Best Colleges in Missouri

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by Staff Writers
Published on August 19, 2021 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of November 2019 Missouri boasted a 3.1% unemployment rate, a figure slightly lower than the national average. As a result, employers offer competitive salaries and benefits to attract the best candidates.

To take advantage of Missouri's booming job market, consider joining one of the state's largest employment sectors, such as healthcare, education, or business and financial occupations. However, these lucrative and fulfilling jobs usually require a college degree. This guide highlights the top 25 colleges and universities in Missouri to help you select the school that best meets your personal and professional goals.

Top 10 Colleges in Missouri

  1. College of the Ozarks - Point Lookout, MO
  2. Truman State University - Kirksville, MO
  3. Washington University in St Louis - Saint Louis, MO
  4. Missouri University of Science and Technology - Rolla, MO
  5. University of Missouri - Columbia, MO
  6. Saint Louis University - Saint Louis, MO
  7. Lindenwood University - Saint Charles, MO
  8. Webster University - Saint Louis, MO
  9. Missouri State University - Springfield, MO
  10. University of Missouri - Kansas City, MO

The following ranking outlines essential information on school elements such as academic majors, honors colleges, online learning opportunities, and application requirements. We also provide links to each school's homepage, where you can learn more information and locate contact information if you have more questions.

Additionally, reviewing these excellent colleges and universities can teach you what to look for in a school.

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Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Best Accredited Colleges in Missouri

College of the Ozarks View School Profile Point Lookout, MO

The top Missouri college on this ranking, College of the Ozarks is a private Christian school affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. The college's 1,500 undergraduates can select from 28 majors and 40 minors.

Degree-seekers preparing for careers in medicine or law can complete an interdisciplinary preprofessional program. The college also features a rigorous teacher preparation program that qualifies graduates for teaching licensure.

All degree programs at C of O emphasize vocational, Christian, cultural, and patriotic education. Students benefit from many opportunities to reaffirm their faith, such as mission trips, campus ministries, and on-campus worship services. Additionally, on-campus political organizations help learners engage with the political process.

Unlike other schools on this list, C of O considers each applicant's financial need when making admissions determinations. The college does not accept GED scores, and applicants must possess a minimum 3.0 high school GPA. Incoming degree-seekers who live in the Ozarks region enjoy additional financial aid opportunities.

Truman State University View School Profile Kirksville, MO

Missouri's premier public university, Truman State University delivers 50 undergraduate degrees and eight graduate programs. Undergraduate majors include biochemistry and molecular biology, classics, and creative writing.

Regardless of their major, all students complete a core curriculum in liberal studies that emphasizes modes of inquiry and lifelong learning skills. The university also offers one online program -- a graduate certificate in data science.

Eight departments comprise Truman's academic support services. Learners can turn to the Center for Academic Excellence to receive tutoring resources and attend workshops about time management and study skills. Additionally, the Foreign Language Learning Center features computer labs where students can practice listening to and speaking foreign languages.

Applicants must have a high school diploma and complete specific high school course prerequisites. Other application materials include a resume and an essay of 1-3 pages. Separate application requirements apply to prospective graduate students.

Incoming undergraduates with an excellent high school GPA and standardized test scores can receive up to $8,000 per year in automatic scholarships.

Washington University in St Louis View School Profile Saint Louis, MO

A research university based in St. Louis, Washington University features additional campuses throughout the area. The university's 11 schools and colleges provide over 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students with more than 90 degree options. The online University College offers seven degrees and certificates, including an AA degree that prepares graduates for transfer to a four-year college or university.

In Washington University's Faculty Fellows Program, some professors live in a residence hall, allowing them to provide vital mentoring services to undergraduates. The university also offers other valuable student services, such as a career center that works with degree-seekers to explore career options and practice interviewing skills.

Prospective undergraduates submit high school transcripts, SAT or ACT scores, recommendations, and at least one essay. All incoming students provide FAFSA results, and those with demonstrated financial need receive aid automatically. Washington University also proudly participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program to provide veterans and active-duty military students with additional financial aid opportunities.

