Best public colleges in America

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May 15, 2021
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Best public colleges in America

Earning a college degree is an investment with far-reaching benefits. Adults who hold degrees earn an average of $32,000 more per year than those who hold a high school diploma. This increased income can mean a big difference in quality of life, from being able to afford a home to lower instances of poverty, and even longer life expectancy.

While those statistics are all good reasons to go to college, education often comes with a hefty price tag. Over the last 10 years, tuition rates for both public and private colleges have increased by more than 25%, and student loan debt has increased alongside them. In 2019, the average cost per year of a private college education was $48,510, while at a public college it was $21,370. As a result, many students are choosing to attend a public university, where they can potentially get less-expensive tuition and better value for their money.

Public universities, which are funded by government monies, are usually less expensive than their private counterparts, primarily because they do not have to rely solely on tuition fees to stay solvent. And while there is a long-standing assumption that a private school education is somehow “better” than a state university, state schools often provide the same types of degrees as private ones, and depending on the student, can sometimes provide a better fit for their education.

Stacker compiled a list of the best public colleges in America using data from Niche, which was released in 2021. Niche ranks schools based on a variety of factors including academics, admissions, cost, and student life. Niche’s methodology can be found here.

Take a look at some of the best public schools in the country.

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#100. West Virginia University

- Location: Morgantown, WV
- Students: 19,369
- Acceptance rate: 84%
- Graduation rate: 61%
- Student to faculty ratio: 20:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $45,800
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 93%

West Virginia University has a large student population, with nearly 20,000 attendees. They keep their faculty-to-student ratio low, however, with 34% of the classes averaging fewer than 20 students. Popular degree programs include liberal arts, journalism, and sociology. Niche also ranked the school as one of the 100 Best Colleges for Agricultural Sciences in America.

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#99. University of California - Riverside

- Location: Riverside, CA
- Students: 21,652
- Acceptance rate: 57%
- Graduation rate: 76%
- Student to faculty ratio: 22:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $49,700
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 91%

Located in Southern California, UC Riverside is a pioneering research university with a commitment to diversity and underserved students. Ranked the top university for social mobility by U.S. News & World Report, the school admits more Pell Grant students than any other university in the country. Additionally, of the 26,000 students currently enrolled, more than half are the first in their family to attend college.

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#98. University of Maryland, Baltimore County

- Location: Baltimore, MD
- Students: 9,436
- Acceptance rate: 61%
- Graduation rate: 71%
- Student to faculty ratio: 17:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $55,000
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 91%

UMBC, which has a student body of just over 9,000, has consistently been ranked as one of the best schools in the country, making the top 10 in the U.S. News & World Report more than once. Students are drawn to their numerous options in bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate programs, as well as their commitment to innovation, research, and community support.

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#97. University of Louisville

- Location: Louisville, KY
- Students: 11,560
- Acceptance rate: 69%
- Graduation rate: 59%
- Student to faculty ratio: 14:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $41,800
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 93%

The University of Louisville prides itself on the flexibility it provides for its students. With three campuses, a robust catalog of online classes, and several accelerated bachelor’s degree programs, the school quite literally meets students wherever they are. The ever-growing student body, which currently sits at around 23,000 (including both undergraduate and graduate students) can choose to study in one of the university’s 12 schools and colleges, which include nursing, dental, and medical programs.

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#96. Ohio University

- Location: Athens, OH
- Students: 16,209
- Acceptance rate: 82%
- Graduation rate: 65%
- Student to faculty ratio: 15:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $40,500
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 91%

Established in 1802 as the first college in the state, Ohio University has more than 250 educational programs to choose from, as well as sororities and fraternities, clubs, and athletics. Popular degree programs include nursing, business, and communications, and students list friendly and helpful staff, exceptional professors, and a rich campus life as just a few of the reasons they find this school worth attending.

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#95. University of Vermont

- Location: Burlington, VT
- Students: 10,501
- Acceptance rate: 67%
- Graduation rate: 77%
- Student to faculty ratio: 16:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $47,300
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 95%

Founded in 1791, the University of Vermont is a “Public Ivy” and is considered a top research school. Students can choose from more than 100 majors, and 54 master’s and 26 doctoral programs, with many choosing to study business, environmental science, or psychology.

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#94. Stony Brook University, SUNY

- Location: Stony Brook, NY
- Students: 16,697
- Acceptance rate: 44%
- Graduation rate: 76%
- Student to faculty ratio: 19:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $57,600
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 91%

New York’s Stony Brook University, SUNY, is a highly rated school with a competitive acceptance rate of 42%. Popular degree programs include health services, psychology, and business. In addition to making the list for Best Public Colleges, Stony Brook also placed in the top 100 in Niche’s rankings for Most Diverse Colleges in America and Best Big Colleges in America.

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#93. University of Alabama - Birmingham

- Location: Birmingham, AL
- Students: 10,315
- Acceptance rate: 74%
- Graduation rate: 63%
- Student to faculty ratio: 19:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $41,200
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 92%

UAB, originally founded in association with the Medical College of Alabama in 1859, is the only public four-year university in the Birmingham area. Students who attend can choose from more than 250 degree programs. Popular majors include nursing, business, and psychology.

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#92. Appalachian State University

- Location: Boone, NC
- Students: 16,622
- Acceptance rate: 77%
- Graduation rate: 73%
- Student to faculty ratio: 16:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $38,800
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 94%

Located in Boone, North Carolina, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian State University offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate programs. The school has been recognized multiple times as a top college, ranked in Kiplinger’s “Best Values in Colleges” in 2019 and The Princeton Review’s 2021 “Guide to Green Colleges.” Insofar as keeping green goes, App State has a long-standing commitment to sustainability, with programs geared toward reducing waste throughout the community, using locally sourced food on campus, and designing a zero energy ready home in partnership with Habitat for Humanity.

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#91. University of Wisconsin - La Crosse

- Location: La Crosse, WI
- Students: 9,098
- Acceptance rate: 73%
- Graduation rate: 69%
- Student to faculty ratio: 19:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $48,000
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 96%

With just over 9,000 students and a 19:1 faculty to student ratio, UW La Cross maintains smaller class sizes and a more personal learning experience. In addition to its ranking as one of the best public colleges in America, it has been ranked by Niche as being one of the best colleges for Public Health in the U.S. Popular areas of study include kinesiology, physical therapy, and biology.

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#90. University of Colorado Denver

- Location: Denver, CO
- Students: 8,857
- Acceptance rate: 67%
- Graduation rate: 52%
- Student to faculty ratio: 17:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $56,400
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 90%

Located in downtown Denver, UC Denver provides an urban experience that combines education with the culture and excitement of the city. The school offers a variety of bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate, and certificate programs.

