Research Universities

Postsecondary institutions that prioritize research activities are referred to as research universities.

Compared with most other schools, they tend to offer a wider range of undergraduate and graduate programs.

There are over 250 research universities in the US, and more than 140 of them have the Carnegie R1 classification.

Ivy League schools such as Harvard University and Columbia University as well as selective institutions such as MIT, UCLA, Georgia Tech and Stanford University are some examples of research institutions.

Many things are shared by research universities, and they include:

  • A broader range of undergraduate and graduate programs
  • Extensive and state-of-the-art facilities and resources
  • Faculty members who are experts in their respective fields
  • Publication of research findings and journals
  • Collaboration with other institutions as well as various organizations and industries

Top Research Universities

Not all research universities are the same.

While they share many things in common that make them more about research alongside the provision of top-notch programs and teachings, some research institutions in the US are superior to others, making them rank highly in the country and globally.

Multi-disciplinarity of research studies, the impact of research conducted, and domestic and international collaboration — are just some of the criteria that set research universities apart from one another.

The following are American institutions that made it to the most recent World University Research Rankings:

Global RankingInstitution Name
1Massachusetts Institute of Technology
4Carnegie Mellon University
11Stanford University
13Georgia Institute of Technology
14University of California, Berkeley
16Harvard University
17Princeton University
18California Institute of Technology
22University of California, Santa Barbara
26University of California, San Diego
29Rice University
34Duke University
36University of Washington
39University of Chicago
44University of Maryland, College Park
50Columbia University
55University of California, Los Angeles
59Northwestern University
61University of Texas at Austin
63Yale University
65Johns Hopkins University
70Washington University
71University of Colorado Boulder
72University of Pennsylvania

US News also ranks colleges and universities where undergraduate students are given the opportunity to conduct intensive and independent research or creative work that results in either a unique scholarly article or any other writing.

Below are the top schools included in the Undergraduate Research/Creative Projects by US News.

I have also included their rankings in the same college site’s Best National University Rankings just to give you an idea of how each of them fares against other highly-ranked universities in the land.

RankingInstitution NameNational Universities Ranking
1Massachusetts Institute of Technology2
2Carnegie Mellon University24
3California Institute of Technology7
4Harvard University3
5Princeton University1
5University of Michigan – Ann Arbor21
7Georgia Institute of Technology33
7Stanford University3
9Yale University5
10Johns Hopkins University9
11Elon University133
12Duke University7
13University of California, Berkeley15
14The College of WoosterUnranked
15Cornell University12
15University of Texas at Austin32
17Brown University9
18Amherst CollegeUnranked
18Harvey Mudd CollegeUnranked
20Carleton CollegeUnranked
21Arizona State University105
21Baylor University93
21Case Western Reserve University53

What is the Carnegie Classification?

The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education is the leading framework for recognizing as well as describing institutional diversity in the US.

Since 1970, it has been classifying thousands of universities based on the measure of research activity, assigning them into the following categories: R1, R2, and R3.

Every three years, the Carnegie Classification categorizes more than 4,500 colleges and universities in the country.

In a nutshell, research institutions of higher education are reviewed based on factors such as the number of research and scholarship doctoral degrees awarded per year and how much funding for research is obtained.

Let’s take a look at the different classifications and their meaning:

  • R1 – very high research activity
  • R2 – high research activity
  • R3 – moderate research activity

The more research-heavy the major you are considering, as a general rule of thumb, the much better idea it is to attend an institution with a high Carnegie Classification.

Here are some colleges and universities with an R1 classification:

  • Arizona State University
  • Binghamton University
  • Brandeis University
  • Brown University
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Colorado State University
  • Columbia University
  • Cornell University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Duke University
  • Florida International University
  • George Washington University
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Harvard University
  • Indiana University Bloomington
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Kansas State University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • New York University
  • Northeastern University
  • Ohio State University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Princeton University
  • Purdue University
  • Stanford University
  • SUNY at Albany
  • Texas A&M University
  • Tufts University
  • University at Buffalo
  • University of Arizona
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa
  • University of Maryland, College Park
  • University of Massachusetts – Amherst
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Yale University

On the other hand, the following are some institutions with an R2 classification:

  • American University
  • Arkansas State University
  • Ball State University
  • Baylor University
  • Brigham Young University
  • Chapman University
  • College of William & Mary
  • Colorado School of Mines
  • CUNY City College
  • DePaul University
  • Florida Atlantic University
  • Florida Institute of Technology
  • Hampton University
  • Idaho State University
  • Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Kennesaw State University
  • Lehigh University
  • Louisiana Tech University
  • Loyola Marymount University
  • Marquette University
  • Miami University
  • Michigan Technological University
  • New Mexico State University
  • North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
  • Northern Arizona University
  • Ohio University
  • Portland State University
  • Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Rutgers University – Camden
  • San Diego State University
  • Seton Hall University
  • SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
  • Tennessee State University
  • Texas State University
  • University of California, Merced
  • University of Maine
  • University of San Diego
  • Villanova University
  • Wake Forest University
  • Yeshiva University

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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