- 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 March 27, 2017: University of Maryland, https://umd.edu/; Online Learning @ FSU, Frostburg State University, http://www.frostburg.edu/online/degree-programs-and-courses/; Net Price Calculator, Bergen Community College, http://bergen.edu/Portals/0/calculator/npcalc.htm; The University of Baltimore, for Baltimore, The University of Baltimore, http://www.ubalt.edu/about-ub/ub-for-baltimore.cfm; About, Bowie State University, https://www.bowiestate.edu/about/; Bachelor and Associate Degree Programs, Capitol Technology University, https://www.captechu.edu/academics/undergraduate-academics/bachelor-and-associate-degree-programs; About, St. Mary's College of Maryland, http://www.smcm.edu/about/;
- Agreements Between USM and Community Colleges Ease Transfer for Maryland Students, University System of Maryland, accessed March 27, 2017, http://usmh12.usmd.edu/newsroom/news/114
- Overall Rankings, Johns Hopkins University, U.S. News and World Report, accessed March 27, 2017, https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/jhu-2077/overall-rankings
- State Financial Assistance Programs & Applications, Maryland Higher Education Commission, accessed March 27, 2017, http://mhec.maryland.gov/preparing/Pages/FinancialAid/descriptions.aspx
- 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.
Maryland is a relatively small state, but the variety of college experiences available to Maryland students is sizeable. Whether you prefer a large campus in a big city or a more intimate school in a laid-back town setting, one of the best traditional or online colleges in Maryland is likely to have what you're looking for.
The University System of Maryland (USM) administrates 12 colleges and universities in the Old Line State, including the main and satellite campuses of the state's flagship public university. Schools in the state system participate in a series of agreements with Maryland's community colleges, allowing students in certain programs to streamline the university transfer process. The USM articulation system, or ARTSYS, serves as an umbrella program to help transfer students plan their path to a university degree.
In order to figure out which ones among the dozens of Maryland colleges could be called the best, we collected a ton of National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data and analyzed it with our in-house methodology. Factors such as affordability, flexibility, student success and more helped shape our approach to ranking the top 10 schools in the state. Read on to find out who made the cut.
Best 4-Year Colleges in Maryland
Here are the top 10 colleges and universities in Maryland, out of the total of 24 public and private institutions we studied.
Our No. 1 school put up some impressive numbers in multiple categories, giving it not only the top spot in Maryland but also landing it among the top 10 schools nationwide. The main campus location of the University of Maryland offered the largest number of degree programs in the state in 2015-16, had the No. 1 student retention rate and graduated a higher percentage of its student body than all other Maryland schools but one. This means that UMD offers most the most education options of any school on our list.
It also places a sturdy focus on educational access through financial aid. It provided the highest proportion of institutional grant aid per student of any school on our list. Average net price at UMD — an affordability measure that deducts expected grant and scholarship aid from the average cost of tuition, fees, supplies, housing and other expenses — was No. 1 in the state for low-income students.
This Baltimore County school also made it into the national top 40 on our analysis, out of more than 1,600 colleges and universities across the country. Students looking for an online program in Maryland had an array of options to choose from, with no fewer than 29 online degree programs in 2015-16. Only one other school in the state provided more study plans in the virtual classroom than Towson University.
Multiple affordability metrics tilted in Towson's favor, as well. It ranked in the statewide top 10 for the affordability of its average tuition and fees expense, and its average net price placed at No. 6 in the state for middle- and low-income students. Cost of books and supplies at Towson was second best among schools on our list.
Coppin State University took the No. 3 spot overall thanks to its top-tier affordability scores across the board on our analysis. Not only were its costs of tuition, fees, books and supplies the lowest of any school on our list, but the average net price for middle-income students was also No. 1 in the state. CSU graduates also left school with the third-lowest debt load among our top 10 Maryland schools.
Flexibility metrics like credit exams for life experience and weekend and evening degree programs were another bright spot for CSU students. The Baltimore school offered eight of the ten such measures on our analysis. Career counseling, remedial assistance and placement services for graduating students are all available for students who need them.
The Baltimore County location of the accredited University of Maryland tied at No. 3 in the state for its selection of campus-based degree programs. Students seeking an online program in Maryland also have plenty to choose from at this big city institution, where the array of online programs came in at No. 5 statewide in 2015-16.
UMBC students were awarded the third-highest proportion of institutional grant aid of all the schools on our list, and the numbers show that they tended to recoup their investment fairly quickly. The NCES reports that more than 78 percent of UMBC graduates repaid their loan balance within three years after completing their degree, the fourth-highest percentage among our top 10 schools.
The average net price for students at the accredited Frostburg State University was third-lowest in Maryland in 2015, thanks in part to a tuition and fees expense that placed at No. 6 statewide for affordability. Students also have access to financing plans and other alternative measures of tuition repayment.
Eight of the ten most popular four-year degree programs in the state were available at Frostburg State University in 2017. FSU also features a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N) degree that can be earned fully-online, for registered nurses hoping to advance their career without taking undue time away from work.
Another affordable option for Baltimore students is the city's namesake university, which ranked fifth in the state for average net price and affordability of tuition and fees. Only five other schools in the state saw their students finish degrees with a lower average debt load than the public University of Baltimore. IT was also one of the best online colleges in Maryland, placing at No. 4 statewide for its percentage of students taking at least some of their coursework online.
