The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DLWD) projects that employment in the state will increase by just over 8% from 2016 to 2026, or the equivalent of roughly 521,000 new jobs. Certain occupations, however, should experience even faster expansion. For example, the DLWD projects that employment of medical and health services managers will increase by 17.6% during that period, while employment of social and community service managers will grow by nearly 20% in the coming years.
Many of these new professional opportunities, particularly the most lucrative positions, require a college education. In 2018, for instance, registered nurses in New Jersey earned an annual mean wage of $82,750, or $24,500 more per year than the average salary for all other occupations. Financial analysts earned even more, with a mean wage of $106,100 that same year. To qualify for these jobs, you typically need a bachelor's degree.
Top 10 Colleges in New Jersey
- Princeton University - Princeton, NJ
- Rutgers University - New Brunswick, NJ
- The College of New Jersey - Ewing, NJ
- Ramapo College of New Jersey - Mahwah, NJ
- Stevens Institute of Technology - Hoboken, NJ
- New Jersey Institute of Technology - Newark, NJ
- Stockton University - Galloway, NJ
- Montclair State University - Montclair, NJ
- Rowan University - Glassboro, NJ
- Caldwell University - Caldwell, NJ
College can open up new doors and increase your earning potential, but it is often difficult to know which school best suits your interests and needs. To guide your research, we have compiled a ranking of the best colleges in New Jersey, drawing on information such as admission requirements, available majors, online options, and financial aid programs. In addition, each of the colleges on this list holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
2020 Best Accredited Colleges in New Jersey
|Princeton, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 97%||
Long regarded as one of the leading universities in the world, Princeton University easily takes the top spot on our list of the best colleges in New Jersey. Twenty-seven members of Princeton's faculty hold the Nobel Prize, and alumni of the university have served as U.S. presidents, Supreme Court justices, and leaders of Fortune 500 companies.
Princeton offers undergraduate degrees in fields such as the applications of computing, engineering and management systems, medieval studies, and social policy. Although students can pursue a select number of master's degrees, graduate study at the university largely takes place at the doctoral level. Students can pursue a handful of courses online.
Admission to Princeton is highly selective. The university does not set minimum academic requirements, but admitted undergraduate students generally earn high grades in high school and comparatively strong scores on standardized tests. They also demonstrate exceptional achievement in other areas, such as community service. More than 80% of students graduate from Princeton with no student debt whatsoever.
Rutgers University-New Brunswick
|New Brunswick, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 80%||
Founded in 1766, Rutgers University now serves more than 70,000 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The university maintains six campuses across New Jersey and reaches students worldwide through an expansive offering of online degree and certificate programs.
Students at Rutgers explore topics such as aerospace engineering, cell biology and neuroscience, finance, and journalism. To supplement their classroom learning, students participate in internships, conduct research alongside expert faculty, and study abroad in countries like Thailand, Kenya, and Peru. After earning their degree, graduates join a network of more than 500,000 alumni working around the world.
To apply to Rutgers as an undergraduate student, learners must hold a high school diploma and take either the ACT or SAT. Nearly 80% of admitted undergraduate students receive some form of financial aid, with an average award package of close to $16,000 per year. Admission requirements for graduate applicants vary by program, but most require a bachelor's degree and GRE scores.
The College of New Jersey
|Ewing, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 87%||
The educational experience at the College of New Jersey is grounded in the liberal arts. While undergraduates can choose from more than 50 majors in areas such as accounting, elementary education, and sociology, all students must complete a core set of courses that help them hone critical thinking skills, explore diverse subjects, and prepare to become lifelong learners and responsible citizens.
Graduate programs at the college provide advanced training in fields such as business administration, clinical mental health counseling, and neonatal nursing. Although TCNJ provides professional development and continuing education opportunities to New Jersey residents, it does not currently offer any online programs.
First-year applicants must possess a high school diploma or GED and submit results from either the ACT or SAT. Admitted students generally rank within the top 15% of their high school class and score at least a 28 on the ACT or 1265 on the SAT. During the admissions process, prospective students can also apply for a host of financial aid opportunities. For example, in-state applicants with strong records of academic achievement can receive up to $4,000 per year in merit-based scholarships.
Ramapo College of New Jersey
|Mahwah, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 74%||
At Ramapo College, students can pursue bachelor's and master's degrees in fields such as clinical lab science, educational technology, human rights and genocide studies, and social work. The college also is one of only two higher education institutions in the state that offer both an undergraduate and graduate program in data science. Students can pursue certain courses and degrees, including an accelerated bachelor's degree completion program, online.
