The 7 Most Expensive Colleges and Universities Around the World All Hail From The USA and Provide Top Education

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It is a well-known fact that higher education comes at a premium. Unless you manage to procure a full scholarship or bursary, the fees can run as high as $80K or more for undergraduate tuition. Those looking for Ivy League schools should prepare to pay anywhere northwards of $20K in the USA, which is known to have some of the most expensive college fees on the planet.

It’s not easy to list the most expensive colleges in the world without narrowing the criteria by which we base the fees. For instance, Harvey Mudd College fees are a bank-shattering $80,000 without any aid. However, they offer decent scholarships and bursaries that decrease the average fee that is paid at the college down to around $33K per student. This way parents needn’t be millionaires before they can send their kids to study.

It is upon this “after assistance” average that we will base our list of the most expensive colleges in the world. With or without this calculation, the seven most expensive colleges can all be found in the USA. It seems that medicine and education are two things that the American government bolsters its revenues with.

The 7 Most Expensive Colleges in the World (Average Cost After Aid)

Fee structures vary quite a bit from year to year, so it’s quite difficult to formulate a top list of colleges by “cost” that is 100% accurate. The competition for the most expensive college is fierce at the top and each one of the following institutions is within a hair’s length of the next.

7. Dartmouth College – $32K Average

Dartmouth College Campus

The Dartmouth College campus – Credit: Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist (New York Times)

Dartmouth College is an Ivy League research university that is ranked among one of the most prestigious higher learning institutions in America. It was founded in 1769 and offers undergraduate studies in liberal arts. There are over 40 departments and programs at this distinguished campus.

Dartmouth makes it onto the most expensive college list because of its $32,000 average fee rate after scholarships are accounted for. College attendance here would cost around $79,000 without any aid. The university has an impressive 95% pass rate with a tight 9% acceptance ratio. This makes it one of the most sought-after colleges in the States.

6. The University of Southern California – $33K Average

USC Campus

University of Southern California – Credit: Associated Press

The University of Southern California is the oldest private research university in California, having been founded back in 1880. It comprises a Dornsife College of Letter, Arts, and Sciences, and a liberal arts school with world-renowned undergraduate and postgraduate programs.

The USC School of Cinematic Arts has graduated more Emmy Award and Oscar-winning alumni than any other college in the world and has schooled 29 living billionaires. It boasts a graduation rate of 92% with an acceptance ratio of 16%.

As one of the most expensive colleges in the world, schooling at this campus ranges from $65K to $85K unaided. Thankfully, notable scholarships are available to those who need them. Many use them, which brings the average tuition at the university down to $33K per student.

5. Harvey Mudd College – $33K Average

Harvey Mudd College Campus

Harvey Mudd College – Credit: Harvey Mudd

Focussed on science and engineering, Harvey Mudd College is a notable competitor with universities such as Caltech and MIT. This private college enrolls around 900 undergraduate students with an acceptance rate of 19%. There are seven core departments at this expensive college, including Biology, Chemistry, Computer Sciences, Engineering, Social Sciences, Mathematics, and Physics.

Without aid, your education here could reach as high as $80K for the bachelor’s program. This cements its spot on our most expensive college list.

4. Sarah Lawrence University – $36K Average

Sarah Lawrence College

Sarah Lawrence College – Credit: Don Hamerman

New York is a state filled with prestigious universities, not least the Sarah Lawrence College. It is a private university offering tuition in the liberal arts. Its approach differs from traditional American colleges and follows the form of British universities like Oxford and Cambridge. As such, students are schooled in a more intimate environment that lends more toward one-on-one tutorials.

It is surprising that the closer tutorial setting has not upped the graduation rate, which lingers at a lowly 73%. Though, this is perpetuated by the college’s 55% acceptance rate. It makes it one of the easiest schools to get into on this list of most expensive colleges.

While the average tuition across the student body stands at around $36K, those who attend unaided by scholarships and rebates will have to fit a bill of $75,000 to get their degrees.

