Best Colleges in Texas + Complete List of Schools

Low cost of living? Check. Preparation for high-paying jobs? Check. The best colleges in Texas meet these requirements and more.
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Updated on November 2, 2023
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  • As a large state, Texas offers many in-person and online schools.
  • Despite an overall low cost of living, the cost of college in Texas can vary significantly depending on whether you choose a private or public school.
  • There are many scholarships for college students in Texas available.

There are hundreds of colleges to choose from in Texas — which makes sense considering it's the second largest state in the United States.

But the number of colleges in Texas isn't its only appeal. For many students, the lower-than-average cost of living makes attending college in Texas a no-brainer. But don't worry. Even if you can't attend college there in person, you can choose from a large number of online schools in Texas, too.

Keep reading to see how the best colleges in Texas stack up to meet your needs, and decide for yourself whether studying in the Lone Star State is right for you.

Featured Online Programs

10 Best Schools in Texas of 2023

Methodology

Texas has dozens of public colleges and even more private institutions. So what makes the following colleges stand out as the best in the state?

Our list factors in academic quality, institutional reputation, affordability, and the student experience. We also considered online learning opportunities. All of the schools on our list are accredited four-year colleges or universities.

We use datasets from sources like the National Center for Education Statistics to inform the data for these schools. BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site. from our partners appear among these rankings and are indicated as such. All data is current as of the date this article was published. Program-specific information may vary.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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#1 Best Colleges in Texas + Complete List of Schools Best Value

The University of Texas at Austin

  • Austin, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The University of Texas at Austin is Texas' flagship public university. With 52,000 students and a bustling campus in downtown Austin, UT Austin is a great place to earn a degree. You can choose from over 170 undergrad fields of study or pick from 100 graduate programs.

On top of its academic reputation, UT Austin also brings college students to a city filled with dozens of museums, libraries, and cultural venues. While tuition rates vary depending on your program and state of residency, in-state undergrads can typically expect to pay less than $13,000 per year in tuition. Apply to UT Austin with the Common App or ApplyTexas application.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$11,448
Out-of-state
$40,032
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$12,028
Out-of-state
$22,886
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: High

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
High
Retention Rate
97%
Acceptance Rate
32%
Students Enrolled
50,476
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#2 Best Colleges in Texas + Complete List of Schools

Rice University

  • Houston, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Rice University — one of the state's top private research universities — brings innovative research to Texas' largest city. Plus, it has a reputation for high-quality undergraduate education.

Thanks to a low student-to-faculty ratio and a unique residential college system, you'll find a tight-knit community at Rice. Undergrads join one of 11 residential colleges when they come to Rice. The system creates strong bonds between students throughout their time at the university.

Rice reports an annual tuition rate of around $57,000, with the average first-year aid package slightly exceeding tuition. Thanks to Rice's online programs, you can also earn a master's in computer science, data science, engineering management, or business administration without visiting campus.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$50,310
Out-of-state
$50,310
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$47,306
Out-of-state
$47,306
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: Medium

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
Medium
Retention Rate
97%
Acceptance Rate
11%
Students Enrolled
7,643
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
93% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#3 Best Colleges in Texas + Complete List of Schools Best Value

Texas A&M University

  • College Station, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

At over 5,000 acres, the main campus at Texas A&M University is more than enough space for its nearly 75,000 students. In fact, it's the biggest college in Texas by enrollment and campus size. 

College Station's public university dates back to 1876. Today, Texas A&M has a reputation for affordability, quality, and athletic dominance. You can choose from over 140 undergraduate majors and more than 270 graduate programs. Tuition and fees for in-state learners are around $11,550 per year, and over 70% of Aggies receive some form of financial aid.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$8,395
Out-of-state
$36,849
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$6,775
Out-of-state
$19,048
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: High

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
High
Retention Rate
94%
Acceptance Rate
63%
Students Enrolled
70,418
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
33% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#4 Best Colleges in Texas + Complete List of Schools

Southern Methodist University

  • Dallas, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Study abroad or learn in Dallas as a Southern Methodist University student. This private Texas college enrolls over 12,000 students from around the world. You can gain research experience, develop leadership skills, and give back to your community while earning your degree. 

Nestled on 234 acres a few miles from downtown Dallas, SMU's campus offers a close-knit community in a major city. 

