The 50 Top Research Universities

A ranking of the leading research universities in the nation. Programs ranked by affordability, flexibility, and academic quality.

Updated October 12, 2022 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Students Engage in Research Across America

Some of the world’s most famous discoveries have been made through university research. From the invention of the telegraph, the discovery of AIDS, the origination of the internet, and current advances in stem cell research, our nation’s universities are the hub of knowledge and discovery, 56% of our nation’s basic research is being conducted at universities. Students are an integral part of university research; studies show that students who engage in research are twice as likely to graduate, five-times more likely to go on to graduate school, and have more successful careers after graduation. These students go on to become the next generation of scientists, engineers, teachers, and leaders in government and industry. Along with the progressive on-campus education offered by these research institutions, many of the universities listed below also offer top-notch distance learning programs. See Best College Reviews' 25 Best Online Colleges for more information.

The ranking for the top research univerities was determined based on the following criteria:

  • The university has at least one research center or institute that functions under the jurisdiction of the university, but as a separate entity. (35%)
  • There are opportunities for undergraduates to participate directly in research. (35%)
  • The university receives federal research funds. (30%)

Featured Online Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Founded in 1861, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private research university located in Cambridge Massachusetts. At its founding, MIT was a research university that adopted a European polytechnic university model that stressed laboratory instruction in applied science and engineering. During World War II and the Cold War, researchers at MIT were working on computers, radar, and inertial guidance. As of 2014, 81 Nobel laureates, 52 National Medal of Science recipients, 45 Rhodes Scholars, 38 MacArthur Fellows, and 2 Fields Medalists have been affiliated with MIT. MIT is home to one of the most powerful university-based nuclear reactors in the United States. The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) was founded in 1969; MIT students can join or initiate research projects for academic credit pay, or on a volunteer basis. A substantial majority of undergraduates participate and often become published, file patent applications, or launch start-up companies based on their experience in UROPs.

2. University of California at Los Angeles

Each year since the 2009-10 academic year, UCLA has averaged $1 billion in research funding. There are over 350 research labs, centers, and institutes, 290 of these are medical centers, and over 1,800 inventions have come from this research powerhouse. Within this enormous institution, there are plenty of opportunities available for undergraduates to conduct research. Whether it is presenting at a conference, working with faculty, or writing for the Undergraduate Science Journal, undergraduates are a key part of the outstanding research being conducted at UCLA. Research at UCLA has made some of the world’s greatest discoveries, from the invention of the internet, to reporting and classifying the first AIDS case in 1981.

3. Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University was founded in 1876 as the nation’s first research university. If you’re looking for scientific research in almost any field at any level this is a tremendous place to find it. The mission of JHU is “discovery—the creation of new knowledge through research and scholarship, and the education of our students, undergraduate and graduate alike.” Here are a just a few of the many research opportunities and centers at JHU: The Henry A. Rowland Center for Astronomy and Physics is unique in offering research in exciting fields such as Astrophysics, Condensed Matter Physics, Particle Physics, and Plasma Spectroscopy not only to graduates but also undergraduates, not to mention state of the art technology and instruments. The Silcio O. Conte Center, located at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center (MPRC), provides students opportunities to conduct neuroscience research in preclinical and clinical laboratories, participate in a didactic lecture series, ethics discussions with faculty, literature journal club, and career development seminars.

4. Texas A & M University

In 1887, the U.S. Congress passed the Hatch Act, paving the way for Texas lawmakers to establish the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, which is now Texas A&M AgriLife Research. It is the source for much needed research into the agricultural issues of the day. There are 13 research centers with over 1,700 employees, over 500 of which are doctoral-level scientists. These scientists are studying everything from plant diseases, animal parasites, grass and forage production, and the economical feeding of dairy and beef cattle. Researchers strive to maintain a traditional connection to farming and ranching, while developing crops with enhanced nutrition, discovering innovative renewable energy resources, and implementing new methods to improve air and water quality. This vast research organization serves all 254 counties in Texas and has 15 facilities around the state.