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#89. SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry

- Location: Syracuse, NY
- Students: 1,747
- Acceptance rate: 70%
- Graduation rate: 76%
- Student to faculty ratio: 14:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $45,600
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 94%

This Syracuse school has a small enrollment of just over 1,700 students, and an equally-small student-teacher ratio of 14:1. Popular degree programs include ecology and evolutionary biology, natural resources conservation, and environmental science. The school was also named as one of the top green colleges by Princeton Review.

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#88. Rutgers University - Newark

- Location: Newark, NJ
- Students: 7,975
- Acceptance rate: 72%
- Graduation rate: 69%
- Student to faculty ratio: 16:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $57,900
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 93%

Sitting right next door to New York City, Rutgers Newark has a small student body of just under 8,000, providing students with a close-knit learning experience in an urban environment. The school offers more than 65 academic programs, has more than 40 research centers, and has been ranked as one of the Best Colleges for Public Policy in America. Rutgers also launched a Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Campus Center (TRHT), which focuses on addressing historic and current issues of racism.

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#87. Maine Maritime Academy

- Location: Castine, ME
- Students: 967
- Acceptance rate: 45%
- Graduation rate: 71%
- Student to faculty ratio: 11:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $95,600
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 96%

Located directly on the coast, Maine Maritime Academy offers rigorous, career-focused education in the fields of engineering, management, science, and transportation. Small class sizes allow students plenty of hands-on learning time, as does the required stint each student spends aboard the Training Ship State of Maine, the Schooner Bowdoin, or other commercial vessels. A former Best Public College according to Money magazine, MMA’s job placement rate lies at 90% within 90 days of graduation.

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#86. Louisiana State University

- Location: Baton Rouge, LA
- Students: 22,726
- Acceptance rate: 75%
- Graduation rate: 68%
- Student to faculty ratio: 20:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $50,100
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 93%

LSU not only has more than 200 degree options to choose from, it also has a robust athletic program, ranked #3 by Niche for Best College Athletics in America. Students who attend LSU say school events and extracurriculars tend to center around sports, and Greek life is also a big part of the campus.

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#85. Colorado State University

- Location: Fort Collins, CO
- Students: 22,247
- Acceptance rate: 81%
- Graduation rate: 70%
- Student to faculty ratio: 14:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $47,100
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 94%

Colorado State’s highly rated academic programs allow for a progressive level of study, in which students can explore their interests in a more personalized way. They have options for nearly 300 different academic programs, with an acceptance rate of 84%. CSU has been ranked as one of the top colleges for agricultural sciences, as well as one of the best colleges for culinary arts.

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#84. The University of Alabama in Huntsville

- Location: Huntsville, AL
- Students: 6,749
- Acceptance rate: 83%
- Graduation rate: 58%
- Student to faculty ratio: 19:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $46,700
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 91%

The University of Alabama’s Huntsville location is a mid-size school with an enrollment of more than 6,000 students. UOA is a NCAA Division II school, and offers more than 100 areas of study, with an acceptance rate of 81%. Popular degrees include nursing, mechanical engineering, and business. The school also awards an average of more than $11,000 in financial aid per student each year.

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#83. Louisiana Tech University

- Location: Ruston, LA
- Students: 8,131
- Acceptance rate: 64%
- Graduation rate: 60%
- Student to faculty ratio: 22:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $41,500
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 91%

Louisiana Tech University offers fewer degree programs than many of the other schools on our list, but this narrowing of focus allows LA Tech to ensure a truly excellent education in the handful it does provide. This excellence is demonstrated by the fact that LA Tech is the only Carnegie doctoral research university in the area, and by the fact that it frequently ranks as one of the top research schools per dollar spent in the country. Beyond academics, the university’s draw includes its 16 NCAA Division I sports teams, and its location in a friendly small southern town of Ruston.

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#82. CUNY Baruch College

- Location: New York, NY
- Students: 12,091
- Acceptance rate: 43%
- Graduation rate: 70%
- Student to faculty ratio: 19:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $57,200
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 89%

New York’s CUNY Baruch College has been ranked as a top college not only by Niche, but also Forbes, Princeton Review, and U.S. News & World Report. Located in the heart of New York City, students can enjoy all the city has to offer while getting a stellar education. Baruch has also been rated as one of America’s most diverse schools, with students representing more than 140 nations and over 90 languages.

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#81. University of Wyoming

- Location: Laramie, WY
- Students: 8,332
- Acceptance rate: 96%
- Graduation rate: 60%
- Student to faculty ratio: 15:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $47,300
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 93%

The University of Wyoming, located in Laramie, offers more than 200 areas of study and a 15:1 student-faculty ratio for a more intimate learning environment. Popular majors include nursing, psychology, and education, and the school awards an average of $8,086 in student aid per year. Students who attend UW mention affordability, research opportunities, and small class sizes as some of the things that make this school top-notch.

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#80. University of Oregon

- Location: Eugene, OR
- Students: 17,419
- Acceptance rate: 82%
- Graduation rate: 74%
- Student to faculty ratio: 17:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $44,800
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 91%

U of O offers more than 300 undergraduate programs, providing its students with a variety of degree options. There are nine schools and colleges, including the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Design, School of Journalism and Communications, and School of Law. Students who attend U of O say they appreciate the beauty of the campus and surrounding areas, flexibility of educational programs, and the numerous research opportunities.

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#79. University of Tennessee

- Location: Knoxville, TN
- Students: 22,018
- Acceptance rate: 79%
- Graduation rate: 72%
- Student to faculty ratio: 17:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $45,100
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 94%

With a main campus located in Knoxville and two branch campuses in Chattanooga and Martin, the University of Tennessee offers a multitude of educational opportunities at all of its locations. Their 78% acceptance rate makes it even more accessible, and the school awards nearly $10,000 in average total financial aid to students each year. Students who attend UT say that the campus is welcoming and promotes a family-like atmosphere, and there are myriad clubs, sports, and other activities to enjoy.

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#78. Oregon State University

- Location: Corvallis, OR
- Students: 18,554
- Acceptance rate: 82%
- Graduation rate: 67%
- Student to faculty ratio: 18:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $49,600
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 92%

Oregon’s largest college, OSU is located in Corvallis, with an enrollment of just under 19,000 students. The school has some of the most highly rated degree programs in the country, and their forestry and oceanography programs are rated at #2 and #3 in the world. Students attending OSU gave it overall ratings of “very good,” citing excellent support from advisers and professors, as well as comprehensive online classes.

