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Great Undergraduate Research Colleges and Universities in the Midwest

Research institutions invest a lot into—you guessed it—research! Learn about some of the best top-tier research universities in the Midwestern US right here.

Starting your college search can be overwhelming with all the choices you have. Will you pick a college or university? Two-year or four-year? Public or private? Comprehensive or liberal arts based? Research intensive or specialized? The options seem to be endless! That’s why we’re highlighting different types of schools across the country and all the benefits they offer.

Here, you’ll find great options for research colleges and universities in the Midwestern US. Research institutions invest a lot in research and development, which creates amazing opportunities for students to get involved in projects and work with faculty in their fields of interest. Research colleges can be public or private, and they are often designated by the Carnegie Classification system as Tier 1, R1, or Top Tier Universities for the level of research conducted on campus. Want to learn more about this type of school? Here are just a few great options for research-inclined students. See what they have to offer and click the green "Connect me" buttons to show your interest!

Case Western Reserve University

Case Western Reserve University is a private research institution on a 267-acre campus located in Cleveland's University Circle—four miles from downtown Cleveland, Ohio. More than 80% of CWRU students take part in research or creative endeavors in any major beginning as early as their first semester, with many becoming published authors whose research results are reported in some of the country’s most prized academic journals. Additionally, almost 100% of undergrads take part in experiential learning opportunities, co-ops, and internships.

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Cleveland State University

Cleveland State University is a public research institution with an 85-acre campus located in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. The University offers nearly 200 academic programs to 17,000+ students through the Colleges of Business, Engineering, Education & Human Services, Law, Liberal Arts & Social Sciences, Sciences & Health Professions, and Urban Affairs. Students have access to freshman scholarships, new state-of-the-art student residence halls, 200+ student clubs, NCAA Division I athletics, and one of Ohio’s lowest tuition rates.

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DePaul University

DePaul University is a private Roman Catholic research institution with two urban campuses in Chicago, Illinois. Over 14,000 undergraduates are enrolled in more than 130 programs of study, from majors and minors to concentrations and certificates. DePaul’s eight undergraduate colleges and schools offer innovative curricula and research opportunities as well as experiences through honors courses, service trips, and study abroad programs in over 30 countries.

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Illinois State University

Illinois State University is a public research university with a 1,180-acre campus in Normal, Illinois—about 130 miles from Chicago. Over 20,000 students are involved in 150+ majors and more than 400 student organizations, including the Gamma Phi Circus, the oldest collegiate circus in the United States. The University also offers a Fixed Tuition Pledge—guaranteeing you the same tuition rate for four years—while students from states that border Illinois and qualifying academically gifted students receive in-state tuition.

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Miami University–Oxford

Miami University—Oxford logoMiami University—Oxford is a public comprehensive research university in Oxford, Ohio. More than 16,500 undergraduates and 2,300+ graduate students study at the University’s Oxford campus in over 120 bachelor’s areas of study as well as 70 master’s and doctoral degree programs. Miami also offers vibrant residential, community-based, and international programs involving students in activities that build leadership and develop citizenship and character.

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North Dakota State University

North Dakota State University logoNorth Dakota State University is a public land-grant research institution in Fargo, North Dakota. With a diverse range of programs spanning fields from engineering and agriculture to business and health care, students can choose from 94 undergraduate majors and five undergraduate certificates. At NDSU, you'll thrive in a dynamic environment that fosters hands-on learning, cutting-edge research, and personalized mentorship from world-class faculty. 

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Oakland University

Oakland uOakland University is a public comprehensive research university on a 1,444-acre campus in Rochester, Michigan—25 miles north of downtown Detroit. More than 16,000 students are enrolled in 275+ undergraduate and graduate degree programs through the College of Arts & Sciences and the Schools of Business, Education & Human Services, Engineering & Computer Science, Health Sciences, Medicine, and Nursing. The University also offers tutoring and study groups, a full-service writing center, study abroad opportunities, research projects as early as freshman year, and a library that’s open 24/7.

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The Ohio State University

The Ohio State University is a large public land-grant research university with a 1,665-acre main campus in Columbus, Ohio. The University enrolls more than 53,000 undergraduate students in 200+ majors and over 500 specializations. Ohio State also offers résumé-building internships and co-ops, hands-on research experiences, character-building overseas study, summer programs, First Year Experience programming, and an alumni network with influence around the world.

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Ohio University

Ohio UniversityOhio University is a public comprehensive research institution on a 1,500-acre main campus in Athens, Ohio—75 miles southeast of Columbus. OHIO offers more than 250 majors, minors, and certificates as well as 30 PhD programs and a 16:1 student-faculty ratio to over 28,000 students across five regional campuses and online. Students can also take advantage of more than 550 campus organizations (with the ability to create your own), seven on-campus galleries, 16 NCAA Division I athletic teams (with free admission to home games), 21 miles of bike paths on campus, Learning Communities for first-year students, and more. 

