- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2015-16, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed March 2, 2016, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2014-15, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, accessed March 2, 2016, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
- School pages, accessed May 21, 2017: About Us, The University of Connecticut, http://uconn.edu/about-us/; Reverse Internship, Eastern Connecticut State University, http://www.easternct.edu/ce/reverse-internship/; What is CLEP?, Eastern Connecticut State University, http://www.easternct.edu/ce/cleptest/; What are DSST Exams?, Eastern Connecticut State University, http://www.easternct.edu/ce/dsst/; About Southern, Southern Connecticut State University, http://www.southernct.edu/about/; CCSU Profile, Central Connecticut State University, http://www.ct.edu/files/pdfs/search-profile-ccsu.pdf; Western Facts & Figures, Western Connecticut State University, http://wcsu.edu/president/facts-figures.asp; About the University of New Haven, University of New Haven, http://www.newhaven.edu/about/;
- Facts About Student Aid, State of Connecticut Office of Higher Education, accessed May 11, 2017, https://www.ctohe.org/SFA/
- Scholarship directory data is copyrighted material which is reproduced on this website by permission of Wintergreen Orchard House, a division of Carnegie Communications. Copyright © 2017-18 by Wintergreen Orchard House. All rights reserved.
Connecticut is a relatively small state, but its residents have an array of top schools to choose from. One of the highest-rated universities in the country makes its home in Connecticut, and the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) system serves approximately 85,000 students.
Students at CSCU system community colleges may be able to take advantage of one of the state's Transfer Ticket programs, which ensure community college graduates a hassle-free transfer to all Connecticut State Universities without losing any credits or being required to take additional courses. Check with your community college advisor or visit the Transfer Ticket website for more info.
So how might prospective students know which traditional and online colleges in Connecticut are the top performers based on multiple metrics? In order to help students find out which institutions are the best, we compiled data from the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Department of Education's College Scorecard. We then analyzed that data using a detailed methodology that covers 13 metrics of student success, degree access and overall affordability.
Best 4-Year Colleges in Connecticut
And now, check out the best traditional and online colleges in Connecticut for bachelor's degrees. More information about the specific categories used in our analysis is available via the "methodology" button.
The largest university in Connecticut took the No. 1 spot on our rankings partially on the strength of its extensive catalog of degree programs. A total of 360 study plans were available on campus at the Storrs institution in 2015-16, a larger selection than any other Connecticut school in our rankings. It was also one of the best online colleges in Connecticut, offering more than 100 courses in the virtual classroom.
UConn also placed in the statewide top five for graduation rate, and its track record of affordability was similarly strong. Just three other schools on our list reported a lower median debt load for its graduates, and it posted the lowest cost of books and supplies among all schools in our top ten.
One measure of affordability we used in this study was average net price, a calculation of overall college cost that subtracts the expected amount of grant and scholarship aid from the estimated expense of tuition, fees, books, supplies, housing, meals and other necessary expenses. Eastern Connecticut State University ranked No. 3 on the average net price metric for middle-income students and tied for No. 2 among schools on our list for the raw cost that students paid on average for books and supplies.
This public liberal arts university in Willimantic was also one of just a handful of schools in Connecticut to provide course credit for life experience through its Credit for Lifelong Learning (CLL), Reverse Internship (RI) and Professional Experience Portfolio (PEP) programs. Eastern also offers CLEP and DSST tests for non-traditional students returning to school after spending some years away.
Our No. 3 school had the lowest average net price of any school in the state for middle-income students, according to NCES numbers, and took the No. 6 spot for the average net price paid by those in lower income brackets. It also offered a considerable variety of academic programs, posting a top five number among schools on our list in that category.
Non-traditional students who need a refresher on some of the staple courses of higher education can take advantage of remedial services available at Southern. High school students looking to get a head start on their college coursework may take certain dual-credit classes that can carry over into their credit load once they're officially enrolled at the university.
If our analysis included name recognition as one of its metrics, chances are that Yale University would've had little competition. The top retention rate and graduation rate in the state can be found at this old standard of the Ivy League. Only one other Connecticut school offered a greater variety of degree programs in 2015-16 than the 284 available at Yale.
Yale also took top-three spots for its percentage of graduates able to pay off their student loans within three years and the proportion of institutional grant aid awarded to its students. If it weren't for the considerable expense of its tuition, fees, books and supplies — ranking among the four most expensive Connecticut schools in both categories — Yale would likely have placed higher on our list.
Founded as New Britain Normal School in 1849, Central Connecticut State University is the oldest public institution of higher learning in the state. The New Britain school took the No. 1 spot in the state for its raw affordability of tuition and fees and placed at No. 2 and No. 7 respectively for the average net price it charged middle- and low-income students
The degree catalog at CCSU is fairly diverse as well, coming in at No. 4 statewide for its array of on-campus offerings. It also took the No. 5 spot among schools on our list in the graduation rate category and placed at No. 6 in the state on the median student debt metric for graduates.
