Best Colleges in New Hampshire

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Although New Hampshire is the fifth smallest in terms of size, the state is home to an impressive array of postsecondary educational opportunities. There are currently 17 private universities, seven community colleges, and five public four-year institutions. The state has a long history of providing top tier educations, with the Dartmouth College providing education since before the American Revolution. With so many options, students should have no trouble finding a school matched to their educational needs and future plans. Fortunately, we have applied our rigorous methodology to the latest education data to rank the best colleges in New Hampshire, including the top four-year and two-year schools.

Nearly 78,000 undergraduates are currently attending New Hampshire institutes, ranging from large public research institutions to small liberal arts colleges. As of 2014, research showed that the top four-year degrees were awarded in business, health professions, biological and biomedical studies, English language and literature, and education. Over two-thirds of baccalaureate students are enrolled in full-time studies, with the remainder undertaking their educations on a part-time basis. Regardless of the needs of an individual student, the four-year schools highlighted in this list are sure to check off their wants.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Location Description
1Dartmouth College 5/5N/AHanover, NH

Dartmouth ranks as one of the top colleges nationally. This elite Ivy League school offers prestigious programs in arts & sciences, business, medicine, and engineering, and Dartmouth’s faculty are leaders in their fields.

Dartmouth offers ample research and study abroad opportunities for students, and over half of its student body participates in travel programs to more 20 different countries. Athletics are also a large part of student life, with nearly a quarter of students participating in the school’s Division I varsity sports programs.

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2University of New Hampshire at Manchester 3/5N/AManchester, NH

Another of the top New Hampshire colleges, UNHM offers 32 distinct graduate and undergraduate programs at the school’s compact urban campus. With under 1,000 undergraduate students, UNHM is much smaller than the University of New Hampshire, but the school still offers a range of degrees, include unique programs such as analytics, biotechnology, and homeland security.

UNHM offers an active campus life for students, including clubs in arts, sports, academics, and activism. Students at the college can also participate in its study away program, which offers opportunities to study in different states and countries for up to an entire academic year.

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3Saint Anselm College 5/5N/AManchester, NH

Saint Anselm is the third-oldest Catholic college in New England, Saint Anselm prides itself on the character of its students in addition to their academic abilities.

While students are required to take philosophy and theology courses, the school also offers 42 different majors and 22 minors, as well as several preparatory programs for advanced degrees in engineering, law, medicine, theology, and more. All freshmen take an introductory humanities program that introduces the school’s guiding philosophical principles.

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4University of New Hampshire 3/5N/ADurham, NH

With an undergraduate enrollment of over 12,000, UNH stands out among New Hampshire colleges for being the largest in the state. Located near the state coastline, the school occupies a massive 2,600-acre campus where students can choose from over 1000 undergraduate majors and graduate studies in in fields including business, economics, engineering, medicine, and law.

UNH offers an active campus life, with over 200 different clubs and many Division I varsity athletic teams. The school’s faculty includes multiple Pulitzer Prize winners and New York Times bestsellers, while its notable alumni include authors John Irving and Alice McDermott.

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5Plymouth State University 3/5N/APlymouth, NH

Founded as a teacher’s college, Plymouth State maintains one of the most prestigious education programs among New Hampshire universities. The school also boasts one of the best meteorology departments on the East Coast, along with strong programs in business, psychology, and visual arts.

The college’s motto is “That I may serve”, and Plymouth State students uphold this commitment. Each year, the student body dedicates hundreds of thousands of hours to community service. Plymouth State also boasts strong athletics programs, counting former Denver Broncos halfback Joe Dudek and former Kansas City Royals catcher Matt Tupman among its alumni.

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6Keene State College 3/5N/AKeene, NH

This public liberal arts college ranks as one of the top regional colleges in the Northeast. Students at Keene State can choose from over 40 undergraduate majors in the liberal arts and sciences, with psychology, education and Safety and Occupational Health Applied Sciences boasting some of the largest departments.

Like its rival Plymouth State, Keene State is dedicated to service, with a Community Service Office that connects students with local non-profits. Students also participate in an annual Community Service Day each fall, helping with local clean-up and repairs.

