US Undergraduate University Tier Rankings 2023 - Backed by Data

DO NOT MS IMMEDIATELY. Read through everything thoroughly and ask yourself seriously if you would choose ANY school in a lower tier. Open to feedback- please be as granular or broad with arguments, and feel free to argue specific examples (e.g., T3 Cornell is worse than Tier 3.5 Williams, etc.) 

Tier 1 - Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Wharton, Stanford

Tier 2 - MIT, UChicago, Dartmouth, Columbia, UPenn CAS, Duke, NYU Stern

Tier 3 - Cornell, Brown 

Tier 3.5 - Williams, Amherst, Georgetown, Michigan, Northwestern

Tier 4 - UC Berkeley, Notre Dame

Tier 4.5 - UVA, WashU, Emory, USC, UT Austin

Tier 5 - Vanderbilt, UCLA, Rice, UNC KF, Middlebury

Tier 6 - Johns Hopkins, IU Kelley, Carnegie Mellon, BC, BYU, SMU, NESCAC

Made Tiers 3.5 and 4.5 because the schools in 3 & 4 are just a hair ahead of the tiers below. Within each tier, there is no material difference between selecting one or the other. It would be delusional to take any school in a lower tier if only considering IB recruiting. This list accounts for PER CAPITA placements and STUDENT BODY INTEREST in IB

Notes: (i) IU Kelley IBW can arguably go to tier 5, but no higher. (ii) NYU Stern could be moved to Tier 3. (iii) UT Austin is most certainly on par with schools like UVA and Emory, even in non-TX offices, and is trending to reach UMich territory. (iv) Northwestern can be argued for Tier 4

Will be updating this list in accordance with any well-though rationales in the comments. Please keep civil. 

Most Helpful

Funny you think 99% of Wharton even wants to do IB. Congrats on Kelley


usually these are dogshit but this is actually fairly accurate and nuanced... curious to hear anyone else's opinions


Valid to be honest… I would put CMC at t6 cause of their KKR pipeline and good WC/LA connections, and Bowdoin=Midd at t5 imo (traditionally midd is better but I think Bowdoin is investing a lot into finance career dev). I think people overestimate the differences between tiers (especially tiers 3-4 and 5-6) but great list.


Fair points, esp. about CMC T6. Disagree about Bowdoin = Middlebury. Probably would keep Bowdoin at T6 w/ NESCACs. Obv one of the better NESCAC's, and probably not all NESCAC's fall under T6. However, I actually highly disagree about your points about "overestimating the difference between tiers." I think the difference b/w 5 and 6 is fairly drastic, with the latter bordering on non-target whereas the former are all recognizably prestigious schools. There's most definitely a difference between T3 and T4.5, but you could maybe argue that being "top dog" and really excelling in the academic environment of a T4.5 would set you up better than slipping through the cracks at Cornell. So that's where school "fit" comes into play. If you get depressed at Ithaca freshman year and wind up w/ 3.0 GPA, you might as well have just taken the scholarship money from Emory/USC and enjoyed the nicer weather and vibrant social scene.


I get what you are saying, but, for example, consider JHU vs UT Austin (4.5 v 6). UT has a 29% acceptance rate Vs JHUs 7.5% acceptance rate… JHU is ranked the 7th best university in the country, while UT is around T40. Besides the alumni at UT and the business school, JHU has a much better name, better prestige, generally smarter peers, better professors, is better funded, etc. I know much of JHUs prestige is around pre-med, but their econ is no slouch either. Personally, I would take it in a heartbeat over UT, just because I feel the quality of education would be much better than a huge, less selective state school like UT. No shade at UT- it's still a great school and hard to get into, just not the same rigor as JHU. Similar arguments can be made with Bowdoin (8% accept rate), Pomona (7%), etc. Yet, just because UT has lots of finance alums it is rated 2 tiers higher, which is understandable, but does not really show the "caliber" of the school in my opinion.

Furthermore, in terms of higher tier differences (ex Williams and Chicago), there is a lot of debate between these two schools even though they are 1.5 “tiers” apart. - ex…


Tbf the school is tiny and is like 50% econ kids so that skews statistics- I LOVE the school & think it’s amazing, but it isn’t too well known on the east coast reputation-wise (although I think in 20 years or so it will).


You might be right, but I'd argue that's more of self-selection. NW is a hard target for Chicago, and many place into NYC. Similar to Emory, it's just there's not as much interest/hardo culture, and I believe IB kids and business in general is more looked down upon- perhaps a byproduct of the no undergraduate business program // liberal arts culture


I think rankings lists are pretty dumb but this is decent overall. Northwestern is probably too high. UVA placement for banking is much better so they should be above NW. Consulting is a different story (NW crushes it there, banking not exactly).