Missouri University of Science and Technology View School Profile Rolla, MO

Programs at Missouri University of Science & Technology prepare the next generation of engineers, mathematicians, and scientists. However, the university also offers traditional liberal arts majors in fields like philosophy, psychology, and history.

Additionally, students at Missouri S&T can pursue three on-campus undergraduate certificate programs in explosives engineering, explosives technology, and technical writing.

Online education brings Missouri S&T's master's degrees and certificates to learners throughout the world. Degree-seekers learn asynchronously and can earn a degree online in 2-3 years. Prospective online students can attend a monthly online webinar to learn more. The university also accepts online doctoral students on a limited basis.

Missouri S&T accepts the Common Application. Prospective students must have a high school diploma and submit ACT or SAT scores.

Degree-seekers interested in university-funded financial aid opportunities should submit FAFSA results by the February 1 deadline. The university considers prospective students' high school GPAs and standardized test scores when making merit-based scholarship decisions.

University of Missouri-Columbia View School Profile Columbia, MO

The University of Missouri - Columbia offers 97 undergraduate majors to a diverse student body. Majors such as business administration, chemical engineering, and clinical and diagnostic sciences feature extensive options for specialization.

The university also delivers more than a dozen online master's programs -- including public affairs and social work -- in addition to a robust selection of continuing education opportunities.

Students at Mizzou can choose from more than 1,000 online courses each year. Many online courses feature semester and self-paced options; self-paced courses give learners up to six months to complete assignments.

Mizzou does not accept GED diplomas alone. However, transfer students with a GED diploma and adequate transfer credit can apply. Generally, freshmen applicants must also meet high school course prerequisites.

Incoming learners with excellent standardized test scores may qualify for up to $6,500 per year in automatic scholarships.

Saint Louis University View School Profile Saint Louis, MO

A private Jesuit institution established in 1818, St. Louis University offers more than 100 undergraduate and 80 graduate programs to 13,000 students. Undergraduate programs at SLU include law and health degrees that prepare degree-seekers for graduate school. The school also offers delivers study abroad programs in more than a dozen countries.

The Honors Program at SLU includes exclusive seminar and capstone courses, as well as coursework in ethics, theology, and philosophy. Additionally, all Honors Program learners qualify for fellowships and scholarships not open to other SLU students.

Prospective undergraduates should have either a high school diploma or GED scores. SLU charges the same tuition rate to all students regardless of residency.

Automatic merit-based scholarships award up to $23,000 per year, and incoming degree-seekers may qualify for other competitive merit scholarships.

Lindenwood University View School Profile Saint Charles, MO

With 121 majors available through 10 schools, Lindenwood University prepares graduates for careers as educators, scientists, and business leaders. The university features numerous undergraduate programs in fields such as international relations, paramedicine, and entrepreneurial studies. Degree-seekers can also complete one of 12 pre-professional programs in areas such as nursing and physical therapy.

Student life plays a significant role in enhancing learners' educational experience. More than 80 student organizations and 2,000 on-campus events each year provide opportunities for learners to network and prepare for academic and career success. Both degree-seekers and alumni can visit the Career Services Office to connect with local employers and discover internship opportunities in the Saint Charles area.

Lindenwood holds transfer agreements with community colleges throughout the state. Full-time students pay a flat per-semester tuition rate, saving them money compared to part-time degree-seekers. Each scholarship opportunity at this Missouri university requires a separate application.

Webster University View School Profile Saint Louis, MO

Founded in 1915, Webster University was the first Catholic women's college west of the Mississippi. Today the fully coeducational institution features dozens of campuses throughout North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia in addition to offering programs online.

The university delivers traditional undergraduate and graduate degrees and dozens of certificate programs. Online students can earn a degree in one of six areas, including healthcare, education, and technology.

