Best Colleges in Florida

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Updated on May 23, 2023
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A college education often leads to better pay and more job opportunities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average bachelor's degree-holder earns $64,900 annually, while individuals with only a high school diploma earn about $38,800 each year. The Florida Department of Education reports similar trends, further noting that the higher a professional's education level, the more likely they are to maintain gainful employment.

This guide highlights the 10 best colleges in Florida, and it can help you find a fulfilling career in the Sunshine State. We rank these schools based on factors like affordability, number of degree offerings, and student outcomes.

What Are the Best Colleges in Florida? Here Are Our Top 10:

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#1 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
#2 Florida State University Tallahassee, FL
#3 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
#4 University of Miami Coral Gables, FL
#5 University of South Florida-Main Campus Tampa, FL
#6 Carlos Albizu University-Miami Miami, FL
#7 Florida International University Miami, FL
#8 University of North Florida Jacksonville, FL
#9 Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, FL
#10 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Daytona Beach Daytona Beach, FL

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

How We Rank Schools

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At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you will make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

Why Study in Florida?

Home to 825 miles of beaches and some of the best college athletic programs and research universities in the United States, Florida is a great place to play, learn, and grow.

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Home to 825 miles of beaches and some of the best college athletic programs and research universities in the United States, Florida is a great place to play, learn, and grow.

The University of Florida — the state's flagship public higher education institution — maintains over 200 research centers and delivers more than 300 academic programs across 16 colleges. These degree options include popular online tracks in health education, urban and regional planning, and international business.

Students who want a more specialized education can attend a private institution like Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, which offers degrees like aerospace engineering, space physics, and meteorology.

Additionally, it's hard to talk about the best colleges in Florida without mentioning football. The University of Miami Hurricanes and the University of Florida Gators are two of the best NCAA teams, collectively winning eight national championships and drawing capacity crowds at every home game.

Lastly, Florida boasts a robust economy due in large part to its worldwide reputation as a vacation hotspot. With ports facing both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, the state is also a hub for international commerce.

Top Degree Programs in Florida

Florida Employment Outlook

As of December 2020, Florida's unemployment was 6.1%, which was slightly lower than the national rate of 6.7%. Additionally, the BLS reports that the annual mean wage in Florida is $47,750. However, earning potential greatly varies based on individual qualifications.

Students who want to prioritize employability in Florida should consider a career in one of the state's top industries, which include manufacturing, healthcare, IT (particularly video game and mobile application development), and private and homeland security. Aerospace technology is another huge industry in Florida, which houses two of the nine active U.S. spaceports and approximately 2,000 aviation and flight-related companies.

Popular Career Paths in Florida

Best Accredited Colleges in Florida

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Best Colleges in Florida

  1. University of Florida

    Gainesville, FL



    Located in Gainesville, UF originally bore the name Gainesville Academy when it was founded in 1858. In addition to many academic offerings, the school is also a research powerhouse — faculty at UF spend nearly $1 billion conducting research projects each year.

    The university's 16 colleges oversee more than 100 undergraduate degree programs and 200 graduate degree programs. UF also offers more than 200 fully online degree and certificate pathways, making it one of the most accessible and best colleges in Florida. Notable undergraduate majors include African languages, entomology and nematology, and nuclear engineering.

    First-year applicants must answer short questions and submit transcripts, SAT or ACT scores, and an essay. Graduate admission requirements vary by program.

  2. Florida State University

    Tallahassee, FL



    Based in Tallahassee, FSU opened in 1851. The university currently teaches over 41,000 students annually across its three campuses and through online programs.

    One of the top colleges in Florida, FSU consists of 18 schools and colleges, including the College of Motion Picture Arts, the Dedman College of Hospitality, and the Jim Moran College of Entrepreneurship. Notable undergraduate majors include computational biology, Chinese language and culture, meteorology, and oceanography.

    Tuition varies across each of FSU's campuses. Some degree programs or colleges also have different tuition rates. In general, the main campus charges $216 per credit for in-state undergraduates and $721 per credit for out-of-state undergraduates. First-year applicants must submit transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, an essay, and a resume/list of activities.

  3. University of Central Florida

    Orlando, FL



    Operating out of Orlando and founded in 1963, UCF reports that almost 20% of its undergraduates are first-generation students. The institution awards more than 17,000 degrees each year.

    UCF offers more than 230 degree options, including 100 programs that can be completed entirely online. Notable degrees include a bachelor of fine arts in emerging media, a bachelor of science in photonic science and engineering, a master of science in real estate, and a doctor of philosophy in hospitality management.

