Best Colleges in Texas

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The postsecondary education landscape in Texas has undergone radical change in the last 15 years. The demographic that drives most of the current revenue in the state is gradually aging out of the workforce, and to maintain a healthy economy, a younger population must be adequately equipped to replace these retirees. Fortunately, alert Texas legislators foresaw obstacles to this pattern and further identified the demographic changes contributing to a potential statewide shortage of degreed professionals. What followed was a sea of change in educational policy across the state that resulted in a dramatic increase in educational offerings. Many believe these positive changes are only the beginning and that Texas will have much more to offer its college students over the next decade.

We have applied our rigorous methodology to the most current education data available and have created ranked lists of Texas’ best two-year and four-year colleges.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1University of Texas at Austin 2/580.64%Austin, TX

Ranked 53rd among Best National Universities and 17th among Best Public Universities by U.S. New & World Report, the University of Texas at Austin is a premier educational institution. More than 51,000 students and 3,000 faculty call this school home. Its undergraduate engineering and business programs are equally lauded, ranking 8th and 10th respectively. The flagship school of the sprawling University of Texas System offers undergraduate degrees in over 170 fields of interest. The freshman honors program introduces advanced scholarship to high-achieving students; smaller classes, dedicated study halls and honors dorms complete this experience. The honors programs is offered in business, engineering, liberal arts and natural sciences studies.

  • Students at this school have much to gain from Austin’s nationally recognized film, art and music scene, and its location adjacent to Lake Travis in Texas hill country promises entertainment for outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Student athletes and sports fans can enjoy Longhorn football, plus 19 other award-winning sports teams.
  • First-time students are eligible for the Longhorn Fixed Tuition program, which guarantees a $3,500 tuition rebate if the student completes a bachelor’s degree in four years.
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2Rice University 5/591.5%Houston, TX

Rice University is a distinguished private research university in Houston. Its faculty have been the recipient of a long list of honors, including Nobel Prizes, a Pulitzer, a Grammy, and numerous NSF and Guggenheim Fellowships. More than 50 academic majors are offered in schools of architecture, engineering, humanities, music, natural sciences and social sciences. This school is situated on a scenic 300-acre campus, and boasts a 6 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio.

  • Rice is ranked 19th among Best National Universities by U.S. News & World Report. It is also 9th among Best Value Schools, and its biomedical engineering department is ranked 5th among its peers.
  • Undergraduates have the option to study abroad at prestigious schools in Great Britain, Singapore, France, Tanzania, Russia, China, Italy and Turkey.
  • Student life at Rice is ranked #2 by Princeton Review, lauded for its dorms, food quality, safety and overall convenience.
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3Texas A&M University 2/579.34%College Station, TX

The College Station campus of Texas Agriculture and Manufacturing University is conveniently located 90 minutes north of Houston and an easy drive south from Dallas and Fort Worth. It is the sixth largest school in the country, enrolling over 50,000 students per year. Undergraduate degrees are offered across a wide breadth of study areas; the most popular choices are business, engineering, agriculture and health sciences. Aside from full accreditation from the U.S. Dept. of Education, Texas A&M holds specialty accreditations from 25 granting bodies in industry.

  • U.S. News & World Report ranks this school 25th among Top Public Schools, 31st among Best Value Schools, and 68th among Best National Universities.
  • Aggie sports teams are renowned both for their rivalry with the U. Texas Longhorns and their fifth place ranking in the Learfield Sports Director’s Cup.
  • For all that it offers, Texas A&M is affordable: tuition for in-state students is $9,180.
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4LeTourneau University 4/551.47%Longview, TX

LeTourneau is a private Christian university in Longview, Texas. It is small, home to fewer than 4,000 undergraduate students. It offers undergraduate and graduate degree studies in over 90 academic disciplines, holding specialty accreditations in engineering and engineering technology. It recently added a state-of-the art engineering lab. Its graduates generally enjoy career success: 89% of them are employed full-time after graduation.

  • The average class size is 15 at this institution, and overall the school has a student-to-faculty ratio of 13 to 1.
  • LETU welcomes high academic achievers; 20 National Merit Scholars have attended the school, and 11% of its student body participates in its Honors program. An astounding 26% of its campus residents were valedictorians or salutatorians in high school.
  • This institution is ranked 27th among Best Regional Western Schools by U.S. News & World Report.
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5University of Texas at Dallas 3/570.64%Richardson, TX

U. Texas at Dallas is located on a 500-acre campus in the suburbs of this big city. This public research university enrolls around 13,000 students each year, offering degree programs in 133 majors. The school is known for its science, math and engineering disciplines, as well as its business college. Top majors for undergraduates are biology, accounting, computer science, art and technology, business administration and neuroscience and psychology.

  • Kiplinger’s Personal Finance has ranked UT Dallas a Top 100 Tuition Value School for four consecutive years.
  • U.S. News & World Report also thinks highly of this school, listing it 145th among Best National Universities and 76th among Top Public Schools; a long list of its graduate school departments have also received accolades from this publication.
  • Students enjoy easy access to the enormous cultural, entertainment, shopping, nightlife and dining options available in the nearby Dallas-Fort Worth area.
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6Southern Methodist University 5/577.02%Dallas, TX

SMU is a private university located in the heart of Dallas. Though it has roots in the Methodist Church, it is a sectarian school. Its 11,000 students can choose from majors across schools of humanities and science, business, arts, engineering, education, theology and law. The school also offers specialized institutes of study in political science, entrepreneurship, ethics, cyber security, Presidential history and family research.

