Two new lists detail what are the best colleges for Jewish students in 2016. Princeton University topped Best Colleges ranking of Best Colleges for Active Jewish Communities while the University of Florida is the university with the largest Jewish population according to Hillel’s Fall edition of their semi-annual list of “Top 60 Schools Jewish Choose.” Both lists use drastically different methodologies and value different aspects on what makes a college good for Jewish students.
Hillel’s Fall 2015 list of “Top 60 Schools Jews Choose” is determined primarily by the Jewish population, more than any other factor. Almost equally as important is the presence of Hillel on the college campus. As Hillel explains, “The lists includes the top 60 public schools, the top 60 private schools, and the top 60 schools based on percentage of Jewish students.” The list is entirely based on statistics collected by Hillel. Hillel serves and covers North American schools, therefore the list includes both American and Canadian schools. The majority of the schools, 55 of them on located on the East coast and lesser extent the West coast.
This fall edition finds the Univesity of Florida the top destination for Jewish students, it boasts a total of 6,500 Jewish undergraduates more than any school in North America and is also the top public school. While New York University is the top private school with an undergrad Jewish population of 6,000 students.
Percentage wise, Yeshiva University is the top school, a 100 percent of students attending are Jewish with 3,076 undergraduates. The remaining top four are all Jewish universities, Jewish Theological Seminary, American Jewish University and Brandeis University, however, half of Brandeis student body are not Jewish. Barnard College, Columbia’s women’s liberal arts college is “the most-Jewish college that it not officially Jewish.” A third of the undergraduates, 800 students are Jewish and the school ranks in fifth place on the based on percentage list.
In terms of a number of Jewish students at private schools Cornell University comes out as the top Ivy League university and is the only one to appear in the top 10. Cornell is in fifth place of all private schools and has 3,000 Jewish undergrads. Columbia has the second most number of Jewish students with 1,800 and is in 11th place. Harvard is in 14th place and has nearly 1700 undergraduates while Yale is in 17th place with 1,500 Jewish students.
Based on percentage Yale University is the top Ivy League destination for Jewish students, where 27 percent of the students are Jewish “1,500 Jewish undergrads out of 5,477.” In the based on percentage list Yale ranks just out of the top 10 at 13th place. Harvard University is in second place based on percentage with 25 percent of the student body being Jewish, “1,675 out of 6,694 undergrads,” but only ends up in 20th place on the list.
Also popular among Jewish students looking to attend public universities is the schools under the “Big Ten Conference, the oldest athletic conference in the United States,” Six of these schools are in the top 10 of public schools, in second place is Rutgers University (6,400), in fourth place is the University of Maryland (5,800), in fifth place is the University of Michigan (4,500), in sixth place is the Indiana University (4,200), in seventh place is the University of Wisconsin, Madison (4,200) and Pennsylvania State University (4,000) comes in at ninth place.
In Canada, the honor of the school with most Jewish students goes to the University of Western Ontario with 3,000 students. UWO is in 21st place in the public school’s list. The Canadian school with the second largest Jewish population is York University in Toronto, Ontario also with 3,000 Jewish students, and tied at 21st with UWO. Canada’s top university according to Macleans Magazine, McGill University in Montreal, Quebec only comes in third with 2,500 Jewish students, and ranks in 24th place of public universities.
The universities included on the three lists represent the highest Jewish populations but also the schools that offer the most Jewish studies academics, courses, majors, minors and even graduate work, some until the doctoral level. Two of the four institutions that are Jewish universities offer the most Jewish courses, at the top, is Jewish Theological Seminary of America with 150 courses, in second is Yeshiva University with 138 courses. The University of Michigan is the school with the most Jewish Studies course outside the Jewish institutions with a total of 120. Tied for fourth are McGill University and Ohio State University, both offer 100 Jewish studies courses in their course catalog.
The guide includes profiles of all the top 60 schools, packed with statistical information including the number of Jewish undergrads, graduates, and their percentages of the total number of students. It includes important basic campus information including total undergrad and graduate population, and Jewish life information.