The University of Baltimore also works to give back to the community of Maryland's largest city. It provides support and guidance to city leaders in complying with the UN's Sustainable Cities Initiative, offers additional learning opportunities through student internship programs with city and state institutions and administrates a benefits program for university employees hoping to buy a home near the campus.
With more than 150 years of history behind it, Bowie State University is the oldest historically black college/university (HBCU) in Maryland and one of the ten oldest in the nation at large. Students at Bowie State have a range of undergraduate learning options to help them see their education through to the end, including counseling services, exams for life experience credit and tuition payment plans.
Bowie State charged its students the second-lowest average net price in the state in 2015, and affordability of tuition and fees at this relatively small school came in at No. 2 among our top Maryland schools. It placed in the statewide top 10 for its variety of academic programs offered on campus, and its sixth-ranked online program enrollment rate qualifies it as one of the best online schools in Maryland as well.
This prestigious private institution has one of the largest student bodies in the state — more than 22,000 in 2015 — and is far and away one of the most prolific online colleges on our list. Johns Hopkins students had no fewer than 75 online degree programs available to them in 2015-16, placing the Baltimore school among the top 10 colleges nationwide for online degree access.
Johns Hopkins also features some of the top degree programs in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report. Its bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering ranked at No. 2 in the country in 2017, and its four-year undergraduate degree in environmental engineering finished in a tie at No. 7.
One of the largest schools in the state is followed at No. 9 by one of the smallest. Just over 800 students were enrolled at Capitol Technology University in 2015, according to the NCES. Even with that fact, Capitol ranked at No. 4 among the best online schools in Maryland for its 16 online programs available in 2015-16. It also ran away with the online enrollment rate category, reporting that nearly 85 percent of students took at least some of their 2015-16 classes online.
The Laurel school offers just 13 four-year undergraduate degree programs, according to Capitol's website, and the school's general focus on technology shines through in its degree catalog. Engineering subjects dominate the list of programs, along with a few computer science degrees and one in business administration.
This small public liberal arts college in St. Mary's City landed at No. 10 by focusing on helping its roughly 1,700 students afford their trip through college. The average net price of a year at St. Mary's was the third-most affordable statewide for low-income students in 2015-16, and more than 88 percent of graduates managed to repay their student loans within three years of finishing their degrees.
St. Mary's also had the No. 4 graduation rate in the state in 2015-16 and finished in the top 8 for both student retention rate and median debt load of graduating students. It may have finished higher up the list if it weren't for the absence of online degree options for students seeking location flexibility in their degree plans.
Most popular degree programs in Maryland
Having an idea of the most popular study plans can help you get a picture of the educational priorities in force in your state, which may inform your own path through college. Here's a list of the top campus-based and online bachelor's degree programs in Maryland.
In-Demand Careers in Maryland
Matching up your schooling to the needs of a high-demand industry can give you certain advantages on the career market after graduation. Check out this list of the top careers in Maryland and find out which subjects of study are most likely to help you get ahead in the workforce.
|Career Title||Projected Job Growth||Total Employment||Annual Salary|
|Earth Drillers, Except Oil and Gas||95.9%||460||-|
|Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary||56.8%||1,250||$76,560|
|Interpreters and Translators||55.1%||890||$66,800|
|Information Security Analysts||52%||4,440||$104,830|
|Home Health Aides||49.5%||11,740||$25,080|
|Personal Care Aides||49.5%||14,330||$24,900|
|Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners||47.4%||2,850||$54,620|
|Occupational Therapy Assistants||46.8%||560||$65,350|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||43.2%||1,480||$57,670|
|Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists||41.2%||9,980||$65,370|
|Diagnostic Medical Sonographers||40.1%||1,370||$71,690|
|Occupational Therapy Aides||40%||110||$30,950|
|Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors||39.7%||6,550||$47,810|
|Self-Enrichment Education Teachers||39.6%||5,090||$46,670|
|Physical Therapist Aides||39%||1,590||$27,610|
|Philosophy and Religion Teachers, Postsecondary||38.6%||410||$84,000|
|Education Administrators, Preschool and Childcare Center/Program||38.4%||1,040||$51,510|
|Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education||38.4%||9,330||$35,090|
|Biological Science Teachers, Postsecondary||37.4%||940||$92,910|
|Coaches and Scouts||37.3%||2,990||$44,590|
|Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs||37%||4,770||$27,850|
|Operations Research Analysts||36.9%||3,880||$93,910|
|Computer Systems Analysts||36.5%||15,760||$95,890|
|Anthropologists and Archeologists||36.2%||180||$74,770|
|Social and Human Service Assistants||35.9%||8,200||$35,460|
|Law Teachers, Postsecondary||35.7%||50||$142,620|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Maryland
The Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) provides an assortment of grants and scholarships to students who are official residents of the state. Here are just a few of the plans available to qualifying students:
- The Howard P. Rawlings Program of Educational Excellence consists of three separate grants for high school seniors and enrolled college students.
- The 2+2 Transfer Scholarship is designed to encourage community college students to continue their education at the bachelor's level.
- The Maryland legislature features a Delegate Scholarship and a Senatorial Scholarship that may award between $200 and $11,250 depending on a student's financial need.