Best public colleges in every state

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Creative Commons // Wikimedia Commons

Best public colleges in every state

Public colleges and universities can come with far less sticker shock than their private sector counterparts, but that isn’t to say they offer a substandard education or even diminished cachet. Coverage of the “Varsity Blues” college admission scandal exposed the underhanded—and illegal—tactics some affluent parents will employ to ensure their child’s acceptance not just to the Ivy League, but also to top-tier public schools such as UCLA, UC Berkeley, and the University of Texas at Austin.

Using the most recent data compiled by the Department of Education, as well as feedback from millions of current students and alumni, Niche ranked over 500 public colleges and universities based on academic programs, student life, affordability, and admission statistics. Stacker compiled a list of the best public colleges in every state using Niche’s 2023 Top Public Universities in America ranking.

Most schools that made the cut were created or repurposed due to the Morrill Land Grant Act, signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1862. The Morrill Act gifted 30,000 acres of public land to every state, with the caveat that it would be sold and the profits used to create and sustain agricultural and engineering colleges. Many of these new institutions had fewer than a dozen students and struggled to survive, sometimes battling the landscape and enrollment challenges.

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Today, a handful of land-grant schools continue to specialize in agriculture, science, and engineering, although most have grown exponentially over the years and currently offer programs across various disciplines, including business, medicine, law, and the humanities. With access to multimillion-dollar budgets and state-of-the-art facilities, public universities are frequently at the forefront of some of the most innovative and life-changing research in science and technology.

Read through the list to see which school took top honors in your home state.

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The University of Alabama at Birmingham UAB Hospital title and logo on a brick facade

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Alabama: University of Alabama at Birmingham

– Acceptance rate: 81%
– Net price: $16,978
– SAT range: 1090-1340

The University of Alabama at Birmingham is Alabama’s largest employer and is well-known for its football prowess and research hospital. The Birmingham campus began as an extension of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa in 1936 but became an independent institution in 1969.

All University of Alabama schools and extension programs were founded as whites-only schools, but Vivian Malone and James Hood changed that in 1963 when they became the first Black students to enroll and attend classes in Tuscaloosa.

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Alaska: University of Alaska Southeast

– Acceptance rate: 64%
– Net price: $10,506
– SAT range: data unavailable

The University of Alaska Southeast enjoys a spectacular setting along the Tongass National Forest and the Juneau Icefield—an ideal location for its highly rated marine science program. With fewer than 550 students and enviably small classes (an average 9:1 student-teacher ratio), UAS delivers a first-class education with a small college vibe.

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Arizona: Arizona State University

– Acceptance rate: 88%
– Net price: $14,653
– SAT range: 1100-1320

As if plenty of sunshine and a campus with a decidedly southwestern flavor wasn’t enough to recommend it, Arizona State University is also a top breeding ground for Fulbright scholars. “U.S. News & World Report” in 2022 recognized Arizona State as the nation’s most innovative university, thanks in part to its prestigious NASA Space Grant Program, which enables students to participate in NASA-related research.

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Arkansas: University of Arkansas

– Acceptance rate: 78%
– Net price: $16,759
– SAT range: 1090-1280

The University of Arkansas, nestled in the magnificent Ozark Mountains, is one of the leading research institutions in the United States. In the mid-1970s, newlyweds Hillary and Bill Clinton joined the school’s law school faculty before launching their political careers. Sen J. William Fulbright, a UA alumnus and former university president, sponsored a bill in 1945 that was to become the vaunted international exchange program bearing his name.

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California: University of California – Los Angeles

– Acceptance rate: 14%
– Net price: $16,474
– SAT range: 1300-1530

Founded in 1919 as the Southern Branch of the University of California, UCLA celebrated its centennial in May 2019, an anniversary that helped catapult the school to an unprecedented echelon of fundraising—the school garnered $5.49 billion as part of its Centennial Campaign. UCLA boasts a star-studded roster of alumni, including basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, actor James Franco, and director Francis Ford Coppola.