Choose from eight schools dedicated to the humanities, sciences, business, engineering, and more. While tuition and fees are nearly $62,000 per year, around three in four students receive scholarships and financial aid. A similar percentage graduate with no student debt. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$51,958
Out-of-state
$51,958
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$40,896
Out-of-state
$40,896
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: Medium

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
Medium
Retention Rate
90%
Acceptance Rate
53%
Students Enrolled
12,373
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
31% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#5 Best Colleges in Texas + Complete List of Schools

Trinity University

  • San Antonio, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Trinity University operates as one of Texas' top-ranked liberal arts schools, welcoming 2,500 students to its campus in San Antonio. The university prioritizes the student experience, boasting an inclusive environment that inspires curiosity and thoughtfulness. The private university's core curriculum emphasizes interdisciplinary thinking and discovery. 

On a campus filled with oak trees, fountains, and red brick buildings, you can choose from nearly 60 majors. Trinity charges around $51,000 per year in tuition and fees. Scholarships and financial aid help many students cover their educational costs. Over half of Trinity students graduate with no debt.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$45,840
Out-of-state
$45,840
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$23,597
Out-of-state
$23,597
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: Medium

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
Medium
Retention Rate
89%
Acceptance Rate
34%
Students Enrolled
2,677
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
94% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#6 Best Colleges in Texas + Complete List of Schools

Texas Christian University

  • Fort Worth, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Are you considering private Texas colleges? Texas Christian University ranks as one of the best in the state. From its Fort Worth campus, this Christian college offers over 110 undergraduate areas of study and nearly 100 graduate programs. TCU also boasts a tree-lined campus and a unique mascot: the horned frog.

Within six months of graduation, 93% of alumni are either employed or in grad school. 

You can apply to TCU through a test-optional admission process where the university uses transcripts, an essay, and counselor and teacher evaluations to admit first-year students. Many students qualify for financial aid to help cover the $57,000 per year tuition rate.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$51,570
Out-of-state
$51,570
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$32,220
Out-of-state
$32,220
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: Medium

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
Medium
Retention Rate
92%
Acceptance Rate
48%
Students Enrolled
11,379
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
95% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#7 Best Colleges in Texas + Complete List of Schools Best Value

Texas Tech University

  • Lubbock, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

More than 40,000 students enroll at Lubbock's public research university, choosing Texas Tech University for its academic excellence and affordability. Plus, the campus's Spanish Renaissance architecture makes Texas Tech stand out.

In its 150 undergraduate offerings and 100 master's programs, Texas Tech encourages both intellectual and personal development. Texas residents can expect to pay under $12,000 per year for undergrad tuition, while graduate tuition is around $9,500. 

First-generation students, students of color, and students from other historically underrepresented groups can receive targeted support through school programs and services. Additionally, Texas Tech is a federally recognized Hispanic-serving institution.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$8,683
Out-of-state
$20,953
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$6,788
Out-of-state
$14,968
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: High

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
High
Retention Rate
87%
Acceptance Rate
70%
Students Enrolled
40,322
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
54% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#8 Best Colleges in Texas + Complete List of Schools

Sam Houston State University

  • Huntsville, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Ready to put your commitment to service into practice? Sam Houston State University operates with the motto, "The Measure of a Life Is Its Service." At this public university in Huntsville, you can join over 21,000 students committed to global awareness and community engagement. 

Want to earn your degree online? The online bachelor's programs at SHSU include majors like business, criminal justice, health science, nursing, communication, and psychology. Or choose from over 170 fields of study offered on the university's three campuses. 

And there's good news if cost is a top priority. SHSU's affordable undergraduate tuition rate of $244 per credit applies to Texas residents and out-of-state students taking classes online.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$5,856
Out-of-state
$15,672
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$5,765
Out-of-state
$13,127
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: Medium

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
Medium
Retention Rate
79%
Acceptance Rate
92%
Students Enrolled
21,912
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
60% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#9 Best Colleges in Texas + Complete List of Schools

Southwestern University

  • Georgetown, TX
  • 4 years
  • Campus

If a small-town, liberal arts college with easy access to Austin's big-city culture sounds appealing, then Southwestern University might be a good fit. Located in Georgetown, the private college boasts a scenic campus located only 30 miles north of downtown Austin. 

At Southwestern, you can develop your intellectual curiosity and originality while taking interdisciplinary courses. And you'll be joining a small learning community of about 1,500 students. 

The application process focuses on a holistic review that does not require ACT or SAT scores. You can expect to spend around $50,000 per year in tuition and fees, with opportunities for financial aid.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$45,120
Out-of-state
$45,120
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: Low

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
Low
Retention Rate
86%
Acceptance Rate
49%
Students Enrolled
1,506
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
#10 Best Colleges in Texas + Complete List of Schools Best Value

University of Houston

  • Houston, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Still trying to figure out your major? The University of Houston hosts over 275 degree-granting programs. You can join more than 46,000 students attending UH on campus or enroll in one of the school's many online programs. With over 1,250 online courses offered each year, along with more than 50 online graduate programs, you can attend a top-ranked Texas college even if you live in another state.

