10 Amazing “Public Ivies” As Good As the Actual Ivies

Attending a Public Ivy can be just as good as attending an Ivy-League school for many students.

Sure, going to an Ivy league comes with name familiarity, prestige, and an acknowledged sense of accomplishment from peers. 

However, what if we told you that many schools have programs just as good as those in the Ivies.

In fact, some public universities have specific majors that, by many accounts, are significantly better than all of the Ivy League colleges in the country.

What makes a school here considered as good as an Ivy?

First, all the colleges in this article are listed in one of two seminal texts on Public Ivies. 

The first is Howard and Matthew Greene’s classic text The Public Ivies: America’s Flagship Public Universities. The second is Richard Moll’s 1985 book Public Ivies: A Guide to America’s Best Public Undergraduate Colleges and Universities. These are considered the two definitive texts for defining a Public Ivy.

Secondly, for this specific article, we sought to prioritize public universities that are not normally compared to the Ivy League schools, outside of the books listed above. To this end, all schools chosen for this list are outside the US News Top 50 national universities.

Third, we looked for specific programs inside these public universities that, by all indications, are equally strong – or in some cases, even better – than their Ivy League counterparts, in the opinion of College Gazette.

Finally, we looked at other quality of life factors these schools represent, as well as the overall campus and educational experience.

Also, we recently published a list of 10 Engineering Schools as Good as the Ivies, and all the schools here are unique from that list.

Here are 10 amazing Public Ivies just as good as the actual Ivies:


10. SUNY Binghamton (Binghamton, NY)

photo by Binghamton University via Wikimedia Commons

One of the nation’s most impressive public institutions, SUNY Binghamton is a campus comprised of 120 buildings.

The facilities at SUNY Binghamton are state-of-the-art; recent additions include a $60m building dedicated to health science, a constituent of their School of Pharmacy, as well as a $375m housing & dormitory complex.

Other facilities include the impressive Anderson Center for the Performing Arts, a complex with three dedicated performance spaces seating a total of over 2,000 people!

Binghamton is no stranger to praise; as recently as 2016, Business Insider called SUNY Binghamton one of the 10 best public universities in the country.

When you look into what makes SUNY Binghamton special, it is easy to see how it lives up to its reputation as a public ivy.

Its programs in Accounting, Nursing, and Chemistry are listed in the top 100 in the country by Niche.

Additionally, it is the most selective SUNY school; with about 30,000(!) applications each year, the school accepts only 40% of students.

SUNY Binghamton has a long list of successful alumni; they include ESPN star host Tony Kornheiser, father of Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg (Joseph Buttigieg), and successful business people Bob Swan (Intel CEO) and Amy Dacey (CEO of Democratic National Committee). 


9. Michigan State University (Lansing, MI)

photo by Chris Lark Photography via Wikimedia Commons

The Spartans should consider themselves among the top Public Ivy league schools in the country.

MSU has one of the largest research expenditures of all universities in the country. In 2017 alone, MSU’s research fund was an amazing $695 million dollars! 

With their significant funding, Michigan State plans to create one of the most important scientific research centers in the world by 2022, the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams. This particular center will provide students, faculty, and visiting scientists a unique, perhaps once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study nuclear science.

However, what makes Michigan State a Public Ivy is not only its dedication to science and technology; as a whole, the school is among the most impressive of all public universities nationwide.

International study and community engagement are at the heart of the Michigan State experience. Through MSU Extension, Michigan State faculty and students give back to all 83 counties in the state of Michigan, enriching the lives of the state’s residents.

Additionally, the school has 325 international partnerships. It’s no wonder then that MSU has an incredibly popular study-abroad program for students; nearly 3,000 students each year study abroad. Students have studied in 70 different countries, as well as Antarctica!

The College of Music is among the finest public music programs in the country; many significant names in classical and jazz performance call themselves faculty at Michigan State’s music program.

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