2017 Best Colleges for Student Athletes in America

The 2017 Best Colleges for Student Athletes ranking is based on key statistics and student reviews. Top-ranked colleges have both elite academic programs and competitive sports programs that support student athletes on and off the field.
See how this ranking was calculated
  • National
  • By State
Viewing 1-25 of 100
  1. 1

    Duke University

    • Durham, NC
    • 1,005 reviews
    Freshman:If you aren't entirely decided on what you want to study, or want to combine two fields that don't seem to fit, Duke is the best school available to you. The flexible pathway through Duke is one of its best features, and it guarantees there's something academic for nearly everyone here. Not to mention everything that goes on outside of academics. Whether you're a performance artist, coder, engineer, service-learner, researcher, intense athlete, or a just for fun one, there's a place for you here. If you're anything at all, and looking to challenge yourself, then come to Duke!
    More about Duke University
  2. 2

    Stanford University

    • Stanford, CA
    • 1,088 reviews
    Sophomore:I've really enjoyed Stanford so far.
    Academics are certainly challenging, but rewarding, and students usually aren't excessively stressed about grades.
    Professors are, for the most part, incredibly knowledgeable and care about students, but there are some (particularly those teaching intro classes) who could use some improvement.
    The local area can be a bit expensive and far away (especially without a car).
    Currently, the administration is facing a lot of criticism about the school's handling of sexual assault. It's not the best situation, but a lot of the criticism also comes from Stanford's own professors and students, so I do still feel relatively safe and supported on campus.
    More about Stanford University
  3. 3

    University of Southern California

    • Los Angeles, CA
    • 3,320 reviews
    Sophomore:I love attending the University of Southern California! The school has high caliber academics, a competitive yet fun environment for students of all majors, and a gorgeous campus. USC is a bit expensive however, hardworking students can come in with large scholarships to defray this cost. I definitely think that this experience is worth the cost of living and expenses out here and will truly pay off in the end. I have definitely met life long friends and have made unforgettable memories throughout my time here!
    More about University of Southern California
  4. 4

    University of Florida

    • Gainesville, FL
    • 6,663 reviews
    Alum:The University of Florida combines a classic collegiate campus with a modern and innovative spirit. First, the UF campus is absolutely beautiful with historical brick education halls and centuries old Oak trees. New buildings on campus are built with unique and complimentary architecture and consider environmental impacts to the campus. The educational spirit on UF is one of excellence where students are trained in traditional histories of subjects but also encouraged to thing about them differently and become innovators in their subject matter. Campus life is some of the best around both on campus and in the surrounding blocks. Gainesville, Fla supports the university and provides an approachable small town college feel. And don't forget GameDay. There's nothing like a Gator game in the Swamp!
    More about University of Florida
  5. 5

    University of Notre Dame

    • South Bend, IN
    • 1,216 reviews
    Niche User:I attended Notre Dame's Summer Scholars Program. So, I will give my perspective on that experience. At the beginning of the session, the Dean told us it would be "life changing." Indeed, it was. The friends, the environment, the professors and the spirituality of this campus is unmatched. The grounds are impeccable and incredibly gorgeous with flowers everywhere. Based on my experience, I have changed my career goals- a life changing experience. I have had lots of college experiences since age 3. Notre Dame, without exception, is the FINEST. I am a triplet and I speak for my siblings too. We are ND fans and always will be.
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  6. 6

    Vanderbilt University

    • Nashville, TN
    • 1,156 reviews
    Sophomore:Vanderbilt is an excellent place to continue your education. It is easy to find your place at this school because the environment is amazingly friendly and welcoming. Greek life is huge here and many people get involved. The weather is usually mild and the faculty is great. The food is ranked in the country, and as a sophomore, I still enjoy it. Anchor Down! This school is not without flaws, however. The campus is pretty divided racially. There is no malice, but it is clear that intermingling between races only truly occurs in the classroom. That is one thing this school could improve.
    More about Vanderbilt University
  7. 7

