To identify the Best Colleges in Idaho for 2017-2018 we averaged the latest results from the most respected college ranking systems with thousands of real student review scores from around the web to produce a unique College Consensus rating for each school. You won’t find a more comprehensive ranking of the top colleges and universities in Idaho anywhere. Read more about our rankings methodology and sources at our about page.
Colleges & Universities in Idaho
Idaho has seen many changes throughout its history, as a raw, undeveloped territory was gradually shaped into a state built on coal and mineral mining, forestry, and agriculture – potatoes, wheat, and corn from the earth, cattle and sheep on it. Later, manufacturing and food processing brought a new industrial era for the hard-working people. But, in the 21st century, those industries have declined. Idaho has rebounded with their characteristic practical common sense, by focusing on their other resources. Recent years have seen Idaho’s technology sector reach more than a quarter of the state’s revenue, from semiconductor manufacturing to renewable and sustainable energy research and production. And there’s no reason to believe that shift will do anything but continue, and even speed up.
Those changes have made Idaho’s colleges and universities a critical part of the state’s future, and the higher education system has risen to the occasion. Career, technical, and professional education is central to Idaho’s higher learning, from the small colleges to the major research universities. With investment in technology and engineering, Idaho’s schools prepare for the future of work; with enhanced medical, business, and professional programs, they prepare to meet the needs of the people.
The College of Idaho
Idaho’s oldest private institution, the College of Idaho was founded in 1891 by the Presbyterian Church, just after the long-gestating territory became a state. While small, the College of Idaho’s student body and faculty are distinguished, with numerous Rhodes Scholars and other elite national awards represented. The unique PEAK curriculum is a carefully designed system combining liberal arts foundations with specialized learning, allowing students to not only complete a major, but three relevant minors, in four years.
That innovation has paid off, as College of Idaho students have a superb showing after graduation, with Idaho’s highest graduation rate and alumni giving rate. Ranked by the Princeton Review and USA Today as a best value, and by U.S. News & World Report as a top national liberal arts college, many honors demonstrate College of Idaho’s commitment to students – such as the Princeton Review’s ranking of C of I students as among the happiest in the nation, with the most accessible professors. The Consensus view puts the College of Idaho as one of the best choices in the west.
Brigham Young University-Idaho
A Latter-Day Saints institution, named for the Mormon prophet and leader, Brigham Young University-Idaho is a large private university formerly known as Ricks College. With the transition from a small junior college to a full four-year university in 2001, BYU-Idaho has grown tremendously in size and reputation. BYU-Idaho puts a high priority on personal growth, leadership, and academic rigor, and even with a large student body, students are supported with close mentorship and example.
As a Latter-Day Saints university, BYU-Idaho is governed by a strict Honor Code, and religious practice is at the center of student life. 99% of the student body belongs to the LDS church, and BYU-Idaho’s curriculum revolves not only around liberal arts learning and career preparation, but ethical responsibility, community service, and moral living. BYU-Idaho offers a wholesome environment with many cultural and extracurricular activities, as well as substantial student guidance and networking opportunities through the alumni and church infrastructure. LDS students not only get an incredibly low tuition (subsidized by church tithing) but confident entry into their lives and careers.
Northwest Nazarene University
A small, Church of the Nazarene-affiliated liberal arts college in Nampa (Idaho’s second-largest city), Northwest Nazarene University is a respected regional institution, ranked by U.S. News & World Report and the Princeton Review among the best western colleges. As a Nazarene university (one of only eight in the nation), Northwest Nazarene emphasizes spiritual growth and Biblical morals, combining top-notch liberal arts education with Christ-centered religious devotion. NNU’s mission is to send highly motivated, well-prepared Christian professionals and leaders into the world for service and evangelism.
Most of NNU’s student body identifies as Christian, though only slightly less than half belong to the Nazarene church. Small class sizes and attentive faculty give students the kind of hands-on, guided learning that we associate with the small liberal arts college experience, but NNU has also made great strides in recent years with online education. While the student body is just over 1500, more than 6000 students take courses online, making Northwest Nazarene one of the most exciting success stories in Christian online education, and a university on the rise.
University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, just a year before Idaho was admitted as a state, the University of Idaho is the state’s flagship research institution, and was the only Idaho public university at all until 1963. Ranked by U.S. News & World Report and the Princeton Review as one of the top public universities in the nation, UI is the center of culture and learning for the state, with the majority of the student body living in the college town of Moscow. UI has also been honored by the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for their exemplary community engagement efforts.
As a public, land-grant institution, U of I’s primary mission is providing professional and career preparation for the people of Idaho, and they have succeeded impressively. UI has been commended for their social mobility, helping students from low-income and disadvantaged backgrounds enter professional careers, and the university’s excellent reputation in the state ensures that graduates will find their footing on the job market.
Boise State University
Boise State University was founded in 1932, originally as an Episcopal junior college, but grew through the next forty years to become the third full state university in Idaho. Today Boise State is a public research university with a state of the art urban campus in Idaho’s biggest city. In the past decade, Boise State has put a premium on undergraduate and graduate research, partnering with Georgia Tech, Purdue University, Rice University, Texas A&M University, and the University of Michigan to develop cutting-edge programs to immerse students in real-world research.
Boise State’s investment in student development has paid off tremendously, with a growing student body, more research funding and productivity, and many more market-ready degree programs. Alongside Boise State’s growing research capacity, the city of Boise has quickly developed its own tech sector, which is largely supplied by Boise State’s top-notch computer science programs. Boise State’s graduates can trust that their professional and technical degrees will land them the life they want.
Lewis-Clark State College
Founded in 1893 as a normal school (the nineteenth-century name for teacher’s college), Lewis-Clark State College is a small four-year college in Lewiston, ID (across the state border from Clarkston, WA). Lewis-Clark State has long been ranked by U. S. News & World Report among the top regional institutions in the West, with a dual mission of traditional academic education (bachelor’s degrees) and career and technical training (associate’s and diplomas). With that twin focus, Lewis Clark State provides for the needs of Idaho’s workers and professionals.
Lewis-Clark State’s small size, with low student/teacher ratios in both program types, give students the personal attention and mentorship of a liberal arts college with the practical, applicable skills of professional and technical education. High placement rates for graduates – 94% for academic programs, and 97% for technical programs – prove Lewis-Clark State’s effectiveness, while the lowest tuition of any Idaho college gives students faith that their investment will pay off.
Idaho State University
A large, public research institution in southeastern Idaho, Idaho State University has had practical professional, career, and technical education at its heart since its founding in 1901. That focus on the useful and socially responsible continues today, as Idaho State takes the state’s lead in education for health professions, as well as crucial programs in energy, engineering, and technology.
Idaho State puts students first in all things, from a low student/faculty ratio of 15:1, to the Outdoor Adventure Center, a reflection of Idaho’s nation-wide reputation for natural beauty and ruggedness. Besides ranking as a military-friendly institution, Idaho State has a reputation for student support and career development, with effective internship programs, intensive student research experience, and strong economic ties to the region. Idaho State graduates come to their careers confident in their ability to conquer the job market, and reach their goals.