Finding the right college is a complicated, multi-year process. Get a head start with STACK’s Fifth Annual Elite 50 Colleges, the most comprehensive breakdown of top schools and the only rankings based on both academic and athletic criteria.
We’ve compiled the facts and figures, analyzed the teams and dug through thousands of pages of data to give you our assessment of successful college programs, as well as stories behind the ones on the ascendancy. Find out just what goes into STACK’s college rankings through our Guide to the Elite 50.
Check out our Big Board to learn about 50 highest-rated schools in the nation. Then take a deeper dive into our sport-specific rankings listed at the bottom of this page. Picking a college is difficult, but for student-athletes at least, STACK makes it a whole lot easier.
We’ll get you started with a rundown of our top five schools:
The saga continues: Stanford is No. 1 for the fourth straight year with the highest U.S. News rank , the most top-15 teams in the Elite 50, and first overall rankings in women’s basketball and soccer, as well as men’s and women’s track & field and swimming.
Florida is #2 overall and first place in softball for the third year in a row. They also lead our football rankings for the second straight year. Three other Florida teams—baseball , men’s track  and women’s soccer —improved their position from last year.
The Longhorns are #3 overall for the second year in a row, thanks to strong showings from baseball , volleyball , men’s and women’s swimming [2, 3] and men’s track , plus previously unranked women’s track emerging in the number seven slot.
Duke lands in the Top 5 for the first time since the inaugural Elite 50 with their highest ranking ever. They join Stanford as the only national universities in the U.S. News top 10. Men’s and women’s basketball [1,3] and lacrosse  lead the way.
5. North Carolina
Five straight years of top-five finishes culminate in their lowest ranking since capturing the first Elite 50 crown. Top programs in Chapel Hill include men’s and women’s soccer [2, 3] and men’s basketball and baseball [4, 4].
Check out the rest of our college rankings through the complete Elite 50 list. You can also find the top-rated schools in your sport through the categories below.