Highest Research & Development Funding

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Many of the best colleges and universities foster academic excellence outside of the traditional classroom. Research and development (R&D) refers to the resources a school puts into improving their institution and advancing ideas in major fields of study. These universities conduct research into fields such as medicine, engineering, criminal justice, sociology, and computer science. For students, R&D funding creates more opportunities to work with professors and industry experts. By conducting their own research, students can earn academic publication, fellowships, awards, and exclusive career opportunities.

According to the Center for Measuring University Performance, R&D is one of the major ways schools bridge the gap between the availability of information and active student participation. Student research presents advantages for both students and the university as a whole. Students gain career-building experience and schools gain funding and prestige. Colleges can publicize student achievements to boost the reputation of their academic departments, thereby increasing enrollment and opportunities for grants.

This guide provides data on the R&D of 20 public and private universities in the U.S. Each entry includes details on resource allocation and student engagement. Prospective students can gain insight into which schools best suit their research interests.

See Methodology
Rank School Name Location Description
1 Johns Hopkins University Research and Development Funding - 2016 $2,431,180 LOCATION Baltimore, MD

For over 140 years, Johns Hopkins University has maintained its reputation as one of the best institutions for academic research. The National Science Foundation places the school as the top university in R&D expenditure for the past nine years. Twenty-seven Nobel Prize winners are associated with Johns Hopkins, including current professor Dr. Adam Riess. University researchers have made significant achievements, including the confirmation of the authenticity of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1948 and the development of the first effective treatment for sickle cell anemia in 1995. Though all students benefit from research initiatives at Johns Hopkins, bachelor's degree candidates enjoy extensive support from major departments and the Office of Undergraduate Research. Bachelor's students also have access to travel awards and the Woodrow Wilson Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program.

Total R&D Expenditure: $2,431,180
Science: $1,398,570
Engineering: $1,026,629
Other: $5,987

Funding Sources:
Federal government: $2,104,653
State and local government: $6,107
Institution funds: $96,513
Businesses: $75,327
Nonprofit organizations: $138,981
Other donors: $9,599

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2 University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Research and Development Funding - 2016 $1,436,448 LOCATION Ann Arbor, MI

The University of Michigan - Ann Arbor has maintained the second highest R&D expenditure in the U.S. since 2010. U-M emphasizes interdisciplinary research in areas such as poverty solutions, RNA biomedicine, sport science, and urban collaboratory. The university also allocates funding for engineering and science practical applications, including pharmaceutical testing and automated transport systems. Master's and doctoral students can enroll in one of the university's research-intensive graduate programs. U-M provides generous funding for faculty and staff projects, as well as research opportunities for undergraduate students. Students can participate in summer programs for pharmaceutical, pre-medical, and cancer research. U-M also offers internships with organizations such as the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Total R&D Expenditure: $1,436,448
Science: $1,063,298
Engineering: $293,290
Other: $79,220

Funding Sources:
Federal government: $786,749
State and local government: $3,428
Institution funds: $503,955
Businesses: $69,932
Nonprofit organizations: $56,625
Other donors: $15,759

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3 University of Pennsylvania Research and Development Funding - 2016 $1,296,429 LOCATION Philadelphia, PA

One of the top public research institutions in the U.S., the University of Pennsylvania spends nearly $1.3 million annually in R&D. The school has supported academic research since it was founded in 1740. The Penn Compact 2020, the university's official plan for the future, emphasizes the university's capacity for innovative research resulting in actionable knowledge. Current projects include treatment for severe depression through brain analysis, immunotherapy for B-cell lymphoma, and interdisciplinary research on how to turn biomedical discoveries into marketable innovations. UPenn operates dozens of research centers and partners with organizations such as the Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research, the Energy Research Group, and the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute. Students can access internships with university partners and other organizations in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. The Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships connects students to scholarships and faculty mentors.