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7Colby-Sawyer College 5/5N/ANew London, NH

This private undergraduate college sits on a 200-acre campus in the Lake Sunapee Region, surrounded by mountains, lakes, and forests. Another of the top New Hampshire colleges, Colby-Sawyer offers student-directed studies and an emphasis on the intersection of education and career preparedness.

Colby-Sawyer stresses hands-on experience, and every student completes at least one internship before graduating. Students also maintain learning portfolios, which require them to keep track of academic progress and achievements. Many Colby-Sawyer alumni have gone on to illustrious careers in politics and academics, including Massachusetts Governor John Q.A. Brackett and University of California President Benjamin Ide Wheeler.

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8Rivier University 4/5N/ANashua, NH

A private Catholic university with an enrollment of over 2,000, Rivier specializes in education and nursing, with the two programs making up about half of all undergraduate majors. Another of the best New Hampshire colleges, Rivier offers a mix of liberal arts and sciences and professional studies. The school offers over 60 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees.

Rivier gives students a focus on cross-cultural learning through its Global Engagement programs. Both in New Hampshire and through various study abroad programs, the school’s Office of Global Engagement helps students participate in intercultural experiences to further their learning.

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9Southern New Hampshire University 4/5N/AManchester, NH

Situated on the Merrimack River, SNHU’s 300-acre campus serves nearly 4,000 students through four distinct schools: the School of Arts & Sciences, the School of Business, the School of Education, and the College for America. This private university ranks as a top military-friendly school by veteran’s resource organization G.I Jobs.

SNHU is known for its business courses, with its MBA program consistently ranking as one the best in the state. The school also offers a unique three-year honors program that allows undergraduate students to earn a business degree through three years of intensive study.

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10Franklin Pierce University 5/5N/ARindge, NH

This small private school focuses on a liberal arts foundation combined with professional career preparation. Franklin Pierce ranks as a top regional university and another of the best New Hampshire colleges. Just a few miles from Mount Monadnock, the school’s 1,200-acre campus also overlooks the northeast shore of Pearly Lake.

The college offers a variety of NCAA Division II men’s and women’s athletic programs, including basketball, cross country, ice hockey and lacrosse. Franklin Pierce’s main campus boasts an athletics participation rate of 40% among students across 40 intramural sports.

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11Granite State College 2/5N/AConcord, NH

A part of the University System of New Hampshire, Granite State primarily offers educational access to adult learners and non-traditional students through campus and online courses. The school’s offerings in high demand majors and flexible course schedules make it popular for continuing education.

In addition to its main campus in Concord, Granite State operates satellite locations in 10 other New Hampshire cities. The school ranks as one of the top public colleges in New Hampshire and also one of the most affordable. Granite State offers associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs.

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12New England College 5/5N/AHenniker, NH

This small, private liberal arts college boasts a wooded campus and an emphasis on environmental and outdoor education, including programs in outdoor leadership and environmental sustainability. The Pats Peak ski resort borders the campus, and students can enjoy outdoor recreational activities including skiing, snowboard, hiking, and whitewater rafting.

New England College offers 36 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees and a Doctorate of Education program. Courses at the school are generally grouped into four divisions: Art and Humanities, Education, Management and Natural and Social Sciences. Some of the school’s notable alumni include actor Geena Davis and former FEMA director Wallace Stickney.

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The Community College System of New Hampshire oversees the seven community colleges operating through the state. With a tuition rate of $200 per academic credit for in-state students, thousands of residents and out-of-state students currently take advantage of this option. In addition, all seven two-year institutions offer a dual enrollment program, allowing students to receive automatic admittance to the University of New Hampshire system, provided they meet certain academic requirements.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Location Description
1White Mountains Community College 2/5N/ABerlin, NH

White Mountains is our pick for the top community college in New Hampshire. That ranking reflects the school’s commitment to performance-based learning, in which students gain hands-on experience and manual competence. The school’s curriculum is grounded in teaching students practical skills and imparting the kind of knowledge that directly prepares students for meaningful careers.

Offering associate degrees in science, applied science, and the arts, White Mountains allows students to pursue a variety of programs, including culinary arts, environmental science, information technology, office management, and liberal arts. The school also offers professional certificates in fields as diverse as autism education and medical coding.