UH ranks as the largest college in Texas' most-populous city. The public institution is also one of the most diverse major research universities in the country. One in three students identify as Hispanic, and international students make up nearly 10% of the student body. 

How much does it cost to attend UH? With the school's fixed tuition rate plan, several of the university's colleges charge less than $6,000 per term.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$8,449
Out-of-state
$20,665
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$8,539
Out-of-state
$17,681
ROI Score

ROI Value Score: High

We’ve reviewed hundreds of schools to find the ones that give you the best bang for your buck.

We compared how much you could earn in 10 years with a degree from this school versus only having a high school diploma. Then we compared that amount against school costs and financial aid opportunities. A higher return for your investment results in a higher score for this school.

Our Methodology
High
Retention Rate
86%
Acceptance Rate
63%
Students Enrolled
47,090
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
96% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

List of All Colleges in Texas

We've created a complete list of all four-year nonprofit universities in Texas. You can use the table below to compare data on student population, average net cost, acceptance rate, and number of applicants.

The following school data comes from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Schools with fewer than 500 undergrads were excluded from this list.

All Colleges in Texas
School Total Student Enrollment Average Annual Net Price Acceptance Rate Number of Applicants
Abilene Christian University 4,912 $28,978 66% 11,226
Angelo State University 10,826 $12,838 79% 4,209
Austin College 1,228 $24,739 54% 5,192
Baylor University 20,626 $45,988 46% 40,753
Concordia University Texas 2,137 $24,761 86% 1,886
Dallas Baptist University 4,340 $27,607 91% 8,519
East Texas Baptist University 10,395 $24,169 68% 1,449
Hallmark University 923 $12,281 53% 329
Hardin-Simmons University 1,937 $22,636 88% 2,314
Houston Baptist University 4,120 $19,515 84% 10,258
Howard Payne University 931 $23,603 59% 1,333
Huston-Tillotson University 1,001 $21,069 52% 1,885
Jarvis Christian University 721 $7,365 100% N/A
Lamar University 16,320 $11,757 84% 6,214
LeTourneau University 3,209 $26,974 49% 3,000
Lubbock Christian University 1,661 $23,551 82% 1,070
McMurry University 1,145 $18,757 57% 2,345
Midwestern State University 5,797 $11,361 92% 5,507
Our Lady of the Lake University 2,550 $19,100 100% N/A
Paul Quinn College 384 $7,306 87% 1,117
Prairie View A&M University 9,400 $12,875 76% 5,691
Rice University 8,285 $19,902 9% 31,443
Sam Houston State University 21,612 $13,632 85% 16,316
Schreiner University 1,103 $24,278 85% 2,202
Southern Methodist University 12,385 $45,094 52% 16,150
Southwestern Adventist University 852 $20,028 54% 1,438
Southwestern Assemblies of God University 1,843 $19,217 86% 627
Southwestern University 1,504 $31,014 45% 5,557
St. Edward's University 3,577 $24,668 92% 4,940
St. Mary's University 3,432 $21,379 86% 5,369
Stephen F. Austin State University 12,000 $13,858 90% 9,944
Sul Ross State University 2,100 $13,130 97% 717
Tarleton State University 13,995 $13,755 87% 5,788
Texas A&M International University 8,455 $5,383 48% 7,848
Texas A&M University-Central Texas 2,219 $5,465 96% 70
Texas A&M University-College Station 72,530 $20,375 63% 43,422
Texas A&M University-Commerce 11,504 $13,025 86% 6,604
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi 10,762 $15,181 88% 8,421
Texas A&M University-Kingsville 6,405 $11,347 97% 5,768
Texas A&M University-San Antonio 6,893 $11,043 96% 9,110
Texas A&M University-Texarkana 2,112 $10,646 91% 2,018
Texas Christian University 11,938 $44,190 56% 16,197
Texas College 731 $17,717 N/A N/A
Texas Lutheran University 1,468 $21,442 92% 1,835
Texas Southern University 7,524 $11,826 97% 8,582
Texas State University 37,864 $14,120 88% 28,908
Texas Tech University 40,542 $17,896 67% 35,400
Texas Wesleyan University 2,531 $15,652 61% 4,622
Texas Woman's University 16,338 $11,682 94% 7,286
The University of Texas at Arlington 45,949 $14,262 81% 21,963
The University of Texas at Austin 51,991 $17,434 31% 60,055
The University of Texas at Dallas 29,696 $13,555 85% 21,500
The University of Texas at El Paso 24,003 $9,563 100% 10,493
The University of Texas at San Antonio 34,734 $12,664 87% 23,295
The University of Texas at Tyler 9,687 $13,248 94% 3,493
The University of Texas Permian Basin 5,534 $10,370 95% 1,475
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley 31,940 $8,105 88% 13,744
Trinity University 2,704 $30,038 31% 11,463
University of Dallas 2,538 $27,250 59% 4,307
University of Houston 47,031 $14,056 66% 29,783
University of Houston-Clear Lake 9,279 $17,871 69% 1,985
University of Houston-Downtown 15,077 $14,911 88% 6,131
University of Houston-Victoria 4,189 $11,761 82% 1,970
University of Mary Hardin-Baylor 3,732 $31,197 96% 13,001
University of North Texas 42,441 $15,283 79% 32,016
University of North Texas at Dallas 4,120 $10,351 94% 2,474
University of St. Thomas 3,877 $19,207 97% 1,123
University of the Incarnate Word 7,508 $20,832 94% 9,625
Wayland Baptist University 3,508 $22,663 70% 1,311
West Texas A&M University 9,602 $17,001 92% 4,695
Wiley College 665 $8,796 N/A N/A
Source: NCES

