The University System of Georgia (USG) is one of the largest in the country, with a total full-time enrollment of more than 320,000 students at 29 campus locations. What's more, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) counts 39 additional public and private non-profit schools where students can earn a campus-based or online program in Georgia.
Figuring out which traditional and online schools in Georgia might be right for you can be a daunting task. What are the differences between the main campus of a large university and its satellite locations? Are you looking for a school that makes it easy for students to transfer class credits earned in a community college program? Which schools have the state's top programs for your major? Information like this can be hard to find, especially if you don't have time to hunt up all the facts you need.
We gathered data on from the NCES and other U.S. Department of Education sources on 50+ schools in Georgia and analyzed it with our 13-point methodology. Schools that stood out in multiple categories earned the right to be called the best campus-based and online colleges in Georgia. When you're done reading about them below, find out who made the cut for best community colleges in Georgia.
Best 4-Year Colleges in Georgia
Georgia colleges include community colleges, public universities and private institutions. To find the best schools in Georgia for four-year degrees, we used a methodology that considered factors such as graduation rate, tuition and program prominence. According to that criteria, these are the top Georgia universities.
The University of Georgia describes itself as the birthplace of higher education in America. Chartered in 1785, it was the first state-chartered university. Today, it is considered one of the "Public Ivies" and has garnered a reputation for offering affordable, quality academic programs.
The 17 colleges and schools within UGA enroll more than 37,000 students annually. Among those students are dozens of Rhodes Scholars, Truman Scholars, Fulbright Student Scholars and other award winners. The UGA Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication administers the distinguished Peabody Awards program, and the university is home to the world's first stand-alone academic school devoted to ecology.
If you're looking to attend one of the best schools in Georgia, UGA makes getting to class convenient. In addition to its main campus in Athens, there are four extended campuses located elsewhere in the state.
More commonly known as Georgia Tech, the Georgia Institute of Technology provides a technologically-focused education like online courses in disciplines spanning engineering, science, business and liberal arts. The school was founded in 1885 and today enrolls more than 25,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
When it comes to academics, Georgia Tech has six colleges and 28 schools conferring bachelor, master and doctoral degrees. The institute places a strong emphasis on experiential learning and the use of technology in the classroom. There are also cooperative education and global experience options available as well as programs that promote entrepreneurship. Graduate students looking for the best online colleges in Georgia may find the degree program they need at Georgia Tech.
The Georgia Institute of Technology has its main campus in Atlanta.
Georgia College and State University goes by the shortened name of Georgia College. It was founded in 1889 as a college for women but is a coeducational institution today. More than 6,500 undergraduate and graduate students are enrolled in the institution's four colleges.
Those four colleges provide degree programs in business, education, health sciences and the liberal arts. Georgia College offers small class sizes which may ensure more personalized attention than what could be found at a larger university. Plus, there are amble opportunities to gain real-world experience prior to graduation thanks to service learning, internship, study abroad and research programs offered to students.
Georgia College has its campus in Milledgeville, which is about a two-hour drive from Atlanta. The school is a public institution.
Head to Georgia Southern University to find another of the best colleges in the state. The institution says it's the largest comprehensive university south of Atlanta. It enrolls more than 27,000 students and is also one of the best schools in Georgia for online degrees, offering an extensive collection of distance learning programs.
Georgia Southern can trace its roots back to 1906. While it has grown significantly since that time, the school touts itself as being a "large-scale, small-feel" university. As part of the University System of Georgia, the school offers a wide range of academic and extracurricular activities. The university embraces core values that include lifelong learning and integrity.
Georgia Southern has its main campus in Statesboro. There is also an Armstrong campus in Savannah and a Liberty campus in Hinesville.
To the north of the state, students will find that the University of North Georgia is one of the top colleges in Georgia. It has been designated a State Leadership Institution and also serves as The Military College of Georgia. As a member of the University System of Georgia, it is one of the largest public institutions in the state.
While UNG only came into being a few years ago in 2013, it was created by merging colleges that had histories dating back to 1873. The university's more than 18,000 students can select from degree programs offered in six colleges as well as an institute for environmental and spatial analysis. Its most popular programs include psychology, biology and management.
The University of North Georgia has campuses in Blue Ridge, Cumming, Dahlonega, Gainesville and Oconee.
Mercer University is not only one of the top universities in Georgia but also one of the oldest. The school was founded in 1833 by the Georgia Baptist Convention. While Mercer is no longer formally affiliated with the Baptist Church, it continues to embrace Baptist principles.
Nearly 9,000 students are enrolled at Mercer University. They can choose from programs in 12 schools and colleges with various degree programs. The school promotes an educational environment that encourages hands-on learning, discovery and service to others. Its notable alumni include Confederate General Robert E. Lee, author Steve Berry and Dr. Spencer Bidwell King III, a pioneer in cardiology.
Degree programs are available through Mercer University's three campus locations: Macon, Atlanta and Savannah. The university also operates three medical school sites and three regional academic centers.
Few colleges are as a synonymous with research as Emory University. The private school generated $628 million in research funding in 2017. Yet, it still maintains a strong emphasis on teaching and has a prominent liberal arts program.
Founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1836, Emory University now has 11 colleges at the undergraduate and graduate levels. More than 15,000 students are enrolled in degree programs that are taught by faculty who have included such prominent members as former President Jimmy Carter, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey. Its famous alumni include a long list of business executives, entertainment figures, government officials and health care researchers.
Emory University has its campus in the historic Druid Hills neighborhood of Atlanta.
Not all the best schools in Georgia are large universities. Brenau University, with a student body of about 3,500, also makes the cut. The school was founded in 1878 as the Georgia Baptist Female Seminary. While the university still maintains a women's college, it also has a co-educational undergraduate school.