5. Princeton University

Research is integral at Princeton University, with over 1,100 participating faculty members in 34 academic departments, and 75 institutes and centers. Students at all levels are encouraged to participate in research with plenty of funding available. One opportunity available for undergraduate students is through PRISM (Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials) where undergraduates can earn a Certificate in Materials through taking a combination of core courses and participating in research with PRISM faculty. PRISM was founded to develop a deeper understanding of the world of materials and their applications while integrating science and engineering. Join Princeton in the attempt to advance the frontiers of human knowledge and society.

6. California Institute of Technology - Caltech

Edward Teller said, “The science of today is the technology of tomorrow.” At Cal-Tech research for undergraduates is diverse, flexible, competitive, and exciting. Opportunities abound starting with SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships). Beginning in 1979, SURFs have introduced students to academic research under the guidance of some of the world’s leading scientists and engineers; 85% of applicants have been awarded SURFs. If Caltech’s location doesn’t fit your needs there are other off-campus locations in Washington, Louisiana, and other college campuses. The LIGO Project is a NSF-supported endeavor through a summer program to design, build, and operate an astrophysical observatory for the direction and study of gravitational radiation. Caltech Undergraduate Research Journal, the WAVE program, Amgen Scholars, and NASA Programs are a few more opportunities at Caltech.

7. Yale University

It comes as no surprise that being an Ivy League university is one of the leading research universities in the nation. Yale University views research as an integral part of an undergraduate education. Students at Yale have access to over 800 faculty laboratories in 43 programs. First year students can participate in “Perspectives on Science and Engineering”, a year-long course and summer program providing students with an introduction to scientific research and research opportunities. Other programs include STARS (Science, Technology and Research Scholars), developmentally based research programs, and individual fellowship programs. Also to consider is the ability to conduct research on neuroscience, black holes, and climate change at Yale’s expansive research facilities.

8. Cornell University

Undergraduates at Cornell University are encouraged to participate in research to learn about their field of interest while gaining practical knowledge in that field. In 2011, 2,800 Cornell students earned credit for their research, and the typical senior science major spent 10-15 hours each week in the lab participating in faculty-led research. Cornell boasts two national research centers, Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source and Cornell NanoScale Facility that serve broad national and international scientific communities. In addition to the numerous research centers and institutes, Cornell also has multiple laboratories, including a Duck Research Laboratory, New York Wine Analysis Laboratory, Equine Drug Testing Laboratory, and a Laboratory of Plasma Studies.

Featured Online Masters Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

9. Georgia Institute of Technology

Conducting first-rate research since 1934, Georgia Tech Research Institute is a leader of scientific research today. During the fiscal year 2014, Georgia Tech was awarded $363 million in government and industry sponsored research contracts, and they currently have 76 active US Letters Patents and 43 pending US Patent applications. There are nearly 1,600 highly-skilled people employed at GTRI. Undergraduates can apply for President’s Undergraduate Research Awards and receive a $1500 salary for conducting research with a faculty member. A student whose research has been accepted for presentation at a professional conference can apply for an additional $1000 in travel funds. Opportunities for student involvement flourish at this world-class institution.

10. Emory University

Almost half of undergraduates at Emory University have an opportunity to work with faculty on a research project; Emory received over $520 million in research funding awards, with over $300 million coming from the National Institutes of Health. The Scholarly Inquiry and Research at Emory program provides funding for undergraduates to pursue both domestic and international research. Emory has a vast amount of centers and institutes that conduct research. To name a few: Emory Global Health Institute, Emory Heart and Vascular Center, Emory Transplant Center, and Emory Vaccine Center. Emory is also home to the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, which has a $3.5 billion operating expenditure, over 23,000 employees, and 5,200 students and trainees.

