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 adviser 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
To calculate the most accurate rankings possible, we put together profiles of Connecticut schools that included tuition cost, financial aid availability, degree program access, student success rates and more. Tap the methodology button to see how we did it, and read on to learn about the top colleges and universities in Connecticut. When you're done exploring, you can enroll in available traditional or online degree programs in CT using the listings on this page, and be sure to check out the top Connecticut community colleges, too.
The largest school by enrollment in Connecticut also has one of the largest degree catalogs in the state. Hundreds of unique study plans are available on campus at the University of Connecticut, including over 100 undergraduate majors and more than 140 degrees and certificates for graduate and post-graduate students.
UConn also ranks among the best colleges and universities in Connecticut for online graduate degrees. Master's programs in business, education, nursing and more are available in the virtual classroom, as well as more than 20 graduate certificate programs.
The UConn athletic teams, known as the Huskies, are a major point of pride at the Storrs institution. The women's basketball team is the crown jewel of Huskies athletics, taking home 10 of the last 18 national championships.
This private university boasts a total of three campuses in Hamden and North Haven, consisting of around 600 acres of grounds for students to explore. A total of more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students are working toward their degrees in Quinnipiac's nine academic colleges and professional schools.
Over 100 degree programs are available at Quinnipiac, including numerous dual-degree plans that lead to both a bachelor's and a master's degree. Some professional programs at Quinnipiac, such as physical therapy and occupational therapy, allow students to skip the pre-professional phase and work directly toward their terminal degree from year one.
What's more, some dual-degree programs here are delivered in an accelerated format. Quinnipiac law students can earn a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree in just six years, while business students can study for just four years and earn an MBA.
Founded in 1963, Sacred Heart University works to deliver a comprehensive liberal arts education with a foundation of Catholic intellectual and spiritual traditions. Its first year saw just 200 undergraduate students walking the halls, but it's grown to an institution of more than 8,500 in the decades since.
Despite its roots in the Catholic Church, education at Sacred Heart is largely secular. The lone religious study requirement for students takes the form of two courses known as The Human Journey Seminars, which consist of literary and philosophical investigation of classic and contemporary Catholic thought.
Sacred Heart was also one of the best schools in Connecticut for aspiring members of one particular booming industry. The bachelor's and master's degrees in video game design and development here are ranked among the best in the country.
Approximately 7,000 students are working toward their degrees at this medium-small school that began its existence on the Yale campus in 1920. Undergraduates have close to 60 majors to choose from, while those pursuing master's degrees have 31 areas of graduate study available.
The numbers also show that the University of New Haven might be one of the top schools in Connecticut for students who need help paying their way through college. Approximately 90 percent of full-time undergraduates were awarded some type of student aid package, with the average amount per student coming in at more than $15,000 annually.
Two of the university's five academic colleges offer accredited degree and certificate programs online. Students can earn master's degrees in criminal justice, emergency management, environmental engineering and more, as well as three distinct graduate certificates in investigations.
Fairfield University is a relatively small institution -- its total enrollment is under 4,000 and fewer than 50,000 total degrees have been awarded since its founding in 1942 -- but intimate learning environments often lead to student success. Nearly 90 percent of first-year students return to continue their studies as sophomores, and employment rates for 2017 graduates fell just two points shy of a perfect 100.
The student-faculty ratio here is 12:1, which not only beats the national average by around 25 percent but indicates that professors and other faculty have ample time to assist students individually if they need it.
The town of Fairfield, where the university is located, has earned a rare distinction as well. A 2017 analysis of crime statistics and local safety initiatives lists Fairfield among the 30 safest college towns in the country.
Although the University of Hartford has only officially existed since 1957, its roots go back several decades further. The Hartford School for Decorative Arts, one of the three institutions that united to form the modern-day university, opened its doors 80 years earlier, in 1877.
The total student population here sits at right around 6,500, with approximately three-fourths of the student body enrolled in undergraduate degree programs. The degree catalog consists of nearly 100 undergraduate majors, more than 60 graduate-level study plans and close to 40 associate, certificate and diploma programs.
Similar to other top online colleges in Connecticut, UHart offers business, education and nursing graduate programs in the virtual classroom. On top of the fully online programs, students can make use of a wide range of individual online courses to bring some flexibility to their schedule.
If our analysis included name recognition as one of its metrics, chances are that Yale University would've had little competition for the top spot. This New Haven school is one of the most prestigious in the country, and the Center for World University Rankings names it among the ten best schools on the planet.
Yale is the third-oldest American institution of higher learning, with roots that stretch all the way back to its founding as The Collegiate School in 1701. It awarded the first graduate student scholarships in the U.S. in 1732, and four Yale graduates are counted among the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
The student body at Yale tilts toward graduate study, with nearly 7,000 of its roughly 12,000 students enrolled in advanced programs. It's also one of the most competitive Connecticut universities -- just over six percent of applicants were admitted in 2017.