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#77. Florida International University

- Location: Miami, FL
- Students: 28,335
- Acceptance rate: 58%
- Graduation rate: 63%
- Student to faculty ratio: 27:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $46,300
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 90%

FIU is a top research university located in Miami, offering more than 190 degree programs. Students who attend say the school has a high level of diversity and provides an enriching educational experience.

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#76. San Diego State University

- Location: San Diego, CA
- Students: 27,638
- Acceptance rate: 34%
- Graduation rate: 73%
- Student to faculty ratio: 27:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $51,000
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 92%

San Diego State is a larger school, with an enrollment of more than 27,000 students. Students attending SDSU can choose from nearly 200 different degree programs, and enjoy a variety of extracurricular activities, including sports, clubs, and Greek life. Popular majors include business, psychology, and liberal arts.

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#75. South Dakota School of Mines & Technology

- Location: Rapid City, SD
- Students: 1,870
- Acceptance rate: 77%
- Graduation rate: 49%
- Student to faculty ratio: 15:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $56,500
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 94%

This highly rated university is a STEM school, focusing on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It offers 20 science and engineering majors and 22 minors. In addition to being rated as one of the best public colleges in America, the school also made the top 100 in Niche’s rankings of Best Small Colleges in America.

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#74. University of Houston

- Location: Houston, TX
- Students: 28,368
- Acceptance rate: 65%
- Graduation rate: 61%
- Student to faculty ratio: 23:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $51,600
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 91%

The University of Houston is a Tier One school with a wide range of degree programs. In addition to being ranked as one of the Best Public Colleges in America, it was recognized by the Princeton Review as the #1 school for Best Undergrad Programs for Entrepreneurs. Top choices in majors include psychology, finance, and accounting.

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#73. The College of New Jersey

- Location: Ewing Township, NJ
- Students: 6,981
- Acceptance rate: 49%
- Graduation rate: 86%
- Student to faculty ratio: 13:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $58,500
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 95%

The College of New Jersey, which was founded in 1855, is located in the town of Ewing, not too far from the bigger cities of New York and Philadelphia. Degree options are many, with studies in business, nursing, and psychology being some of the most popular. The school is known for research programs, with a strong focus on faculty-student collaboration, which earned it the Campus-wide Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishment by the Council on Undergraduate Research in 2015.

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#72. Missouri University of Science & Technology

- Location: Rolla, MO
- Students: 5,692
- Acceptance rate: 79%
- Graduation rate: 66%
- Student to faculty ratio: 18:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $71,200
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 95%

Missouri S&T is a public technological research university, established in 1870. Students can choose between nearly 100 degree programs, with top choices including mechanical engineering, engineering, and information science. The school is strongly research-focused, with signature research areas that include advanced manufacturing, advanced materials for sustainable infrastructure, and smart living.

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#71. University of Mississippi

- Location: University, MS
- Students: 15,902
- Acceptance rate: 88%
- Graduation rate: 66%
- Student to faculty ratio: 16:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $42,700
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 92%

University of Mississippi, or “Ole Miss,” is located in Oxford, Mississippi, and has an enrollment of nearly 16,000 students. Greek life is a big part of the social scene here, with the school earning a #3 ranking for best Greek Life Colleges in America. It offers a variety of degrees, including an accountancy school, as well as numerous national research centers.

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#70. Temple University

- Location: Philadelphia, PA
- Students: 26,247
- Acceptance rate: 60%
- Graduation rate: 74%
- Student to faculty ratio: 13:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $50,500
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 93%

Philadelphia’s Temple University is the largest school in the city, with an enrollment of nearly 27,000. Despite the school’s size, classes are kept small. There are more than 500 academic programs to choose from, and plenty of sports, clubs, and other extracurriculars.

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#69. California State University - Long Beach

- Location: Long Beach, CA
- Students: 28,752
- Acceptance rate: 39%
- Graduation rate: 74%
- Student to faculty ratio: 24:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $48,100
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 92%

Cal State Long Beach sits on 332 acres of land, in proximity to both the city and the beach. Students enjoy a high level of diversity, more than 80 different majors to choose from, plus multiple clubs and extracurricular activities.

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#68. University of Kansas

- Location: Lawrence, KS
- Students: 17,257
- Acceptance rate: 93%
- Graduation rate: 67%
- Student to faculty ratio: 17:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $48,800
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 94%

Kansas’ flagship university, KU has just over 17,000 students. Established as a premiere research facility, the school offers hundreds of different fields of study within both the undergraduate and graduate programs. While its main campus is in the town of Lawrence, KU also has four additional campuses in nearby cities, making it easily accessible to students across the state.

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#67. University of Colorado - Boulder

- Location: Boulder, CO
- Students: 28,877
- Acceptance rate: 78%
- Graduation rate: 69%
- Student to faculty ratio: 18:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $50,800
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 92%

CU Boulder, which has been ranked in the top 25 for Best College Campuses in America, is a large university with more than 28,000 students. Popular majors include business, psychology, and economics, along with more than 150 other fields of study. In June 2020, the school’s chancellor announced changes that would be implemented to confront racism and promote equality, including updated hiring practices for faculty and staff, updated recruitment and retention of students, and the implementation of a campus Inclusion, Diversity and Excellence in Academics (IDEA) Plan.

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#66. University of Nebraska - Lincoln

- Location: Lincoln, NE
- Students: 19,132
- Acceptance rate: 78%
- Graduation rate: 66%
- Student to faculty ratio: 17:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $46,400
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 96%

Established in 1869, the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, is a member of the Big Ten Conference and the Big Ten Academic Alliance. This well-established school offers 97 majors within 27 fields of study, and has been ranked in the top 50 for Best College Athletics in America. The campus sprawls across more than 800 acres, and students can enjoy the active Greek life, sporting events, and clubs for nearly every interest.

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#65. University of Texas at Dallas

- Location: Richardson, TX
- Students: 17,943
- Acceptance rate: 79%
- Graduation rate: 70%
- Student to faculty ratio: 25:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $53,100
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 91%

UT Dallas offers 140 different degrees within 10 schools, giving students plenty of options when choosing their course of study. Tuition costs are just over $9,900 per year, with the school awarding an average of more than $14,000 in financial aid to students.

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#64. University at Buffalo, SUNY

- Location: Buffalo, NY
- Students: 20,401
- Acceptance rate: 61%
- Graduation rate: 75%
- Student to faculty ratio: 14:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $52,600
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 94%

University at Buffalo, SUNY, has more than 20,000 students and a multitude of undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs. It has been named the #1 public school in New York State, and made the top 100 for Best Big Colleges in America. Popular majors include business, psychology, and communications.