11. Stanford University

Stanford University research has impressive statistics. Research faculty includes 2,118 members, 21 Nobel laureates, and 4 Pulitzer Prize winners. The university has a $1.33 billion budget, over 5,300 sponsored projects, and 5.4 million jobs have been created by Stanford entrepreneurs since the 1930’s. Stanford’s expansive list of research centers and institutions include the Center on Stress and Health, Cystic Fibrosis Center, Genome Technology Center, and the Pain Management Center. At the Stanford LPCH Vaccine Program, research is being conducted on using vaccines to prevent or treat cancer and allergic diseases, as well as to measure the benefit and cost of the vaccination in different populations.

12. Northwestern University

One of the country’s leading private research universities, Northwestern University has an annual budget of $2 billion and sponsor research in excess of $500 million. There are over 17,000 students at Northwestern, 2,500 full-time faculty, and 90 school-based research centers. Northwestern’s vision is for research to be interdisciplinary with people from different disciplines working together, as opposed to being divided into different disciplines with scholars working in isolation. Undergraduates can apply for the exciting and singular Circumnavigators Travel Study Grant, where a student is selected to receive a $9,000 stipend to spend the summer traveling the world, researching a topic of their choice. There are numerous other opportunities for undergraduates to conduct research during the summer or academic year.

13. University of California – Berkeley

Receiving a total of $730.7 million in research funding and boasting an accomplished faculty, the University of California Berkeley is a top research university. Amongst the faculty, there are 8 Nobel laureates, 141 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 94 members of the National Academy of Engineering, and 10 recipients of the National Medal of Science. There are over 100 research centers at UC Berkeley. The Berkeley Energy and Climate Institute is the coordinating hub for all of Berkeley’s energy and climate efforts to ensure the integration of science, engineering, social science, and market and policy research. Through this center, projects are being conducted on present day energy challenges, such as biofuel research, climate change, and energy demand.

14. Columbia University

The oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, and one of the country’s nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution, Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university. It was founded in 1754 as King’s College by royal charter of George II of Great Britain, and renamed Columbia College in 1784. Columbia operates over 200 research institutes and centers including the Center for Archaeology, Institute for Cancer Genetics, Center for Schizophrenia Research, Columbia Neuroscience, the Earth Institute, the Center for Family Medicine, and Huntington’s Disease Center. Columbia University annually administers the Pulitzer Prize and lastly, 101 Nobel Prize laureates have been affiliated with the university, the second most of any institution in the world.

15. Michigan State University

During the 2013-14 academic year, Michigan State University received $528 million in research funding, with 64% coming from the federal government, and 19% from private donors. Historic discoveries at Michigan State University include the research that led to the development of hybrid corn and the process still used for the homogenization of milk. MSU scientists are at the forefront of water research, working collaboratively across campus and around the world to find the best solutions to present day water challenges. They are studying a diverse range of disciplines including engineering, chemistry, microbiology, fisheries, crop and soil sciences, molecular genetics, geology, medicine, zoology, and sociology. Undergraduates at MSU are encouraged to participate in research at the university; one opportunity available is through the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities program, which enables students to participate in the original investigation, experimentation, creative activity, and presentation of a research project.

16. University of California – Davis

The University of California Davis’ California National Primate Research Center (CNPRC) was established in 1962 as a breeding colony of healthy animals for research. CNPRC addressed conditions for housing and associating husbandry to ensure the healthiest of environments for the animals. Early on, CNPRC significantly advanced the quality of primate research and care. Ten years later, the center increased its collaboration with the Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine and other UC Davis schools and colleges. Today, CNPRC is dedicated to improving human and animal health. Research performed at the center provides necessary information before proceeding to clinical trials in humans leading to new drugs, therapies and surgical procedures that benefit human health and quality of life. Along with this fascinating research center, UC Davis is a hub of research on the west coast. They have an impressive faculty with 23 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 25 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 14 members of the Institute of Medicine, and 14 members of the National Academy of Engineering.

17. Oregon Health & Science University

Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) serves as Oregon's only public academic health center, and has pursued excellence in research for more than a century. OHSU hosts several research centers and initiatives, including Doernbecher Children's Hospital and the Advanced Imaging Research Center.

