If you have embarked upon a college search and are interested in a career in community service or in the non-profit sector, it is likely that one of the criteria you're looking for in a college or university is how community-minded they are, and therefore are looking at schools ranked high for service.

Many schools have initiatives that allow students to get involved with their community. It's a beneficial thing for any student to be involved in one of these initiatives. However, for some students, working with non-profit, charitable organizations is what they wish to do with their lives. These students that wish to go above and beyond to help their fellow man deserve a school that has the same sort of philosophy.

Ranking Methodology

In order to arrive at our list of the top schools ranked high for service, we first took a look at Washington Monthly's 25 schools most devoted to service, as detailed in their 2013 National Universities Rankings, which evaluates schools based on their contribution to the overall public good in three ways: social mobility, research, and service. A total of 284 schools made the cut. The major service categories weighted by Washington Monthly are Community Service Participation and Hours Served, Service Staff, Courses, Financial Aid Support, ROTC Participation among Students and Alumni, Student and Alumni Involvement in the Peace Corps, and Federal Work Study Funds Spent on Community Service.

The schools were then ranked by the average 30 year net return on investment according to payscale.com. Just because a student isn't concerned primarily with financial gain, doesn't mean money shouldn't be taken into consideration. Students would do well to remind themselves that the higher the ROI, the faster they can get out of debt and get on their way to being able to serve their communities.

Below you will find our list of the Top 25 schools that are known for service, as ranked by their return on investment. Along with the school's overall service rating, you will find each institution's top three rated service categories accompanied by a short summary detailing the school's attitude toward service and the programs the school has to help students get involved.

Ranking the Top Service-Oriented Schools by 30 Year Return on Investment

 

#25. Indiana State University: Terre Haute, Indiana

At Indiana State University, community service is a central focus. They don't just encourage students to engage in community service, students are expected to do so. This isn't just preached by the administration and faculty, it is modeled by them as well. Students are surrounded by a culture of civic conscientiousness–a culture the university is confident students will carry with them into whatever career they pursue.

Washington Monthly Overall Service Ranking: #3

Payscale 30 Year Average Net ROI: $283,000

3 Highest Ranked Service Categories
Community Service Participation and Hours Served: #1
Service Staff, Courses, and Financial Aid Support: #2
ROTC Participation among Students and Alumni: #105

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#24. Azusa Pacific University: Azusa, California

This mid-sized evangelical Christian non-denominational university has a ministry requirement that is often fulfilled by students engaging in community service projects. The university also offers students service learning opportunities, which allow students to apply what they've learned in real life situations, offering both academic and personal enrichment.

Washington Monthly Overall Service Ranking: #17

Payscale 30 Year Average Net ROI: $346,400

3 Highest Ranked Service Categories
Service Staff, Courses, and Financial Aid Support: #4
Community Service Participation and Hours: #76
ROTC Participation Among Students and Alumni: #45

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#23. Loyola University-Chicago: Chicago, Illinois

Loyola University in Chicago has been recognized by the Peace Corps as one of the top volunteer-producing mid-sized universities. The school is also on the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. These recognitions come because of Loyola's uncompromising approach to education and civic service. The school runs an early education program in low income neighborhoods to combat challenges those children face as early as possible, and also is involved with local soup kitchens. The Loyola 4 Chicago program works with numerous partners in the city to help improve things for those in need.

Washington Monthly Overall Service Ranking: #11

Payscale 30 Year Average Net ROI: $512,600

3 Highest Ranked Service Categories
Work Study Funds Spent on Service: #8 (41%)
Community Service Participation and Hours Served: #22
Service Staff Courses and Financial Aid Support: #25

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#22. Clark University: Worcester, Massachusetts

Clark offers scholarships to students engaging in community service even beyond the work study funding. There are a host of options for students. Some programs offer the opportunity to engage in community-based learning and research, and volunteering with any of the partnerships the university maintains in the local community and abroad is available to any student.

Washington Monthly Overall Service Ranking: #13

Payscale 30 Year Average Net ROI: $570,000

3 Highest Ranked Service Categories
Student and Alumni Involvement in the Peace Corps: #2
Service Staff, Courses, and Financial Aid Support: #7
Community Service Participation and Hours: #63

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#21. University of Denver: Denver, Colorado

For the University of Denver, community service is about citizenship. When people feel a sense of citizenship, a common bond with others that live in the community around them, that is when they become inspired to make a difference. The University of Denver wants all students, whether or not they are from the area, that have that attitude of citizenship. The Center for Community Engagement is there to help make that happen.