The college also creates opportunities for students to participate in cutting-edge research. For example, the Sabrin Center for Free Enterprise sponsors faculty and student research related to innovation and social entrepreneurship, while the Sharp Sustainability Education Center offers both research and experiential learning programs in environmental science.
Applying to Ramapo as an undergraduate student requires a high school diploma and standardized test scores. Admitted students typically rank within the top 20% of their graduating class and receive a composite score between 24 and 26 on the ACT.
Stevens Institute of Technology
|Hoboken, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 83%||
In addition to its on-campus programs, Stevens Institute of Technology offers 19 fully online graduate programs in areas such as business intelligence and analytics, machine learning, applied artificial intelligence, and space systems engineering. Through the university's award-winning online learning platform, students can watch lectures, interact with their instructors and classmates, and complete coursework on their own schedule and from the comfort of their home.
All undergraduates at Stevens must complete a senior design project, a capstone experience that requires students to draw on the multidisciplinary nature of their studies, collaborate with their peers, and apply their problem-solving skills to real-world challenges. These projects are then showcased at the university's annual innovation and design expo.
To enter a bachelor's program at the university, applicants must hold a high school diploma or GED. Stevens also requires applicants to submit a personal statement and letters of recommendation from both a teacher and guidance counselor. Most programs also require ACT or SAT scores, though some allow students to share a digital portfolio of work instead.
New Jersey Institute of Technology
|Newark, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 64%||
New Jersey Institute of Technology is committed to academic excellence. The school holds prestigious regional and programmatic accreditations, and 98% of faculty teaching at the university hold the highest degree in their field. NJIT also awards more engineering degrees to students of color than any other school in the state.
Programs of study include technical fields such as applied statistics, biomedical engineering, healthcare systems management, and materials science. Students looking to balance their education with personal or professional obligations can also pursue fully online master's degrees and graduate certificates.
On campus, students benefit from access to a makerspace populated with $3 million worth of state-of-the-art equipment. The space provides learners with the tools needed to test and visualize ideas, create and evaluate prototypes, and develop skills in additive manufacturing and simulation.
Undergraduate applicants must submit high school transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, and at least one letter of recommendation. Students applying to the College of Architecture and Design must also submit a digital portfolio.
|Galloway, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 73%||
Stockton University maintains campuses across New Jersey, including one on the Atlantic City Boardwalk and another on 1,600 acres in the Pinelands National Reserve. The university also serves students around the globe through fully online and hybrid programs in fields such as holocaust and genocide studies, instructional technology, and forensic psychology.
No matter how they choose to learn, students at Stockton enjoy access to an array of services and support. For example, the university provides both in-person and online tutoring in writing and math. Career counselors also help students pick a major, develop a resume, and prepare for interviews. The school's Washington Internship Program has placed more than 900 Stockton students in high-level government internships and fellowships.
Applying to Stockton requires a high school diploma, two or three letters of recommendation, and a personal essay outlining academic achievements and goals. The university operates under a test-optional policy, meaning students can decide whether to submit ACT or SAT scores.
Montclair State University
|Montclair, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 65%||
Although Montclair State University serves over 20,000 students each year through more than 300 individual programs, the school provides many of the benefits of a smaller institution. For example, the average class size at Montclair is just 23 students, and all courses are led by full-time faculty members rather than graduate assistants.
Students at the university pursue bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in subjects such as fashion studies, environmental justice, linguistics, and public relations. In addition, online certificate and master's programs provide a flexible way for students to continue their education and advance in their careers.
Undergraduate applicants must hold a high school diploma, but Montclair does not require prospective students to submit ACT or SAT scores. Most admitted students maintain at least a 3.2 high school GPA and engage in diverse extracurricular activities. Finally, the university provides guaranteed admission to students who earn an associate degree at one of six community colleges in New Jersey.
|Glassboro, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 69%||
Initially founded as a teachers college in 1923, Rowan University now awards 74 bachelor's degrees and 51 master's degrees in a variety of disciplines. For instance, the university is one of only 56 institutions in the entire country to offer fully accredited programs in business, education, engineering, and medicine. Rowan also hosts online and hybrid programs in criminal justice, theater arts administration, and wellness and lifestyle management.
Rowan recognizes the importance of diversity in education. Nearly 32% of its students come from underrepresented groups, and international students represent 35 countries around the globe. To help expand the cultural perspectives of learners from the United States, the university also administers more than 200 study abroad programs in 40 countries.