OHSU's research work has made great strides regarding cancer and other genetic conditions. Its Knight Cancer Institute was a pioneer in molecular targeting of chemotherapy for cancer treatment. It has also recently found a method to edit the gene that causes hypertrophic cardiomyopathy using genetic modification tool CRISPR, and co-leads a database for pediatric cancer research.

18. University of Washington

The University of Washington was founded in 1861, and is one of the oldest universities on the west coast and is home to one of the most highly regarded medical schools in the world. Undergraduates at the University of Washington have the opportunity to participate in the Undergraduate Research Program (URP) which works to ensure that all students who desire to participate in research will have the opportunity. Faculty at URP are dedicated to working students to incorporate research into their academic program, work with faculty to develop and publicize new research opportunities, assists students in accessing research opportunities, providing instruction on research methodologies, etiquette, and ethics, and creating opportunities to make student research public.

Featured Online Masters Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

19. Brown University

Undergraduates at Brown University can apply for Karen T. Romer Undergraduate Teaching and Research Awards, which support Brown students who are collaborating with faculty on research and teaching projects. Named for the dean who launched the program in the 1980’s, UTRA’s provide students with valuable academic research experience. Not only does Brown University provide excellent research opportunities for undergraduates, an impressive list of research centers and institutions are affiliated with Brown. These include the Center for Biomedical Engineering, the Center for Computational Molecular Biology, the Center for Computation and Visualization, the Center for Environmental Health and Technology, the Center for Environmental Studies, The Center for Genomics and Proteomics, the Institute for Brain Science, and the International Health Institute.

20. University of Virginia

Founded in 2001 to foster an undergraduate research community, the Undergraduate Research Network has been an integral part of continuing research at the University of Virginia. The goal of URN is to provide students with learning experiences outside of the classroom; most departments at University of Virginia have active undergraduate research programs and are designed to be flexible for both students and faculty members. Opportunities include working as a paid lab technician or research assistant. Prepare for the following impressive statistics: The University of Virginia received $26 million in corporate partners research awards, $275 million sponsored research awards, has a $5.5 billion endowment, 1.5 million square feet of research, laboratory, and studio space, 4 research parks, and 1 national laboratory headquarters.

21. University of Michigan

Research is central to the University of Michigan’s mission; research expenditures totaled $1.27 billion for academic year 2011-12, with $795 million coming from the federal government. Known for its interdisciplinary research initiatives, such as nanoscience and technology, energy, and life sciences involve faculty from many units on campus including the Medical School, College of Engineering, and the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. The University of Michigan boasts the sixth largest academic library in the country, with more than 7 million holdings. Through the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP), undergraduates have the opportunity to create partnerships with University of Michigan researchers. All university schools and colleges participate in UROP, which broadens the opportunity to all students. There are more than 1300 students and 800 faculty members participating in UROP.

22. Purdue University

Purdue University is home to Discovery Park, a place dedicated to learning, discovery, collaboration, and connection. Faculty, staff, and students from disciplines across the university and institutions around the world work together to conduct research at this state of the art facility. The Bindley Bioscience Center, Birck Nanotechnology Center, Cyber Center, and Oncological Sciences Center and many other research centers are located at Discovery Park. In addition to this amazing facility, undergraduates may publish their research in the Journal of Purdue Undergraduate Research, a journal run by students through a partnership between Purdue University Press and other departments of Purdue. With these exceptional opportunities available, it is not surprising that over 30 percent of Purdue undergraduates have at least one research experience while attending.

23. University of Wisconsin – Madison

The University of Wisconsin - Madison is known as one of the most prolific research universities in the world; undergraduate students have the opportunity to work with some of the world’s leading researchers to assist with ongoing research, or to propose, design, and direct their own projects. There are numerous grants, scholarships, and fellowships available for students at all levels. The University’s Asthma, Allergy, and Pulmonary Research team is nationally known. They have been studying asthma for over 30 years and conducted over 400 studies with both children and adults. They developed new asthma medications as well as established guidelines for treating asthma. Whether it is asthma, weather stations on Antarctica, molecular biology, or stem-cell research, the opportunities are endless!