What Is the Cost of Attending College in Texas?

The cost of attending college in Texas depends on many factors, including whether you choose a private or public school. The average cost of tuition and fees in Texas can range anywhere from $2,828 for a public two-year program all the way up to $37,450 for a four-year private school.

Cost of College in Texas in 2021
Institution Type Average Tuition & Required Fees
Public 4-Year (In-State) $8,016
Public 4-Year (Out-of-State) $25,471
Private 4-Year $37,450
Public 2-Year (In-State) $2,828
Public 2-Year (Out-of-State) $7,764
Source: NCES

Scholarships for Students in Texas

College is expensive, but there are ways to make it more accessible for you. In fact, Texas has a variety of scholarships available just for Texas students. Check out the three following scholarships for Texas students:

  • American Legion Auxiliary: This $500 scholarship is available to Texas residents who are direct descendants of veterans who served in World War I or any other war after 1941.
  • George and Mary Josephine Hamman Foundation: Each year, 70 scholarships are awarded to high school seniors in specific Texas counties. Worth $20,000, the award is given out based on grades and financial need.
  • Don't Mess With Texas Scholarship: This scholarship worth $2,000 or $5,000 is awarded to high school seniors who've fought litter in their communities and plan to attend an accredited college in Texas.

10 Highest-Paying Jobs in Texas

After college, you can choose to work in a variety of fast-growing fields in Texas or apply your skills in another state. If you seek one of the highest-paying jobs in Texas, you may want to plan your major around one of the following areas, most of which are in the medical field.

The 10 jobs listed below earn the highest salaries in Texas.

10 Highest-Paying Jobs in Texas
Job Annual Mean Wage (2022)
Cardiologists $413,510
Pediatric Surgeons $365,130
Ophthalmologists $338,400
Surgeons $331,980
Chief Executives $341,060
Anesthesiologists $298,710
Radiologists $297,320
Obstetricians and Gynecologists $294,250
Physicians $276,750
Pediatricians $250,850
Source: BLS

Frequently Asked Questions About Colleges in Texas

What is the No. 1 college in Texas?

The "best" college depends largely on your goals and preferences, but top colleges in Texas include Rice University, UT Austin, Texas A&M, and Texas Christian University. These schools all provide top-quality degree programs and offer the chance to network in many industries and businesses in Texas.

Can you go to college for free in Texas?

Free college in Texas — where available — is typically provided to Texas residents from low-income households. That said, each university sets its own policies for free tuition. For example, as of 2020, the UT Austin provided free tuition to qualifying first-year and transfer students with household incomes of less than $65,000.

Many colleges post tuition policies on their websites. You can also reach out to the admissions department with specific questions about tuition.

What is the hardest college to get into in Texas?

The hardest college to get into in Texas is Rice University, which is a private research university based in Houston. According to NCES, the school had an acceptance rate of just 9% in fall 2022.

Is it expensive to go to college in Texas?

It is not as expensive to attend college in Texas as it is in states with a higher cost of living. The low cost of living in Texas makes it a more affordable place to live if you choose to attend in-person classes.

Keep in mind, though, that the cost of college in Texas depends on many factors, including which school you choose, whether the school is public or private, how much financial aid you qualify for, and whether you're an in-state or out-of-state resident.