Ceria nanoparticles with 20 and 40 at.% RE (RE = Y, Sm, Gd, and Yb) dopants were synthesized through a microemulsion method. Independently of the dopant nature and concentration, nearly monodispersed nanoparticles of size 3-5 nm were observed in high resolution transmission electron microscopic analysis. The ceria lattice either expands or contracts depending on the dopant cation ionic radii, as indicated by x-ray diffraction studies. X-ray photoelectron and Raman spectroscopic studies were used to quantify the cerium oxidation state and oxygen vacancy concentration. The results show the tunability of the oxygen vacancy and Ce(3+) concentrations based on the dopant properties. First principles simulations using the free energy density functional theory method support the observed experimental trends. The reported results establish a relationship between the oxygen vacancies and oxidation states in doped ceria required for tailoring properties in catalytic and biomedical applications.