Total R&D Expenditure: $1,296,429
Science: $1,079,467
Engineering: $61,366
Other: $155,596

Funding Sources:
Federal government: $655,791
State and local government: $11,671
Institution funds: $429,433
Businesses: $116,812
Nonprofit organizations: $78,762
Other donors: $3,960

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4 University of California - San Francisco Research and Development Funding - 2016 $1,294,261 LOCATION San Francisco, CA

The University of California San Francisco focuses its R&D exclusively on health sciences. The school funds innovative projects that improve patient care and lead to medical breakthroughs, including in utero stem cell transplants. UCSF operates several healthcare facilities in California, including the Benioff Children's Hospitals and the San Francisco Veteran Affairs Medical Center. The university's Global Health Group stands at the forefront of eliminating malaria in 35 countries around the world. Five Nobel Prize winners have graduated from UCSF, all of whom won the award for physiology and medicine. UCSF's programs emphasize translational research and precision medicine. UCSF also operates one of the largest physician training programs in California and the largest endowed Ph.D. program in UC history. The school hosts a state-of-the-art Teaching and Learning Center where students can develop skills through simulation training.

Total R&D Expenditure: $1,294,261
Science: $1,294,261
Engineering: $0
Other: $0

Funding Sources:
Federal government: $602,705
State and local government: $35,058
Institution funds: $309,461
Businesses: $78,268
Nonprofit organizations: $163,392
Other donors: $105,377

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5 University of Washington - Seattle Research and Development Funding - 2016 $1,277,679 LOCATION Seattle, WA

The University of Washington supports a global vision for education and academic research. The university operates 296 research centers around the world, including the Southeast Asia Center and the Statistical Center for HIV/AIDS Research and Prevention. The Office of Research offers project planning assistance, proposal guidance, and funding opportunities. UW emphasizes social science research, with initiatives in collaborative governance and human rights. The large-scale Population Health Initiative seeks to solve challenges concerning environmental resilience, human health, and social and economic equity. Students can conduct their own research or collaborate on an existing interdisciplinary project. Students can also gain hands-on experience with community organizations and international research institutes.

Total R&D Expenditure: $1,277,679
Science: $1,064,645
Engineering: $133,128
Other: $79,906

Funding Sources:
Federal government: $946,787
State and local government: $15,087
Institution funds: $105,640
Businesses: $43,396
Nonprofit organizations: $117,531
Other donors: $49,238

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6 University of Wisconsin - Madison Research and Development Funding - 2016 $1,157,680 LOCATION Madison, WI

The University of Wisconsin-Madison spends more than $1.1 million in R&D annually. Students and faculty can access resources, services, and partnerships through the Office of Campus Research Cores. The school also provides compliance and policy training on topics such as research ethics, intellectual property, and animal and human subjects. UW-Madison operates multidisciplinary research centers and institutes for fields such as space science, aging, and aquatic sciences. The Discovery to Product initiative supports student entrepreneurship and community businesses. The school encourages undergraduate research and collaboration. UW-Madison maintains industry partnerships with businesses such as ExxonMobil, American Family Insurance, and and Stratatech.

Total R&D Expenditure: $1,157,680
Science: $903,996
Engineering: $247,315
Other: $106,369

Funding Sources:
Federal government: $567,132
State and local government: $64,823
Institution funds: $367,883
Businesses: $23,930
Nonprofit organizations: $95,700
Other donors: $38,212

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7 University of California - San Diego Research and Development Funding - 2016 $1,087,117 LOCATION Sa Diego, CA

In addition to operating one of the nation's top public academic research libraries, the University of California San Diego employs some of the best physicians and scientists in the world. These researchers are responsible for innovations and advancements in such fields as nanotechnology, precision medicine, and social mobility and equity. The Office of Research Affairs offers internships, experiential learning opportunities, resources, research compliance training, and integrity training. The university provides funding through programs such as the UCSD Frontiers of Innovation Scholarship, which supports student research at all degree levels. Students and faculty can receive additional assistance through the Organized Research Units, an infrastructure for multidisciplinary collaboration, and the Office of Innovation and Commercialization, which supports entrepreneurs and cultivates a diverse economic community.

Total R&D Expenditure: $1,087,117
Science: $964,783
Engineering: $114,646
Other: $7,688

Funding Sources:
Federal government: $604,298
State and local government: $31,739
Institution funds: $193,927
Businesses: $79,400
Nonprofit organizations: $79,177
Other donors: $98,576

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8 Harvard University Research and Development Funding - 2016 $1,077,253 LOCATION Cambridge, MA

Harvard University is a world leader in research and innovation. The school hosts the world's largest academic library, 28 million works of art and artifacts, and more than 100 research centers all over the globe. Harvard spends the vast majority of its funding on scientific and medical research. Students can access internships and experiential learning opportunities through the aforementioned centers or one of the university's affiliates, including the Cambridge Health Alliance, Mount Auburn Hospital, and the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System. Each academic department contains its own research branch, enabling students to collaborate on projects that align with their studies. Harvard also offers administrative support through the Office for Sponsored Programs, the Office of Technology Development, and the Office of the Vice Provost for Research.

