2022 Top Public Colleges and Universities in New Jersey

Public colleges and universities are often the most affordable option for students pursuing higher education, but it's not just affordability that makes these institutions attractive. Public institutions also rank highly among the best colleges and universities in many states, New Jersey included.

Public colleges and universities receive state and federal funding. Although they generally have larger class sizes than private institutions, they also tend to offer a wide variety of academic programs, diverse student bodies, and prestigious research opportunities.

2022 Best Public Colleges and Universities in New Jersey

  1. #1

    Thomas Edison State University

    Trenton, NJ

    Graduation Rate

    Not Provided

    Enrollment

    10,227

    Format

    Online

    A public institution located in Trenton, New Jersey, Thomas Edison State University grants degrees through multiple programs. Enrollees earn an accredited degree that prepares them for the workforce. Learners benefit from academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. Multiple programs at the school appear in national rankings. Data on the school's average cost per credit is currently unavailable. Degree-seekers at the accredited school may qualify for federal financial aid, including the Pell Grant. Degree-seekers choose from academic and technical programs at the school. Based on their major, students take essential courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. Thomas Edison State University has received accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, an independent accrediting body.

  2. #2

    Union County Vocational Technical School

    Scotch Plains, NJ

    Graduation Rate

    95%

    Enrollment

    105

    Format

    In person

    One of the top schools in New Jersey, Union County Vocational Technical School is a public institution. Learners seeking an accelerated course of study can choose from 4 certificate programs at the school. Students study core topics and get specialized training. After earning their certificate, graduates can pursue careers or still further studies. Graduates seek opportunities in related fields after finishing a certificate. The school awards financial aid to 28% of students. As an accredited school, learners qualify for federal financial aid. Applicants can contact the school's admissions department for more information on the application process. The institution holds regional accreditation from Middle States Commission on Secondary Education.

  3. #3

    Rutgers University-New Brunswick

    New Brunswick, NJ

    Graduation Rate

    84%

    Enrollment

    50,173

    Format

    Online, In person

    From its campus in New Jersey, Rutgers University-New Brunswick enrolls students in 374 programs. Degree-seekers enroll in top-ranked programs that offer a rigorous course of study. According to the school, the student-to-faculty ratio stands at 16-to-1. The institution reports that 71% of undergraduates receive some form of financial aid. Students earn their bachelor's degree from the school at a rate of 84%. Hands-on experience helps graduates stand out on the job market. For instance, Rutgers University-New Brunswick may offer internships, service-learning, and research opportunities. The admission rate is 61% for new students. Some programs let applicants apply without submitting test scores.

  4. #4

    Morris County Vocational School District

    Denville, NJ

    Graduation Rate

    96%

    Enrollment

    42

    Format

    In person

    Morris County Vocational School District hosts 3 certificate programs, making the school a top choice for professional training in New Jersey. Students complete a rigorous curriculum and develop theoretical and practical knowledge. Students prepare to enter the workforce or advance professionally. The school's experiential learning opportunities help enrollees apply their knowledge in the real world. The institution holds accreditation, demonstrating the quality of its academic programs. The institution's average cost per credit is unknown. As an accredited postsecondary institution, learners who enroll qualify for federal financial aid. Students can learn about program requirements through the school's website. The institution holds regional accreditation from Middle States Commission on Secondary Education.

  5. #5

    The College of New Jersey

    Ewing, NJ

    Graduation Rate

    86%

    Enrollment

    7,821

    Format

    In person

    The College of New Jersey, which operates a campus in Ewing, New Jersey, often ranks as a top school. Degree-seekers take courses with experts in diverse disciplines. The school offers academic and technical tracks to help students meet a variety of professional goals. Depending on the program, students can spend anywhere from a few months up to as many as seven years earning their degree or certificate. Applicants may qualify for a standardized test score waiver. Flexible admission score requirements make it easier to enroll. The admissions department provides additional resources on applying to the school. Financial aid helps degree-seekers pay for their education. The College of New Jersey has received accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  6. #6

