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 adviser about partnerships and other special opportunities with universities in the state.
Best 4-Year Colleges in Indiana
We wanted to sort the top Indiana schools from the rest, so we pulled together a ton of data on affordability, flexibility, student outcomes, financial aid and the availability of online programs and analyzed it with our in-house methodology. Read on for our list of the best colleges and universities in Indiana. When you're done here, be sure to check out the top community colleges in Indiana, too.
The history of Indiana University Bloomington stretches back nearly two centuries. In 1824, it admitted a total of ten students for the year. Today, it serves as the flagship campus of Indiana University and hosts the largest student body in the state, reporting undergraduate enrollment of more than 33,000 and a full student headcount close to 44,000.
IU maybe one of the best schools in Indiana for students hoping to keep their college debt in check. A cost management initiative here has been successful, according to the statistics -- just 51 percent of students graduate from the Bloomington institution with any loan debt at all.
Academic quality is a bright spot at IU Bloomington, also. Numerous academic programs here rank among the best in their field, particularly the graduate degrees in nonprofit management, environmental policy, public affairs, social psychology and design.
Ball State University was founded in in 1918, after the buildings of a defunct teachers' college were purchased by industrialist Frank C. Ball and donated to the State of Indiana. The institution grew quickly, expanding to serve more than 21,000 students each year.
The Muncie institution also ranks it among the top online schools in Indiana, thanks to a variety of online degree programs that few other schools can match. More than 70 fully online degrees and certificates can be earned at Ball State, including post-baccalaureate certificate programs in education, health care, criminal justice, business and more.
Numerous programs at Ball State are accredited by program-specific organizations. The architecture program is accredited by the National Architecture Accrediting Board (NAAB), for example, and teaching degrees are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
Purdue University is another large institution among the top colleges and universities in Indiana. A total of more than 41,000 students were enrolled here in 2017, with 75 percent of them (roughly 31,000) working toward a degree in one of Purdue's nearly 200 undergraduate majors.
Even with its high student population, Purdue still manages to keep the classrooms from feeling crowded. The undergraduate student-faculty ratio is around 12:1 -- an improvement over the 14:1 ratio recorded just ten years ago despite total enrollment rising 5 percent in the same period.
Perhaps as a result of that close-knit learning environment, Purdue posts some impressive graduation and retention rates. More than 91 percent of first-year students return for their sophomore year, and the 2017 graduation rate represents a nearly 20 percent increase over the figure tallied a decade ago.
This small school in the town of Winona Lake is an evangelical Christian institution that works to create an academic environment based in Christian ideals that instills biblical values in its students. The undergraduate student body at Grace College and Theological Seminary numbers under 1,300 and the student-faculty ratio is 23:1.
Students seeking advanced religious degrees have quite a few to choose from at Grace. The theological seminary portion of the institution offers three Master of Arts (M.A.) degrees, six Master of Divinity (M.Div.) programs and two doctoral degrees, in intercultural studies and pastoral studies.
The core curriculum here features just six credits of standard general education courses in subjects like math, science, humanities and modern languages. The bulk of the Grace core consists of Bible study, public speaking and approaches to science and critical thinking from a Christian perspective.
Founded in 1859, Valparaiso University is an independent Lutheran college in the northeastern part of the state, located approximately an hour's drive from Chicago, Illinois. The student body is relatively small, featuring fewer than 3,300 undergraduate students in 2017, but the ratio of just 13 students per faculty member can provide great academic opportunity.
Students hoping for some help with their tuition bill can often find what they need at Valparaiso. Nearly 95 percent of those enrolled in 2017-18 received some form of financial aid, whether they were undergraduates, graduates, or law students.
Valparaiso maintains five undergraduate colleges -- arts and sciences, business, engineering, nursing and health professions and an honors college -- and a graduate school that offers more than 40 master's degree programs. Two Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) degrees are also available.
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 serves nearly 30,000 students and earned more than $400 million in external research funding in 2015-16.