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#63. Binghamton University, SUNY

- Location: Vestal, NY
- Students: 13,845
- Acceptance rate: 41%
- Graduation rate: 82%
- Student to faculty ratio: 19:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $61,600
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 92%

This New York university has a fairly substantial enrollment of more than 13,000 students, and an acceptance rate of 41%. The average financial aid award is $9,338, with approximately 75% of attending students receiving aid. The most popular majors include economics, psychology, and neuroscience. The school’s president announced the allocation of $1.5 million in endowment funds to create the George Floyd Scholarship for Social Change, as well as increasing its Clifford D. Clark Diversity Fellowship by $200,000 annually.

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#62. University of Arizona

- Location: Tucson, AZ
- Students: 28,972
- Acceptance rate: 85%
- Graduation rate: 65%
- Student to faculty ratio: 15:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $47,300
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 92%

Ranked second for Best Colleges in Arizona, U of A has a lot to offer prospective students. There are multiple degree programs to choose from, as well as clubs, athletics, and Greek life. The school is located in the picturesque city of Tucson, which has been rated as one of America’s most bikeable large cities, and one of the best cities for outdoor living.

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#61. University of Arkansas

- Location: Fayetteville, AR
- Students: 20,559
- Acceptance rate: 77%
- Graduation rate: 66%
- Student to faculty ratio: 18:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $44,900
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 92%

The University of Arkansas is considered a top research and educational facility, with more than 200 academic programs within 10 different colleges. Tuition averages just over $15,000 a year, with upwards of $7,000 in financial aid awarded. U of A students rate this school as “very good,” and say they enjoy top-of-the-line professors, great services and amenities, and a beautiful campus.

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#60. Texas Tech University

- Location: Lubbock, TX
- Students: 28,062
- Acceptance rate: 69%
- Graduation rate: 61%
- Student to faculty ratio: 21:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $51,400
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 93%

Located in the city of Lubbock, Texas Tech is a public research university founded in 1923. It offers more than 150 areas of study, alongside more than 550 different clubs and extracurriculars. The school is also ranked as one of the best for agricultural sciences and for kinesiology and physical therapy programs.

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#59. Washington State University

- Location: Pullman, WA
- Students: 23,092
- Acceptance rate: 76%
- Graduation rate: 60%
- Student to faculty ratio: 16:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $50,600
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 92%

Located in beautiful Pullman, Washington, WSU has been ranked as having some of the best college professors in America, as well as making Forbes’ top 100 list for best value colleges. The school has more than 98 majors, with research opportunities and internships available to help students move forward in their potential careers.

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#58. University of Missouri

- Location: Columbia, MO
- Students: 20,676
- Acceptance rate: 81%
- Graduation rate: 71%
- Student to faculty ratio: 17:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $48,300
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 95%

Ranked in the top 20 for Best Greek Life Colleges in America, the campus has a very active Greek life and loads of sporting activities to participate in or attend. Students can choose from more than 90 undergraduate programs, 150 graduate programs, and 85 online degrees and certificates. The school offers hands-on learning as part of some areas of study, plus entrepreneurship programs and a study abroad program.

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#57. Miami University

- Location: Miami, OH
- Students: 16,682
- Acceptance rate: 80%
- Graduation rate: 81%
- Student to faculty ratio: 13:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $47,100
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 92%

Don’t let the name fool you: Miami University is actually located in Oxford, Ohio. Established in 1809, the school has more than 16,000 students and the majority of those students go on to graduate. Their undergraduate programs have consistently ranked as some of the best in the country.

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#56. University of Cincinnati

- Location: Cincinnati, OH
- Students: 23,712
- Acceptance rate: 77%
- Graduation rate: 71%
- Student to faculty ratio: 17:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $42,300
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 92%

A larger school with upwards of 22,000 students, the University of Cincinnati has more than 300 majors and 100 certificate programs for students to choose from, with nursing, psychology, and marketing being some of the most sought-after degrees. The campus is located just a short distance from downtown Cincinnati, making it convenient for students to access restaurants, shops, and cultural events.

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#55. Mississippi State University

- Location: Mississippi State, MS
- Students: 17,113
- Acceptance rate: 54%
- Graduation rate: 61%
- Student to faculty ratio: 17:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $40,200
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 92%

Mississippi State University has an enrollment of nearly 17,000 students. It’s also an NCAA Division 1 school, so athletic events tend to be embedded in campus life, along with fraternities and sororities, clubs and other student organizations. Average tuition cost comes in at $16,670 per year, with the school awarding an average of more than $10,265 in financial aid.

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#54. Kansas State University

- Location: Manhattan, KS
- Students: 15,548
- Acceptance rate: 95%
- Graduation rate: 65%
- Student to faculty ratio: 18:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $45,600
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 94%

In addition to its ranking as one of the Best Public Colleges in America, Kansas State is also ranked #6 for Best Colleges for Agricultural Sciences in America, so it’s no surprise that animal sciences is one of the school’s most popular majors. Attending students score the school as “very good,” naming the educational opportunities, helpful advisers and professors, and exceptional campus amenities as some of the university’s high points.

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#53. The University of Alabama

- Location: Tuscaloosa, AL
- Students: 29,135
- Acceptance rate: 83%
- Graduation rate: 71%
- Student to faculty ratio: 20:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $44,500
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 93%

The University of Alabama was founded in 1831 and was the state’s first public college. There are just over 29,000 students. Students have nearly 200 degree programs to choose from, and there are more than 600 student organizations and clubs, as well as myriad volunteer and internship opportunities. The campus encompasses 1,200 beautifully cultivated acres, with greenery all around, and nearby Tuscaloosa offers dining, shopping, and outdoor activities.

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#52. United States Merchant Marine Academy

- Location: Kings Point, NY
- Students: 1,007
- Acceptance rate: 25%
- Graduation rate: 80%
- Student to faculty ratio: 13:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $88,100
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 97%

Tucked away in Kings Point, New York, this small university offers students a big experience. With an enrollment around 1,000 undergraduates and a very competitive acceptance rate, the school is considered one of the premier universities in the state. Popular degree programs include marine science and engineering, and the school has an impressive graduation rate. The school was also rated as one of the Best Value Colleges in America, and is in the top 100 for Hardest Colleges to Get Into in America.

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#51. University of South Carolina

- Location: Columbia, SC
- Students: 26,400
- Acceptance rate: 69%
- Graduation rate: 77%
- Student to faculty ratio: 15:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $44,900
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 95%

This NCAA Division 1 school is big on athletics, ranking in the top 20 for Best College Athletics in America, and Best College for Sports Management. Students can choose from 86 undergraduate degrees, with the most popular majors being finance, marketing, and business.