    Montclair State University

    Montclair, NJ

    Graduation Rate

    67%

    Enrollment

    21,007

    Format

    Online, In person

    Located in Montclair, New Jersey, Montclair State University grants degrees as a public institution. With both academic and technical programs, the school helps students reach their educational goals. During a bachelor's degree, enrollees take lower-division and upper-division coursework. Bachelor's programs also incorporate general education coursework. Upper-division classes emphasize advanced concepts within the major. Learners benefit from support services like tutoring and career counseling. Data on the school's average cost per credit is currently unavailable. Learners at the accredited institution qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. Montclair State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  7. #7

    Ramapo College of New Jersey

    Mahwah, NJ

    Graduation Rate

    72%

    Enrollment

    6,142

    Format

    In person

    Ramapo College of New Jersey, located in Mahwah, New Jersey, operates as a public institution. Enrollees study with experts in many different fields. The school offers academic and technical programs for students planning to enter the workforce or pursue further studies. The cost per credit is unknown. Enrollees at the accredited institution qualify for federal student aid programs, including the Pell Grant. At the institution, 89% of students receive aid and 56% receive loans. Learners graduate from the school at a rate of 72%. Hopeful learners can expect admission rates of 66%. The admission department can provide more information about application requirements and start dates. Ramapo College of New Jersey has received accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, an independent accrediting body.

  8. #8

    New Jersey Institute of Technology

    Newark, NJ

    Graduation Rate

    67%

    Enrollment

    11,518

    Format

    Online, In person

    From its campus in Newark, New Jersey, New Jersey Institute of Technology educates college students as a public institution. With both academic and technical programs, the school helps students reach their educational goals. During a bachelor's degree, undergraduates take lower-division and upper-division coursework. Enrollees also complete general education credits. Upper-division requirements emphasize advanced concepts in the major. Learners benefit from support services, which include tutoring and career counseling. The institution's cost per credit is unknown. Learners at the accredited institution qualify for federal financial aid programs such as the Pell Grant. New Jersey Institute of Technology has been accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  9. #9

    Middlesex County College

    Edison, NJ

    Graduation Rate

    23%

    Enrollment

    11,142

    Format

    In person

    A public institution located in Edison, New Jersey, Middlesex County College enrolls students in several programs. Students can earn a degree or certificate that prepares them for the workforce. The institution offers affordable programs that do not sacrifice academic rigor. The school offers nationally ranked programs in diverse fields. Information on the school's cost per credit is unavailable. Degree-seekers attending the accredited institution may qualify for federal financial aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. Students receive $5797 in aid on average, lowering the average tuition cost after aid to $6207. Degree-seekers choose from academic and technical programs at the institution. Based on their major, students take foundational courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. The school holds accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  10. #10

    Ocean County College

    Toms River, NJ

    Graduation Rate

    38%

    Enrollment

    8,171

    Format

    Online, In person

    A public institution located in Toms River, New Jersey, Ocean County College educates students through multiple programs. The school's programs help graduates launch or advance professional careers. Learners enroll in academically rigorous programs at an affordable price. Many of the school's programs appear in national rankings. The amount students pay per credit is currently unknown. Degree-seekers attending the accredited institution may qualify for federal financial aid programs, such as the Pell Grant. Current students receive an average aid award of $5503, lowering the average tuition cost after aid to $11687. Degree-seekers choose from academic and technical programs at the institution. Based on their major, students take essential courses, technical classes, and general education requirements. Ocean County College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, an independent accrediting body.

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Why Choose a Public College or University in New Jersey?

There are 32 public colleges and universities in New Jersey, including large well-known institutions like Rutgers University. Big or small public schools and research institutions enroll thousands of undergraduate students each academic year. Some of the best public schools in New Jersey are in Newark and New Brunswick.

Additionally, New Jersey boasts world-renowned private schools, such as Princeton University. Private versus public colleges have key differences to keep in mind. For one, public four-year colleges and universities receive government funding and subsidies.

Private colleges and universities rely on donations, endowments, and student tuition fees to fund academic programs.

The best public schools in New Jersey offer a variety of majors and provide state-of-the-art student facilities. Private colleges typically feature smaller class sizes, so students may get more time with professors.

Ultimately, students must determine how to choose a college by using criteria that suit their budget and learning styles.

Pros and Cons of Attending a Public University in New Jersey

Pros

Public colleges and universities in New Jersey provide many varied degree options and often have exceptional research facilities.Students can apply for federal financial aid to get help covering tuition, fees, and other costs.A diverse student body often means more opportunities for minority and nontraditional students.Public four-year colleges usually cost less than private colleges.

