Public Colleges with the Best Return on Investment

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For most people, a public college immediately comes to mind when considering value in higher education. The compensation for living in-state often proves a deciding factor on ROI. Public colleges and universities simply offer a great deal of education for the money. But with more than one public college in a state, finding the very best return for your college dollar may be more challenging than it first appears. That's why we're here to help.

What makes a public college a top return on investment?

The public colleges portion of our ranking of "best return" bachelor's colleges considers student/student family yearly incomes of $48,000 or less. Here we look at public colleges that grant bachelor's degrees and offer at least five degree programs.

ROI RANKING METHODOLOGY

The data and ranking system details in the link above are shared with our 25 Online Colleges with the Best Return on Investment and 50 Private Colleges with the Best Return on Investment ranking articles.

Note: the Department of Education's IPEDS Datacenter reports the net price and tuition costs listed below, which are subject to change (when colleges report new data). While these data represent average costs across various topics, some colleges may vary their charges for classes taken online. Check each college's Web site for specific online degree tuition rates, or contact their admissions department.

Accredited Public Colleges with the Best ROI

1
University of California–Berkeley
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4

University of California–San Diego 

La Jolla, CA

About this school

Undergrads at the University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego or UCSD) can select from around 140 bachelor's programs (including specializations and concentrations). This includes such forward-looking and/or cross-disciplinary options as cognitive and behavioral neuroscience, interdisciplinary computing and the arts, molecular synthesis, nanoengineering, and speculative design. Some of the more-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) are biochemistry, computer science, general economics, general psychology, and management science.

When it comes to academics, educational access, research, and social impact, UC San Diego is among the best universities in the country. Washington Monthly currently ranks it fourth best in the nation (tops among public universities) for contribution to the public good. Its annual R&D spending tops $1 billion, which puts it fifth on the National Science Foundation's latest rankings. It also continues to have high graduation and freshmen retention rates, including among low-income students. In fact, in 2014-15, low-income students made up the largest group receiving undergraduate degrees from UC San Diego.

  • Max net price: $9,832
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $13,530
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $38,238
  • Graduation rate: 87%
  • Early-career pay: $54,400
  • Mid-career pay: $108,000
  • # applications: 78061
  • % admitted: 34%
  • # students: 32,906
  • # undergrads: 26,590
  • % retention (full-time): 95%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission
5

University of Michigan–Ann Arbor 

Ann Arbor, MI

About this school

Selecting a major at the University of Michigan (U-M) is like a journey of discovery. Factor in all the options available (including sub-majors), and undergraduates suddenly have hundreds of choices, ranging from the traditional to the modern, and the common to the rare. This includes American culture, data science, environmental engineering, health and fitness, mathematics, and musicology. Popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) include experimental psychology, general business administration and management, general computer and information sciences, general economics, and general political science and government.

While most casual observers know about the Michigan Wolverines sports teams and their dozens of NCAA championships, they may not realize U-M's academic credentials are equally impressive. The university currently ranks fourth among U.S. News & World Report's top public national universities and 14th on Times Higher Education's "World Reputation Rankings." U-M is also the top public university (second overall) on the National Science Foundation's total research and development (R&D) expenditure rankings.

  • Max net price: $7,735
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $14,729
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $45,002
  • Graduation rate: 90%
  • Early-career pay: $60,600
  • Mid-career pay: $98,900
  • # applications: 51797
  • % admitted: 26%
  • # students: 43,651
  • # undergrads: 28,312
  • % retention (full-time): 97%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
6

California Polytechnic State University–San Luis Obispo 

San Luis Obispo, CA

About this school

Although its undergraduate offerings are not as extensive as some schools, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly) still provides a diverse range of bachelor's programs. Among its more than 60 choices are such unique and intriguing options as bioresource and agricultural engineering; environmental management and protection; recreation, parks, and tourism administration; software engineering; and wine and viticulture. Popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) include architecture, general animal sciences, general biology/biological sciences, general business administration and management, and mechanical engineering.

Cal Poly's ongoing focus on academic quality and value, and the career-readiness of its students, continues to produce impressive results. For instance, U.S. News & World Report's 2017 rankings mark the 24th consecutive year that Cal Poly is the top public regional (master's) university in the West. Consumers Digest, meanwhile, currently ranks Cal Poly as the fifth-best value among U.S. public colleges and universities. As to the students themselves, only nine percent were still trying to find a direction/job nine months after graduation. Of the other 91 percent, 82 percent report either working full time or pursuing advanced studies. Of those working, 94 percent found a job connected to their major.

  • Max net price: $12,644
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $9,001
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $20,161
  • Graduation rate: 76%
  • Early-career pay: $59,300
  • Mid-career pay: $102,000
  • # applications: 46820
  • % admitted: 31%
  • # students: 20,944
  • # undergrads: 20,049
  • % retention (full-time): 93%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission
7

Purdue University–Main Campus 

West Lafayette, IN

About this school

Purdue University's 200-plus bachelor's programs are among the most of any university on our ranking list. They include such diverse options as animation, brain and behavioral sciences, comparative literature, data visualization, industrial (consumer product) design, theatre acting, and unmanned aerial systems. The most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) include accounting, electrical and electronics engineering, general business administration and management, general communication, mechanical engineering, and sociology.

Even though Purdue is a large university with a substantial number of programs, it maintains a well-above-average student-to-faculty ratio of 12:1. That focus on student success also extends to such areas as support services and teaching excellence. In fact, U.S. News & World Report ranks Purdue as having the 13th best undergraduate teaching among all national universities. Additionally, this school ranks fourth among U.S. public colleges/universities in a brand new Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education college ranking. The new ranking is heavily weighted toward academic quality and student success after graduation.

  • Max net price: $8,073
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $10,002
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $28,804
  • Graduation rate: 75%
  • Early-career pay: $57,400
  • Mid-career pay: $94,200
  • # applications: 45264
  • % admitted: 59%
  • # students: 40,472
  • # undergrads: 30,560
  • % retention (full-time): 92%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
8

Texas A & M University–College Station 

College Station, TX

About this school

With over 120 bachelor's degree programs available, Texas A&M University, College Station (Texas A&M or TAMU) provides students with a range of both common and unique areas of study, and traditional and modern subjects, as well. This includes programs such as dental hygiene, ecological restoration, entomology, forensic and investigative sciences, spatial sciences, and zoology. The most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) are accounting, agribusiness/agricultural business operations, general biomedical sciences, general psychology, and other multi-/interdisciplinary studies.

Students considering Texas A&M can feel good about the fact that in addition to its high return on investment, the university scores well on academic quality and very well on the value of the education it provides. In fact, U.S. News & World Report ranks it as being the 21st best value among national universities in the country. In Forbes' "Best Value Colleges" ranking (which is weighted toward ROI), it comes in three places higher (18th). Texas A&M's research efforts are also impressive. In the NSF's latest rankings, the university is listed at 16th, with just over $865 million in total R&D expenditures.

  • Max net price: $6,457
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $9,837
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $27,745
  • Graduation rate: 79%
  • Early-career pay: $54,400
  • Mid-career pay: $99,700
  • # applications: 33213
  • % admitted: 67%
  • # students: 63,813
  • # undergrads: 48,959
  • % retention (full-time): 90%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
9

University of California–Irvine 

Irvine, CA

About this school

The University of California, Irvine (UCI or UC Irvine) provides students with a somewhat more modest---though still impressive---scope and number of bachelor's programs. With around 80 offerings available, undergraduates can choose from such intriguing options as aerospace engineering, applied physics, art history, computer game science, literary journalism, and neurobiology. The program classifications that award the most degrees are: business/managerial economics, general biology/biological sciences, general political science and government, other public health, and social psychology.