Cornell could probably be ahead of Stern, as could Brown. If you’re breaking out business schools, then Dyson is probably in that second grouping. Not as stark a contrast between Wharton and Penn CAS but the placement there is great. People forget that while Cornell is a big finance school, it’s more oriented toward STEM. 

NESCAC as one grouping might not make sense but I understand the general premise. 


Agree w/ NW being maybe too high, but it could be moreso a byproduct of self-selection (see comment above). You may be right about UVA>NW, but that could be just because UVA is so large (and moreso undergraduate business/finance interest). Agree with rest. Thanks for your well thought-out comment


Just use the Peak Frameworks list. End of story problem solved.


oversimplified and even he mentions that it doesn't account for UG student interest // self-selection


WashU is so heavily compared against Emory and the rest in 4.5, so I think it'd be unfair to move them down. A lot of comments arguing against NW, so I see your point


Georgetown, ND, and UVA are probably higher. Not sure I’d put Duke and NU that high too


If student body interest is considered than John’s Hopkins should be higher. It’s probably 10x easier to break in from JHU than IU or SMU lol


Wow, haven't seen a tier list this decent in a while. Most r troll posts. 


How is Georgetown lower than Cornell and Brown? You realize it's a top 3 finance program in the country right? Gtown could make a strong case for T2 frankly 


Holy fuck, ain’t no way people are just letting this slide.

Saying Georgetown belongs in T2 with MIT, Columbia, Penn, UChicago and Duke is wild. This is like someone from Brown/Cornell saying they’re HYP level.

There’s school pride and then there’s just straight delusion. Georgetown is a solid school with strong placement but c’mon. 


I would honestly take UVA over ND, ND is very strong but I think ease of access to banks and its prestige are overhyped on this site, just from anecdotal superday and other experience. I think UVA may deserve a .5 tier bump. Other than that very solid list


What is this up with this boards love affair with the NESCAC?

Williams and Amherst are outstanding schools but outside of those two schools I don’t get it. All of those colleges are located in tiny opioid/pill mill riddled towns that post menopausal lesbians vacation in during the fall alongside their twelve cats. Being 18-22 in those places sounds like hell unless you’re addicted to heroin. 

Unlike, Williams and Amherst most of these schools are completely homogeneous as well. Everyone I know who goes to these schools are middle class people that went to prep schools from MA, CT, or NY but couldn’t get into a top school or places like BC and thought they were above going to a state school. I just don’t get how you can call these other schools prestigious when the only group that wants to attend them are preppy kids from New England. Nobody anywhere in the US or the rest of the world wants to live in places like Waterville, Maine or Clinton, NY. People need to get over themselves with this prestige nonsense.

Why anyone would take a non Williams or Amherst NESCAC grad over a UNC, Florida, UCSB, Wisconsin, Washington, etc. grad is beyond me. You have to have a screw loose somewhere or lack common sense to opt into living in rural New England or the Berkshires in your late teens and early twenties. I wouldn’t even want to go to prison in any of those places. 


A. LAC people have a chip on their shoulder cause they go to great schools w sub-10% acceptance rates and nobody knows about them.

B. LACs are slept on to be honest and many of them are definitely not in some buttfuck town. All of the Claremont schools, for example, are just outside of LA in a great neighborhood. Brunswick (Bowdoin) is a super nice town if your into nature / that stuff and the food is great, yeah it's not a party school where you can get laid by a 5/10 white chick every night, but it's not for people who want that- it's for people who want a small & close community. Even Midd, which is in the middle of nowhere, has its own ski mountain and a nice party scene. Some people want to be in nature, just cause you don't want to be in the Berkshires doesn't mean others don't… Funny thing is that out of all the NESCACS Williams is in the worst location just cause of how depressed the area is, with Amherst not falling that far behind.

C. What you said about people not getting into good schools and going to LACs is just not true… other than HYPSWM people choose LACs all the time over every other school out there. Also, Bowdoin, Pomona, Midd, and CMC all have similar acceptance rates to Amherst/Williams. It's not like A/W are in a completely different league (a few decades ago, yea, not so much anymore)

D. The alumni pull for each other like it's nobody's business, and although the network isn't as wide, it's much stronger for the connections that do exist.

I agree some Nescacs like conn college aren't great, but Bowdoin, Midd, Hamilton are all very good and place well.


UVA places similarly to Mich/ND/Berk, you mad goofy for disrespecting us with that 4.5


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