Cons

Large campuses and class sizes mean professors and other administrators may be less accessible.Students must be self-motivated and possess excellent time management skills.Some students may get lost in the crowd unless they're motivated to join clubs and organizations.Popular classes can be harder to get into because of the number of students.

Nonprofit vs. For-Profit Colleges and Universities in New Jersey

While public colleges and universities are nonprofit, private colleges and universities can be nonprofit or for-profit institutions. Nonprofit colleges and universities are traditional colleges that put profits back into college operations. Conversely, for-profit colleges pay their investors with the money they generate.

For-profit colleges typically cost more, and degrees from these schools can get a bad rap compared to degrees from public four-year colleges. However, for-profit colleges usually charge lower tuition than private nonprofit colleges. For-profit colleges also tend to have higher acceptance rates.

New Jersey has 13 for-profit colleges. Students can check the college's website, call admissions, or use the College Navigator tool to determine a university's nonprofit status.

How Much Does It Cost to Attend a Public University in New Jersey?

Learners should also consider in-state versus out-of-state tuition. The average cost of room and board at public four-year colleges in New Jersey was $14,012 in 2019-2020.

However, tuition varied dramatically for state residents and out-of-state students. The average cost for in-state tuition at public four-year colleges in 2019-2020 was $14,360. Out-of-state students paid an average of $29,435.

In 2021-2022, the most expensive public institution in New Jersey was the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), with an in-state tuition of $18,016. The out-of-state tuition was $34,034. Still, a public college or university costs less, on average, to attend than private colleges and universities in New Jersey.

There are also common misconceptions about how much money students actually pay out of pocket. Some private colleges may offer more grants and scholarships than public institutions, making those private schools more affordable.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Public Colleges and Universities in New Jersey

How many public colleges and universities are there in New Jersey?

There are 32 public institutions in New Jersey. Some of the best public schools in New Jersey are also influential public research institutions. For example, NJIT boasts over 100 programs in several specialized schools that enrolled over 11,600 students in fall 2020. New Jersey also has big and small public schools that focus on business, the arts, technology, and nursing.

What is the most expensive public college or university in New Jersey?

The most expensive public colleges and universities in New Jersey vary depending on whether you're an in-state or out-of-state student. For example, NJIT was the most expensive school, with an in-state tuition of $18,016 in 2021-2022. By contrast, out-of-state students paid nearly double what state residents paid for tuition.

Public four-year colleges offer learners rigorous academic programs, such as nursing, engineering, and information technology. Graduating from world-renowned schools like NJIT may make professionals more competitive job candidates. Tech careers are among the highest paying jobs today, so NJIT's higher tuition may be worth it.

What is the least expensive public college or university in New Jersey?

The least expensive public college or university in New Jersey is Thomas Edison State College in

Trenton. In-state tuition was $7,182 in 2021-2022. By comparison, out-of-state students paid $9,342 in 2021-2022. But other costs like room and board, books and supplies, and technology fees can add up.

The cost of public colleges and universities in New Jersey is only one factor to consider when choosing between colleges. Learners should also weigh academic programs, student services, graduation rates, and financial aid.

What is the biggest public college or university in New Jersey?

Rutgers University-New Brunswick is the biggest public institution in New Jersey. The school had an enrollment of 50,411 in fall 2020. Of the enrolled students, 35,844 were undergraduates, 2,414 were undergraduate transfer students, and 14,567 were graduate-level students. Montclair State University follows Rutgers, with a significantly smaller student body of 21,005 students.

Private schools typically feature smaller student bodies than public institutions in New Jersey. However, New Jersey City University had an enrollment of 7,550 in fall 2020. Students can find big or small public schools that fit their budget and offer a program that suits them.

Is a public college or university right for me?

A public college or university might be right for you if you're self-motivated, enjoy getting involved with extracurricular activities, and value diversity. Although, it could be harder to get into more popular courses at a public college. Private schools tend to have smaller student bodies, making it easier to get into classes.

Graduates from public colleges and universities in New Jersey may have less debt than students at private colleges. State residents pay less expensive tuition than out-of-state learners. Students attending public four-year colleges can also qualify for federal financial aid. However, private colleges offer scholarships that can reduce the cost of college as well.