Guide to Choosing the Universities in America: The Association of American Universities

With three seasons of U.S. college admission experience, perhaps we can already share what we learned at least in the initial choice of the university. In choosing the university for graduate and undergraduate studies and research collaboration, my suggestion is not to look at the newspaper rankings, which are misleading. Based on my research, the best universities to first consider are the members of the Association of American Universities (AAU). The membership in this prestigious group is by invitation only. Established in 1900, AAU is composed of America’s leading research universities. There are 63 members in the U.S. and two in Canada.

The original members of AAU in the year 1900 are Johns Hopkins, Harvard, Princeton, Cornell, Columbia, Yale, University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford, which are all private universities; and two public universities, the University of Michigan and the University of California Berkeley. At present, AAU has 65 members, consisting of 36 public universities and 27 private universities in the US. There are two universities in Canada, the University of Toronto in Ontario Province and McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. The latest universities to be admitted are Dartmouth College, which is the last member in the Ivy League to join the association, the University of Utah, and the University of California Sta. Cruz, which is part of the powerhouse University of California system.

The University of California system has 7 member universities in the AAU (Berkeley, Davis, Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz). The private universities in California that are members of the AAU are Stanford, University of Southern California, and California Institute of Technology. Therefore, there are 10 member-universities in California. California is followed by the State of New York, with 6 members, consisting of four private universities (Columbia, Cornell, University of Rochester, New York University) and two public universities under the State University of New York system (Buffalo and Stony Brook). The City of Boston in the State of Massachusetts has four members (Harvard, MIT, Brandeis, and Boston). The State of Pennsylvania has also four members (University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State University, Pittsburg, and Carnegie Mellon University). The states of Texas (Rice, Texas A&M, and the University of Texas at Austin) and Illinois (Chicago, University of Illinois, and Northwestern) each has three members. Indiana (Purdue and Indiana University at Bloomington), Missouri (University of Missouri and Washington University in St. Louis), Michigan (University of Michigan and Michigan State), New Jersey ( Princeton and Rutgers), Maryland (Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland at College Park), Ohio (Ohio State University and Case Western Reserve), Iowa (University of Iowa and Iowa State), Georgia (Emory and Georgia Tech), and North Carolina (Duke and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) each have two members. The states of New Hampshire (Dartmouth), Rhode Island (Brown), Connecticut (Yale), Virginia (University of Virginia), Tenessee (Vanderbilt), Florida (University of Florida), Louisiana (Tulane), Arizona (University of Arizona), Kansas (University of Kansas), Minnesota (University of Minnesota), Utah (The University of Utah), Wisconsin (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Oregon (University of Oregon), Washington (University of Washington), and Colorado (University of Colorado at Boulder) each has one member. Completing the list are two universities in Canada (the University of Toronto and McGill).

While most of the private universities are highly selective, on the other hand, most of the state universities are less selective because they offer larger slots for students as state schools with heavy research activities. These state schools offer the same programs that can be compared with their private counterparts. These state universities include the University of California system, the two flagship universities of the State University of New York system (Buffalo and Stony Brook), the Pennsylvania State University,  University of Pittsburgh, University of Maryland at College Park, the University of Virginia, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Georgia Tech, University of Florida, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue, Indiana University-Bloomington, University of Illinois, Michigan State, University of Michigan, Iowa State University, University of Iowa, University of Ohio, University of Utah, University of Kansas, University of Arizona, University of Colorado, University of Minnesota, University of Missouri, University of Oregon, and the University of Washington are equally prestigious research universities as their private counterparts but admission ranges from highly selective like Berkeley and Michigan, to moderately selective. Apparently, the banner state schools have mostly large programs with state obligations to admit students but most of the schools are better funded too.

There are still flagship state universities with programs that can be comparable with the state schools admitted to the AAU but are not yet members of the AAU. The University of Connecticut, SUNY Binghamton, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Virginia Tech, Clemson, and most of the banner state universities that are not still admitted to AAU have good academic and research programs too.

U.S. college admission for Filipinos and other international students just requires good preparation and presentation of the application. With the experience that we gained, we are planning to put up a business organization, preferably a non-profit, that will engage in providing holistic services clustering around student admission and family participation, which is a concept we desire to introduce. The peripheral services include immigration, intra-company transfer, and building U.S. and Philippine cooperation for business and educational purposes. Furthermore, this organization will share the collective experience of Filipinos in the application process.

For more information about the AAU, here is the website of the association.

Featured Universities

We are going to feature the 63 universities that are members of the Association of American Universities (AAU). The first two universities covered by this issue are two AAU members in  New York. We are connected  as parents.  These universities are  the State University of New York at Buffalo and Cornell University.


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