As one of the largest and most populous states in the U.S., Texas is home to many colleges and universities, including several of the country's largest schools. From public research powerhouses like Texas A&M and UT Austin to small, private colleges like Rice and Trinity, Texas offers a selection of education options as vast as the state itself. Choosing from so many options can be difficult, but this list of the top colleges in Texas can serve as a valuable starting point for your research.
The ranking below outlines 25 of the state's top colleges and universities. Each entry highlights a school's general characteristics, including its size, academic offerings, and whether an institution is public or private. You can also find information about what sets each school apart, such as particularly strong programs and unique opportunities for students.
Top 10 Colleges in Texas
- The University of Texas at Austin - Austin, TX
- Rice University - Houston, TX
- The University of Texas at Dallas - Richardson, TX
- Texas A & M University - College Station, TX
- Hallmark University - San Antonio, TX
- University of Houston - Houston, TX
- Texas Christian University - Fort Worth, TX
- Trinity University - San Antonio, TX
- Southern Methodist University - Dallas, TX
- Texas Tech University - Lubbock, TX
College graduates in Texas can look forward to plenty of job opportunities. The state boasts a strong economy with a low unemployment rate (3.4% as of October 2019) and a cost of living below the national average. Befitting its size and diversity, Texas features a highly varied economy that includes major industries related to energy, information technology, manufacturing, aerospace and aviation, and petroleum refining and chemical products.
2020 Best Accredited Colleges in Texas
The University of Texas at Austin
|Austin, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 83%||
The flagship institution of the University of Texas System and a premier public research school, the niversity of Texas at Austin is one of the largest schools in the country, enrolling more than 51,000 students annually. Often described as a "Public Ivy," UT Austin consistently ranks among the best colleges in the U.S. Many of the school's academic programs rank at the top of their fields, including business, architecture, pharmacy, library and information sciences, and social work.
UT Austin's academic status and significant research budget draw top students and faculty from around the country, and the school boasts affiliations with Nobel laureates and other prestigious award recipients. Known for its research in fields including technology, engineering, physical sciences, energy, and medicine, UT Austin hosts an array of research facilities throughout its 431-acre campus, offering many opportunities for students at all levels.
|Houston, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 91%||
ice University enrolls around 7,000 students from its campus near Houston's Museum District. Recognized for the strength of its undergraduate teaching, this private college boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of 6-to-1. Students also benefit from a residential college system that provides academic and community support. Rice boasts extremely high research activity for a school of its size, ranking as a leader in fields such as space science and nanotechnology.
Rice offers more than 50 undergraduate majors across six academic schools, including engineering, music, humanities, natural sciences, architecture, and social sciences. Students also can access opportunities for cross-departmental collaboration and research.
Though Rice is known for its undergraduate education, the school hosts graduate programs in fields such as business and engineering. Rice also offers two fully online master's programs in business administration and computer science.
The University of Texas at Dallas
|Richardson, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 69%||
A large public college based in the Dallas suburb of Richardson, the University of Texas at Dallas enrolls more than 28,000 students annually. Founded in 1961, the school has grown into a major center of research and education in north Texas, offering more than 140 academic programs at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral level. UT Dallas hosts some of the country's top programs in fields including criminology, business administration, geospatial sciences, video game design, and marketing.
Undergraduates at UT Dallas can choose from dozens of majors, including popular degrees in arts and technology, finance, electrical engineering, and computer science. All incoming first-year students are considered for an automatic scholarship awarded based on a learner's GPA. UT Dallas also ranks as one of the most affordable public colleges in Texas for undergraduates; 67% of recent seniors graduated with no student debt, compared to an average of 45% for students in Texas and 35% for students across the nation.
Texas A & M University-College Station
|College Station, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 82%||
Enrolling more than 69,000 students, Texas A&M University ranks as the largest college in Texas and one of the largest in the country. Established in 1876, the school is also the oldest institution of higher education in the state. Today, Texas A&M serves as a major center of research and education, with its main campus in College Station positioned almost in the center of the "Texas Triangle" megaregion of Houston-Dallas-Austin-San Antonio. The campus is within a two-hour drive from these four major Texas cities.