To apply as freshmen, learners must submit high school transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, a letter of recommendation, and a personal essay. Applicants with a high school GPA of 3.5 or higher may choose not to share standardized test scores, however.
|Caldwell, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 66%||
As a Catholic institution dedicated to liberal arts instruction, Caldwell University helps students learn to think critically, appreciate cultural diversity, and develop both moral and civic awareness. The school offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in 60 areas of study, including computer information systems, e-sports management, and public health education. The university is also the only institution in the state of New Jersey to offer a doctorate in applied behavior analysis.
Six "power degrees" at Caldwell allow students to earn their degree on an accelerated basis. For example, in just five years, students can meet all the requirements for both a bachelor's degree in a teaching content area and a master's degree in curriculum and instruction. In just three years, students can earn a bachelor's in either psychology or business.
As part of the undergraduate application to Caldwell, learners must submit a high school or GED transcript, ACT or SAT scores, two letters of recommendation, and a personal essay. Admissions officers conduct a holistic review of applicants, but most admitted students boast a high school GPA of 3.3 or higher.
|Madison, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 62%||
Drew University boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of 11-to-1, and 99% of faculty at the university hold a Ph.D. or terminal degree. This intimate learning environment means that students receive personalized instruction and attention from some of the leading experts in their chosen field of study. As a result, 94% of Drew graduates find a job or continue their education within six months of earning their degree.
Originally founded as a seminary, Drew continues to offer degrees in divinity and religion through its theological school. However, students can also pursue bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in subjects such as art history, forestry, nutrition, and teaching. Currently, Drew does not host any fully online programs.
First-year applicants need a high school diploma or GED, along with satisfactory scores on either the ACT or SAT. Drew also requires two letters of recommendation, an essay, and an overview of extracurricular activities. Prospective students can separately apply to become a Drew Action Scholar, a program that provides experiential learning opportunities and up to $10,000 in financial aid.
Seton Hall University
|South Orange, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 67%||
Seton Hall University is one of the country's leading Catholic universities, educating roughly 10,000 students every year through undergraduate and graduate programs in almost 90 areas of study. While many students elect to learn at Seton Hall's main campus in South Orange, the university's fully online master's programs in business administration, nonprofit management, and nursing cater to students who want to continue their education on their own terms.
Seton Hall strives to make college education affordable to all students. Each year, the university awards more than $100 million in financial aid, with 98% of all learners receiving some form of support. On top of need- and merit-based awards, incoming students can apply for scholarships that specifically serve Catholic high school graduates, residents of specific states, and the children of New Jersey firefighters.
A complete undergraduate application at Seton Hall includes high school transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, a personal essay, and a letter of recommendation from a teacher.
Thomas Edison State University
|Trenton, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 45%||
Thomas Edison State University helps working professionals, single parents, and other nontraditional students develop the skills and knowledge needed to enter a new field or advance in their career. The university offers more than 100 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees, many of which can be earned entirely online.
TESU also proudly serves the educational needs of armed forces personnel, veterans, and their families. Dedicated advisors help military students navigate the enrollment process, receive college credit for their service and training, and apply their military education benefits. In addition, TESU waives its application fee and provides a variety of scholarships specifically to service members and their spouses.
The school's admission requirements reflect its unique mission. Undergraduate applicants must hold a high school diploma and currently serve in the U.S. military, though TESU offers waivers from these requirements to students with at least 24 credits from another regionally accredited college. Graduate applicants typically need a bachelor's degree and 3-5 years of professional experience.
|West Long Branch, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 70%||
Each year, approximately 6,300 students at Monmouth University work toward certificates and degrees in subjects such as marketing decision sciences, homeland security, marine biology and environmental policy, and music. The university's dual degree programs also give students the opportunity to earn both a bachelor's and master's in just five years of full-time study.
All students at Monmouth must participate in some form of experiential learning. For example, through a cooperative education program, students may earn credits and develop professional skills at a local business or nonprofit organization. Research projects allow students to collect and analyze data under the close supervision of expert faculty. Service learning trips also expose students to new cultures while helping to strengthen communities.
Applying to Monmouth as an undergraduate students requires a high school diploma, ACT or SAT scores, and two letters of recommendation. The average incoming student boasts a high school GPA between 3.12 and 3.72, along with an SAT score between 1060 and 1210.
Saint Peter's University
|Jersey City, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
Saint Peter's University combines a Jesuit education with a strong focus on career preparation. The university collaborates with more than 600 corporate and nonprofit partners, and more than 65% of seniors participate in an internship at one of these sites. These experiences help students develop professional skills and grow their network, leading to a 94% job placement rate within one year of graduation.