24. University of Colorado – Boulder

The University of Colorado Boulder has 11 research institutes that account for more than half of all sponsored research dollars at the university. Over 900 researchers, students, and staff contribute the university’s research mission. The university’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics has been recognized for building an Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph used to explore and photograph the upper atmosphere of Mars. This instrument is onboard NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft and successfully completed an orbit around Mars, sending valuable pictures back to earth. Research at CU-Boulder fulfills its mission to “encompass thousands of scholarly, scientific and creative endeavors at any given time, resulting in new knowledge, technologies and creative work that advance the economy, culture and health of Colorado, the nation and the world.”

25. University of Miami

The University of Miami is a national research university with approximately $350 million in annual research and sponsored expenditures. The university is comprised of five campuses that house 11 schools and colleges. Researchers are actively engaged in scholarships that span the biomedical and clinical sciences, engineering, psychology, marine and atmospheric sciences, and the humanities. Home to Florida’s first medical school, the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center, active medical research is being piloted on this 152-acre complex. In 2004, the school received a $100 million gift from the Leonard Miller family, formally designating it as the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine; it is known for being a top medical school for Hispanic medical students.

26. University of Minnesota – Duluth

The University of Minnesota - Duluth has operated its Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) since 1985. From its origins as a small research center in an abandoned Air Force building, it has grown to become a state of the art facility which looks into all sustainability and economic issues in Minnesota.

The NRRI's research covers six key areas: water, wood, energy, forests and land, minerals and mining, and business support. In 2018, it worked with more than 80 clients and stakeholders, including private and public organizations. It currently employs more than 140 professionals in several research fields, including science and engineering.

Featured Online Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

27. Duke University

Undergraduate research at Duke University is organized by the Undergraduate Research Support Office, which provides grants and scholarships for research projects, travel, and multiple research opportunities. There are more than 30 research facilities that are conducting ongoing research, including the Duke Cancer Institute, the Duke Center for Human Genetics, the Duke Translational Medicine Institute, the Duke Center for AIDS Research, and the Duke Human Vaccine Institute. There is also a student-run science journal that is published at Duke, which features articles from the undergraduate, graduate, and professional school communities. Duke Science Review published its first issue in Spring 2013.

28. Stony Brook University

Stony Brook University was one of the first research universities in the country to establish an office for the specific purpose of promoting undergraduate research. Undergraduate Research & Creative Activities (URECA) was established in 1987 for the purpose of integrating research and undergraduate education. It now encompasses many programs, including the Battelle Summer Research Program, the Beckman Scholars Program, Research Experiences for Undergraduates Site Programs, and the URECA Summer Research Program. Other research centers at Stony Brook include the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility, System Engineering and Integration Laboratory, the Institute for Terrestrial and Planetary Atmospheres and the Visualization Laboratory. It is clear from the diversity of programs and opportunities that Stony Brook is exceptionally dedicated to research.

29. Rutgers University

Rutgers University, the eighth –oldest college in the United States, and one of the nine “Colonial Colleges” founded before the American Revolution, spends nearly $744 million per year in research and development, placing it as the top spending college or university in the state of New Jersey. It was a private liberal arts college until it gained university status in 1924; research began taking place at Rutgers in 1864. It is one of only two colonial colleges that later became a public university. Research at Rutgers is vast and many of the university’s research is world-renowned. Rutgers University Cell and DNA Repository is the largest university based repository in the world and has received over $57.8 million from the National Institutes of Health.

30. University of California – Santa Cruz

Located on the edge of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the nation’s largest marine sanctuary, the University of California, Santa Cruz is leading marine science research and education. Students and scientists are studying the ocean and its complexities. Another fascinating research project being conducted through UCSC is located in Antarctica. Researchers have become the first ever to reach and sample the “grounding zone” of an Antarctic ice sheet, where ice, land, and sea all converge. Using a specially designed hot-water drill to cleanly bore through a half mile of ice, a team is using this information to collect data and study the mechanics of ice sheets. Students of all levels have the opportunity to participate in exciting new research through UCSC.