The school offers more than 400 degrees in total, including bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs in most subjects. Texas A&M serves as home to a dozen academic schools and colleges, including government and public service, education and human development, geosciences, liberal arts, and business. Ranked among the country's top public colleges, Texas A&M also offers programs in fields including business and engineering.
|San Antonio, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 53%||
A private college based in San Antonio, Hallmark University specializes in aeronautics, business, healthcare, and information technology programs, offering professionally focused education at the associate, bachelor's, and master's levels. Emphasizing flexible, affordable, and practical education, the school serves a small student body of around 800 learners, with most programs focused on high-demand career fields and specializations.
Founded in 1969 to offer aircraft maintenance education, the school maintains some of the top aviation programs in Texas. Degrees are available in airframe technology, powerplant technology, and aviation maintenance management. Students learn through hands-on experiences, with campus facilities that include actual airplane hangars where students work on aircraft.
Hallmark offers additional programs, including nursing, information systems, and business management. While the school primarily focuses on undergraduate education, students can also pursue a few graduate programs, including global management, strategic leadership, nursing education, and cybersecurity.
University of Houston
|Houston, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
Serving more than 46,000 students from its 667-acre campus in southeast Houston, the University of Houston ranks as the third-largest college in Texas. UH is home to 14 academic colleges that offer more than 280 degrees, and the school functions as a major center of research and education in Texas. The school boasts popular programs in many fields, including business, entrepreneurship, and hotel and restaurant management.
UH's size and operating budget create significant opportunities for research in many fields, including energy and natural resources, artificial intelligence, biomedical sciences, and space exploration. The school provides several programs that facilitate undergraduate research, including a two-week seminar for sophomores and juniors that introduces the fundamentals of research practices. Seniors can also apply for the Provost's Undergraduate Research Scholarship Program, which provides funding for a semester-long research project.
Texas Christian University
|Fort Worth, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 83%||
A private school in Fort Worth associated with the Disciples of Christ, Texas Christian University enrolls more than 10,000 students annually. Comprising eight academic schools and colleges, TCU also boasts a level of research activity uncommon for a Christian institution.
The school offers 115 bachelor's programs, 58 master's programs, and 36 doctoral programs, encompassing fields such as business, liberal arts, science and engineering, nursing, and health sciences. Popular majors include business and journalism.
TCU recognizes diversity and inclusion as major aspects of its academic identity, and many of the college's programs include varied cultural perspectives, such as African American and Africana studies, Middle East studies, and women and gender studies. Students can also choose from a variety of study abroad programs that develop cultural literacy, academic knowledge, and professional skills. TCU offers dozens of programs in countries across Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America.
|San Antonio, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 80%||
A small liberal arts school based in San Antonio, Trinity University serves around 2,600 students annually, focusing primarily on undergraduate education. Trinity offers more than 100 undergraduate majors and minors in the liberal arts and sciences, including classical languages, chemistry, economics, global Latinx studies, and human communication. Though known for its undergraduate offerings, Trinity also hosts a small selection of graduate degrees, including school psychology, teaching, accounting, and school leadership.
As one of the most selective private schools in Texas, Trinity offers several advantages for students. The school's small size provides individualized attention, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 9-to-1. Trinity's campus amenities include modern residence halls and strong lab and science facilities. Trinity primarily functions as a residential college, and about 74% of its students live on campus.
Southern Methodist University
|Dallas, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 81%||
Located in the Dallas suburb of University Park, Southern Methodist University is among the largest private colleges in Texas, enrolling more than 11,000 students annually. Though affiliated with the United Methodist Church, SMU offers nonsectarian education to students of all backgrounds, while encouraging a spirit of free inquiry. SMU focuses on both undergraduate and graduate education, with programs that include law, business, music, and economics. More than half of all students come from outside of Texas.
Distinguished undergraduates can apply to SMU's Hilltop Scholars Program -- an initiative that creates a student community focused on leadership, service, and academic achievement. Hilltop Scholars participate in community service activities and projects, while also receiving special mentoring. Scholars also complete select courses together, including introduction to academic discourse and an inquiry seminar. Hilltop Scholars applicants must demonstrate experience in leadership and community service.