Along with its fellow UC system schools, UC Irvine is part of a category of colleges/universities called the Public Ivies. Even more than 30 years after being named to this group, it maintains that level of educational quality and status, and also provides students with exceptional value and ROI. Various major ranking lists confirm this. U.S. News & World Report lists UC Irvine as the ninth-best public national university. Forbes, meanwhile, ranks it as the 10th-best value among U.S. colleges. Topping things off is the university's efforts to provide access and opportunities to low-income students. The New York Times' 2015 "College Access Index" has UC Irvine as the best school in the nation for economic diversity.

  • Max net price: $9,925
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $13,252
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $37,960
  • Graduation rate: 88%
  • Early-career pay: $51,900
  • Mid-career pay: $93,900
  • # applications: 71775
  • % admitted: 39%
  • # students: 30,836
  • # undergrads: 25,256
  • % retention (full-time): 93%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission
10

University of Washington–Seattle Campus 

Seattle, WA

About this school

Including concentrations and options, the University of Washington--Seattle Campus (UW or UW--Seattle) offers students a choice of around 200 bachelor's programs, covering everything from the arts to social sciences. This includes such majors as community, environment, and planning; digital arts and experimental media; health informatics and health information management; human-centered design and engineering; and oceanography. Some of the most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) are biochemistry, general economics, general mathematics, general psychology, and speech communication and rhetoric.

While UW rates highly in terms of academic quality---it is 16th in U.S. News & World Report's (USNWR's) 2017 top public national universities ranking---its biggest strengths are actually educational access, reputation, research, and social impact. For instance, the university is 13th on The New York Times' 2015 college access/economic diversity rankings. It is 14th on Washington Monthly's 2016 ranking of contributing to the public good. Meanwhile, USNWR's "Best Global Universities Rankings" (which focuses heavily on research) places UW at a very impressive 11th in the world.

  • Max net price: $7,623
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $11,839
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $34,143
  • Graduation rate: 84%
  • Early-career pay: $55,100
  • Mid-career pay: $94,200
  • # applications: 36840
  • % admitted: 53%
  • # students: 45,408
  • # undergrads: 31,063
  • % retention (full-time): 94%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
11

California State University–Long Beach 

Long Beach, CA

About this school

While a large number of the 80-plus bachelor's degree programs at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) are in liberal arts and health and human services, there are still a wide variety of majors available. Some of these diverse subjects include construction engineering management, dietetics and food administration, film and electronic arts, interior design, and nursing. The most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) are: general business administration and management, general family and consumer sciences/human sciences, general psychology, sociology, and speech communication and rhetoric.

Although it doesn't have the reputation of big-name schools, CSULB receives more applications than almost any other school in the country---the eighth most, according to a 2015 U.S. News & World Report (USNWR) short list ranking. While location is an obvious selling point, the university is also known for academic quality, diversity, and value. On USNWR's list of the best public regional universities in the West, CSULB is seventh. Meanwhile, Kiplinger's Personal Finance ranks it the 52nd best in-state value (39th out-of-state) among all public colleges in the nation.

  • Max net price: $7,027
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $6,452
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $17,612
  • Graduation rate: 67%
  • Early-career pay: $45,300
  • Mid-career pay: $84,200
  • # applications: 58109
  • % admitted: 34%
  • # students: 37,446
  • # undergrads: 32,195
  • % retention (full-time): 89%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission
12

University of California–Santa Barbara 

Santa Barbara, CA

About this school

With around 130 bachelor's programs (including areas of emphasis and tracks), the University of California, Santa Barbara (UC Santa Barbara or UCSB) provides a diverse array of undergraduate offerings. Some of the interesting majors available include: actuarial science; biopsychology; feminist studies; hydrologic sciences and policy; language, culture, and society; and renaissance studies. The most-popular areas of study (by enrollment) fall under these classifications: biological sciences/life sciences, mathematics, physical sciences, psychology, and social sciences.

Along with the other UC System universities, UCSB is one of the original Public Ivy schools. Today, it still maintains that academic quality and status---both in the U.S. and around the world---while providing students with excellent overall value. In fact, Forbes lists the university as the 25th best value in the country. Kiplinger's Personal Finance ranks it the 14th best in-state value (28th out-of-state) among all public colleges. A big part of UCSB's strength is in its faculty, who have won dozens of Guggenheim fellowships and Fulbright scholarships. Also, in the past 20 years, six faculty members have won Nobel Prizes.

  • Max net price: $11,353
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $13,968
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $38,676
  • Graduation rate: 81%
  • Early-career pay: $50,400
  • Mid-career pay: $101,000
  • # applications: 70536
  • % admitted: 33%
  • # students: 23,497
  • # undergrads: 20,607
  • % retention (full-time): 93%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission
13

San Diego State University 

San Diego, CA

About this school

With around 90 bachelor's programs available, San Diego State University (SDSU) students can select their majors from many traditional and foundational categories, but also a few unique and/or forward-looking options, as well. Among the diversity of offerings available are computer engineering; financial services; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender studies; international security and conflict resolution; real estate; and speech, language, and hearing sciences. Some of the most-popular programs (by degrees awarded) include business administration (management), criminal justice, economics, mechanical engineering, and psychology.

While SDSU ranks well for academic quality, campus inclusiveness, diversity, minority access to education, and value, its most attractive quality may be the multitude of experiences students have available. For instance, the university's commitment to service learning and its community saw it receive the Carnegie Foundation's Community Engagement Classification in 2015. Meanwhile, its students also increasingly partake in available global education opportunities---so much so that the Institute for International Education's Open Doors report now ranks the university as having the ninth-most students studying abroad (tops among public universities when percentage of enrollment is used).

  • Max net price: $9,349
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $6,976
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $18,136
  • Graduation rate: 68%
  • Early-career pay: $49,700
  • Mid-career pay: $83,200
  • # applications: 59051
  • % admitted: 34%
  • # students: 34,254
  • # undergrads: 29,253
  • % retention (full-time): 89%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission
14

University of Maryland–College Park 

College Park, MD

About this school

Students at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) can choose from over 90 bachelor's programs across a wide range of categories. Some of the interesting offerings available include agricultural and resource economics, chemical and biomolecular engineering, community health, family science, fire protection engineering, and landscape architecture. The most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) are accounting, criminology, general biology/biological sciences, general economics, and general psychology.

For prospective students, one of the most-attractive things about UMD may be its strength in a number of categories (including its position here on The Best Schools' ROI list). U.S. News & World Report (USNWR) places the university's undergraduate business programs in the Top 20 and undergraduate engineering programs in the Top 25. It is also a Top 25 most-innovative school and Top 40 best college for veterans. In regards to academic quality, USNWR puts UMD 20th among public national universities. Forbes, meanwhile, rates the university as 14th best among public colleges and the 24th best value in the country.

  • Max net price: $9,521
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $9,996
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $31,144
  • Graduation rate: 86%
  • Early-career pay: $55,200
  • Mid-career pay: $92,200
  • # applications: 28434
  • % admitted: 45%
  • # students: 38,140
  • # undergrads: 27,443
  • % retention (full-time): 95%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
15

University of California–Davis 

Davis, CA

About this school

With more than 100 bachelor's programs available, the University of California, Davis (UC Davis or UCD) provides students with a wide range of possible career directions. This includes such forward-looking options as biotechnology, community and regional development, mathematical analytics and operations research, sustainable agriculture and food systems, and textiles and clothing. Some of the more-popular majors (by degrees conferred) are from these classifications: business/managerial economics, biology/biological sciences, general human development and family studies, neurobiology and anatomy, and other research and experimental psychology.