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#50. Oklahoma State University

- Location: Stillwater, OK
- Students: 17,291
- Acceptance rate: 70%
- Graduation rate: 65%
- Student to faculty ratio: 18:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $46,500
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 93%

Stillwater’s Oklahoma State University has more than 300 majors and minors, and over 200 master’s and doctorate programs, giving students plenty of options in their chosen fields of study. The school’s most popular majors include business and marketing, and they were ranked as one of the best colleges for Agricultural Sciences in America. This is also an affordable university, with average tuition running $15,009 per year and an average of nearly $10,000 in financial aid awarded to students.

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#49. New Mexico Tech

- Location: Socorro, NM
- Students: 1,178
- Acceptance rate: 80%
- Graduation rate: 50%
- Student to faculty ratio: 8:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $50,000
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 90%

Ranked by Niche as the #1 college in New Mexico, NM Tech has a small enrollment of nearly 1,200 full-time students, and maintains an 8:1 student - faculty ratio. The school is known for its educational opportunities in biology, chemistry, and chemical engineering, and students give the school an overall rating of “excellent.”

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#48. University of Connecticut

- Location: Storrs, CT
- Students: 18,229
- Acceptance rate: 49%
- Graduation rate: 84%
- Student to faculty ratio: 16:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $58,400
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 95%

UConn is a larger university, with more than 18,000 students and a competitive acceptance rate of 49%. It was founded in 1881 and has four other regional campuses in the state. The school offers 117 majors and 88 research and professional fields of study, with a total of 14 schools and colleges. Students who attend UConn have the added bonus of more than 700 different clubs and organizations to choose from, as well as five cultural centers.

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#47. University of Oklahoma

- Location: Norman, OK
- Students: 18,996
- Acceptance rate: 80%
- Graduation rate: 70%
- Student to faculty ratio: 17:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $51,100
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 93%

Founded in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is located in the town of Norman, not far from Oklahoma City. The school offers 170 different majors, and in addition to three campuses in Oklahoma, has centers in Italy, Mexico, and Brazil. The university also has a strong athletic program, and it has been ranked #4 for Best College Athletics in America and in the top 50 for Best Colleges for Student Athletes in America.

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#46. University of Central Florida

- Location: Orlando, FL
- Students: 42,468
- Acceptance rate: 44%
- Graduation rate: 72%
- Student to faculty ratio: 30:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $45,400
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 93%

The University of Central Florida, which offers more than 220 degree programs, is located in Orlando and is a larger school with more than 40,000 students. With tuition of about $13,000 a year, the school has been ranked by both Kiplinger and Forbes as a Best Value University. The school’s sunny Florida location also earned it a spot in the top 50 for Best College Campuses in America.

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#45. Iowa State University

- Location: Ames, IA
- Students: 26,713
- Acceptance rate: 92%
- Graduation rate: 74%
- Student to faculty ratio: 18:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $50,700
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 96%

Iowa State was founded in 1858 and offers 100 majors within 10 schools and colleges. Its most popular undergraduate majors include agriculture, biological and biomedical sciences, education, engineering, and marketing. Students can also participate in more than 800 student organizations, internships, research programs, and study abroad.

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#44. University of Utah

- Location: Salt Lake City, UT
- Students: 18,628
- Acceptance rate: 62%
- Graduation rate: 70%
- Student to faculty ratio: 17:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $53,000
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 90%

The University of Utah is a large university, located in Salt Lake City. It offers 86 majors within 25 fields of study, with majors in psychology, communications, and economics among the most popular. Attending students rate academics highly, with 78% of students stating their professors put in a lot of effort, and 72% saying it isn’t difficult to get into the classes they need for their degree programs.

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#43. Rutgers University - New Brunswick

- Location: New Brunswick, NJ
- Students: 34,285
- Acceptance rate: 61%
- Graduation rate: 84%
- Student to faculty ratio: 16:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $57,900
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 93%

Rutgers New Brunswick has an enrollment of more than 34,000 and an acceptance rate of 60%. The school has more than 100 majors and more than 175 research centers, providing an environment of hands-on learning and real-world experience. Tuition runs just over $16,000 per year, with the school awarding an average of more than $14,000 in financial aid. Students who attend Rutgers cite diversity and opportunity as being top draws, and Rutgers was ranked #27 for Most Diverse Colleges in America.

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#42. Arizona State University

- Location: Tempe, AZ
- Students: 41,182
- Acceptance rate: 86%
- Graduation rate: 63%
- Student to faculty ratio: 20:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $47,700
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 91%

ASU, ranked #1 for Best Colleges in Arizona, has a large student population of nearly 40,000, and more than 350 undergraduate degree programs. Students who attend ASU have the option to participate in accelerated learning and concurrent degree programs, as well as being part of student research programs and internships.

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#41. University of Iowa

- Location: Iowa City, IA
- Students: 21,212
- Acceptance rate: 83%
- Graduation rate: 72%
- Student to faculty ratio: 16:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $51,900
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 96%

Ranked #1 in Public Universities in the state, the University of Iowa offers its students more than 200 different areas of study, with majors including kinesiology, finance, and nursing. Its health sciences department is very popular, providing students with opportunities for hands-on research at the university hospital and clinics. The campus is located in Iowa City, which was named the #1 college town in the U.S. by Reviews.org in 2019.

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#40. California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) - San Luis Obispo

- Location: San Luis Obispo, CA
- Students: 19,685
- Acceptance rate: 28%
- Graduation rate: 82%
- Student to faculty ratio: 20:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $66,900
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 95%

“Learn by Doing” is the guiding philosophy at Cal Poly, a polytechnic school in the California State University system. Deemed the most innovative school in the West by U.S. World and News Report, Cal Poly offers 150 majors across six colleges, placing a particular emphasis on STEM-related subjects. During their time at the school nearly 25% of students spend time studying abroad, and 93% report finding gainful employment within nine months of graduation.

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#39. James Madison University

- Location: Harrisonburg, VA
- Students: 18,798
- Acceptance rate: 77%
- Graduation rate: 84%
- Student to faculty ratio: 16:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $56,600
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 96%

JMU has a sizable community with close to 19,000 students. Students have 139 degrees to choose from, and more than 80% of the undergraduates attending JMU participate in research programs, internships, or practicums. The school was also ranked #1 for Most Innovative University in the South by U.S. News & World Report.