31. Boston College

Established in 1997, the Undergraduate Research Fellows Program at Boston College was founded for the purpose of enhancing the academic experience of undergraduates by cultivating their research skills and fostering relationships between the students and faculty. Through this program, students will receive a grant to pay for their research. The student will serve as a research assistant to a faculty member, working up to 20 hours a week during the semester, or 40 hours a week during semester breaks and summer. Boston College is dedicated to “make significant contributions in scientific research, the explorations of the relationship between religion and society, and improved practice in education, philanthropy, and corporate conduct.”

32. Vanderbilt University

Founded in 1873 and named after shipping and rail tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt University is one of the leading research universities in the United States. Located in the heart of Nashville Tennessee, Vanderbilt is a national arboretum and features over 300 different species of trees and shrubs. The university received over $600 million in 2013 in external research funding. There are several research centers and institutions affiliated with the university including the Dyer Observatory and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. During the past five years, researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center have made significant gains in the use of genomic information to individualize patient care, and developed “personalized medicine,” as well as brought on board new technology, like next-generation sequencing to help identify disease-relevant changes in the genome.

33. University of Florida

Researchers at the University of Florida are researching everything from aging to gene therapy, adult stem cells and cancer. Research awards have steadily increased over the last few years; last year the University received $619 million in research funding. More than $323 million of that total was for health-related research. McKnight Brain Institute, the UF Genetics Institute, and the Emerging Pathogens Institute are just a few of the centers that are a part of the University of Florida. Opportunities for undergraduates include the University Scholars Program, where students will work one-on-one with UF faculty on selected research projects. Aspiring scholars and science minded individuals may enter a competition each spring for an award of $1750 for their research.

Featured Online Healthcare Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

34. University of Maryland

The University of Maryland’s Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center is a joint center between the University of Maryland departments of Atmospheric & Oceanic Science, Geology, Geography and the Earth Sciences Directorate at the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. This research center is dedicated to enhancing an understanding of how the atmosphere, ocean, land, and biosphere components of the Earth interact as a system. ESSIC is located at “M” Square, which is the University of Maryland’s Research Park. This park is only 8 miles from the National Capital. It is Maryland’s largest research park and serves the greater D.C. area.

35. University of Pennsylvania

Some of the most cutting edge investigations today are taking place at the University of Pennsylvania through integrated campus research facilities. The Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter (LRSM) was established in 1960 as the center for Materials Research. LRSM is responsible for facilitating collaborations between faculty from different departments and schools, and promoting links to partners in industry, government, academe, and society at large. The Penn Institute for Regenerative Medicine is home to researchers who are studying stem cell and regenerative biology as well as transitional therapies and clinical trials to enhance regeneration to treat serious disease. Undergraduates can be a part of this revolutionary science through scholarships, fellowships, grants, and many more exciting opportunities.

36. The Ohio State University

During the fiscal year 2013, Ohio State University received $481million federal research and development funds, and $111 million industry-sponsored funds. It is one of only a few universities in the United States that houses fourteen different colleges, including seven health colleges in a single location. Founded in 1870 as a land-grant university, this public research university has seen impressive growth in research expenditures, boosting Ohio State to one of the top research universities the nation. Researchers are making advances in many different areas including global climate change, materials research, electromagnetics, cancer, infectious diseases, agbioproducts and imaging.

37. Case Western Reserve University

As the largest biomedical research institution in the state of Ohio, Case Western Reserve University is a research powerhouse. The primary goal of the school is to conduct cutting-edge biomedical research that leads to improvement in clinical care and the development of new knowledge in the biomedical sciences. Boasting eight Nobel laureates amongst its faculty and alumni, Case Western Reserve has contributed several historical breakthroughs in the fields of medicine and health. Former professor John J. R. Macleod was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 1923 for the discovery of insulin; other notable research accomplishments by school faculty include discoveries in magnetic resonance imaging, first surgical treatments of coronary artery disease, first simulated milk formula for infants, development of the first heart-lung machine for use in open heart surgeries, the first successful genetic alteration of human cells in a test tube, and creation of the first artificial human chromosome. With accolades like these, Case Western Reserve is a leader in university research today.

