Best Colleges in Kansas

March 5, 2020

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Finding the right college can be challenging, but these rankings can help you explore some of the best options available in Kansas. This page highlights the best colleges in Kansas and includes information about campuses, curricula, and application requirements.

Kansas job seekers benefit from low unemployment and low cost of living. The state’s 3.2% unemployment rate (as of August 2019) ranks below the national average. The cost of living in the state’s largest cities -- including Wichita and Topeka -- also remains below the national average. The top industries in Kansas include trade, transportation, and utilities; education and health services; and government.

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Best Colleges in Kansas

  1. Kansas State University - Manhattan, KS
  2. University of Kansas - Lawrence, KS
  3. Newman University - Wichita, KS
  4. Cleveland University-Kansas City - Overland Park, KS
  5. Pittsburg State University - Pittsburg, KS
  6. Fort Hays State University - Hays, KS
  7. Emporia State University - Emporia, KS
  8. MidAmerica Nazarene University - Olathe, KS
  9. Baker University - Baldwin City, KS
  10. Wichita State University - Wichita, KS
  11. Friends University - Wichita, KS
  12. Benedictine College - Atchison, KS
  13. University of Saint Mary - Leavenworth, KS
  14. Ottawa University-Kansas City - Overland Park, KS
  15. Central Christian College of Kansas - McPherson, KS
  16. Tabor College - Hillsboro, KS
  17. McPherson College - McPherson, KS
  18. Washburn University - Topeka, KS
  19. Kansas Wesleyan University - Salina, KS
  20. Bethany College - Lindsborg, KS

The most in-demand occupations in Kansas for college graduates in 2018 include nursing, teaching, and business administration -- and Kansas colleges typically reflect these needs in their degree offerings. Registered nurses rank number one among high demand jobs, earning median annual wages of $58,580. General and operations managers come in second, earning $83,860 per year, followed by accountants and auditors. Elementary and secondary teachers face excellent job prospects and earn more than $48,000 per year on average.

Ranking Accredited Colleges in Kansas

Kansas State University View School Profile Manhattan, KS

Kansas State University started as Bluemont Central College in 1858. The public land-grant institution became Kansas State Agricultural College in 1863 and later adopted its current moniker. The university operates a main campus in Manhattan, Kansas, the Olathe campus in the Kansas Bioscience Park, a polytechnic campus in Salina, and a global online campus.

K-State offers its 25,000 students more than 240 majors and program options, including 70 online programs. Students unsure of their major can benefit from an open option program. The university offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, concurrent bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, and non-degree certificates. Many programs provide training in agricultural areas of study.

To guarantee admission, Kansas students must complete the state’s pre-college curriculum with a 2.0 GPA (2.5 for non-residents) and earn an ACT score of 21, SAT score of 1060, or rank in the top third of their class. Some programs are more selective. Transfer students must submit 24 transferable hours with a 2.0 GPA. Online students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. The university holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Kansas View School Profile Lawrence, KS

Located west of Kansas City in Lawrence, Kansas, the University of Kansas opened in 1866. The university now encompasses five campuses and a student enrollment of 28,500. Learners can choose from more than 200 undergraduate areas of study and 400 degree and certificate programs.

KU’s 13 schools and colleges include the College of Arts and Sciences and the schools of architecture, business, education, health professions, music, and nursing. Each school offers undergraduate and graduate degrees. KU also offers undergraduate bachelor’s completion programs online.

Freshman applicants qualify for assured admission into the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with an ACT score of 21 or SAT score of 1060, as well as a GPA of 3.25 or the alternative requirements. Transfer students must possess a 2.5 GPA for 24 or more transferable credits from an accredited institution. Tuition rates vary by program. In-state and out-of-state online learners pay the same rates. KU holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Newman University View School Profile Wichita, KS

Newman University began as a Catholic school that trained women for professions such as teaching and nursing. The school became co-educational in 1965 and adopted its current name in 1998. Located in Wichita, Kansas, Newman now enrolls more than 3,300 students and provides four outreach locations throughout the state.

Newman’s five schools offer undergraduate and graduate degrees and licensure programs. The School of Arts and Sciences offers 20 liberal arts majors, 21 minors, and 24 specializations. The business school provides nine majors, including marketing and strategic intelligence, and an MBA with four possible concentrations. NU’s Catholic studies school offers degrees in theology and pastoral studies. In keeping with the school’s long tradition of training teachers and nurses, NU offers degree and licensure programs in education, social work, and nursing.

Newman offers an online application and a flat tuition rate for those taking 12-19 credits. The university holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Cleveland University-Kansas City View School Profile Overland Park, KS

Founded in 1922 as a chiropractic college, Cleveland University-Kansas City gained university status in 2015. Located in Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City, the school offers a 10-trimester doctor of chiropractic (DC) degree. Students can also pursue related health sciences degrees and certifications in health education, human biology, occupational therapy, and radiologic technology.

