2022 Best Colleges in Houston

Discover the best colleges in Houston. Learn where an education in Houston can take you.

portrait of Stefanie Grodman
by Stefanie Grodman

Updated May 16, 2022

Edited by Colin Weickmann
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As the nation's fourth-largest city, Houston is a growing hub of business development, technological innovation, global trade, healthcare, and the arts. In a 2019 Forbes ranking, the city was named the 34th best place for business and careers in the United States.

Attending one of the many colleges in Houston gives students the advantage of proximity. Learners can pursue job and internship opportunities with leading corporations and institutions in the city. Houston has the second-highest number of public companies in the country and the third-highest number of Fortune 500 headquarters.

www.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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The metropolitan area's most prominent industries include manufacturing, energy production, aerospace and aviation, and biotechnology. For more information about going to college and working in the Lone Star State, check out our Resources for Students in Texas page.

Why Study in Houston?

With a population of roughly 2.3 million, Houston is the largest city in Texas. Its metropolitan area includes several smaller cities like Pasadena, Pearland, and Sugar Land.

The Greater Houston area is home to 14 major four-year colleges and universities, including institutions like the University of Houston, Rice University, and Texas A&M University in nearby Galveston.

The city is also home to several leading institutions of science, technology, and medicine, including NASA's Johnson Space Center and Mission Control Center. In addition, the Texas Medical Center is the world's largest campus of medical and research institutions, consisting of 21 hospitals and eight academic institutions.

Educational Opportunities

For students hoping to attend college in Texas, Houston is a hub of higher education. The metropolitan area has 14 major four-year colleges and universities and more than 20 community and technical colleges. The city's fast-growing industries and collection of corporate headquarters may give students greater access to internships and work experiences that can link their academic and professional goals.

Economy

In 2019, the Greater Houston area yielded a gross metro product of $512 billion. The city is also an epicenter of global trade: The Port of Houston is the largest port in the United States by cargo tonnage and one of the largest ports in the world.

The city's largest employers include the Bechtel Corporation, ExxonMobil, and Schlumberger. Students pursuing the healthcare field may find work at the Texas Medical Center, which has 106,000 total employees.

Cost of Living

In Houston, the average salary was $26.90 per hour, or roughly $55,950 per year in 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This is slightly lower than the national average of $27.07 per hour, or $56,200 per year.

According to Payscale, Houston's average housing expenses were 5% greater than the national average, while the overall cost of living was just 2% greater than the national average. Relative to other major cities like New York or Los Angeles, costs of living in Houston are comparatively low.

Cultural and Community Offerings

Houston is not only an epicenter of business and scientific innovation, the city also offers a variety of cultural experiences and offerings, including approximately 150 museums and cultural centers. The Houston Museum District alone attracts 7 million visitors each year.

Visitors can visit sites like the Museum of Fine Arts, the Space Center, the Cullen Sculpture Garden, the Theater District, and the Holocaust Museum.

Climate

Houston has a relatively warm climate. In January, the coldest month, temperatures drop to an average of about 53 F. In August, the hottest month, temperatures reach an average of roughly 84 F, though Houston residents experience temperatures above 90 F quite often in the summer.

Rainfall in Houston is considerable. In February, the driest month, the city receives an average of 3.5 inches of rainfall, while in September, the rainiest month, the city receives an average of 4.7 inches of rainfall.

Top Degree Programs in Houston

Featured Online Programs

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

Houston Employment Outlook

Over the course of 2021, many jobs lost during the onset of COVID-19 were restored. However, certain positions have yet to recover to their pre-pandemic numbers. Roles in healthcare, social assistance, energy, manufacturing, and hospitality are especially in demand.

The number of jobs in Houston is projected to grow by 75,500 between 2021 and 2022. This figure accounts for approximately 8,700 jobs in professional, scientific and technical services; 8,400 jobs in healthcare and social assistance; 5,000 jobs in manufacturing; and 4,000 jobs in energy production.

5 Houston Jobs in Demand for 2022

Petroleum Pump System Operator

  • Annual Average Salary (Houston, 2020): $82,600
  • Projected Job Growth (Texas, 2018-2028): 7%

These individuals monitor and control petroleum pumping systems and oil pipelines. They may use automated equipment in control rooms to monitor product temperature, flow, and pressure. Pump system operators open valves to maneuver product flow, operate pump batteries and communicate with other operators.

Wind Turbine Technician

  • Annual Average Salary (Houston, 2020): $59,670
  • Projected Job Growth (Texas, 2018-2028): 83%

These technicians maintain and oversee the operations of wind turbines, including electrical, mechanical, and fiber-optic systems. They may replace malfunctioning equipment and collect data to assess functionality and energy output. Texas has the largest number of installed wind turbines in the country, accounting for roughly 24,000 jobs statewide.

Trainer and Fitness Instructor

  • Annual Median Salary (Houston, 2020): $66,190
  • Projected Job Growth (Texas, 2018-2028): 24%

These professionals help clients meet fitness goals in group and individual settings. They may lead classes, give demonstrations, strategize exercise and nutrition plans, supervise clients' technique, and assure that clients use equipment safely. Fitness instructors may specialize in specific types of training such as pilates, yoga, or weightlifting.

