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50 best colleges in the Midwest

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50 best colleges in the Midwest

Some of the best Midwestern colleges and universities can thank the Morrill Act of 1862 for their existence. This law gave states 30,000 acres of federal land to establish institutions that offered practical and agricultural educations to a wider public. Today, many of these land-grant colleges have a history of being powerhouse research institutions, boasting developments like the first internet browser and performance of the first successful open-heart surgery. 

After the 2008 recession, many colleges in the Midwest faced problems of disinvestment; higher education is generally an easy target for budget cuts from state governments looking to save money. Some states are making up ground, however; Illinois, for example, recently passed a new budget with significant increases in funding for their many colleges and universities across the state. Many schools across the region are fighting to attract students away from the coasts and into America's heartland, focusing resources on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education as the "Silicon Prairie" develops. Of course, many of the schools on this list also have a rich tradition of college sports, especially football, which contributes to the rah-rah campus culture. 

America’s heartland claims several well-respected institutions of higher education, including famed public research universities and renowned small liberal arts colleges. Using Niche’s 2019 Best Colleges in America list, Stacker sorted out the best 50 schools in the Midwest. Niche’s rankings use data from the U.S. Department of Education on academics, admissions, and student life, along with reviews from current students and alumni. Only colleges located in Midwestern states (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin) were included.

Click through our list to find which colleges made the cut, and if the top spot went to a big name football school, a land-grant, or a bucolic liberal arts campus. 

You may also like: 50 best colleges on the East Coast

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Troy Johnson // Wikimedia Commons

#50. Creighton University

- Location: Omaha, NE
- Acceptance rate: 72%
- Net price: $31,481
- SAT range: 1070-1290
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $59,700
- Overall rank: #212
 

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Paul Sableman // Flickr

#49. St. Louis College of Pharmacy

- Location: Saint Louis, MO
- Acceptance rate: 72%
- Net price: $29,836
- SAT range: 1120-1300
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $124,100
- Overall rank: #207
 

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#48. DePauw University

- Location: Greencastle, IN
- Acceptance rate: 58%
- Net price: $29,318
- SAT range: 1180-1360
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $54,000
- Overall rank: #205
 

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AlexiusHoratious // Wikimedia Commons

#47. Augustana University

- Location: Sioux Falls, SD
- Acceptance rate: 68%
- Net price: $18,937
- SAT range: 1070-1290
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $43,700
- Overall rank: #203
 

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Joe // Flickr

#46. College of Wooster

- Location: Wooster, OH
- Acceptance rate: 56%
- Net price: $28,928
- SAT range: 1150-1380
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $46,300
- Overall rank: #200
 

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Rememberdefcow // Wikimedia Commons

#45. Calvin College

- Location: Grand Rapids, MI
- Acceptance rate: 83%
- Net price: $26,306
- SAT range: 1100-1330
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $44,800
- Overall rank: #197
 

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Dori // Wikimedia Commons

#44. Milwaukee School of Engineering

- Location: Milwaukee, WI
- Acceptance rate: 63%
- Net price: $23,793
- SAT range: 1150-1360
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $71,300
- Overall rank: #196
 

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Kendo26 // Wikimedia Commons

#43. Illinois Institute of Technology

- Location: Chicago, IL
- Acceptance rate: 54%
- Net price: $26,324
- SAT range: 1230-1410
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $69,100
- Overall rank: #193

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Andrew Higley // Wikimedia Commons

#42. University of Cincinnati

- Location: Cincinnati, OH
- Acceptance rate: 76%
- Net price: $21,050
- SAT range: 1120-1340
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $42,300
- Overall rank: #188
 

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Bmamlyuk // Wikimedia Commons

#41. Ohio Northern University

- Location: Ada, OH
- Acceptance rate: 66%
- Net price: $23,932
- SAT range: 1130-1310
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $63,500
- Overall rank: #186
 

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EmilyMarvin // Wikimedia Commons

#40. Illinois Wesleyan University

- Location: Bloomington, IL
- Acceptance rate: 61%
- Net price: $30,147
- SAT range: 1200-1400
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $59,100
- Overall rank: #183
 

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Picture Des Moines // Wikimedia Commons

#39. Drake University

- Location: Des Moines, IA
- Acceptance rate: 69%
- Net price: $28,277
- SAT range: 1100-1350
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $58,300
- Overall rank: #180
 