Western Connecticut State University is another low-cost option for Connecticut students, placing at No. 2 for tuition and fees affordability and at No. 4 and No. 8 respectively for the average net price charged to its middle- and low-income students. Western was also one of the best online colleges in Connecticut, ranking third among our top ten schools for its percentage of students enrolled at least partially in distance education.
Western has two campuses, one 34-acre location in downtown Danbury and an expansive second campus about three miles from the main site. The student-faculty ratio at Western was a comfortable 12:1 in fall 2016, which typically means that students have better access than average to individualized attention from faculty and staff.
Wesleyan University stood out from the crowd in multiple categories, not least of all for its generous awarding of institutional aid. Only one other school on our list awarded a greater proportion of institutional grant aid per dollar of tuition and fees than Wesleyan. Its graduation rate was also a point of pride, coming in at No. 2 in the state and No. 12 among all 1,647 schools we surveyed nationally.
On top of that, the Middletown institution put up some impressive numbers on our student debt metrics. The median debt figure of $18,338 for 2014-15 graduates ranked second among all Connecticut colleges, and no other school on our list did better in the loan repayment category. More than 90 percent of Wesleyan graduates were able to repay their loans within three years, according to the U.S. Department of Education's College Scorecard.
Trinity College offers plenty of upside for on-campus students, although students looking for an online bachelor's degree program in Connecticut won't find it at this Hartford institution. The state's third-best graduation rate can be found here, as well as a first-year student retention rate that ranked No. 3 among schools on our list.
Trinity also put up a strong showing in student aid categories, particularly for students with high levels of financial need. Low-income students at Trinity paid the third-best average net price in the state, despite an average raw cost of tuition and fees that ranked as the state's most expensive. Average net price for middle-income students placed at No. 10 statewide.
Goodwin College was one of the best online colleges in Connecticut, posting a distance education enrollment rate of nearly 50 percent in fall 2015. Only one other school in the state reported a greater proportion of its student body as taking at least some of their courses in the virtual classroom.
Campus-based measures of schedule flexibility were also a bright spot at Goodwin. If you're an adult learner or other non-traditional student, you might appreciate such initiatives as postsecondary remedial services, degree plans available entirely through weekend and evening courses and programs that can award college credit for knowledge gained through life experience.
This medium-small school with its main campus in West Haven rounds out our ranking as another of the best online colleges in Connecticut, taking the No. 2 spot among schools on our list for its percentage of students enrolled in at least some distance education coursework. It also took the No. 2 spot among our top ten for its number of degree programs available online.
Campus-based students can choose from quite an array of degree programs as well. Just two other schools in Connecticut offered a greater variety of study plans than the University of New Haven. It also tied at No. 2 among schools on our list for its affordable cost of books and supplies.
Most Popular Degree Programs in Connecticut
Knowing what subjects your classmates are likely to be studying can help you get a feel for the general academic climate of Connecticut. Here's a list of the state's top majors by enrollment.
In-Demand Careers in Connecticut
The job market is a shifting landscape, and students who keep tabs on it can work to ensure that their education is preparing them for a post-graduation career. Take a look at the hottest jobs in Connecticut this year.
|Career Title||Projected Job Growth||Total Employment||Annual Salary|
|Operations Research Analysts||34.8%||1,420||$86,670|
|Occupational Therapy Aides||30.4%||80||$40,870|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||29%||730||$61,530|
|Physical Therapist Aides||27.9%||540||$32,080|
|Occupational Therapy Assistants||27.6%||480||$62,480|
|Personal Financial Advisors||24.1%||4,300||$133,210|
|Interpreters and Translators||24.1%||310||$50,680|
|Computer Systems Analysts||23.8%||7,120||$94,760|
|Home Health Aides||23.7%||6,900||$27,490|
|Personal Care Aides||23.7%||23,510||$27,210|
|Software Developers, Systems Software||22.8%||4,790||$103,320|
|Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators, Metal and Plastic||22.6%||2,290||$46,410|
|Insulation Workers, Mechanical||22.5%||190||$57,460|
|Software Developers, Applications||22.4%||9,240||$100,620|
|Computer and Information Systems Managers||22.2%||7,900||$144,480|
|Computer Numerically Controlled Machine Tool Programmers, Metal and Plastic||21.4%||750||$63,280|
|Industrial Machinery Mechanics||21.3%||2,350||$55,960|
|Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists||20.8%||1,760||$86,950|
|Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary||20.1%||140||$69,730|
|Mechanical Engineering Technicians||19.7%||950||$68,990|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Connecticut
Connecticut students may be able to take advantage of state-specific financial aid programs like these:
- The Roberta B. Willis Scholarship program features a merit-based award for graduating high school seniors and a need-based fund open to all qualifying Connecticut residents.
- The Connecticut Higher Education Supplemental Loan Authority (CHESLA) offers low-interest educational loans to Connecticut students.
- The Connecticut Minority Teacher Incentive Grant provides grant aid and loan reimbursement for upper-division ethnic minority students who plan to teach in Connecticut schools.
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- State of Connecticut Office of Higher Education
- Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU)
- CSCU Transfer Navigator
- Connecticut Higher Education Trust (CHET)
- College Goal Sunday Connecticut