The Jewish life information includes both academic and social aspects. The academic information includes Jewish studies courses, whether there are major and minor programs, Jewish educators. On Jewish campus life there is information on Israel abroad programs, and the availability of Kosher food on campus, and most important the name of the Hillel associated with campus and if there are Jewish Agency for Israel fellows.
The Top Jewish Schools guide highlights a “variety of aspects to Jewish life on campus, including Jewish population, percentage Jewish, Taglit-Birthright Israel participation, religious services, student internships, scholarships, Kosher dining, greek life, students activities, organizations and events.”
The campus information on the website, which is more extensive than the magazine includes, whether the school is private and public, the region, whether it is commuter college or has residential living, in-state and out-of-state tuition, percentage of the population that is male and female, acceptance rate, school size, location type, percentage of out-of-state and international students.
Hillel ranks their main list of Top 60 schools by Jewish undergraduate enrollment. Eric Fingerhut, President, and CEO of Hillel International commented about the College Guide, “Jewish life on campus is an important consideration for many students as they weigh their options for college. Our goal with this new magazine is to empower students and parents to find the opportunity that’s best for them to engage with the Jewish community during college.”
Top 60 Public Schools
1. University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
2. Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Brunswick, NJ
3. University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL
4. University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, MD
5. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
6. Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
7. University of Wisconsin, Madison, Madison, WI
8. CUNY, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY
9. Pennsylvania State University, University Park, University Park, PA
10. Queens College, Flushing, NY
Top 60 Private Schools
1. New York University, New York, NY
2. Boston University, Boston, MA
3. Yeshiva University, New York, NY
4. George Washington University, Washington, DC
5. Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
6. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
7. Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY
8. Tulane University, New Orleans, LA
9. University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
10. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Top 60 schools based on percentage of Jewish students
1. Yeshiva University, New York, NY
2. Jewish Theological Seminary of America, New York, NY
3. American Jewish University, Bel Air, CA
4. Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
5. Barnard College, New York, NY
6. Muhlenberg College, Allentown, PA
7. Goucher College, Baltimore, MD
8. University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT
9. Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH
10. CUNY, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY
The Best Colleges for Active Jewish Communities list is a more traditional ranking covering only American schools. Best Colleges ranks the top “50 schools that best represent academic excellence and a strong on-campus Jewish presence.” Unlike Hillel’s list, the Best Colleges’ methodology looks at regular academic and Jewish life, the scores combined determine the ranking on the list. The schools featured on the top 10 are the usual suspects seen in the top rankings of US schools and those appearing near the top of international rankings.
The differences between the lists do not end at the methodology, but also, the schools filling the top 10. The majority of the Best Colleges list are part of the Ivy League, with Princeton the top university. On Hillel’s private university list Princeton was only in 42th place out of 60 with only 550 Jewish undergraduate students attending. Only four of the universities on the list do not belong to the Ivy League but are still prestigious top ranking schools on most lists. They include Stanford University, the University of Chicago, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Duke University.
Best Colleges notes the importance of a strong campus community for most Jewish students regardless of the level of observance, or whether they just culturally identify as Jewish. In their description, Best Colleges explains, “For many incoming Jewish freshmen, the presence of a Jewish student body on-campus is as crucial as the general academic and social merits of the institution. Such communities offer a unique source of support, providing a place to worship, Kosher meals and faith-backed extracurriculars.”
To determine the list, “Schools with their own dedicated Hillel, informal and formal Jewish extracurriculars, a strong history of religious tolerance and sizable Jewish student populations were given greater weight in the rankings.” Some elements that are important to Hillel’s guide are also present in the Best Colleges’ ranking, the school’s have a strong Hillel presence, Jewish Greek life, Jewish Studies programs at the major or minor level. Each college on the list has a profile with basic school information and adescription explaining the school’s academic merits and the Jewish academics and activities on the campus.
The top ten of Best Colleges with Active Jewish Communities
1 Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
2 Yale University, New Haven, CT
3 Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
4 Stanford University, Stanford, CA
5 Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH
6 University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
7 Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
8 Duke University, Durham, NC
9 University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
10 Columbia University in the City of New York, New York, NY