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Mulad // Wikimedia Commons

#38. University of St. Thomas - Minnesota

- Location: Saint Paul, MN
- Acceptance rate: 84%
- Net price: $31,470
- SAT range: 1090-1330
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $56,800
- Overall rank: #178
 

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Bkell // Wikimedia Commons

#37. University of Nebraska - Lincoln

- Location: Lincoln, NE
- Acceptance rate: 64%
- Net price: $16,813
- SAT range: 1100-1380
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $46,400
- Overall rank: #175
 

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Prizm // Wikimedia Commons

#36. Luther College

- Location: Decorah, IA
- Acceptance rate: 65%
- Net price: $26,013
- SAT range: 1020-1300
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $47,400
- Overall rank: #174
 

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Adavidb // Wikimedia commons

#35. Missouri University of Science & Technology

- Location: Rolla, MO
- Acceptance rate: 84%
- Net price: $14,133
- SAT range: 1100-1340
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $71,200
- Overall rank: #169
 

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Rough Tough, Real Stuff // Wikimedia Commons

#34. University of Missouri

- Location: Columbia, MO
- Acceptance rate: 78%
- Net price: $17,762
- SAT range: 1120-1350
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $48,300
- Overall rank: #168
 

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Paperraven // Wikimedia Commons

#33. Kansas State University

- Location: Manhattan, KS
- Acceptance rate: 94%
- Net price: $17,465
- SAT range: —
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $45,600
- Overall rank: #162
 

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Gen. Quon // Wikimedia Commons

#32. University of Kansas

- Location: Lawrence, KS
- Acceptance rate: 93%
- Net price: $18,365
- SAT range: —
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $48,800
- Overall rank: #159
 

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EEJCC // Wikimedia Commons

#31. Miami University

- Location: Oxford, OH
- Acceptance rate: 68%
- Net price: $20,316
- SAT range: 1190-1380
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $47,100
- Overall rank: #156
 

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Nheyob // Wikimedia Commons

#30. University of Dayton

- Location: Dayton, OH
- Acceptance rate: 72%
- Net price: $35,077
- SAT range: 1100-1310
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $55,100
- Overall rank: #154
 

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Wilson Delgado // Wikimedia Commons

#29. Saint Louis University

- Location: St. Louis, MO
- Acceptance rate: 64%
- Net price: $31,718
- SAT range: 1170-1390
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $56,500
- Overall rank: #145
 

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Daderot // Wikimedia Commons

#28. Oberlin College

- Location: Oberlin, OH
- Acceptance rate: 34%
- Net price: $39,794
- SAT range: 1280-1450
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $40,800
- Overall rank: #141
 

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Tony Webster // Wikimedia Commons

#27. Gustavus Adolphus College

- Location: Saint Peter, MN
- Acceptance rate: 68%
- Net price: $29,894
- SAT range: 1080-1340
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $51,700
- Overall rank: #138
 

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Chamberednautilus // Wikimedia Commons

#26. Denison University

- Location: Granville, OH
- Acceptance rate: 37%
- Net price: $32,290
- SAT range: 1200-1380
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $48,800
- Overall rank: #137
 

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Wally // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Wabash College

- Location: Crawfordsville, IN
- Acceptance rate: 63%
- Net price: $24,603
- SAT range: 1070-1280
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $56,300
- Overall rank: #136
 

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Pixabay

#24. Lawrence University

- Location: Appleton, WI
- Acceptance rate: 61%
- Net price: $28,180
- SAT range: 1220-1460
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $44,100
- Overall rank: #129
 

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Cade Ullerich // Wikimedia Commons

#23. Iowa State University

- Location: Ames, IA
- Acceptance rate: 89%
- Net price: $13,949
- SAT range: 1160-1410
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $50,700
- Overall rank: #128
 

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Tony Webster // Wikimedia Commons

#22. University of Iowa

- Location: Iowa City, IA
- Acceptance rate: 86%
- Net price: $14,845
- SAT range: 1140-1370
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $51,900
- Overall rank: #123
 

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Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#21. Indiana University - Bloomington

- Location: Bloomington, IN
- Acceptance rate: 76%
- Net price: $12,488
- SAT range: 1140-1350
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $47,700
- Overall rank: #119
 

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jcvertin // Wikimedia Commons

#20. Michigan Technological University

- Location: Houghton, MI
- Acceptance rate: 74%
- Net price: $17,139
- SAT range: 1160-1340
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $66,400
- Overall rank: #117
 

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Daniel Edwins // Wikimedia Commons