Webster delivers extensive on-campus student services, such as a Behavioral Intervention Team that promotes a safe learning environment for each student. The university's mental health and drug education programs also aid students' mental wellness and academic success. Webster additionally offers a food pantry to ensure that no learner goes hungry.

Prospective undergraduates should have a high school diploma. Webster awards credit for prior college experience and satisfactory AP exam results.

Incoming freshmen may qualify for up to $18,000 per year in merit-based scholarships. Scholarships do not stack but renew automatically as long as recipients maintain a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA.

Missouri State University-Springfield View School Profile Springfield, MO

One of the top choices for Missouri high school graduates, Missouri State University - Springfield provides 150 undergraduate degrees, 45 graduate programs, and numerous online certificates. Nearly 9 in 10 professors, including those who teach online courses, possess a terminal degree. In 2000, MSU opened an accredited satellite campus in China that educates both Chinese students and MSU degree-seekers studying abroad.

Greek life plays a significant role at MSU. The campus hosts 20 fraternities and eight sororities.

The university also features more than 300 student organizations that have events throughout the year. Additionally, learners can turn to the Center for Learning and Writing to receive one-on-one academic assistance.

MSU accepts GED and HiSET scores, and all undergraduate applicants submit ACT or SAT scores. Transfer students who earned an associate degree from a Missouri community college receive 42 transfer credits automatically.

MSU awards up to $6,500 per year in merit-based scholarships to incoming freshmen.

University of Missouri-Kansas City View School Profile Kansas City, MO

With nearly 16,000 students, the University of Missouri - Kansas City awards undergraduate and graduate degrees across 12 academic divisions. The school also offers a six-year BA/MD program for aspiring physicians. Learners at the university's Volker campus benefit from numerous housing options that include traditional dormitories and apartments.

Like many colleges and universities on this ranking, UMKC hosts an Honors College. Degree-seekers in honors courses enjoy small class sizes, exclusive scholarship opportunities, and an honors internship. In their final year, these learners undertake a senior honors thesis wherein they work closely with a faculty advisor to select a topic, perform in-depth research, and write a paper.

UMKC uses GPA and test score cutoffs but accepts learners with minimum GED scores. Some applicants who do not meet all application requirements may still receive conditional admission.

The university offers many automatic and competitive scholarships to reduce students' financial burden. UMKC also helps degree-seekers explore outside scholarship and grant opportunities.

Cottey College View School Profile Nevada, MO

A women's college, Cottey College enrolls approximately 300 learners on its Nevada campus. This Missouri college offers 12 bachelor's programs and six associate programs. Two associate programs at Cottey transfer to accredited four-year schools, and students can also pursue bachelor's degrees in fields such as criminology or organizational leadership.

Students at Cottey can choose from more than 35 organizations and clubs. The Leadership, Experiences, Opportunity (LEO) program provides motivated students with extracurricular training opportunities that enhance leadership skills. LEO participants attend seminars and complete a service project in their senior year.

Cottey admits recent high school graduates, transfer students, and international learners. Applicants with a high school diploma should have a minimum 2.6 high school GPA and at least a 21 on the ACT or 1060 on the SAT.

A private college, Cottey charges the same semester-based tuition rate to all students. All incoming degree-seekers submit FAFSA results to apply for college-funded scholarships and grants.

University of Missouri-St Louis View School Profile Saint Louis, MO

A relatively new member of the University of Missouri System, the University of Missouri - St. Louis educates over 16,000 students on its sprawling St. Louis campus as well as online. Learners can also earn one of 50 degrees by taking evening or weekend courses.

Many of the university's academic programs -- including those in biology, chemistry, and mathematics -- offer bachelor's, master's, and doctoral options. Additionally, each bachelor's program features degree plans that can help full-time students graduate in four years.

UMSL's Pierre Laclede Honors College provides academically gifted undergraduates with an intimate and rigorous educational experience. Honors students benefit from small class sizes and automatic merit scholarships. Honors College applicants submit two writing samples and two recommendation letters along with the standard UMSL application.

