The University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university, and thanks to some all-star faculty power, it's also one of the nation's top public research universities. The faculty roster boasts several Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners.

Like most large public universities, Maryland's academic offerings and expertise are vast. (It particularly ranks well in our affordability and outcomes measures.) The school's nearly 31,000 undergraduates can take advantage of its 12 colleges and schools, about 100 undergraduate majors and more than 800 clubs (which include a bug club, the Gamer Symphony Orchestra — the first collegiate ensemble that performs video game music — and Maryland Quidditch). Students can also try out for one of the university's 20 intercollegiate sports teams, including soccer, field hockey and lacrosse.

Notable alumni include writer-actor Larry David, journalist Gayle King, Google co-founder Sergey Brin and Muppets creator Jim Henson. (There's even a statue of Kermit on campus.) That's not the only light-hearted aspect of Maryland — the school is also known as Flash Mob U, because students love a good dance break during basketball games.