For students entering an allied health career, CUKC offers an 18-month associate in biological sciences that includes pre-allied health coursework. AAS degree options include occupational therapy assistant or radiologic technologist. Cleveland’s BS in human biology offers a 3-year accelerated option. Students can also pursue an online master’s in health education and promotion.

Admission requirements vary by program, but all applicants must apply online. Doctoral applicants must meet physical requirements and undergraduate course requirements. Tuition varies by degree level. CUKC holds institutional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission and programmatic accreditation from the Council on Chiropractic Education.

Pittsburg State University View School Profile Pittsburg, KS

Pittsburg State University sits two hours south of Kansas City in southeastern Kansas. Founded in 1903 to train technical education teachers, this public university’s four colleges now offer more than 200 academic programs to nearly 7,000 students.

PSU’s College of Arts and Sciences places a particular emphasis on research and offers an undergraduate research program. PSU’s accredited business school offers seven undergraduate programs and four MBAs, which students may take on campus or online. The school of education offers degrees in health, human performance, and recreation, as well as psychology, counseling, and teaching. The PSU College of Technology prepares graduates for careers in industry.

PSU offers an online application and grants automatic admission to freshmen who complete the Kansas pre-collegiate curriculum. Applicants should also have a 2.0 and submit an ACT score of 21, obtain a SAT score of 1060, or rank in the top third of their class. Residents of nearby states may qualify for reduced tuition, and all online students pay the in-state rate. PSU holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Fort Hays State University View School Profile Hays, KS

Located in central Kansas, Fort Hays State University was founded in 1902 in the Fort Hays infirmary and now occupies a 200-acre campus in Hays. The school serves more than 15,000 students, including 4,500 on campus, 7,000 online, and 4,000 enrolled in a partnership program with a Chinese university.

The university’s five colleges offer hundreds of programs, including nearly 200 online undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificates, as well as a doctorate in nursing. Pre-professional programs prepare students for graduate study in health professions (such as dentistry, medicine, and optometry) and other professions (such as theology and public administration). The school of education offers varied paths to licensure, including a transition-to-teaching program for professionals in other fields.

Freshmen applicants must complete the state-qualified admissions curriculum with a 2.0 GPA and earn an ACT score of 21 or an SAT score of 980 -- or rank in the top third of their graduating class. Kansas residents and those from nearby states qualify for the lowest tuition rates. FHSU holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Emporia State University View School Profile Emporia, KS

Established in 1863 as a school to train teachers, Kansas State Normal School became Emporia State University in 1977. Today, Emporia offers more than 65 majors, minors, and areas of concentration through its main campus, online programs, and satellite and community college campuses around the state.

The university features a business school, college of liberal arts and sciences, school of library and information management, and teachers college. Undergraduate majors include business analytics, crime and delinquency studies, and recreation. Pre-professional programs prepare learners for graduate work in engineering, law, and medicine. Additionally, master's programs prepare graduates for careers as counselors, educators, and librarians.

Freshman applicants may self-report coursework, class rank, and ACT scores. All transfer students with 24 or more transferable credits and a minimum 2.0 GPA qualify for admission. Emporia offers flat-rate tuition. The university holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

MidAmerica Nazarene University View School Profile Olathe, KS

Affiliated with the Church of the Nazarene, MidAmerica Nazarene University is a liberal arts school founded in 1968. Located southwest of Kansas City in Olathe, MNU offers more than 35 undergraduate programs and 15 graduate and professional programs to more than 2,000 students. MNU also provides about 20 online degree and certificate programs, including six nursing programs.

Traditional undergraduates may select from over 35 majors and minors, including 14 pre-professional programs in health sciences. Students can prepare for graduate study that leads to credentialing as a chiropractor, dentist, doctor, or pharmacist. MNU also offers seven degree-completion programs in business, education, and nursing, as well as master’s degrees in business, counseling, education, and nursing.

Incoming freshmen should complete the online application, submit test results, and send official high school transcripts. Transfer students complete a free application and submit college transcripts. MNU holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Baker University View School Profile Baldwin City, KS

Chartered in 1858, Baker University is rooted in the tradition of the United Methodist Church. The university’s four schools now serve more than 3,000 students online and at seven campuses throughout Kansas and Missouri. Baker's residential main campus sits in Baldwin City, just southwest of Kansas City.

Baker’s notable offerings include accelerated 3 + 3 chiropractic and 3 + 2 engineering programs, as well as minors in conflict management, leadership studies, and museum studies. Baker offers six online undergraduate degrees in fields of business, criminal justice, and psychology. Online master’s degree offerings include instructional design, education, organizational leadership, business, sports management, and nursing. Baker also offers a doctorate in instructional design and graduate business certificates online.

