While most colleges and universities gain notoriety through the strength of their graduate-level programs, the majority of college students in the U.S. never advance beyond a four-year degree, making it often hard to judge which institutions are best for those on the undergraduate level. To help students gauge which universities are the best for attaining an undergraduate degree, the U.S. News & World report conducts a survey of college administrators every spring that ranks the top U.S. universities in undergraduate programs.

Here’s the list of the top 12 national universities for undergraduates in 2012:

  • Dartmouth College
    Hanover, NH

     Founded in 1769, Dartmouth is a private, Ivy League institution that is home to some impressive liberal arts programs as well as numerous prestigious postgraduate programs. 

  • Princeton University
    Princeton, NJ

    Princeton is unique among Ivy League research universities due to its stated, unflagging commitment to undergraduate studies. 

  • Miami University–Oxford
    Oxford, OH

    The 10th oldest public university in the U.S., Mixami University has routinely shown its commitment towards providing an Ivy League-style education for as many students as possible, currently housing over 20,000 students system-wide.

  • Brown University
    Providence, RI

    Taking only 8.9% of all undergraduate applications each year, Brown is one of the world’s most selective undergraduate institutions. But their exclusivity also allows for smaller class sizes and a greater investment in those students who make it in.

  • Yale University
    New Haven, CT

    Originally founded to train clergy in 1718, Yale is the third oldest university in the United States and has since become one of the best funded universities on the planet and has been the alma mater of five U.S. presidents.

  • College of William and Mary
    Williamsburg, VA

    The second oldest university in the United States, William and Mary spent its firs 300 years as a private institution before becoming public in 1905. Since then, it maintains intimate class sizes in order to provide personalized experiences for its undergraduates. 

  • University of Michigan–Ann Arbor
    Ann Arbor, MI

    One of the founding members of the Association of American Universities, University of Michigan prides itself on being one of eight “Public Ivy” institutions, and provides world-class education to 40,000 students across its undergraduate and graduate programs.

  • Duke University
    Durham, NC

    While famous for its athletic programs, Duke has a campus that spans over 8,600 acres and ranks 35th in the world for academic excellence.

  • University of California–Berkeley
    Berkley, CA

    Offering over 350 undergraduate degrees, the UofC at Berkely is the oldest campus of the ten major campuses of the University of California, and through its mission to provide both “classical and practical” education to its undergrads, it also stands out as the University of California’s flagship institution.

  • University of Chicago
    Chicago, IL

    While primarily serving postgraduate students and its massive $423.7 million research budget, the University of Chicago is also known for instilling strong  critical thinking and interdisciplinary practices in its undergraduate students. The University of Chicago is also affiliated with 87 Nobel Laureates.

  • University of Maryland–Baltimore County
    Baltimore, MD

    With a strong emphasis on teaching the natural sciences, information technology, engineering, human services, and public policy on the undergraduate level since the late 60′s, few universities better prepare students for the current job market than this.

  • University of Notre Dame
    Notre Dame, IN 

    Although famously known as one of the largest Catholic research universities in the country, Notre Dame prides itself on championing social issues and hosts one of the largest female populations of any university.