Brigham Young University Is Nation's Most Popular National University

Rankings determined by accepted students’ enrollment decisions.


This year, Brigham Young University supplanted Harvard University as the most popular national university in America, according to an analysis of yield (the percentage of students accepted to a school who opt to attend) by U.S.News & World Report. For BYU, ranked 71st in U.S. News's ranking of the nation's best national universities, 78 percent of students who were accepted chose to attend. Harvard finished a close second, with 76 percent of accepted students opting to attend the nation's most selective university.

Three distinct groups of the national universities produced the highest yield:

1. Ivy League and other highly selective private schools, which dominate the list because their high academic standing makes them desirable for applicants. Of the top 10 most popular universities, seven schools are also top 10 national universities: Harvard, Stanford University , Yale University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, and Princeton University.

2. Large state schools not renowned for their elite academics but popular destinations in their region thanks to their size and the prominence of their athletic programs. The University of Nebraska–Lincoln, ranking fourth in popularity, and the University of Florida, ranking 11th, are archetypes of this category.

3. Schools with religious ties. Yeshiva University, a predominantly Jewish institution, ranked sixth in popularity.

[See the most popular National Universities.]

U.S. News ranked not only national universities but liberal arts schools and service academies as well. Consistent with last year's results, military academies got the most yeses from students. The United States Naval Academy topped the list again this year, with an 83 percent yield, followed closely by the United States Military Academy, with 79 percent. Thomas Aquinas College proved to be the most popular nonmilitary liberal arts college, as 68 percent of students accepted their invitations to attend.

[See the most popular Liberal Arts Colleges.]

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