Founded in 1849, Central Connecticut State University is the oldest public institution among Connecticut colleges and a member of Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU). Total headcount enrollment here came in just below 12,000 in 2017, comprising more than 9,500 undergraduates and roughly 2,300 graduate students.
CCSU maintains more than 40 academic departments that offer 130+ bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs. Numerous graduate certificate programs are available here as well, particularly in the fields of education and business administration.
The campus is located in New Britain, a central Connecticut city of around 72,500 people. Arts and culture lovers can visit five local museums, two theaters and the New Britain Symphony, while students looking to enter the business world after graduating have a rich mix of small to mid-sized businesses to learn from.
Another member of CSCU, Southern Connecticut State University is located less than three miles from downtown New Haven. It began its life as a two-year teacher training school in 1893, with just three teachers and 84 students, and it's grown into a comprehensive university that educates more than 10,000 students annually.
Students looking to make a living helping people enjoy healthy, active lives have multiple options at Southern. The catalog contains four concentrations in recreation and leisure studies, including therapeutic recreation, community recreation and child life specialist.
Southern also provides a valuable service for high school students looking to get a head start on their college coursework. Certain tuition-free, dual-credit classes for high school seniors can carry over into their college credit balance once they're officially enrolled at the university.
If sustainability and eco-consciousness are important to you, Eastern Connecticut State University might be worth a second look. The campus has been named on the Princeton Review's "Green Colleges" list for seven years running and features five buildings constructed to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.
Academic programs related to sustainability are popular here, as well. Classes from the university's Department of Environmental Earth Science can help impart a deep understanding of our planet, and the campus's Institute for Sustainable Energy offers paid and for-credit internships for students.
Eastern also one of just a few Connecticut colleges 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.
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|
|Home Health and Personal Care Aides||34%||34,610||$28,280|
|Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Programmers||33.5%||710||$72,730|
|Operations Research Analysts||29.6%||1,100||$101,320|
|Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers||29.3%||16,350||$107,540|
|Earth Drillers, Except Oil and Gas; and Explosives Workers, Ordnance Handling Experts, and Blasters||28.3%||110||$49,380|
|Mechanical Engineering Technologists and Technicians||24%||400||$68,480|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||22.2%||630||$65,510|
|Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists||21.9%||7,830||$75,200|
|Tool Grinders, Filers, and Sharpeners||20.5%||40||-|
|Social Workers, All Other||19.8%||750||$66,060|
|Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary||19.5%||-||$137,650|
|Physical Therapist Aides||19.3%||410||-|
|Calibration Technologists and Technicians and Engineering Technologists and Technicians, Except Drafters, All Other||19.1%||630||$66,720|
|Radio, Cellular, and Tower Equipment Installers and Repairers||18.9%||40||$73,060|
|Medical Appliance Technicians||18.7%||-||$44,220|
|Dental Laboratory Technicians||18.6%||220||$48,350|
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
To get our list of the best colleges, we ranked 1,383 4-year colleges and universities in the U.S. Each school was scored on a 100-point scale, using the following data points and the weights specified. In order to be included in the ranking, schools had to report data for each of the following data points:
- The in-state tuition and fees for full-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016-17
- The average amount of institutional grant aid awarded to full-time, first-time undergraduate students as a percentage of in-state tuition and fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of full-time first-time undergraduates awarded any financial aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Median debt of graduates, College Scorecard, 2015-16
- 3-year student loan repayment rate of graduates, College Scorecard, 2015-16
- No. of degree and certificate programs offered on campus, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- No. of degree and certificate programs offered via distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of students enrolled in any distance education classes, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2016
- Full-time student retention rate, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2016
- Graduation rate within six years, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016-17
- Percent of students working and not enrolled 6 years after entry, College Scorecard, 2013-14
- Flexibility and student services, based on whether the school offers the following services, National Center for Education Statistics, 2016-17
- Dual credit
- Credit for life experience
- Advanced Placement credit
- Programs of study that can be completed entirely on weekends or in the evening
- Remedial services
- Academic and career counseling
- Job placement services for graduates
- Guaranteed tuition plan
- Tuition payment plan
- Any other alternative tuition plan
Note:Tuition prices are based on data for the 2016-17 academic year reported to the National Center for Education Statistics. The actual cost of tuition may vary.