In many ways, UC Davis is the epitome of the Public Ivy---a school that is very strong in the areas of research and academics, but which also provides access, ROI, and value to students of all income categories. This is borne out by its position atop several key ranking lists. For instance, the Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education ranks UC Davis as the sixth-best public university. Washington Monthly, meanwhile, ranks it 10th overall for social impact. On The New York Times' 2015 "College Access Index" rankings, the university is rated the second-best school in the nation for economic diversity.

  • Max net price: $11,625
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $13,951
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $38,659
  • Graduation rate: 85%
  • Early-career pay: $51,800
  • Mid-career pay: $98,400
  • # applications: 64602
  • % admitted: 38%
  • # students: 35,186
  • # undergrads: 28,257
  • % retention (full-time): 93%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission
16

University of Florida 

Gainesville, FL

About this school

The University of Florida (UF) offers undergraduates a choice of about 100 bachelor's degree programs. Students can select from a diverse array of options that include such majors as biological illustration; construction management; family, youth, and community sciences; fire and emergency services; geomatics; and natural resource conservation. The most-popular majors (by enrollment) are applied physiology and kinesiology, biology, finance, health science, mechanical engineering, and psychology.

One of UF's biggest strengths is academic quality, which extends to its online programs. To that end, U.S. News & World Report ranks the university as being the 14th-best public national university, and having the 11th-best online bachelor's programs. However, UF's overall value and what it does for low-income students may be its biggest strengths. Forbes rates it the third-best value in the country. Meanwhile, on The New York Times' 2015 college access rankings, UF was sixth in the nation for economic diversity.

  • Max net price: $7,587
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $6,381
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $28,659
  • Graduation rate: 87%
  • Early-career pay: $49,500
  • Mid-career pay: $85,100
  • # applications: 29220
  • % admitted: 48%
  • # students: 50,645
  • # undergrads: 33,402
  • % retention (full-time): 96%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
17

San Jose State University 

San Jose, CA

About this school

Undergrads at San Jose State University (SJSU) can select from around 150 bachelor's programs (including concentrations). Among the wide array of choices available are aviation; biomedical engineering; child and adolescent development; graphic design; hospitality, tourism, and event management; and public relations. The program classifications that award the most degrees are: criminal justice/safety studies, early childhood education and teaching, general business administration and management, general psychology, and speech communication and rhetoric.

In addition to return on investment, SJSU's strengths are in the areas of academic quality, diversity, military student suitability, and research. Among public regional universities in the West, U.S. News & World Report ranks the school sixth best overall and 18th best for veterans. The National Science Foundation consistently puts SJSU in or around the Top 200 for R&D expenditures, which is among the highest rankings for a CSU System school. Plus, undergraduates are encouraged to participate in research efforts. They will also have chances to participate in a number of service-learning opportunities to help expand their educational experiences.

  • Max net price: $10,275
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $7,378
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $18,538
  • Graduation rate: 57%
  • Early-career pay: $56,800
  • Mid-career pay: $97,700
  • # applications: 30584
  • % admitted: 55%
  • # students: 32,773
  • # undergrads: 26,822
  • % retention (full-time): 86%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission
18

CUNY Bernard M Baruch College 

New York, NY

About this school

Undergraduates attending Baruch College have about 30 bachelor's programs to choose from. Many of these are focused on business or have direct business applications. Key offerings include business communication, financial mathematics, industrial/organizational psychology, marketing management, quantitative methods and modeling, and real estate and metropolitan development. The most-popular program classifications (by degrees conferred) are accounting; business/corporate communications; general business administration and management; general finance; and general sales, distribution, and marketing operations.

Baruch's main strengths are in the areas of academic quality, diversity, and value. U.S. News & World Report ranks the school fifth among public regional universities in the North. Meanwhile, The Princeton Review and Entrepreneur rank Baruch seventh in the nation for undergraduate entrepreneurship programs. Kiplinger's Personal Finance lists the school as the 26th-best in-state value (25th out-of-state) among all public colleges. More specifically, for students that want to graduate debt-free, Money magazine says Baruch is the second-best high-value school for that in the nation.

  • Max net price: $7,125
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $6,810
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $13,920
  • Graduation rate: 70%
  • Early-career pay: $51,700
  • Mid-career pay: $84,500
  • # applications: 19864
  • % admitted: 32%
  • # students: 18,433
  • # undergrads: 15,254
  • % retention (full-time): 91%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
19

University of Virginia–Main Campus 

Charlottesville, VA

About this school

The University of Virginia (UVA) offers more than 80 bachelor's degree programs, including the multiple areas of study available in the self-directed, high-level interdisciplinary major. Some of the subjects students can choose from include archaeology, astronomy, classics, environmental thought and practice (interdisciplinary major), neuroscience (interdisciplinary major), and youth and social innovation. A few of the most-popular programs of study (by enrollment) are: commerce, computer science, economics, foreign affairs, nursing, and psychology.

Most prospective students are likely already aware of UVA's reputation for academic quality. In the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings, this original Public Ivy school is listed as the second-best public national university in the country. What is possibly less known is the fact that the university is also an exceptional value. Kiplinger's Personal Finance lists it as the second-best value in the country, among public colleges, for both in-state and out-of-state students. While getting in to UVA can be difficult, chances are if you do get in, you will graduate---the university maintains some of the highest freshmen retention and graduation rates in the country.

  • Max net price: $10,314
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $14,295
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $44,083
  • Graduation rate: 93%
  • Early-career pay: $57,300
  • Mid-career pay: $97,100
  • # applications: 30840
  • % admitted: 30%
  • # students: 23,883
  • # undergrads: 16,736
  • % retention (full-time): 97%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
20

University of Minnesota–Twin Cities 

Minneapolis, MN

About this school

Students at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities (U of M) can choose from over 140 bachelor's programs. Among the diverse array of majors available are such interesting options as apparel design; fisheries, wildlife, and conservation biology; geoengineering; public and nonprofit management; retail merchandising; and sport management. Some of the most-popular program classifications (by degrees conferred) are: computer science, general biology/biological sciences, general economics, general psychology, journalism, and rhetoric and composition.

Students attracted to U of M's return on investment will be happy to know the school also rates highly in the areas of academic quality, economic creation, research, and value. For instance, the National Science Foundation's (NSF's) latest rankings show the school spends the 14th most on R&D of any American university. That research and U of M's external partnerships have led to the creation of a record number of startups and an award for fostering innovation and economic prosperity. Value-wise, Kiplinger's Personal Finance ranks U of M the 20th best value for in-state students---and the fourth best for out-of-state students---among all public colleges.

  • Max net price: $9,583
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $13,790
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $22,210
  • Graduation rate: 77%
  • Early-career pay: $51,700
  • Mid-career pay: $86,900
  • # applications: 46165
  • % admitted: 45%
  • # students: 50,678
  • # undergrads: 34,071
  • % retention (full-time): 93%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
21

The University of Texas at Austin 

Austin, TX

About this school

When all the specializations are included, the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) offers more than 170 bachelor's programs. Among the diverse range of subjects available are such unique offerings as Asian cultures and languages--Sanskrit, arts and entertainment technologies, hydrogeology, microbiology and infectious diseases, and sustainability studies. Some of the more-popular majors (by degrees awarded) are from these program classifications: general biology/biological sciences, general computer and information sciences, general economics, general finance, general political science and government, and radio and television.