Texas Tech University
|Lubbock, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 59%||
A major public research university based in Lubbock, Texas Tech University is among the largest schools in the state, serving a student body of more than 38,000 learners. TTU enrolls students at all levels, primarily serving undergraduates but also hosting a large selection of graduate programs. The school boasts strong programs in many areas of the arts and sciences, including petroleum engineering, consumer and human sciences, agricultural economics and business, mathematics, and industrial engineering
One of less than 100 public colleges in the country to receive the Carnegie classification of "Very High Research Activity," TTU offers research programs in areas such as epidemiology, biotechnology, space exploration, and pulsed power. The school counts many prominent government, military, and business figures among its alumni, including Space Shuttle Columbia Commander Rick Husband, former DARPA head Arati Prabhakar, and former Chairman and CEO of General Motors Edward Whitacre Jr.
|Waco, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 77%||
A Christian school affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, Baylor University was founded in 1845, making it one of the oldest sites of higher education in Texas. The school serves over 18,000 students from its campus in Waco, which is located about halfway between Austin and Dallas. Divided into 12 academic colleges and schools, Baylor hosts programs in fields including law, business, nursing, physical therapy, and healthcare management.
While Baylor maintains a strong connection to its Baptist roots, the school embraces a broadly secular education model, enrolling students of all faith backgrounds. Students can attend optional weekly chapel sessions, and the Baylor campus also hosts several spiritual life centers. This framework of Christian ethics extends to the school's education model, which encourages students to participate in volunteer and service-learning activities -- both in Waco and as part of study abroad programs.
|Longview, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 60%||
Based in Longview -- a two-hour drive east of Dallas -- LeTourneau University offers interdenominational Christian education to a student body of around 3,000 learners. LETU identifies itself as the state's Christian polytechnic university, and the school offers a variety of undergraduate programs in the areas of business, engineering, aviation and aeronautical science, and computer science. The school enrolls students of all Christian backgrounds, and campus life includes chapel services, faith-based mentoring, and global mission opportunities.
LETU boasts an especially large selection of aviation programs at the certificate, associate, and bachelor's level, including aircraft dispatch, aviation security, mission aviation, and aviation management. The school also hosts a program in remotely piloted aircraft (i.e., drones) -- one of the few of its kind in the country. LETU focuses mainly on undergraduate education, but the school also offers several graduate programs in areas including counseling, education, engineering, and strategic leadership.
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
|Edinburg, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 45%||
Serving the southernmost region of Texas, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley enrolls more than 27,000 students annually. The school maintains several campus locations, including Edinburg, Brownsville, McAllen, and South Padre Island. It offers education at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. Due to its location, UTRGV is one of the largest Hispanic-serving institutions of higher education in the country, with nearly 90% of students identifying as Hispanic and most identifying as Mexican American.
UTRGV offers 64 undergraduate programs and more than 50 graduate programs divided among 10 schools and colleges, including liberal arts, sciences, health professions, business, and engineering and computer science. UTRGV supports students of diverse backgrounds through its Office of Student Success, which helps learners transition from high school or two-year colleges. Students benefit from individual academic advising, transfer counseling, career services, and connections to other UTRGV resources.
University of North Texas
|Denton, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
A major public school based in Denton (about 40 miles north of Dallas), the University of North Texas is among the largest schools in the state, enrolling more than 39,000 students annually. Home to 14 schools and colleges, UNT hosts 105 bachelor's programs, 88 master's programs, and 37 doctoral programs. The school hosts many programs in fields such as library and information sciences, urban policy, and social work.
Nationally recognized as a top-tier research college, UNT ranks highly in terms of its research budget, innovative scholarship, and doctoral degrees awarded annually. Research at UNT encompasses many fields, from nuclear energy to biomedicine to materials science, and students can participate in ample research activities. The school's innovative focus also extends to its academic offerings. UNT frequently introduces new academic programs, such as its bachelor's track in Latino culture, economy, and policy.