The student films of ’60s music legend Jim Morrison and fellow Doors band member Ray Manzarek are currently being restored by the university’s Film and Television Archive.

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Colorado: Colorado School of Mines

– Acceptance rate: 55%
– Net price: $27,675
– SAT range: 1270-1440

The Colorado School of Mines is noted for its exceptional science and engineering programs and proximity to several major ski destinations. Graduates can take advantage of combined bachelor, master, and doctoral programs and are in high demand by employers. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance ranked Mines as one of its 2019 top 100 educational values.

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Connecticut: University of Connecticut

– Acceptance rate: 56%
– Net price: $22,233
– SAT range: 1170-1390

In 1880, Charles and Augustus Storrs founded Storrs Agricultural College with a donation of 170 acres of farmland, a former orphanage, and $6,000 to the state of Connecticut.

The school awarded its first bachelor of arts degree in 1933 and was christened the University of Connecticut in 1939. In addition to its top-notch academics, UConn is also an athletic powerhouse, with both its men’s and women’s basketball teams winning numerous national titles. Notable alumni include musician Moby, actress Meg Ryan, ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo, and authors Wally Lamb and Ann Beattie.

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Delaware: University of Delaware

– Acceptance rate: 66%
– Net price: $19,747
– SAT range: 1150-1330

Founded in 1743 as Newark College in New London, Pennsylvania, the school’s first graduating class included some of its most illustrious alumni, including three signers of the Declaration of Independence.

The school moved to its current home in Newark, Delaware, in 1765 and in 1921 became the University of Delaware when it merged with a neighboring women’s college. Today, thousands of students actively conduct research at the university’s 95 research centers and institutes. The school counts President Joe Biden among its graduates.

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Florida: University of Florida

– Acceptance rate: 31%
– Net price: $10,075
– SAT range: 1290-1460

The University of Florida began life in the mid-19th century with the merger of the Gainesville Academy and the East Florida Seminary. In 1928, UF pioneered an innovative athletic scholarship that continues to serve as a model for the NCAA. Currently, U.S. News & World Report ranks the university #5 among all public universities in the country. Notable alumni include former NFL star Tim Tebow, Olympian Ryan Lochte, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

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Georgia: Georgia Institute of Technology

– Acceptance rate: 21%
– Net price: $17,410
– SAT range: 1370-1530

Georgia Tech started in 1885 as a trade school before transforming into a full-fledged university in the following decades.

In 1952, the school was officially christened the Georgia Institute of Technology with a focus on the sciences and engineering. Today, Georgia Tech offers 130 majors and minors in disciplines ranging from engineering and design to liberal arts. Georgia Tech ranks #8 on U.S. News & World Report’s list of most innovative schools.

Graduates of Georgia Tech include President Jimmy Carter and comedian Jeff Foxworthy.

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Hawaii: University of Hawaii at Manoa

– Acceptance rate: 84%
– Net price: $15,193
– SAT range: 1070-1280

The University of Hawaii, alma mater of Sen. Tammy Duckworth and actor Bette Midler, was founded in 1907 to provide residents of the island paradise with access to educational opportunities in agriculture and engineering. In 1912, the campus relocated from Honolulu to the Manoa Valley and underwent a period of rapid growth in the 1920s.

One of the most ethnically diverse universities in the world, UH is highly regarded for its nationally ranked programs in oceanography, business, Pacific Islands and Asian area studies, and marine biology.

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Idaho: University of Idaho

– Acceptance rate: 74%
– Net price: $14,929
– SAT range: 990-1220

Created in 1888 as a public land-grant institution, the University of Idaho currently offers 100 undergraduate degrees and has an annual research budget exceeding $100 million. High-profile graduates include former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin and Olympic gold medalist and former professional bicycle racer Kristin Armstrong.

Foellinger Auditorium at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign as viewed from the main quad

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Illinois: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

– Acceptance rate: 63%
– Net price: $13,517
– SAT range: 1200-1460

Sitting on approximately 6,300 acres of what used to be a 480,000-acre land-grant institution, UIUC is one of the largest research universities in the country. Its campus comprises more than 650 buildings to house more than 1,500 degree programs. UIUC alumni number more than 470,000 worldwide.

