To identify the Best Colleges in Utah for 2020 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 Utah anywhere. Read more about our rankings methodology and sources at our about page.
If you’re interested in distance learning, check out our ranking of the Best Online Colleges in Utah. You can also find out more about college financial aid with our list of the Top Utah Scholarships.
Brigham Young University-ProvoProvo, UT
University of UtahSalt Lake City, UT
Westminster College (UT)Salt Lake City, UT
When the area that would become Utah was settled by the Latter-Day Saints in the 1840s, there wasn’t much to speak of. The land was arid, and neither the Spanish nor the Americans had seen much use for it. But don’t underestimate the hardiness of religious refugees; they built their own civilization in the desert, one that still dominates Utah. While much of Utah’s land is owned by the federal government, Utah’s economy over its history was led by coal mining, oil, and cattle, but Utah realized early that natural resources would not be enough. In the 21st century, Utah has become a mecca for high-tech companies, start-ups, and entrepreneurs, winning recognition from Forbes and Newsweek as a new tech center and one of the best environments for small business.
Utah’s colleges and universities have done more than their part to make that magic happen. Even before Utah was organized as an official territory, one of the first priorities of the early settlers was establishing a higher education institution (the University of Deseret, which became the University of Utah when no one could spell “Deseret”). From there, Utah’s higher education system has expanded in all directions, with top-ranked regional public universities, liberal arts colleges, community colleges, and the massive, incalculably influential Brigham Young University, intellectual center of the Latter-Day Saints church. And Utah is by no means done; the state has the second fastest-growing population in the US, and has frequently been named the best state to live in with regard to income, health, and other factors.
The Best Colleges in Utah Have This in Common
Wonder what it is? The thing they all have in common – major research universities, tiny religious liberal arts colleges, and everything in between, is Utah’s people. From the first Mormon settlers, to the new influx of professionals and families attracted to Utah’s booming economy, Utah’s colleges and universities have set the stage by taking the needs of the people seriously. Utah, of course, is home to Brigham Young University, one of the most prestigious private religious institutions in the nation, and an internationally-renowned center for learning and research. In addition to ranking as one of the nation’s top research universities, BYU is widely known as one of the most affordable universities in the world, with steep discounts for Latter-Day Saints church members (who make up nearly all of the student body).
BYU is also one of the top mountain colleges in the US, alongside the public research giant University of Utah (also ranked one of the nation’s top research institutions). Utah State, in turn, has not only focused on research, but on the needs of students, earning top rankings as one of the best river and lake colleges (a destination for student outdoors activities) and one of the best colleges for veterans in the US. With top-ranked public research universities like the University of Utah and Utah State, Utah’s scientists and researchers are at the forefront of discovery, taking students alongside them to help shape the future.
Following the lead of the flagships, Utah has also developed some of the best regional universities in the West, including Weber State and Southern Utah University. These are institutions that put affordability, accessibility, and outreach first, and in addition to earning recognition for their quality, they have proven to be leaders in areas like online education and adult learning. With Utah’s small population scattered across a huge land, these regional institutions are crucial for making sure Utah’s youth and working adults alike have opportunities for higher learning.
Keep Up the Good Work, Utah
Utah is doing a lot of things right, unless you really love coffee. They’re building an economy for the 21st century, and they’re doing it with the leadership of higher education, the support of the public, and the best interests of the people in mind. The numbers of people flocking to places like Oregon (that’s where to go if coffee is a priority) and Texas get all the press, but there’s a revolution happening in Utah that is still flying under the radar, and pretty soon we’re all going to know it.