united states map globe

College Rankings by State Top Consensus Ranked Colleges in Every State

Ready to start your journey?

College rankings by state assist the prospective student with choosing a high-value school in the state they are interested in. College Consensus rankings combine the results of the most respected college ranking systems with the averaged ratings of thousands of real student reviews from around the web to create a unique college meta-ranking. This approach offers a comprehensive and holistic perspective missing from other college rankings. Visit our about page for information on which rankings and review sites were included in this year’s consensus rankings.

The Best Colleges & Universities ranking for each state is limited to schools in that particular state. Schools that did not qualify for a Consensus Score were ranked by their Student Review score.

For the Best Online Colleges & Universities ranking for each state, we factored in schools offering at least three fully-online degree programs at any level. Again, schools that did not qualify for a Consensus Score were ranked by their Student Review score.

Rankings By State (Online)


Why State Colleges and Public Universities are a Good Investment?

The most significant advantage of a state college is the cost. Public universities offer lower tuition costs because they receive funding from the state government to cover operating costs. In comparison, private colleges rely on donations and tuition to operate. In-state student debt tends to be much lower than those who attend private colleges. Also, state schools usually have more major options to choose from since the college is likely to have a larger student population. Historically, state colleges have more amenities than private universities too. Campuses tend to have more gymnasiums, libraries, laboratories, and dining halls. Finally, the academics at state schools offer a well-rounded education to enrolled students with the universities providing career resources before and after degree conferment.

State colleges often have more benefits than private schools. For one, the overall debt for state college students is less than private college students. The average debt per student is $29,200, but state college students have an average debt of just over $20,000. Private colleges may have only a few thousand students and a limited number of majors. Oftentimes, since public colleges serve tens of thousands of students, more majors are available. Students will be able to find a liberal arts major and a technical major within the college catalog. There is also more diversity at a public college among the student body.  

College readiness rankings by state can demonstrate how prepared students are for higher education. A public college with low average SAT scores may not be the right fit for students looking for a university with rigorous academics. Prospective students want to confirm that the college has historically high numbers of graduating students within six years. To further decide if a public university is a good investment, prospective applicants can use state college rankings to review salary data. Many college review publications provide the average starting salaries for graduating students. Most helpful, if further data is available that demonstrates the average starting salaries for each major.    

How to Choose a Good In-State College?

State college rankings can assist with narrowing down the selection process. Once a short list of top picks is put together, the incoming student can arrange campus visits and talk to admissions counselors to decide which public college is the best fit. A student should consider what’s most important to him or her in a college. For instance, some students thrive in smaller class settings with lower teacher to student ratios. Others may prefer larger campuses with a variety of class offerings and majors to choose from. The availability of certain sports and clubs could also factor into a decision. As an example, both private and state colleges can be part of NCAA Division I athletics. To qualify as a NCAA Division I team, the college must meet certain budget and facility requirements. The NCAA will also evaluate the number of scholarships offered to student athletes. Besides availability of sports and clubs, the student wants to get the overall feel for campus life. Questions may include: Does the campus have a positive student culture and an active community? Does the college have a reputation as a party school?

How to Use College Education Rankings by State?

College academic rankings by state should be used to see how well past students have performed within the programs. State rankings of education provide an overview of what percentage of graduating high school students go on to pursue a post-secondary degree. The Chronicle of Higher Education details state performance on an annual basis to measure the number of students who obtain college degrees and the state’s average per capita income. States such as California, Colorado, New Jersey, and Massachusetts have high percentages of bachelor and master degree holders along with high per capita income averages. 

State rankings of education could be useful to see how a state compares to others. As an example, California has one of the highest state university college rankings. Colleges in the state, including the University of California and California State University have been ranked highly by publications like Money Magazine for high average student SAT scores, tuition cost, percentage of students receiving state grants, and average starting salaries of graduates. 

Ready to start your journey?

Ready to start your journey?