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The Best Colleges in the West

#10. Whitman College

Location: Far West
Total Students: 1,541

Whitman scored the highest in our Smart Rating system for schools in Washington, with a 98 overall. The school has a four-year acceptance rate of 80 percent, and popular majors include biology, psychology and English.

#9. UC San Diego

Location: Far West
Total Students: 29,517

UCSD has a median post-graduation salary of $50,000, which is among the top 20 percent nationally. Its average SAT score (1915) and ACT score (28) are both in the top 10 percent nationally.

#8. Santa Clara University

Location: Far West
Total Students: 8,770

Santa Clara is a private, Jesuit university with a four-year graduation rate of 77 percent. The school’s median post-graduation salary of $54,000 is in the top 10 percent nationally, and popular degrees include finance and accounting.

#7. UCLA

Location: Far West
Total Students: 40,795

UCLA is the largest public school in California. It ranks No. 2 among public schools in the state, according to our metrics. Its median post-graduation salary of $50,000 is in the top 20 percent nationally, and popular degrees include psychology, political science and history.

#6. USC

Location: Far West
Total Students: 41,368

USC is the largest school in California and one of the largest in the country. The school’s median post-graduation salary of $51,500 is in the top 10 percent nationally, and it has a four-year graduation rate of 73 percent.

#5. UC Berkeley

Location: Far West
Total Students: 36,198

UC Berkeley is the highest-ranked public school in the state, according to our Smart Rating system. The school’s average SAT score (2040), average ACT score (30) and median post-graduation salary ($55,000) are all in the top 10 percent nationally.

#4. Pomona College

Location: Far West
Total Students: 1,610

By our metrics, Pomona is the No. 3 liberal arts college in the country. The school ranks in the top 10 percent nationally in the following categories—four-year graduation rate (91 percent), endowment ($1.13 million per student), average SAT score (2195) and average ACT score (32). Popular degrees include economics, neuroscience and mathematics.

#3. Harvey Mudd College

Location: Far West
Total Students: 807

Harvey Mudd is the smallest school on this list and ranked as the No. 2 liberal arts college in the country, according to our metrics. It has a very high median post-graduation salary ($70,000) and a small student-faculty ration at 8:1. Popular degrees include engineering, mathematics and computer science.

#2. Stanford University

Location: Far West
Total Students: 18,346

Stanford has the lowest acceptance rate (5.1 percent) of any national research university in the country. Its total research expenditure is $1.03 billion, and its median post-graduation salary is $60,000. Popular degrees include human biology, computer science and biology.

#1. California Institute of Technology

Location: Far West
Total Students: 2,181

By our metrics, Caltech ranks as the No. 4 research university in the country. Its average SAT score (2300) and ACT score (34) are both among the top five percent nationally, and its student-faculty ratio is 3:1. It has a median post-graduation salary of $66,500, and popular degrees include mechanical engineering, chemical engineering and computer and information sciences.

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