Baker’s rolling admissions process requires completion of an online application and submission of test scores and official transcripts. The school promotes student enrichment through service learning, study abroad programs, and 3-week interterm experiences. Baker University holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Wichita State University View School Profile Wichita, KS

Set on 330 acres overlooking Wichita, Wichita State University offers more than 200 degree programs, 40 online programs, 30 graduate certificates, and 20 undergraduate certificates. Online students pay the same tuition rate as on-campus residents, regardless of their residency status.

In addition to liberal arts and science degrees, WSU offers a variety of career-focused degrees. Learners in the applied studies track can prepare for careers in education, sport management, or workforce leadership. The engineering school offers 19 majors, including aerospace engineering and engineering technology. Fine arts students may select from plentiful program offerings, including photo media, dance, and music theatre. WSU students may also study for careers in the health professions or business.

Kansas residents with an ACT score of at least 21 or an SAT score of at least 1080 qualify for admission. Admission may also be granted to students who rank in the top third of their class, complete the state qualified admissions curriculum, and possess at least a 2.0 GPA. Wichita State holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Friends University View School Profile Wichita, KS

With a history dating to the mid-1880s, Friends University is a Christian institution with Quaker roots. The school operates a 50-acre main campus in Wichita, an education center in Overland Park, and an adult campus in Topeka. The university also provides seven adult degree-completion programs at additional locations across Kansas and ten online degrees.

Friends University offers over 50 majors, as well as 30 minors and concentrations. Six undergraduate divisions deliver degrees in fields such as business, education, fine arts, STEM, theology, and behavioral sciences. The school of natural science and math offers 11 programs, including bachelor’s degrees in zoo science and conservation science. Master’s degrees include Christian spiritual formation and leadership, cybersecurity, business, marriage and family therapy, and healthcare leadership.

Applicants may submit an online or printed application, official transcripts, and test scores. Incoming freshmen must show a minimum ACT score of 18 and a minimum GPA of 2.0. Friends University holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Benedictine College View School Profile Atchison, KS

Located north of Kansas City in Atchison, Kansas, Benedictine College began as a boarding school operated by monks and an academy for women run by Benedictine nuns. The two schools merged in 1971, becoming Benedictine College. This Catholic school serves nearly 2,000 full-time undergraduates.

Benedictine offers 50 academic programs, including undergraduate majors in the arts and sciences, education, and business. Benedictine’s engineering department provides degrees in chemical, civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering, as well as engineering physics. The school also offers three master’s degrees in education and business, as well as a pre-law course of study.

Benedictine students can participate in a study abroad experience at the school’s Florence, Italy, campus; a Great Books program; and several honors and fellowship programs. Undergraduates and transfer students may apply online or submit the Common Application. Benedictine holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Saint Mary View School Profile Leavenworth, KS

Founded in 1923 by Catholic nuns, the University of Saint Mary operates a main campus in Leavenworth, Kansas, and delivers evening and graduate classes in Overland Park. The school offers 30 majors, minors, and concentrations to more than 1,300 students.

USM offers undergraduate degrees in liberal arts, business, behavioral and social science, education, STEM, and health sciences. Students can also select one of eight graduate programs, including an MS in athletic training or a doctorate in physical therapy. Pre-professional areas of study in healthcare include nursing, information management, pre-chiropractic, and pre-osteopathic. Other pre-professional programs include pre-vet, pre-law, and pre-engineering. USM provides some accelerated professional programs in partnership with other universities.

USM’s rolling admissions process requires a minimum ACT score of 18 or SAT score of 970 and a minimum 2.5 GPA. The school automatically grants admission to transfer students with an associate degree from an accredited college. Online students benefit from USM’s lowest tuition rates. The school holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Ottawa University-Kansas City View School Profile Overland Park, KS

Formed in 1865 through an agreement between the Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma and Baptist educators, Ottawa University now serves more than 4,000 students. Learners can take classes at two residential campuses -- including the main campus in Ottawa -- as well as four campuses across three states and online.

OU offers academic programs through schools of arts and sciences, business, and education. Undergraduate arts and sciences programs include addiction counseling, Christian studies and ministry, nursing, and public safety. Graduate degrees and certificates are also available in counseling and therapy. OU’s business school offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 10 concentration areas, including leadership and healthcare management. The school of education provides teachers and other educators training through seven bachelor’s programs, two graduate programs, and seven endorsements.

Tuition varies by program, but all undergraduate and online courses are the same. Members of the Ottawa Tribe may attend at no cost. OU holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Central Christian College of Kansas View School Profile McPherson, KS

Central Christian College started as a seminary in 1884 on the Nebraska plains and became a two-year college in 1914 when it moved to McPherson, Kansas. The school began conferring bachelor’s degrees in 1991 and became Central Christian College of Kansas in 1999.

