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Colleges and Universities With Great Research Facilities and Opportunities

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First Place

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA): Private land-grant research university

    Highlights: Research opportunities in 30 departments across five schools and one college, plus dozens of centers, labs, and programs; MIT Lincoln Laboratory for advanced technologies meeting critical national security needs; the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, dedicated exclusively to ocean research, education, and technology; research relationships and collaborations with a wide variety of local, national, and international organizations and industries

    What students say: "They are a technology school that promotes discoveries and advancement."

    "81 Nobel Laureates, 52 National Medal of Science recipients, 45 Rhodes Scholars, 38 MacArthur Fellows, and two Fields Medalists have been affiliated with MIT."

    "MIT has expensive, state-of-the-art facilities that you just can’t get anywhere else, and it’s home to many STEM innovators."

    "The caliber of research conducted at MIT is impressive. The students are so selectively admitted that they all have the skill set and background to collaborate with their professors."

    "Students can pursue their own research."

    "There are many research opportunities as well as a variety of facilities to work with."

    "The things they are researching will forever change the world."

Second Place

  • Harvard University (Cambridge, MA): Private Ivy League research university

    Highlights: Research opportunities for undergraduates as early as their first year; laboratory study, archival research, investigations in the field, and more through the Harvard College Research Program, the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, and the Student Employment Office; the Faculty Aide Program, linking professors with undergraduates who are interested in becoming research assistants

    What students say: "They have awesome facilities for science, such as the Genome Modification Facility and the Center for Nanoscale Systems."

    "They engage in world-class research across all disciplines and make groundbreaking contributions to their fields."

    "[They have] good funding for research and invest time in students to conduct their studies."

    "I know some people who go there and they have said that the school is really open and has lots of different opportunities [for research], especially towards certain majors."

Third Place

  • Yale University (New Haven, CT): Private Ivy League research university

    Highlights: A strong research infrastructure with more than 70 core science facilities 1,100+ specialized reference databases, 10 campus libraries, and 15.9 million volumes across Yale's collections; BrainWorks, for cutting-edge human brain function studies; a Scientific Glassblowing Laboratory; the Yale Plant Growth Facility, with over 20,000 square feet of greenhouses and workspace; the Yale Zebrafish Research Core, a fish facility and experimental space; 100+ summer research fellowships awarded to first-year students; 95% of undergraduate Science majors conducting research with faculty

    What students say: "They pride themselves on being a research school and have access to a lot of cutting-edge opportunities."

Other Top Recommendations

  • Iowa State University (Ames, IA): Land-grant public research university

    Highlights: $301 million in external research funding in 2023; 630 patent applications over the last five years; Grants Hub to help researchers across the University win funding and build top-tier research teams and projects; Attending Veterinarian and Laboratory Animal Resources to ensure humane, safe, and efficient research and teaching involving animals on campus

    What students say: "It is known that they have some of the best programs regarding research and opportunities."

    "Iowa State has a study done by students and then tests them on living animals. For example, they use cows for education and then they sell the cows as a product for things like meat for the community."
  • Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD): Private research university

    Highlights: America’s first research university, founded in 1876; undergraduate research opportunities for students in any major, from Engineering and Chemistry to Music and Anthropology; Provost’s Undergraduate Research Awards of up to $3,000 for students to research any topic of their choosing, with help from full-time faculty sponsors; Woodrow Wilson Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program, featuring independent learning opportunities with faculty mentors and funding of up to $10,000 over four years; ASPIRE grants for undergraduates in the School of Arts and Sciences, with $500–$4,500 per academic year for independent research projects

    What students say: "This school has many labs and places to do research. The opportunities at Hopkins are endless and extensive."

    "They have a large amount of funding, and almost everyone is doing research with a professor."

    "Cutting edge for science and medicine."
  • Stanford University (Stanford, CA): Private research university

    Highlights: 15 independent labs, centers, and institutes; 20 libraries; numerous other academic department–sponsored research centers; a $1.98 billion sponsored research budget; Undergraduate Research Student Grants for original, independent, student-driven scholarly projects under the guidance of faculty mentors, encompassing research, the arts, and senior synthesis projects; Major Grants for full-time immersive summer projects (with priority given to juniors); Small Grants for part-time projects year-round; Conference Grants for students to attend scholarly conferences

    What students say: "[So] many scholars and fundings!!"

    "The best for research"

    "77% of workers from the SRI [Stanford Research Institute] building would recommend working there to a friend."
  • University of California, San Diego (La Jolla, CA): Public land-grant research university

    Highlights: Undergraduate Research Hub for students to engage in research, leverage available resources, and maintain long-term relationships within the research community; the Research Experience and Applied Learning (REAL) Portal, a resource for undergrads who want to contribute original intellectual or creative knowledge in various areas of study; the California Louis Stoke Alliance for Minority Participation (CAMP) program, offering support for ethnically underrepresented students majoring in STEM fields and pursuing graduate study or research careers; Undergraduate Research Scholarship program for summer research projects, including mentored research experience, conference presentations, and travel funding

    What students say: "Considering how big the campus is and how many faculty there are, this school is just simply filled with so many research facilities and opportunities that many students can take advantage of."

    "The internships, scholarships, and research opportunities are amazing."
  • University of Colorado Boulder (Boulder, CO): Public land-grant research university

    Highlights: Over 75 centers on campus for traditional scientific fields as well as the arts, media, humanities, performance, religion, journalism, Latin American studies, music, the American West, and more; the Research & Innovation Office; the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, offering Curiosity Lab workshops and resources as well as grants for undergraduates and faculty to partner on projects in all majors, fields of study, and professional practices; the Discovery Learning Apprenticeship Program, allowing undergraduate Engineering students to earn hourly wages while engaging in research with CU-Boulder faculty and grad students

    What students say: "CU has 11 research institutes that account for more than half of all sponsored research dollars at the University and over 900 researchers."

    "There is a wealth of research facilities around campus, not to mention all the opportunities available with LASP [Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics]."

Source: CX Student Users

Want more information on how this list was compiled? Find out more about where our Lists & Rankings come from.

About This List

Research plays a pivotal role in higher education, driving innovation, discovery, and progress across various fields (and not just STEM!). Engaging in research opportunities in college offers students a unique opportunity to delve deeper into their interests, gain hands-on experience, and contribute meaningfully to the advancement of knowledge—making it a highly sought-after endeavor among those who are eager to expand their intellectual horizons and make a tangible impact on the world around them.

The colleges and universities on this list are renowned for their exceptional research facilities and opportunities, and they’re recommended by real students like you! From cutting-edge laboratories to collaborative projects alongside esteemed faculty as early as freshman year, these institutions provide an environment where undergraduates can actively engage in groundbreaking research and play a pivotal role in shaping the future of their fields. Attending an institution that fosters a vibrant research culture can greatly enhance your academic journey as an undergraduate and open doors for your professional future. So if you’re looking for a school where innovation thrives, be sure to add these colleges and universities to your list.

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