Named one of the original Public Ivies in 1985, UT Austin continues to be one of America's top-flight universities, with strengths in a number of key areas. U.S. News & World Report (USNWR) ranks its business programs sixth best and its engineering programs 11th best among all undergraduate offerings. Overall, USNWR ranks UT Austin as the 18th-best public national university and 30th-best global university. Forbes says the school is the 17th-best value in the country. All of this is against the backdrop of UT Austin having one of the most-diverse campuses in the nation.

  • Max net price: $12,335
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $9,806
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $34,676
  • Graduation rate: 80%
  • Early-career pay: $53,400
  • Mid-career pay: $96,400
  • # applications: 42392
  • % admitted: 39%
  • # students: 50,950
  • # undergrads: 39,619
  • % retention (full-time): 95%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
22

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

Champaign, IL

About this school

With over 150 bachelor's programs to choose from, most undergrads at the University of Illinois at Urbana--Champaign (U of I or Illinois) can likely find the career direction that suits them best. Among the tangible and forward-looking options available are subjects such as business process management; earth, society, and environmental sustainability; industrial design; nuclear, plasma and radiological engineering; and urban and regional planning. The program classifications that award the most degrees are accounting, cell/cellular and molecular biology, community health and preventive medicine, general economics, and general psychology.

Although initially a runner-up on the original Public Ivies list, U of I is now part of the newer designation of the country's flagship schools. This elite status is highlighted by its multiple top rankings. That includes U.S. News & World Report listing it as the 10th-best public national university in the country, and placing many of its individual programs in the Top 5 or Top 10 among all schools. On Forbes' current rankings, U of I is 11th best among public colleges (weighted toward student outcomes), and the seventh-best value overall. In regards to economic diversity, the university is 49th on The New York Times' 2015 college access rankings.

  • Max net price: $12,231
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $17,086
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $33,222
  • Graduation rate: 85%
  • Early-career pay: $58,100
  • Mid-career pay: $102,000
  • # applications: 34277
  • % admitted: 66%
  • # students: 45,842
  • # undergrads: 33,368
  • % retention (full-time): 93%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
23

North Carolina State University at Raleigh 

Raleigh, NC

About this school

At North Carolina State University (NC State or NCSU), students are able to choose from over 90 bachelor's programs, covering a wide range of subjects from accounting to zoology. Some of the more-exclusive options include bioprocessing science; polymer and color chemistry; professional golf management; science, technology, and society; and soil and land development. The program classifications that award the most bachelor's degrees include: electrical and electronics engineering, general biology/biological sciences, general business administration and management, general psychology, and textile sciences and engineering.

NC State's biggest academic strength is its overall value. Kiplinger's Personal Finance ranks it the 18th best value for in-state students---and ninth best for out-of-state students---among public colleges. Of course, if you are interested in science, technology, engineering, and/or math (STEM), perhaps you will lean toward STEM programs being the university's biggest strength. After all, Forbes ranks it as the 20th-best STEM college of 2016. Then, there are the university's research efforts. NSF ranks NC State 47th in the U.S. on R&D spending. Plus, over 100 startup and spinoff companies are based on its research efforts.

  • Max net price: $8,781
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $8,581
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $24,932
  • Graduation rate: 75%
  • Early-career pay: $52,400
  • Mid-career pay: $88,300
  • # applications: 21364
  • % admitted: 50%
  • # students: 34,015
  • # undergrads: 24,111
  • % retention (full-time): 93%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
24

California State Polytechnic University–Pomona 

Pomona, CA

About this school

Including subplans and options, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona or CPP) offers over 90 bachelor's programs. Students can choose from such interesting options as apparel merchandising and management--fashion retailing; business administration--finance, real estate, and law; civil engineering--geospatial engineering; and theatre--technical theatre and design. Some of the most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) include general business administration and management, general health and physical education/fitness, general hospitality administration/management, and mechanical engineering.

Along with its place here on our best return-on-investment ranking, Cal Poly Pomona is on the U.S. Department of Education's (ED's) list of "26 Affordable Four-Year Schools with Good Outcomes" (typical median earnings vs. average net price). Academically, U.S. News & World Report ranks this school as the fourth-best public regional university in the West. Meanwhile, Cal Poly Pomona's undergraduate engineering programs are 11th best in the nation (among schools not offering doctoral programs). This Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) also maintains one of the most-diverse campuses in the U.S. and has a strong commitment to helping lower-income students.

  • Max net price: $9,386
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $7,016
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $18,176
  • Graduation rate: 63%
  • Early-career pay: $51,000
  • Mid-career pay: $88,600
  • # applications: 33855
  • % admitted: 39%
  • # students: 23,717
  • # undergrads: 22,157
  • % retention (full-time): 89%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission
25

California State University–Fullerton 

Fullerton, CA

About this school

Including concentrations, options, tracks, etc., California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) gives students a chance to choose from over 130 bachelor's degree programs. This includes such unique options as art--entertainment art/animation, business administration--entrepreneurship, communications--entertainment and tourism communications, and international business--concentration in Chinese. The most-popular programs in which students get their degrees are accounting, child and adolescent studies, finance, kinesiology, and psychology.

While CSUF's place here on The Best Schools' ROI list speaks to one part of its value, it is also strong in the area of student outcomes. For many minority students, specifically, CSUF is an excellent choice. To start with, it is both an HSI and an AANAPISI (Hispanic-Serving and Asian American Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution). To that end, CSUF awards more bachelor's degrees to minority students than almost any other school in the country. It also maintains a strong commitment to helping underrepresented and first-generation students succeed. Appropriately, its six-year graduation rates are up almost 25 percent over the past five years.

  • Max net price: $5,206
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $6,437
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $17,597
  • Graduation rate: 62%
  • Early-career pay: $43,400
  • Mid-career pay: $81,900
  • # applications: 41841
  • % admitted: 42%
  • # students: 38,948
  • # undergrads: 33,144
  • % retention (full-time): 88%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission
26

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 

Chapel Hill, NC

About this school

Although the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC or Carolina) offers far more graduate than undergraduate programs, students still have a diverse range of choices across the university's 70-plus bachelor's degrees. Some of the foundational options available include archaeology, biostatistics, classics, comparative literature, dramatic art, and education. The most-popular programs (by enrollment) are biology, economics, exercise and sport science, journalism and mass communication, and political science.

UNC is not only one of the original Public Ivy schools, it continues to be one of the country's elite schools, including in such categories as academic quality, research, social impact, and value. U.S. News & World Report currently ranks it the fifth-best public national university in the country. At the same time, Kiplinger's Personal Finance says it is the nation's best-value public school---for both in-state and out-of-state students. Additionally, UNC is also an excellent choice for lower-income students. It is 16th on The New York Times' 2015 college access/economic diversity rankings.

  • Max net price: $7,915
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $8,591
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $33,673
  • Graduation rate: 90%
  • Early-career pay: $46,600
  • Mid-career pay: $85,100
  • # applications: 31143
  • % admitted: 31%
  • # students: 29,084
  • # undergrads: 18,415
  • % retention (full-time): 97%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
27

Missouri University of Science and Technology 

Rolla, MO

About this school

The Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) provides around three-dozen bachelor's degree programs, most of which are engineering- or technology-focused. Some of the key offerings available include applied mathematics, business and management systems, geology and geophysics, information science and technology, and psychology. The most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) are chemical engineering, electrical and electronics engineering, general computer and information sciences, general civil engineering, and mechanical engineering.