Washington Monthly Overall Service Ranking: #28*

Payscale 30 Year Average Net ROI: $637,900

3 Highest Ranked Service Categories
Student and Alumni Involvement in the Peace Corps: #6
Service Staff, Courses, and Financial Aid Support: #51
Community Service Participation and Hours: #57

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#20. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill: Chapel Hill, North Carolina

The University of North Carolina is the nation's oldest public university and has been committed to public service throughout its rich history. The school's Carolina Center for Public Service provides students with the opportunity to fuse their learning with community outreach in new and interesting ways, with the goal of discovering within themselves the ability to come together with their community and combat the major issues it faces.

Washington Monthly Overall Service Ranking: #25

Payscale 30 Year Average Net ROI: $652,100

3 Highest Ranked Service Categories
Student and Alumni Involvement in the Peace Corps: #18
Community Service Participation and Hours: #25
Federal Work Study Funds Spent on Service: #105 (19%)

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#19. Syracuse University: Syracuse, New York

The Mary Ann Shaw Center for Public and Community service serves as a hub for students at SU interesting in serving the local and international community. The center also makes available service learning programs to students, and maintains relationships with Americorps and many local organizations.

Washington Monthly Overall Service Ranking: #18

Payscale 30 Year Average Net ROI: $653,000

3 Highest Ranked Service Categories
Service Staff, Courses, and Financial Aid Support: #5
Community Service Participation and Hours: #65
Federal Work Study Funds Spent on Service: #57 (23%)

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#18. University of California-Riverside: Riverside, California

The University of California at Riverside spends 57% of student work study funds on community service. This shows the school's commitment to finding ways for students to both benefit from the federal work study program, and work to improve the community while at college. The school actively encourages students to engage in community service as a part of their programs, seeing community service as both an opportunity for learning, and instilling values of civic responsibility in the students that they will carry into their future.

Washington Monthly Overall Service Ranking: #6

Payscale 30 Year Average Net ROI: $730,200

3 Highest Ranked Service Categories
Federal Work Study Funds Spent on Service: #2 (57%)
Community Service Participation and Hours Served: #3
Student and Alumni Involvement with the Peace Corps: #112

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#17. University of Idaho: Moscow, Idaho

The University of Idaho offers students a massive package of over 102 available service learning programs. In the 2011-2012 school year alone, over 23,000 students enrolled in those programs and performed over 160,000 hours of service. This program is one of the foremost of its kind in the United States. The University of Idaho takes civic responsibility very seriously, and is committed to encouraging its students to do the same.

Washington Monthly Overall Service Ranking: #23

Payscale 30 Year Average Net ROI: $730,400

3 Highest Ranked Service Categories
Student and Alumni Involvement in the Peace Corps: #23
Service Staff, Courses, and Financial Aid Support: #43
ROTC Participation Among Students and Alumni: #35

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#16. Adelphi University: Garden City, New York

Adelphi University's Center for Student Involvement is the core of the University's community service efforts. There are a significant number of volunteer programs both on and off campus of which students can be a part. These activities not only help students become involved in creating real change in the lives of people in their community, they also give students a chance to develop leadership skills and gain perspective.

Washington Monthly Overall Service Ranking: #8

Payscale 30 Year Average Net ROI: $760,600

3 Highest Ranked Service Categories
Service Staff, Courses, and Financial Aid Support: #1
Community Service Participation and Hours Served: #10
Federal Work Study Funds Spent on Service: #63 (23%)

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#15. Marquette University: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Marquette's Center for Community Service has many initiatives, including the "Hunger Cleanup" which has been in place since 1989 and strives to combat hunger and homelessness in Milwaukee. There is also a volunteer corps, and a wide range of community partners that help direct the efforts of students to areas in need of help.

Washington Overall Service Ranking: #20

Payscale 30 Year Average Net ROI: $768,900

3 Highest Ranked Service Categories
Service Staff, Courses, and Financial Aid Support: #31
Community Service Participation and Hours: #31
ROTC Participation Among Students and Alumni: #9

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#14. American University-Washington D.C.: Washington D.C.

American University's Center for Community Engagement and Service helps 2,000 students become involved in social justice and community service projects each year. The Freshman Service Experience program helps connect students to the region, helping them to get to know the community, and understand the major issues facing it. One of the core principles of the university is that the ideas discussed in the classroom need to be put into action, and the service programs help students learn how to implement ideas that have the potential to change the world.

Washington Monthly Overall Service Ranking: #7

Payscale 30 Year Average Net ROI: $769,900

3 Highest Ranked Service Categories
Student and Alumni Involvement with the Peace Corps: #1
Service Staff, Courses, and Financial Aid Support: #42
Community Service Participation and Hours Served: #77

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#13. Auburn University: Auburn, Alabama

Auburn is connected with outreach organizations like the Salvation Army and many other local organizations. The ROTC program is also very robust with one of the highest ROTC rates in the country. The school hosts various community events like food drives, bringing in and then distributing as much as 160,000 lbs of food. Students will find any number of different ways to get involved in the local community and abroad.

