2017 Top Public Universities in America

The Top Public Universities ranking is based on rigorous analysis of academic, admissions, financial, and student life data from the U.S. Department of Education along with millions of reviews from students and alumni. The ranking compares over 500 public colleges and state universities.
See how this ranking was calculated
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  • By State
Viewing 1-25 of 100
  1. 1

    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!
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  2. 2

    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.
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  3. 3

    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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  4. 4

    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!
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  5. 5

    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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  6. 6

    Virginia Tech

    • Blacksburg, VA
    • 3,398 reviews
    Junior:When it comes to Virginia Tech, I've got a simple, 3 word phrase that speaks for itself: "This is Home." I never imagine while being away for college I would ever truly feel as if I was at my 'home away from home' but Tech has proved me wrong. Although we have a large student body, everyone seems to find 'their people' which makes this place so personal. The only thing I could think to change is the diversity level; although it seems we are a very diverse campus, when you look at the numbers, it is clear that we are not. Diversity should be incorporated more into our own little culture here at Virginia Tech!
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  7. 7
    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!
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  8. 8

    Georgia Institute of Technology

    • Atlanta, GA
    • 1,825 reviews
    Freshman:Georgia Tech really challenges its students, not only because of its prestige but because it wants to expand the minds and boundaries of those who study there. The university takes advantage of Atlanta, and its connections with industry leaders to exceptionally prepare its students for jobs. While some aspects of the campus leave something to be desired, like the food and the stress, Georgia Tech ultimately provides its students with a wonderfully fun and engaging experience!
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  9. 9
    Freshman:I love this university! It is one of the best universities in the world! This prestigious university will give you so many opportunities. You will meet so many people from so many backgrounds, learn so much in classes, and be inspired every day. Dorms and dining hall food is okay. Safety is okay. There are buses that take you everywhere so don't be afraid of people saying it is a huge campus and that you have to walk a lot! This school is perfect and you will not regret choosing it! ILL-INI !
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  10. 10

    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.
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  11. 11

    College of William & Mary

    • Williamsburg, VA
    • 1,361 reviews

    Absolutely beautiful and small, manageable campus and college. Williamsburg is a lovely place too. Professors are passionate and truly amazing, and the curriculum/class choices/education - equally amazing. Students are also not subject to being taught by graduate students.

    Most dorms are really bad though especially the ones the freshman are put in, many without air conditioning. Housing selection is disorganized and favors the university and not the student. Their screening process to match roommates needs significant updating.

    Not easy or cheap to get to the airport in spite of how simple they make it sound especially for those without cars and/or out of state students. Connections are not great either (avoid Norfolk airport).

    W&M not helpful to out of state students. Like the extra $ but tuned into more of the in state students or ones from states nearby. It's time W&M goes back to being private.
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  12. 12

    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!
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  13. 13

    Penn State

    • University Park, PA
    • 6,175 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!
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  14. 14

    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!
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  15. 15

    Colorado School of Mines

    • Golden, CO
    • 782 reviews
    College Junior:My overall experience with the school is amazing! Although it is very tough and competitive, I wouldn't trade it for any other school. I have met some amazing professors, students, mentors, and teammates. I am truly blessed to be going to school with the best engineering classes and professors in the U.S. My favorite experience at CSM is being a student-athlete because everyone is very familiar with the nights full of homework, projects, and practice.
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  16. 16

    Texas A&M University

    • College Station, TX
    • 6,071 reviews
    Junior:What I like about Texas A&M is that everybody here shares school spirit no matter what your background is. This spirit helps you feel like you are a part of something from the moment you receive your acceptance letter, to the moment you begin your education at the school itself. It is a great school to attend with countless people to help you over any and every obstacle you may face. I can't really think of anything to change, but definitely be prepared to change your wardrobe from various colors, to Maroon and White!
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  17. 17

    Purdue University

    • West Lafayette, IN
    • 4,070 reviews
    Freshman:I am very happy with my decision to come to Purdue! I came in as a student in Exploratory Studies, because I really didn't know what I wanted to major in or what career path I wanted to take. The Exploratory program helped me tremendously by encouraging me to interview people in various majors and careers that I was interested in as well as providing me with several personality tests. By the end of the semester, I was confident in my decision to pursue a degree in Animal Sciences with a concentration in pre-vet med. Aside from my experiences with Exploratoy Studies, Purdue has been a great place to meet people from all different races and cultures, it has challenged me in my academics but is full of resources to help me maintain good grades, and it has so many fun clubs to join to practice your hobbies or foster new ones. I would definitely recommend Purdue to anyone considering it!
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  18. 18