Missouri S&T's greatest strength is preparing students for the future. Consider, for instance, that the university's students have a 75 percent acceptance rate to medical school on first-time applications (the rate is even higher when factoring in subsequent attempts). Then, there is the U.S. Department of Education's College Scorecard data. That shows S&T graduates who have received financial aid and are working 10 years after admission have a median salary almost double the national average. This direct benefit to a student's future is why the Brookings Institution's 2015 value-added rankings show S&T as one of the Top 5 schools in the country.

  • Max net price: $12,001
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $9,628
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $26,152
  • Graduation rate: 65%
  • Early-career pay: $63,400
  • Mid-career pay: $101,000
  • # applications: 3592
  • % admitted: 88%
  • # students: 8,886
  • # undergrads: 6,839
  • % retention (full-time): 87%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
28

Stony Brook University 

Stony Brook, NY

About this school

Stony Brook University (SBU) provides students with a fairly wide variety of choices within its 70 or so bachelor's degree programs. Some of the more-intriguing majors available include art history and criticism, astronomy/planetary sciences, cinema and cultural studies, ecosystems and human impact, polysomnographic technology, and respiratory care. The most-popular programs (by enrollment) are applied mathematics and statistics, biology, business management, computer science, economics, and psychology.

In addition to its place here on TBS's best ROI ranking, SBU is on the ED's list of "26 Affordable Four-Year Schools with Good Outcomes." That direct benefit to a student's future is Stony Brook's biggest strength. However, this somewhat hidden gem of a school also offers students a number of other benefits. For instance, Kiplinger's Personal Finance ranks it as the 35th best value for in-state students---and 32nd best for out-of-state students---among public colleges. In regards to academic quality, U.S. News & World Report currently ranks it the 42nd-best public national university in the country.

  • Max net price: $11,020
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $8,855
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $23,935
  • Graduation rate: 68%
  • Early-career pay: $50,100
  • Mid-career pay: $94,300
  • # applications: 34146
  • % admitted: 41%
  • # students: 25,272
  • # undergrads: 16,831
  • % retention (full-time): 90%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
29

Michigan Technological University 

Houghton, MI

About this school

Undergrads at Michigan Technological University (Michigan Tech or MTU) can choose from around 60 bachelor's degree programs, most of which are, of course, technology-focused. Some of the interesting majors available include audio production and technology; cheminformatics; communication, culture, and media; scientific and technical communication; and wildlife ecology and management. The program classifications that award the most degrees are all engineering-focused: bioengineering and biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, electrical and electronics engineering, general civil engineering, and mechanical engineering.

Any student considering Michigan Tech will certainly be most attracted to the career benefits and ROI it provides. This is borne out, in particular, by its place on the Brookings Institution's 2015 "Beyond College Rankings," which looks at earnings power, loan repayment rate, and mid-career salary. When including all three metrics, Michigan Tech earns the same total score as the Georgia Institute of Technology, just one point behind Missouri S&T, and a few points behind MIT. That makes it one of the Top 10 schools in the country. This is to say nothing of MTU's 93-percent placement rate and the fact that almost 90 percent of its students receive financial aid.

  • Max net price: $9,745
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $14,930
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $31,088
  • Graduation rate: 65%
  • Early-career pay: $63,000
  • Mid-career pay: $102,000
  • # applications: 5386
  • % admitted: 75%
  • # students: 7,218
  • # undergrads: 5,697
  • % retention (full-time): 87%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
30

University of Wisconsin–Madison 

Madison, WI

About this school

The University of Wisconsin--Madison (UW) offers students an array of options when it comes to choosing a major. Some of the selections students can make from the 160 or so bachelor's programs on offer include cartography and geographic information systems, community and nonprofit leadership, naval science, real estate and urban land economics, and rehabilitation psychology. UW's most-popular programs (by enrollment) are biology; computer sciences; finance, investment, and banking; mechanical engineering; and psychology.

By any measure, UW is an elite university. This prominent standing begins with academic quality. Currently, U.S. News & World Report ranks UW as the 10th-best public national university in the country and 29th-best global university. The National Science Foundation (NSF), meanwhile, shows UW as having the sixth-highest research and development spending of any American university. Of course, what is quality without value? Well, Kiplinger's Personal Finance ranks the university as the 11th best value for in-state students---and 18th best for out-of-state students---of any public college in the country.

  • Max net price: $10,514
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $10,415
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $29,665
  • Graduation rate: 85%
  • Early-career pay: $50,800
  • Mid-career pay: $86,800
  • # applications: 28007
  • % admitted: 58%
  • # students: 42,716
  • # undergrads: 30,991
  • % retention (full-time): 96%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
31

SUNY at Binghamton 

Vestal, NY

About this school

Including areas of emphasis, concentrations, tracks, etc., Binghamton University--SUNY offers its students the choice of over 110 bachelor's programs. Some of the unique options undergraduates can choose from include art history--architectural history, business administration--leadership and consulting, geography--urban economic retailing, and traditions of Western law and government. The program classifications in which students most often get their bachelor's degrees are: accounting, general biology/biological sciences, general English language and literature, general psychology, and registered nursing/registered nurse.

Although Binghamton provides students with a high level of academic quality, its biggest strengths are actually the accessibility, social impact, and value it provides. For instance, Forbes currently ranks the university as the 15th best value in America. In addition to this overall value, Binghamton is a particularly good choice for low-income students. Specifically, The New York Times' 2015 college access rankings has it as the 35th-best school in the nation for economic diversity. Washington Monthly, meanwhile, puts Binghamton at 51st in the nation for contribution to the public good, which includes being 36th on student social mobility.

  • Max net price: $13,534
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $9,053
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $22,173
  • Graduation rate: 81%
  • Early-career pay: $50,400
  • Mid-career pay: $92,700
  • # applications: 30616
  • % admitted: 42%
  • # students: 16,913
  • # undergrads: 13,491
  • % retention (full-time): 91%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
32

Ohio State University–Main Campus 

Columbus, OH

About this school

With about 180 or so bachelor's degree programs available at the main (Columbus) campus of Ohio State University (OSU), choosing a major can be an exciting but daunting task. Among the wealth of options undergrads have available are such diverse offerings as aeronautical and astronautical engineering, arts management, city and regional planning, data analytics, medical dietetics, and sexuality studies. The program classifications that award the most degrees include general biology/biological sciences, general finance, general marketing/marketing management, general psychology, and speech communication and rhetoric.

Ohio State is among a select group of universities on our list---UC Berkeley, UCLA, and the University of Michigan being some of the others---that are strong athletically and academically. Of course, while college sports fans know about the Buckeyes, they may not know that OSU also ranks very highly in terms of academic quality, educational access, research, and value. This includes U.S. News & World Report ranking Ohio State 16th among public national universities. It also includes Kiplinger's Personal Finance listing OSU as the 22nd best value for in-state students---and 19th best for out-of-state students---among public colleges.

  • Max net price: $12,647
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $10,037
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $27,365
  • Graduation rate: 83%
  • Early-career pay: $51,600
  • Mid-career pay: $82,400
  • # applications: 40240
  • % admitted: 49%
  • # students: 58,663
  • # undergrads: 45,289
  • % retention (full-time): 94%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
33

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 

Blacksburg, VA

About this school

Including areas of emphasis, concentrations, options, etc., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) provides students with over 100 bachelor's degree offerings. Among the programs students can choose from are such diverse selections as computational and systems neuroscience, fish conservation, international public policy, nanoscience, national security and foreign affairs, and residential environments and design. The most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) are general biology/biological sciences; general finance; general foods, nutrition, and wellness studies; general psychology; and mechanical engineering.