Washington Monthly Overall Service Ranking: #14

Payscale 30 Year Average Net ROI: $776,200

3 Highest Ranked Service Categories
Service Staff, Courses, and Financial Aid Support: #41
Federal Work Study Funds Spent on Service: #15 (38%)
ROTC Participation and Military Service Among Students and Alumni: #12

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#12. University of San Francisco: San Francisco, California

A Jesuit university, the University of San Francisco holds strong to the fundamental focus on social justice on which the Jesuit academic tradition is built. Students at USF are taught to make the world a better place, and the school provides them the tools, both academic and personal, to help them do it. One of the most radical for-credit programs offered by USF is the Arrupe Immersion Program, through which students travel to economically marginalized regions of the United States and the rest of the world and live and work in those regions seeking perspective.

Washington Monthly Overall Service Ranking: #22

Payscale 30 Year Average Net ROI: $795,500

3 Highest Ranked Service Categories
Student and Alumni Involvement in the Peace Corps: #40
Service Staff, Courses, and Financial Aid Support: #21
Community Service Participation and Hours: #19

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#11. Washington University in St. Louis: St. Louis, Missouri

One of the top schools in the United States, Lumosity recently named the students of Washington University in St. Louis the smartest students in the United States. The school is also ranked second for community service participation and hours by Washington Monthly. Thus from these two studies, Washington University in St. Louis boasts not only the smartest students, but some of the most community involved students in the country, which indicates a culture of intelligence and service has been fostered at this school.

Washington Monthly Overall Service Ranking: #15

Payscale 30 Year Average Net ROI: $842,300

3 Highest Ranked Service Categories
Student and Alumni Involvement in the Peace Corps: #31
Service Staff, Courses, and Financial Aid Support: #77
Community Service Participation and Hours: #2

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#10. George Washington University: Washington D.C.

George Washington University's Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service exists to combine education and civil service for the betterment of both students and the community in which they live. GWU offers over 45 service learning courses in their curriculum each year. The goal of the Center and the service learning courses is to provide both students and faculty with the opportunity to apply their techniques and theories in a context that will improve the community as the student learns.

Washington Monthly Overall Service Ranking: #9

Payscale 30 Year Average Net ROI: $852,200

3 Highest Ranked Service Categories
Student and Alumni Involvement with the Peace Corps: #5
Federal Work Study Funds Spent on Service: #32 (31%)
Service Staff, Courses, and Financial Aid Support: #47

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#9. Vanderbilt University: Nashville, Tennessee

Vanderbilt has both the official Office of Active Citizenship, and a community service initiative run by the Office of Greek Life. Both organizations provide students with a wide range of service opportunities. The Office of Active Citizenship offers students service learning opportunities, and provides students the chance to spend their work study time doing community service. The opportunities offered through the Office of Active Citizenship provide students the chance to engage in experiences locally, nationally, and internationally.

Washington Monthly Overall Service Ranking: #19

Payscale 30 Year Average Net ROI: $861,200
Student and Alumni Involvement in the Peace Corps: #49
Community Service Participation and Hours: #23
Federal Work Study Funds Spent on Service: #24 (33%)

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#8. University of California-Los Angeles: Los Angeles, California

Students attending UCLA should expect to be involved in the local community. The school runs many outreach programs in the Los Angeles area and provides students with extensive service learning opportunities.

Washington Monthly Overall Service Ranking:#24

Payscale 30 Year Average Net ROI: $890,700

3 Highest Ranked Service Categories
Student and Alumni Involvement in the Peace Corps: #24
Service Staff, Courses, and Financial Aid Support: #108
Community Service Participation and Hours: #28

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#7. Case Western Reserve University: Cleveland, Ohio

Commitment to service is deeply ingrained in the academic philosophy of Case Western, as evidenced as their #1 spot on Washington Monthly's ranking of service-oriented schools. The service learning ethos embraced by the school provides students with experiential learning opportunities crafted in cooperation with local partners with the goal of enhancing the academic experience while encouraging a mindset of civic responsibility.

Washington Monthly Overall Service Ranking: #1

Payscale 30 Year Average Net ROI: $956,000

3 Highest Ranked Service Categories
Service Staff, Courses, and Financial Aid Support: #3
Federal Work Study Funds Spent on Service: #6 (47%)
Community Service Participation and Hours Served: #12

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#6. University of California-San Diego: San Diego, California

UCSD wants its students to engage with the surrounding community, both for their own personal benefit, and because when a community is strengthened, everybody in that community benefits. Students have the opportunity to learn first hand about the community, the challenges that face it, and how through civic service, these challenges can be overcome.

