Johns Hopkins is renowned for being the first research university in the country, and over the years, faculty and students have had a hand in a long list of innovations. In 1889, for example, they introduced the idea of using rubber gloves during surgery. More than 130 years later, the university is still well known for its pre-med programs, as well as its science and engineering degrees.

Academics are tough, and the school's nearly 6,000 undergrads will find few (if any) classes they can ace without hard work. About three-quarters of undergrad courses have fewer than 20 students in them, making it easy for students to form connections with professors. Eighty percent of students participate in research, and 68% either double major or add a minor.

Students don't neglect their social lives, however, and there's plenty to do outside of class. Just look at the Spring Fair, an annual event known for its funnel cake and concert. (Recent performers include Kehlani and Meek Mill.)

The Baltimore school has some 450 student organizations, including multiple a cappella groups, a fashion magazine and Knotty by Nature, a group that focuses on the empowerment of natural hair among the African American community. In terms of athletics, JHU is known for its Division I men's and women's lacrosse teams — but students can also play badminton, ultimate Frisbee and dozens of other club sports.