Virginia Tech's biggest strength is the fact that is scores quite well in multiple categories. This includes not only its place here on TBS's ROI list, but on others that highlight its academic quality, educational access, learning experiences, research, and value. For instance, Forbes ranks Virginia Tech as the 22nd-best public college in the U.S. and 29th-best value among all colleges. Washington Monthly, meanwhile, ranks the university as 30th best for contribution to the public good. Some of that is from its community partnerships and student engagement, which is how it earned the Carnegie Foundation's Community Engagement Classification.

  • Max net price: $14,614
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $12,485
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $29,129
  • Graduation rate: 83%
  • Early-career pay: $56,500
  • Mid-career pay: $96,100
  • # applications: 22280
  • % admitted: 73%
  • # students: 32,663
  • # undergrads: 25,384
  • % retention (full-time): 94%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
34

California State University–Chico 

Chico, CA

About this school

California State University, Chico (CSU Chico or Chico State) offers its undergraduates the choice of about 70 bachelor's degree programs. Offerings include both foundational and forward-looking selections. This includes computer animation and game development, mechatronic engineering, musical theatre, natural sciences, nursing, and public administration. Some of the most-popular programs (by enrollment) are biology, business administration, construction management, criminal justice, and psychology.

Potential students interested in Chico State will be attracted to how well the university ranks---especially against its category and regional competitors---in regards to academic quality, learning experiences, return on investment, social impact, and value. For instance, U.S. News & World Report ranks Chico State as the eighth-best public regional university in the West. Meanwhile, Washington Monthly ranks it the 29th "Best Bang for the Buck--West," and the 30th best for contribution to the public good (among national master's universities).

  • Max net price: $10,221
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $7,022
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $18,182
  • Graduation rate: 64%
  • Early-career pay: $49,800
  • Mid-career pay: $93,300
  • # applications: 22760
  • % admitted: 63%
  • # students: 17,220
  • # undergrads: 16,127
  • % retention (full-time): 84%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission
35

CUNY City College 

New York, NY

About this school

The City College of New York (CCNY or City College) offers over 60 bachelor's degree programs. Many of the key offerings are traditional and/or foundational in focus, but a wide range of options are available. This includes such selections as architecture, childhood education, electronic design and multimedia, management and administration, and urban legal studies. The most-popular programs (by enrollment) are civil engineering, biomedical science, electrical engineering, interdisciplinary liberal arts and science, mechanical engineering, and psychology.

City College's mission continues to be about providing an affordable, quality education that helps students build a better future. It does this through diverse learning experiences, educational quality, inclusiveness, research, and return on investment. Inclusiveness may be where CCNY stands out most. In fact, the 2017 Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education college rankings puts it at second in the country in the environment category (student and faculty inclusiveness). As for ROI, the ED's College Scorecard shows those CCNY graduates who have received financial aid and are working 10 years after admission have a median salary 37 percent above the national average.

  • Max net price: $6,340
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $6,689
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $13,799
  • Graduation rate: 44%
  • Early-career pay: $51,300
  • Mid-career pay: $79,500
  • # applications: 20331
  • % admitted: 43%
  • # students: 15,778
  • # undergrads: 13,201
  • % retention (full-time): 87%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
36

CUNY Queens College 

Flushing, NY

About this school

Including accelerated dual-degree options, Queens College (QC) provides students with the choice of around 80 bachelor's degree programs. This covers a wide range of subjects, although largely in the liberal arts and sciences. It includes such options as Byzantine and Modern Greek studies, family and consumer sciences, labor studies, nutrition and exercise sciences, and studio art. QC's most-popular programs (by enrollment) are accounting, childhood education, computer science, economics, and psychology.

While Queens College is quite strong in the areas of academic quality, affordability, diversity, research, social impact, and value---especially in its region and category---it is return on investment (ROI) that really separates it from competitive offerings. In addition to its place here on The Best Schools' ROI list, QC appears on the U.S. Department of Education's (ED's) "26 Affordable Four-Year Schools with Good Outcomes" list. That list leverages ED's College Scorecard. The scorecard shows the university has an average annual net price about 63 percent less than the national average, with typical median earnings about 42 percent above the national average.

  • Max net price: $5,910
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $6,938
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $14,048
  • Graduation rate: 58%
  • Early-career pay: $45,700
  • Mid-career pay: $84,200
  • # applications: 18416
  • % admitted: 40%
  • # students: 19,520
  • # undergrads: 16,100
  • % retention (full-time): 85%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
37

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology 

Socorro, NM

About this school

The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (New Mexico Tech or NMT) offers around two-dozen bachelor's degree programs. These mainly technology-focused offerings include such subjects as biomedical sciences, earth science, environmental science, information technology, management of technology, and technical communication. NMT's most-popular programs (by enrollment) are chemical engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and petroleum engineering.

Prospective students interested in New Mexico Tech will likely be attracted to the school's academic quality, diversity, ROI, social impact, and value. Academically, U.S. News & World Report ranks NMT as the third-best public regional university in the West. As to value, Kiplinger's Personal Finance ranks the school as the 37th best-value public college for in-state students---and 16th best for out-of-state students. Finally, when it comes to ROI, New Mexico Tech is on the U.S. ED's "26 Affordable Four-Year Schools with Good Outcomes" list.

  • Max net price: $9,956
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $6,613
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $19,137
  • Graduation rate: 49%
  • Early-career pay: $62,400
  • Mid-career pay: $87,700
  • # applications: 1628
  • % admitted: 24%
  • # students: 2,150
  • # undergrads: 1,617
  • % retention (full-time): 75%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
38

Indiana University–Bloomington 

Bloomington, IN

About this school

With over 200 bachelor's degree programs available, undergraduates at Indiana University Bloomington (IU Bloomington) can be fairly certain they will find at least one major that piques their interest. Some of the diverse options students can select from include animal behavior, ballet, computational linguistics, entrepreneurship and innovation, game design, and sports communication. The program classifications in which students most often get their bachelor's degrees are: general business/commerce, general economics, general psychology, kinesiology and exercise science, and public administration.

IU Bloomington's status as a top-tier school is most evident in the quality of its education (although its Hoosiers sports teams may want some credit, as well). U.S. News & World Report ranks the school 36th among public national universities. However, its undergraduate business programs may be the real stars: they collectively are ninth best among all U.S. schools, with 10 individual programs in or around the Top 10. However, since this is a return-on-investment list, it is important to mention that Forbes---which focuses more on student outcomes---ranks IU Bloomington 20th best among public colleges in the U.S.

  • Max net price: $7,515
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $10,388
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $33,741
  • Graduation rate: 77%
  • Early-career pay: $47,700
  • Mid-career pay: $81,800
  • # applications: 34483
  • % admitted: 78%
  • # students: 48,514
  • # undergrads: 38,364
  • % retention (full-time): 89%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
39

Iowa State University 

Ames, IA

About this school

Undergrads at Iowa State University (ISU) can choose from over 100 bachelor's degree programs. Among the range of majors available are such interesting choices as bioinformatics and computational biology, biological pre-medical illustration, community and regional planning, global resource systems, and software engineering. The most-popular programs (by enrollment) are aerospace engineering, animal science, elementary education, kinesiology and health, and mechanical engineering.