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#38. Virginia Military Institute

- Location: Lexington, VA
- Students: 1,698
- Acceptance rate: 60%
- Graduation rate: 79%
- Student to faculty ratio: 11:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $65,700
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 97%

This public college is small, with just over 1,600 full-time students, which makes for an excellent student-faculty ratio. Faculty regularly partners with student cadets on research projects. VMI was also ranked as one of the Best Value Colleges in America, and Best Liberal Arts Colleges in America.

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#37. University of Massachusetts - Amherst

- Location: Amherst, MA
- Students: 22,491
- Acceptance rate: 64%
- Graduation rate: 82%
- Student to faculty ratio: 17:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $51,400
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 94%

UMass Amherst, which was originally founded in 1863 as the Massachusetts Agricultural College, has nearly 22,000 students. The school sits on more than 1,400 acres, and is close to both Boston and New York City. Students can choose from more than 100 bachelor’s degree programs, as well as 78 master’s and 49 doctorate programs. Popular majors include psychology, economics, and communications.

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#36. Auburn University

- Location: Auburn, AL
- Students: 22,527
- Acceptance rate: 81%
- Graduation rate: 79%
- Student to faculty ratio: 20:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $48,800
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 95%

Auburn University is considered one of Alabama’s top schools, with more than 140 majors, 300+ clubs and student organizations, and a highly rated athletic program. In addition to the opportunities afforded by the university, the city of Auburn itself has beautiful parks, professional sporting events, concerts, and cultural events. AU was also ranked in the top 50 for Colleges with the Best Student Life in America.

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#35. University of Delaware

- Location: Newark, DE
- Students: 18,378
- Acceptance rate: 71%
- Graduation rate: 81%
- Student to faculty ratio: 15:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $57,000
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 96%

Located in Newark, Delaware, the University of Delaware has just over 18,000 students and offers more than 300 degree programs. Popular areas of study include finance and marketing, and the school is ranked at #21 by Niche for Best Colleges for Kinesiology and Physical Therapy in America. The campus also has a variety of clubs and organizations for students to participate in, as well as intercollegiate athletics, arts, and cultural activities.

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#34. Michigan Technological University

- Location: Houghton, MI
- Students: 5,383
- Acceptance rate: 74%
- Graduation rate: 70%
- Student to faculty ratio: 12:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $66,400
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 97%

Ranked as one of Michigan’s best value colleges, Michigan Tech is located in the city of Houghton, right off the Keweenaw Waterway and in close proximity to Lake Superior. There are more than 120 degree programs within its seven colleges, and the university is home to the Great Lakes Research Center, where students can participate in research programs with biologists, geologists, and engineers.

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#33. Indiana University - Bloomington

- Location: Bloomington, IN
- Students: 31,981
- Acceptance rate: 78%
- Graduation rate: 79%
- Student to faculty ratio: 16:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $47,700
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 95%

IU celebrates 200 years of higher learning in 2020, a huge milestone for the state’s flagship university. In that 200 years, the school has grown to an enrollment of nearly 32,000, with 200+ undergraduate majors and more than 500 academic programs. In their spare time, students can explore the more than 750 student activities and groups, learning communities, and cultural organizations.

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#32. University of South Florida

- Location: Tampa, FL
- Students: 25,457
- Acceptance rate: 48%
- Graduation rate: 75%
- Student to faculty ratio: 23:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $43,500
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 91%

The University of South Florida is a top state research facility, located in Tampa. The school was founded in 1956 and has more than 24,000 students. There are more than 180 majors and concentrations among the 14 colleges, and programs include health services, biomedical services, and nursing. In 2020, USF ranked in the top five nationally among “Golden Age Universities,” which includes both private and public schools.

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#31. Michigan State University

- Location: East Lansing, MI
- Students: 35,722
- Acceptance rate: 71%
- Graduation rate: 81%
- Student to faculty ratio: 16:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $53,600
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 95%

MSU is located in East Lansing, Michigan, with an enrollment of more than 35,000 students. The school was founded in 1855, and was the first university to teach scientific agriculture. The campus encompasses 5,300 acres, with agricultural and natural resource research and education conducted on another 20,000 acres around the state. In addition to its highly rated education and research programs, MSU is an NCAA Division 1 school, and is ranked in the top 20 for Best College Athletics in America.

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#30. University of Pittsburgh

- Location: Pittsburgh, PA
- Students: 18,392
- Acceptance rate: 57%
- Graduation rate: 83%
- Student to faculty ratio: 14:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $53,900
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 94%

Founded as the Pittsburgh Academy in 1787, the University of Pittsburgh has grown to accommodate more than 18,000 students. The school offers 79 majors within 22 different fields of study, and campus life includes clubs and activities, Greek life, and close proximity to the city of Pittsburgh, which has shopping, restaurants, and cultural events.

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#29. University of California - San Diego

- Location: La Jolla, CA
- Students: 29,966
- Acceptance rate: 31%
- Graduation rate: 87%
- Student to faculty ratio: 19:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $59,900
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 89%

UC San Diego has almost 30,000 students. Tuition runs at just over $13,000 a year, with the school awarding more than $19,000 in financial aid. There are more than 100 degree programs to choose from, and the university has been recognized as one of the top research facilities in the country.

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#28. University of Maryland - College Park

- Location: College Park, MD
- Students: 28,390
- Acceptance rate: 44%
- Graduation rate: 87%
- Student to faculty ratio: 18:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $62,900
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 93%

The University of Maryland-College Park has more than 200 degree programs within its 12 schools and colleges. Popular majors include information science, biology, and economics. Students who attend UMD like the beautiful campus, abundance of clubs and activities, and knowledgeable professors.

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#27. University of California - Davis

- Location: Davis, CA
- Students: 30,171
- Acceptance rate: 39%
- Graduation rate: 87%
- Student to faculty ratio: 20:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $58,200
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 91%

Another top-notch school from California’s state university system, UC Davis is located in the Sacramento area, in the city of Davis. Founded in 1908, the university is known for its highly rated educational and research programs, diversity, and a dedication to sustainability. The school’s vice chancellor released a call to action in finding ways to strengthen its already-diverse culture, and increase overall campus safety.

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#26. University of California - Irvine

- Location: Irvine, CA
- Students: 29,797
- Acceptance rate: 27%
- Graduation rate: 84%
- Student to faculty ratio: 18:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $58,400
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 90%

UC Irvine is located about 40 miles outside of Los Angeles. This is a larger school with nearly 30,000 students. There are 85 majors and 75 minors to choose from, with programs in social psychology, biology, and computer science being some of the most popular. The school has consistently been ranked in the top 10 for its sustainability efforts by Sierra magazine, and has been named #32 for Best Colleges for Performing Arts in America.