All of the National Center for Education Statistics data came from IPEDS:
Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2015-16, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
- School pages, accessed April 20-21, 2018: About Us, University of Connecticut, https://uconn.edu/about-us/; 2018 Fact Sheet, University of Connecticut, https://uconn.edu/content/uploads/2018/02/2018-Fact-Sheet-University-of-Connecticut.pdf; Graduate Degree & Certificate Programs, University of Connecticut, https://grad.uconn.edu/programs/; Programs, eCampus, University of Connecticut, http://ecampus.uconn.edu/programs.html; About Us, Quinnipiac University, https://www.qu.edu/about-quinnipiac.html; Program Finder, Quinnipiac University, https://www.qu.edu/academics/program-listing.html; Campuses, Quinnipiac University, https://www.qu.edu/on-campus/our-campus.html; Our History, Sacred Heart University, http://www.sacredheart.edu/aboutshu/missionandvalues/ourhistory/; SHU Points of Pride, Sacred Heart University, http://www.sacredheart.edu/aboutshu/whyshu/shupointsofpride/; Office of Mission and Catholic Identity, Sacred Heart University, http://www.sacredheart.edu/faithservice/officeofmissionandcatholicidentity/; Core Curriculum, Sacred Heart University, http://www.sacredheart.edu/academics/corecurriculum/; About, University of New Haven, http://www.newhaven.edu/about/; Fast Facts, University of New Haven, http://www.newhaven.edu/about/facts-figures.php; University of New Haven Online, http://online.newhaven.edu/; Certificate Programs in Investigations, University of New Haven Online, http://online.newhaven.edu/masters-in-investigations/online-graduate-curriculum/online-certificate-programs/; Fast Facts, Fairfield University, https://www.fairfield.edu/undergraduate/why-fairfield/fast-facts/; Retention and Graduation Rates, Fairfield University, https://www.fairfield.edu/media/fairfielduniversitywebsite/documents/about/0000_about_consumer-information_retention-graduation-rates.pdf; Class of 2017 - First Destination Report, Fairfield University, https://www.fairfield.edu/media/main-site/2017-18/documents/undergraduate/academics/resources/academic-career-development-center/career-leadership-professional-development/9412_ug_resources_acdc_2017-first-destination-report_12182017.pdf; Town of Fairfield is Among Top 25 Safest College Towns in America, Fairfield University, https://www.fairfield.edu/news/archive/december-2017/fairfield-universitys-town-of-fairfield-ct-among-safest-college-towns-in-america.html; About UHart, University of Hartford, http://www.hartford.edu/aboutuofh/default.aspx; History, University of Hartford, http://www.hartford.edu/aboutuofh/at_glance/history/default.aspx; Quick Facts, University of Hartford, http://www.hartford.edu/aboutuofh/at_glance/quickfacts.aspx; Online Programs, University of Hartford, http://www.hartford.edu/academics/online-programs/; Class Search, University of Hartford, https://banweb10.hartford.edu:8910/pls/prod/bzskfcls.P_GetCrse; Traditions & History, Yale University, https://www.yale.edu/about-yale/traditions-history; Facts and Statistics, Yale University, https://oir.yale.edu/sites/default/files/factsheet_2016-17.pdf; At a Glance, Central Connecticut State University, http://docs.ccsu.edu/oira/institutionalData/fastfacts/Fast_Facts_Fall_2017.pdf; Academic Programs, Central Connecticut State University, http://www2.ccsu.edu/program/; Academic Departments & Programs, Central Connecticut State University, http://www.ccsu.edu/academics/academicdepartments.html; Fast Facts, Southern Connecticut State University, http://southernct.edu/about/facts.html; About, Southern Connecticut State University, http://southernct.edu/about/; Historical View, Southern Connecticut State University, http://southernct.edu/about/scsu-info/history.html; All-University Student Headcount & FTE by Year (Fall), Southern Connecticut State University, http://factbook.southernct.edu/all_univ_headcount_fte_fall.html; Part-Time and Alternative Study, Southern Connecticut State University, http://catalog.southernct.edu/undergraduate/general-information/part-time-and-alternative-study.html; Mission and History, Institute for Sustainable Energy, Eastern Connecticut State University, http://www.easternct.edu/sustainenergy/mission/; Green Buildings and Grounds, Eastern Connecticut State University, http://www.easternct.edu/sustainability/green-buildings/; Reverse Internship, Eastern Connecticut State University, http://www.easternct.edu/ce/reverse-internship/;
- DI Women's College Basketball - History, National Collegiate Athletic Association, accessed April 20, 2018, https://www.ncaa.com/history/basketball-women/d1
- 21 Liberal Arts Colleges With the Lowest Student-Faculty Ratios, U.S. News and World Report, Jordan Friedman, April 19, 2016, accessed April 20, 2018, https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/the-short-list-college/articles/2016-04-19/21-liberal-arts-colleges-with-the-lowest-student-faculty-ratios
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- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2016-17, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/