Total R&D Expenditure: $1,077,253
Science: $941,819
Engineering: $70,131
Other: $65,303

Funding Sources:
Federal government: $558,611
State and local government: $2,591
Institution funds: $306,914
Businesses: $50,651
Nonprofit organizations: $138,525
Other donors: $19,961

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9 Stanford University Research and Development Funding - 2016 $1,066,269 LOCATION Stanford, CA

Founded in 1891, Stanford University stands as one of the preeminent private academic and research institutions in the U.S. The school spends over $1 million each year on R&D, and much of that money goes to health-related programs and projects. Stanford not only provides exceptional patient care through its hospitals and medical centers, but also facilitates innovative research in such areas as stem cells, neuroscience, and cardiovascular health. Stanford physicians and scientists conduct bench-to-bedside investigations that translate into tangible advancements in healthcare protocols and preventative medicine. In addition to 20 academic libraries and a vast catalog of comprehensive degree programs, students can access research tools, funding, and collaborative opportunities. University centers and partners include the Child Health Research Institute, the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.

Total R&D Expenditure: $1,066,269
Science: $886,718
Engineering: $125,633
Other: $53,918

Funding Sources:
Federal government: $694,693
State and local government: $34,556
Institution funds: $105,607
Businesses: $99,469
Nonprofit organizations: $115,086
Other donors: $16,858

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10 Duke University Research and Development Funding - 2016 $1,055,778 LOCATION Durham, NC

Based in Durham, North Carolina, Duke University spends 91% of its annual R&D budget on scientific research, including prominent projects in global mercury toxicity, brain disease, and diabetes. The university connects researchers to resources and partners through the Office of Research Support and the statewide REACH NC web-based portal. Duke also provides generous funding opportunities, including corporate sponsorships and internal and external grants and fellowships. Students can access financial support for independent research, or they can engage with existing projects in the U.S. and abroad. Duke students conduct research with organizations like the Department of Defense and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. For students who are new to academic research, including bachelor's degree candidates, the Duke Undergraduate Research Support Office provides ongoing assistance.

Total R&D Expenditure: $1,055,778
Science: $969,300
Engineering: $74,746
Other: $11,732

Funding Sources:
Federal government: $575,521
State and local government: $131
Institution funds: $145,698
Businesses: $232,793
Nonprofit organizations: $87,886
Other donors: $13,749

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11 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Research and Development Funding - 2016 $1,045,338 LOCATION Chapel Hill, NC

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has quadrupled its R&D spending over the past 15 years, with current annual expenditures breaking $1 million. The school supports innovative research in areas like autism, coral reef restoration, and spinal muscular atrophy. Students can find guidance through the Office of Vice Chancellor for Research, which offers compliance guides, policy education, and funding opportunities, including the Fostering Interdisciplinary Research Explorations (FIRE) grant program. The university also supports researchers by providing assistance at every step of the project cycle, from writing the proposal to closing and assessing research. UNC partners with research centers and initiatives such as the Baity Air Engineering Laboratory, the Center for Sustainable Enterprise, and the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Disease.

Total R&D Expenditure: $1,045,338
Science: $983,552
Engineering: $29,576
Other: $32,210

Funding Sources:
Federal government: $632,426
State and local government: $29,616
Institution funds: $263,316
Businesses: $73,748
Nonprofit organizations: $67,144
Other donors: $19,088

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12 University of California - Los Angeles Research and Development Funding - 2016 $1,037,528 LOCATION Los Angeles, CA

The University of California, Los Angeles trains and employs some of the top researchers in the world, including Fulbright Scholars and Nobel Prize recipients. In addition to supporting individual projects by students, faculty, and visiting experts, UCLA also facilitates "Grand Challenges," which are large-scale, interdisciplinary research initiatives that tackle some of the most urgent issues around the globe. Current challenges include understanding and treating depression and achieving energy and water sustainability in L.A. county by 2050. Student research programs allow undergraduate students to earn college credits for the hours they conduct research. Graduate students also enjoy extensive support through assistantships, internships, and summer research programs. Additional opportunities are available through UCLA affiliates, including the California NanoSystems Institute and the Institute of American Cultures.

