To identify the Best Colleges in Texas 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 Texas anywhere. Read more about our rankings methodology and sources at our about page.
Colleges & Universities in Texas
Texas has a lot of land, a lot of people, and a lot of need for higher education opportunities to keep the state’s professionals, leaders, and workers up to date and productive. And, in grand Texas tradition, the state has done it in a big way, with no less than six public university systems. The University of Texas and the Texas A&M systems are the largest and best-known, funded by the highly lucrative Permanent University Fund (which is fueled by oil and mineral rights on public land). Other public university systems in Texas include:
- Texas State System
- Texas Tech System
- University of Houston System
- University of North Texas System
Texas also has a wealth of private research institutions, like Rice University 73 , and religious universities, from Catholic to Baptist, including the University of Dallas 71 , Texas Lutheran University 74 , and Saint Edward’s University 66 . Texas is known as a highly religious state, and these Christian colleges and universities are a deeply-rooted part of Texas’ educational and cultural identity.
San Antonio, TX
Regularly ranked at the top of U.S. News & World Report’s region ranking of the best colleges in the West, Trinity University has a 150 year tradition of excellence in education and leadership. Founded just after the devastation of the Civil War by Presbyterian pioneers, Trinity was built on a promise to make a better future, and today Trinity continues to make top-tier education its hallmark. The university’s membership in the Annapolis Group and the Associated Colleges of the South, two organizations dedicated to excellence in the liberal arts, gives students assurance that their education is Trinity’s highest priority.
Trinity’s high marks come, in large part, because of their excellent rapport with students. A small student body, low student to faculty ratio, and commitment to mentorship and guidance helps Trinity’s 2500 students make the most of their college career. An urban setting and connections to the city of San Antonio give Trinity students access to a thriving job market for internships, employment, and networking. Trinity is also noted for their community engagement by Washington Monthly, and as a best value among private colleges by Kiplinger’s.
Texas Lutheran University
Located in the small town of Seguin, TX, midway between metropolitan San Antonio and capital city Austin, Texas Lutheran University is a small, highly respected liberal arts college with a history going back to 1891. Affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Texas Lutheran defines itself as a community of faith and learning, with small class sizes offering the opportunity for personal attention and advising in educational and spiritual arenas. Texas Lutheran is recognized by U.S. News & World Report among the top regional colleges in the West.
Texas Lutheran’s high-quality educational programs are built around the basic values of liberal arts and sciences education, combined with the emphasis on ethics, service, and spiritual growth that is central to TLU’s Christian heritage. A diverse student body, including a high proportion of African-American and Latino students, students from across the US, and students of many faiths, give Texas Lutheran a winning combination of strengths and the reputation to help graduates start their careers off right.
One of the most respected institutions in Texas, Rice University is often named among the “Southern Ivies,” the private research universities like Duke, Vanderbilt, and Emory that command a level of reputation to rival the Ivy Leagues. A mid-sized research university in the global metropolis of Houston, Rice is particularly known for their applied STEM research, including groundbreaking work in space technology, nanotechnology, and chemistry.
Rice is also renowned for their student support. The Princeton Review has named Rice’s student body one of the happiest in the nation, with good reason – a 6 to 1 student to faculty ratio at the undergraduate level means students get the kind of access to mentorship usually reserved for graduate students. Meanwhile, Rice ensures that all students who are admitted, no matter what their financial status, have their entire demonstrated need met. That’s the kind of consideration that brings a college to the top.
University of Dallas
Founded in 1956 by the Sisters of Saint Mary of Namur, the University of Dallas is one of the most respected private Catholic institutions in the nation. With more than three-quarters of the student body made up of Catholic believers, and strong ties to the Church, UD is deeply and proudly Catholic, with a commitment to the intellectual and educational rigor that Catholic colleges are known for. That excellence has earned UD notice from U.S. News & World Report, the Princeton Review, Forbes, and more.
The University of Dallas’s location in the suburban town of Irving gives students easy access to the booming job market and networking opportunities that a metropolis like Dallas provides, while providing the small, intimate atmosphere that students look for in both a Catholic university, and a college town. Opportunities like the Rome Experience, along with a rich grounding in the traditional liberal arts, make UD graduates fully-rounded citizens of the world, ready to take on any challenge.
The University of Texas at Austin
The flagship of the University of Texas system – one of the nation’s most renowned and far-ranging public higher-education systems – the University of Texas at Austin has made its name as one of the most innovative, groundbreaking institutions in the US. Ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 20 national public universities, UT Austin is a leader in engineering, technology, and business, including world-class petroleum and accounting programs. UT’s history of excellence has won them recognition as a Public Ivy.