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Indiana: Purdue University

– Acceptance rate: 67%
– Net price: $12,294
– SAT range: 1170-1420

Purdue first opened its doors in 1874 with just 39 students. In 1891, university students received the nickname “Boilermakers” when the school was accused of plucking its athletes from local steam engine operations. The alma mater of Hoover Dam engineer Elwood Mead, Purdue has also given America popcorn king Orville Redenbacher, Stove Top Stuffing creator Ruth Siems, and inventor of the soft-serve ice cream machine Frank Thomas Jr.

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Iowa: University of Iowa

– Acceptance rate: 84%
– Net price: $17,452
– SAT range: 1110-1310

The University of Iowa was founded in 1847, less than three months after Iowa received statehood.

The first public university to admit both men and women of all races, UI was also the first university to offer a master of fine arts degree. Thanks to the internationally renowned Iowa Writers Workshop, the alumni roster reads like a Who’s Who of American literature, boasting the meteoric talents of Flannery O’Connor, John Berryman, John Irving, Carolyn Kizer, Philip Levine, and Robert Lowell, to name a few.

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Kansas: University of Kansas

– Acceptance rate: 91%
– Net price: $20,054
– SAT range: 1070-1320

The University of Kansas opened its doors in 1866 with an incoming class of 55 students. Today, KU offers more than 400 different degrees and certificates and is home to over 60 interdisciplinary research centers, including the Biodiversity Institute and the Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis. Alumni of note include actor Paul Rudd and basketball titan Wilt Chamberlain.

A brick University of Louisville sign

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Kentucky: University of Louisville

– Acceptance rate: 65%
– Net price: $17,894
– SAT range: 1050-1270

In 1798, a group of eight men declared their intention to open Jefferson Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. After a grueling 15 years wrought with financial struggle, the seminary finally opened, only to close within a decade.

Higher education in Louisville was revived when Louisville Medical Institute and Louisville Collegiate Institute were chartered in 1833. These institutions eventually became the University of Louisville that exists today.

A Louisiana Tech University sign welcoming everyone to campus

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Louisiana: Louisiana Tech University

– Acceptance rate: 64%
– Net price: $11,630
– SAT range: 1060-1260

Located in Ruston, Louisiana, Louisiana Tech University has a current enrollment of more than 10,000 students. Though the institution is known for its college education programs in science, technology, engineering, and other STEM disciplines, it also runs the Trenchless Technology Center. The university has international programs hosted in Italy and Mexico.

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Maine: Maine Maritime Academy

– Acceptance rate: 52%
– Net price: $18,739
– SAT range: 1000-1160

The Maine Maritime Academy has an enrollment of around 900 students and a curriculum limited to engineering, management, science, and transportation. Students receive comprehensive, first-hand instruction aboard dedicated training ships.

Highly regarded within the maritime industry, 90% of MMA graduates receive offers of employment within three months of graduation.

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Maryland: University of Maryland – College Park

– Acceptance rate: 51%
– Net price: $17,643
– SAT range: 1270-1480

The University of Maryland at College Park is one of the country’s leading public research institutions and boasts two Nobel laureates, five Pulitzer Prize winners, 61 members of national academies, and dozens of Fulbright scholars among its graduates.

Originally founded in 1856 as the Maryland Agricultural College, much of the original campus was destroyed by a 1912 fire. Notable alumni include funnyman Larry David, puppeteer Jim Henson, and Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein.

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Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts – Amherst

– Acceptance rate: 65%
– Net price: $22,505
– SAT range: 1200-1390

Situated in the bucolic Pioneer Valley, the University of Massachusetts – Amherst is New England’s largest public research university. Founded in 1863, UMass is part of the Five College Consortium, which includes reciprocal academic and social relationships with neighboring institutions Amherst, Smith, Mount Holyoke, and Hampshire colleges.

Over the past decade, UMass has skyrocketed up the U.S. News and World Report rankings, currently occupying the #26 spot for public universities. Famous alums include singer Natalie Cole, actor Richard Gere, and basketball legend Julius Erving.