    University of Texas - Austin

    • Austin, TX
    • 5,376 reviews
    Junior:I love being a student at the University of Texas. It is one of the most renowned public education institutions in the world, and has plenty of activities to be involved in outside of academia. There are countless clubs and organizations on campus, and the surrounding city of Austin is one the best places in the country. However, be warned: it may not be for everyone. With around 50,000+ students, the size can be intimidating to some. I personally enjoy the incredible amount of people I can meet and study with, and the size gives me a nice perspective. There is always something going on on campus; whether it's a basketball game, club fair, jam session, food stand, party - you name it - there is always something close to keep you occupied. Being a musician, living in Ausin and attending UT is the best college experience I could've asked for. Come to UT. Hook 'em Horns!
    More about University of Texas - Austin
  8. 8
    Alum:UNC Chapel Hill - the name rings familiarity across the nation. A part of one of the biggest college basketball rivals, a leader in NC healthcare, and known for the specificity of "Carolina blue," UNC is a treasure. Nostalgia hits me every time I return: the campus is beautiful, the students are all on their way to achieving greatness, and the professors genuinely care about what goes on in their the students' minds. Diversity is not that high - as probably 60% of the students want to become doctors and nurses. The racial diversity is representative of the statistics in America. The culture diversity, however, is rather high and incorporating of all activities that I can think of. Overall, a fantastic institution!
    More about University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  9. 9

    University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

    • Ann Arbor, MI
    • 3,783 reviews
    Senior:The education that you receive here is definitely unbeatable. The campus is also a generally fun place to be. It is really competitive so that permeates the culture quite a bit, which I could do without. The university's commitment to diversity and inclusion is lacking, but they are making steps to change that going forward so I hope that there will be more positive steps in that area. You don't really get a sense of the local area because the campus is so large it really dominates the city of Ann Arbor. So, even when you venture out in the city a bit, it still feels like you're on campus. It's just very much a college town, so if you're into that, you'll love it!
    More about University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
  10. 10

    University of Miami

    • Coral Gables, FL
    • 2,589 reviews
    Freshman:I am a freshman at the University of Miami studying biomedical engineering and I love it! The campus is beautiful and there are so many things to get involved in. Students are all hardworking and care about each other. There are so many resources for help with classes, such as free tutoring by students. The local area is nice but you cannot really get anywhere by walking, so most students have cars. Also, not many students live on campus after freshman year. Overall, I have had a great experience so far
    More about University of Miami
  11. 11

    Ohio State University

    • Columbus, OH
    • 4,706 reviews
    Sophomore:Why go to Ohio State? How do I even begin?? Not only are the academics incredible, but campus feels like home. Throughout my senior year, a plethora of people would ask "but aren't you afraid you'll feel like a number?", but the answer is no, and I probably never will feel that way. As buckeyes we are all linked together. We all dislike Michigan, we all love the great state of Ohio (even if you're not from here you'll grow to love it to), and we all worked hard to get where we are. Campus is home. Beyond these facets of campus culture, nothing can describe the amazing feeling of the shoe on game day, or campus as a whole a week before the Michigan game. With all of that said, classes will push you hard and academics aren't easy. But, the professors genuinely care about your well-being. All in all, OSU has something to offer for everyone!
    More about Ohio State University
  12. 12

    Rice University

    • Houston, TX
    • 970 reviews
    Sophomore:Rice is incredible. The people are so friendly and collaborative, and the residential college system gives you an automatic support system and built-in friends/family. While people are smart, the atmosphere is close-knit and not cutthroat, which I've come to realize is hugely important when I hear my friends at other top universities talk about the pressure and competition they suffer through. The academics aren't easy- especially the STEM programs, which are structured to be some of the most rigorous in the country, but that's why we have such a good reputation and ease with post-graduation placements. Compared to other colleges, there's a lot of freedom with social life/partying and distribution requirements. Overall, the campus is beautiful and quality of life (dorms/food/area) very high. I love Rice and wouldn't go anywhere else!
    More about Rice University
  13. 13

    University of California - Los Angeles

    • Los Angeles, CA
    • 4,410 reviews
    Freshman:The first thing that comes to mind is the housing here at UCLA. I was lucky enough to receive one of the better, newer buildings, so my experience here has been great. The study and social lounges are equipped with new, comfortable furniture and lights that turn on and off depending on the amount of activity in the room it reads. The food is great. We have restaurants similar to Panda Express and Chipotle, and they are right below my building so it's not much of a walk at all!
    Additionally, there are resources all around campus that are noticeably accessible to me, such as math tutoring from fraternities/sororities, counseling programs, clubs and activities that offer social circles, essay reviewers, and so on.
    More about University of California - Los Angeles
  14. 14

