- 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 24, 2017: Online Bachelor's Degrees, Ball State University, http://cms.bsu.edu/academics/collegesanddepartments/online/academic-programs/bachelors; About VU, Vincennes University, https://my.vinu.edu/web/external-relations/about-vu; Online Majors, Vincennes University, https://my.vinu.edu/web/distance-education/online-majors; History, About IUPUI, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, https://www.iupui.edu/about/history/index.html; 100% Online Courses, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, http://registrar.iupui.edu/enrollment/4175/special_course_listings/distance/distance.pl?university+100%+Online+(Online+All); About IPFW, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, http://www.ipfw.edu/about/; Online Degree Programs, University of Southern Indiana, https://www.usi.edu/onlinelearning/programs-courses/; Program: Core 39, University of Southern Indiana, http://bulletin.usi.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=13&poid=2401; Online Degree Completion Programs, Indiana University East, http://www.iue.edu/online/; About IU Southeast, Indiana University Southeast, https://www.ius.edu/about-southeast/;
- Indiana Commission for Higher Education, accessed May 15, 2017: 2017-2018 Frank O'Bannon Grants, http://www.in.gov/che/files/2017-2018_Frank_OBannon_Grid_2_20_17_-8.5x11.pdf ; National Guard Supplemental Grant, http://www.in.gov/che/4516.htm; Adult Student Grant, http://www.in.gov/che/4509.htm;
- 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.
Effective education throughout the years is an important part of Hoosier culture. The dozens of four-year universities in Indiana work to give students the best online college or campus-based experience possible, and their efforts are reflected in the statistical reports produced by U.S. Department of Education bureaus like National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). We brought together a large amount of data from these national agencies and analyzed it in order to try and separate the best traditional and online colleges in Indiana from the rest.
In this analysis, we wanted to look specifically at four-year schools — that is, colleges that award degrees at the bachelor's level and higher. If you're a student at one of Indiana's community colleges and hope to transfer to a four-year school, make sure to check with your advisor about partnerships and other special opportunities with universities in the state.
Best 4-Year Colleges in Indiana
Here's our list of the best traditional and online colleges in Indiana. To see details about our 13-point methodology for this ranking, including a list of our sources and the different categories we evaluated, select the "Methodology" button below.
The No. 1 school in Indiana is also the largest, with a total student body of nearly 50,000. The flagship campus of Indiana University had the No. 1 rates of graduation and first-year student retention among our top ten schools. Only one other school in the state offered a larger selection of on-campus degree programs for students to choose from.
Financial aid was another bright spot for IU students. Just two other schools in the state provided a higher proportion of student aid via institutional grants, and nearly 87 percent of alumni of the Bloomington school were able to repay their student loans within three years of graduation — a higher rate than all but one of the other schools in our top ten.
One comprehensive measure of college affordability is average net price, which takes the total cost of tuition, fees, room and board, books, supplies and other necessary expenses and subtracts the average expected amount of institutional grant aid to obtain an estimate of out-of-pocket charges. Not only did Purdue put up the No. 1 most affordable average net price in Indiana for low-income students in 2015-16, it ranked in the 98th percentile nationally in that category.
Purdue also boasts the largest academic catalog of any school in the state, with nearly 400 degree programs available on campus. The rates of graduation and first-year student retention were also high at Purdue, both placing at No. 2 among the schools on our list.
Ball State University goes the extra mile when it comes to accommodating students with various academic needs. Just one other institution in the state reported a larger proportion of tuition and fees being covered by institutional grant aid, for example, and the Muncie school offers whole degree programs that can be earned by studying only in the evenings and on weekends.
Ball State was also one of the top schools for students seeking an online bachelor's degree in Indiana. It offered the largest number of distance education degree programs of any school on our list, and the catalog of online undergraduate programs includes such popular degrees as business administration, early childhood education and a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) study plan for working registered nurses.
This medium-small public institution in southwestern Indiana is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state, founded in 1801 by President William Henry Harrison. It features the No. 1 most affordable raw cost of tuition and fees in the state and an average net price for middle-income students that ranked No. 5 among schools on our list. Students also typically left school with a remarkably low median amount of college debt — just $14,619 in 2015, according to the NCES — which ranked it among the top 50 schools nationwide on that metric.
VU also had a considerable array of degree programs available in the virtual classroom in 2015-16. Just four other schools statewide offered a larger overall number of online programs than VU's catalog, which includes bachelor's degrees in agribusiness and information technology.
Created as a result of a 1969 agreement between Indiana's two largest universities, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis has become a formidable urban research institution in its own right. The Indianapolis school features the state's third largest catalog of campus-based degrees, offering more than 270 academic programs at all levels in 2015-16.
IUPUI was also one of the top destinations for an online bachelor's degree in Indiana, offering the second-largest selection of online programs among our top ten schools and featuring hundreds of fully online courses to add extra flexibility to students' degree plans. More than 32 percent of IUPUI students were enrolled in at least one distance education course as of fall 2015.