  • SMU’s nine libraries contain the largest collection of research materials in the Southwest.
  • U.S. News & World Report has listed SMU 58th among Best National Universities; a number of its graduate school offering are also listed in top rankings.
  • Students benefit from small classes; the average student-to-faculty ratio is 11 to 1.
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7Texas Christian University 5/575.45%Fort Worth, TX

Located in historic downtown Fort Worth, Texas Christian University is the largest school in the U.S. associated with the Disciples of Christ; students of any faith are welcomed. More than 11,000 students choose from among 117 areas of undergraduate study. Schools of study include business, communication, education, fine arts, liberal arts, nursing and health sciences, and science and engineering. An Honors College is an option for high achievers, and specialized study is available through the University College in intensive English, international studies, ranch management, and women and gender studies. Though the study body is somewhat large, students enjoy a student-to-faculty ratio of 13 to 1.

  • Undergraduates may participate in study abroad programs in London, Italy and Spain.
  • TCU is not inexpensive; estimated undergraduate expenses top $50,000 per year.
  • U.S. News and World Report honors the graduate nursing school with a 44th place listing among its peers.
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8Dallas Baptist University 4/554.6%Dallas, TX

Dallas Baptist University is a small private school that is focused on delivering a Christ-centered education to its students. Roughly 5,400 students call this lakeside campus home. Undergraduates may choose among 70 majors in schools of education, fine arts, business, Christian faith, humanities and social sciences, natural sciences and mathematics, or leadership. DBU holds specialty industry accreditations in business and music.

  • Student life in this school is largely Greek-oriented; over 90% of students join a fraternity or sorority.
  • 79% of the faculty at this school hold master’s or doctoral level degrees; the student to faculty ratio is 13 to 1.
  • DBU is ranked 5th among Best Regional Universities in the West by U.S. News & World Report.
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9Trinity University 5/5N/ATX

San Antonio is home to this small, selective private school. Approximately 2,300 students attend Trinity, where the student to faculty ratio is an impressive 9 to 1. The university focuses on liberal arts, offering students the opportunity for interdisciplinary study in 43 majors across 25 departments. It grants the Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees. Trinity is academically rigorous; the average freshman GPA is 3.52. This institution has the distinct honor of being ranked #1 among all regional universities in the West, according to U.S. News & World Report.

  • Nearly all (97%) of Trinity’s faculty hold master’s or doctoral degrees.
  • Residency is typical on campus; 80% of Trinity’s student live in the dorms.
  • Study abroad programs can be developed by each student to suit study paths; to date, Trinity students have studied at universities in 35 countries.
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10Austin College 5/576.42%Sherman, TX

This school is a small, private Presbyterian liberal arts college that is known for its faculty’s personal investment in each student. Undergraduates may choose a major from schools of health, law, education, engineering or ministry; they may also combine fields of study for an interdisciplinary degree. Classes encourage individual attention from professors, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 12 to 1. AC was ranked 89th among all liberal arts colleges in the U.S. by U.S. News & World Report.

  • Greek life is a large part of the Austin experience; over 80% of students pledge a sorority or fraternity.
  • The college has outstanding success rates. Ninety-six percent of students graduate in four years, and 93% of career-bound students find employment. Of students pursuing postgraduate education, 90% are admitted into graduate programs.
  • Austin is unique in its mentorship program; instead of an advisor, every student has a faculty mentor who collaborates with the student throughout school.
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11Southwestern University 5/573.07%Georgetown, TX

North of Austin, in Central Texas, Southwestern University is a very small private Methodist college. Roughly 1,500 students attend classes on its scenic 700-acre campus in the hills. Southwestern delivers a classic liberal arts education, granting bachelor’s degrees in the arts, sciences, fine arts, education and music. Students choose from 38 majors or follow pre-vet, pre-med, pre-dental, pre-law or pre-engineering curricula.

  • Residential living is popular at Southwestern; 70% of students use the dorms.
  • Study abroad experiences are available at partner universities in London, Argentina, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Peru and Spain. Internships can also be arranged locally and in New York and Washington, D.C.
  • Recent data showed that 92% of Southwestern’s graduates had either been accepted into graduate school or found employment within ten months of completing school.
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12Baylor University 5/5N/ATX

Baylor University is a medium-sized private Baptist school in Waco, Texas, about halfway between Fort Worth and Austin. This institution is dedicated to the concept that a nationally recognized research institution can exist in a Christian environment. Over 16,000 students attend Baylor, pursuing one of 141 undergraduate degree programs and more than a hundred postgraduate programs. The average class size is 27 students, and the student-to-faculty ratio is 15 to 1. Baylor boasts a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, one of only 10% of schools in the U.S. to do so. The most popular majors include biology and biological sciences, psychology, nursing, accounting and finance.