    University of California - Santa Barbara

    • Santa Barbara, CA
    • 4,063 reviews
    Freshman:This school is utterly fantastic. I came here out of state and it's almost everything I expected in terms of academics and student life. This school has great programs in econ, communications, engineering, and tons more and it's generally not too stressful to handle unless it's dead week. This is the kind of campus that you just feel great being here. IV is right next door and it has some pretty great food spots and I get great vibes from the housing and students living here (I'll be moving here next year as well). Weather is chillier than I thought but it's awesome being on the beach everyday and parties by the ocean have been unforgettable. The people here are cool and unique, so you will surly find your niche here in due time. There seem to always be parties/socials going on too if you're into that! I have much more to experience in my time here but UCSB has treated me very well and I encourage anybody to at least apply here. In conclusion,come to this school; you won't regret it.
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  19. 19

    University of Georgia

    • Athens, GA
    • 4,783 reviews
    Freshman:Overall, I really enjoyed my experience at the University of Georgia. As an undergraduate student majoring in Management Information Systems, the Terry College of Business provided multiple avenues and events to get connected to professionals in my field. In addition, the majority of my professors were very approachable and took an active interest in their students, not only in their classroom achievements, but also in their post-graduation success as well. The campus has tons of student organizations to get involved in for whatever your interests may be. There are also ample opportunities to work on campus whether it be in the dining halls, as a resident assistant, serving as a tour guide for UGA, or even as a bus driver. You read that right, students can drive the campus transit buses! For those who are big sports fans, watching the Dawgs play football on Saturday afternoons in Sanford Stadium is hard to beat. Go DAWGS!
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  20. 20

    University of Washington

    • Seattle, WA
    • 3,763 reviews
    Sophomore:I went to UW because I was a Seattle born girl who has never thought once about leaving the city. Also because all throughout high school I've done programs at UW and completely fell in love. I called it home before I even had the chance to apply. The campus is beautiful. The classes are challenging, I mean come on its college. There are TONS of things you can do at UW besides take classes. I have opportunities here where coming from my background I would never imagine myself doing. Hands down one of the best decisions of my life was to come to this University!
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  21. 21

    University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

    • Minneapolis, MN
    • 3,847 reviews
    Junior:The Twin Cities campus is very convenient as a student who doestrogen not use a car for transportation, the circulators and connectors have saved me a lot of time. I live in University Village, an on-campus apartment, just a block away from the Greenline station, 3 blocks from a target, and is affordable! I've had great experiences with faculty and staff as well, my instructors respond efficiently to inquiries about the class and coursework. Not to mention the various opportunities to participate in various clubs and activities. I love ASL Club and have enjoyed the Ke $have concert that was on campus this past fall. Attending the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities has allowed me to explore more in my major (Child Psychology, BA) because there are a larger quantity of courses than the community college I transferred from. The diversity on campus has made me more culturally curious about different demographics in our country.
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  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!
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  23. 23

    Clemson University

    • Clemson, SC
    • 2,823 reviews
    Junior:Clemson University far surpassed my expectations of college. As a freshman, I immediately was surrounded by other students who became life long friends, teachers who were willing to help and support me in my learning, and athletics that brought the whole Clemson community together to cheer for the Tigers! It is challenging to NOT become involved through all the on-campus and off-campus organizations. It is true what they say about Clemson being the happiest school, everyone is so friendly and support each other through thick and thin. The surrounding lakes and mountains as well as the beautiful and historical buildings and monuments throughout Clemson makes its environment beautiful and peaceful. "There is something in these hills..."
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  24. 24

    University of California - Davis

    • Davis, CA
    • 4,048 reviews
    Freshman:UC Davis has a beautiful campus, and is one of the best to come to when you are interested in agricultural/environmental sciences because of all the hands-on experience available. There are many opportunities for involvement through volunteer work, clubs and internships, and plenty of resources for help, such as the Dean's office, major advising, and fellow students. Academic wise, classes will be difficult no matter where you go, and Davis is no exception, so my advice is don't give up (tutoring services available). Time management is big since quarters pass by so quickly, so stay organized.
    Choosing a college that is a "perfect fit" is difficult, so I feel visiting for a tour is a great way to get a feel for the campus vibe (Davis is big on bikes due to the large campus). Researching what majors they have to offer, location, and anything else you find important for your college experience is also great way to start. Good luck finding your match whether or not it is at UC Davis!
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  25. 25

    University of Maryland - College Park

    • College Park, MD
    • 4,670 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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