IUPUI was also one of the top online colleges in Indiana, offering close to 120 degree and certificate plans and hundreds of individual online courses to add extra flexibility to students' degree plans. A few unique certificate programs are available, such as analog audio electronics, cultural heritage tourism and technical communication.
The Indianapolis school also works to help students get involved in the local community. The university offers more than 1,200 community-based courses designed to provide degree-relevant work experience while bringing benefits to people and organizations in the region.
Bethel College began its life in 1947 as an evangelical Christian institution affiliated with the Missionary Church. It's grown to a modest-sized private college of around 1,600 students in the seven decades since its founding, and its roots in faith continue to inform its mission and educational approach.
Points of pride for Bethel include its sign language interpreting program, which produced a 100-percent pass rate on the national interpreter exam, and a pre-med program that has produced a medical school acceptance rate twice as high as the national average over the last two decades.
Bethel offers more than 50 areas of study for undergraduates, in secular fields like marketing and chemistry as well as church music, youth ministry and other religious disciplines. A small set of programs for busy adult learners is available online and in the evenings.
This Christian school in the town of Upland is one of the oldest evangelical colleges in the United States. Founded in 1846 by the North Indiana Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church and originally known as Fort Wayne Female College, Taylor University works to shepherd its students' spiritual lives as well as enrich them academically.
Total enrollment at Taylor checks in at just under 1,900 students, making it one of the smaller Indiana colleges we surveyed. Its educational efforts focus on undergraduate programs -- just 41 graduate students were counted at Taylor in 2017 -- and, as such, 99 percent of students here are under age 25.
A student-faculty ratio of 13:1 indicates that time for students and professors to work closely together won't be hard to find. Taylor's top majors by enrollment include business, art and kinesiology.
Butler University has been marching to the beat of its own drummer since its founding in 1855. Attorney and abolitionist Ovid Butler founded the institution on the principle that everyone, regardless of race or gender, deserves a good education -- a highly unusual line of thinking in antebellum America.
Located in the historic Butler-Tarkington neighborhood about five miles from downtown Indianapolis, Butler features six academic colleges and offers degree programs in nearly 70 fields of study. Aspiring graduate students have around 20 master's degree programs to choose from.
Student success numbers are high at this liberal arts school, likely thanks in part to a student-faculty ratio 25 percent better than the national average. Around 97 percent of Butler students either find work or enroll in grad school within six months of graduation.
Goshen College is a private liberal arts institution with one of the smallest student bodies among all Indiana universities. Just 800 undergraduates were enrolled here in 2017, as well as around 70 graduate students, making for one of the more intimate campus environments anywhere in the state.
A ratio of just 10 students per faculty member can be found here, which is nearly 40 percent better than the nationwide average ratio of 16:1. Students may choose from a degree catalog that contains around 40 majors and 50 minors and primarily consists of Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degrees.
Goshen has an official affiliation with the Mennonite Church, but it does not discriminate against applicants from other spiritual traditions. The majority of students here -- nearly two-thirds -- identify as Protestant, with around 13 percent Roman Catholic and five percent from other faiths.
