Ivy league schools turn heads when named dropped. They're acclaimed for offering a prestigious education. Whether it's the best is up for debate, but there's no argument when a student lands a spot at an Ivy league school, it produces an audible, "Wow". What you might not know is that the employees at these schools are eligible for some pretty stellar benefits. If I had to guess, they know that, in order to provide the best education, you need the best employees. How do you attract them? Offer irresistible employee benefits.
According to the U.S. News rankings, the top 3 universities in the U.S. (in 2020) are as follows: Princeton at first, Harvard at second, and a three-way tie for third between Columbia, MIT, and Yale. Although MIT isn't technically an Ivy league school, its reputation is certainly Ivy-league status.
All of these schools offer superb benefits for all of their employees, not simply professors and administration. Because the benefits offered between these universities is so varied, we'll rank the universities based on categories. For this article, those include:
Quality of life
Let's dive in.
Note: The information is based on what's available on the university websites. Whatever professional services and benefits not listed on those websites is not evaluated here.
Health care is our first category of ivy league employee benefits. By health care, we're talking specifically about benefits such as insurance, tax savings, prescription procurement, and more.
1. Columbia University
Columbia University's health benefits are highly flexible.
Although not all employees have access to all benefits, as a whole, the benefits offered are extremely comprehensive. The typical employee will get medical, dental, vision, prescription drug, life, disability, and retirement.
Along with that, some employees will have access to FSAs and HSAs.
Columbia also allows its faculty and staff to engage in "virtual visits" wherein they speak to a physician online before actually setting up an appointment. This service, however, is not free.
2. Harvard University
Harvard gets second seed to Columbia when it comes to health benefits but just barely. As with Columbia, health benefits at Harvard run beyond the gamut of what you'd expect. These benefits include medical, dental, vision, disability, life, and retirement insurance. They also offer FSAs. A bonus to the health insurance offered during retirement is that Harvard will also continue to pay out insurance for any dependents you have on your plan. The only potential problem with Harvard's medical insurance is that it appears to only work within Harvard's specific, proprietary network, so it's somewhat inflexible.
Princeton's health benefits are great as well, but lacking just one or two benefits offered at Harvard and Columbia. The benefits offered at Princeton include: medical, dental, vision, mental health, prescription drug, and retiree insurance.
Yale's health benefits seem almost identical to Princeton's. In other words, they're also quite good. Employees get medical, dental, vision, disability, and retiree insurance. One bonus to working at Yale, that I've not seen listed on the websites of these other universities, is free counseling for Yale employees. That's pretty cool.
I don't know whether it's just that the information on the website was lacking or whether there's truly not as much to offer in the way of health benefits at MIT, but they came in last. That doesn't mean their health benefits are bad by any stretch of the imagination. Actually, they're quite standard: medical, dental, prescription drug, and retirement. They also have FSA options.
Quality of Life
Quality of life is our next category of ivy league employee benefits. This category includes any benefits that help employees maintain a sense of well-being and satisfaction in their jobs. Employee assistance programs, for example, are important for this category as is paid time off. This is also, in part, tied in with child care, as having child care options for parents on campus ties directly into their quality of life. I did not count gyms, or similar recreational facilities, in this evaluation, as virtually every University has those available to both staff and students.
1. Columbia University
It shouldn't surprise that Columbia takes first in this category as well, considering their health benefits are some of the best.
The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) through Humana at Columbia provides 24/7 counseling, mental health consultation, up to 3 sessions of short term counseling, identity theft protection, and a life coach available over phone or online.
They provide emergency travel assistance when going a distance of over 100 miles, with cash advances of up to $1,500 and reimbursement.
One of the cooler quality of life benefits available at Columbia is it's personal health advocates, nurses with 10 or more years of experience that help you do everything from booking appointments to negotiating insurance claims.
If that's not enough, the university also provides a toll-free line to a nurse 24/7. Alongside this, you can actually preempt a doctor's appointment with a virtual visit, basically an online consultation with a physician--you just pay a co-pay.