  • Volunteering in the community is greatly encouraged at Baylor. In fact, the school established the first college chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
  • Baylor has received numerous accolades. Among them, U.S. News & World Report ranks the college 71st among Best National Universities. It is also listed 54th in Kiplinger’s Best Values in Private Schools ranking.
  • Students can enjoy outdoor pursuits on the beautiful 1,000-acre campus located on the Brazos River.
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13Hardin-Simmons University 4/552.44%Abilene, TX

The lyric "Deep in the heart of Texas" was probably written about Abilene, where this university is located. Hardin-Simmons is a private Baptist university that enrolls around 2,300 students per year. The small size means there is a 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Bachelor’s degrees are offered in arts, behavioral science, business administration, fine arts, music, science and nursing. Motivated students may participate in an Honors program. The fully accredited school also holds industry accreditations for programs in business, theology, nursing, physical therapy, education and athletic training.

  • HSU freezes tuition rates for each entering freshman class; this rate does not change as long as the students continue to progress toward degree completion.
  • U.S. News and World Report ranks Hardin-Simmons 35th among regional universities in the West.
  • This is a highly selective school, and generally admits about 37% of applicants.
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14Texas Tech University 2/559.08%Lubbock, TX

Texas Tech is a large public research institution in Lubbock. U.S. News and World Report ranks it among the best national universities in the U.S., and places it 84th among top public schools. Many of its graduate school departments have also been recognized by the publication. Undergraduate students choose from 150 degree programs in ten colleges. Residence on campus is required until students have earned 30 credit hours.

  • Greek life is a large force at TTU; more than 94% of students pledge a sorority or fraternity.
  • The school’s state-of-the-art fitness center has something for everyone, including a sprawling outdoor aquatics center complete with a lazy river.
  • Texas Tech’s study abroad program offers opportunity in over 70 countries.
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15Abilene Christian University 4/562%Abilene, TX

Affiliated with the Churches of Christ, Abilene Christian University is a small private school located near the geographic center of Texas. Its goal is to educate its 4,600 students in a strong Christian environment; all students are required to take Bible courses and attend chapel daily. Academic majors in 71 disciplines are offered to ACU’s 4,600 students; the most popular choices are accounting, business, human development and family studies, psychology and elementary education. The student-to-faculty ratio is 14:1, and about half of all classes have fewer than 20 students. ACU is academically rigorous; participation in faculty research or competitions within one’s field of study is expected of undergraduates.

  • U.S. News & World Report has ranked ACU 17th among regional universities in the west.
  • Student athletes may be interested in the college’s competitive football, basketball, baseball, golf, cross country, tennis track, volleyball or softball teams.
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16University of Houston 2/548.11%Houston, TX

This large public school in downtown Houston is a research institution that educates over 40,000 students per year. Undergraduates may choose from 120 major and minor areas of study, or follow pre-professional curricula in medicine, law, dentistry, veterinary, physical therapy, nursing, optometry or pharmacy. The departments of nursing and accounting also offer a five-year dual degree option that allows students to simultaneously earn a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. U. Houston’s proximity to metropolitan Houston facilitates student internships at national and international companies and government agencies.

  • Campus life at UH is bustling; a particular highlight is the annual Frontier Festival, when the campus morphs into Fiesta City and hosts talent competitions, cooking contests and entertainment.
  • A number of study abroad options are available, whether faculty-led, an affiliation with another university or via an exchange program.
  • U.S. News and World Report ranks this college among best national universities in the U.S.
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17University of Dallas 5/570.38%Irving, TX

The University of Dallas, actually located in the suburb of Irving, is a private Catholic institution serving approximately 1,300 undergraduates and 1,700 graduate students. Due to its small size, the student-to-faculty ratio is an optimal 11 to 1. Undergraduates may opt for one of 23 majors in liberal arts, or a degree program in ministry or business. Academic expectations are high, and all students begin their UD experience by reading the Great Books. Additionally, all students study the same Core Curriculum during freshman and sophomore year, regardless of major; this curriculum explores the great thinkers of Western tradition, like Milton, Plato, Shakespeare, Homer, Augustus and Aquinas.

  • Unique to many schools in the U.S., UD requires all undergraduates to live on campus. There is no graduate school, off-campus or married housing available.
  • U.S. News and World Report ranks this school 13th among the best regional schools in the west.
  • The UD study abroad experience allows students to attend a semester at UD’s remote campus in Rome, where Core Curriculum studies will continue.
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18Texas Lutheran University 4/543.94%Seguin, TX

Located just northwest of San Antonio, Texas Lutheran is a private liberal arts college that caters exclusively to undergraduates who desire a Christ-centered education. About 1,400 students attend this school. TLU offers 30 majors and 13 pre-professional programs, and grants bachelors of science, arts, music and business administration. The fully accredited college also holds additional accreditations in teacher education, business, athletic training and music.

  • All students are required to live on campus; exceptions are made for students who are married, have lived on another college campus for at least 4 semesters, are age 21 or older or commute from within 30 miles of campus.
  • Because the school is so small, students benefit from a student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1.
  • U.S. News and World Report’s named TLU the 2nd best regional university in the west.
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19St. Edward’s University 5/566.67%Austin, TX

This private Catholic institution in Austin is home to about 5,000 students. St. Edward’s is a liberal arts college that delivers a holistic approach to education. Undergraduates are offered more than 90 academic majors in colleges of behavioral and social sciences, humanities, education, natural sciences and business. High achievers may be interested in the university’s Honors Program. Freshman honors students are required to live in the honors dorm. In addition to full accreditation by the U.S. Dept. of Education, this institution holds industry accreditation for its Bachelor of Arts in Social Work program.