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|
|Wind Turbine Service Technicians||71%||120||$51,680|
|Home Health and Personal Care Aides||48.8%||42,640||$24,100|
|Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers||36.6%||16,810||$91,880|
|Occupational Therapy Assistants||33.8%||1,350||$54,290|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||32%||2,620||$57,330|
|Physical Therapist Aides||30%||730||$29,950|
|Therapists, All Other||29.7%||-||$42,590|
|Operations Research Analysts||29%||1,280||$71,540|
|Veterinary Technologists and Technicians||27.1%||1,950||$32,740|
|Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Programmers||27%||740||$49,150|
|Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers||26.6%||2,290||$29,700|
|Orthotists and Prosthetists||25.6%||80||$61,850|
|Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary||24.7%||3,590||$116,890|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||24.4%||740||$47,560|
|Dental Laboratory Technicians||24.2%||880||$38,540|
|Medical Appliance Technicians||23.7%||520||$36,660|
|Medical Secretaries and Administrative Assistants||23.2%||11,920||$36,350|
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.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
Renewable if recipient maintains a minimum 3.5 cumulative GPA and is a full-time on-campus student.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
- Indiana Commission for Higher Education
- State Financial Aid Information
- Indiana Student Financial Aid Association
- Promise Indiana
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 21-22, 2018: About, Indiana University Bloomington, https://www.indiana.edu/about/index.html; Rankings & Campus Statistics, Indiana University Bloomington, https://www.indiana.edu/about/ranking-statistics.html; Financial Aid, Indiana University Bloomington, https://admissions.indiana.edu/cost-financial-aid/financial-aid.html; Managing Costs, Indiana University Bloomington, https://admissions.indiana.edu/cost-financial-aid/managing-costs.html; History, Ball State University, http://cms.bsu.edu/about/historyandmission; Accreditation, Ball State University, http://cms.bsu.edu/about/institutionalaccreditation; Accredited Programs, Ball State University, http://cms.bsu.edu/about/administrativeoffices/provost/instplanassess/accredprograms; General Information - 2016-17 Undergraduate Course Catalog, Ball State University, http://cms.bsu.edu/academics/undergraduatestudy/catalog/current-year/generalinfo; Online and Distance Education, Ball State University, http://cms.bsu.edu/academics/collegesanddepartments/online; About Purdue's History, Traditions, Achievements & More, Purdue University, https://www.purdue.edu/purdue/about/index.php; Data Digest, Purdue University, https://www.purdue.edu/datadigest/; Undergraduate Admissions, Purdue University, http://www.admissions.purdue.edu/majors/index.php; About Us, Grace College and Theological Seminary, https://www.grace.edu/about-us/; B.A. or B.S. Quick Look @ Grace Core, Grace College and Theological Seminary, https://www.grace.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Grace-Core.pdf; Fast Facts, Grace College and Theological Seminary, https://www.grace.edu/about-us/fast-facts/; Seminary, Grace College and Theological Seminary, https://www.grace.edu/seminary-deploy-academics/; About, Valparaiso University, https://www.valpo.edu/about/; Graduate Programs, Valparaiso University, https://www.valpo.edu/graduate-school/programs/; Academics, Valparaiso University, https://www.valpo.edu/academics/; Rankings & Campus Statistics, Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis, https://www.iupui.edu/about/rankings-statistics.html; Community Engagement, Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis, https://www.iupui.edu/city/engagement.html; Teaching and Curriculum Development, Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis, https://csl.iupui.edu/teaching-research/curriculum/index.html; Online Programs, Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis, https://online.iu.edu/degrees; Pride Points, Bethel College, https://www.bethelcollege.edu/pridepoints; About, Bethel College, https://www.bethelcollege.edu/about/; Undergraduate Students, Bethel College, https://www.bethelcollege.edu/undergrad; Academic Programs, Bethel College, https://www.bethelcollege.edu/academics; Adult Students, Bethel College, https://www.bethelcollege.edu/academics-programs/adult-and-graduate/; Heritage, Taylor University, http://www.taylor.edu/about/heritage/; Taylor University's Profile, Taylor University, http://www.taylor.edu/about/profile/; Spiritual Life, Taylor University, http://www.taylor.edu/student-life/spiritual-life/; History & Traditions, Butler University, https://www.butler.edu/history-traditions; About Butler, Butler University, https://www.butler.edu/about-butler; At A Glance, Butler University, https://www.butler.edu/glance; Admission, Butler University, https://www.butler.edu/admission; Quick Facts, Goshen College, https://www.goshen.edu/about/quick-facts/;
- 21 Liberal Arts Colleges With the Lowest Student-Faculty Ratios, U.S. News and World Report, Jordan Friedman, April 19, 2016, accessed April 21, 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
- 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;
- 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/