Michigan: University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

– Acceptance rate: 26%
– Net price: $17,832
– SAT range: 1340-1520

The University of Michigan occupies the #2 spot on Niche’s 2022 list of top public universities.

Founded in Detroit in 1817 as the Catholepistemiad or University of Michigania, the university ditched the tongue-twister of a name a few years later and relocated to Ann Arbor in 1837. In addition to its impressive undergraduate program, the University of Michigan is also home to a number of renowned graduate programs in law and medicine, as well as the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. Notable alumni include celebrity chef Sara Moulton, poet Theodore Roethke, and rock legend Iggy Pop.

Bruininks Hall at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities

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Minnesota: University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

– Acceptance rate: 70%
– Net price: $17,729
– SAT range: 1240-1460

University of Minnesota – Twin Cities was founded in 1851, seven years before Minnesota was awarded statehood. Though it temporarily closed during the Civil War, the university reopened shortly thereafter and became home to many firsts. The Gophers retain the title as the inventors of cheerleading, the first state university to offer a program in mortuary science, and home to the invention of the seat belt.

Students sitting in a circle on the campus of the University of Mississippi

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Mississippi: University of Mississippi

– Acceptance rate: 88%
– Net price: $13,540
– SAT range: 1010-1230

Frequently called Ole Miss, the University of Mississippi was chartered in 1844. In addition to its more than 100 academic programs, the university was both the first academic institution in Mississippi to admit a woman and the first to hire a woman as a faculty member.

The University of Mississippi is the home to more than 23,000 students enrolled in a wide range of degree-earning programs.

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Missouri: University of Missouri

– Acceptance rate: 82%
– Net price: $16,930
– SAT range: 1110-1320

The University of Missouri, the first public university west of the Mississippi, was founded in 1839. Affectionately known as Mizzou, the school currently enrolls around 30,000 students and the 1,262-acre campus—with more than 42,000 plants and trees—is a botanist’s dream. The College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources remains one of the university’s driving forces. Mizzou counts playwright Tennessee Williams, actor Jon Hamm, and Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine among its many notable alumni.

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The campus of Montana State University in Bozeman

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Montana: Montana State University

– Acceptance rate: 81%
– Net price: $17,656
– SAT range: 1090-1320

Originally designated as a land-grant institution under the Morrill Act of 1862, Montana State University was chartered in 1893. Today, its primary campus is located in Bozeman and offers classes in the colleges of Letters and Science; Engineering; Education, Health, and Human Development; Graduate Studies; Arts and Architecture; Business; Agriculture; and Nursing. Though MSU offers many undergraduate studies programs, it is also home to more than 80 graduate degree programs.

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Nebraska: University of Nebraska – Lincoln

– Acceptance rate: 78%
– Net price: $17,341
– SAT range: 1110-1320

The University of Nebraska is a lesson in resilience and determination. Chartered in 1869, early efforts to construct a sparkling new campus were met with unforeseen challenges. Hundreds of newly planted trees withered on the prairie and flower beds were devoured by swarms of locusts. By the end of the 19th century, however, the university had risen from the ashes, completing construction on an impressive new Franco-Italian-style campus.

Today, UN is a proud member of the Big Ten athletic and academic conference and boasts some of the most impressive doctoral programs in the country. Since its earliest days, UN has advocated for inclusivity, welcoming students of any “age, sex, color, or nationality.” Philanthropist Warren Buffett, late-night TV host Johnny Carson, and novelist Willa Cather are just a few of UN’s accomplished alumni.

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Nevada: University of Nevada – Reno

– Acceptance rate: 87%
– Net price: $16,359
– SAT range: 1060-1260

When the University of Nevada opened in 1874, enrollment was drawn from fewer than seven high schools in the entire state. Today, UN offers 460 undergraduate and graduate degrees to more than 20,000 students annually. Recognized as one of the country’s top research institutions by the Carnegie Foundation, UN counts football player Colin Kaepernick and former Gov. Brian Sandoval among its graduates.

