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America's Smartest Colleges

Student body test scores were used to determine the smartest colleges and universities in the United States.

| BY Kent McDill

Comparing college campuses is fun when the comparisons are subjective. Students can argue all they want about which school has the prettiest quad, but there is no objective way to measure that or to end the argument.

But Business Insider has now provided an objective, statistical proven list of the smartest colleges in the United States. From the 1,339 schools considered, Business Insider came up with a ranking of the top 600.

The method used was based on the measured intelligence of the students attending each school.

Duke University Talent Identification Program researcher Jonathan Wai examined the average scores of students at all of the schools on standardized tests such as the ACT or SAT, which are reported each year to U.S. News. ACT scores were translated into SAT scores using a concordance table that allowed Wai and Business Insider to compare all schools, since not all schools accept or regard both test scores.

An average of the 25th percentile and the 75th percentile score at each school was calculated to come up with the final statistical measure.

For the 2014 list, Business Insider expanded its search to include national university, liberal arts colleges, regional universities and regional colleges listed by U.S. News.

Finally, the data included a few caveats. At some schools, not all students are required to supply test scores, and in some cases the scores were from the previous year rather than the most recent year.

To see the entire list of 600, click here.

The top 10 includes all of the historically famous academic schools, as well as Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif. Other schools that might come as surprises among the top 50 are Pomona (Calif.) College at No. 11, Claremont McKenna College (Calif.) at No. 29 and Bard College at Simon’s Rock (Mass.) at No. 42.

The United States Air Force Academy is the first service institution ranked in a tie for No. 49.

With the college football season in full swing and the Power Five Conferences battling for one of four spots in the first-ever NCAA Division I playoff this winter, here are the smartest schools in each athletic conference: Stanford (Pac-12, No. 9), Northwestern (Big 10, No. 10), Vanderbilt (Southeastern Conference, No. 11), Duke (Atlantic Coast Conference, No. 17) and Texas (Big 12, No. 128).



About the Author

Kent McDill

Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.

In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.

McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.

McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy  Buffett and all things Disney.