The Top Consensus Ranked Public Colleges & Universities list has been developed by College Consensus to show future leaders and scholars across the nation the best options for their needs. By bringing together a full selection of data from publishers and student reviews, College Consensus gets the broadest ranking of the best public schools in the US. If you’re interested in online education, see our ranking of the Best Online Public Colleges & Universities.
How Do We Rank the Best Public Colleges & Universities?
As an aggregate ranking, College Consensus ranks schools based on all of their verified rankings – the sum of all of a college’s rankings. The Consensus score is made up of two parts: the Publisher Rating is an average of all rankings from publishers like US News & World Report, The Wall Street Journal, and WalletHub; the Student Review Rating averages all of the legitimate student reviews from sites like Cappex and My Plan. When averaged all together, these many, many rankings make up College Consensus – the fullest ranking available. Read more about our rankings methodology and sources at our about page.
Public colleges & universities are a vital part of higher education in America. Public schools generally provide a more affordable and accessible option for students than private colleges, helping to democratize higher education and build a more broadly educated citizenship.
What’s Different About the College Consensus Ranking?
Public schools often get ignored in rankings, despite their critical mission. But College Consensus is different. We’re interested in the big picture, not relying just on one perspective or methodology. National publishers use surveys, investigation, and statistics to rank colleges, while students writing their own reviews use their own experience. College Consensus gives every method and voice its due, letting the unsung but much-loved smaller college have its day right alongside the biggest names. That’s what makes College Consensus unique.
The Top Consensus Ranked Public Colleges & Universities are listed in descending order by their Consensus score. In the event of ties, schools are ranked in alphabetical order with the same rank number.
University of Michigan-Ann ArborAnn Arbor, MI
University of California-Los AngelesLos Angeles, CA
University of California-BerkeleyBerkeley, CA
University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel Hill, NC
University of Virginia-Main CampusCharlottesville, VA
University of California-Santa BarbaraSanta Barbara, CA
California State University-StanislausTurlock, CA
University of FloridaGainesville, FL
The University of Texas at AustinAustin, TX
University of California-DavisDavis, CA
University of California-IrvineIrvine, CA
University of Wisconsin-MadisonMadison, WI
University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignChampaign, IL
Georgia Institute of Technology-Main CampusAtlanta, GA
University of Washington-Seattle CampusSeattle, WA
University of California-San DiegoLa Jolla, CA
Purdue University-Main CampusWest Lafayette, IN
California State University-Channel IslandsCamarillo, CA
Texas A & M University-College StationCollege Station, TX
College of William and MaryWilliamsburg, VA
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Blacksburg)Blacksburg, VA
Michigan State UniversityEast Lansing, MI
California Polytechnic State University-San Luis ObispoSan Luis Obispo, CA
University of Maryland-College ParkCollege Park, MD
California State University-Los AngelesLos Angeles, CA
California State University-Monterey BaySeaside, CA
CUNY John Jay College of Criminal JusticeNew York, NY
California State University-Long BeachLong Beach, CA
California State University-Dominguez HillsCarson, CA
CUNY Brooklyn CollegeBrooklyn, NY
University of Minnesota-Twin CitiesMinneapolis, MN
University of GeorgiaAthens, GA
State University of New York at New PaltzNew Paltz, NY
California State University Maritime AcademyVallejo, CA
Rutgers University-New BrunswickNew Brunswick, NJ
North Carolina State University at RaleighRaleigh, NC
California State University-NorthridgeNorthridge, CA
University of ConnecticutStorrs, CT
Ohio State University-Main CampusColumbus, OH
California State University-ChicoChico, CA
California State University-San BernardinoSan Bernardino, CA
Indiana University-BloomingtonBloomington, IN
SUNY CortlandCortland, NY
University of Illinois at SpringfieldSpringfield, IL
Florida State UniversityTallahassee, FL
Citadel Military College of South CarolinaCharleston, SC
James Madison UniversityHarrisonburg, VA
University of Minnesota-MorrisMorris, MN
University of Northern IowaCedar Falls, IA
The College of New JerseyEwing, NJ
Maine Maritime AcademyCastine, ME
Western Carolina UniversityCullowhee, NC
Binghamton UniversityVestal, NY
California State Polytechnic University-PomonaPomona, CA
University of IowaIowa City, IA
Montclair State UniversityMontclair, NJ
Massachusetts Maritime AcademyBuzzards Bay, MA
University of Wisconsin-La CrosseLa Crosse, WI
San Francisco State UniversitySan Francisco, CA
Clemson UniversityClemson, SC
University of Massachusetts-AmherstAmherst, MA
California State University-FullertonFullerton, CA
CUNY Bernard M Baruch CollegeNew York, NY
SUNY College at BrockportBrockport, NY
SUNY Maritime CollegeThroggs Neck, NY
Virginia Military InstituteLexington, VA
Colorado School of MinesGolden, CO
University of California-RiversideRiverside, CA
University of DelawareNewark, DE
Stony Brook UniversityStony Brook, NY
University of California-MercedMerced, CA
CUNY Lehman CollegeBronx, NY
Western Washington UniversityBellingham, WA
University of Colorado BoulderBoulder, CO
Pennsylvania State University-Main CampusUniversity Park, PA
University of BaltimoreBaltimore, MD
The University of West FloridaPensacola, FL
Truman State UniversityKirksville, MO
Towson UniversityTowson, MD
Dickinson State UniversityDickinson, ND