Total R&D Expenditure: $1,037,528
Science: $923,051
Engineering: $78,962
Other: $35,515

Funding Sources:
Federal government: $487,869
State and local government: $39,157
Institution funds: $215,703
Businesses: $62,200
Nonprofit organizations: $159,309
Other donors: $73,290

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13 Cornell University Research and Development Funding - 2016 $974,199 LOCATION Ithaca, NY

Located in Ithaca, New York, Cornell University supports innovative research projects all over the world. The university currently conducts research on cancer cells, artificial intelligence for autonomous vehicles, the psychology of happiness and memory, and marine diseases connected to global warming. Students can participate in independent and collaborative research through Cornell's state-of-the-art research centers and laboratories, including the Weill Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology and the Electroacoustic Music Center. The university also cultivates partnerships with affiliate organizations like the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. In addition to research-centered degree programs, graduate students can access funding for their own studies or join existing major projects, including Cornell's long-standing research leadership on genomics and genetics. Undergraduates may gain research skills through the school's cross-institutional initiatives and summer programs.

Total R&D Expenditure: $974,199
Science: $867,672
Engineering: $88,512
Other: $18,015

Funding Sources:
Federal government: $430,987
State and local government: $80,457
Institution funds: $252,672
Businesses: $50,096
Nonprofit organizations: $127,585
Other donors: $32,398

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14 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Research and Development Funding - 2016 $946,159 LOCATION Cambridge, MA

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology partners with leading organizations and consortia across the globe to address challenges such as sustainable energy and cancer therapies. MIT operates seven of the most renowned academic libraries in the world. Students can access citation software, data management assistance, expert resources, and publishing guides. MIT is the only university on this list that spends nearly as much money on engineering as it does on science research. The school operates the famous Lincoln Laboratory, a facility dedicated to developing technological innovations in areas like homeland protection, space systems, and air traffic control. Students can search for research programs and initiatives through a database that categorizes opportunities by field of study.

Total R&D Expenditure: $946,159
Science: $452,188
Engineering: $427,923
Other: $66,048

Funding Sources:
Federal government: $503,858
State and local government: $1,212
Institution funds: $92,076
Businesses: $158,451
Nonprofit organizations: $94,808
Other donors: $94,754

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15 University of Minnesota - Twin Cities Research and Development Funding - 2016 $910,181 LOCATION Minneapolis-Saint Paul, MN

Student, faculty, and professional researchers at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities are responsible for groundbreaking advancements in areas like HIV/AIDS medication, open heart surgery, and robotic control using non-intrusive thought translation. The U of M offers more than 200 master's and doctoral degree programs. Graduate students not only conduct research as part of their curricula, but also gain opportunities to work with campus research centers and affiliate organizations. Options include the Center for Addiction Studies, the Institute on Community Integration, and the Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute. Bachelor's degree candidates can access research guidance through the Office of Undergraduate Research, which helps students develop their own projects or collaborate on existing initiatives. All students can pursue professional development through university-sponsored internships, volunteer opportunities, and service learning engagements.

Total R&D Expenditure: $910,181
Science: $754,656
Engineering: $117,858
Other: $37,667

Funding Sources:
Federal government: $469,260
State and local government: $65,767
Institution funds: $286,657
Businesses: $33,275
Nonprofit organizations: $14,625
Other donors: $40,597

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16 Texas A & M University - College Station Research and Development Funding - 2016 $892,718 LOCATION College Station, TX

Texas A&M University spends nearly $900,000 annually on R&D. Its membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities makes it one of the top academic research institutions in the U.S. and Canada. TAMU supports a robust faculty research community and facilitates projects through its campus centers and national affiliates. Partners include the Institute for Telecommunications and Learning Technologies, the Texas Center for Climate Studies, and the Winnie Carter Wildlife Center. The university also participates in collaborative international projects in Mexico and Brazil. Master's and doctoral degree candidates can seek out opportunities through the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies, while undergraduate students can access support from the LAUNCH initiative. LAUNCH helps students explore research topics, connects them with mentors, and provides information on semester and summer programs.

