10 “Southern Ivies” As Good As the Actual Ivies

7) UNC-Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC)

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The University of North Carolina is more than just Michael Jordan’s alma mater; it is one of the very best public universities in the US, in the same tier of schools as UCLA, Michigan, and UIUC.

Nine Nobel Prize laureates, an astonishing 23 Pulitzer winners, and 49 Rhodes Scholars have graduated from the halls of UNC-Chapel Hill.

One of Chapel Hill’s signature programs is journalism – in fact, last year we ranked it among the top 10 journalism colleges in the US.

In conjunction with their Kenan-Flagler School of Business, UNC also has a business journalism major.

UNC has over 300,000 living graduates, making it one of the largest, most active alumni bases in the world. 

UNC has had an unusual influence over popular culture; artist Andy Warhol, actor John Forsythe, former ESPN analyst Stuart Scott, and comedian Lewis Black all graduated from UNC.

6) Washington and Lee University (Lexington City, VA)

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Like another school later on this list, Washington and Lee is one of the nation’s most prestigious liberal arts colleges, with US News ranking the school #10 in their recent rankings of the top liberal arts colleges.

Legacy is at the heart of the Washington and Lee experience; it is actually the 9th oldest institution of higher education in the US. 

The total number of students at this school is between 2200 – 2300, making it one of the smallest “Southern Ivies” on this list.

Washington Monthly ranked Washington and Lee the #1 liberal arts college in the country.

5) University of Richmond (Richmond, VA)

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“Spider Pride” is ubiquitous at the University of Richmond, one of the nation’s most intriguing small universities. With less than 5,000 total students, the atmosphere at Richmond is studious, safe, and not overwhelming; students rarely feel like they are “lost in a crowd” as they may in a large university.

Many students desire to attend this university, however just 1/4th of all applicants are admitted to the school. 

The Princeton Review rates the University of Richmond favorably, having award it top-5 rankings for best-run school, best career services, best schools for internships, and best classroom experience.

The campus life at Richmond is vibrant, brimming with campus tradition. Some of these traditions include the crowning of the largest goose in nearby Westhampton Lake, and Pig Roast, a large gathering of students and alumni that has featured musical artists such as Flo Rida.

The University of Richmond has the feeling of a liberal arts college with the resources and endowment of a large university, making it a great fit for the student who wants the best of both worlds.

4) Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN)

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Vanderbilt is widely recognized as one of the best universities in the country. Olympians, Oscar winners, MacArthur Fellows, and even a Grammy recipient have counted themselves among the numerous alumni of this prestigious university.

Like the next school on this list, Vanderbilt has been awarded the “R1” research designation by the Carnegie classification, an accolade just a tiny proportion of US schools can claim.

Vandy takes the #1 prize for an unusual – but important – ranking: the school with the happiest students. The Princeton Review consistently ranks Vanderbilt among the top for this achievement.

Why is Vanderbilt such a happy school? The Princeton Review looked at the following factors in its assessment: safety, location, residence halls, cafeteria quality, and even excellent financial aid packages.

Vanderbilt is the highest-ranked school on this list according to US News, coming in at #15 of all universities nationwide.


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