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Oklahoma State University

Oklahoma StateOklahoma State University is a public comprehensive land-grant research university on an 840-acre main campus in Stillwater, Oklahoma—70 miles west of Tulsa. OSU is home to more than 35,000 students across its five-campus system with more than 250 academic programs, including 110 minors and 87 undergraduate majors that offer over 200 options and concentrations. Students also benefit from 30 on-campus housing options, study abroad programs in over 50 countries, the unique Freshman Research Program, more than 500 clubs and organizations, Greek life, diverse student associations, and dozens of intramural sports teams. 

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Saint Louis University

Saint Louis University is a private Jesuit Catholic research university on a 282-acre campus in St. Louis, Missouri. Almost 13,000 students are enrolled in nearly 90 undergraduate programs and more than 100 graduate and professional programs, with many departments offering accelerated bachelor’s-to-master’s degree tracks that allow students to complete a graduate degree with only one additional year of coursework. As a comprehensive, doctoral degree–granting institution with high research activity, SLU values academic excellence, life-changing research, compassionate health care, and a strong commitment to faith and service.

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University of Akron

University of Akron logoThe University of Akron is a public research institution within walking distance of downtown Akron, Ohio. Home to more than 13,400 total students, UA enrolls 11,300+ undergraduates in 200 degree programs spanning Engineering, Business, Computer Technology, Health Care, Education, and the Arts & Sciences. Students also enjoy state-of-the-art labs and facilities, a 53-foot climbing rock wall at the Rec Center, and over 340 student clubs and organizations focused on academics, arts and culture, athletics, band and choir, community service, eSports, Greek life, health, and more. 

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University of Cincinnati

The University of Cincinnati is a public research institution on a 250-acre campus just two miles from downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. Named a top 40 public research university and designated a “research heavyweight” by The Chronicle of Higher Education, UC offers more than 130 baccalaureate programs as well as associate, master’s, doctoral, and professional degrees to more than 46,000 students. You’ll also find 500+ student organizations, co-ops and internships, study abroad and service learning programs, and extensive research opportunities.

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University of Iowa

The University of Iowa is a public research institution with a 1,700-acre campus adjacent to downtown Iowa City, Iowa. With more than 21,000 undergraduates, 200+ total areas of study, and a 15:1 student-faculty ratio, the University is home to the world-renowned Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the Iowa Neuroscience Institute, and one of the most highly acclaimed academic hospitals in the country. Nearly one in three undergraduates at Iowa are involved in hands-on research projects, with students in any major encouraged to contribute.

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University of Kansas

Kansas UThe University of Kansas is a major public comprehensive research and teaching university with a 1,000-acre main campus in Lawrence, Kansas. Through 14 schools, four other campuses, and online options, KU offers more than 440 degree and certificate programs as well as 5,000 courses to around 28,500 students. The University also boasts over 600 clubs and organizations, 40+ fraternities and sororities, and myriad campus activism and advocacy opportunities, with more than 80,000 hours of community service performed by students last year.

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University of Notre Dame

University of Notre Dame logoThe University of Notre Dame is a Roman Catholic church-affiliated research university located in Notre Dame, Indiana—just five miles from South Bend. Undergraduates can choose from approximately 75 degree programs through the Schools of Architecture and Public Affairs, plus the Colleges of Arts & Letters, Business, Engineering, and Science. Students also benefit from the University’s research-class telescope, a Digital Visualization Theater, 900 arts events annually, nearly 30 eating establishments, and over 30 unique residence halls, with 100% of incoming first-year students living on campus.

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University of Oklahoma

U of OklahomaThe University of Oklahoma is a public comprehensive research institution with 3,326 acres spread across campuses in Norman, Oklahoma City, and Tulsa, Oklahoma. With over 20,000 undergraduates, OU offers 170+ majors through several colleges and schools as well as experiential learning opportunities and first-class facilities for all majors. Students can also take advantage of study abroad through programs in 200+ cities and 80+ countries, more than 680 student organizations, and athletics that include the winningest program in the modern era of college football. 

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Wayne State University

Wayne StateWayne State University is a public comprehensive research university with a 194-acre main campus in Detroit, Michigan. Nearly 27,000 students pursue more than 340 academic programs, including 125+ bachelor's degrees as well as master's, doctoral, certificate, specialist, and professional programs. As one of the 50 largest public universities in the nation, Wayne State also offers 500+ student organizations and 6,400+ on-campus events annually.

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Western Michigan University

Western Michigan University logoWestern Michigan University is a public research institution with a 1,200-acre campus in Kalamazoo, Michigan—145 miles from both Chicago and Detroit. More than 16,000 students are involved in a wide variety of majors through 12 colleges and schools, as well as many student organizations, clubs, recreational activities, and study abroad programs. The University offers an innovative educational approach and leading-edge research opportunities that prepare students for successful careers and a better future.

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Looking for other types of colleges in different parts of the country? Check out all our featured undergraduate school profiles on CollegeXpress and get connected in just one click!

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