10 “New Ivies” As Good as the Actual Ivies

In the mid-2000s, the term “New Ivies” was coined by Newsweek to describe high-quality universities that are comparable to Ivy League schools in terms of a rigorous education. With technology rapidly expanding and the world growing ever smaller, universities are developing new programs and methods for engaging their students. Although an Ivy League education is impressive, New Ivies are just as remarkable in many different ways.

Most of the universities on this list have a Carnegie Classification R1 ranking, which means they’re known for being research-heavy. Additionally, two of these schools specialize in science and technology, making them more attractive for students who already have a passion for this particular subject.

Not sure you’re ready to specialize? That’s okay too. Quite a number of the New Ivies promote interdisciplinary work to kick start the brain and develop new ideas. Additionally, at least one college on this list has multiple majors with a study abroad requirement, thus encouraging new experiences and innovation.

Here are 10 “New Ivies” as good as the actual ivies.

Olin College of Engineering (Needham, MA)

One of the youngest colleges on the list, Olin College of Engineering, nestled in Needham, Massachusetts, was founded in 1997 by the F.W. Foundation. Like the name implies, Olin College specializes in engineering and encourages students to get their hands dirty sooner rather than later. Rather than waiting until later in their college years to start taking engineering classes, students are encouraged to take engineering courses beginning in freshman year.

In 2013, Olin College’s three founding members were awarded the Bernard M. Gordon Prize, which is one of highest accolades in the field of engineering.

At an enrollment of 338 students and a student-to-teacher ratio of 8:1, Olin College is a very small school with lots of opportunities for personalized attention.

Additionally, all admitted students get half their tuition paid for, with more financial aid available depending on circumstances.

Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN)

Vanderbilt University
Dansan4444, Vanderbilt Peabody Library, CC BY-SA 3.0

Vanderbilt University boasts a wide variety of notable alumni, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, Vice President Al Gore, Governor of Texas Greg Abbott, and author James Patterson.

Football fans will appreciate that Vanderbilt is one of the founding members of the Southeastern Conference, more frequently referred to as the SEC. Members of the SEC have won many NCAA championships, including several dozen in football and basketball alone.

In 2018, Vanderbilt was ranked 31st in the nation for research and development funding by the National Science Foundation. While Vanderbilt offers many traditional avenues for study, it also hosts a coffee institute dedicated “to research on the human dimensions of coffee production, trade, and consumption.”

The Princeton Review ranked Vanderbilt at #2 for happiest students and #4 for best athletic facilities.

Emory University (Atlanta, GA)

Emory University
Daniel Mayer, Emory University – Charles and Peggy Evans Anatomy Building, CC BY-SA 3.0

Emory University is the second oldest private institution of higher education in Georgia and was founded on the principles of hard work, inclusion, collaboration, and working towards the greater good.

Students looking to enter the medical field will be interested to know that Emory Healthcare, a spin-off of Emory University, is the largest healthcare system in Georgia. It was named the number 1 hospital for 2019-2020.

In 2014, Emory University Hospital treated four Ebola virus patients at their Serious Communicable Diseases Unit (SCDU). This resulted in the first successful treatment of the Ebola virus in the Western Hemisphere.

Students interested in art will be happy to know that Emory University also contains the largest collection of ancient artifacts in the Southeastern United States at the Michael C. Carlos Museum.

Tufts University (Medford, MA) 

Tufts University
Jellymuffin40, Eaton Hall, Tufts, CC BY-SA 4.0

Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts is one of four branches; the other branches are in Boston and North Grafton, Massachusetts, and in Talloires, France.

In order to raise money for the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University sends a team of runners each year to compete in the Boston Marathon, sending up to 200 racers a year at one point.

In 2016, Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft committed to donating $100 million over the course of ten years to Stanford and Tufts University for the creation of the Allen Frontiers Group. This foundation will focus on new advances in biosciences. The director is a current Tufts University professor, Michael Levin.

Tufts University prides itself on its diversity of students. Best Colleges ranked Tufts University at #5 for best colleges for LGBTQ+ students.

Boston College (Newton, MA)

Boston College
Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

Contrary to popular belief, Boston College is not located in Boston, but actually in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Although legally classified as a university, Boston College retains the name “college” as a reflection of its historic past as a small liberal arts college.

Notable alumni from Boston College include actor Leonard Nimoy, actress Amy Poehler, U.S. Senator John Kerry, and mutual fund manager Peter Lynch.

Boston College has long prided itself on its attention to the study philosophy and has made a point of integrating it into the university’s curriculum. In 2016, it was ranked #19 best philosophy program by Great Value Colleges, and in 2020, the undergraduate philosophy program was ranked #4 according to GradReports.