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New Hampshire: University of New Hampshire

– Acceptance rate: 85%
– Net price: $24,847
– SAT range: 1090-1280

Located just a stone’s throw from the New Hampshire seacoast and less than an hour from Boston, the University of New Hampshire draws students from all 50 states and over 70 foreign countries. One of the greenest universities in the nation, UNH’s Durham campus is powered entirely by renewable energy. Both the plasma physics and ecology programs rank among the nation’s finest. High-profile alumni include astronaut Richard Linnehan, novelist John Irving, and former New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch.

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New Jersey: Rutgers University – New Brunswick

– Acceptance rate: 67%
– Net price: $17,835
– SAT range: 1180-1410

Rutgers, New Jersey’s flagship public university, is one of the oldest in the nation and one of just nine colleges founded prior to the American Revolution. A private school until the mid-20th century, Rutgers educates more than 33,000 undergraduate students annually and is home to the country’s most highly ranked African American history program. Notable alumni include actor and activist Paul Robeson, economist and Nobel laureate Milton Friedman, and novelist Philip Roth.

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New Mexico: New Mexico Tech

– Acceptance rate: 97%
– Net price: $14,834
– SAT range: 1150-1370

New Mexico Tech was founded in 1889 as the New Mexico School of Mines, in an effort to meet the state’s burgeoning economic needs. The first entering class consisted of seven students, who could choose between only two courses of study—chemistry and metallurgy. Today, students can concentrate on engineering, science, and business studies, but can also broaden their horizons with offerings from the non-degree granting fine arts department. It is one of the most highly regarded STEM institutions in the country.

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New York: United States Military Academy at West Point

– Acceptance rate: 9%
– Net price: $0
– SAT range: 1210-1440

Few have what it takes to make it at the United States Military Academy, more commonly referred to as West Point. Coming in at #5 on Niche’s list, West Point enjoys a spectacular setting in New York State’s scenic Hudson Valley and has produced outstanding military leaders since its inception in 1802.

Applicants must have a congressional nomination to apply, and accepted students can choose from 35 different majors, including kinesiology, nuclear engineering, computer science, and philosophy. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Gen. Douglas MacArthur are just a small sampling of West Point’s illustrious graduates.


North Carolina: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

– Acceptance rate: 25%
– Net price: $10,038
– SAT range: 1280-1490

Sometimes referred to as a “Public Ivy,” the UNC Chapel Hill occupies the #7 spot on Niche’s list ranking the top public universities in America. UNC Chapel Hill welcomed its first incoming class in 1795 and is the country’s first public university. Affectionately known as the “Tar Heels,” the school’s nickname was first levied in the 19th century when North Carolina was a major producer of tar supplied to the naval industry. Alumni of note include soccer star Mia Hamm, counterculture poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and NBA legend Michael Jordan.

An aerial drone view of the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks during the summer

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North Dakota: University of North Dakota

– Acceptance rate: 87%
– Net price: $16,780
– SAT range: 1000-1230

Despite bearing the name of its location, the University of North Dakota was founded in 1883: six years before North Dakota officially became a state. Notable alumni include Olympian Fritz Pollard Jr. and Judge Ronald Davies. Davies was the presiding federal judge who ordered the desegregation of Little Rock Central High in Arkansas in 1957.

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Ohio: The Ohio State University

– Acceptance rate: 68%
– Net price: $18,884
– SAT range: 1210-1430

One of the top colleges for agricultural sciences in the U.S., Ohio State first opened its doors in 1873 as the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College and currently graduates one of the largest crops of Fulbright scholars and Peace Corps volunteers in the country.

The school has produced scores of illustrious graduates, including artist Roy Lichtenstein, Heisman Trophy winners Eddie George and Archie Griffin, golfer Jack Nicklaus, Olympian Jesse Owens, and writer and New Yorker cartoonist James Thurber.