This joint effort between Indiana University and Purdue, established in 1964, is somewhat smaller than its counterpart in the capital city, but nonetheless it offers big opportunities to local students. It features the No. 6 most affordable raw cost of tuition and fees among schools in our top ten, and its average net price for middle-income students ranks No. 6 in the state.
Perhaps the most ringing endorsement for IPFW is its commitment to finding institutional money for its students. No other school in Indiana covered a greater proportion of average tuition and fees with institutional grant aid than this Fort Wayne school, and only two other institutions on our list showed higher rates of graduates paying off their student debt within three years of finishing school.
Tuition and fees were affordable at this Evansville school. Only four other schools on our list posted lower raw cost numbers for basic admissions expenses. The average net price for low- and middle-income students ranked No. 6 and No. 7, respectively, among schools on our list.
USI was also one of the best online schools for Indiana students, according to NCES numbers. Just two other schools in our top ten showed a higher percentage of students enrolled in at least some distance education courses, and online students hoping to branch out into the more diverse campus-based catalog can enroll in an online completion program for Core 39, the collection of general education courses used as a foundation for all bachelor's degrees offered at USI.
The Gary campus of Indiana University was home to one of the most affordable college educations in the state in 2015-16. Raw cost of tuition and fees at IU Northwest was third-lowest among schools on our list, and its average net price ranked No. 2 and No. 1 in the state for low-income and middle-income students, respectively.
IU Northwest also featured eight out of the ten flexibility measures we looked at in this study, including a tuition payment plan and placement services for alumni once they finish their degree plans. On-campus students with busy schedules may be able to earn their degree primarily or entirely through weekend and evening classes, and course credit may be available for relevant life experience.
The smallest school on our list comes in at No. 9, thanks in no small part to the strength of its scores on our affordability metrics. It ranked No. 4 in the state for its manageable raw cost of tuition and fees, and low- and middle-income students paid the state's fourth- and third-most affordable average net price amounts in 2015-16, respectively.
Distance education metrics at IU East were another high point for the Richmond school. Its array of bachelor's degree completion programs available in the virtual classroom earned it the No. 8 spot in the state for online degree variety, and only two other schools statewide reported a higher percentage of students enrolled in at least some online coursework.
Located just across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky, Indiana University Southeast rounds out our list at No. 10. The New Albany school tied with two other institutions in our top ten at the top of the flexibility category, offering eight on-campus initiatives designed to help students access the classes they need and succeed through their degree programs and beyond.
The number of programs available at IU Southwest was comparatively small, but it did come in at No. 9 and No. 10 in the state, respectively, for the average net price it charged middle- and low-income students. Graduates also reported being able to repay their student loans within three years — the fifth-highest rate among schools in our top ten.
Most Popular Degree Programs in Indiana
We can't say why certain college majors tend to have higher enrollment than others, but we can definitely tell you which ones were the top majors in Indiana in the last academic year. Check out the list of most popular degrees below.
In-Demand Careers in Indiana
Some of the hottest careers in Indiana may be seeking new graduates with exactly the degree you're hoping to earn. Take a look at this list of Indiana jobs that are projected to be in particularly high demand over the next few years.
|Career Title||Projected Job Growth||Total Employment||Annual Salary|
|Occupational Therapy Assistants||42.6%||1,180||$59,380|
|Home Health Aides||39.5%||13,020||$22,820|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||37.5%||2,270||$55,950|
|Physical Therapist Aides||36.2%||630||$25,980|
|Operations Research Analysts||35%||1,390||$69,900|
|Therapists, All Other||33.5%||1,080||$46,660|
|Cartographers and Photogrammetrists||32.5%||90||$52,130|
|Interpreters and Translators||31.1%||770||$39,900|
|Orthotists and Prosthetists||30.2%||220||$66,280|
|Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators, Metal and Plastic||29.8%||7,320||$35,650|
|Software Developers, Applications||28%||8,460||$82,210|
|Personal Care Aides||28%||27,790||$20,580|
|Diagnostic Medical Sonographers||27.7%||970||$65,370|
|Veterinary Technologists and Technicians||27.6%||1,370||$29,760|
|Health Technologists and Technicians, All Other||27.3%||2,330||$44,150|
|Computer Numerically Controlled Machine Tool Programmers, Metal and Plastic||27.3%||910||$45,610|
|Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists||25.9%||8,440||$56,210|
|Industrial Machinery Mechanics||25.9%||12,730||$49,700|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||25.8%||620||$48,670|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Indiana
Indiana students may be able to make use of state-based financial aid programs to help pay for college:
- The Frank O'Bannon Grant provides need-based aid to eligible students and includes academic performance incentives that may increase the annual award.
- The National Guard Supplemental Grant offers eligible guard members up to the full amount of tuition and fees during fall and spring semesters.
- The Adult Student Grant provides $1,000 awards to help financially independent adult students return to college and complete their degree.
November 15 (Early Action admissions deadline)
Renewable if recipient maintains a minimum 3.25 GPA and full-time status.
- Indiana Commission for Higher Education
- State Financial Aid Information
- Indiana Student Financial Aid Association
- Promise Indiana