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.
Best Colleges in Delaware
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.
|1||Goldey-Beacom College Wilmington, DE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 68%||
For the last 10 years, Goldey-Beacom College graduates have achieved an over 90% success rate in finding a full-time job less than one year after graduation.
The college offers seven bachelor of arts (BA) and bachelor of science (BS) degree programs in criminal justice, English, psychology, and business. Degree programs are geared to students pursuing business, with a choice of four different degree paths in accounting, economics, finance, or business administration. Students who choose a BS in business administration can also choose from several concentrations, such as international business management or legal studies.
One of the best colleges in Delaware, Goldey-Beacom is a private liberal arts school located in Pike Creek, a suburb of the industrial beacon of Wilmington. The college’s diverse student population of about 2,000 students come from 13 states and over 60 countries. All faculty have obtained the highest-degree in their field and bring valuable connections to other experts beyond campus.
|2||Delaware State University Dover, DE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 43%||
Offering one of the largest degree selections of all Delaware colleges, DSU’s 42 undergraduate degrees across five colleges provides a path for almost every student. Unique degree choices include a BS in agriculture with an emphasis in equine business management; a BS in biology with a focus on cell, molecular, and biotechnology; or a BS in hospitality specializing in casino operations management.
In addition to all programs being accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), many programs at Delaware State--including business, education, social work, and nursing--maintain national accreditation by professional organizations. A 13:1 student-faculty ratio allows for small class sizes and more intimate peer and professor relationships.
Delaware State’s esteemed honors program brings high-achieving students together into living-learning communities and provides class structures that emphasize discussion and debate over lectures and note-taking. Honors students also benefit from mentoring, research and internship experiences, merit scholarship opportunities, and more. Delaware State University’s unique Aviation Program, which offers a BS in aviation management or as a professional pilot, operates its own fleet of plane out of the Delaware Airpark in Cheswold.
|3||University of Delaware Newark, DE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 81%||
As one of the top-ranking colleges in Delaware, University of Delaware (UD) Is recognized as a premier research university. All undergraduate students are encouraged to take advantage of the university’s many engaging and hands-on learning opportunities in its state-of-the-art laboratories as well as in the field. Students have a choice of 140 bachelor’s programs from seven colleges, including the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment. An extensive selection of programs across agriculture, engineering, the arts and humanities, education, and other fields include bachelor degree options like apparel design, energy and environmental policy, and linguistics.
Travel enthusiasts and those seeking new cultural experiences will find a diverse selection of 100 semester-length study abroad and exchange programs, which the university has offered for over 90 years. UD also offers Army and Air Force ROTC programs for students who want to complete their education while preparing for military leadership roles. Established in 1743, UD is one of the oldest colleges in the state. Its location halfway between Washington, D.C. and New York City makes the university an ideal choice for access to both innovative urban centers.
|4||Wilmington University New Castle, DE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 33%||
Wilmington University enrolls over 20,000 students across its seven academic colleges and still keeps an average class size of 17 students. A unique set of career-oriented bachelor’s degree programs span business, education, legal studies, media, computer technology, and more. Students can transfer up to 90 credits, including accepted associate degrees, into most programs. Degree options include a BS in government and public policy, video and motion graphics, or software design and development.
The university’s Work-Integrated Learning program is unique amongst our top-ranked colleges in Delaware and provides students with opportunities to gain real-world experience while earning degree credits through existing jobs and employers, internships, service learning, and capstone projects. Wilmington’s rolling and open admission policy allows students to apply for the program of their choice at anytime. A dedicated International Admissions Office also provides helpful services and resources for students looking to make a streamlined transition into both a new country and their program of study.
|5||Wesley College Dover, DE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 22%||
Located in the state’s capital of Dover, the Wesley College campus is situated on 50 acres within walking distance of the state archives and museum, a public library, and the legislative center. Welsey is also a partner with the Schwartz Center for the Arts and provides cultural programs for students and the community, a feature that adds to its reputation as one of the best colleges in Delaware.
All Wesley undergraduate degree programs provide a liberal arts-based core curriculum, a set of four-year requirements that includes a senior capstone project. A solid set of degree options across the arts and sciences, education, business, and media include programs like multimedia communication and biological chemistry. As a result of a recent grant from the National Science Foundation, Wesley has been able to establish the Cannon Scholars Program, which provides scholarships to students in STEM programs who are also underrepresented or financially disadvantaged. The college is also a member of the International Student Exchange Program, offering students the chance to study abroad in 150 higher-education institutions in 38 countries.
Best Community Colleges in Delaware
Delaware is home to four community colleges, consisting of three campuses of the Delaware Technical and Community College, 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 Delaware Tech 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.
|1||Delaware College of Art and Design Wilmington, DE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 71%||
Delaware College of Art and Design, formerly Pratt Institute and the Corcoran College of Art and Design, is located in Wilmington. The school provides visual arts education at the mid-Atlantic’s only two-year professional college of art and design, distinguishing itself from other online schools in Delaware. Incoming DCAD students enroll in foundation year, a core curriculum that develops visual literacy and basic studio techniques. Coursework in drawing, two-dimensional design, art history, and color theory give students a solid foundation in the visual arts.
DCAD students can specialize in a number of art and design fields, including animation, graphic design, photography, and illustration. Graduates who earn an associate degree in fine arts from DCAD complete between 67 and 70 credits, with up to 46 credits in studio courses and 24 credits in art history and the liberal arts. The degree program can be completed in two years, and DCAD prepares graduates to transfer into bachelor of fine arts degree programs or to pursue careers in the arts.
|2||Delaware Technical Community College-Terry Dover, DE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 13%||
Of the four Delaware Technical Community College campuses, the "northern" Terry campus, located in Dover, is the one for visual communication majors, being the only northern campus to offer AAS degrees in advertising design, multimedia, or photo imaging. Among general education and core requirements, each 62-unit visual communication program track includes a portfolio workshop course and the possibility for internships. Terry is also the only Delaware Tech campus to offer a program in biomedical electronics engineering technology, a unique career option involving the maintenance and repair of medical research equipment. For students who crave athletics along with academics, the northern Terry campus is one of the best two-year colleges in Delaware for satisfying sports needs. The campus includes multiple basketball, tennis, and volleyball courts, along with multi-purpose athletic fields. Sports teams include cross country teams, men's lacrosse, and a women's volleyball team that is known to be frequent regional champions.
Living in Delaware
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.
- 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%
- 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
Higher Education News
Official State Links
- Best Colleges in Delaware of 2017
Rank School Location 1 University of Delaware Newark, DE 2 Goldey-Beacom College Wilmington, DE 3 Delaware State University Dover, DE 4 Wilmington University New Castle, DE 5 Wesley College Dover, DE Best Community Colleges 1 Delaware Technical Community College-Owens Georgetown, DE 2 Delaware Technical Community College-Terry Dover, DE 3 Delaware Technical Community College-Stanton/Wilmington Wilmington, DE
- Best Colleges in Delaware of 2016
Rank School Location 1 University of Delaware Newark, DE 2 Widener University - Delaware Campus Wilmington, DE 3 Wilmington University New Castle, DE 4 Delaware State University Dover, DE 5 Goldey-Beacom College Wilmington, DE 6 Wesley College Dover, DE Best Community Colleges Rank School Location 1 Delaware College of Art and Design Wilmington, DE 2 Delaware Technical Community College - Terry Dover, DE 3 Delaware Technical Community College - Owens Georgetown, DE 4 Delaware Technical Community College - Stanton/Wilmington Wilmington, DE