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The OSU Spirt Rider on the campus of Oklahoma State University

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Oklahoma: Oklahoma State University

– Acceptance rate: 67%
– Net price: $14,763
– SAT range: 1020-1250

Oklahoma State University began as Oklahoma A&M College in 1890. The first classes enrolled 23 women and 22 men in 1891, though there is some dispute about whether there were about a dozen additional students who were not integrated into the records. The first temporary buildings were built on a razed prairie that took months to completely prepare.

Weatherford Hall surrounded by trees on the Oregon State University campus

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Oregon: Oregon State University

– Acceptance rate: 82%
– Net price: $21,444
– SAT range: 1080-1310

Located in Corvallis, Oregon, Oregon State University was known as Corvallis Academy when it was founded in 1856. The Academy was incorporated two years later and took the name Corvallis College. Throughout the next century, the school was known as Oregon Agricultural College, Oregon State Agricultural College, and Oregon State College. The institution finally changed its name to Oregon State University in 1961. Today, it is a top 10 engineering school.

Students and adults walking in front of the Old Main building on the campus of Penn State

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Pennsylvania: Penn State

– Acceptance rate: 56%
– Net price: $26,151
– SAT range: 1160-1360

Penn State began with the Farmers’ High School charter in 1855. Though well-known for its highly ranked football team and avid fans, Penn State is among the top 25 undergraduate institutions with the best engineering programs.

With more than two dozen individual engineering majors ranging from specialties in aerospace to nuclear, the university graduates around 1,800 engineering students each year.

Kenneth C. Zirkel // Wikimedia Commons

Rhode Island: University of Rhode Island

– Acceptance rate: 76%
– Net price: $15,386
– SAT range: 1090-1260

The University of Rhode Island was established on the 140-acre Watson farm, purchased by the state in 1888. The original 1796 farmhouse still stands and is the oldest building on campus. Once an agricultural experiment station, students can now choose from over 90 undergraduate majors. The university is also the first school in the U.S. to offer a master of science and Ph.D. in ocean engineering. URI is the alma mater of international journalist Christiane Amanpour.


South Carolina: Clemson University

– Acceptance rate: 62%
– Net price: $22,935
– SAT range: 1210-1390

Clemson, located in the foothills of the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains, was founded in 1889 with the hope of repairing the economic damage suffered by the South as a consequence of the Civil War.

Originally a whites-only military institution, Clemson transitioned to coeducation as a public university in 1955, and admitted its first Black student almost a decade later. With a focus on science and engineering, Clemson is a leader in innovative research in cyberinfrastructure, health, and the environment. Graduates of note include former Sen. Strom Thurmond, politician Nikki Haley, and TV journalist Nancy O’Dell.

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South Dakota: South Dakota School of Mines & Technology

– Acceptance rate: 86%
– Net price: $19,799
– SAT range: 1150-1350

The South Dakota School of Mines & Technology welcomed its first entering class in 1887, two years before South Dakota was awarded statehood. Students at SD Mines major in engineering or science but must fulfill a core curriculum that includes the arts, humanities, and social sciences. U.S. News & World Report ranks the school as a top 10 university for veterans.

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Tennessee: University of Tennessee

– Acceptance rate: 78%
– Net price: $21,133
– SAT range: 1140-1320

Founded as Blount College in 1794, the school went through several name changes before settling on the University of Tennessee in 1879. Both the graduate program in nuclear engineering and the business school are highly rated by U.S. News & World Report. Notable graduates include football phenomenon Peyton Manning and actress Dixie Carter.

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Texas: University of Texas at Austin

– Acceptance rate: 32%
– Net price: $16,892
– SAT range: 1210-1470

The University of Texas at Austin, founded in 1883, sits pretty at #8 on Niche’s list of top public colleges. Steeped in tradition, UT nevertheless maintains a sense of quirky individualism. Nothing brings out the Longhorn school spirit like football, where current students and alumni can be found donning the school’s distinctive shade of burnt orange and flashing the famous “hook ’em horns” hand signal.

UT can claim many distinguished alumni, including physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, actor Matthew McConaughey, former Texas Gov. Ann Richards, and actresses Renée Zellweger and Farrah Fawcett.