Undergraduate applicants should possess a minimum 24 ACT or 1160 SAT score. Prospective degree-seekers with lower scores may still apply depending on high school GPA or class rank.

Incoming learners interested in financial aid should apply for competitive university-funded scholarships by the January 1 deadline.

Rockhurst University View School Profile Kansas City, MO

A Jesuit institution located in Kansas City, Rockhurst University educates over 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students across more than 50 academic programs. These include options in education, nursing, and theology and religious studies. Graduate programs include a master of science in business intelligence that students can earn entirely online.

Students can join one of many pre-professional clubs on campus in areas such as law, medicine, and occupational therapy. Faith-based activities include optional daily Mass and retreats in the surrounding countryside. The Career Services Office at RU hosts many information events throughout the academic year to prepare degree-seekers for life after graduation.

A test-optional school, RU does not require SAT or ACT scores for most undergraduate majors. Nor does this Missouri university accept GED scores. New degree-seekers with an excellent high school GPA or standardized test scores qualify for up to $24,000 per year in automatic scholarships.

Southeast Missouri State University View School Profile Cape Girardeau, MO

Southeast Missouri State University hosts nearly 12,000 students, approximately 90% of whom pursue undergraduate degrees. The university offers 12 entirely online bachelor's degrees, including options in general studies, nursing, and technology management. Graduate students have nearly double the number of online degree options, many of which prepare degree-seekers for a career as education specialists.

SEMO features a robust Career Services Department that partners with local employers to pair seniors with fulfilling and lucrative jobs. Each semester, the department hosts on-campus career fairs and interviews and provides one-on-one help in the form of mock interviews and resume critiques. Other services include seminars on pursuing careers in government and other topics.

Prospective degree-seekers can apply for the spring, summer, or fall semester. Scholarships at SEMO stack, meaning that some academically gifted students do not pay out of pocket for a degree. Learners interested in scholarships and other financial aid opportunities should submit FAFSA results by the December 1 deadline.

William Jewell College View School Profile Liberty, MO

Formerly a member of the Missouri Baptist Convention, Jewell is now an independent college with dozens of undergraduate majors that emphasize arts and culture, performing arts, and social services. Many majors feature an accelerated three-year option, which helps motivated students with excellent AP or IB scores save money on a degree.

The Honors Institute at Jewell provides academically gifted students with a rigorous education featuring small class sizes. Jewell's honors program offers two tracks: a traditional honors program and a one-year study abroad option at Oxford University in England. Honors students must maintain a minimum 3.5 GPA to remain in good academic standing.

Jewell does not accept GED scores and recommends that all applicants submit ACT or SAT scores. Prospective students who do not have scores instead provide a recommendation letter and a graded writing assignment. Automatic merit-based scholarships for incoming degree-seekers award up to $26,500.

Drury University View School Profile Springfield, MO

With more than 50 undergraduate majors, Drury University attracts prospective students with diverse academic interests. In addition to the required curriculum, learners can customize their degree by completing a minor in topics like animation, computer science, or writing. The university also offers over a dozen professional certificate programs in areas such as graphic storytelling and sports leadership.

Drury features 40 programs that students can complete either entirely online or by taking evening courses -- a terrific option for working professionals. Online and evening learners pay a reduced per-credit tuition rate and qualify for all financial aid opportunities.

Drury does not accept GED scores and requires applicants to submit standardized test scores. Other application requirements include an essay on an assigned topic. Freshmen and transfer students may qualify for automatic merit-based scholarships, which award up to $30,000 per year.

Northwest Missouri State University View School Profile Maryville, MO

Originally a teachers college in the early 20th century, Northwest Missouri State University now educates over 6,300 undergraduate and graduate learners across seven colleges and schools. Undergraduate degrees at this top Missouri university include agricultural business, animal science, and medicinal chemistry. Graduate students can select from 37 master's programs and benefit from a flat tuition rate.

