Students electing to complete their postsecondary educations in Nevada have a number of two- and four- year degree options available to them, ranging from eight public schools overseen by the Nevada System of Higher Education to the four private institutions. There is also a selection of for-profit institutions operating throughout the state. Though a younger state, Nevada has numerous historical institutions within its borders, including the University of Nevada in Reno that was founded in 1874. Fortunately, we have applied our rigorous methodology to the latest education data to rank the best colleges in Nevada, including the top four-year and two-year schools.

Best Colleges in Nevada

Prospective baccalaureate students in Nevada have options running the gamut when it comes to completing their bachelor's degree. Those seeking a large public institution may choose to enroll at the University of Nevada at Reno and join the nearly 38,000 other students that call the school home, while students seeking a truly intimate experience may elect to join the 800 students attending Sierra Nevada College. More than 50,000 students are currently pursuing four-year degrees at the state's public institutions, in addition to a further 3,000 enrolled at private colleges and universities.

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle

University of Nevada-Las Vegas

Las Vegas, NV Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 41%

Originally established in 1957 as a small branch college, the University of Nevada-Las Vegas is a thriving research center in one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. Located minutes from the "Strip", this Nevada college is organized around 13 colleges/divisions and three professional schools. The undergraduate degree programs provide an impressive list of majors for students to choose from, including gender and sexuality studies, landscape architecture, urban studies, and mechanical engineering.

Students can get involved on campus with over 300 student organizations, including an undergraduate student government, intramural sports, sororities and fraternities, and academic and faith-based clubs. The Academic Success Center provides a number of resources for students to use during their studies. Nearly 75% of students receive some aid, and UNLV participates in the federal work study program for those who need help paying for their education.


Great Basin College

Elko, NV Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 24%

Great Basin College, which opened in 1967, is a public institution that serves as a comprehensive residential college; its main campus is located in a rural setting in Elko. This college caters to students pursuing bachelor's degrees as well as associate degrees and education certificates. GBC offers a learning program built around academic courses as well as career and technical education needs. The degrees and certificates programs include business and business administration, computer technologies, education, health sciences, human and social services, arts and sciences, and career technology education. Smaller than other colleges in Nevada, GBC has an enrollment of nearly 4,000 students. A majority of its students come from an 86,500 square-mile area that covers ten of Nevada's largest counties.


University of Nevada-Reno

Reno, NV Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

Located in an urban setting on the western edge of the state between the Great Basin and Sierra Nevada near Lake Tahoe, the University of Nevada-Reno offers undergraduate students more than 145 academic degree programs, making it one of the best colleges in Nevada. Undergraduate programs include anthropology, ecohydrology, forest management and ecology, and neuroscience. For those who don't yet know what they want to study, UNR offers a general studies degree that lets students create a course of study based on their interests.

UNR is a member of the Western Undergraduate Exchange. Eligible students from the 14 participating states and two U.S. territories save an average of $8,000 in tuition annually. Students have the opportunity to join more than 250 clubs and organizations, including academic groups, faith-based clubs, Greek life, and intramural sports. Students have a chance to work closely with faculty and professors who are experts in their fields. The school boasts a large earthquake-simulation lab, and UNR researchers are working on a more accurate atomic-clock.


Nevada State College

Henderson, NV Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 15%

Founded in 2002 with 177 students, the four-year Nevada State College, which is located 15 miles from the Las Vegas Strip in Henderson, now has more than 3,500 students. It is one of the fastest growing, and only comprehensive baccalaureate public college, in the state. One of the best colleges in Nevada, NSC offers an academic program of more than 45 majors and minors. The most popular bachelor's degree programs are business administration, biology, psychology, nursing, and education. More than 61% of the students are the first in their families to attend a higher education facility, and more than half of the students have diverse cultural heritages. NSC is rated as both a Minority Serving Institution and an Emerging Hispanic Serving Institution. The 509-acre campus lies at the foot of the McCullough mountains.


Sierra Nevada College

Incline Village, NV Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 35%

Sierra Nevada College, a private liberal arts school founded in 1969, offers a blend of bachelor's programs not found anywhere else. One of the best colleges in Nevada, SNC Tahoe offers 30 undergraduate majors and concentrations, including a creative writing BFA, a degree in ski business and resort management, and six interdisciplinary programs that combine things like psychology and art. In the spirit of creating a collaborative environment where students and faculty work together and embrace active learning, the student to faculty ratio is 11:1.

Situated 6,000 feet above sea level, SNC's students can take full advantage of their proximity to Lake Tahoe, several ski resorts, and Reno. Student clubs, which partner with a faculty advisor and community partner, include climbing, water and snow skiing, and several artistic clubs.