  • St. Edward’s is ranked 13th among regional colleges in the west, according to U.S. News and World Report; the same publication lists the school 2nd among the best colleges for veterans.
  • The academically rigorous environment at the school has produced 27 Fulbright Scholars, including the second student in Fulbright’s history to receive a full grant.
  • Students can partake in Austin’s eclectic mix of music, art and film, enjoying a wide variety of festivals and the annual SXSW conference.
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20University of North Texas 2/550.2%Denton, TX

A mid-sized school situated between Dallas and Fort Worth, UNT is one of the country’s largest public universities, educating approximately 36,000 students. 99 bachelor’s programs are offered, along with 83 master’s degrees and 36 doctoral degrees. UNT is noted for its jazz studies program in the College of Music; it was the first of its kind among U.S. music schools. The College of Business is also noteworthy for its aviation logistics program, and the school's environmental philosophy program was named the best in the world by the Association for Environmental Philosophy.

  • Greek life thrives at UNT; four councils of 41 fraternities and sororities are on campus.
  • UNT is green in every sense of the word, having been named in the Top 50 of Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges.
  • The Eagle Express tuition plan locks in the tuition rate for entering freshmen; tuition will not increase for the following four years. If students in this plan graduate on time, $1,000 will be refunded upon graduation.
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21University of Texas at Arlington 2/541.88%Arlington, TX

UT Arlington, part of the sprawling University of Texas system, is a public research institution. The 420-acre urban campus is home to over 35,000 students. UTA is known for its scholarly advances in physics, manufacturing, biomedical technology, robotics and energy. Students may choose from 180 academic disciplines across ten colleges; 81 bachelor’s degrees are on offer.

  • Campus is a hub of social activity as well, including entertainment like the annual mud volleyball tournament, the bed race competition or the two-week-long celebration at the start of school.
  • UTA believes in state-of-the-art technology in the classroom. Students and faculty particularly enjoy the Nanofab Lab, a Smart Hospital, a glass-blowing studio, an advanced materials and structures lab and the Shimadzu Institute for Research Technology.
  • Student athletes and sports fans have a number of options; UTA is a NCAA Division I school and hosts basketball, baseball, track, cross country, tennis, golf, softball and volleyball teams.
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22Sam Houston State University 2/553.06%Huntsville, TX

Directly north of Houston, in rural Huntsville, Texas, Sam Houston State is a public research institution. It began as a teacher-educator school in 1879; today it enrolls 18,000 students who are pursuing 138 degree programs. The most popular majors are criminal justice, business, kinesiology and exercise science, psychology and interdisciplinary study.

  • SHSU carries industry accreditations in addition to that of the U.S. Dept. of Education; these specialty credentials are in business administration, criminal justice, fine arts and mass communication, health sciences, interior design, psychology, education, library sciences, chemistry and computer science.
  • Eight out of ten faculty at this institution hold the highest degree attainable in their field.
  • SHSU is a military-friendly school and seeks to help soldiers, reservists, veterans and their families obtain an education.
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23Tarleton State University 2/544.66%Stephenville, TX

Carleton State University, an affiliate school of Texas A&M University, is a public liberal arts school based in Stephenville, Texas. Enrolling nearly 12,000 students each academic year, this college offers 93 programs of study. Program highlights include the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, known for its Institute for Applied Environmental Research and for the Southwest Regional Dairy Center. A state-of-the-art nursing building was just added to the campus. Also, Tarleton’s business college hold specialty industry accreditation, leading to a near-100% job placement rate among its graduates.

  • Motivated students may want to attend Tarleton L.E.A.D.S., a two-semester leadership certification program that helps students develop soft skills that will be applicable in the workplace.
  • The student-to-faculty ratio at this institution is 19:1.
  • Tarleton students interested in Greek life have 14 fraternities and sororities from which to choose.
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24Southwestern Assemblies of God University 3/541.03%Waxahachie, TX

Waxahachie, Texas, just south of Dallas, is home to the Southwestern Assemblies of God University. Originally known as Southwestern Bible Institute, SAGU is now a Bible-based educational institution that offers professional and theological degree programs at all degree levels. It is fully accredited by the U.S. Dept. of Education and holds specialty accreditation in teacher education. The most popular majors are Biblical studies, religious education, elementary education and psychology. Chapel is held daily on campus.

  • All SAGU students under the age of 23 are expected to live in residence halls.
  • Missionary work is a cornerstone of Pentecostal theology, and missions work is encouraged both during and after college. There are a variety of missions organizations on campus to help students fulfill this obligation.
  • Athletic teams at SAGU include basketball, baseball, cheerleading, cross country, football, soccer, softball and volleyball.
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25University of Texas – Pan American 2/542.75%Edinburg, TX

UT-Pan American is found in the Rio Grande Valley in deep southern Texas, near the U.S.-Mexico border. This public school enrolls over 17,000 students per year, most of them pursuing bachelor’s degrees. UTPA is known for its health sciences and pre-medical programs, and it offers the only Physician Assistant program in Texas that isn’t in a medical school.

