Best Colleges by State | TheBestSchools

by TBS Staff

Updated September 14, 2022

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Discover the Best Colleges Ranked by State

All colleges on this list are the top-ranked schools in their state, making it easier for students to find a quality program near them.

Students who earn degrees from the best state schools qualify for high-paying and in-demand careers. This guide ranks the best college in each state based on our ranking methodology. This information can help individuals evaluate programs, but learners should also keep their own priorities in mind when considering institutions. Needing a specific concentration, for instance, may eliminate higher-ranking schools as options for some learners.

These rankings include public and private institutions with a variety of different degree options, concentrations, delivery methods, costs, and online program availability. Candidates should consider all of these details when looking for good colleges.

Our guide contains everything you need to know about the top colleges in each state, to answer the question: What are the top colleges and universities near me?

Featured Online Colleges

Best Colleges by State

Arizona State University-Tempe

School Information
Location Tempe, Arizona
Admission Rate 86%
Graduation Rate 63%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 47% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Public

Concentrations Available: Art and design, behavioral sciences, business, communication and digital media, computer science and technology, education, engineering, geographical sciences and urban planning, health and wellness, history, information technology, language, liberal arts, management, nursing, nutrition, sustainability, criminal justice

Accredited By: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? No

At its Tempe campus, Arizona State University delivers research and exploration opportunities. The campus is the most solar-powered of any higher education institution in the country, making ASU one of the best universities for biodesign and sustainability.

Students can pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in areas including business, health, design, and education. ASU features schools of engineering, global futures, and integrative sciences and arts. The university enrolls more than 71,000 students across four campuses.

Available Scholarships: New American University Scholarship

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Berea College

School Information
Location Berea, Kentucky
Admission Rate 30%
Graduation Rate 68%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Fast Facts

School Type: Private

Concentrations Available: African and African American studies, agriculture and natural resources, Appalachian studies, art and art history, Asian studies, biology, business, chemistry, child and family studies, communication, computer science, economics, education studies, engineering technologies and applied design, English, foreign languages, health and human performance, history, mathematics, music, nursing, peace and social justice studies, philosophy physics, political science, psychology, sociology, studies of religions and spirituality, sustainability and environmental studies, theater, women's and gender studies

Accredited By: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? N/A

Founded in 1855, Berea College was the South's first interracial and coeducational college. Today, the school enrolls 1,652 students from 41 states, two U.S. territories, and 77 countries. Approximately 71% of Berea's enrollees come from Appalachia, and the median income for first-year students' families falls below $30,000 per year.

Unique among this list of best colleges by state, Berea is one of eight federally recognized work colleges in the United States. These schools offer work programs through which students earn their education rather than paying tuition. First-year applicants must meet academically competitive admission criteria.

Available Scholarships: Labor Program

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Bismarck State College

School Information
Location Bismarck, North Dakota
Graduation Rate 52%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 54% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Public

Concentrations Available: Cybersecurity, energy, health sciences, manufacturing and automation, agriculture, transportation and construction, business and law, communications and information systems

Accredited By: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? No

A polytechnic institution in North Dakota, Bismarck State College offers professional certificates, associate degrees, and bachelor's degrees. One of the top colleges in North Dakota, BSC provides a variety of majors, including industrial automation, engineering, nursing, and farm and ranch management.

The school's campus overlooks the Missouri River and contains an energy center, wellness center, and library. BSC's soccer team plays in a 6,000-seat stadium the school shares with surrounding institutions.

First-year applicants submit transcripts and placement assessments. Applicants to the school's competitive energy programs may need to meet other requirements.

Available Scholarships: ND Academic and ND Career and Technical Education Scholarship

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Boise State University

School Information
Location Boise, Idaho
Admission Rate 77%
Graduation Rate 51%
Accreditation Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Percent Online Enrollment 39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Public

Concentrations Available: Accountancy, anthropology, biological sciences, communication, computer science, conflict management, construction management, educational technology, geosciences, global studies, information technology and supply chain management, kinesiology, military science, physics, sociology, world languages

Accredited By: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? No

Boise State University is a research institution located in Idaho. One of the best universities for graduate students, the school offers more than 200 programs, including 15 doctoral degrees. Unique among this list of the best colleges by state, Boise State offers a master's degree in raptor biology. The school's teaching faculty includes a NASA astronaut.

Boise State enrolls more than 24,000 students and offers majors including nursing, psychology, biology, computer science, construction management, and kinesiology. Learners can also earn their degree online.

Due to its location, Boise State offers access to urban and rural opportunities. On-campus students can attend Broncos sporting events.

