To identify the Best Colleges in New Hampshire 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 New Hampshire anywhere. Read more about our rankings methodology and sources at our about page.
Colleges & Universities in New Hampshire
The best colleges and universities in New Hampshire represent all sides of the Granite State. Despite the state’s small size, New Hampshire’s options run the gamut of institutional types, from the Ivy League to regional public universities. New Hampshire’s educational leaders, and the only two Carnegie Classification-recognized research universities Dartmouth College 78 and the University of New Hampshire 61 represent the state well on a national and international level. Dartmouth is one of the oldest and most prestigious colleges in the US, formed before the American Revolution, and it gave rise to UNH, the state’s public land-grant university, which helped bring New Hampshire from a provincial farm state to a national model of industry.
New Hampshire is also well-served by its regional institutions, like Keene State College 63 and Plymouth State University , which demonstrate the opportunities afforded by public higher education – providing young people with entry into professional careers, helping working adults change careers and advance in their professions, and ensuring a well-educated, capable workforce. Meanwhile, private institutions like Saint Anselm College 64 and Southern New Hampshire University present extremes of possibility, from the traditional small, Catholic liberal arts college, to the massive, ultra-modern online education giant. On every side, New Hampshire’s colleges and universities make New Hampshire what it is today.
At this time, only six institutions in New Hampshire have enough official rankings and reviews to generate a Consensus Score, but the ever-changing College Consensus will be updated as circumstances change.
Here are the top colleges and universities of the Granite State.
Dartmouth College is a private, Ivy League research university counted as one of the Colonial Colleges – the nine existing colleges founded before the American Revolution. Dartmouth’s original incarnation was Moor’s Indian Charity School, a school founded in 1755 by a Congregational minister; it was meant to train Native American Christian converts in the ministry, who could then return to their tribes as missionaries. Seeking to charter the school as a college, the founders moved from Connecticut to New Hampshire, where it was chartered in 1769, switching to a broader liberal arts and sciences program to educate ministers in the Congregationalist church. Dartmouth’s influence on New Hampshire has been great (it was, in fact, the birthplace of the public University of New Hampshire) and today Dartmouth is regularly ranked among the top national universities (#11 in U.S. News & World Report).
Dartmouth College is an unusual school; it is still primarily a traditional, undergraduate liberal arts college (as its name reflects), but a third of its population is made up of graduate students. Dartmouth is one of the only – if not the only – school of its size and format that is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a major research university. With its incredible pedigree, Dartmouth has a reputation much larger than its relatively small size, and its government, economics, and business programs are some of the highest ranked in the world. Dartmouth’s three professional schools – the Geisel School of Medicine, the Thayer School of Engineering, and the Tuck School of Business – stand among the oldest and most admired in their respective disciplines. “Ivy League” is synonymous with excellence, and Dartmouth College defines Ivy League.
Saint Anselm College
Founded in 1889, Saint Anselm College was the inspiration of New Hampshire’s Bishop of Manchester, who invited a group of German monks from New York’s St. Mary’s Abbey to build a college that would unite the French Canadian and Irish populations that had immigrated to work the factories of Manchester. In its earliest days, Saint Anselm was designed to be self-sufficient, with its own farm worked by students, and its curriculum was based on the oldest form of liberal arts education – a six-year course of study in the Greek and Roman Classics. In the 21st century, Saint Anselm still stands for the traditional liberal arts, and has endured as one of the most trusted institutions in New Hampshire, recognized by Forbes and U.S. News & World Report as one of the top college in New England.
Saint Anselm College is a traditional, small liberal arts college, defined by a low student:faculty ratio of 11:1, small classes, and the individualized attention that helps students succeed. As a traditional liberal arts institution, Saint Anselm carries all students through a 2-year core of humanities and science courses they call the Conversatio (a Latin word meaning “the way”). Saint Anselm is dedicated to Benedictine values of academic and intellectual rigor, community engagement, and spiritual development, and all of those qualities are central to the curriculum, from traditional majors to pre-professional programs in nursing and business. Saint Anselm’s commitment to traditional excellence makes it one of New Hampshire’s top colleges.
