Massachusetts Institute of Technology is one of the world's most respected science schools — and for good reason.

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For starters, it has a notoriously competitive selection process — fewer than 5% of applicants are accepted. Then there's the grueling workload, which includes physics, biology, chemistry and calculus as required courses. And, of course, MIT's professors are world class, with 11 Nobel laureates currently on the faculty.

Learning from some of the best pays off: Most of the over 95% of Techies who graduate within six years tend to do well. The median salary a decade after enrolling tops $124,000, which ranks in the top 10% of all the schools Money analyzed. While the cost of MIT education might seem daunting, 64% of undergraduate students receive grants or scholarships.

The university has a diverse student body, and the 168-acre campus in Cambridge gives students access to nightlife, as well as the cultural activities of nearby Boston. MIT alone has a dozen galleries and museums on campus.

When not appreciating the arts, Techies are known for creative, nerdy fun, like playing Quidditch or experimenting in the Laboratory for Chocolate Science.