Although strong academically---and in research and value---it is the success of its students that stands out as ISU's most-important quality. To that end, the university claims a placement rate six months after graduation of almost 95 percent. This means alumni are either employed (nearly 78 percent) or pursuing additional studies (almost 17 percent). ISU is also on the U.S. Department of Education's (ED's) "26 Affordable Four-Year Schools with Good Outcomes" list. On the ED's College Scorecard, Iowa State graduates who have received financial aid and are working 10 years after admission have a median salary that is over 43 percent above the national average.

  • Max net price: $10,063
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $7,736
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $20,856
  • Graduation rate: 71%
  • Early-career pay: $51,200
  • Mid-career pay: $82,400
  • # applications: 19164
  • % admitted: 87%
  • # students: 35,714
  • # undergrads: 30,034
  • % retention (full-time): 87%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
40

San Francisco State University 

San Francisco, CA

About this school

Including concentrations, undergrads at San Francisco State University (SF State or SFSU) can select from over 120 bachelor's degree programs. Unique options available include broadcast and electronic communication arts; labor and employment studies; international relations; recreation, parks, and tourism administration; and technical and professional writing. Some of the most-popular program choices (by degrees awarded) are from these classifications: criminal justice/safety studies, general biology/biological sciences, general business administration and management, general health and physical education/fitness, and registered nursing/registered nurse.

Some of SFSU's biggest strengths are diversity, return on investment, and student outcomes. It is not only one of the most-diverse campuses in the U.S. (a 2015 The Atlantic ranking put it at 17th), it graduates more minorities than almost any other school. Diverse Issues in Higher Education's 2014 rankings had SFSU eighth in the country for bachelor's degrees awarded to Asian American students and 30th for Hispanic students. The ED's College Scorecard shows that those SF State graduates who have received financial aid and are working 10 years after admission have a median salary more than 41 percent above the national average.

  • Max net price: $9,111
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $6,476
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $17,636
  • Graduation rate: 51%
  • Early-career pay: $49,500
  • Mid-career pay: $82,800
  • # applications: 35122
  • % admitted: 68%
  • # students: 30,256
  • # undergrads: 26,906
  • % retention (full-time): 82%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission
41

University of South Florida–Main Campus 

Tampa, FL

About this school

The University of South Florida (USF) offers its students a choice of over 180 bachelor's degree programs (including concentrations). Among the diverse options available are such subjects as applied science--deaf studies, business analytics and information systems, marketing--sport and entertainment management, medical technology, and quantitative economics and econometrics. The program classifications in which students most often get their bachelor's degrees are: criminology, general biomedical sciences, general health services/allied health/health sciences, general psychology, and registered nursing/registered nurse.

USF is one of the top research universities in the country. In fact, the National Science Foundation (NSF) shows the main campus has the 45th highest research and development spending of any American university. This is directly beneficial to undergraduates in a number of ways, not the least of which are the research participation opportunities USF provides. At the same time, this university is considered a good value, especially for out-of-state students. Kiplinger's Personal Finance ranks USF as the 66th best-value public college for in-state students---but the 27th best for out-of-state students.

  • Max net price: $8,207
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $6,410
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $17,324
  • Graduation rate: 68%
  • Early-career pay: $45,000
  • Mid-career pay: $77,000
  • # applications: 30393
  • % admitted: 45%
  • # students: 42,067
  • # undergrads: 31,111
  • % retention (full-time): 88%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
42

University of Delaware 

Newark, DE

About this school

Undergraduates at the University of Delaware (UD) have over 150 bachelor's degree programs (including concentrations) to choose from. Among the unique options available are studies in art conservation, medical diagnostics, occupational therapy, organizational and community leadership, and wildlife ecology and conservation. The most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) are elementary education and teaching, general finance, general marketing/marketing management, kinesiology and exercise science, and registered nursing/registered nurse.

Among UD's many strengths is the quality of the education it offers. It is why U.S. News & World Report ranks this school 30th among public national universities in the country. At the same time, UD produces good outcomes and return on investment for its graduates. To that end, Forbes ranks it the 27th-best public college. The university is also a good value. For in-state students, Kiplinger's Personal Finance ranks UD as the 39th-best value among all public colleges in the U.S. For out-of-state students, it is the 46th-best value. All of this does not even delve into its strengths in economic diversity, learning experiences, or research.

  • Max net price: $11,086
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $12,520
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $31,420
  • Graduation rate: 79%
  • Early-career pay: $51,500
  • Mid-career pay: $89,900
  • # applications: 24881
  • % admitted: 67%
  • # students: 22,852
  • # undergrads: 19,100
  • % retention (full-time): 92%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
43

Fashion Institute of Technology 

New York, NY

About this school

The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) offers students the choice of almost 30 bachelor's degree programs. Every major offered has a creative and/or business focus. This includes such selections as art history and museum professions, cosmetics and fragrance marketing, entrepreneurship for the fashion and design industries, home products development, and toy design. The program classifications that award the most degrees are: advertising, commercial and advertising art, fashion/apparel design, fashion merchandising, and international marketing.

FIT is one of the best fashion schools in the both the U.S. and the world. The Business of Fashion's latest rankings put FIT at Number 6 in the world and No.2 in the U.S., based on global influence, learning experience, and long-term value. This SUNY college's value is also comparable with other post-secondary schools, particularly among low-income students. In 2015, FIT ranked eighth on Washington Monthly's "Best Bang for the Buck--Northeast" rankings. Also, PayScale currently ranks it as one of the best values for art majors and those seeking art careers (Top 5 or Top 10 in the U.S. depending on which multiple variable combinations are utilized).

  • Max net price: $9,807
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $7,200
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $20,322
  • Graduation rate: 75%
  • Early-career pay: $46,400
  • Mid-career pay: $93,100
  • # applications: 4753
  • % admitted: 41%
  • # students: 9,565
  • # undergrads: 9,386
  • % retention (full-time): 90%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
44

Texas Tech University 

Lubbock, TX

About this school

Texas Tech University (TTU) offers around 150 bachelor's degree programs, including concentrations, options, tracks, etc. Undergraduates can choose from such diverse selections as animal science--equine assisted therapy, anthropology--forensic anthropology, childcare and support services management, conservation law enforcement, personal financial planning, and wind energy. The most-popular program choices (by degrees awarded) are accounting, exercise and sport sciences, marketing, mechanical engineering, and multidisciplinary studies.

TTU is another school here on The Best Schools' ROI list that displays solid strengths in a number of key categories. This includes being 93rd among public national universities on U.S. News & World Report's latest rankings. TTU is currently 94th on Washington Monthly's "Best Bang for the Buck--South" ranking. Kiplinger's Personal Finance, meanwhile, pegs the university as the 96th best-value public college for in-state students, and 90th for out-of-state students. Finally, Diverse Issues in Higher Education ranks eight TTU departments in the Top 50 for degrees earned by minorities.

  • Max net price: $11,591
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $8,028
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $17,388
  • Graduation rate: 60%
  • Early-career pay: $51,600
  • Mid-career pay: $89,400
  • # applications: 23010
  • % admitted: 63%
  • # students: 35,859
  • # undergrads: 29,237
  • % retention (full-time): 83%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
45

College of William and Mary 

Williamsburg, VA

About this school

Undergrads at the College of William and Mary (W&M) can select from around 50 bachelor's degree programs. This includes a fairly wide range of majors, such as business analytics, computational and applied mathematics and statistics, film and media studies, global studies, medieval and renaissance studies, and neuroscience. The program classifications in which students most often get their bachelor's degrees are: general biology/biological sciences, general business administration and management, general economics, general political science and government, and general psychology.