3. Tufts University – $37K Average

Tufts University Campus

Campus of Tufts University – Credit: Smaps Education

Tufts University has been around since 1852 and is a private research university in Massachusetts. This prestigious school finds its way onto the world’s most expensive college list with an average tuition of $37,000. However, unaided, parents must fork out anywhere up to $79K for their kids to attend class here and earn their degree.

The college offers various anthropological courses, along with architectural engineering, applied physics, mathematics, and computer science. It boasts an admirable 93% pass rate with a strict acceptance rate of around 16%.

2. New York University – $40K Average

New York University Campus

New York University – Credit: Chenyu Guan

NYU was chartered in 1831 by the New York State Legislature. Over the centuries, the university has grown to become one of the foremost tertiary institutions in America and one of the most expensive colleges on the planet. In keeping with top US colleges, you can expect to cough up around $77.5K for a graduate program. Even with scholarships and aid considered, the university is the second most expensive college on our list with an average fee structure of $39,000 to $40,000.

The acceptance rate at NYU is around 21%, which indicates why their graduation rate is not as well maintained as schools with stricter provisos. As such, the pass rate is a meagre 85%.

1. Parsons School of Design – $47K Average

Parsons School of Design

Parsons School of Design – Credit: MusikAnimal

Fees fluctuate based on aid, so it’s never easy to peg the top contender. While Parsons School of Design may not be the most expensive university at its full rate of around $68K, the average tuition post-aid is still a whopping $47K. That is a huge amount of money to pay for a career in design and art.

The college is operated as a campus affiliate of “The New School”. It is based in Manhattan, New York, and as of 2016, accepts around 35% of its applicants.

Is the Most Expensive College the Best One?

If you know anything about education, you might be looking at the list above and wonder why there is no mention of MIT, Oxford University, Cambridge, Stanford, Harvard, or even Caltech. After all, these are commonly referred to as leading institutes for higher learning. Well, the truth is, the best colleges are not necessarily the most expensive ones.

Colleges and universities are ranked around the world every year for their performance in the education space. The QS World Rankings are the clearest indicator of the best educational institutes around the globe.

Top-performing universities in the world

Rank University/College QS Score Average Fees After Aid
1 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA) 100 $11K
2 University of Oxford (UK) 99.5 $11K
3= Stanford University (USA) 98.7 $13K
3= University of Cambridge (UK) 98.7 $11K
5 Harvard University (USA) 98 $14K
6 California Institute of Technology (USA) 97.4 $27K
7 Imperial College (UK) 97.3 $11K
8= ETH Zurich (Swiss) 95.4 $20K+
8= University College London (UK) 95.4 $11K
10 University of Chicago (USA) 94.5 $29K


The above rankings are taken from 1,300 universities around the world and are assessed according to 6 key metrics:

  • Academic reputation: Pass rates and academic level counts for 40% of the score
  • Employer reputation: How well the students are prepared for employment
  • Faculty to Student Ratio: More faculty means a higher engagement level with students
  • Citations per faculty: The total number of academic citation papers produced
  • International student ratio: Recognises the college’s ability to draw students from around the world
  • International faculty ratio: Recognises the college’s ability to draw professors from around the world

Thankfully, America’s education system is not only reduced to the most inflammatory prices for academics, but they also have one of the best levels of education in the world. However, none of the most expensive U.S. colleges mentioned in our prior listing rates are in the top 10 for QS.


It’s clear that the best institutes are not necessarily the most expensive colleges. Instead, the most sought-after facilities are those that are most difficult to get into. Places like Harvard only have a 5% acceptance rate, while Harvey Mudd (which falls on the top 7 most expensive colleges list) has an 18% acceptance rate.

The more difficult it is to get into the university, the more likely you are of landing a job. It’s not based on how much you paid to get educated. Half the employment selection process is undertaken at the college level when you attend schools like Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Yale, and Columbia.

This goes to show that the amount of effort you put into your schooling and the positive reputation you build for yourself trumps the amount of money your parents can afford when it comes to receiving the most prestigious placements.


Sean van der Merwe

Sean is a senior writer at PokCas. He is an Entertainment, Gaming & Cryptocurrency News Reporter. He has more than 5 years of full-time writing experience.