Total R&D Expenditure: $892,718
Science: $569,539
Engineering: $290,413
Other: $32,766

Funding Sources:
Federal government: $293,551
State and local government: $203,853
Institution funds: $260,868
Businesses: $44,707
Nonprofit organizations: $65,433
Other donors: $44,324

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17 University of Pittsburgh Research and Development Funding - 2016 $889,793 LOCATION Pittsburgh, PA

The University of Pittsburgh boasts exceptional research centers and and one of the best critical care medicine departments in the U.S. Pitt supports multidisciplinary projects in areas such as aging, national preparedness, bioengineering, nanoscience, and translational medicine. University researchers have been responsible for important breakthroughs like the development of CPR, the synthesis of Insulin, and the discovery of the most distant galaxy known. Undergraduate students can apply for campus programs such as summer engineering internships and fellowships in neuroscience research. The university also connects students to national opportunities and offers funding for independent research projects. Pitt students enjoy access to three large academic libraries and technologically advanced biomedical and human engineering laboratories.

Total R&D Expenditure: $889,793
Science: $839,126
Engineering: $41,382
Other: $9,285

Funding Sources:
Federal government: $580,650
State and local government: $7,260
Institution funds: $154,344
Businesses: $16,701
Nonprofit organizations: $49,098
Other donors: $81,740

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18 Yale University Research and Development Funding - 2016 $881,765 LOCATION New Haven, CT

Based in New Haven, Connecticut, Yale University spends close to $900,000 in R&D expenditures, the bulk of which goes toward scientific research in such areas as quantum technologies and biomedical data science. Yale not only houses six professors recognized by the National Academy of Sciences, but also operates some of the top research institutes and laboratories in the U.S. These include the Schell Center for International Human Rights, the Cancer Biology Institute, and the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies. Students can access extensive resources and services, including funding for their own research through the Office of Sponsored Programs and opportunities to collaborate with faculty through science outreach programs. The university also provides clinical research training, safety and compliance education, and library services. The library of online resources contains 1.5 million records and 250,000 digital assets.

Total R&D Expenditure: $881,765
Science: $839,699
Engineering: $26,271
Other: $15,795

Funding Sources:
Federal government: $503,221
State and local government: $1,754
Institution funds: $239,945
Businesses: $62,274
Nonprofit organizations: $70,469
Other donors: $4,102

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19 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Research and Development Funding - 2016 $852,095 LOCATION Houston, TX

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center dedicates all R&D funding to cancer prevention, personalized risk assessment, translational research, clinical trials, and other medical research. True to its name, the center focuses on diagnosing, treating, and preventing cancer. With sponsorship from the National Cancer Institute, MD Anderson hosts specialized programs of research excellence (SPOREs) in specific cancer types, including thyroid, ovarian, multiple myeloma, and leukemia. The SPOREs not only implement multidisciplinary projects and pilot studies, but also provide advanced training and research support for scientists and physicians. Students gain access to the MD Anderson's multifarious programs and centers. Initiatives include the Bone Disease Program of Texas, the Integrative Medicine Program, and the Center for Energy Balance in Cancer Prevention and Survivorship.

Total R&D Expenditure: $852,095
Science: $852,095
Engineering: $0
Other: $0

Funding Sources:
Federal government: $155,044
State and local government: $248,301
Institution funds: $192,922
Businesses: $89,454
Nonprofit organizations: $40,814
Other donors: $125,560

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20 Columbia University Research and Development Funding - 2016 $837,312 LOCATION New York, NY

One of the top private academic institution in the U.S., Columbia University spends over $800,000 on R&D in areas like precision medicine, climate response, data and society, and next generation nano technology. In addition to offering a comprehensive list of research-intensive degrees, Columbia supports student innovation by providing compliance education, policy resources, and postdoctoral training and development. The school offers funding opportunities through internal programs and federal agencies. Students can find additional assistance through their major departments and the university's affiliate centers. Partners and affiliates include the Cardiovascular Research Initiative, the Human Rights Institute, and the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience. Columbia's Irving Medical Center is one of the top research facilities of its kind. Irving physicians and scientists are responsible for achievements such as the identification of cystic fibrosis and the first successful heart transplant in a child.

Total R&D Expenditure: $837,312
Science: $730,114
Engineering: $63,596
Other: $43,602

Funding Sources:
Federal government: $600,457
State and local government: $6,555
Institution funds: $70,264
Businesses: $53,861
Nonprofit organizations: $82,667
Other donors: $23,508

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