In the world of higher education, there are plenty of incredibly expensive colleges that offer excellent educational opportunities. These schools, however, also offer a more exclusive experience for their students and alumni. In many cases, the high price tag is a result of a school’s location and its facilities. Some of these colleges are located in major cities or rural areas with limited access to public transportation, so students may have to pay high prices for room and board. Fortunately, plenty of these institutions also offer generous financial aid packages as well as tax incentives for students who attend them.
The following list highlights 15 of the most expensive colleges in the world based on tuition fees alone (fees from other sources such as accommodation costs were not considered). They include both private universities like Harvard University where tuition can cost upwards US$58k per year; as well as state-funded institutions like New York University which charges around US$42k annually (this includes all fees apart from accommodation costs).
1. California Institute of Technology (Caltech), US
Founded in 1891 by Amos G. Throop, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. According to The Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2019–20, Caltech is ranked 12th overall and 7th worldwide among universities from North America and Western Europe. Caltech is often cited as one of the world’s most prestigious universities. It has been rated as one of the top five university-business partnerships in the world. In 2018 it was ranked second-best value for money higher education institution by The Times Good University Guide based on its low student-to-staff ratio (12:1), high graduation rate (>80%), and average starting salary (£40k).
The University of Oxford is a collegiate research university located in Oxford, England, United Kingdom. It grew rapidly from 1167 when Henry II banned English students from attending French institutions; attracting scholars such as Roger Bacon sent by Pope Clement IV to Avignon with Albertus Magnus who taught Thomas Aquinas. After disputes between various towns over control of local trade routes caused damage to its infrastructure during the civil war over Mary Tudor’s succession led to an influx of international scholars including Erasmus who wrote De Civilitate Morum Puerilium; this laid foundations for future humanist scholarship across Europe later called Renaissance Humanism/Rinascimento.
2. University of Oxford, UK
The oldest university in the English-speaking world, Oxford is also the second-oldest university in the world and boasts a history that can be traced all the way back to 1096. It’s also one of only two universities in the UK to have been granted a royal charter by Elizabeth I (the other being Imperial College London). The city itself is home to 38 colleges or halls, each with its own distinct artsy vibe and rich history. To get into one of these schools, students need A levels or equivalent qualifications and need to demonstrate ability in at least three languages—including Latin—and good academic results from high school.
3. Berea College, Kentucky
Berea College is a liberal arts college located in Berea, Kentucky, United States. It was founded by abolitionists in 1855 and is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. The college has 4,000 students and offers more than 40 majors. While there may be other colleges with higher tuition costs, Berea College tops this list because of its unique mission statement: “to provide an excellent education to talented students regardless of socioeconomic background.”
4. Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia
The Curtis Institute of Music was founded in 1924 by Mary Louise Curtis Bok. It’s been a renowned music school since its inception and is widely considered to be one of the world’s most prestigious music schools. Only about 20 students per year are accepted, and they must live on campus during their time at school.
Students also take a full course load every semester, so you’ll need to plan ahead if you’re interested in attending this prestigious institution!
5. Sarah Lawrence College, New York
Sarah Lawrence College, located in Bronxville, NY, is a small liberal arts college with an emphasis on academics. Students are required to complete a senior thesis, and the school offers more than 100 majors and programs of study. Students can also choose from over 40 minors and concentrations in addition to the major field of study.
The cost of tuition and fees for the 2019/20 academic year is $57,740 for out-of-state students and $50,620 for New York residents who live within 185 miles of campus (other New York residents pay $36 per unit).
6. Harvard University, Massachusetts
Harvard University is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. It’s also one of the most expensive colleges, with an annual tuition cost of $47,074 as well as an additional $28,370 for room and board (based on double occupancy). The famous university was founded in 1636 by Massachusetts Bay Colony Puritan settlers and named after John Harvard, who donated his personal library to start it up.
Harvard has produced some notable alumni like Barack Obama (who graduated magna cum laude) and Bill Gates. You’ll also find a lot of celebrities here: Natalie Portman went here too!
As far as rankings go, Harvard is ranked #1 by Forbes—and they were listed #2 on US News & World Report’s 2018 list of Best National Universities. With all these accolades under its belt, hopefully, we’ve convinced you that this school is worth checking out!
7. Trinity University, Texas
Trinity University is a private liberal arts college in San Antonio, Texas, United States. It is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA) and enrolls 2,700 students. Trinity offers 38 majors, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 11:1. Tuition is $56,910.
8. Bard College at Simon’s Rock, Massachusetts
Bard College at Simon’s Rock is a small liberal arts college located in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The school was founded in 1966 and, since then, has grown to a 100-acre campus with more than 600 students. The college is known for its small class sizes and close-knit community of students and professors. Tuition costs $54,000 per year (though financial aid packages may be available).