The university offers 50 undergraduate programs and 13 graduate programs in areas of study such as economics, graphic arts, pharmaceutical studies, and modern and classical languages. In addition, online programs feature eight-week courses offered in largely asynchronous formats, giving students the flexibility to schedule their learning around personal and professional obligations.
Applying to a bachelor's program at Saint Peter's requires a high school diploma or GED, two letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Although you must submit results from either the ACT or SAT to apply to the university's honors program or enter a five-year accelerated program, most applicants can choose whether to submit standardized test scores.
|Union, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 49%||
Since its founding as the first public institution of higher education in New Jersey, Kean University now serves more than 16,000 undergraduate and graduate students each year. Academic programs at the university examine subjects such as architecture, elementary bilingual education, human resources management, and recreation administration. Students can also pursue more than a dozen certificates and degrees entirely online.
Kean encourages its students to adopt a global perspective. A satellite campus in China gives students the option to complete a full semester of their coursework abroad, while shorter-term study abroad trips allow students to develop foreign language skills and deeper intercultural understanding in more than 30 different countries.
As a test-optional institution, Kean does not require undergraduate applicants to submit ACT or SAT scores. However, all prospective students must hold a high school diploma or GED, and those who do not share standardized test results must submit two letters of recommendation and a personal essay.
New Jersey City University
|Jersey City, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 33%||
New Jersey City University is one of the most affordable schools in New Jersey. On top of relatively low tuition rates, the university provides extensive financial aid to students based on merit, need, and enrollment status. For example, the Top of the Class Scholarship offers up to $8,000 annually to students who graduate within the top 10% of their high school class, while the Presidential Scholarship covers the full cost of in-state tuition and fees for transfer students who earned an associate degree with at least a 3.7 GPA.
Along with technical and graduate certificates, NJCU offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in subjects such as African American studies, fire science, literacy education, and national security. Six fully online master's programs also enable students to advance through their coursework on their own schedule and at their own pace.
To apply to NJCU as a first-year student, learners need a high school diploma or GED. Undergraduate applicants must also submit ACT or SAT scores. Prospective graduate students generally need a bachelor's degree, three letters of recommendation, and a qualifying score on the GMAT or GRE.
|Lawrenceville, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 62%||
At Rider University, students can earn fully online bachelor's and master's degrees in allied health studies, business administration, nursing, and athletic leadership. Rider also offers 71 undergraduate and 28 graduate programs to students at the university's campuses in Lawrenceville and Princeton.
Rider prepares students for both a career and a rewarding life. On top of the instruction they receive in the classroom, students at the university can join academic clubs and honor societies, contribute to a variety of campus media outlets, engage in community service activities, and broaden their cultural and spiritual horizons. Each year, Rider students also complete more than 1,000 internships, practica, and cooperative education placements.
Applying to an undergraduate program at Rider requires a high school diploma, though the university's test-optional policy means students only submit ACT or SAT results if they feel their scores adequately represent their academic potential. Some scholarship programs may still require standardized test scores, however.
William Paterson University of New Jersey
|Wayne, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 55%||
Nearly 30% of students who attend William Paterson University are the first in their families to go to college. To support the unique needs of these learners, the university offers personalized academic advising, tutoring, scholarships, and counseling throughout the undergraduate experience.
Bachelor's and graduate programs at William Paterson provide high-quality instruction in subjects such as biotechnology, communication disorders, geography and urban science, and physics. Alongside fully online master's degrees in literacy and curriculum and instruction, the university hosts an online bachelor of arts in liberal studies specifically for returning learners and transfer students.
All first-year applicants must hold a high school diploma or GED. While prospective nursing students must also submit ACT or SAT scores, most undergraduate majors at William Paterson boast a test-optional admissions policy. To apply as a transfer student, applicants typically must possess at least 12 credits from another regionally accredited college or university with at least a 2.0 GPA.
|Hackettstown, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 61%||
Centenary University continually develops new programs that align with the needs of an ever-changing job market. For example, students at the university can now earn a bachelor's degree or certificate in data analytics to prepare for a variety of positions in information technology. Similarly, a new undergraduate program in sustainable practices equips graduates with the skills and knowledge integral for creating sound environmental policies and procedures. In addition, a 4+1 MBA program allows students to more quickly complete their education and take the next step in their careers.
Additional programs of study available at Centenary include animal health, costume design, social media marketing, and sports and entertainment marketing. The university's School of Professional Studies also hosts several online and self-paced programs for working professionals and nontraditional learners.