38. Rice University

Rice University seeks to become a leading research institution, and has put its resources behind that goal. It operates dozens of research centers and institutions and many non-center research groups and projects, covering almost every area of research endeavor.

Not all of Rice's research efforts come from graduate students and faculty members. Its Office of Fellowship and Undergraduate Research (OFUR) helps students at all levels find learning and research opportunities outside the classroom. Students can also use the OFUR to find chances to pursue their research interests outside of Rice University itself.

39. Iowa State University

In 1988, Iowa State University established the Electric Power Research Center (EPRC) to maintain a strong electric power and energy research program, and to educate students at all levels to prepare them for careers in electric utilities and supporting industries. Researchers at EPRC are currently conducting a wide variety of studies including the design of a meteorological model ensemble forecasting system, developing high conductivity, ultralight, hi-strength aluminum composite conductors, and measuring stress across an area of a power system with area angles. In addition to EPRC, Iowa State University is home to the world’s first electronic digital computer, the world’s largest tornado simulator for wind energy research, the world’s highest resolution virtual reality lab, and the Bioeconomy Institute, a leader in developing new sources of energy, fuels, and other products from renewable resources.

40. North Carolina State University

With over 34,000 students, North Carolina State University is the largest university in the Carolinas. Offering 106 bachelor’s degrees, 104 master’s degrees, 61 doctoral degrees, and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, NC State University provides ample opportunities. Undergraduates are eligible to participate in a wide variety of research projects including going on archeological digs, designing new ways to manage wildlife and plant populations, studying ancestral lineages using the tools of modern genetics, and finding ways to grow more food on less land. Working with a mentor, students participate in the undergraduate research program (UGR) to pursue academic questions and discovery at one of the nation’s leading research schools.

41. Oregon State University

Located on the Pacific Ocean in the charming coastal town of Newport Oregon, Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center (HMSC) is nearing its 50th year. Beginning in the early 1900’s as a small, one-building fisheries laboratory, it has become a 40-acre campus. This state of the art marine laboratory is home to collaborative research and education programs from OSU and six state and federal agencies. With a combined budget of over $45 million, HMSC is an important economic driver on the Oregon Coast; it is also key component of Oregon State University’s student research. Thriving summer internship programs and academic programs are offered year-round at HMSC for students to study the world-class seawater system, experimental wet labs, and OSU’s Guin Library.

Featured Online Public Health Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

42. Penn State University

Penn State University spends nearly $1 billion on research each year. More than half of this funding comes from federal organizations, with the remainder coming from private grants, other groups, and the university itself. It considers research a major part of its mission as a land grant institution, and in 2018 invested nearly $200 million in research initiatives.

Penn State also has land grant, space grant, sea grant, and sun grant status, and is one of only two universities in the country to be accorded all of these distinctions. These designations enhance and extend its research.

43. University of Utah

The University of Utah supports over 80 centers and institutes serving academic, research, and community interests. One in particular is the School of Medicine, which operates a numbers of “Cores facilities” that offer both advanced technologies and equipment. The goal of the Cores is to make technology and expertise available to all faculty members and students. One of the Core facilities is dedicated to providing state-of-the-art systems for housing, breeding, and doing experiments with zebrafish. It is comprised of 5000 fish tanks and water systems. Another Core is the Machine Shop Core, which is equipped with lathes, drills, vertical mills, knee mills, welders, grinders, and other machinery capable of repairing existing medical machines and creating new ones. Regardless of ones interests, there are sure to be interesting prospects for research and invention at the University of Utah.