Incoming freshmen with a minimum 3.5 high school GPA and 26 ACT score qualify for the Northwest Honors Program. This competitive track helps students hone both leadership and academic skills through rigorous coursework and access to exclusive extracurricular opportunities. All honors students receive a $2,000 study abroad scholarship.

Prospective degree-seekers with GED or HiSET scores may apply as long as they meet score cutoffs. Homeschooled applicants must possess a minimum 21 ACT score.

Northwest awards up to $4,000 in automatic merit-based scholarships to incoming freshmen. First-time and transfer students may apply for additional university-funded scholarship opportunities.

William Woods University View School Profile Fulton, MO

William Woods University offers programs designed for working professionals with an associate degree or some college education. Learners can pursue bachelor's degree completion programs in 10 diverse areas such as American Sign Language, the humanities, and legal studies. Many programs also feature online and evening options.

This Missouri university features graduate programs in over a dozen topics, many of which confer a master of education.

WWU ensures that all learners -- including those who study online -- benefit from a meaningful student experience. The university partners with local companies to provide degree-seekers with valuable internship opportunities. Also, the Woods Around the World program allows students to study abroad as far away as New Zealand.

Prospective undergraduates should possess a high school diploma and a minimum 2.5 GPA. WWU uses standardized test score cutoffs and accepts up to 70 transfer credits. Incoming freshmen and transfer degree-seekers may qualify for a full-tuition scholarship or one of many other university-funded financial aid opportunities.

Ranken Technical College View School Profile Saint Louis, MO

With a main campus in St. Louis -- and satellite campuses in Wentzville and Perryville -- Ranken Technical College awards certificates, associate degrees, and bachelor's degrees across five fields including automotive, construction, and information technology. To help students transition into the workforce, Ranken hosts multiple job fairs throughout the year that attract hundreds of employers from throughout the United States.

Ranken's website outlines each program's related careers, salaries, and projected job growth. This Missouri college also posts numerous informational articles that compare the differences between technical education and traditional colleges. Learners have many opportunities to socialize and network outside of class, including participation in the Student Government Association and intramural sports.

Applicants should have a high school diploma, GED scores, or HiSET scores. Incoming students who do not submit ACT scores take the ACCUPLACER exam. Some learners may need to complete remedial coursework before starting a program. Ranken announces new scholarship opportunities throughout the year.

Maryville University of Saint Louis View School Profile Saint Louis, MO

Maryville University of St. Louis enrolls nearly 6,500 undergraduate and graduate students across six colleges and schools. Many academic programs feature programmatic accreditation, and undergraduates can supplement their degree by completing an optional minor. Additionally, this Missouri university features dozens of bachelor's and master's degrees that learners can earn entirely online.

Maryville provides three options for undergraduates who want a more rigorous and fulfilling educational experience: the Bascom Honors Program includes learning communities and exclusive courses, the Distinguished Fellowship Program provides financial assistance to degree-seekers performing original research, and the Global Scholars Program offers three study abroad experiences as well as a minor in international studies.

Maryville accepts GED and HiSET scores. Although the university is a test-optional institution, prospective students planning to apply for university-funded financial aid should submit ACT or SAT scores. Merit-based scholarships at this Missouri university award between $6,000 and $14,000 per year.

Hannibal-LaGrange University View School Profile Hannibal, MO

Founded in 1858, Hannibal-LaGrange University educates approximately 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students on its Hannibal campus and online. HLG offers traditional bachelor's and master's programs, as well as degree-completion tracks for learners who already have an associate degree. Each course has an average of 22 students to allow for individualized instruction from the university's professors.

A member of the Southern Baptist Convention, HLGU provides numerous opportunities for students to grow in their faith. All undergraduates attend chapel services, and the university hosts speakers every week. Mission trips take learners throughout the world; in recent years, students have visited destinations such as the Dominican Republic and Lebanon to share their faith.