In a move towards diversity and inclusion, rather than use the word “minority,” Boston College uses the acronym AHANA to refer to persons of African-American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American descent. Since the term’s adoption in 1979, AHANA has spread to other campuses, although Boston College holds the trademark.

Davidson College (Davidson, NC)

Davidson College
Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

Davidson, North Carolina is home to Davidson College. According to U.S. News & World Reports, Davidson is ranked 2nd in “Best Undergraduate Teaching.”

Additionally, The Princeton Review ranks it as #3 for both “Town-Gown Relations” and the “Easiest Campus to Get Around.”

Davidson College boasts an impressive 97% of full-time members holding PhDs and others having terminal degrees. Additionally, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars.

Culturally, Davidson College holds its students to the Honor Code. Students are expected to behave so honorably that final exams are unproctored and self-scheduled. Other exams are take-home, untimed, and/or open book. It’s not uncommon for a single exam to take multiple days to complete.

In 2007, Davidson College restructured their financial aid so that no student is required to take out a loan in order to graduate. Although students and parents are allowed to take out loans, no financial package offered from the university contains loans.

Macalester College (Saint Paul, MN)

Macalester College
Evenjk, Macalester Humanities, CC BY-SA 3.0

Macalester College is tucked away in frosty, yet active and bustling Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Macalester College has a reputation for being highly LGBTQ+ friendly. Campus Pride gives Macalester College five out of five stars in terms of LGBTQ+ inclusivity.

Additionally, Macalester promotes sustainability on campus going so far as to begin campus composting in 2013 in conjunction with other projects such as an Urban Wind Turbine and Eco-House, a student residence with a wide range of eco-friendly adaptations.

U.S. News and World Reports ranks Macalester at #24 (tied) for “Most Innovative” and #31 (tied) for “Study Abroad.” Macalester has a strong culture of multiculturalism, from international student support to promoting multicultural events to encouraging their own students to study abroad. In fact, eleven majors (including non-language majors!) require a semester of studying abroad.

Skidmore College (Saratoga Springs, NY)

Skidmore College
Peter Flass, Skidmore College Jonsson Tower, CC BY 3.0

Skidmore College was originally founded as a woman’s college by Lucy Skidmore in 1903 using the inheritance left to her by her husband and her father. Officially, Skidmore opened to men in 1971.

In 2007, the campus plan was updated and designed by Lo-Yi Chan, an apprentice of legendary architect I.M. Pei.

Skidmore College is dedicated to sustainability and environmental action, so much so that it is included in the school’s Strategic Plan. Twenty-nine of the buildings have geothermal heating and cooling systems. Other environmental initiatives include an emphasis on renewable energy such as solar panels and an on-campus e-waste collection facility.

Skidmore may very well be a top-choice school for job preparation; nearly 75% of students at Skidmore College participate in more than one internship.

Skidmore College is also home to Skidmore EMS (SCEMS). Founded in 2013, SCEMS is a student-run first response agency certified by New York State.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY)

Rensselaer Institute of Technology
Matt H. Wade, Vorhees Computing Center, CC BY-SA 3.0

Located in Troy, New York, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute specializes in biotechnology, computational technology, energy and enivronmental technology, and even media and the arts with an emphasis on science and technology. 

As such, RPI hosts the impressive Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Services, which seeks to advance biotechnology through interdisciplinary cooperation. Many of the professors who teach there are also directors of their own specialized centers, such as Chang Y Ryu (Director of NY State Center for Polymer Synthesis) and Robert Hull (Director of Center for Materials, Devices, and Integrated Systems).

Additionally, RPI is home to the Tetherless World Constellation. TWC seeks to study the internet in many different ways and is one of the founding members of a network of research laboratories known as the Web Science Trust.

Kenyon College (Gambier, OH)

Kenyon College
Chamberednautilus, Chase Memorial Tower and Peirce Hall, Kenyon College, CC BY-SA 4.0

Kenyon College is Ohio’s oldest private college, and as such proudly upholds several traditions dating back 180 years. Some of these traditions include the “First Year Sing” and signing a century-old Matriculation Book.

In the last 15 years, 130 Kenyon students have become Fulbright Scholars, and since 2000, another 35 students have won the most competitive undergraduate award in the sciences, the Goldwater Scholarship.

Additionally, Kenyon boasts an average class size of only 15 students per class, which gives plenty of opportunity for more engaged learning. Recently, Kenyon alumni have made the news for changing the world in new and exciting ways, such as being a co-host of one of the most popular podcasts (Tommy Vietor ‘02), writing young adult novels (John Green ‘00), or even producing an Oscar-winning short film (Ruby Schiff ‘21).