University of New Hampshire
New Hampshire’s flagship public research institution, the University of New Hampshire is a land, sea, and space-grant university (one of the few institutions in the US with status in three federal grants). Founded in 1866 under the Morrill Land-Grant Act – which established colleges dedicated to the most current learning in agriculture and mechanical science – UNH was originally housed at Dartmouth College before a farmer in Durham, NH, donated land for the College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. Today, the University of New Hampshire is the state’s public leader in science, engineering, and professional studies, and is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as a top-tier national university.
UNH is the only public university in New Hampshire classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a research institution, and as a majority-undergraduate institution, the university puts a special emphasis on undergraduate research, with numerous programs that encourage collaboration between students and faculty, provide funding projects, and facilitate international study. New Hampshire’s only School of Law, and one of the nation’s leading undergraduate business schools (the Paul School of Business and Economics), are among UNH’s most significant programs. With its grounding as a land grant institution, the University of New Hampshire is the state’s best choice for practical, career-ready professional education.
Keene State College
Keene State College began in 1909 as a Keene Normal School, part of the national movement that adopted the “normal school” format of teacher education – a two-year program in which teachers learned experientially, placed in a real classroom. Over time, as the normal school program progressed into 4-year teacher’s colleges, Keene State grew to include more liberal arts and sciences programs, eventually coming into its own as a full college. Today, Keene State is a public liberal arts college with over 6000 students and recognition from the Princeton Review as a top regional college for the North.
As a regional public university, Keene State’s main purpose is to provide educational opportunity for the people of southern New Hampshire, with a focus on useful, market-ready career programs grounded in a well-rounded liberal arts education. Keene State offers more than 40 bachelor’s degree programs, including, of course, teacher education, as well as numerous healthcare and health sciences programs like nursing and Safety & Occupational Health. As a public liberal arts college, Keene State keeps classes small and emphasizes student support and mentorship, providing everything New Hampshire’s aspiring professionals need for success.
Plymouth State University
Like Keene State (#4 above), Plymouth State University was founded as a normal school, the very first in the state in 1871. But Plymouth State’s history goes even farther back, to a private teacher’s school founded in 1808. When the state needed a public normal school, it was the town of Plymouth that donated the facilities of their elementary and high school, as well as their students, for the plan. The normal school grew into a state college by 1939, and was named a full university in 2003, with a full slate of undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Plymouth State has particularly been praised for its commitment to Plymouth and its people, earning Carnegie Foundation Community Service Classification.
With more than 50 undergraduate and 75 graduate programs, Plymouth State is one of the most comprehensive institutions in New Hampshire. Teacher education, of course, is still central to Plymouth State’s mission, and PSU offers two master’s degrees in education, as well as a 5-year program that allows students to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in just one extra year. Plymouth State instituted a new curriculum format in 2017, arranging its degrees by seven interdisciplinary clusters rather than traditional disciplines, including themes like Arts and Technology or Health and Human Enrichment. With strong experiential learning, interdisciplinary research programs, and faculty guidance and support, Plymouth State has become one of New Hampshire’s best universities.
Southern New Hampshire University
Founded in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University began as a for-profit accounting and secretarial school, providing training for workers in the state’s burgeoning business and industrial sectors. In the 1960s SNHU became a chartered, nonprofit college, drawing students to its suburban campus from Manchester, which was growing into the state’s largest city. However, in the 21st century SNHU has become a national and international success story, growing into one of the largest, most successful online educators in the US – not only ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s top tier of regional colleges, but earning recognition as one of the most innovative schools in America.
An early adoption of online education has worked in Southern New Hampshire’s favor; while other universities were setting up email accounts, SNHU was delivering fully online degree programs and earning a reputation for quality, convenience, and affordability. Today, only around 3000 of SNHU’s 60,000 students are residential. The School of Business, with its top-ranked online MBA program, is one of the most acclaimed online business schools anywhere, and SNHU is one of the few regionally-accredited, fully comprehensive online universities offering programs from bachelor’s to doctorates. With one of the most affordable tuition rates in the business, SNHU is especially friendly to working adults, making it one of New Hampshire’s best universities, and most inspiring successes.