Best Colleges in Delaware

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Delaware is home to ten colleges and universities, comprising five public and five private higher education institutions. With degrees spanning a range of disciplines and study platforms, the state’s schools and programs should appeal to students across all majors. Prospective students interested in attending a Delaware college should carefully consider several key factors, including location, affordability and program length before they apply to school.

Delaware is home to some of the leading research and special interest programs in the country. Highlights among Delaware’s four-year institutions include state-sponsored programs, land-grant research and national sea and space grant fellowship initiatives. Although Delaware does not have a medical school, the state is home to an institute of medical education and research, a law school and a historically black university.

Graduates from specialized programs in Delaware may hold an advantage over competitors in the workforce. Four-year degree-holders from top schools in the state earn significantly more than high school graduates, and salaries after college in Delaware generally exceed the national average. To help facilitate a healthy transition into college life, the Delaware branch of Jobs for America’s Graduates provides follow-up assistance for high school grads, including college interview preparation, financial aid for textbooks and job services. If you’re interested in one of the four year colleges in Delaware, check out our rankings of the top schools in the state below.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1University of Delaware 3/578.98%Newark, DE

UD, which began as a small private academy in 1743, boasts an impressive history. Its first class included three signers of the Declaration of Independence and one signer of the U.S. Constitution, and more recent notable alumni include Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. and his wife, Jill. UD is a Land Grant, Sea Grant, and Space Grant institution. Students at UD can choose from three associate programs, 147 bachelor’s degree programs, 119 master’s programs, and 54 doctoral programs (as well as 15 dual graduate programs).

UD faculty is made up of esteemed authors, scientists, and Nobel laureate, Guggenheim, and Fulbright Fellows. Students have access to state-of-the-art facilities including Hugh R. Sharp (a coastal research vessel deemed the most advanced in the US), the High Performance Figure Skating Center, and the soon-to-be-completed Science, Technology, and Advanced Research Campus. The school ranks among the top 100 colleges in the nation for federal R&D support for science and engineering.

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2Widener University-Delaware Campus 3/580%Wilmington, DE

The Delaware Campus of Widener University—a private university with its main branch in Chester, PA—houses the well known Widener School of Law and Widener’s Legal Education Institute. Because of its location near Wilmington, the school enhances its education with dozens of employment and externship opportunities for its students.

Widener has a long-standing and thriving ROTC program, is one of only 22 colleges to participate in Project Pericles, and is recognized for civic engagement. Among its many distinctions, 196 judges in 17 states graduated from Widener’s Schools of Law, 54 of its athletes were named Academic All-America, and 89% of its graduates in 2014 were employed or in graduate school within six months of graduation.

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3Wilmington University 2/535.06%New Castle, DE

Wilmington University’s main campus is in New Castle, but it has a total of 14 locations in Delaware, New Jersey, and Maryland. Students can choose from more than 100 degree and certificate programs, studying at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

Wilmington allows its students to earn their education on their own terms, with flexible course options, the ability to transfer in credits, and some of the most affordable tuition among Delaware colleges. It also offers special military benefits, which is rare among private universities. Wilmington does not provide student housing facilities, however, it does offer a list of nearby rental opportunities for students needing accommodations.

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4Delaware State University 2/542.58%Dover, DE

DSU is one of America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). It stands out among other Delaware colleges for having a population that is 67% African-American, with a growing number of Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian, and other international students. DSU Dover is located on a historic plot of Delaware, and its campus features landmark buildings from the 1700s, such as Loockerman Hall. The school currently offers its students 53 undergraduate programs—including an aviation program that boasts the only university-based flight school in the Mid-Atlantic area—25 master’s degree programs, and 5 doctoral programs.

DSU’s Business School has been ranked as one of the nation’s finest. Because it is relatively small (3,400 students in 2014), the school can offer its students a student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1, ensuring all learners receive personal attention while they pursue their degree.

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5Goldey-Beacom College 4/546.67%Wilmington, DE

GBC is a small (approximately 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students) private college located in suburban Wilmington. The school offers a variety of bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, and due to its intimate class size, provides its students with apartment-style living instead of the typical dormitory.

GBC prides itself on the diversity of its student body, and attracts students from 13 states and 60 countries. The school also boasts a job placement rate of over 90% within months of graduation, mainly because the small class size allows students to receive individualized attention throughout their studies.

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6Wesley College 4/521.69%Dover, DE

Wesley College is relatively small (about 2,500 students), meaning it boasts the personal attention that a 17:1 student to teacher ratio affords.

Wesley offers 30 bachelor’s degrees, as well as four associate’s degree programs, and 4 master’s degree programs. Students are encouraged—and sometimes required—to participate in internships, cooperative education, research programs, and professional practicums, meaning Wesley’s graduates are fully equipped to enter the workforce upon graduation. Additionally, Wesley offers courses at Dover Air Force Base and has special military benefits. Notable alumni include Martin Luther King Jr.'s daughter Bernice Albertine King, former US House of Representatives member Wayne Thomas Gilchrest, and football player Larry Beavers.