#19. St. Olaf College

- Location: Northfield, MN
- Acceptance rate: 43%
- Net price: $27,587
- SAT range: 1150-1400
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $50,400
- Overall rank: #116
 

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Neatpete86 // Wikimedia Commons

#18. Wheaton College - Illinois

- Location: Wheaton, IL
- Acceptance rate: 85%
- Net price: $30,021
- SAT range: 1230-1410
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $48,400
- Overall rank: #107
 

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Jeffness // Wikimedia Commons

#17. Michigan State University

- Location: East Lansing, MI
- Acceptance rate: 72%
- Net price: $16,684
- SAT range: 1100-1320
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $53,600
- Overall rank: #103
 

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Yipdw // Wikimedia Commons

#16. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

- Location: Terre Haute, IN
- Acceptance rate: 61%
- Net price: $41,536
- SAT range: 1260-1450
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $80,900
- Overall rank: #99
 

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Kevin Payravi // Wikimedia Commons

#15. The Ohio State University

- Location: Columbus, OH
- Acceptance rate: 48%
- Net price: $18,042
- SAT range: 1260-1450
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $46,100
- Overall rank: #91
 

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Ben Franske // Wikimedia Commons

#14. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

- Location: Minneapolis, MN
- Acceptance rate: 50%
- Net price: $16,808
- SAT range: 1270-1480
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $51,900
- Overall rank: #88
 

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Appraiser // Wikimedia Commons

#13. Macalester College

- Location: Saint Paul, MN
- Acceptance rate: 41%
- Net price: $30,672
- SAT range: 1300-1480
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $47,600
- Overall rank: #85
 

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Diego Delso // Wikimedia Commons

#12. Purdue University

- Location: West Lafayette, IN
- Acceptance rate: 57%
- Net price: $12,117
- SAT range: 1150-1380
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $55,100
- Overall rank: #80
 

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Daderot // Wikimedia Coimmons

#11. Case Western Reserve University

- Location: Cleveland, OH
- Acceptance rate: 33%
- Net price: $34,973
- SAT range: 1340-1520
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $74,600
- Overall rank: #76
 

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Curt Smith // Wikimedia commons

#10. Kenyon College

- Location: Gambier, OH
- Acceptance rate: 34%
- Net price: $31,704
- SAT range: 1260-1460
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $48,700
- Overall rank: #73
 

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Aureliusxv // Wikimedia Commons

#9. Grinnell College

- Location: Grinnell, IA
- Acceptance rate: 29%
- Net price: $29,492
- SAT range: 1310-1510
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $49,100
- Overall rank: #68
 

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Killivalavan Solai // Wikimedia Commons

#8. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

- Location: Champaign, IL
- Acceptance rate: 62%
- Net price: $16,638
- SAT range: 1340-1500
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $61,500
- Overall rank: #64
 

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James Steakley // Wikimedia Commons

#7. University of Wisconsin

- Location: Madison, WI
- Acceptance rate: 54%
- Net price: $15,910
- SAT range: 1280-1450
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $56,200
- Overall rank: #60
 

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Roy Luck // Wikimedia Commons

#6. Carleton College

- Location: Northfield, MN
- Acceptance rate: 21%
- Net price: $28,148
- SAT range: 1360-1530
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $54,200
- Overall rank: #35
 

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GoodFreePhotos

#5. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

- Location: Ann Arbor, MI
- Acceptance rate: 27%
- Net price: $16,408
- SAT range: 1330-1500
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $63,400
- Overall rank: #23
 

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Adam Jones // Wikimedia Commons

#4. University of Chicago

- Location: Chicago, IL
- Acceptance rate: 8%
- Net price: $34,834
- SAT range: 1480-1580
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $68,100
- Overall rank: #15
 

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Madcoverboy // Wikimedia Commons

#3. Northwestern University

- Location: Evanston, IL
- Acceptance rate: 9%
- Net price: $26,099
- SAT range: 1420-1560
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $69,000
- Overall rank: #14
 

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Michael Fernandes // Wikimedia Commons

#2. University of Notre Dame

- Location: Notre Dame, IN
- Acceptance rate: 19%
- Net price: $27,453
- SAT range: 1370-1520
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $78,400
- Overall rank: #13
 

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Unknown // Wikimedia Commons

#1. Washington University in St. Louis

- Location: Saint Louis, MO
- Acceptance rate: 16%
- Net price: $27,777
- SAT range: 1470-1570
- Median earnings six years after graduation: $70,100
- Overall rank: #11

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