  • The college has been named among the Top 100 best U.S. colleges for Hispanic students.
  • 57% of graduates of UTPA have been accepted to medical school, versus the state average of 37%, and 95% of its Family Nurse Practitioner students have passed the field’s certification exam.
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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1Wharton County Junior College 1/517.61%Wharton, TX

Located south of Houston near the Gulf coast, Wharton County Junior College offers a wide selection of two-year degrees in the liberal arts and allied health professions. Wharton also has three sister campuses in Richmond, Sugar Land and Bay City, Texas. Its online offerings include a two-year education program designed for students transferring to a four-year university to complete their bachelor’s.

  • This accredited school enrolls about 6,000 students per year.
  • Of its graduates, 87% have gone on to a baccalaureate program.
  • Aside from liberal arts, the most popular major at Wharton is business administration.
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2Northwest Vista College 1/521.38%San Antonio, TX

Northwest Vista College serves about 17,000 students per year in the San Antonio area. The fully accredited college also boasts specialty accreditation in education and pharmacy studies. The 137-acre campus is known for its natural beauty.

Established in 1995, it is the fourth college within the Alamo Colleges system. Between the 2013-2014 and 2014-1015 academic years, the number of degrees and certificates awarded to graduates increased by 39%. This growth is also seen in the enrollment figures with growth of 5.44% between the fall of 2014 and fall of 2015.

  • NVC received $2.3M from the U.S. Department of Education for "Project Math Paths
  • NVC "College Connections" recruitment program is among the "Bright Spots" on the U.S. Department of Education's White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics list. The list identifies organizations that are helping to close the achievement gap with Hispanic students.
  • In 2016, NVC was named a Military Friendly school by Victory Media for the seventh consecutive year.
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3San Jacinto Community College 1/515.04%Pasadena, TX

San Jacinto Community College enrolls nearly 30,000 students per year. This large school's central campus is in Pasadena, and have two additional campuses in Houston LaPorte. Classes are also offered at 12 extension centers. Two-year degrees in 186 majors are available, as are 46 technical certification programs.

  • SJCC is affordable; tuition for in-district students is $704 per credit hour.
  • The school has received national recognition for its baseball, basketball and debate teams.
  • Notable alumni include MLB pitchers Roger Clemens and Sean Nolin.
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4Jacksonville College 2/519.15%Jacksonville, TX

This private, Southern Baptist school is located in a small town in the farming country of east Texas. Offering terminal associate degrees and transfer programs to four-year schools, Jacksonville was recognized by the U.S. Dept. of Education as the second most affordable private community college in the nation.

  • Campus housing is offered here, a feature that is unusual in two-year schools.
  • The college is known for its choral groups, who perform widely in the area.
  • A strict honor code is enforced on campus.
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5Victoria College 1/511.77%Victoria, TX

Established in 1925, Victoria College serves Victoria County and the surrounding seven counties in the Golden Crescent region of South Texas. With an enrollment of approximately 4,000 students, Victoria College offers a rich tradition of providing high-quality, accessible, and affordable courses and programs that prepare students for rewarding careers or transfer to a university.

  • Classes at Victoria College are offered face-to-face and online as well as during the day, at night, and weekends.
  • Victoria College offers a variety of cultural enrichment events that enhance the student experience, including art shows, band and choral concerts, the Lyceum Lecture Series, Museum of the Coastal Bend exhibits, and numerous events at the Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts.
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6Lone Star College System 1/59.65%The Woodlands, TX

The Lone Star College System is composed of seven campuses serving the north Houston area. Satellite centers also offer classes in seven additional locations. LC’s comprehensive degree programs offer terminal associate degrees, transfer programs to four-year universities and professional certifications. An honors college option is available for high-achieving students. Two affiliated University Centers allow graduates to pursue advanced degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels.

  • The LC system is the largest postsecondary institution in the Houston area, enrolling 90,000 students per year.
  • A study abroad program, unusual for a two-year institution, is available to select students. These travel experiences are in Costa Rica, Spain, Great Britain and Germany/France.
  • The LC system is military-friendly.
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7El Paso Community College 1/513.04%El Paso, TX

El Paso sits on the border between Mexico, New Mexico and Texas in western Texas. EPCC is a two-year college that offers El Paso residents associate programs in over 130 areas of study. Transfer programs are also a popular choice, as students go on to earn four-year degrees at other schools. This school also emphasizes its allied health studies programs, particularly nursing; as a result, admission into these programs is more competitive than in other majors. Partial or wholly online degree programs are also an option.

  • Roughly 6,000 students attend class on campus, and about the same number are enrolled in distance education.
  • EPCC is a military-friendly school.
  • The majority of degrees conferred by EPCC are Associate of Arts degrees.
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8Collin College 1/510.95%McKinney, TX

Collin County CC operates seven campuses in the Plano-McKinney area just north of Dallas city proper. More than 53,000 students attend Collin each year. It offers two-year degree programs in a comprehensive range of subjects, and particularly emphasizes its nursing and allied health majors. Continuing education and professional certifications are also on offer. Students enjoy Collin’s membership in the NJCAA and a full complement of sports teams.

