall rank: #21

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sach1tb // Wikimedia Commons

#10. Cornell University

- Location: Ithaca, NY
- Undergraduate enrollment: 15,175
- Student to faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 11%
- Graduation rate: 95%
- Six-year median earnings: $77,200
- Two-year employment rate: 93%
- Overall rank: #18

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Canva

#9. Dartmouth College

- Location: Hanover, NH
- Undergraduate enrollment: 4,357
- Student to faculty ratio: 7:1
- Acceptance rate: 8%
- Graduation rate: 95%
- Six-year median earnings: $75,500
- Two-year employment rate: 94%
- Overall rank: #13

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Kristina D.C. Hoeppner // Flickr

#8. Columbia University

- Location: New York, NY
- Undergraduate enrollment: 7,666
- Student to faculty ratio: 6:1
- Acceptance rate: 5%
- Graduation rate: 95%
- Six-year median earnings: $83,300
- Two-year employment rate: 89%
- Overall rank: #12

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Eileen_10 // Shutterstock

#7. University of Pennsylvania

- Location: Philadelphia, PA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 10,605
- Student to faculty ratio: 6:1
- Acceptance rate: 8%
- Graduation rate: 96%
- Six-year median earnings: $85,900
- Two-year employment rate: 91%
- Overall rank: #10

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Ken Wolter // Shutterstock

#6. Brown University

- Location: Providence, RI
- Undergraduate enrollment: 6,735
- Student to faculty ratio: 6:1
- Acceptance rate: 7%
- Graduation rate: 96%
- Six-year median earnings: $67,500
- Two-year employment rate: 91%
- Overall rank: #9

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EQRoy // Shutterstock

#5. Princeton University

- Location: Princeton, NJ
- Undergraduate enrollment: 5,321
- Student to faculty ratio: 5:1
- Acceptance rate: 6%
- Graduation rate: 98%
- Six-year median earnings: $74,700
- Two-year employment rate: 87%
- Overall rank: #6

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Ilyse Whitney // Flickr

#4. Duke University

- Location: Durham, NC
- Undergraduate enrollment: 6,659
- Student to faculty ratio: 6:1
- Acceptance rate: 8%
- Graduation rate: 95%
- Six-year median earnings: $84,400
- Two-year employment rate: 94%
- Overall rank: #5

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Canva

#3. Yale University

- Location: New Haven, CT
- Undergraduate enrollment: 5,939
- Student to faculty ratio: 6:1
- Acceptance rate: 6%
- Graduation rate: 97%
- Six-year median earnings: $83,200
- Two-year employment rate: 92%
- Overall rank: #4

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Marcio Jose Bastos Silva // Shutterstock

#2. Harvard University

- Location: Cambridge, MA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 7,210
- Student to faculty ratio: 7:1
- Acceptance rate: 5%
- Graduation rate: 97%
- Six-year median earnings: $89,700
- Two-year employment rate: 89%
- Overall rank: #2

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Paper Cat // Shutterstock

#1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

- Location: Cambridge, MA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 4,557
- Student to faculty ratio: 3:1
- Acceptance rate: 7%
- Graduation rate: 95%
- Six-year median earnings: $104,700
- Two-year employment rate: 94%
- Overall rank: #1

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