Prospective college students in the western region of the United States have many outstanding universities to choose from, including the single highest ranked public university in the United States, the University of California Berkeley. Since most individuals looking to achieve higher education desire to maximize the potential value of their education, many students seek information about the return on investment (ROI) of the degree they earn.
To arrive at our list, we took the top public university in each state according U.S. News and World Report, grouped all those "number one schools" by region of the U.S., and ranked them within those regions according to their net thirty year return on investment (ROI), as measured by PayScale. So, for example, the number #1 university in this list, University of California Berkeley, has the highest net 30 year ROI of all the #1 ranked universities in the Western region of the USA. This enables a student interested in attending school in the Western part of the U.S. to get a good sense of the top rated universities with the highest potential net return on investment.
While the schools were ranked based on in-state net ROI, the out-of-state net ROI is also included.
To read more about the methodology used to arrive at our list, click here.
The University of California Berkeley is the single highest ranked public university according to U.S. News and is one of the highest ranked schools in the entire country, public or private. This is the ultimate "Public Ivy" and serves not only as the flagship for California's state university system, but is the defacto flagship public university of the United States.
U.S. News Ranking: #1 In State 30 Year Net ROI: $1.18 Million Out of State 30 Year Net ROI: $1.09 Million
The University of Washington is one of the public research universities considered a "Public Ivy" school for its high quality programs that rival many of the best private universities in the nation. The school is an elected member of the American Association of Universities, and is home to a great number of cutting edge research projects.
U.S. News Ranking: #16 In State 30 Year Net ROI: $904,300 Out of State 30 Year Net ROI: $832,200
The University of Alaska Fairbanks is the only university on this list whose rank among national universities was not published by U.S. News and World Report. However, it does have the single highest 30 year net ROI in the state of Alaska for public research universities and that ROI is also among the highest in the western region, making the school a high value option for college bound seniors.
U.S. News Ranking: Rank Not Published (National Universities, Top Public Schools) In State 30 Year Net ROI: $841,300 Out of State 30 Year Net ROI: $792,200
The University of Colorado Boulder is situated on an urban campus just over 750 acres. The student population is just over 24,000 undergraduates and 5,000 postgraduates. The school features a massive honors program open to all students with a 3.3 or greater GPA. The honors program offers more than 40 classes each semester, and the class size for these honors classes is never greater than 15 students.
U.S. News Ranking: #36 In State 30 Year Net ROI: $838,700 Out of State 30 Year Net ROI: $748,100
This research university is the flagship university of the Utah state university system and is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as having very high research activity. The University of Utah boasts the state's only medical school and just over 24,000 undergraduate students.
U.S. News Ranking: #60 In State 30 Year Net ROI: $733,300 Out of State 30 Year Net ROI: $672,500
Featuring a student body of just under 10,000 students, the University of Idaho is one of the smaller flagship public research universities in the United States. The campus, however, is one of the largest among universities, situated on over 1,500 acres. The thriving Greek system is unique in that freshman may move in first semester, and at the time of this writing the students in the Greek housing have held the highest average GPA in the school for nine consecutive semesters.
U.S. News Ranking: #88 In State 30 Year Net ROI: $730,400 Out of State 30 Year Net ROI: $679,700
With just over 10,000 undergraduate students, Montana State University is one of the smallest public research universities classified by the Carnegie Foundation as having a very high research activity. The university offers baccalaureate degrees in 51 fields of study.
U.S. News Ranking: #117 In State 30 Year Net ROI: $729,200 Out of State 30 Year Net ROI: $669,800
The University of Arizona is a public research university and is one of the elected members of the Association of American Universities. The University of Arizona is also considered to be one of the nation's "Public Ivies" providing students with a high caliber education, at a public university price. The admittance rate is among the highest on any of our regional lists, making it one of the most accessible high quality universities in the country.
U.S. News Ranking: #58 In State 30 Year Net ROI: $708,300 Out of State 30 Year Net ROI: $641,900
This teaching and research university was founded in 1874 and boasts some of the most sophisticated research tools in the world in its research facilities. Over 15,000 undergraduates attend the university's eighteen colleges and schools.
U.S. News Ranking: #101 In State 30 Year Net ROI: $635,900 Out of State 30 Year Net ROI: $584,800
The university of Wyoming features 190 undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, and 200 student clubs and organizations. The school is a public research university, and is situated in a beautiful area of Wyoming uniquely suited to the school's famous outdoor program.
U.S. News Ranking: #88 In State 30 Year Net ROI: $623,000 Out of State 30 Year Net ROI: $586,400
The flagship university of the state university system of New Mexico is the University of New Mexico. There is plenty of space for the 35,000+ students on the 600 acre campus. Diversity is a part of the culture at the University of New Mexico, with a Hispanic enrollment four times the national average, and a Native American enrollment more than five times the national average.
U.S. News Ranking: #101 In State 30 Year Net ROI: $563,900 Out of State 30 Year Net ROI: $504,000
The University of Oregon is one of only two members of the Association of American Universities in the pacific northwest. The school has a rich academic tradition including numerous Nobel Laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, Fulbright Scholars and Rhodes Scholars. The 295 acre campus features massive facilities to be used by the school's 20,000+ undergraduate students and 3,700+ graduate students.
U.S. News Ranking: #53 In State 30 Year Net ROI: $551,700 Out of State 30 Year Net ROI: $479,600
The flagship university of the greater Hawaiian state university system features the state's only law and medical schools. The school is the primary public research university in the state. The school is on the small side for state schools with just over 13,000 undergraduate students, giving it more of a close-knit feel than many of the larger state universities.
U.S. News Ranking: #85 In State 30 Year Net ROI: $442,600 Out of State 30 Year Net ROI: $383,700