  • Collin is fully accredited and also holds specialty accreditation in a number of allied health and education fields.
  • The school has the unique distinction of being home to six Carnegie Professors of the Year; no other school in Texas has received this honor so frequently.
  • The nursing department at Collin has been named a Center of Excellence by the National League for Nursing.
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9Vernon College 1/530.14%Vernon, TX

Vernon College, located near the border between Texas and Oklahoma, serves the Wichita Falls area in north Texas. VC is based in Vernon, Texas but also maintains campuses in Wichita Falls and at Sheppard Air Force Base. Though it exists in several locations, VC is quite small; total enrollment is around 3,000 students. Associate degree and professional certificate programs are offered in 35 majors; associate degrees that lead to a bachelor’s in education are a special area of emphasis at Vernon.

  • VC is extremely affordable. A full-time student who lives in the district pays just over $2,000 per semester in tuition.
  • Local businesses have partnered with VC to assist in hands-on training for its students.
  • Athletic programs include rodeo, baseball, softball and volleyball.
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10Laredo Community College 1/520.38%Laredo, TX

Laredo, Texas is a Mexican border town located southwest of San Antonio. LCC’s beautiful 200-acre campus began its life as a frontier camp and then later became the site of Fort McIntosh. This fully accredited two-year school also holds industry accreditations in education, nursing and allied health professions. An extensive field of Associate of Arts, Associate of Science and Associate of Applied Science programs are offered, and many one-year professional certification programs are also available. Distance learning is offered as a complement to brick-and-mortar classes.

  • LCC has two campuses, one at Fort McIntosh and one on the southern side of the city.
  • A full-time student who lives in the LCC district will be charged tuition of $1,650 per semester.
  • This relatively small school enrolls about 8,000 students each year.
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11Alvin Community College 1/515.84%Alvin, TX

The coastal area between Houston and Galveston is home to Alvin Community College. The school's roots lie in the Alvin Independent School System, which originally created the two-year college as a dual credit opportunity for its high school students. Today, ACC offers nearly 40 two-year degrees across a spectrum of liberal arts and applied sciences majors. The school has also developed extensive distance education options; ACC allows students to take some or all classes online or in hybrid programs that mix brick-and-mortar and online class enrollments.

  • Workforce training is a major focus of ACC, with numerous certifications awarded for students interested in immediately entering the workforce upon graduation.
  • Baseball player Nolan Ryan is a notable alumni.
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12Western Texas College 1/546.29%Snyder, TX

This two-year public college is located in the remote town of Snyder, northwest of Abilene in the western plains region. Four two-year degrees are available to WTC students: the Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, Associate of Applied Science and the Associate of Arts in Teaching. About 2,000 students attend WTC per year; 85% go on to attend a four-year college or gain immediate employment.

  • Distance learning is a popular option for WTC students, probably due to the area’s rural location.
  • WTC is a military-friendly school.
  • Texas Tech has collaborated with WTC in the Student Access and Success Partnership, a dual-enrollment program that shares resources and allows students to take classes at both schools.
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13Clarendon College 1/529.57%Clarendon, TX

Situated in the far northern panhandle, Clarendon College is the oldest educational institution in the region. Originally a private Methodist school, it is now a sectarian junior college. Students from the surrounding eight counties attend classes on its main 107-acre campus in Clarendon and at three satellite locations. Students here can complete an associate degree in a technical or allied health field or complete the first two years of a baccalaureate liberal arts degree program.

  • Clarendon enrolls about 1,200 students each academic year.
  • As a military friendly school, this institution works with U.S. soldiers and veterans to maximize tuition resources.
  • Though small in number, it has a thriving presence in athletics. Student can choose from competitive volleyball, baseball, softball or rodeo teams.
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14Lee College 1/523.73%Baytown, TX

Roughly 6,000 students attend classes at Lee College in Baytown, a prosperous mid-sized city that is home to Fortune 500 companies ExxonMobil, Chevron Phillips and Bayer. This two-year college serves the communities surrounding Galveston Bay on the coast. Lee offers a broad selection of technical diplomas or associate degrees that are transferrable to a four-year baccalaureate program. Distance education is also an option for many classes; these may be entirely online or a hybrid mixture of online and class participation.

  • An honors program and study abroad experience are options for the high-achieving student at Lee.
  • The college has been the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, including an Aspen Institute Top 10th Percentile ranking among community colleges.
  • In its first two years of existence, the debate team at Lee placed first in national competition.
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15Northeast Texas Community College 1/519.62%Mount Pleasant, TX

The campus at NTCC, known for its beauty and architectural design, is in rural northeast Texas near Chapel Hill. Its academic offerings are focused on two-year programs that deliver either technical training in industry or associate degrees in liberal arts, business, agriculture, computer sciences, nursing or allied health professions. Approximately 3,200 students attend NTCC each year, enjoying a student-to-faculty ratio of 18 to 1.

  • Housing facilities are available for approximately 200 students at NTCC.
  • The college is military friendly and actively seeks soldiers and their family members who qualify for military financial assistance.
  • An articulation agreement with Texas A&M University has led to five teacher certification programs and one Bachelor of Business Administration program.
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16Weatherford College 1/515.46%Weatherford, TX

Located just outside Fort Worth, Weatherford is the oldest educational institution west of the Mississippi River. Catering to about 6,000 students from five surrounding counties, the college offers nationally recognized career and technical degree programs, as well as associate degree programs designed to be continued at a four-year school. Students attend classes at the main campus in Weatherford or at satellite facilities in Wise County, Granbury and Mineral Wells. Distance education in a variety of formats is also available in many instances.