Occupational Therapy Assistant

  • Annual Average Salary (Houston, 2020): $78,780
  • Projected Job Growth (Texas, 2018-2028): 36%

These professionals help patients recover from injuries, improve mobility, and build essential skills through therapy techniques and exercises. They support occupational therapists by helping patients use specialized equipment, monitoring patients' techniques, setting up equipment, and handling some administrative duties.

Avionics Technician

  • Annual Average Salary (Houston, 2020): $70,700
  • Projected Job Growth (Texas, 2018-2028): 7%

These technicians install, maintain, and evaluate various electronic systems on aircraft, such as radar systems and radio communication equipment. Avionics technicians manually install equipment like controls, instrument panels, and junction boxes. They may also use tools like oscilloscopes and voltmeters to test the functionality of equipment.

Popular Career Paths in Houston

Best Accredited Colleges in Houston

Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team

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How We Rank Schools

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

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.

#1

Rice University

School Information
Location Houston, Texas
Admission Rate 9%
Graduation Rate 93%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 5% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Avg. Cost per Year
Undergrad, in state | $52,070
Undergrad, out of state | $52,070
Graduate, in state | $52,070
Graduate, out of state | $52,070

Rice University students enroll in 11 residential colleges on campus. Rice offers more than 50 undergraduate majors in six divisions of study, including engineering, architecture, the humanities, and natural sciences.

The university provides online courses for undergraduate students and three online master's degree programs in computer science, data science, and engineering management. Undergraduate students may also enroll in online summer classes.

Undergraduate admissions require standardized test scores and three recommendation letters. Rice accepts the Common App and Coalition App.

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#2

University of St. Thomas

School Information
Location Houston, Texas
Admission Rate 87%
Graduation Rate 68%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 30% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Avg. Cost
Undergrad, in state | $32,484 per year
Undergrad, out of state | $32,484 per year
Graduate, in state | $300-$1,163 per credit
Graduate, out of state | $300-$1,163 per credit

The University of St. Thomas is a Catholic institution that enrolls over 3,000 students and employs over 300 faculty members. UST boasts an average yearly salary of $52,914 for first-year graduates. 

The university offers over 40 undergraduate majors and over 30 graduate degrees. Students can pursue degrees such as accounting, computer science, and engineering.

First-year applicants need a cumulative GPA of 2.8 and must submit standardized test scores.

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#3

The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

School Information
Location Galveston, Texas
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 25% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Avg. Cost per Credit
Undergrad, in state | $50
Undergrad, out of state | $465
Graduate, in state | $50
Graduate, out of state | $465

The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston includes the schools of medicine, nursing, health professions, and graduate biomedical sciences. 

Applicants to the school of medicine must submit three letters of evaluation and complete admissions testing. Applicants also need to meet the following requirements:

  • 6 semester hours of English
  • 14 semester hours of biological sciences
  • 3 semester hours of calculus or statistics
  • 8 semester hours of physics
  • 8 semester hours of general chemistry
  • 8 semester hours of organic chemistry
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#4

University of Houston

School Information
Location Houston, Texas
Admission Rate 65%
Graduation Rate 61%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 43% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Avg. Cost
Undergrad, in state | $5,617-$7,526 per term
Undergrad, out of state | $13,237-$15,216 per term
Graduate, in state | $334-$1,799 per credit
Graduate, out of state | $334-$1,799 per credit

The University of Houston enrolls over 47,000 students and offers 255 undergraduate majors and minors. 

Degree programs at UH include pre-professional majors in medicine and law. Students may also enroll in a five-year dual degree program in nursing and accounting.

UH does not require standardized test scores, though applicants may choose to submit them. Students in the top 10% of their high school class have assured admission. Applicants with lower GPAs may need to submit additional materials.

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#5

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

School Information
Location Houston, Texas
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 13% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Avg. Cost
Undergrad, in state | $50 per credit
Undergrad, out of state | $458 per credit
Graduate, in state | $18,604 per year
Graduate, out of state | $26,125 per year

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston features the following programs:

  • 12 dual degree programs
  • 10 professional degrees
  • 9 graduate degrees
  • 2 bachelor's degrees
  • 8 academic certificates

Undergraduate applicants to the School of Nursing must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA in all prerequisite courses and must submit standardized test scores. Some students may also need to submit test scores for the Texas Success Initiative Assessment. Applicants who have not completed the prerequisites may receive provisional admission.

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#6

Brazosport College

School Information
Location Lake Jackson, Texas
Graduation Rate 29%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 32% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Avg. Cost per Credit
Undergrad, in state | $90-$124
Undergrad, out of state | $225

Brazosport College offers two bachelor's degree programs in industrial management and health services management, as well as associate degree programs in subjects like education, business, and social and behavioral sciences. 

Students may complete their associate degrees through BC's online courses. Applicants must submit official transcripts and take placement tests offered by BC. 

