Earning a degree in Idaho starts with selecting the right school. The state is home to a number of public and private institutions offering diverse academic programs. Some are focused on two-year campus-based degrees while others have embraced digital learning and let students earn an online bachelor's degree in Idaho.
The public higher education system includes eight institutions scattered across the state. The University of Idaho is its flagship school and has five campus locations. Three other public colleges and universities award four-year degrees in the state as well. The state also operates technical schools and community colleges which specialize in associate degrees and career training. Those students who start at a two-year school and later decide to pursue a bachelor's degree may find they are able to transfer credits earned at one school to another.
Many of the private universities in the state are affiliated with a religious organization. Students who don't live near a campus may be able to earn online Idaho degrees through one of these schools or a public college.
Best 4-Year Colleges in Idaho
When looking for the best colleges in Idaho, we analyzed schools for their cost, online degree programs, graduation rate and more. Based on our methodology, the following are the top Idaho schools. When you're done here, be sure to check out the top community colleges in Idaho, too.
The flagship school of the Idaho public higher education system is also one of the best universities in Idaho. It is one of only 72 land-grant universities nationwide and was founded in 1889. While it has its main campus in Moscow, students can also study at learning centers in Coeur d'Alene, Boise, Idaho Falls and Twin Falls.
U of I is also arguably one of the best online colleges in Idaho. The university has a number of certificate, undergraduate and graduate degree programs that can be completed online or via distance education. Combined with its on-campus programs, there are more than 300 degree options at the school.
Affordable tuition and generous financial aid are among the other reasons the University of Idaho is one of the top Idaho universities.
Northwest Nazarene University is another of the best schools in Idaho. The accredited, private school was founded in 1913 as an elementary school, but college courses were added within two years. Its first degrees were awarded in 1917. The university is one of eight schools nationwide affiliated with the Church of the Nazarene.
There are a number of reasons that Northwest Nazarene University makes the list of top Idaho colleges. Its average class size is small, and it reports strong retention rates. Plus, NNU has a robust distance learning program that includes online courses and degrees in business, education, nursing and more.
Overall, NNU has more than 60 fields of study available across more than 20 academic departments. The school has its campus in Nampa.
Boise State University started as a junior college affiliated with the Episcopal Church. Founded in 1932, the college was turned over to a private board of directors in 1934 and became a public institution in 1939. Today, it draws more than 24,000 students to its campus and online degree programs, making it one of the largest schools in the state.
Students at BSU get an affordable education, but that is only one reason this institution stands among the top schools in Idaho. It is a noted research university and maintains a core curriculum designed to develop the skills of problem-solving, communication and teamwork.
With a campus in the vibrant city of Boise, BSU offers flexible learning options. In addition to online courses, students can take night and weekend classes.
Another of the top universities in Idaho is a private institution affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Brigham Young University - Idaho was founded in 1888 in Rexburg. From humble beginnings, it has grown to a campus spanning 430 acres and drawing students from all 50 states as well as from across the globe.
BYUI earns its spot on the list of best schools in Idaho, in part, because of its strong graduation rate and affordable tuition. The school can also be considered one of the most prominent online colleges in the state with thousands of students enrolled in online courses or fully online degree programs.
There are six academic colleges at BYU - Idaho. Within these colleges, the university applies an innovative Learning Model that takes a proactive, engaged approach to education.
Idaho State University is a public institution that enrolls nearly 13,000 students. Among Idaho universities, it gets high marks for the size and diversity of its degree catalog. The school offers hundreds of programs that result in everything from certificates to doctoral degrees.
The school was founded in 1901 and has since branched out to include four campuses. Its flagship location is in Pocatello in the southeast section of the state. Other campuses have been established in Idaho Falls, Meridian and Twin Falls. Students who don't live near one of these locations can enroll in online courses. As one of the best online colleges in Idaho, ISU has a large percentage of its students enrolled in distance education.
As with other public Idaho colleges, Idaho State University is known for its affordable tuition.
Named for the famous explorers, Lewis-Clark State College is a public four-year school located in Lewiston. It was founded in 1893. Its campus, near the border of Idaho and Washington, is located by the Clearwater and Snake Rivers and offers plenty of outdoor recreation activities.
Nearly 4,000 students are enrolled at Lewis-Clark State College, and the school offers more than 130 degree program and certificate options. It offers hundreds of online courses as well. LCSC takes a three-pronged approach to education that includes offering traditional degrees, career and technical programs and community programs.
The school is one of the top colleges in Idaho thanks to its affordable tuition rate, strong placement rate for graduates, low student-faculty ratio and generous financial aid.
Most Popular Degree Programs in Idaho
If you aren't sure what to study, consider whether one of these popular Idaho majors is right for you.
In-Demand Careers in Idaho
Getting a job in Idaho after graduation may depend on your degree. Will your education help prepare you for one of these potential high-growth occupations?
|Career Title||Projected Job Growth||Total Employment||Annual Salary|
|Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians||50%||-||-|
|Designers, All Other||50%||-||-|
|Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons||50%||-||-|
|Home Health Aides||39%||3,200||$25,150|
|Social Science Research Assistants||38.5%||-||-|
|Personal Care Aides||37%||12,130||$22,970|
|Diagnostic Medical Sonographers||35.2%||250||$80,330|
|Hearing Aid Specialists||35%||40||$49,410|
|Rail Car Repairers||34%||220||$45,620|
|Set and Exhibit Designers||33.3%||-||-|
|Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Managers||32.1%||1,820||$36,800|
|Interpreters and Translators||31.6%||200||$37,650|
|Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians||31.4%||270||$58,020|
|Forest Fire Inspectors and Prevention Specialists||30.4%||-||-|
|Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary||30.4%||350||$71,680|
|Information Security Analysts||30.3%||390||$86,590|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Idaho
Earning a degree can be expensive, but the state of Idaho has several scholarship programs to help offset the cost. These include the Postsecondary Credit Scholarship, the Governor's Cup Scholarship and the Opportunity Scholarship. What's more, Idaho students may be eligible for additional grants and loans from the federal government.
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Recipient must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA or better to retain scholarship. Award is renewable for up to four years.
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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/
- Fast Facts, University of Idaho, Accessed May 2018, https://www.uidaho.edu/about/fast-facts
- Frequently Asked Questions, Northwest Nazarene University, Accessed May 2018, https://www.nnu.edu/about/faq
- 2018 Facts and Figures, Boise State University, Accessed May 2018, https://news.boisestate.edu/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2018/04/2018-Facts-and-Figures.pdf
- BYU - Idaho Learning Model, Brigham Young University - Idaho, Accessed May 2018, http://www.byui.edu/about/defining-aspects/learning-model
- About Us, Idaho State University, Accessed May 2018, https://www.isu.edu/about/
- About LCSC, Lewis-Clark State College, Accessed May 2018, http://www.lcsc.edu/about-lc/
- 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/
- Scholarships, Idaho State Board of Education, Accessed June 2017, https://boardofed.idaho.gov/scholarship/scholarship_jump.asp
- 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.
- Higher Education in Idaho, Idaho Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, Accessed June 2017, https://boardofed.idaho.gov/public_col_univ/documents/hi_ed_book/IACRAO_HigherEducationInIdaho_2016.pdf?cache=1498145185343
- Idaho Schools Directory, Next Steps Idaho, Accessed June https://nextsteps.idaho.gov/schools/