  • Among Weatherford’s faculty, 84% are full-time employees who hold master’s or doctoral degrees.
  • Weatherford has competed for 11 consecutive years in the Collegiate National Finals of Rodeo in Casper, Wyoming.
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17Brookhaven College 1/510.05%Farmers Branch, TX

This school is a two-year institution serving Dallas County communities. Its 12,000 students can choose among technical and career programs in professions such as automotive technology, allied health, entrepreneurial studies and tax preparation. Students can also choose to pursue associate degrees in liberal arts or sciences that are transferrable to four-year universities. Brookhaven’s Geotechnology Institute is a special area of emphasis, offering advanced STEM education to students in its associate of science program. Tuition at Brookhaven is extremely affordable, at $59 per credit hour for students living in the Dallas County Community College district.

  • Athletic programs include men’s basketball, men’s baseball, women’s volleyball, and women’s soccer.
  • Brookhaven’s Student Leadership Initiative is open to all students, meeting regularly to help students develop soft skills in networking, leadership and management, self-growth and career planning.
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18Houston Community College 1/511.57%Houston, TX

HCC is an enormous educational institution, enrolling more than 75,000 students in the Houston metropolitan area each year. This fully accredited school maintains seven campuses around Houston, and also offers a full complement of online courses and continuing education. Over 360 academic programs are offered across an exhaustive range of 87 majors. Students may opt for a terminal diploma, an industry or professional certification, an associate degree or two years of classes that will transfer into a four-year university.

  • HCC is extremely low on the tuition spectrum: an in-district full-time student can expect to pay $816 per semester.
  • In an effort to meet the needs of local industry, HCC created the HCC Global Oil and Gas Drilling Training Center, designed to promote safety, professionalism and innovation among oil riggers in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • The Black History Committee at HCC is an active presence on campus. This group raises money for scholarships via galas and other fundraisers and raises awareness of issues pertinent to the history of African Americans in Texas.
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19Richland College 1/511.78%Dallas, TX

Richland College, also a member of the Dallas County Community College District, offers Texas students one- and two-year professional certificate programs, two-year associate degree programs, and two years of general education credits that can be transferred to a four-year university. Each year, 20,000 students pursue studies in one of over 60 majors. Like other schools in its district, Richland charges $59 per credit hour for residents.

  • In 2005, Richland received the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award from the White House and the U.S. Dept. of Education. Richland is the only community college to have ever received this distinction.
  • Stressed-out students may enjoy the Teaching-Learning-Community Building Labyrinth on campus. This beautiful outdoor art installation is designed to inspire meditation and contains an arbor, a heritage flower garden and a memorial walk honoring former RCL staff.
  • Richland is a military-friendly college.
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20North Lake College 1/510.53%Irving, TX

Another member of the Dallas County Community College District, North Lake College’s main campus is in Irving; satellite campuses are found in another Irving location, in Coppell and at DFW Airport. The central campus is enormous, boasting state-of-the-art facilities on 276 acres. NLC’s 12,000 students enjoy a student-to-faculty ratio of 13:1. This public college offers two-year associate degree programs in liberal arts, computer science, arts, business, technology, construction, mathematics and sciences.

  • As with its neighboring district schools, tuition is charged at $59 per credit hour for in-district residents.
  • North Lake’s Service Learning initiative allows students to earn credits while they meet a need working at a social or charitable organization in the community. Each student’s placement will be determined by his or her major, and the experience will be supplemented by academic instruction. All participants can explore career opportunities, do a good deed and make connections while earning college credit.
  • Competitive athletics include men’s basketball, men’s baseball and women’s soccer.
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21Texarkana College 1/517.65%Texarkana, TX

Texarkana sits on the border of Texas and southwest Arkansas; as such, Texarkana residents have postal addresses in either Arkansas or Texas. Texarkana College is a fully accredited two-year public school that also holds specialty accreditation in nursing. Over 4,200 students per year pursue either associate degrees in the health sciences, STEM studies and liberal arts or professional development certifications immediately applicable in the trades industries. Texarkana students who qualify for academic scholarship are automatically placed in the school’s Honors College, which carries its own minimum GPA requirements.

  • While the dorm-style living common to four-year schools isn’t available, some qualified students can lease college-owned efficiency apartments just off campus.
  • Students in the college’s district are charged competitive tuition rates; a full-time student can expect to pay $976 per semester plus fees.
  • Texarkana College is a military-friendly school and is dedicated to providing an education for soldiers, veterans and their families.
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22Hill College 1/520.04%Hillsboro, TX

Hill County, where Hill College is based, is just south of Fort Worth, in the central part of the state. Hill was the second public education institution to be established in Texas. It is small, enrolling about 4,300 students per academic year. Students who desire an associate degree may choose from among standard liberal arts, social sciences and natural sciences programs. A smaller number of technical training programs are also available.

  • Hill has a thriving athletics community. Competitive sports include basketball, baseball, soccer, volleyball and rodeo.
  • Students have ample opportunities to visit the Texas Heritage Museum located on campus.
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23Eastfield College 1/58%Mesquite, TX

Eastfield College serves students in the eastern Dallas area. The campus is located in Mesquite. This branch of the Dallas County Community College District offers two-year associate degrees in social sciences, liberal arts and STEM disciplines. Career and technology training is also offered in certificate programs lasting one to two years. This mid-sized school is home to about 15,000 students per year. Optional offerings include the opportunity to engage in service learning, which combines community service with classroom learning and career skills development.