Texas A & M International University
|Laredo, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 44%||
A public school based in Laredo -- about 150 miles southwest of San Antonio near the Mexican border -- Texas A&M International University serves more than 7,500 students annually. The school offers undergraduate and graduate degrees through four schools and colleges, including arts and sciences, business, education, and nursing and health sciences. Undergraduates can pursue dozens of majors, including finance, systems engineering, music performance, and criminal justice.
TAMIU's location near the Mexican border helps it support a diverse student body, and the school ranks highly among Hispanic-serving institutions in Texas. TAMIU also offers a variety of fully online degrees. The school's distance offerings mainly comprise graduate programs, including business administration, bilingual education, public administration, and criminal justice. At the undergraduate level, students can pursue an online RN-to-BSN.
The University of Texas at Arlington
|Arlington, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 50%||
A major public university in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, the University of Texas at Arlington is one of the largest schools in the state, serving more than 42,000 students. Comprising nine colleges and schools, UTA offers more than 180 academic programs, including bachelor's, master's, and doctoral tracks. The school hosts programs in many fields, including nursing, engineering, and business. UTA's School of Business ranks among the largest in the nation and offers one of the top MBA programs in the state.
Befitting its size and status, UTA offers a host of support services for students of all levels. Incoming first-year students receive dedicated advising services to help with the transition to college life, and the school groups these new students into learning communities based on their major. UTA provides comprehensive academic tutoring services for most academic subjects, and students of all levels can access professional support from the school's career center.
Texas A & M University-Central Texas
|Killeen, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 73%||
Founded in 1999, Texas A&M University - Central Texas is one of the newest universities in the state. A smaller member of the Texas A&M System, the school serves around 3,500 students annually from its campus in Killeen (located about 70 miles north of Austin). A&M-Central Texas focuses primarily on professional education for working adult students, including those in the fields of nursing, business, and counseling. Service members from nearby Foot Hood comprise nearly half the student body, and most students attend part time.
A&M-Central Texas functions as an upper-division college, enrolling students at the junior and senior levels. Undergraduate applicants must complete their lower-division credits (corresponding to an associate degree or the first two years of a bachelor's track) at another institution before transferring to A&M-Central Texas. The school also offers several graduate programs in subjects such as information systems, mathematics, marriage and family therapy, and military history.
University of Dallas
|Irving, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 68%||
A Christian college based in the Dallas suburb of Irving, the University of Dallas serves around 2,500 students annually. Though Catholic by affiliation, UD welcomes applicants of all Christian denominations, with about 25% of students identifying as non-Catholic. UD offers degrees at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels, with academics divided among four schools and colleges: liberal arts, business, ministry, and the graduate school of liberal arts. Students can choose from 30 undergraduate majors and more than 20 graduate programs.
UD boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of 11-to-1. The school's undergraduate programs emphasize a liberal arts education model, and all students complete a common core that covers key subjects including literature, politics, philosophy, science, and art. UD offers a variety of programs at the graduate level, including American studies, Catholic school leadership, information technology management, English, and pastoral ministry.
|Georgetown, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 74%||
A private liberal arts college based in Georgetown -- about 30 miles north of Austin -- Southwestern University is the oldest university in Texas, with a history that dates back to 1840. Today, the school serves a small student body of around 1,500 learners, offering undergraduate education exclusively. SU students can choose from more than 70 majors and minors, including data science, design thinking, early modern studies, feminist studies, and kinesiology. The college also offers pre-professional programs in law, medicine, engineering, and theology.
With a student-to-faculty ratio of 12-to-1 and an average class size of just 18 pupils, SU offers a highly personalized experience for students. Faculty frequently collaborate with students on research, and many undergraduates receive co-authorship and publication credits. Each year, the college holds a Creative Works Symposium, which provides a platform for students to showcase their research and other works through panels, presentations, art exhibitions, and performances.
Texas State University
|San Marcos, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 54%||
A major public school in San Marcos (located about halfway between Austin and San Antonio), Texas State University is one of the largest universities in the state, with an annual enrollment of more than 38,000 students. Home to 10 academic schools and colleges, Texas State hosts more than 200 programs of study at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. Designated as an emerging research university, Texas State also ranks as one of the country's top producers of Fulbright scholars.