Available Scholarships: True Blue Promise

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Bowdoin College

School Information
Location Brunswick, Maine
Admission Rate 9%
Graduation Rate 95%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

Fast Facts

School Type: Private

Concentrations Available: Africana studies; anthropology; arctic studies; art; Asian studies; biochemistry; biology; chemistry; cinema studies; classics; coastal studies; computer science; digital and computational studies; earth and oceanographic science; economics; education; engineering; English; environmental studies; gender, sexuality, and women's studies; German; government and legal studies; history; Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx studies; legal studies; mathematics; Middle Eastern and North African studies; music; neuroscience; philosophy; physics; psychology; religion; romance languages and literatures; Russian; sociology; theater and dance; urban studies

Accredited By: New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE)

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? N/A

Located in Brunswick, Bowdoin College was founded in 1794, making it 26 years older than the state of Maine. Today, the college enrolls 1,805 students and offers 33 majors. Distinctive among the country's top colleges, Bowdoin does not include loans in its financial aid packages, instead offering grants.

Bowdoin supports the McKeen Center for the Common Good. The school also values sustainability, and its newest academic building is LEED platinum certified. Applicants to Bowdoin submit evidence of an exemplary academic record.

Available Scholarships: National Merit Scholarship

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Brown University

School Information
Location Providence, Rhode Island
Admission Rate 7%
Graduation Rate 96%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

Fast Facts

School Type: Private

Concentrations Available: Africana studies; American studies; anthropology; applied mathematics; behavioral and social sciences; biology; biostatistics; chemistry; classics; cognitive, linguistic, and psychological sciences; comparative literature; computer science; earth, environmental, and planetary sciences; East Asian studies; ecology and evolutionary biology; economics; education; egyptology and assyriology; English; epidemiology; French studies; German studies; health services, policy and practice; Hispanic studies; history of art and architecture; history; Italian studies; Judaic studies; literary arts; mathematics; modern culture and media; molecular biology, cell biology, and biochemistry; molecular microbiology and immunology; molecular pharmacology, physiology, and biotechnology; music; neuroscience; pathology and laboratory medicine; philosophy; physics; political science; Portuguese and Brazilian studies; religious studies; science, technology, and society; Slavic languages; sociology; theater arts and performance studies; visual art

Accredited By: New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE)

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? N/A

Founded in 1764, Brown University serves more than 7,000 undergraduate students from its campus in Providence, Rhode Island. Brown also enrolls 2,600 graduate learners and 585 medical students.

One of the best universities for innovative learning, Brown offers an open curriculum. Under this model, students sample a variety of courses before choosing an academic concentration.

Brown maintains numerous libraries, museums, collections, and research centers. Students can participate in study-abroad initiatives or learn at one of Brown's global partner universities. Undergraduate applicants for the 2022-23 academic year do not have to submit standardized test scores.

Available Scholarships: Brown University Scholarship

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Columbia University in the City of New York

School Information
Location New York, New York
Admission Rate 5%
Graduation Rate 95%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 6% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Private

Concentrations Available: Architecture, arts, business, climate, journalism, law, dentistry, engineering, applied science, Jewish theology, nursing, medicine, professional studies, public health, social work, teaching, theology

Accredited By: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? N/A

Located in the heart of New York City, Columbia University has provided higher education for more than 250 years. The university maintains six campuses, 16 colleges and schools, four affiliated institutions, and 10 global centers. Columbia's library houses more than 13 million volumes and 160,000 journal subscriptions.

In 2020, Columbia received more than 40,000 undergraduate applications and admitted about 2,500 new learners, an admission rate of approximately 6%. Institutional financial aid covered about 46% of undergraduate students' costs. Applicants should provide evidence of strong academic performance and intellectual curiosity.

Available Scholarships: Lydia C. Chamberlain Fellowship

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Dartmouth College

School Information
Location Hanover, New Hampshire
Admission Rate 8%
Graduation Rate 95%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 2% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Private

Concentrations Available: African and African American studies; anthropology; art history; Asian societies, cultures, and languages; biological sciences; chemistry; classics; cognitive science; comparative literature; computer science; earth sciences; economics; education; engineering sciences; English and creative writing; environmental studies; film and media studies; French and Italian; geography; German studies; government; history; Jewish studies; Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean studies; linguistics; mathematics; Middle Eastern studies; music; Native American and indigenous studies; philosophy; psychological and brain sciences; physics and astronomy; quantitative social science; religion; Russian; sociology; Spanish and Portuguese; studio art; theater; women's, gender, and sexuality studies

Accredited By: New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE)

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? N/A

Founded in 1769 by the Royal Governor of New Hampshire, Dartmouth College educates students through more than 40 academic departments and programs.

The school maintains a 7-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. Dartmouth's 75 research centers and institutes focus on topics including cancer immunotherapy, cybersecurity, climate change, and social justice.

Dartmouth sits on a 269-acre campus in Hanover, bordering the Connecticut River. On-campus students can enjoy nearby mountains, the arts district, and a winter carnival. Applicants should demonstrate their potential to excel academically through a sufficient GPA or a rigorous educational background.

