- 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/
- College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, accessed March 24, 2017, https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=GA&ct=1+2&ic=1
- USG by the Numbers, University System of Georgia, accessed March 24, 2017, http://www.info.usg.edu/
- School pages, accessed March 24, 2017: Rankings, Georgia Institute of Technology, http://www.info.usg.edu/; Transfer Admission Agreements (TAG), University of Georgia, https://curriculumsystems.uga.edu/transfer-information/transfer-admission-agreements-tag; Net Price Calculator, Bergen Community College, http://bergen.edu/Portals/0/calculator/npcalc.htm; About Augusta University, Augusta University, http://www.augusta.edu/about/; Programs of Study, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, http://www.abac.edu/academics/programs-of-study; About GSW, Georgia Southwestern State University, https://gsw.edu/about-gsw/index; CSU Online, Columbus State University, https://online.columbusstate.edu/index.php;
- Georgia Institute of Technology, World University Rankings, Times Higher Education, accessed March 24, 2017, https://www.timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankings/georgia-institute-of-technology?ranking-dataset=589595#ranking-dataset/595528
- State by State Data, The Institute for College Access and Success, accessed March 24, 2017, http://ticas.org/posd/map-state-data#;
- 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.
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 bachelor's degree in Georgia.
Figuring out which traditional and online colleges 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.
Best 4-Year Colleges in Georgia
Here's which schools made our top 10, starting from the top.
The Atlanta campus of this nationally renowned public university — better known as Georgia Tech — came in at No. 1 for its high marks on several important metrics. Its percentage of graduates who repaid their student loans within three years was No. 1 among all Georgia schools, and its student retention rate was also top in the state. The school's graduation rate came in at No. 3 statewide.
The traditional and online bachelor's degrees in Georgia Tech's portfolio are among some of the highest-rated in the country. Its industrial engineering program has been ranked No. 1 for more than 2 decades by U.S. News & World Report, and Times Higher Education ranked its computer science program as No. 5 in the world.
The largest institution on our list comes in at No. 2, thanks to its high marks for the number of different programs it offers and the top graduation rate among all schools on our list. The University of Georgia was also one of the best online colleges in Georgia, according to NCES numbers. The Athens school tied for No. 1 among schools on our list for its array of degree programs offered via distance education.
Potential transfer students from other two- and four-year schools in the state have a range of admissions benefits at this nationally renowned public school. Many of the transfer agreements available apply to specific subject majors, such as physics, agribusiness and consumer economics. Some agreements, however, are more general and cover incoming transfer credits from a range of departments.
Affordability was one of the marquee metrics for our No. 3 school. Only three other institutions in the state reported a lower average tuition and fees expense than Middle Georgia State University (MGA), and its average cost of books and supplies tied for No. 4 among the top 10 schools in the state.
Thanks perhaps in part to that general affordability, graduates of the Macon institution left school with the third-lowest amount of student debt in the state. The median debt load of $12,000 for graduating students in 2014-15 was less than half of the state average of $27,754 calculated for that year by the Institute for College Access and Success. In fact, MGA placed in the top 25 of all 1,649 schools we surveyed nationally for its graduates' manageable average student loan amount.
Average net price is a measure of college affordability that takes into account the average student's expected amount of financial aid awarded through grants and scholarships. The University of North Georgia posted the No. 6 average net price among all traditional and online colleges in Georgia, coupled with the statewide No. 7 rank for tuition and fees cost.
The 74 on-campus and online degree programs at UNG include all ten of the most popular bachelor's degrees in Georgia for 2017. The Lumpkin County school is one of just three universities on our list to offer the full range of Georgia's hottest undergraduate majors, which includes nursing, psychology, biology and criminal justice. The most popular campus-based and online bachelor's degree at UNG is business administration, according to 2015 enrollment.
Dalton State College was No. 2 in Georgia and No. 3 among all schools we surveyed nationally for its tuition and fees affordability. It also placed near the top in the average net price category and provided larger amount of institutional grant and scholarship aid than all but one of the other Georgia schools in our study. The average net price charged to Dalton State students was second-lowest in the state and ranked at No. 13 nationally.
Flexibility measures for students were a big part of our methodology in determining the best traditional and online colleges in Georgia. Dalton State offered seven of the ten such measures we tested for, including career counseling, placement services for graduates, tuition payment plans and available credit for life experience.
Our No. 6 school placed fourth among the colleges on our list for its proportion of grant and scholarship aid awarded to students. The amount of student debt carried by graduates ranked as third lowest among our top 10, with 2014-15 graduates averaging just $12,350 in debt upon completion of their degree programs.
Students looking for an online bachelor's degree in Georgia have several options for distance education at this Augusta school. The assortment of fully online degree programs at Augusta University was large enough to rank it at No. 3 among our 10 best colleges in Georgia. In-state students who live outside of Augusta may also be able to take some of their classes at satellite campuses in Athens, Albany, Savannah and Rome.
This Tifton school ranked at No. 4 statewide on two affordability metrics: expense of average tuition and fees and cost of books and supplies. Its average net price in 2015 was low enough to qualify it for the No. 3 spot in the state in that category. The three-year student loan repayment rate for ABAC graduates ranked fifth among our top 10 Georgia schools.
By limiting its selection of academic plans on a few specific types of degree, ABAC aims to provide targeted instruction to its students. Students in its bachelor's degree programs in agriculture, biology, horticulture, business, nursing, rural studies and natural resource management are expected to know how to take their skills either directly into the workforce or on up the academic ladder to a master's degree and beyond.
Georgia Southwestern State University has the smallest student body of any school on our list in 2015, according to NCES data. The total enrollment of fewer than 3,000 students suggests an intimate learning environment where students can earn their degrees without contending with the hustle and bustle of a large national university.
Students looking for online Georgia-based degrees seem to flock to Georgia Southwestern. The Americus school posted the highest percentage enrollment in distance education programs of any school on our list, with nearly 60 percent of students taking at least some of their coursework in the virtual classroom. It also had the second-highest student retention rate among our best traditional and online colleges in Georgia.
Students interested in affordable academic variety may find what they're looking for at our No. 9 school. Columbus State University tied for the No. 8 spot statewide for its number of degree programs offered and came in at No. 6 among schools on our list for its low average net price.
Distance education programs were also one of the bright spots for this Columbus school. Students looking for online Georgia-based degrees may choose from 18 study plans at CSU. Only four other schools in the state offered a greater variety of online programs in 2015-16. Degree plans offered online at CSU include business administration, communication, information technology, sociology and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) program for working registered nurses.
Our No. 10 school is the most affordable option among the best traditional and online colleges in Georgia by multiple measures. It placed at No. 1 in the state for its low cost of tuition and fees, its average amount of grant and scholarship aid per student and its average net price for both low-income and middle-income students.
The median debt load of graduates from Atlanta Metropolitan State College also stood out. Only 10 other colleges in the entire country reported lower graduate debt than the $8,500 average owed by AMSC alumni. The number of bachelor's programs offered was relatively small — just 9 on-campus degrees and 1 online degree in 2015-16, according to the NCES — but two of the most popular majors in the state can be found among the available programs.
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|
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.
Renewable for up to four years of undergraduate study.
Renewable for up to four years of undergraduate study.
November 15 (Early Action admissions deadline)
Renewable if recipient maintains a minimum 3.25 GPA and full-time status.
- 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/