50-50 Highlights: Top Research Universities and Colleges Ranked by Research Expenditures

student in research labAfter the Ivy League schools and their competition as ranked by US News, the next level of desirable institutions of higher education tends to be top research universities, usually state flagship institutions. While there are many different reasons why high school students want to go to research universities, for a certain group of students, the reason is the access to and influence of research.

Now for many, the belief in the superiority of opportunities at a research university is one that has little chance of being swayed by arguments to the contrary. And the fact is that top research universities can provide an excellent undergraduate education for students.

For those who are looking for affirmation for their preference for “top research universities,” check out the following:

  • The University of Texas at Austin and the Research University Advantage: This study concludes that “In this analysis, research engagement has a positive relationship with GPA, four-year graduation rate, and is strong predictor of post-graduate educational plans.” (The authors use a broad definition of research in the paper since by they report only an average of 2.5% of students participate in non-class based research.)
  • UC Davis Student Affairs Research & Information How Students Answered the question, How Has Attending a Major Research University Affected Your Education: Of these five resources, I found this one the most useful.?  The overall findings were positive but approximately 25% of students responded negatively. The paper openly acknowledges some of the trade-offs of attending a research university. For example, students believe that “Research universities like Davis provide unique opportunities to participate in research and to acquire practical skills through on-campus employment and internships, but these opportunities can be hard to find and are less common in some majors.”
  • National Survey of Student Engagement: Institutions classified as Research University-Very High had the second highest percentage of seniors who actually worked on a research project outside of a course or program requirement.
  • Baccalaureate Origins of S&E Doctorate Recipients: Many students are interested in attending top research universities and doing research in preparation for graduation school. According to this study “Of those with known U.S. baccalaureate institutions, almost half (47%) earned their bachelor’s degree from research universities.”

So for those with a preference for research universities, I offer the following information on “research stats” for 50-50 Colleges and Universities. The research expenditures are from IPEDS data in the DIY College Search Spreadsheet and are defined as funds that?  are” expenses for activities specifically organized to produce research outcomes and commissioned by an agency either external to the institution or separately budgeted by an organizational unit within the institution. The category includes institutes and research centers, and individual and project research.”

Unfunded research, research that faculty conduct on their own simply as part of their faculty position, is not accounted for by these numbers. In other words, just because an institution doesn’t show any research expenses doesn’t mean that faculty aren’t conducting research.

The following is a listing of all 50-50 institutions with Carnegie Classifications of Research University-Very High or High. As usual, the five-year graduation rate is used for public schools and the four-year rate for private schools. You can download a complete list of 50-50 schools here.


50-50 Research Universities with High or Very High Research Activity

4/5 yr
Georgia Institute of Technology-Main CampusGAPublic13272723048856
University of Wisconsin-MadisonWIPublic28167792494843
University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh CampusPAPublic17256772364741
University of Minnesota-Twin CitiesMNPublic29125691694931
SUNY at AlbanyNYPublic12064631504634
University of ArizonaAZPublic28210561270134
University of IowaIAPublic19639681255030
Pennsylvania State University-Main CampusPAPublic37917841214827
Texas A & M University-College StationTXPublic36219761196930
University of KansasKSPublic17130581159231
University of KentuckyKYPublic19178521105022
University of Colorado BoulderCOPublic23662631089435
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityVAPublic23366801055036
The University of TennesseeTNPublic19591621034121
University of GeorgiaGAPublic24496781004734
University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignILPublic31118821003726
University of New Hampshire-Main CampusNHPublic1234276979137
Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical CollegeLAPublic2268159960632
Michigan Technological UniversityMIPublic519660960432
University of Nebraska-LincolnNEPublic1776658918428
Mississippi State UniversityMSPublic1500452888032
Michigan State UniversityMIPublic3419675878124
North Carolina State University at RaleighNCPublic2182166862926
Oregon State UniversityORPublic1779455846728
Washington State UniversityWAPublic2008264825230
Colorado State University-Fort CollinsCOPublic2033659824929
University of DaytonOHPrivate746260819428
University of VermontVTPublic995674810919
University of IdahoIDPublic813849770026
University of MaineMEPublic752055759524
Kansas State UniversityKSPublic1779852748024
Clemson UniversitySCPublic1564378743726
University of California-Santa CruzCAPublic1556271739428
Rutgers University-New BrunswickNJPublic3003876713521
Ohio State University-Main CampusOHPublic3888479707023
Iowa State UniversityIAPublic2420966700024
University of Cincinnati-Main CampusOHPublic1966755691724
Purdue University-Main CampusINPublic2936065664020
South Dakota State UniversitySDPublic856249633929
University of DelawareDEPublic1664278623818
University of Rhode IslandRIPublic1192358622226
Oklahoma State University-Main CampusOKPublic1751757593921
University of California-RiversideCAPublic1805462587522
University of ArkansasARPublic1779955584122
University of Maryland-Baltimore CountyMDPublic937155581723
West Virginia UniversityWVPublic2111852553920
Auburn UniversityALPublic1844963546520
University of Missouri-ColumbiaMOPublic2517868535420
University at BuffaloNYPublic1776365534217
Virginia Commonwealth UniversityVAPublic1978549517022
University of Oklahoma Norman CampusOKPublic1811161502117
The University of Texas at DallasTXPublic950660500222
University of Massachusetts AmherstMAPublic2030668487718
Texas Tech UniversityTXPublic2358857472824
Missouri University of Science and TechnologyMOPublic526058440818
University of South Carolina-ColumbiaSCPublic2164670437220
Clarkson UniversityNYPrivate305055410015
Florida State UniversityFLPublic2873372402420
Rutgers University-NewarkNJPublic622056396621
University of Massachusetts-LowellMAPublic872449379616
University of Southern MississippiMSPublic1139350375319
University of OregonORPublic1884763373416
Arizona State UniversityAZPublic4994552367416
Catholic University of AmericaDCPrivate342262352311
Syracuse UniversityNYPrivate1416969350312
Temple UniversityPAPublic2438260326612
Saint Louis University-Main CampusMOPrivate735460324610
George Mason UniversityVAPublic1626561299414
University of MississippiMSPublic1493355274514
Indiana University-BloomingtonINPublic3094972267011
Clark UniversityMAPrivate225375231010
Southern Methodist UniversityTXPrivate59996820496
Ohio University-Main CampusOHPublic1686260189711
The University of AlabamaALPublic254306218759
Loyola University ChicagoILPrivate89525217056
Duquesne UniversityPAPrivate56506315817
University of DenverCOPrivate49656113345
Northern Illinois UniversityILPublic144944912725
University of North Carolina at GreensboroNCPublic130484911186
Miami University-OxfordOHPublic146577810715
Baylor UniversityTXPrivate12615567443
Ball State UniversityINPublic15597525924
Bowling Green State University-Main CampusOHPublic13735544733

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