    Northwestern University

    • Evanston, IL
    • 1,244 reviews
    Alum:I attended Northwestern because of the music program and the professor I would be working with. My professor was amazing, and so was the music program as a whole. I was able to pursue a double major with an outside field, and while it was difficult and busy, the administration helped me every quarter by allowing me to take extra classes to finish on time. The campus is beautiful, but there is always construction. It is not a huge party school, but there are parties and lots of other ways to have fun. I loved the proximity to Chicago and the public transit system. Overall, I liked the student body. There was a general hard work ethic, and though my majors weren't particularly competitive, I know there were some that were fairly cut-throat. The mental health services can be improved upon, but I felt that NU was a very accepting, diverse, and progressive school overall. Financial aid was great, and getting better!
    More about Northwestern University
  15. 15

    University of Alabama

    • Tuscaloosa, AL
    • 3,958 reviews
    Freshman:I've been attending the University of Alabama for about two months now, and I absolutely love it! The campus is so beautiful, especially around fall. The quad is amazing during football games. You can see the sense of community during the school days and on the weekend during games. On school days you can see how hundreds of students from different backgrounds come together to study or socialize. On the weekends you can see how much all the students love our school by their support for the football team. You can also see the support through alumni who continue to come back to campus. Another thing i've started to realize is how blessed we are with some of the greatest teachers. The teachers I've met so far have been not only welcoming but seem to know exactly what they're talking about. They actually seem as if they enjoy teaching and enjoy their students. I've greatly enjoyed school here so far due to the beautiful campus, friendly people, and brilliant teachers.
    More about University of Alabama
  16. 16

    University of Virginia

    • Charlottesville, VA
    • 2,009 reviews
    Freshman:I love the University of Virginia! Grounds are beautiful, and so many interesting classes are offered. I am going to double major in music and bio/neuroscience, and there are so many options available to me. The student body is very large and so anyone can find a group of people they love and fit in with. The classes and professors are great, and I will agree that there are many reasons why UVA is highly esteemed.
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  17. 17

    University of Maryland - College Park

    • College Park, MD
    • 4,671 reviews
    College Sophomore:I love the professors! Everyone I've had so far has been so passionate about their subjects, and led the class in such an interesting way that I never once got bored! Professors at UMD make you care about what they are teaching, make you ask questions and even consider majoring in that field. The general education classes are huge, with 150 people of more, but as one goes in their higher years of education, that student number goes down to about 20. Honestly though, for me, the classroom size has not made a difference. Even in the huge classes teachers try to include their students in discussions through various ways such as pointing at a student, letting students vote or raise a hand.
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  18. 18

    Florida State University

    • Tallahassee, FL
    • 6,537 reviews
    Niche User:When I visited over the summer, I absolutely fell in love with the place. The tour guides were very knowledgeable, the campus was beautiful, and the weather was great. The visit was absolutely perfect and I would not have changed a thing!

    Also, the staff at the Office of Admissions is very helpful. I have been speaking to them often about re-evaluating my application and every single time, they answer all my questions and give me the best possible solutions for everything! This is a world-class institution and nothing would make me happier than to one day be a student here!
    More about Florida State University
  19. 19

    Yale University

    • New Haven, CT
    • 914 reviews
    Freshman:Yale managed to exceed my expectations. I originally chose Yale because of how genuine every student I met was and that perception continues to persist. I have met the most interesting and talented people while at Yale and have made some of the closest friends. One moment we'll be discussing a bio problem set, the next discussing the real solution to economic disparity, the next talking about our upbringings. While it's easy to think of Yale as a competitive college, I think that's far from the truth. I have never collaborated as much as I have at Yale. Everyone wants the best for each other and grades are not a focus. The social scene at Yale is also great. Frat parties are open to anyone for the most part and it's very easy to get integrated with Greek life members even if you aren't in it yourself. Just based off of the year I've been here, I can already say that Yale has changed me to be a more well-rounded person.
    More about Yale University
  20. 20