Best Community Colleges in Nevada

Of the eight public institutions overseen by the Nevada System of Higher Education, half of them are two-year schools. There are a further eight for-profit technical and trade schools awarding associate degrees and certificates. All told, over 52,000 students are enrolled in public community colleges as of 2013, representing more than half of all postsecondary students in the state. As of the 2014-2015 academic year, resident students studying at one of the NSHE community colleges paid annual tuitions of $2,700, significantly below the national average. A further survey of public two-year institution shows that between 70% and 80% of students are enrolled part-time, using the flexible nature of an associate degree to help them balance their educations with outside commitments.

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Everest College-Henderson

Henderson, NV Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 46%

An entire team is behind the success of each student at Everest College-Henderson. In addition to career preparation programs, the college, located in the Las Vegas metro area, offers two-year associate degree programs in accounting, business administration, nursing, and paralegal studies. The school provides flexibility with day and evening classes for busy adults, hands-on training to prepare high-skilled workers, industry-experienced instructors, modern equipment, and financial aid advisors to help make school affordable.

Everest College-Henderson is among the Nevada community colleges focusing on the holistic development of students. Assistance includes the Igniter Ambassador Program, in which students volunteer to help other students deal with the challenges of school and life; the CARE Program, in which professionals helps students with issues such as accessing affordable childcare and/or developing a budget; and In-House Program Clinics, in which students participate in workshops to learn hands-on skills coveted by employers.


Truckee Meadows Community College

Reno, NV Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 31%

Located in Reno, Truckee Meadows Community College is one of the larger community colleges in Nevada, serving approximately 25,000 students each year at educational sites and locations throughout the community. The school facilitates its mission of academic rigor, student success, and access to lifelong learning with a curriculum of associate degrees in more than 50 career fields and comprehensive student support services.

Associate degrees are awarded through four academic divisions in fields as wide ranging as architecture, computer science, culinary arts entrepreneurship, dance, and law enforcement. The AA-Transfer and AS-Transfer programs are designed for students who want fulfill the lower-division general education requirements of four-year institutions, such as the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The AAS-apprenticeship degree is earned upon successful completion of qualifying apprenticeship programs in one of a number of fields.

Living in Nevada

If you're thinking about applying to one of the best colleges in Nevada, continuing reading to learn more about living in the Silver State.

According to 2014 U.S. Census data, Nevada currently has nearly 2,840,000 residents, of which nearly 20% live in the greater Las Vegas metro area. The state is a fair mix of both rural and urban areas, providing students with a range of settings in which to undertake their educations. The overall cost of living sits at 2% above than the national average, with housing and transportation costs totaling slightly more and utilities running approximately 14% below national numbers. According to Payscale, students in New York would pay approximately 128% more than their Nevadan counterparts. To give students a better sense of the state, we've highlighted two different regions below:

Regional Spotlight

Northwest Nevada
  • Major Cities: Reno, Carson City, Virginia City
  • Attractions: Lake Tahoe, Pyramid Lake, Truckee River Whitewater Park, Riverwalk District
  • Cost of Living: Reno
  • Popular Schools: University of Nevada – Reno, Truckee Meadows Community College, Morrison University
  • Population: 300,000+
  • Unemployment: 6.8%
  • Climate: High Desert
Las Vegas Valley
  • Major Cities: Las Vegas, Boulder City, Henderson
  • Attractions: Las Vegas Boulevard, casinos, hotels, shopping
  • Cost of Living: Las Vegas
  • Popular Schools: University of Nevada – Las Vegas, College of Southern Nevada, Le Cordon Bleu
  • Population: 2,036,338
  • Unemployment: 7.3%
  • Climate: High Desert

Rankings Archives

Best Colleges in Nevada of 2017
Rank School Location
1 University of Nevada-Reno Reno, NV
2 University of Nevada-Las Vegas Las Vegas, NV
3 Sierra Nevada College Incline Village, NV
4 Great Basin College Elko, NV
5 Nevada State College Henderson, NV
Best Community Colleges
Rank School Location
1 Truckee Meadows Community College Reno, NV
2 Everest College-Henderson Henderson, NV
Best Colleges in Nevada of 2016
Rank School Location
1 University of Nevada - Las Vegas Las Vegas, NV
2 University of Nevada - Reno Reno, NV
3 Sierra Nevada College Incline Village, NV
Best Community Colleges
1 Truckee Meadows Community College Reno, NV
2 Great Basin College Elko, NV
3 Western Nevada College Carson City, NV
4 College of Southern Nevada Las Vegas, NV