With its location in Texas’ legendary capital city, Austin, the University of Texas has long been the center of Texas culture and learning, from Latin American history to music and entertainment. Students find not only a wealth of activities for their free time, thanks to Austin’s music, film, and art scene, but also a foot in the door of one of the top tech economies in the US, giving graduates excellent post-graduation career prospects in government, industry, and other sectors.
Texas A & M University-College Station
College Station, TX
Texas’ first public university, founded in 1876 as a land-grant college focused on mechanics, engineering, and liberal arts, Texas A&M University is one of the southwest’s most respected and beloved institutions. TAMU is recognized as one of the top-ranked universities in the nation, with a top 10 endowment and some of the most productive research in the world. As a research university, TAMU is particularly focused on the practical, applied sciences, with two research campuses and corporate connections that give students access to internships and industry connections.
With the largest student body in the state of Texas, TAMU takes pride in hundreds of thousands of Aggie alumni, creating a network of support for the many graduates each year. That kind of reputation has won TAMU recognition from the Wall Street Journal and from Kiplinger’s as one of the best values, and one of the institutions most likely to get graduates successfully into their careers. TAMU alumni are loyal, because TAMU gets the job done.
Howard Payne University
Located right in the heart of Texas, at the edge of the Hill Country, Howard Payne University is a Baptist-affiliated institution dedicated to Christ-centered, holistic education. HPU’s curriculum focuses on intellectual, professional, and spiritual development, with highly-regarded professional programs in the liberal arts, nursing, music, and education, many with a particular emphasis on leadership and service. For its quality education and affordability, HPU has been named as top western regional institution and a best value by U.S. News & World Report.
As a teaching university (rather than a research institution), HPU puts student engagement at the center of its studies, with a small 11:1 student to faculty ratio and a reputation for close-knit community-building. Students receive a high level of faculty support and mentoring, particularly because spiritual growth and formation of a Christian worldview are central to HPU’s mission. Students give HPU high marks, giving HPU a strong showing in the Consensus ranking.
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
The youngest public institution in the University of Texas system, UT Rio Grande Valley was formed in 2013 by the merger of three campuses – UT Brownsville, UT Pan American, and the UT Regional Academic Health Center. With expansive population growth in the border region, UT Rio Grande Valley is an essential step, pulling together the largest Hispanic student body in the nation (90% Hispanic) and combining some of the strongest medical, business, and engineering programs in the Southwest for an educational powerhouse nearly 30,000 students strong.
UTRGV’s mission puts it at the very center of Texas’, and the Southwest’s, future, with a focus on professional, technical, and innovative programs that are essential to modern life. As Texas’ first 21st century public university, UTRGV puts a premium on career preparation for students, cutting-edge research, and corporate/university partnerships, including research with direct, immediate market impact. UTRGV is preparing students for the world as it is, and the world as it will be, and will continue to be an institution to watch.
Saint Edward's University
A mid-sized Roman Catholic liberal arts college in the capital city of Austin, TX, Saint Edward’s University has been a highly respected fixture in the region since 1885, noted for a decorated faculty and highly motivated student body (including the most Fulbright Scholars of any American university). Major strategic innovations in the 21st century have helped Saint Edward’s grow tremendously in size and status, establishing a reputation as a top urban liberal arts institution, with some of the most successful professional programs in the area, including business, education, and entertainment.
Ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top regional institutions in the West, Saint Edward’s demonstrates the educational excellence and emphasis on service Catholic universities are known for, with small class sizes and high levels of community engagement. Saint Edward’s is also a noted player in the life of Austin, a city known worldwide for its music, theater, film, and art, all of which Saint Edward’s contributes to. For students looking for a Catholic education in one of the most exciting cities in the nation, Saint Edward’s has it all.
St Mary's University
San Antonio, TX
A small, Catholic institution in San Antonio, TX, St. Mary’s University was founded in 1852 by the Society of Mary, an order of priests and monks dedicated to the spiritual example of the virgin Mary, including service to the community, holistic spiritual and intellectual education, and love for humankind. As the oldest Catholic college in the region, St. Mary’s has built a reputation for excellence over a century and a half, from liberal arts, social sciences, and law, to healthcare and STEM.
St. Mary’s Marianist tradition puts an emphasis on positive impact in the community and the world, including initiatives such as making St. Mary’s the only Fair Trade certified university in Texas. St. Mary’s passes its excellence on to its students, who are accepted into medical and dental school at twice the national rate, and, in a Brookings Institute study, second only to Rice University in mid-career salary for graduates. St. Mary’s is sending graduates out into their careers not only equipped for success, but for leadership and transformation.