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#7

University of Houston-Clear Lake

School Information
Location Houston, Texas
Admission Rate 74%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 42% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Avg. Cost per Credit
Undergrad, in state | $3,858
Undergrad, out of state | $10,518
Graduate, in state | $4,899
Graduate, out of state | $9,539

The University of Houston – Clear Lake enrolls over 9,100 students and offers more than 90 degree programs. Degree programs at UHCL include art and design, biotechnology, criminal justice and criminology, and occupational health and safety.

Applicants must submit an application and official transcripts. UHCL typically requires standardized test scores, but is exploring test-optional policies for future terms. Applicants in the top 10% of their class have assured admissions and do not need a minimum GPA to apply.

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#8

Baylor College of Medicine

School Information
Location Houston, Texas
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 4% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Avg. Cost per Year
Graduate, in state | $27,872
Graduate, out of state | $40,972

The Baylor College of Medicine enrolls over 700 medical students and more than 1,000 clinical residents.  This university offers graduate programs, as well as a bacclaureate/M.D. program to help exceptional high school students provisionally gain acceptance to medical school.

Admission requirements differ for each program. In general, the Baylor College of Medicine seeks applicants with high intellectual ability, personal integrity, a strong interest in medicine, and experiences in leadership.

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#9

Galveston College

School Information
Location Galveston, Texas
Graduation Rate 32%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 63% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Avg. Cost per Credit
Undergrad, in state | $180
Undergrad, out of state | $480

Galveston College enrolls about 2,300 students each semester in degree programs and 1,410 students in continuing education programs. GC offers the following degree programs:

  • Associate of arts
  • Associate of science
  • Associate of applied science
  • Associate of nursing
  • Bachelor of applied science in healthcare management

Applicants must hold a high school diploma from an accredited institution or a GED certificate to apply. GC requires official transcripts and test scores from the Texas Success Initiative Assessment.

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#10

University of Houston-Downtown

School Information
Location Houston, Texas
Admission Rate 89%
Graduation Rate 29%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 53% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Avg. Cost per Credit
Undergrad, in state | $245
Undergrad, out of state | $653
Graduate, in state | $413
Graduate, out of state | $771

The University of Houston – Downtown offers 44 bachelor's degrees and nine master's degrees. UHD boasts over 60,000 alumni. Students may enroll in the following colleges: business, humanities and social sciences, public service, and sciences and technology.

Applicants must submit official transcripts and pay a nonrefundable application fee. UHD does not require standardized test scores, but students may submit them if they choose. First-year students must hold fewer than 15 college credits or must apply as transfer students.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Colleges in Houston

How many colleges are in Houston?

Students looking to pursue a degree in Houston have a number of options. The greater Houston area serves over 315,000 postsecondary students. The region has over a dozen major higher education institutions, including Baylor College of Medicine, Rice University, Sam Houston State University, and University of Houston.

Does Houston have good colleges?

Houston is home to some of the most elite colleges in Texas. Some of the best colleges in Houston are more selective and deliver exceptional learning outcomes, such as high graduation and retention rates. Texas A&M University, for example, has a 63% acceptance rate and an 82% 6-year graduation rate, while Rice University, an extremely selective college, has an 11% acceptance rate and a 94% graduation rate.

Some of the best colleges in Houston have financially successful alumni. According to Forbes, graduates of the University of Houston who have spent at least 10 years in the workforce earned a median salary of $104,300 in 2020, while graduates of Rice University earned a median of $134,100 in the same year.

How much does it cost to go to college in Houston?

Tuition costs depend heavily on the institution, availability of subsidized in-state tuition, and financial aid eligibility. Students who choose to live on campus must pay for additional expenses like room and board and dining facilities, while online students may be able to avoid these costs.

Some of the most expensive colleges in Houston can cost upwards of $50,000 per year. For example, tuition at Rice University before aid was $51,107 in the 2020-21 academic year. However, many schools are much more affordable.

What is the cheapest college in Houston?

Several colleges in Houston offer exceptionally affordable tuition, particularly for Texas residents. Community colleges, like those in the Houston Community College system, cost in-district students $10,360 per year and out-of-district students $12,088 per year before financial aid.

Some four-year state colleges, like Sam Houston State are also comparatively affordable; a 16-credit semester costs in-state learners $5,850, while out-of-state learners pay $12,380.

At Prairie View A&M University, in-state tuition is $11,099 while out-of-state tuition is $26,398. At the the University of Houston, in-state tuition is $13,060 and out-of-state tuition is $28,300.

Is Houston a good place to live and study?

For many students and residents, Houston is a fantastic place to live, work, and study. Learners can choose from dozens of degree and certification programs in the wider metro area.

Although Houston is the largest city in Texas, living costs are lower than those of other major American cities. Even so, powerful industries and a fast-growing job market — particularly in fields like healthcare, energy, transportation, and scientific and technical services — allows graduates to access a variety of career opportunities.

Feature Image: John Coletti / The Image Bank / Getty Images

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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