Princeton, Williams top 2017 U.S. News Best Colleges Rankings

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A college degree is one of the most important investments an individual can make, according to a recent study by the White House's Council of Economic Advisers.

The earnings gap between a college and a high school graduate continues to widen, with those earning bachelor's degrees making nearly $1 million more in their lifetime compared with those with only a high school diploma, the report found.

US News best colleges rankings: 2017

US News best colleges rankings: 2017
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US News best colleges rankings: 2017

20 (tie). Emory University, Georgia 

Undergraduates: 6,867
Tuition and fees (2016-2017): $47,954

(Photo via Shutterstock)

20 (tie). Georgetown University, Washington D.C.

Undergraduates: 7,562
Tuition and fees (2016-2017): $50,547

(Photo via Shutterstock)

20 (tie). University of California -- Berkeley 

Undergraduates: 27,496
Tuition and fees (2016-2017): $13,509 (in-state); 40,191 (out-of-state)

(Photo via Getty Images)

19. Washington University in St. Louis

Undergraduates: 7,504
Tuition and fees (2016-2017): $49,770

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15 (tie). Cornell University, New York

Undergraduates: 14,315
Tuition and fees (2016-2017): $50,953

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15 (tie). Rice University, Texas

Undergraduates: 3,910
Tuition and fees (2016-2017): $43,918

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15 (tie). University of Notre Dame, Indiana

Undergraduates: 8,462
Tuition and fees (2016-2017): $49,685

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15 (tie). Vanderbilt University, Tennessee

Total undergraduate enrollment: 6,883
Tuition and fees (2016-2017): $45,610

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14. Brown University, Rhode Island

Undergraduates: 6,652
Tuition and fees (2016-2017): $51,367

(Photo via Getty Images)

12 (tie). California Institute of Technology

Undergraduates: 1,001
Tuition and fees (2016-2017): $47,577

(Photo via Getty Images)

12 (tie). Northwestern University, Illinois

Undergraduates: 8,314
Tuition and fees (2016-2017): $50,855

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11. Dartmouth College, New Hampshire

Undergraduates: 4,307
Tuition and fees (2016-2017): $51,438

(Photo via Getty Images)

10. Johns Hopkins University, Maryland

Undergraduates: 6,524
Tuition and fees (2016-2017): $50,410

(Photo by Danita Delimont via Getty Images)

8 (tie). University of Pennsylvania

Undergraduates: 9,726
Tuition and fees (2016-2017): $51,464

(Photo by Jia He via Getty Images)

8 (tie). Duke University, North Carolina

Undergraduates: 6,639
Tuition and fees (2016-2017): $51,265

(Photo by Lance King via Getty Images)

7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Undergraduates: 4,527
Tuition and fees (2016-2017): $48,452

(Photo by Wangkun Jia via Getty Images)

5 (tie). Stanford University, California

Undergraduates: 6,999
Tuition and fees (2016-2017): $47,940

(Photo by Nancy Nehring via Getty Images)

5 (tie). Columbia University, New York

Undergraduates: 6,102
Tuition and fees (2016-2017): $55,056

(Photo via Shutterstock)

3 (tie). Yale University, Connecticut

Undergraduates: 5,532
Tuition and fees (2016-2017): $49,480

(Photo via Shutterstock)

3 (tie). University of Chicago

Undergraduates: 5,844
Tuition and fees (2016-2017): $52,491

(Photo by Nisian Hughes via Getty Images)

2. Harvard University, Massachusetts

Undergraduates: 6,699
Tuition and fees (2016-2017): $47,074

(Photo via Shutterstock)

1. Princeton University, New Jersey

Undergraduates: 5,402
Tuition and fees (2016-2017): $45,320

(Photo via Getty Images)


While the overall return on a college education nears historic levels, the report suggests there are variations on that return, depending on the school and program a student selects. To find the college that's the best fit, prospective students and their families can turn to the 2017 U.S. News Best Colleges rankings, released today.

Video: Finding a best value college.

The 2017 edition includes data on more than 1,800 colleges and universities, of which 1,374 are ranked. Under the rankings methodology, eligible schools are divided into different categories such as National Universities and Regional Colleges, and evaluated on up to 15 indicators of academic excellence, such as freshman retention, faculty resources and graduation rates – to name a few.

Among National Universities, which emphasize research and offer bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs, Princeton University in New Jersey once again took No. 1, Massachusetts' Harvard University remained in second place and the University of Chicago moved up one spot to tie with Yale University in Connecticut for third place.

Other changes in this year's top 10 include California's Stanford University and New York's Columbia University moving down one spot from a tie at fourth to a tie at No. 5. The University of Pennsylvania traveled up one notch to No. 8, while California Institute of Technology dropped two places to No. 12.

One of the largest leaps in the 2017 National Universities rankings came from Howard University in the District of Columbia, which climbed 11 spots from a tie at No. 135 to a tie at No. 124. Similarly, Kansas State University rose by 11 places, traveling from a tie at No. 146 to a tie at No. 135.

For the full 2017 report head over to U.S. News & World Report.

More from U.S. News:

See all Best Colleges rankings and listings
View more photos of the top National Universities
Check out photos of the top 20 Liberal Arts Colleges

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