    First-year applicants must submit transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. UCF also strongly recommends that aspiring students submit an essay.

  4. University of Miami

    Coral Gables, FL

    A private institution located in Coral Gables, UM teaches more than 17,000 students each year and boasts more than $300 million in annual research expenditures. Interested students looking to get involved on campus can choose from more than 40 services organizations, as well as almost 300 different clubs.

    UM offers more than 180 degree programs across 11 colleges and schools, including the Frost School of Music, the Miller School of Medicine, and the Miami Herbert Business School. UM also offers nine fully online graduate programs.

    First-year applicants must submit a short essay, a personal statement, two letters of recommendation, and transcripts. Some programs require supplemental application materials.

  5. University of South Florida-Main Campus

    Tampa, FL



    A public institution located in Tampa, USF opened its doors in 1956. Despite teaching more than 48,000 learners annually, the average class size at USF is about 30 students.

    USF offers roughly 180 degree programs across 14 colleges, including the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences, the Patel College of Global Sustainability, and the College of Marine Science. Notable undergraduate degree programs include a bachelor of science in industrial engineering; a bachelor of arts in language, speech, and hearing science; and a doctorate in cancer chemical biology.

    First-year applicants must submit transcripts and ACT or SAT scores. Requirements for graduate programs vary widely.

  6. Carlos Albizu University-Miami

    Miami, FL

    A private institution located in Miami, AU traces its roots to the 1966 opening of the Puerto Rico Institute of Psychology. The university also hosts a virtual campus, as well as campuses in Mayaguez and San Juan in Puerto Rico.

    AU's academic programs fall under five categories: psychology, education, speech and language, criminal justice, and human services. Notable degree offerings include a master of science in counseling psychology, a doctor of philosophy in human services, and a bachelor of arts in exceptional student education with a minor in autism spectrum disorder.

    Admission requirements vary by program. However, applicants should expect to submit transcripts and a letter of recommendation, at minimum.

  7. Florida International University

    Miami, FL



    Miami's only public research university, FIU teaches around 54,000 students each year across 11 schools and colleges. The university also carries out impactful research and community outreach through its more than 40 centers and institutes, including the Center for the Administration of Justice and the High Performance Database Research Center.

    FIU offers over 270 degrees, including 130 that are available as fully online programs. Notable undergraduate degrees include a bachelor of science in crime science, a bachelor of science in exceptional student education, a bachelor of arts in global sustainable tourism, and a bachelor of science in the Internet of Things.

    First-year applicants must submit transcripts and ACT or SAT scores.

  8. University of North Florida

    Jacksonville, FL



    Located in Jacksonville, UNF teaches over 17,000 students each year, most of whom take classes through the College of Arts and Sciences.

    UNF consists of six colleges, including the Brooks College of Health; the Coggin College of Business; and the College of Computing, Engineering, and Construction. UNF also operates an online campus that hosts several undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including a bachelor of science in sports management - marketing and a master of science in ASL/English general practice.

    Undergraduate tuition starts at $105 per credit, while graduate tuition starts at $275 per credit. A student's program, enrollment status, and residency status can influence the cost of tuition. First-year applicants must submit transcripts and ACT or SAT scores.

  9. Florida Atlantic University

    Boca Raton, FL



    A public institution located in Boca Raton, FAU opened in 1964 and currently teaches over 30,000 students each year.

    FAU offers more than 170 degree programs across 10 schools and colleges, including the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, the College of Social Work and Criminal Justice, and the College of Business. Notable degree programs include a bachelor of science in geomatics engineering, a bachelor of arts in British history, and a bachelor of science in ocean engineering.

    Undergraduate tuition starts at $105 per credit, and graduate tuition starts at $304 per credit. Tuition rates vary depending on a student's enrollment status and state of residency. First-year applicants must submit transcripts and ACT or SAT scores.

  10. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Daytona Beach

    Daytona Beach, FL

    A private school located in Daytona Beach, Embry-Riddle has conferred more than 137,000 degrees since it was founded in 1925.

    Embry-Riddle offers about 130 undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificates, and students can earn about 70 degrees or certificates online. Notable areas of study include aeronautics, aerospace physiology, and air traffic management.

    Undergraduate tuition costs $447 per credit for civilians and $250 per credit for members of the military. Most master's programs cost $743 per credit, while doctoral programs typically cost $1,500 per credit. First-year applicants must submit transcripts. Embry-Riddle strongly recommends that applicants submit ACT or SAT scores, as well. Some programs may require supplemental application materials.