Santa Clara University is a private Jesuit school where students are encouraged not only to mature academically but also spiritually and personally. The medium-sized student body (about 5,900 undergraduates and 3,000 graduate students) enjoys intimate classroom settings with professors who are accessible in and out of class. The course loads can be intense and students can be competitive, but students say campus interactions are still friendly.

Santa Clara freshmen are placed in residence learning communities where groups of students live, study and take classes together in an effort to create tight-knit communities formed around certain themes (like innovation or sustainability). Communication, engineering and finance are among the most popular degree programs, and you can take classes on everything from ancient civilizations to the science of happiness.

The campus, full of stunning Spanish-influenced architecture, is located in the heart of Silicon Valley, so there are plenty of options to explore off campus. The San Francisco Bay area offers outdoor activities like surfing, biking and hiking, plus cool bookstores and coffee shops. The beach or the cities of San Francisco and San Jose aren't too far away, either. Santa Clara scores highly on Money’s measures of student outcomes, too. In the decade after enrolling, students’ salaries typically hit $99,000 per year.