Central's curriculum prepares graduates for careers in law, healthcare, business, education, and the arts from a Christian perspective. For instance, the school’s department of communicative arts trains students to communicate Christian values as an English or communication major or art minor. Education majors can specialize in elementary education, physical education, or special education. Additionally, the natural sciences program prepares graduates to engage in scientific endeavors as Christian leaders, while music majors train to enter a life of service as musicians.

To meet the needs of working adults, CCCK also offers online associate and bachelor’s degrees in areas such as health and human services, as well as an accelerated degree that learners can complete in three and a half years while attending classes one night a week. The college holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Tabor College View School Profile Hillsboro, KS

Located in Hillsboro, Kansas, Tabor College maintains affiliation with the Mennonite Brethren Church. Established in 1908, Tabor now offers 26 bachelor’s programs, one associate degree, and one graduate program.

Tabor’s Bible, religion, and philosophy department offers majors in biblical studies and Christian ministry. Business majors may select from concentrations such as agribusiness management and sport marketing. In the social and behavioral sciences, students can major in criminal justice and restorative justice or social work. Tabor also offers a number of teacher preparation programs, including licensure programs in nine secondary education content areas. Students can additionally pursue a number of online degrees, including an online MBA.

Admissions requirements for first-year students include a minimum ACT score of 18 or SAT score of 960. Transfer students must have a 2.0 GPA. All Tabor students receive financial aid. Tabor holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

McPherson College View School Profile McPherson, KS

Founded in 1887, McPherson College serves a mostly residential student body of 800. Located in central Kansas, this private liberal arts college affiliated with the Church of the Brethren offers bachelor’s degrees in more than 30 areas of study, as well as a unique student-designed major.

Students can pursue majors, minors, and areas of emphasis in numerous fields, including English, history, math, environmental stewardship, behavioral sciences, and Spanish. The college also offers pre-professional programs in automotive restoration, business administration, health and physical education, and health science. McPherson’s teacher education programs include three paths to licensure and an accelerated bachelor’s-to-master’s program.

McPherson prefers applicants with a 3.0 GPA and an ACT score of 20 or SAT score of 940. The college offers a student debt project that enables students to graduate without loans through employment, grants, and mentoring. McPherson College holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Washburn University View School Profile Topeka, KS

Founded by the Congregational Church as Lincoln College in 1865, leaders later renamed Washburn University after patron Ichabod Washburn, an abolitionist and successful industrialist. Today, this public school serves nearly 7,000 students from its 160-acre campus in Topeka.

Washburn’s five colleges offer more than 200 academic programs and certificates in fields such as law, nursing, and business. The college of arts and sciences offers 45 majors, including pre-med, exercise science, and environmental biology. The Washburn Institute of Technology provides career training in 40 areas of study, including healthcare technology and emergency communications.

Washburn’s admissions process includes an online application for all students. The school grants admission to high school students based on GPA and ACT scores. Traditional undergraduates from Kansas and some nearby states pay the school’s lowest tuition rates. Washburn holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Kansas Wesleyan University View School Profile Salina, KS

Affiliated with the United Methodist Church, Kansas Wesleyan University opened in 1886. The school serves more than 700 students on its 28-acre campus in art-centric Salina. KWU’s 16 departments deliver bachelor’s degrees and an MBA program.

KWU’s undergraduate majors and pre-professional programs prepare graduates for careers in business, human services, healthcare, and education. Additionally, the school’s varied arts programs include fine arts and applied offerings such as art therapy, web design, and music education. Notable science and technology programs include ecospheric studies and community resilience, biomedical chemistry, forensic computing, and material physics.

KWU offers four online degrees, including criminal justice, emergency management, nursing, and a one-year MBA. Online students benefit from tuition rates lower than on-campus rates. All full-time students receive financial aid. The college holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

Bethany College View School Profile Lindsborg, KS

Founded in 1881, Bethany College started with just 10 students and now serves more than 750 learners per year. Located 70 miles north of Wichita in Lindsborg, this private school is a ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Bethany provides degrees in business, biology and chemistry, education, and the fine arts. Most departments also offer teaching degrees in their content areas. The business department offers 12 areas of study, including business teaching and international management. Aside from majors in biology and chemistry, the biology and chemistry department trains graduates to enter teaching and health professions such as physical therapy and pharmacy. Fine arts degrees include studio art, theatre, and music performance.

Prospective students may apply online. Admissions requirements include a 2.0 GPA and SAT scores of 940 or 18 on the ACT. Bethany holds accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission and the National Association of Schools of Music.

Click here to see the best community colleges in Kansas.
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