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States with the most highly ranked colleges

  • States with the most highly ranked colleges

    Delaware Valley University explored some of the reasons why students choose one college over another in a 2015 blog post. Among the factors listed were safety, cost, program ranking, majors offered, career service, and student life. And, of course, one of the most crucial factors in choosing a college is the location. When it comes to higher ed, many students must decide between staying close to home or studying further afield. For students applying to schools out of state, it can be difficult to vet a program from afar.

    Every state approaches education differently. For some states, investment in K-12 and higher education is paramount. For others, there is simply not enough tax money to both fully fund the state's public education system and meet certain requirements for higher ed. How this manifests can speak to a student's educational experience in that state.

    An example of this is California, which houses some of the best post-secondary schools in the nation. Well-funded up to the 1970s, the University of California and the California State University systems defined international standards. Budget cuts in the last four decades, however, have slowly driven up the cost of tuition, with state funding priorities now directed toward the state's community colleges instead of the state's public universities. The deficit has forced California, in recent years, to spend more in reinvestments than any other state.

    New York, on the other hand, is in the midst of a historic reshuffling of state-based college funding. Since 2012, the state has been pumping money into its higher education system, with total support for the 2020 fiscal year estimated at $7.6 billion. For New York State residents that have a household income of $125,000 or less, starting with the 2019–2020 academic year, enrollment in a New York State public university is tuition-free under the Excelsior Scholarship.

    California's situation is not unique. As state education budgets ebb and flow, so too do collegiate rankings. Stacker has studied Niche's 2020 Best Colleges in America list to determine which states have the most highly ranked colleges. For this list, states are ranked by those with the most schools in the top 250 of Niche's Best College rankings. Ties are broken by the highest-ranked school. Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, and West Virginia are not included as they didn't have a school in the top 250.

    Keep reading to find out where your state ranks.

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  • #42. Wyoming

    - Schools in top 250: 1
    - Highest ranked schools: University of Wyoming (#225 national rank)

    Wyoming is the home of 11 institutions of higher learning. Of these, the University of Wyoming is the only one that is a four-year, degree-granting school. The University of Wyoming has an acceptance rate of 97% and a graduation rate of 58%.

  • #41. New Mexico

    - Schools in top 250: 1
    - Highest ranked schools: New Mexico Tech (#184 national rank)

    New Mexico has more than 50 colleges and universities, including the University of New Mexico. New Mexico Tech, or the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, is a university based in Socorro, N.M. A highly selective public school with a curriculum that focuses on science and engineering, the college was originally set up to teach mining at the collegiate level.

  • #40. Delaware

    - Schools in top 250: 1
    - Highest ranked schools: University of Delaware (#127 national rank)

    The relatively small state of Delaware has 34 colleges and universities. The University of Delaware, located in Newark, is the state's largest university. The school was ranked the top physical therapy graduate program for 2017 by U.S. News & World Report, as well as the 33rd best public university in 2018.

  • #39. Louisiana

    - Schools in top 250: 1
    - Highest ranked schools: Tulane University (#85 national rank)

    New Orleans' Tulane University is arguably the state's most prestigious school. Founded in 1834 as the Medical College of Louisiana, Tulane is one of the oldest medical and law colleges in the nation.

  • #38. New Hampshire

    - Schools in top 250: 1
    - Highest ranked schools: Dartmouth College (#15 national rank)

    Dartmouth College is New Hampshire's Ivy League institution. The ninth-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States, the school was founded a full seven years before the United States declared independence. Dartmouth Medical School among the best in the U.S., according to U.S. News.

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  • #37. South Dakota

    - Schools in top 250: 2
    - Highest ranked schools: Augustana University (#210 national rank), South Dakota School of Mines & Technology (#243)

    South Dakota has over 40 colleges and universities. Augustana University is the state's largest private university. The Sioux Falls school was ranked #9 on U.S. News & World Report's list of Best Regional Universities Midwest 2020. Although Augustana is affiliated with the Lutheran Church, they accept students of all faiths and promote academic integrity that is free of religious bias.

    Like New Mexico Tech, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology was started to teach mining on a college level. Since its creation, the school has become a regional leader in engineering and science education, with a focus on geology.

  • #36. Nebraska

    - Schools in top 250: 2
    - Highest ranked schools: University of Nebraska - Lincoln (#176 national rank), Creighton University (#180)

    At 856 acres, the University of Nebraska - Lincoln boasts a sprawling campus. The alma mater of Warren Buffet, the school has a strong commitment to research. Creighton University is a private Jesuit university located in downtown Omaha. Creighton has a 98% post-graduation employment rate and will be one of the first schools to offer a financial technology degree.

  • #35. Kansas

    - Schools in top 250: 2
    - Highest ranked schools: University of Kansas (#174 national rank), Kansas State University (#175)

    Like many of the colleges and universities on this list, the University of Kansas is well known for its athletics program. One of the top Division 1 schools, its men's basketball team regularly participates in March Madness. Success on the court is one thing, but K.U. also boasts some impressive academics. In 2016, U.S. News & World Report ranked K.U.'s city management and urban policy program the best in the nation.

  • #34. Arizona

    - Schools in top 250: 2
    - Highest ranked schools: Arizona State University (#155 national rank), University of Arizona (#165)

    Arizona has a strong public university network, with more than 50 colleges and universities throughout the state. Arizona State University, for example, is one of the nation's largest public universities by enrollment, with U.S. News & World Report naming ASU the most innovative school in the nation in 2019.

  • #33. Utah

    - Schools in top 250: 2
    - Highest ranked schools: Brigham Young University (#78 national rank), University of Utah (#145)

    Brigham Young University is one of the few religious schools on Niche's top colleges list. Owned and operated by the Church of Latter-Day Saints, the school has both an honor code that forbids extramarital sex, alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine and mandates study in the Bible and LDS scripture. Despite the strict code of conduct, the school's foreign language and business programs are among the best in the nation.

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