Bard College at Simon’s Rock requires all students to complete an internship as part of their degree requirements. Students are encouraged—but not required—to take courses outside their major focus area each semester to explore other areas of interest and expand their skill set beyond just the classroom experience.
9. Columbia University, US
Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university in Upper Manhattan, New York City. It is the oldest institution of higher education in the state of New York and the fifth oldest in the United States. As one of the world’s leading research universities, Columbia is at the forefront of seeking new knowledge and educating students to take leadership roles in solving the problems of our complex global society.
Columbia’s rich history and dynamic future are reflected in its 17 schools and colleges, including three undergraduate schools and 13 graduate degree-granting professional schools. The university offers a wide range of undergraduate programs as well as more than 120 doctoral programs through its 10 professional schools (colleges).
- Tuition $66,383
10. Trinity College Dublin (TCD), Ireland
TCD is one of the oldest universities in the world, with origins dating back to 1592. It’s also a research-led university, so you can expect your education to be high quality. TCD has campuses all over Dublin, including one on St. Stephen’s Green and another at Trinity College which houses the famous Book of Kells manuscript (which you’ll have access to when you attend!).
- Tuition $45,000
You need a visa for this school as it’s located in Ireland—but don’t worry! They have an excellent financial aid program that will help cover most expenses if you’re eligible for need-based aid. This means that even though tuition is expensive at $45K per year, many students will actually pay less than half that amount thanks to scholarships and grants from the school itself!
11. Duke University, North Carolina
Duke University is a private research university located in Durham, North Carolina. Founded by Methodists and Quakers in 1838, the school moved to Durham in 1892. In 1924, tobacco and electric power industrialist James Buchanan Duke established The Duke Endowment and the institution changed its name to honor him. In 1961, black students were admitted on an equal basis with white students.
Duke’s campus spans 8,539 acres on three contiguous campuses as well as a marine lab in Beaufort (about 130 miles south of Charlotte) that houses about 2 million specimens representing about 36% of all known living species according to their website!
12. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Massachusetts
MIT is one of the world’s most expensive colleges, but it has a huge endowment and it attracts students from across the globe. The school’s tuition is $65,500 per year, but that doesn’t include room and board costs or other expenses like books and supplies. The cost of living in Cambridge is exceptionally high — even for Boston — so you need to have extra money set aside for everything from food to entertainment.
MIT grads have traditionally been sought-after employees because they tend to be intelligent and hardworking; they also form strong alumni networks when they leave campus since many go on to become leaders in their fields around the world.
13. New York University, US
New York University (NYU) is a private research university located in Manhattan, New York City. NYU has a student body of over 50,000 students and offers bachelor’s degrees in the liberal arts and sciences, as well as professional degrees in law, business administration, engineering, and medicine to name just a few options.
NYU’s strong focus on research was recently highlighted when it was ranked number 25 in the world by U.S News & World Report’s 2015 global university rankings. It is also the highest-ranked American school on that list after MIT fell one spot since last year’s ranking (MIT fell from 24th to 25th).
Tuition for incoming freshmen this fall will run you about $65,860 per year tuition alone which does not include room and board or additional fees such as books or transportation costs.
14. University of Chicago, US
The University of Chicago is an American private research university located in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. The University of Chicago was founded in 1890 by oil magnate John D. Rockefeller and his wife, Laura Spelman Rockefeller as an alternative to traditional learning establishments at the time. It has been ranked among top universities for most of its history with its academic reputation and is consistently ranked first among all universities in North America on several surveys.
The university has a number of prominent alumni and faculty members, including 92 Nobel laureates (including 25 winners), 27 Rhodes Scholars, 11 Fields Medalists, 6 Turing Award laureates (including 4 winners), 9 Wolf Prize winners, and 5 Pulitzer Prize winners who have contributed to the various fields such as science, arts, politics, and economics.
15. University of Southern California
The University of Southern California (USC) is a private research university in Los Angeles, California. It is the largest private employer in Los Angeles and has a strong focus on research, student life, and athletics.
- Tuition $56,225
The average annual cost for tuition at USC is $56,225 for 2017-2018.* The total cost of attendance (indicates both on-campus and off-campus living expenses) at USC was estimated to be $64,649 for 2017-2018 by CollegeBoard.
Whether you’re a high school student, a parent, or a teacher, we hope this article has given you some insight into the world of a college education. It can be overwhelming to try and make sense of all these numbers and facts, so we’ve done our best to present some clear tips for how to choose what type of university is right for you and your family in an easily digestible way. Hopefully, you now feel more confident about making decisions related to higher education!
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