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#25. Clemson University

- Location: Clemson, SC
- Students: 19,486
- Acceptance rate: 51%
- Graduation rate: 84%
- Student to faculty ratio: 16:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $52,400
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 94%

Ranked #1 for Best Colleges in South Carolina, Clemson’s 20,000-acre campus is located on the shores of Lake Hartwell, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Students can choose from more than 80 undergraduate majors and 110 graduate programs, and have opportunities to participate in research programs, a wide array of campus activities and clubs, and travel abroad.

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#24. University of Minnesota Twin Cities

- Location: Minneapolis, MN
- Students: 29,939
- Acceptance rate: 57%
- Graduation rate: 83%
- Student to faculty ratio: 17:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $51,900
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 94%

The flagship campus of the University of Minnesota, this Twin Cities school was founded in 1851 and remains the only land-grant university in the state. With 150+ degree programs ranging from accounting to urban studies, the university offers students a chance to study in small groups—teacher to student ratios sit at around 17:1—and provides over 1,000 on-campus opportunities for internships and research. With notable alumni including two vice presidents, 55 members of Congress, and dozens of founders and CEOs, incoming students can rest assured that the education they receive will truly set them up for success.

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#23. Florida State University

- Location: Tallahassee, FL
- Students: 29,879
- Acceptance rate: 36%
- Graduation rate: 83%
- Student to faculty ratio: 21:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $46,400
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 93%

Tallahassee’s Florida State offers students more than 100 undergraduate majors to choose from, as well as 113 master’s and 70 doctorate programs. The school has been designated a Carnegie Research Facility, providing students with hands-on learning opportunities and receiving more than $200 million in funding in 2019 for ongoing programs. The school also ranks in the top 10 for both Greek life and athletics.

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#22. University of Washington

- Location: Seattle, WA
- Students: 29,332
- Acceptance rate: 52%
- Graduation rate: 84%
- Student to faculty ratio: 20:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $57,700
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 91%

The University of Washington is a multi-campus school, with locations in Seattle, Tacoma, and Bothell. It offers more than 180 majors, with plentiful research opportunities, and students can also apply for its study abroad program. Campus life includes student organizations, volunteering, Greek memberships, and a strong athletic department.

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#21. The Ohio State University

- Location: Columbus, OH
- Students: 42,776
- Acceptance rate: 54%
- Graduation rate: 86%
- Student to faculty ratio: 19:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $46,100
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 94%

Located in the city of Columbus, Ohio State has an enrollment of more than 42,000 students. Students can choose from more than 200 majors, and enjoy a rich campus life that includes student organizations, clubs, and more than 90 acres of outdoor space. The school’s athletic program, the Ohio State Buckeyes, is also renowned. It is an NCAA Division 1 school, member of the Big Ten Athletic Conference, and ranked in the top 10 for Best College Athletics in America.

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#20. North Carolina State University

- Location: Raleigh, NC
- Students: 22,820
- Acceptance rate: 45%
- Graduation rate: 82%
- Student to faculty ratio: 14:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $52,500
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 94%

North Carolina State has an enrollment of more than 22,000 students, with 300+ undergraduate and graduate programs to choose from. Recent students had some of the highest scores for ACT and SAT in university history, and more than 100 students in the last five years were national scholars and fellows. Top choices in majors include biology, engineering, and business.

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#19. University of California - Santa Barbara

- Location: Santa Barbara, CA
- Students: 22,846
- Acceptance rate: 30%
- Graduation rate: 83%
- Student to faculty ratio: 18:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $55,300
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 91%

UC Santa Barbara, located on the lovely California coast, was founded in 1891. Offering more than 200 different majors, degrees, and credentials, UC Santa Barbara combines its status as a leading research institution with outstanding educational opportunities. The campus has more than 500 student organizations and activities, and best of all, it sits right on the Pacific Ocean, providing students with beautiful views and the chance to explore the outdoors.

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#18. Penn State

- Location: University Park, PA
- Students: 66,409
- Acceptance rate: 76%
- Graduation rate: 71%
- Student to faculty ratio: 15:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $50,100
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 94%

Niche gives Penn State A and A+ grades across the board in its rankings, and students seem to agree, with the bulk of student reviews rating the school “excellent” or “very good.” Originally founded in 1855, Penn State is home to more than 39,000 students, offering more than 275 degree programs across 24 different campus locations.

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#17. Texas A&M University

- Location: College Station, TX
- Students: 47,667
- Acceptance rate: 58%
- Graduation rate: 82%
- Student to faculty ratio: 21:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $58,000
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 95%

Texas A&M is a popular school, with more than 47,000 students. It was established in 1876 and was the first public higher learning facility in Texas. It offers more than 130 undergraduate, 175 master’s, and more than 90 doctorate programs. One of the largest research facilities in the U.S., it provides hands-on research for students and is one of only two universities in the country leading two National Science Foundation Engineering Research Centers.

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#16. Colorado School of Mines

- Location: Golden, CO
- Students: 4,930
- Acceptance rate: 53%
- Graduation rate: 83%
- Student to faculty ratio: 15:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $84,900
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 95%

Colorado School of Mines was originally founded in 1873. It offers a variety of degrees for both undergraduate and graduate programs, and added new programs in space resources, quantum engineering, and advanced energy systems. Mechanical engineering and petroleum engineering are two of the most popular majors, and the school ranks in the top 30 for Best Colleges for Engineering in America.

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#15. Purdue University

- Location: West Lafayette, IN
- Students: 32,606
- Acceptance rate: 60%
- Graduation rate: 82%
- Student to faculty ratio: 13:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $55,100
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 95%

Rated as the top public university in Indiana, Purdue also ranks high for public colleges in the U.S. There are more than 31,000 students, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 13:1. Tuition costs just over $11,000 per year, with the school awarding more than $10,000 in financial aid on average. Attending students say they enjoy the beautiful campus, diversity, and choices in educational programs.

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#14. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

- Location: Champaign, IL
- Students: 32,854
- Acceptance rate: 59%
- Graduation rate: 85%
- Student to faculty ratio: 20:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $61,500
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 95%

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, located about 140 miles from Chicago, has an enrollment of more than 32,000 students. It offers 88 majors within 25 fields of study, with the most popular ones being research and experimental psychology, economics, and accounting. The school is also ranked #2 nationwide for its Greek life, and has a multitude of student clubs, organizations, sports, and cultural activities.

