To identify the Best Colleges in Maryland for 2021 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 Maryland anywhere. Read more about our rankings methodology and sources at our about page.
If you’re interested in online-based schools, check out our ranking of the Best Online Colleges in Maryland. You can also find out more about college financial aid with our list of the Top Maryland Scholarships.
Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimore, MD
Loyola University MarylandBaltimore, MD
University of Maryland-College ParkCollege Park, MD
St. John's College (MD)Annapolis, MD
Salisbury UniversitySalisbury, MD
St. Mary's College of MarylandSt. Mary's City, MD
Towson UniversityTowson, MD
Notre Dame of Maryland UniversityBaltimore, MD
Washington CollegeChestertown, MD
University of Maryland-Baltimore CountyBaltimore, MD
From its very beginning in the Colonial Era, Maryland was a place of complexity and difference, where the seeds of American values – freedom of religion, freedom of speech – were really first sown. Set between the North and the South, between the Puritan founders and the aristocratic plantations, Maryland was always a mix of modes and styles, and that is still the case today. It’s appropriate that Maryland should border the nation’s capital, because Maryland is so many sides of America in one place.
That cultural and economic richness is reflected in the best colleges in Maryland, which offer something for everyone: elite liberal arts colleges in the New England style; Catholic and evangelical Christian colleges; urban research institutions and classic college-town public universities; and no shortage of regional universities that go underappreciated even as the state depends on them.
The Rundown: Best Colleges in Maryland
The best colleges in Maryland are built on the long, proud history of one of the oldest American states. Maryland was the birthplace of religious freedom, one of the first states to ratify the Constitution, and the state that donated the land for Washington DC, and no other state in the union has capitalized on that history quite like Maryland. Maryland depends on the federal government, and public institutions like smaller regional members of the University System of Maryland are crucial to educating future managers, professionals, and workforce for government, healthcare, and education. Schools like Towson University and Frostburg State rank among the best regional universities in the North, while others, like UM Baltimore County (one of our top Underrated Colleges Doing Great Things) and Morgan State University (a top-ranked historically black college) are making a difference for Maryland’s minority students.
The leadership of Maryland’s industry, along with some of the most important research being done for government agencies like NASA and the National Institutes of Health, is built on two of the best major research universities in the US, the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University. Originally an agricultural school, UMD is the state’s flagship, one of the highest-ranked public universities in the nation, and a Public Ivy (it’s also one of College Consensus’ Top Green Schools). Johns Hopkins is a household name, America’s first modern research university and a world leader in medicine.
Maryland also has a strong tradition of small liberal arts colleges. Some of Maryland’s finest colleges, like Loyola University Maryland, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, and Mount St. Mary’s University, were founded by Maryland’s strong Catholic population (the colony began as a refuge for Catholic persecuted in England) and rank among the best Catholic colleges in America. (It doesn’t hurt that they rank among the best beach colleges and best college dorms, either.) Others, like St. John’s College, Washington College, and Hood College, are nationally-ranked liberal arts colleges, known as innovative and progressive institutions that have helped revolutionize and shape higher education, not only in Maryland, but in the US. With some of the nation’s best small colleges, Maryland’s colleges and universities have a tremendous responsibility, one for which they are entirely up to task.
The Future According to Maryland’s Best Colleges
The best colleges in Maryland don’t react – they act. And they don’t anticipate the future – they build it. With its influence on Washington, Maryland’s higher education system is quite unlikely to lose its relevance; if anything, the power and authority of institutions like Johns Hopkins and UMD is only going to grow as they reach out; both JHU and the UMD system have emerged as leaders in online and other non-traditional education. With a growing minority and international population, Maryland’s culture continues to get richer, and no matter how power shifts and fluxes in Washington, Maryland moves ever forward.