Incoming freshmen must submit high school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. While not required, Centenary also recommends that applicants write a brief personal essay and share a letter of recommendation from a teacher or guidance counselor.
Fairleigh Dickinson University-Metropolitan Campus
|Teaneck, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 39%||
In addition to programs on the university's four campus locations in New Jersey, Canada, and England, Fairleigh Dickinson University allows students to choose from 26 fully online bachelor's, master's, and certificate programs in fields such as global security and terrorism, creative writing for educators, and clinical psychopharmacology.
The university's core undergraduate curriculum also received national recognition as a model for liberal arts education. During their first and second year, students complete four foundational courses to help them develop international, intercultural, and interdisciplinary perspectives. In their final core class, students must apply their learning to an environmental issue or human rights challenge.
To apply, students need a high school diploma and satisfactory scores on the ACT or SAT. More than 94% of all incoming FDU students receive some form of financial aid. For example, need-based grants provide up to $25,000 per year to qualifying students, while merit-based scholarships range from $5,000 per year to the total cost of tuition and fees.
Georgian Court University
|Lakewood, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 48%||
Although about 30% of Georgian Court University students live on campus, the university educates thousands of students each year through evening and online programs. For example, students with prior college-level credits can complete a bachelor's in business administration or criminal justice entirely online. The university also offers distance education graduate programs in digital marketing, healthcare management, and educational administration and leadership.
Across all of its programs, GCU incorporates service and experiential learning opportunities. By their senior year, 90% of undergraduate students have participated in an internship, practicum, field experience, or co-op. Many individual classes also incorporate a service learning component.
To pursue a bachelor's at GCU, applicants need a high school diploma or GED. As part of the application process, candidates must also submit ACT or SAT scores. In addition, admissions staff encourage all prospective students to submit two letters of recommendation and a personal essay.
|Lodi, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 47%||
As the only Franciscan university in New Jersey, Felician University focuses on helping students become valuable and contributing members of society. In support of that mission, the university offers full-time, part-time, and fully online programs in areas of study such as computer science, the humanities, psychiatric rehabilitation, and religious education.
Many programs at the university aim to meet the unique needs of nontraditional learners. For example, students with previous college experience can enroll in degree completion programs in fields such as accounting, cybersecurity, and healthcare administration. These offerings feature accelerated eight-week classes available in a combination of in-person, hybrid, and online formats. Tuition for these degree completion tracks is 30% lower than for traditional undergraduate programs at Felician.
To apply as an adult undergraduate student, learners must submit both high school and college transcripts. Programs may also require letters of recommendation or professional experience. First-year applicants without college experience must take either the ACT or SAT.
College of Saint Elizabeth
|Morristown, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 41%||
Founded in 1899 by the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, the College of Saint Elizabeth follows a tradition of service, social responsibility, and gender equality. Students at the college can pursue both undergraduate and graduate degrees in subjects like education, nursing, and social work. They can also supplement their formal major through minors and concentrations in areas such as ethics, leadership, and victim services.
CSE provides several ways to reduce the overall cost of your education. For example, if your employer participates in the college's partnership program, you can receive a tuition discount ranging from 20-50%. Students can also receive credit for prior learning or work experience, reducing the number of classes they need to take to earn a degree. Finally, scholarship programs at CSE provide funds to applicants with strong academic records, graduates of Catholic high schools, the children of college alumni, and transfer students from outside of New Jersey.
Applying as an undergraduate requires a high school diploma, a personal essay, and two letters of recommendation. Prospective students can also optionally submit ACT or SAT scores and participate in an on-campus interview.
|Bloomfield, NJ||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 32%||
Bloomfield College encourages its students to "write their own stories." To help them do so, the college offers a diverse selection of undergraduate and graduate programs in fields such as business, the creative arts, mathematics, and the behavioral sciences. Tuition at Bloomfield is also lower than at any other private four-year institution in New Jersey.
More than half of the student body at Bloomfield are the first in their families to attend college. A first-year engagement program specifically serves the parents of these students, offering guidance on the enrollment and financial aid processes and helping parents with conversation topics such as academic responsibility and risky behaviors. The college's graduation rate reflects the value of these engagement efforts. For example, 94% of nursing students at Bloomfield earn their degree and pass their state's licensure exam.
Freshman applicants must submit high school transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, two letters of recommendation, and a personal essay. Adult and transfer students do not need to take a standardized test, but they must instead arrange an interview with an admissions officer.