Finally, Columbia offers great paid time off: including 20-25 days vacation and 12 holidays.
While MIT's standard health care benefits don't seem especially outstanding, their well-being and quality of life benefits are superb. They probably have the most robust EAP on this list, boasting everything from financial and legal assistance to grief counseling and sleep coaching.
Along with that, they offer fitness and weight-loss reimbursement, work-life balance seminars, on-site child care services, and student loan repayment guidance.
Finally, their paid time off seems equivalent to Columbia's, with 4 weeks paid vacation, 12 holidays, and even a sick-time calculator that's pretty nifty.
Yale's got pretty robust quality of life benefits as well. In fact, some of their benefits are quite unique.
One of the most unique components of Yale's well-being and quality of life benefits is that the entire campus is tobacco-free (a potential negative for smokers out there). Other unique benefits include a home-buyer program and a personal assistant who can help you do everything from booking flights to taking notes (this is only available to certain faculty and managerial staff). Also, Yale offers great options for commuting to work or school.
Yale's EAP seems comparable to Columbia's, the best feature of which seems to be its free 24/7 counseling and support services.
If flexible work arrangements are something you need, Yale's committed to helping staff make those.
The biggest negative to working at Yale is that, although it offers paid time off, as is expected, it's the least time offered among universities on this list. You can expect 15-20 vacation days, depending on what your role is, and 8 holidays.
What's working against Princeton a bit here is that it's well-being benefits information is scattered on the site. What I managed to dig up is pretty good though.
Princeton offers a pretty standard EAP to help with everyday life challenges.
It's more unique quality of life benefits include:
The data on their PTO is not as available as with other universities, but 10 holidays are mentioned and vacation/sick time is available.
Although Harvard's standard health care benefits are pretty stellar, there's not much to their quality of life benefits available online.
They've got what appears to be a very basic EAP. Where they really shine, though, is there child care options, such as their six-on campus centers. They've also got flexible work arrangements through their FlexWork program. Like Yale, they've got a home-buyer assistance program.
Also, their PTO is pretty stellar. It's pretty much equal to Columbia's, including 4 weeks vacation and 12 holidays.
The child care ivy league employee benefits category includes resources and benefits that help parents take care of their children while working. This means child care services, baby sitting resources, financial aid, and, in some cases, even adoption assistance.
MIT's child care benefits shine among ivy league employee benefits. They have pretty much all of the options available to any other university on this list and then some. Those options are:
On-campus child care centers
Back-up child care (baby sitting)
Financial assistance such as scholarships
Undergraduate loans for dependents
No-cost special needs programs
If you're raising a kid and working, MIT might just be the place to do it.
Harvard barely loses out to MIT in terms of child care benefits. They've got all of the same sorts of benefits except for parenting seminars and no-cost special needs programs. Their adoption assistance includes putting $5,000 toward adopting a child. They also boast FSAs toward child care, and, unique among all the universities listed here, they have 45 lactation rooms on-campus.
Not quite as robust as MIT or Harvard, Yale still offers some nice options for child care. They offer in-house baby sitting options, care givers on call, and BUCA. In addition, they have some cool summer camp programs. For staff worried about safe driving and car seats, they can also participate in their car seat safety program, free of charge.
Columbia's child care programs and services are not quite as robust as some of the other universities on this list. They do participate in BUCA. They've also got tuition programs, and for some police officers, they have FSA options.
Princeton offers on-campus care centers and discounts at affiliated care centers in the community. Beyond that, there's doesn't seem to be as robust options for child care at Princeton.
All of these universities offer some awesome incentives to work for them, and this article just shows the tip of the iceberg. There's much more to the benefits, including benefits for diversity, education/training, and retirement. Unfortunately, for this article, we simply don't have the space to discuss every category of ivy league employee benefits in this article. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to file some applications...