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Utah: University of Utah

– Acceptance rate: 79%
– Net price: $12,881
– SAT range: 1130-1350

Given the University of Utah’s proximity to some of the best skiing in the world, it’s no surprise that the Utes captured the 2019 NCAA ski championship title.

The school gets top marks for its dance, game design, architecture, and social work programs. The Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute is an invaluable resource for enterprising student- and faculty-backed startups. Notable graduates include Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios, former quarterback Alex Smith, and former U.S. ambassador to Russia and China Jon Huntsman Jr.


Vermont: University of Vermont

– Acceptance rate: 71%
– Net price: $20,235
– SAT range: 1160-1350

Situated on the banks of pristine Lake Champlain, the University of Vermont was chartered in 1791—the same year that Vermont became the 14th state. Known as the University of the Green Mountains, UVM started out as a private university and didn’t become a public institution until after the passage of the Morrill Act in 1862.

The Princeton Review has designated UVM’s Sustainable Innovation MBA program as one of the “best green MBA” programs in the country. Burlington is a bustling college town less than an hour away from some of the East Coast’s best ski resorts. Actor Ben Affleck and writer Annie Proulx are both graduates of UVM.

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Virginia: University of Virginia

– Acceptance rate: 23%
– Net price: $19,043
– SAT range: 1320-1510

The brainchild of Thomas Jefferson, the University of Virginia was founded in 1819 as an “academical village,” centered around a central green leading to the iconic domed neoclassical library. The stunning Charlottesville campus is both a National Historic Landmark and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

UVA is one of the most highly regarded academic institutions—public or private—in the country and is the alma mater of several illustrious alumni, including Robert F. Kennedy, Tina Fey, Katie Couric, and Edgar Allan Poe. UVA ranks #4 on Niche’s 2022 list of top public colleges.


Washington: University of Washington

– Acceptance rate: 56%
– Net price: $9,661
– SAT range: 1200-1470

The University of Washington’s earliest incarnation was the Territorial University of Washington, which first opened its doors to students in 1861. Today, the school enrolls roughly 30,000 undergraduate students annually and boasts a highly regarded English department, a top nursing program, and one of the top oceanography programs in the world. Notable graduates include actor and martial artist Bruce Lee, sculptor and glassblower Dale Chihuly, and saxophonist Kenny G.

Paula Cristina // Flickr

West Virginia: West Virginia University

– Acceptance rate: 84%
– Net price: $13,087
– SAT range: 1030-1230

Students at the University of West Virginia—a land-grant school founded in 1867—work hard and party harder. Ranked by Niche as one of the top party schools in the country, WVU offers more than 440 majors across all degree levels taught at all 14 colleges and schools located on the Morgantown campus. Actress Cheryl Hines and Sen. Joe Manchin are both graduates of WVU.

James Steakley // Wikimedia Commons

Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin at Madison

– Acceptance rate: 57%
– Net price: $14,030
– SAT range: 1260-1460

The University of Wisconsin at Madison, founded in 1848, is one of the most highly regarded public institutions in the country, coming in at #11 on Niche’s 2022 list of top public universities.

A leader in innovative research, UW-M launched the first national stem cell bank and first master’s program in energy conservation. In addition to more than a dozen Nobel laureates, UW-Madison counts aviator Charles Lindbergh, architect Frank Lloyd Wright, playwright Lorraine Hansberry, and novelist Joyce Carol Oates among its many illustrious alumni.

Thecoldmidwest // Wikimedia Commons

Wyoming: University of Wyoming

– Acceptance rate: 94%
– Net price: $12,224
– SAT range: 1040-1240

A coeducational institution since its inception, the University of Wyoming opened its doors in 1886 to 42 students, offering classes in the arts, humanities, and education.

As a land-grant university, agriculture and engineering were soon added to the curriculum. Today, the university educates approximately 13,000 students yearly, offering 145 majors across all its academic departments. The University of Wyoming is the alma mater of former Vice President Dick Cheney, physicist Marlan Scully, and sportscaster Curt Gowdy.

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