Washington Monthly Overall Service Ranking: #26*

Payscale 30 Year Average Net ROI: $1.04 Million

3 Highest Ranked Service Categories
Student and Alumni Involvement in the Peace Corps: #36
Community Service Participation and Hours: #38
Federal Work Study Funds Spent on Service: #29 (32%)

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#5. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University: Blacksburg, Virginia

It's rare for a university to have a high participation in both the ROTC and the Peace Corps among its students. Virginia Tech is an anomaly, boasting one of the three highest ROTC participation rates, and the 77th highest Peace Corps Participation rate in the nation. The school provides students with many opportunities to be involved in myriad ways, believing wholeheartedly that community service is a valuable experience, both personally and academically.

Washington Monthly Overall Service Ranking: #16

Payscale 30 Year Average Net ROI: $1.04 Million

3 Highest Ranked Service Categories
Student and Alumni Involvement in the Peace Corps: #77
Community Service Participation and Hours: #61
ROTC Participation Among Students and Alumni: #3

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#4. College of William and Mary: Williamsburg, Virginia

Founded in 1693, the College of William and Mary is one of the oldest schools in the United States. The Office of Community Engagement at William and Mary leverages the passion of its students to improve the local community, and the world. The Alternative Breaks program allows students to do something significant on their school breaks, traveling to any number of locations around the world and gaining valuable international experience and perspective while working to better the lives of the poorest people in the poorest nations. There are also many local community outreach programs available to students that provide a wide range of experiences, from tutoring children in low income neighborhoods, to cooking for and providing food to nearly 200 local residents in need.

Washington Monthly Overall Service Ranking: #10

Payscale 30 Year Average Net ROI: $1.04 Million

3 Highest Ranked Service Categories
Student and Alumni Involvement with the Peace Corps: #3
Community Service Participation and Hours Served: #24
Service Staff, Courses, and Financial Aid Support: #48

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#3. Tufts University: Medford, Massachusetts

Tufts boasts a robust array of service learning programs custom tailored to specific majors like medicine and public health, among others. These programs are designed to provide students the opportunity to gain valuable academic and real world experience while developing a sense of civic responsibility and serving their community.

Washington Monthly Overall Service Ranking: #12

Payscale 30 Year Average Net ROI: $1.05 Million

3 Highest Ranked Service Categories
Student and Alumni Involvement in the Peace Corps: #4
Service Staff, Courses, and Financial Aid Support: #10
Federal Work Study Funds Spent on Service: #74 (22%)

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#2. Texas A&M University: College Station, Texas

Texas A&M places great value in student engagement in community service. Community service is seen as an opportunity for students to gain perspective, and benefit both personally and academically. In 2013, Texas A&M was named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. The honor roll is intended to single out schools with an exceptional reputation for student involvement in the community, and Texas A&M University certainly fits that bill, seeking to instill a mindset of civic responsibility in its students.

Washington Monthly Overall Service Ranking: #2

Payscale 30 Year Average Net ROI: $1.05 Million

3 Highest Ranked Service Categories
ROTC Participation Among Students and Alumni: #1
Federal Work Study Funds Spent on Community Service: #16 (37%)
Community Service Participation and Hours Served: #54

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#1. University of Notre Dame: Notre Dame, Indiana

Notre Dame is home to the Center for Social Concerns, which houses community based learning resources and conducts community based research, among other activities. A Catholic school, Notre Dame has always had a focus on community outreach and the Center for Social Concerns has been an active part of the university for nearly thirty years. With an average 30 year ROI of $1.25 million, investing in an education at UND is a wise financial and personal investment.

Washington Monthly Overall Service Ranking: #4

Payscale 30 Year Average Net ROI: $1.25 Million

3 Highest Ranked Service Categories
ROTC Participation among Students and Alumni: #10
Service Staff, Courses, and Financial Aid Support: #23
Community Service Participation and Hours Served: #35

 

Service and community-minded individuals looking for a school that supports their world view will benefit from checking out all of the schools on this list that are known for the altruistic opportunities they provide to their students. If you're interested in maximizing your education dollar even more, find a scholarship that is eligible to be used at the schools on this list by checking out our State Listing of Scholarships Available to Full and Part Time College Students; it's the perfect way to attain an even bigger return on your investment from these Top 25 Schools Ranked High for Service.

*Since only those schools that had ROI information provided by payscale.com were included in our list, and those that did not have that information available were excluded, 2 of the schools here have an overall Washington Monthly ranking that exceeds #25.