44. University of Pittsburgh

The University of Pittsburgh has 16 schools, thriving multidisciplinary centers, and close ties to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which allow research to play a major role at the university. Research is directed in collaboration with colleagues from over 80 other universities on aging, bioengineering, computer modeling, energy, global health, nanoscience, neuroscience, and translational medicine. As a public research university, all students have the opportunity to conduct research year-round. Students have access to the University’s medical school and complex, as well as opportunities to travel to different parts of the world to conduct faculty-mentored research. Each summer, the Conte Center for the Neuroscience of Mental Disorders sponsors a full-time, 10-week research experience, where students receive a $4000 stipend. This distinctive opportunity is available for freshman and sophomores who are interested in neuroscience research.

45. New York University

“The modern research university has a dual mission: to educate its students, and to discover new knowledge through scholarship.” With a vast array of institutes and centers at NYU, research is a key component of the academic setting and mission. NYU consists of more than 20 schools, colleges, and institutes located in six centers throughout Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn, as well as more than a dozen other sites across the world. The word that comes to mind when looking at NYU is “historic”. Founded in the early 1800’s, NYU is the largest independent research university in the United States; Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph operated a laboratory from NYU, giving the university a long-standing tradition of research and invention. Well-funded, diverse, historic and dependable make NYU a premier choice for undergraduate research.

46. Indiana University

Indiana University is home to more than 110,000 students at two core campuses, seven smaller campuses, and two centers/extensions located throughout the state of Indiana. A hub of research, Indiana University operates many research centers and institutes, including the Center for Exploration of Energy and Matter (CEEM). It is a multi-disciplinary laboratory performing experimental and theoretical research and development in the areas of accelerator physics, nuclear physics and chemistry, and materials research. CEEM is known for using particle accelerators in many aspects of their research. Notably, opportunities are available for high school through post-doctoral students showing a true dedication and commitment to science and research.

47. Washington University in St. Louis

Washington University is a private research university in St. Louis and was founded in 1853. There are 22 Nobel laureates affiliated with Washington University, 9 having done a major part of the research at the university. The university has students and faculty from all 50 states, as well as from over 120 countries; it is made up of seven graduate and undergraduate schools. The Office of Undergraduate Research is available to help students in a variety of ways, including guidance for students in choosing an area of research and a mentor, finding current research opportunities, providing financial support for research either on campus or anywhere in the world in the form of Summer Undergraduate Research Awards, providing conference travel awards, and sponsoring the Undergraduate Research Symposium.

48. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is responsible for the Prairie Research Institute, an institute with a vision to develop ways to sustain the state’s natural resources. The Prairie Research Institute is just one of many research projects happening at the university. It is also home to the Research Park, a place on campus that is home to more than 90 companies, employing more than 1,400 people in high-technology careers. At any given time, more than 450 student interns are working in these companies gaining valuable work experience while making advances in research. The Research Park is also home to over 50 startup companies that are commercializing technology.

49. University of Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame is a Catholic research university located near South Bend Indiana. Founded in 1842 by Father Edward Sorin as an all-male institution, the university still has many Holy Cross priests who continue to work for the university. The first women undergraduates were enrolled in 1972. Notre Dame is home to many research centers and institutions including the Eck Institute for Global Health. It is a university-wide enterprise that recognizes health as a fundamental human right and promotes research, training, and service to advance health standards for all people, especially those in low and middle-income countries who are impacted by preventable diseases.

50. Colorado School of Mines

Colorado School of Mines is a public research university devoted to engineering and applied science. It has the highest admission standards of any public university in Colorado. It is known for the development of a curriculum and research program geared towards responsible stewardship of the earth and its resources. Mines is a unique university as one of the only institutions in the world to do resource exploration, extraction, production, and utilization. The Renewable Energy Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (REMRSEC), one of the multiple research programs at Mines, is sponsored by the National Science Foundation and focused on renewable energy technologies. With a university that is completely devoted to research, there are definitely ample opportunities for undergraduate participation in quality and cutting edge research.

Featured Online MPH Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

More Best College Reviews Resources

See all posts