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2Lakes Region Community College 2/5N/ALaconia, NH

LRCC serves over 1,200 students from all walks of life. Students can pursue a range of programs, from conventional offerings like accounting and nursing to newer degrees in fire technology and marine technology.

One of the most innovative community colleges in New Hampshire, LRCC offers students the opportunity to take seven-week hybrid courses. These intensive, accelerated classes allow students to complete their coursework in under two months. Lakes Region offers these courses in subjects ranging from composition and creative writing to social media marketing.

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3Manchester Community College 2/5N/AManchester, NH

Manchester Community College boasts over 60 associate degrees and certificate programs in fields including automotive technology, education, business, and health care. It is one of the largest community colleges in New Hampshire.

MCC opened in 1945 specifically to educate returning veterans, and the school upholds this tradition by offering affordable schooling to veterans, active duty service personnel, and their family members. The school offers a variety of services specifically for military members, including a private study center and an academic service team that helps veterans transfer their military skills into civilian life.

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4Nashua Community College 2/5N/ANashua, NH

Nashua offers career-focused degree programs in fields as diverse as aviation technology, criminal justice studies, massage therapy, and precision manufacturing. The college also features many non-credit courses designed to enhance your skills and promote professional development in fields including grant writing, foreign languages, and web development.

Nashua is a part of the New Hampshire Dual Admission Program, which allows students to complete an associate degree before transitioning to one of the four members of the University System of New Hampshire to earn a bachelor’s degree.

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5River Valley Community College 2/5N/AClaremont, NH

With over 1,000 students and a selection of 19 associate degrees and 19 certificate programs, River Valley is one of the smaller community colleges in New Hampshire. The school offers many standard degrees along with more esoteric programs, including creative writing, phlebotomy, respiratory therapy, and advanced machine tool technology.

The school offers several “Quick Admit” dates each school year. On these days, students can bring a copy of their high school transcript or GED to be admitted to the school on the spot, with all application fees waived. River Valley offers several Quick Admits each quarter at different locations on and near campus.

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6NHTI – Concord’s Community College 2/5N/AConcord, NH

A diverse group of associate programs in business, engineering, computing, education, and more makes NHTI one of the best community colleges in New Hampshire. Some of the school’s more popular degrees include sports management, animation and graphic game programming, landscape design, and addiction counseling.

Located on a 240-acre campus near the Merrimack River, NHTI is home to more than 4,500 students and 110 full-time faculty members. In addition to its academics, the college also offers a wide range of athletic programs, including baseball, basketball, soccer, volleyball, and softball.

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7Great Bay Community College 2/5N/APortsmouth, NH

With 26 distinct associate programs, Great Bay offers something for most students. Enrollees can earn degrees in everything from aviation technology to fine arts, and Great Bay also offers professional certification in subjects like homeland security, spa management, and welding technology.

One of Great Bay’s most notable features is its Advanced Technology & Academic Center, a 27,000-square foot facility dedicated to composites manufacturing and technical education. The center boasts state of the art classrooms and technology laboratories. The ATAC also offers advanced manufacturing courses for professionals.

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

Nestled in the heart of New England, New Hampshire provides myriad settings for students seeking both urban and rural locations, while also being a close ride to cities like Boston, Massachusetts and Portland, Maine. Given the number of prestigious areas and its proximity to other large cities, the cost of living is slightly higher than the national average, with overall costs equaling 17% more. To give prospective students a better sense of areas throughout the state and answers to common questions they may have, we’ve highlighted a few notable regions below:

Regional Spotlight: Manchester Metro Region

  • Major Cities: Manchester
  • Attractions: Currier Museum of Art, Zimmerman House, Amoskeag Falls
  • Cost of Living: Manchester
  • Popular Schools: Southern New Hampshire University, Saint Anselm College, University of New Hampshire at Manchester

Regional Spotlight: Nashua Metro Region

  • Major Cities: Omaha
  • Attractions: Mine Falls Park, Greeley Park, Holman Stadium
  • Cost of Living: Nashua
  • Popular Schools: Rivier University, Nashua Community College, Daniel Webster College