PALO ALTO, Calif. (KRON) — Stanford University is superior to the University of California Berkeley as a valuable stepping stone for students, according to the latest annual rankings by Niche.

Niche released its 2023 Best Colleges Rankings on Monday for more than 4,000 institutions of higher learning. This year, Stanford surpassed Harvard University to be named the #2 Best College in America. The prestigious private university in Palo Alto was second only to Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Stanford was also ranked #1 for Best Value College in the San Francisco Bay Area.

“The most significant change made this year was an overhaul of the ‘value’ methodology. As ‘value’ is a factor in numerous categories, the change impacted many rankings, including the overall Best Colleges,” Niche researchers wrote.

2023 Best Value Colleges in the San Francisco Bay Area

  1. Stanford University
  2. California State University – Maritime Academy
  3. University of California – Berkeley
  4. Santa Clara University
  5. Dominican University of California

“Even before the pandemic, high school students and their families were questioning the value of higher education,” said Ryan Bell, principal strategist at Niche. “Our updates to our ‘value’ methodology come at a time when prospective college students are more intent on choosing a school that will yield a good return on investment than ever before. We hope our new and improved value rankings will help those students make one of the most important financial decisions of their lives.”

Niche’s summary of Stanford states, “Stanford is an elite private university. It is a mid-size institution with an enrollment of 5,752 undergraduate students. Admissions is extremely competitive as the Stanford acceptance rate is only 5%. Popular majors include Computer Science, Biology, and Engineering. Graduating 95% of students, Stanford alumni go on to earn a starting salary of $70,400.”

To create the college rankings, Niche combines data from sources such as the U.S. Department of Education with user input — millions of reviews and ratings from current students, alumni, and parents — in a thorough analysis of factors including academics, campus, and value for the financial investment. For this year’s rankings, Niche also evaluated each university and college’s Return On Investment.

2023 Best Colleges in America:

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  2. Stanford University
  3. Harvard University
  4. Yale University
  5. Princeton University

Niche also ranked the nation’s top public universities and rated the University of California Los Angeles as #1. UC Berkeley landed in the #9 spot for public universities.

Niche’s UC Berkeley summary states, “UC Berkeley is a highly rated public university. It is a large institution with an enrollment of 29,300 undergraduate students. Admissions is competitive as the UC Berkeley acceptance rate is 17%. Popular majors include Computer Science, Economics, and Cellular Biology. Graduating 92% of students, UC Berkeley alumni go on to earn a starting salary of $48,700.”

2023 Best Public Colleges in America:

  1. University of California Los Angeles
  2. University of Michigan Ann Arbor
  3. Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)
  4. University of Virginia
  5. United States Military Academy West Point (West Point)

Niche is an online platform connecting students and families with schools. For the full list of 2023 rankings, go to