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Delaware is home to four community colleges, consisting of three campuses of the Delaware Technical and Community College (DTCC), as well as the Delaware College of Art and Design. Degrees and certificates in these technical and artistic specialties directly prepare students for employment: 79% of students who completed programs at DTCC in 2014 have already found a job in their chosen field. The Delaware STEM Council also prioritizes STEM-based programs and initiatives. These support local college graduates in their pursuit of a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Delaware recently implemented several career-oriented education initiatives to provide local jobs for graduates. One example is The Delaware Promise, which aims to lift the total number of degree holding workers to 65% of the workforce by 2025. Enrolling in a two-year program may enhance your opportunities to earn an internship, certificate or to attend a four-year college. Take a look at our rankings below to find the right school for you.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1Delaware College of Art and Design 4/561.86%Wilmington, DE

Located in downtown Wilmington, DCAD offers associate degrees in animation, fine arts, graphic design, illustration, photography, and interior design. The program combines studio classes with courses in liberal arts, allowing students to gain a broader skillset within their field. Graduates are fully prepared to transfer into bachelor’s programs at colleges and universities across the country. In the fall of 2016, DCAD is launching a trailblazing co-op program, which will give students the opportunity to pursue paid internships in the greater Wilmington area.

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2Delaware Technical Community College – Terry 1/515.36%Dover, DE

The Terry campus of Delaware Tech serves the capital and its surrounding county, and offers the widest range of courses in Delaware Tech’s network. The school features programs in business, education, public service, computer technology, and visual communications, and also offers certificates and associate degrees in health and science, energy and engineering technology, and agriculture. As with all Delaware Tech branches, the school also offers special services to military veterans and their families.

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3Delaware Technical Community College – Owens 1/517.71%Georgetown, DE

Delaware Tech’s Georgetown campus serves the southernmost part of the state. Students interested in eventually earning their bachelor’s degree will be intrigued by the school’s connected degrees program. The program provides courses that satisfy associate degree requirements, and these classes are compatible with introductory material taught at Delaware State University, the University of Delaware, and Wilmington University. The program allows students to easily transfer their credits to these colleges.

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4Delaware Technical Community College – Stanton/Wilmington 1/511.19%Wilmington, DE

The Stanton/George branch of Delaware Tech is divided into two campuses — one in Stanton and one in downtown Wilmington. Students at each branch can pursue an associate degree in a range of subjects, though some disciplines are only taught on one campus (such as culinary arts, which is unique to the Stanton branch). Both the Stanton and Wilmington campuses offer associate degree and career-oriented programs.

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If you’re thinking about applying to one of the best colleges in Delaware, continuing reading to learn more about living in the First State.

Delaware is the second-smallest Mid-Atlantic state, a peninsula bordering the Delaware River, Delaware Bay and Atlantic Ocean. Beyond its scenic beaches and riverfront attractions, Delaware’s major cities are thriving cultural centers and the site of many national landmarks. Dover, the state capital, features three colleges and several historic colonial buildings dating to the 18th-century. Wilmington is the state’s largest city, and the 19th-century homes and historical architecture found in the Quaker Hill and Trinity Vicinity neighborhoods sit just fifteen miles from the state’s flagship campus in Newark.

Delaware had a per-capita income of $30,191 as of 2014. According to census reports, over 29.4% of residents 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree, which is just higher than the national average of 29.3%. The cost of living in Delaware is generally lower than the national average, though specific figures depend on where you live.

Below are comparisons of the northern and southern regions of the state.

Regional Spotlight: Northern Delaware

    • Major Cities: Newark, Wilmington, New Castle
    • Attractions: Alapocas Run State Park, Brandywine Zoo, Riverfront Market
    • Cost of Living: Wilmington’s Numbeo Cost of Living
    • Popular Schools: Brandywine Community College, Delaware College of Art and Design, Delaware Technical Community College – Wilmington campus
    • Population: Over 109,459
    • Unemployment: 6.2%

Regional Spotlight: Middle/Southern Delaware

        • Major Cities: Dover, Felton, Georgetown
        • Attractions: Killens Pond State Park, Indian River Life-Saving Station Museum, Fenwick Island State Park
        • Cost of Living: Dover’s Cost of Living
        • Popular Schools: Delaware State University, Wilmington College, Delaware Technical Community College – Jack F. Owens campus, Georgetown
        • Population: Over 45,494
        • Unemployment: 6.2%


Establishing residency allows students to qualify for in-state tuition at all public colleges in Delaware. Typically, all students of legal age (18) must show proof of residency, or that their legal guardian has state residency if they are under the age of 18.

For Minors:

If a student is a minor at the time of admission, their parents or legal guardians must prove that they live in Delaware. To claim residency, a minor must prove that he or she lives with their parent or legal guardians within state boundaries. If the parents are separated, the minor must reside with a parent who lives in Delaware. Minors must begin living with their parent in Delaware before they turn 18 and show proof that they intend to continue living with that parent until the school year begins.

For Adults:

Students 18 and older must meet specific criteria to claim the tuition and financial aid benefits conferred to Delaware residents:

        • You must physically reside in Delaware for at least one year prior to declaring residence.
        • You must prove intent to make Delaware your home.
        • You should be able to prove that you are financially independent as an adult of legal age.

Additional Resources for Delaware College Students

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