HLGU hosts campus visit days for prospective students at many points throughout the year. The university's website provides a valuable guide on transfer-credit equivalencies. Incoming degree-seekers who graduated from a Christian high school may qualify for a 50% tuition reduction.

University of Central Missouri View School Profile Warrensburg, MO

With over 150 academic programs, the University of Central Missouri attracts students from all over the world. The university's four colleges offer degrees in areas such as aviation, criminal justice, and military science. Additionally, the College of Education features four specialized departments that prepare graduates for careers as teachers and education administrators.

Academically talented prospective students should consider UCM's Honors College. Degree-seekers interested in any major can apply, and honors students benefit from one-on-one advising. The program also awards exclusive scholarships and study abroad grants. Seniors in the Honors Program complete an extended honors project similar to a master's thesis.

UCM accepts GED diplomas and the Common Application. To gain admission, applicants should have either an excellent high school GPA or satisfactory ACT score.

Active-duty military personnel pay a reduced per-credit tuition rate at this Missouri university. Incoming degree-seekers submit only one form to apply to all university-funded scholarship opportunities.

Missouri Baptist University View School Profile Saint Louis, MO

One of the youngest institutions on this ranking, Missouri Baptist University features over 50 academic programs across 16 academic departments, schools, and divisions. Like other excellent Missouri colleges and universities, MBU offers an associate program in nursing for recent high school graduates and professionals planning to enter this in-demand field.

Distance education students can choose from more than 20 undergraduate and graduate programs.

Students at MBU can participate in dozens of religious and secular clubs and activities. The university hosts 21 honors clubs and societies, and learners interested in honing leadership skills can join the Student Government Association. Additionally, all full-time degree-seekers attend chapel services and lectures.

A private university, MBU does not accept GED scores. Required application materials include high school transcripts and ACT scores, as well as a recommendation letter. All transfer credit should reflect a minimum 2.0 GPA.

This Missouri university offers a full-tuition scholarship to incoming freshmen with a minimum 3.6 GPA and 30 ACT score.

Stephens College View School Profile Columbia, MO

A women's college, Stephens College enrolls approximately 850 students on its Columbia campus. Students can pursue majors at this Missouri college such as acting, digital filmmaking, and graphic design communications. Nineteen minors give learners the chance to customize a degree.

The college also delivers three graduate-level certificate programs as well as one entirely online bachelor's degree in health information administration.

The Stephens Scholars Program provides academically gifted students with engaging honors-level courses, guest speakers, and endowed scholarship opportunities. Honors degree-seekers also participate in experiential learning activities. Prospective honors students should have either a minimum 3.5 high school GPA or a score of at least 25 on the ACT.

Stephens uses rolling admissions. Application materials include high school transcripts and ACT scores, and prospective students need not submit a separate form to apply to endowed scholarships. Merit-based scholarships award up to $12,000 per semester as long as recipients maintain good grades.

Missouri Southern State University View School Profile Joplin, MO

Students at Missouri Southern State University can pursue degrees through four schools and two specialized programs. The latter train aspiring police officers and Missouri National Guard troops.

Traditional undergraduate majors at this Missouri university include seven two-year associate degrees and bachelor's degrees in areas such as general studies and education. Three of the university's seven master's degrees prepare students for careers as education administrators.

Distance education students at MSSU can select from 14 bachelor's degrees and 17 minors. Learners can also enroll in one of a dozen online certificate programs. All online courses use an asynchronous curriculum to accommodate learners who work full time or have demanding personal responsibilities. Some online courses may also require students to take an exam or other assessment at a university testing center.

MSSU accepts GED diplomas and uses slightly different application requirements for prospective students ages 21 and older. Applicants interested in Foundation Scholarships should apply by the March 1 deadline. These scholarships award up to $7,000 per year. MSSU awards other merit-based scholarships, each of which requires a separate application.

Click here to see the best community colleges in Missouri.
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