The Ivy League is a collegiate athletic conference comprising sports teams from eight private institutions of higher education in the Northeastern United States. The conference name is also commonly used to refer to those eight schools as a group. The eight institutions are Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University. The term Ivy League has connotations of academic excellence, selectivity in admissions, and social elitism.
The term became official after the formation of the NCAA Division I athletic conference in 1954. The use of the phrase is no longer limited to athletics, and now represents an educational philosophy inherent to the nation's oldest schools. Seven of the eight schools were founded during the United States colonial period; the exception is Cornell, which was founded in 1865. Ivy League institutions account for seven of the nine Colonial Colleges chartered before the
American Revolution, the other two being Rutgers University and College of William & Mary.
Ivy League schools are viewed as some of the most prestigious, and are ranked among the best universities worldwide. All eight universities place in the top twenty of the U.S. News & World Report 2014 university rankings, including the top four schools and six of the top ten. Each school receives millions of dollars in research grants and other subsidies from federal and state government.
Undergraduate enrollments range from about 4,000 to 14,000, making them larger than those of a typical private liberal arts college and smaller than a typical public state university. Total enrollments, including graduate students, range from approximately 6,100 at Dartmouth to over 20,000 at Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, and Penn. Ivy League financial endowments range from Brown's $2.7 billion to Harvard's $32.3 billion, the largest financial endowment of any academic institution in the world.