Brenau University is also one of the top colleges in Georgia for online degrees. The school's robust distance learning program offers fully online degrees at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Courses are offered on an accelerated pace so students can graduate and enter their chosen career more quickly.
Students who want to study in a classroom can do so on the main campus in Gainesville or at one of four other campus locations. On campus, Brenau University offers small class sizes, Greek life and 14 varsity sports teams.
Affordable education is one hallmark of Valdosta State University, another of the top universities in Georgia. Located just north of the Florida state line, the school offers in-state tuition rates to residents of Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee.
VSU's location in Valdosta, Georgia is one the perks of studying on campus. The school is just short drive from the beach, and students will find it doesn't take long to get to Atlanta or Orlando either. First Year Learning Communities are another benefit of studying on campus. These communities bring together students with similar interests and objectives to create a learning environment that fosters success.
Those who would prefer to study remotely can choose form one of Valdosta State University's many online degree programs.
As another of the best colleges in Georgia, the University of West Georgia is the state's sixth largest public university. It started out as a two-year school in 1906 and gradually expanded its programming until it became a university in 1996.
Today, UWG has more than 13,500 students enrolled in its six colleges. Dozens of degree programs are available and include bachelor's, master's, specialist and doctoral degrees. The university also confers several certificates. Popular undergraduate programs include biology, psychology and management while media, early childhood education and teacher education attract the most graduate students.
The University of West Georgia has campuses in Carrollton and Newnan. Students also have the option to take classes online.
Most popular degree programs in Georgia
Being aware of the most popular campus-based and online bachelor's degrees in Georgia can help you get a good picture of your fellow students' approach to higher learning. Whether you're hoping to stick with the crowd or venture out on a less well-traveled path, take a look at this list of traditional and online Georgia degrees with the highest enrollment numbers in the past year.
In-Demand Careers in Georgia
If you know what career fields are experiencing the highest demand for new applicants, you can make a more informed decision about the path of study that's most likely to lead to a winning career after graduation. Here's a list of some of the hottest careers in Georgia.
|Career Title||Projected Job Growth||Total Employment||Annual Salary|
|Rotary Drill Operators, Oil and Gas||67.2%||80||$34,310|
|Film and Video Editors||43.2%||1,330||$64,470|
|Personal Care Aides||40.5%||29,080||$22,540|
|Bus Drivers, Transit and Intercity||40.4%||2,670||$28,780|
|Occupational Therapy Assistants||38.8%||980||$64,630|
|Set and Exhibit Designers||38.7%||600||$56,040|
|Computer Numerically Controlled Machine Tool Programmers, Metal and Plastic||36%||170||$49,990|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||35.3%||2,240||$53,840|
|Physical Therapist Aides||33.8%||890||$27,270|
|Camera Operators, Television, Video, and Motion Picture||33%||1,490||$59,110|
|Farmworkers, Farm, Ranch, and Aquacultural Animals||32.3%||490||$31,500|
|Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary||32.1%||1,130||$71,470|
|Transit and Railroad Police||31.8%||-||-|
|Radio, Cellular, and Tower Equipment Installers and Repairers||31.1%||-||$64,430|
|Producers and Directors||30.7%||4,900||$84,570|
|Orthotists and Prosthetists||29.6%||400||$67,830|
|Entertainment Attendants and Related Workers, All Other||29.4%||270||$26,950|
|Ambulance Drivers and Attendants, Except Emergency Medical Technicians||29.1%||1,170||$29,520|
|Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists||29%||20,460||$67,080|
|Cargo and Freight Agents||28.9%||4,760||$44,560|
|Nonfarm Animal Caretakers||28.7%||6,820||$24,790|
|Hearing Aid Specialists||28%||350||$50,510|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Georgia
Georgia students and their families have access to some helpful state-run financial aid programs that can make it easier to afford an education:
- Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally (HOPE), funded by the Georgia lottery, offers scholarships and grants.
- The Path2College 529 Plan is a tax-exempt college savings plan for parents.
- The Georgia Student Finance Commission offers a range of grant, loan and scholarship programs for in-state students.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
Renewable if recipient maintains minimum 3.0 GPA and continues to demonstrate satsifactory academic progress.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
Renewable if recipient maintains a minimum 3.0 GPA and demonstrates satisfactory academic progress.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
Renewable if recipient demonstrates satisfactory academic progress and is able to document 20 hours of community service annually.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
- University System of Georgia - http://www.usg.edu/
- Georgia Student Finance Commission - http://gsfc.georgia.gov/
- College Goal Georgia - http://collegegoalga.com/
- Georgia Higher Education Alliance - http://www.gahea.org/
- Georgia Department of Labor - http://dol.georgia.gov/
- Technical College System of Georgia - https://tcsg.edu/
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/
- UGA by the Numbers, University of Georgia, Accessed March 2018, http://www.uga.edu/profile/facts/
- About Georgia Tech, Georgia Tech, Accessed March 2018, http://www.gatech.edu/about
- About Georgia College, Georgia College, Accessed March 2018, http://www.gcsu.edu/about
- About Us, Georgia Southern University, Accessed March 2018, http://www.georgiasouthern.edu/about/
- About, University of North Georgia, Accessed March 2018, https://ung.edu/about/index.php
- About Mercer, Mercer University, Accessed March 2018, http://about.mercer.edu/
- Points of Pride, Emory University, Accessed March 2018, http://www.emory.edu/home/about/points-pride/index.html
- Snapshot of Brenau University, Brenau University, Accessed March 2018, https://www.brenau.edu/about/quickfacts/
- Beauty is More than Skin Deep, Valdosta State University, Accessed March 2018, https://www.valdosta.edu/about/
- About UWG, University of West Georgia, Accessed March 2018, https://www.westga.edu/about-uwg/
- 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.
- 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/