Texas State students can pursue programs in most major areas of study, including business and administration, humanities and social sciences, visual and performing arts, and math and science. Texas State's main campus is also home to several significant research facilities, including the Science, Technology, and Advanced Research Park and the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State -- the largest forensic anthropology research facility in the world.
University of St Thomas
|Houston, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 57%||
Based in Houston, the Roman Catholic University of St. Thomas enrolls more than 3,000 students annually. The school serves students from over 30 U.S. states and more than 60 countries around the world, offering dozens of academic programs at the undergraduate and graduate level. While Catholicism informs UST's educational philosophy and values, the school accepts applicants of all faiths and backgrounds, with about 67% of students identifying as Catholic. About 68% of students also identify as an ethnic or racial minority.
UST features more than 35 undergraduate programs. These primarily focus on the arts and sciences, such as art history, applied mathematics, English writing, physics, and theology. The school also offers graduate programs in fields including business, nursing, education, counseling, and theology. UST students benefit from a rigorous, individually focused academic experience; the school boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of 11-to-1 and the average undergraduate course contains 17 students.
Dallas Baptist University
|Dallas, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 58%||
Affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, Dallas Baptist University offers Christian-informed education to a student body of more than 5,000 learners. DBU divides its academic programs into seven schools and colleges, with more than 130 degrees available at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. Students can pursue degrees in most academic and professional fields, including business, math and science, education, humanities and social sciences, and professional studies.
While DBU's undergraduate curriculum centers on the liberal arts, the school also integrates Christian faith into all courses, exploring the intersection of religion and academics. Given this strong religious focus, nearly all students identify as Christian, and many identify as Baptist. All first-year learners must perform at least six hours of community service per month, and the school encourages individuals to complete service-learning activities and study abroad programs.
University of Houston-Clear Lake
|Houston, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 21%||
Serving around 9,000 students annually, the University of Houston-Clear Lake operates a main campus in Pasadena (part of the Houston metro area), along with branch campuses in Pearland and at the Houston Medical Center. UHCL offers nearly 100 academic programs, including undergraduate and graduate tracks. Founded as an upper-division college, UHCL began offering first- and second-year courses in 2014, and the school's 524-acre campus continues to grow rapidly.
UHCL offers generous support services for students, including advising, tutoring, counseling, and career coaching. While the college's Pasadena campus houses most of its support services and resources, students with more than 54 credits can access advising services at the Pearland and Medical Center campuses, which primarily offer advanced courses and programs. All students can use the school's live online tutoring services, which are available in math, writing, and several other subjects.
Texas A & M University-Commerce
|Commerce, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 42%||
Located on the edge of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex (about 65 miles northeast Dallas), Texas A&M University-Commerce also operates satellite campuses in downtown Dallas and the suburb of Mesquite. The school enrolls around 10,000 students annually, offering more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs. Home to five academic schools and colleges, TAMUC may be best known for its education programs -- particularly its doctoral track in education, which ranks as one of the top programs in Texas.
TAMUC features many experiential education opportunities, which draw explicit connections between classroom learning and professional practice. Students in all fields can participate in various internships, fieldwork, and research activities; the education program, for example, provides student teaching opportunities through relationships with many school districts in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. TAMUC students can also participate in study abroad programs in countries such as Peru, China, England, and Russia.
The University of Texas at Tyler
|Tyler, TX||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 42%||
Founded in 1971, the University of Texas at Tyler is one of the newest members of the University of Texas System. Based in the east Texas city of Tyler (about 100 miles east of Dallas), the university enrolls about 10,000 students annually, offering more than 90 degrees at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. UT Tyler is home to eight academic schools and colleges, including arts and sciences, education and psychology, nursing and health sciences, business, and pharmacy. The university also hosts a wide variety of online education programs.
UT Tyler emphasizes leadership skills and community service, which are supported through the school's Office of Leadership and Service. Undergraduates can apply to serve as Leadership and Service Ambassadors; these individuals organize student events and participate in other mentorship and leadership development activities. UT Tyler also hosts the annual RISE Leadership Conference, which brings like-minded students together to collaborate on community leadership initiatives.