University of California-Santa CruzSanta Cruz, CA
West Chester University of PennsylvaniaWest Chester, PA
University of Illinois at ChicagoChicago, IL
SUNY OneontaOneonta, NY
George Mason UniversityFairfax, VA
University of UtahSalt Lake City, UT
University at BuffaloBuffalo, NY
Valley City State UniversityValley City, ND
University of Wisconsin-Eau ClaireEau Claire, WI
California State University-SacramentoSacramento, CA
Lake Superior State UniversitySault Ste Marie, MI
SUNY College at GeneseoGeneseo, NY
New College of FloridaSarasota, FL
Salisbury UniversitySalisbury, MD
University of ArizonaTucson, AZ
University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh CampusPittsburgh, PA
Farmingdale State CollegeFarmingdale, NY
University of Missouri-ColumbiaColumbia, MO
Florida International UniversityMiami, FL
Rutgers University-NewarkNewark, NJ
What Is a State University?
A state university is a group of public universities supported by a state. Many of the publicly funded universities in the US are public university. The public university definition is a university that receives funds from the government. The public college definition is the same as a public university. The terms university, college and school are now often used interchangeably.
The US Department of Education offers a breakdown of the levels of public higher education. Typically, a public college offers four year bachelor’s degrees in arts and sciences. Some colleges offer master’s degrees in the arts and sciences. Public universities offer bachelors, master’s and doctoral degrees, and often have professional schools such as law or medical school. Universities, including major research universities tend to be bigger, have more students and large class sizes.
Every state has its own public university, or college. U.S. News and World Report produced a list of public universities in each state and ranked them. They recognized University of California – Los Angeles as the top public university.
What are the Advantages of a Public University vs Private University?
When making a decision about college, students often face the question of public university vs private university. Then they look at cost. The major distinction between a public and private university is how they are funded. A public university is funded by the state or federal government and passes along the savings to the students. Private universities often have great financial aid so students may end up paying less if they can benefit from financial aid. Typically, even the best public universities are less expensive than private ones. That isn’t the only area where public universities win out over private universities.
Business Insider took a deeper dive into the public university vs private university question. They found that the best value public colleges are all over the country and students leave public colleges with less debt than private college students. Public universities are more affordable and accessible to the majority of students. The best public universities in the world tend to be more social. They have more students, which allows for there to be more people with which to interact.
Since public universities are state and government funded, they have more resources within the college. Students will find up to date equipment and in larger supply than they might at a private university.
What States are Known for their Public Universities?
When looking for a state school, students may wonder how many public universities in the US? Every state has at least one, but usually more, public universities. According to U.S. News and World Report, of all the public colleges in California the University of California – Los Angeles is ranked number one. It offers more than 3,800 courses and 130 under graduate majors.
The best public universities in Texas are the University of Texas – Austin, which is one of the largest schools in the nation. Of all of the many public universities in Texas, the University of Texas is one of the highest ranked in the Nation. It is divided into 18 different colleges and schools. Texas A & M – College Station is another one of the best public universities in Texas. It offers students an amazing education wrapped in tradition and spirit. Texas A & M prepares its graduates to be leaders in their community.
Some of the nation’s best colleges in New York state stand out above all others. The best of SUNY colleges is Binghamton University. The campus is known for its outdoor attributes as it has a nature preserve, forest and pond. They also have one of the highest freshman retention rates in the country. Another one of the best colleges in New York City, also known as a (City of New York) CUNY college is Baruch College. It is located in Manhattan, so it has a 17 story building, known as Newman Vertical Campus, to create a college life in the city. There is limited housing available to students.
Are Public Colleges Easy to Get In?
The requirements for public college are becoming tougher with each passing year. The more well known the public college, the more challenging it may be to gain acceptance. There are many students wanting to gain access and the competition keeps raising the bar. The California Career Center offers tips to students looking to attend a public college. The top advice offered is for the student to get the best grades possible for his or her entire high school career. All the grades matter, not just junior year. Another top piece of advice is to take advanced classes. Take the most challenging classes possible for all four years of high school, including Advanced Placement (AP) classes.
Since every state has a public college, students may wonder is there a public college near me? There are many resources for potential students to find the best colleges near them. The best first step a student’s current guidance counselor, or a college fair to find out potential options.