Available Scholarships: Dartmouth Endowed Scholarships

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Duke University

School Information
Location Durham, North Carolina
Admission Rate 8%
Graduation Rate 95%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 6% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Private

Concentrations Available: African and African American Studies; Air Force ROTC; Army ROTC; art, art history and visual studies; Asian and Middle Eastern studies; biology; chemistry; classical studies; computer science; cultural anthropology; dance; economics; education; English; evolutionary anthropology; gender, sexuality, and feminist studies; German studies; health, wellness, and physical education; international comparative studies; history; linguistics; literature: mathematics; music; Navy ROTC; philosophy; physics; political science; psychology and neuroscience; religious studies; romance studies; Slavic and Eurasian studies; sociology; statistical science; theatre studies

Accredited By: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? N/A

Founded in 1838 as a preparatory school for young men, Duke University became a Methodist school in 1859. The institution assumed its current name in 1924.

Today, the university is an inclusive and diverse research institution. Duke enrolls 16,780 learners studying a variety of academic disciplines. Duke's undergraduate students choose from 137 areas of study. The school's most popular majors include biology, economics, psychology, computer science, and public policy.

One of the best universities for research, Duke maintains initiatives, institutes, and centers in areas including ethics, global health, brain science, environmental policy, and entrepreneurship.

Available Scholarships: Duke Merit Scholarships

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Harvard University

School Information
Location Cambridge, Massachusetts
Admission Rate 5%
Graduation Rate 97%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 18% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Fast Facts

School Type: Private

Concentrations Available: Business, divinity, arts and sciences, design, education, engineering and applied sciences, law, government, medicine, dental medicine, public health

Accredited By: New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE)

Do Distance Learners Pay In-State Tuition? N/A

The first college in the American colonies, Harvard University graduated its first class in 1642. Today, Harvard enrolls more than 35,200 students. The university claims more than 400,000 alumni around the world.

Harvard maintains 12 schools and an institute. The university also offers online programs, executive education programs, and continuing education courses. Harvard assumes a global perspective and maintains a commitment to serving the local community.

Online students can enroll in some free courses. Distance learners can pursue a degree through Harvard's extension school.

Available Scholarships: Charles Downer Scholarship Fund

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The Best Colleges by State Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at TheBestSchools.org, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from AcademicInfluence.com, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

In all our school rankings and recommendations, we work for objectivity and balance. We carefully research and compile each ranking list, and as stated in our advertising disclosure, we do NOT permit financial incentives to influence rankings. Our articles never promote or disregard a school for financial gain.

If you have questions about our ranking methodology, please feel free to connect with our staff through contact page.

We thank you for your readership and trust.

Why Should I Look at Colleges Near Me?

Students who attend local colleges and universities often benefit from lower tuition rates. Many public institutions offer tuition discounts for in-state students, and local students also save money on the travel costs compared to out-of-state students.

Additionally, programs in fields such as education, social work, and healthcare may reflect local standards for licenses and certifications. Therefore, choosing in-state schools means students can earn professional credentials in their local area instead of only being qualified for out-of-state credentials.

Local employers may also recognize in-state institutions more easily than out-of-state options, which can help graduates secure employment.

How to Choose a Program

Individuals should consider programs that offer majors, concentrations, and electives that support their goals and interests. Prospective learners should also consider cost in addition to faculty and department recognition before committing to a program. Other important considerations include course delivery methods, program length, and available financial aid opportunities.

Accreditation

Students should always verify a school's accreditation status before committing to a program. Accreditation indicates that a school meets high standards with respect to factors like faculty qualifications, student learning outcomes, and academic rigor. Schools may hold national or regional accreditation, with regional accreditation generally considered the more prestigious of the two. Certain programs within a school, such as social work, business, and education programs, may also hold programmatic accreditation.

Accreditation benefits students in several ways. For instance, only students at accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid, and many schools only accept degrees and transfer credits from accredited institutions. Additionally, many professional licenses and certifications require an accredited degree.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Should I Go to College?

Many high-paying and in-demand careers require a college degree. The Social Security Administration reports an increase in lifetime earnings for each advance in degree level.

Should I Go Away to College or Stay Local?

Local programs may cost less money, but nearby schools often don't offer programs aligned with a particular student's needs, goals, and interests. Degree-seekers should consider several factors to find the right school for them, including cost, concentrations and program offerings, and delivery format.

Should I Go To Community College Before College?

Community colleges are typically more affordable than four-year institutions, so students looking to save money on a four-year degree can benefit from earning an associate degree at a community college before transferring to a bachelor's program.

Is College Worth It?

High-paying and fast-growing careers often require a degree. Degrees from top colleges also build students' professional skills, which can improve job performance and lead to career advancement.

Why Should I Go To Online College?

Online colleges typically offer more accessibility, flexibility, and affordability than on-campus colleges.

Affordable College Options

Students can start budgeting for their education by choosing an affordable school. Depending on your educational and professional goals, you can explore several options.

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