  • The school has partnered with NASA in its National Community College Aerospace Scholars Program. STEM majors have the opportunity to train in an online module, followed by an onsite workshop at the NASA facilities in Houston.
  • Tuition for Dallas County residents is a mere $59 per credit hour.
  • Eastfield has an honors program, open to high-achieving students who can maintain a 3.5 GPA.
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24Mountain View College 1/57.2%Dallas, TX

Southwest Dallas area students who aspire to earn an associate degree or workforce training certification can attend Mountain View College, a member of the Dallas County Community College District. This fully accredited school confers Associate of Art degrees in criminal justice, mass communications, music and teaching. Associate of Science degrees in business, technology studies, nursing and management are also on offer, as is workforce training in related specialties.

  • Mountain View is a member of the NJCAA; it competes in basketball, baseball, soccer and volleyball.
  • Students at Mountain View enjoy a 16:1 student-to-faculty ratio.
  • The college enrolls approximately 9,000 students per year.
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25South Plains College 1/521.34%Levelland, TX

East of Lubbock, in the northeastern part of the state, South Plains College is home to about 10,000 students. Over 100 majors are offered, covering a range of majors, like allied health studies, arts and sciences and the technical arts. Studies culminate in associate degrees, professional certifications for the workforce, or pre-college courses that transfer to four-year universities.

  • SPC is fully accredited, and also holds specialty accreditations in nursing, allied health, law enforcement technology, automotive service technology and cosmetology.
  • Unlike most community colleges, SPC makes housing available to full-time students who desire the on-campus experience. Eleven fully furnished residence halls can accommodate 692 students.
  • Tuition for a full-time student who lives in the Mountain View district is $1,120 per semester.
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If you’re thinking about applying to one of the best colleges in Texas, continuing reading to learn more about living in the Lonestar State.

As the second-largest state in the U.S., Texas offers a diverse collection of climates, terrain and entertainment throughout its 268,820 square miles. Located on the U.S.-Mexico border, Texas has mountains, beaches, desert and plains, as well as a mix of small towns, bustling cities and anything in between. Western Texas is largely desert, though cold temperatures in winter are common. The northern Texas panhandle is part of the middle states’ plains region, where it is fairly flat and prone to temperature extremes. The central part of the state is hilly and dotted with forest, rivers and lakes; the climate in this region is more temperate, making it an ideal location for outdoor enthusiasts. The coastal area, near Spring Break hotspot South Padre Island, is mild, wet and occasionally subject to hurricanes.

The majority of Texas’ 27,000,000 residents are clustered in the eastern part of the state, near the Dallas-Fort Worth area in the northeast, Austin and San Antonio in east central Texas or Houston, near the southeast shore. With a cost-of-living index 10% lower than the national average, living in Texas can be affordable. While its median household income is slightly lower than the national average, prosperous cities like Houston and Dallas are home to Fortune 500 companies and high-paying industries. The American oil industry has its roots in Texas, and the rapidly expanding healthcare industry is well represented. Texas is also one of only seven states that charge no personal income tax, making it a desirable place to live and work.

Fast Facts

  • Major Cities: Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth.
  • Attractions: The Alamo, JFK Memorial and Museum, NASA Space Center Houston, Big Ben National Park, San Antonio River Walk, Padre Island National Seashore, Schlitterbahn Waterpark
  • Popular schools: Texas A&M, University of Texas at Austin, University of Houston, Texas State University, University of North Texas, Texas Tech University
  • Population: 26,956,958
  • Unemployment: 4.2%
  • Average Commute: 30 minutes


The residency of a child under 18 is determined by his or her parent’s legal address; parents must demonstrate a domicile in the state of Texas to receive in-state tuition. Children over 18 who are not emancipated by marriage or other court order must be a dependent of a Texas resident to receive in-state tuition. Dependency is established when a parent claims to financially support the student on a tax return. If you wish to be considered financially independent from your parents, you must prove this with appropriate documentation.

For legal purposes, a domicile must have been a permanent place of residence for 12 consecutive months and must be where a person intends to stay. Children of divorced or separated parents living in separate states may only claim residency status in one; the primary parental domicile must be in Texas to receive in-state tuition. Families who have filed an I–485 application for permanent residency and have received a notice of action from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services are considered residents. Eligible nonimmigrants must demonstrate a valid visa that permits U.S. domicile.

Bordering States Waiver

Students who reside in the neighboring states of Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas and New Mexico may be eligible for in-state tuition at some schools. A number of two-year institutions have reciprocal arrangements with similar two-year colleges in adjacent states. In these cases, out-of-state tuition is waived at both schools. These agreements are in place at:

  • Arkansas-Texarkana College
  • Louisiana-TSTC-Marshall, Lamar Institute of Technology, Lamar State College-Orange, Lamar State College-Port Arthur, and Panola College
  • New Mexico-El Paso Community College
  • Oklahoma-Vernon Regional Junior College, Grayson County College, North Central Texas Community College District, and Paris Junior College

College Savings & Funding Resources

Education Nonprofits

College & Career Planning Assistance

Official Texas Resources