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#13. University of Wisconsin

- Location: Madison, WI
- Students: 30,157
- Acceptance rate: 54%
- Graduation rate: 88%
- Student to faculty ratio: 17:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $56,200
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 95%

Established in 1848, Madison’s University of Wisconsin sits on over 900 acres, with plenty of greenery and easy access to amenities. Educational opportunities are plentiful here, and students can choose from more than 120 undergraduate majors within eight schools. Students who attend enjoy a variety of academic programs, scenic campus views, and an active Greek life.

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#12. Virginia Tech

- Location: Blacksburg, VA
- Students: 28,584
- Acceptance rate: 70%
- Graduation rate: 86%
- Student to faculty ratio: 14:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $62,500
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 96%

Virginia Tech students can choose between more than 100 undergraduate majors and 170 master’s and doctorate programs, with options that include biology, information science, marketing, and communications. They have a spacious 2,600-acre campus with over 200 buildings and an airport, and the school is in close proximity to downtown Blacksburg, which has been rated a top place to live.

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#11. University of Georgia

- Location: Athens, GA
- Students: 28,175
- Acceptance rate: 45%
- Graduation rate: 87%
- Student to faculty ratio: 17:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $50,500
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 92%

Originally founded in 1785, the University of Georgia is the state’s flagship school, with more than 27,000 students. UGA students include Rhodes Scholars, Fulbright Scholars, and Goldwater Scholars, and 95% of its graduates are either working or attending graduate school within six months of graduation.

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#10. University of Texas - Austin

- Location: Austin, TX
- Students: 37,515
- Acceptance rate: 32%
- Graduation rate: 86%
- Student to faculty ratio: 19:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $58,200
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 93%

UT Austin was founded in 1883 and has an enrollment of more than 38,000 students. Popular majors for undergraduates include business, biology, and information science. In addition to its rating as one of the Best Public Colleges in America, it is also ranked in the top 10 for Colleges with the Best Student Life in America, and #1 for Top Public Universities in Texas.

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#9. University of Florida

- Location: Gainesville, FL
- Students: 32,157
- Acceptance rate: 37%
- Graduation rate: 88%
- Student to faculty ratio: 17:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $56,000
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 92%

The University of Florida is located in Gainesville, with more than 32,000 students. It offers upwards of 300 undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as numerous clubs, sports, and extracurriculars. UF launched an “Academics for Black Survival and Wellness” program, which was initiated by a UF student and her professor after determining outreach was needed to support Black Lives Matter. The program provides anti-racism training, as well as plans to enhance the safety of Black students on and off campus, and sessions to facilitate healing for Black people in and out of academia.

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#8. William & Mary

- Location: Williamsburg, VA
- Students: 6,190
- Acceptance rate: 38%
- Graduation rate: 90%
- Student to faculty ratio: 11:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $58,500
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 94%

William & Mary is a smaller university, with an enrollment of just over 6,000 and a student-faculty ratio of 11:1. One of only eight “Public Ivy” schools in the nation, it offers innovative education opportunities, with 28 majors across 16 fields of study. Campus life includes clubs and recreational sports, student organizations, and cultural events.

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#7. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

- Location: Chapel Hill, NC
- Students: 18,528
- Acceptance rate: 23%
- Graduation rate: 91%
- Student to faculty ratio: 13:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $55,600
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 94%

UNC Chapel Hill was established in 1789, the first public university in the country. It offers more than 70 bachelor’s, 104 master’s, and 65 doctorate programs. Many students take advantage of the school’s study abroad program, with approximately one third of undergraduates studying in other countries during their school career. UNC was also ranked in the top 10 for Best Big Colleges in America.

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#6. University of California - Berkeley

- Location: Berkeley, CA
- Students: 29,991
- Acceptance rate: 16%
- Graduation rate: 93%
- Student to faculty ratio: 19:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $64,700
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 88%

UC Berkeley is a highly sought-after school with an equally sought-after hip California vibe. Home to nearly 29,000 students, the school has a lean acceptance rate of just 15%, but an outstanding graduation rate of 91%. Students who attend say they love the location and beauty of the campus, the diverse student population, and amazing research facilities.

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#5. United States Military Academy at West Point

- Location: West Point, NY
- Students: 4,457
- Acceptance rate: 12%
- Graduation rate: 85%
- Student to faculty ratio: 7:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: unavailable
- Employment rate two years after graduation: unavailable

West Point is a small school with a very competitive acceptance rate of just 11%. Located in Highlands, New York, it was originally built as a military fort in 1778, and established as a military academy in 1802. In addition to its top rating for Best Public Colleges in America, the academy is also ranked in the top 10 for Best Liberal Arts Colleges in America.

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#4. University of Virginia

- Location: Charlottesville, VA
- Students: 16,267
- Acceptance rate: 24%
- Graduation rate: 95%
- Student to faculty ratio: 15:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $61,200
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 94%

The University of Virginia has just under 16,000 students. Popular majors include liberal arts and humanities, economics, and business. The school sits on more than 1,600 acres, and the campus has been named one of the “Most Beautiful College Campuses in America” many times.

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#3. Georgia Institute of Technology

- Location: Atlanta, GA
- Students: 14,310
- Acceptance rate: 21%
- Graduation rate: 90%
- Student to faculty ratio: 19:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $79,100
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 95%

Located in Atlanta, Georgia Tech is a larger school with an enrollment of more than 14,000 students. Students who make the grade are privy to a wide selection of undergraduate and graduate programs within six colleges and 28 schools. Tuition averages just under $17,000, and the school awards close to $13,000 in financial aid per year.

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#2. University of California - Los Angeles

- Location: Los Angeles, CA
- Students: 30,969
- Acceptance rate: 12%
- Graduation rate: 92%
- Student to faculty ratio: 18:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $60,700
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 89%

In addition to its #2 ranking for Best Public Colleges in America, UCLA comes in at #1 for Best College Campuses in America and #2 for Students with the Best College Life in America. With just over 31,000 students and a low acceptance rate, getting into UCLA is an accomplishment in itself. The school offers more than 125 majors to choose from, with economics and political science as two of the most popular. Campus life includes proximity to all the L.A. lifestyle has to offer, as well as plenty of student organizations, clubs, and sports.

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#1. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

- Location: Ann Arbor, MI
- Students: 30,204
- Acceptance rate: 23%
- Graduation rate: 93%
- Student to faculty ratio: 11:1
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $63,400
- Employment rate two years after graduation: 94%

The number #1 spot for Best Public Colleges in America goes to the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, with good reason. The school offers its students more than 275 areas of study, with opportunities in research, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Students who attend U-M say the school is a strong academic choice, with professors who care about their students and advisers who are helpful and knowledgeable.

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