Another of the original Public Ivy schools, W&M continues its status as one of America's elite colleges. U.S. News & World Report currently ranks it sixth among all public national universities. Forbes's ranking---which focuses more on student outcomes---puts W&M at fifth among public colleges. Kiplinger's Personal Finance, meanwhile, ranks it the fourth-best value for in-state students (and sixth best for out-of-state students) among public colleges. Finally, while it can be difficult to get in to W&M, those who do will likely graduate, and on time. In 2015, Money had the school second among public colleges for graduating the fastest.

  • Max net price: $6,597
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $16,919
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $41,072
  • Graduation rate: 90%
  • Early-career pay: $49,100
  • Mid-career pay: $89,900
  • # applications: 14952
  • % admitted: 34%
  • # students: 8,484
  • # undergrads: 6,301
  • % retention (full-time): 95%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
46

Rutgers University–New Brunswick 

New Brunswick, NJ

About this school

Undergraduates at Rutgers University--New Brunswick (Rutgers) can select from over 100 bachelor's programs from across the five residential campuses that make up the university. Selections cover a range of subjects from traditional, to modern, to forward-looking. It includes majors such as astrophysics, bioenvironmental engineering, comparative literature, digital filmmaking, and finance. The program classifications that award the most degrees are: general biology/biological sciences, general human resources management/personnel administration, general psychology, kinesiology and exercise science, and speech communication and rhetoric.

Named one of the new group of Public Ivies in 2001, Rutgers maintains strengths in a number of areas that ensures this elite status. Academically, it is 25th among public national universities in U.S. News & World Report's current rankings. Value-wise, Kiplinger's Personal Finance ranks it the 33rd best-value public college for in-state students---and 34th best for out-of-state students. Rutgers is also a very good choice for lower-income students. It is 27th on The New York Times' 2015 college access/economic diversity rankings. Research-wise, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has it at 33rd for annual R&D spending.

  • Max net price: $14,073
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $14,131
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $29,521
  • Graduation rate: 80%
  • Early-career pay: $51,300
  • Mid-career pay: $91,300
  • # applications: 35340
  • % admitted: 58%
  • # students: 49,428
  • # undergrads: 35,484
  • % retention (full-time): 93%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
47

Arizona State University–Tempe 

Tempe, AZ

About this school

Including concentrations, Arizona State University--Tempe (ASU Tempe) offers students over 200 bachelor's degree programs (of the 300 or so at ASU's collective campuses). Among the unique choices available are applied quantitative science, biomedical informatics, earth and space exploration, international letters and cultures, and music therapy. Some of the most-popular program classifications (by degrees awarded) are general biology/biological sciences; general psychology; other multi-/interdisciplinary studies; other business, management, marketing, and related support services; and speech communication and rhetoric.

ASU Tempe maintains strengths in a number of key areas that should be of interest to prospective students. On top of U.S. News & World Report (USNWR) naming it the most-innovative national university in the country, USNWR ranks the school 61st among public national universities. Value-wise, Kiplinger's Personal Finance ranks it the 70th best-value public college for in-state students---and 82nd best for out-of-state students. The overall university ranks 48th in annual R&D spending by the National Science Foundation. Most of this spending is at Tempe, as it is ASU's research-focused campus.

  • Max net price: $7,702
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $10,158
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $25,458
  • Graduation rate: 66%
  • Early-career pay: $49,300
  • Mid-career pay: $81,600
  • # applications: 25380
  • % admitted: 83%
  • # students: 51,984
  • # undergrads: 41,828
  • % retention (full-time): 86%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission
48

California State University–Stanislaus 

Turlock, CA

About this school

California State University, Stanislaus (Stanislaus State) offers over 40 bachelor's degree programs. Undergrads can choose from such well-known majors as art, computer science, English, mathematics, nursing, and physics. The most-popular programs (by enrollment) are biological sciences, business administration, criminal justice, liberal studies, and psychology.

Anyone considering applying to Stanislaus State will be attracted to just how well this school ranks on economic diversity, ROI, social impact, and value, especially against category and regional competitors. For instance, Washington Monthly places it fifth on the "Best Bang for the Buck--West" rankings (which largely measure value for low-income students). It is also fifth best for contributions to the public good (including third in social mobility) among national master's universities. To top it off, Stanislaus State appears on the U.S. Department of Education's (ED's) list of "26 Four-Year Public and Private Colleges with Low Costs and High Salaries."

  • Max net price: $4,826
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $6,704
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $17,864
  • Graduation rate: 55%
  • Early-career pay: $45,300
  • Mid-career pay: $88,100
  • # applications: 7081
  • % admitted: 71%
  • # students: 9,282
  • # undergrads: 8,099
  • % retention (full-time): 81%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission
49

CUNY Hunter College 

New York, NY

About this school

Including concentrations, dual degrees, tracks, etc., Hunter College offers nearly 100 bachelor's programs. Some of the more-interesting choices students can make include such selections as community health, dance education (Pre K--12), nutrition and food science, sociology and social research, studio art, and urban studies. Students most often get their bachelor's degrees in the following program classifications: general English language and literature, general psychology, mass communication/media studies, registered nursing/registered nurse, and sociology.

Some of Hunter's biggest strengths are academic quality, diversity/inclusiveness, and return on investment. Academically, U.S. News & World Report ranks this senior CUNY college as the 11th-best public regional university in the North. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education ranks Hunter at 13th for environment (student and faculty diversity) among all U.S. colleges. Finally, the U.S. ED's College Scorecard highlights Hunter's ROI. The college's average annual net price is about 55 percent below the national average, while median earnings are almost 35 percent above the national average.

  • Max net price: $7,204
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $6,782
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $13,892
  • Graduation rate: 54%
  • Early-career pay: $45,700
  • Mid-career pay: $73,900
  • # applications: 28041
  • % admitted: 39%
  • # students: 22,918
  • # undergrads: 16,550
  • % retention (full-time): 83%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
50

California State University–Los Angeles 

Los Angeles, CA

About this school

Including options, California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA or Cal State LA) offers students over 110 bachelor's degree programs. This includes such intriguing choices as communicative disorders, industrial technology, music--commercial music, rehabilitation services, social work, and urban learning. The program classifications that award the most degrees are: criminal justice/safety studies, general business administration and management, general psychology, radio and television, and sociology.

Among CSULA's biggest strengths are diversity, educational access, return on investment, social impact, and value. Washington Monthly ranks this university 16th on its "Best Bang for the Buck--West" listing. The magazine also ranks it the 24th-best contributor to the public good (14th in student social mobility) among national master's universities. A 2015 article in The Atlantic ranks CSULA as the sixth-most diverse school in the country. The ED's College Scorecard, meanwhile, shows the university's average annual net price is almost 80 percent below the national average, while median graduate earnings are about 30 percent above.

  • Max net price: $2,819
  • In-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $6,355
  • Out-of-state tuition (+mandatory fees): $17,515
  • Graduation rate: 45%
  • Early-career pay: $42,200
  • Mid-career pay: $73,600
  • # applications: 31855
  • % admitted: 68%
  • # students: 27,680
  • # undergrads: 23,458
  • % retention (full-time): 84%
  • Campus housing: yes
  • Institutional accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission
👏

End of list, bravo!

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