    University of California - Berkeley

    • Berkeley, CA
    • 3,638 reviews
    Senior:My experience at UC Berkeley has been amazing. The professors are my favorite part. They are so knowledgeable, and some are even famous, in their field of study. The best part? They genuinely care about our, the students, growth! UC Berkeley professors are not just looking for a pay check, they are looking to share knowledge with students that they believe are important. My least favorite part of Cal, housing. Ugh! Good housing is not only hard to come by, but its inflated! I hope UC Berkeley looks into creating more affordable and comfortable student housing.
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  21. 21

    Penn State

    • University Park, PA
    • 6,176 reviews
    Junior:Penn State is a great place to learn at. Typically, students can choose to go the 2+2 route which allows them to start at another campus for two years and then transfer up to University Park campus for graduation. Penn state is well known as a research school and provides students with endless resources to further their education. The professors are all professional and are passionate about what they teach. Campus life is amazing as long as you put in the effort to get involved. There are plenty of resources to get you in the zone and allow you to socialize with others, and most importantly future employers. They offer many career fairs throughout the year that is great for getting interview experience, or even internships and employment after graduation. Great place to be! We are PENN STATE!
    More about Penn State
  22. 22

    Michigan State University

    • East Lansing, MI
    • 4,892 reviews
    Junior:Michigan State is actually everything it's cracked up to be. Amazing school, outstanding faculty and so many opportunities to do what you love. There is never a time where you are not offered chanced to occupy your time, whether it be joining a club, or campus group, taking classes, or meeting new faces at campus events. The cafeterias are gourmet and filled with many options including gluten free, vegan, and vegetarian options. The off campus life is also always filled with fun activities from going to see a concert, or broadway show at the Wharton Theater, to going to a local bar and getting drinks with friends. You will have an excellent experience here, no matter what your interests may be!
    More about Michigan State University
  23. 23

    University of Wisconsin

    • Madison, WI
    • 2,823 reviews
    Freshman:There is something for everyone! The University of Wisconsin-Madison boasts a lot of offerings, not only in academics but in all sorts of opportunities from amazing athletic programs to a myriad of clubs to get into. To the sports enthusiast, UW-Madison has athletic programs in football, ice hockey, and basketball which are renowned regionally, if not also nationally. To the grade-A active student, UW-Madison is also a mecca of infinite opportunities, it is even somewhat of a challenge for any student to navigate the "Org Fair" which displays the many student organizations that are available on campus. Organizations are available for students who are the soon-to-be titans of energy and even for the ones who are almost certainly going to be the consulting executives of the future. No matter what you want to get yourself into, there is always something for you in the land of the Badgers.
    More about University of Wisconsin
  24. 24

    Wake Forest University

    • Winston Salem, NC
    • 726 reviews
    College Freshman:Wake Forest is the perfect school if you are looking for like minded, career driven individuals that are very well rounded and are incredibly aware of everything. The size is perfect so that you don't have to see the people you don't want to see everywhere, yet you see a ton of people you know at the same time. The school has people from all over the place and brings together bright minded people that are easy to get along with. Keeping up with the academic portion of the school can get difficult, but is manageable with basic time management skills. Also, there is resources that can be tapped if you are having difficulties in school. The campus is well connected and no building is too far to walk to. Fraternities are the social scene on campus and it is difficult to have fun without being in a Greek organization. There are a ton of extracurricular activities and will have a club or organization that meets you're interests. As a second semester Freshman, I could not have made a better decision with my college decision.
    More about Wake Forest University
  25. 25

    Louisiana State University

    • Baton Rouge, LA
    • 2,889 reviews
    Freshman:What I love about LSU is all of the resources that are available to students in order for them to succeed. Whether you are having trouble picking classes, finding extracurricular activities to join, picking a major or minor, keeping your grades up, and more, LSU is bound to have some resource to help you out. There are career and academic centers full of friendly and knowledgeable people who are ready to help you. There are hundreds of clubs centered around various interests, so there is something for everyone. The student body and faculty are so diverse, and the Dean is always looking for ways to create a more inclusive, safe, and educational environment. On top of all of that, LSU is a powerhouse for sports. Even if you aren't athletic or have ever been interested in sports, you will find a home in some athletic event here at LSU. The student life is spectacular, and you will always have something to do and great people to do it with. Geaux Tigers!
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