Students heading to college right out of high school and those returning to the classroom after time in the workforce may find Mississippi colleges and universities that can meet their needs. The state is home to a network of public and private schools offering on-campus programs, online degrees and night and weekend classes. Whether you want a school with a powerhouse sports team or a small learning environment, you're likely to find what you seek in Mississippi.
Unlike some other states, Mississippi doesn't have a single large university system. Instead, it is home to eight public universities. These may have a flagship campus as well as satellite locations elsewhere in the state. There are also 15 community colleges conferring two-year degrees and offering technical training. Thanks to a statewide articulation agreement, credits earned through an A.A. program at a Mississippi community college are easily transferred to any of the public universities.
Beyond the public schools, there are private liberal arts institutions as well as several seminaries and theological institutes. Some offer online Mississippi degrees in addition to their on-campus programs.
Best 4-Year Colleges in Mississippi
The top colleges in Mississippi include institutions both large and small. They share a commitment to providing quality academic programs as well as support services that help students succeed. According a methodology that considers graduation rates, tuition and fees and program prominence, these are the best Mississippi universities and colleges. When you're done here, be sure to check out the best community colleges in Mississippi, too.
Ole Miss is one of the most recognizable schools in Mississippi. Chartered in 1844, it was the only public institution of higher learning in the state for 23 years. Even though there are other options now, The University of Mississippi remains a popular choice and enrolls more than 24,000 students.
With 16 colleges and schools, UM offers everything from liberal arts majors to advanced professional degree programs in fields such as law, dentistry and medicine. As one of the best colleges in Mississippi, the school is home to several research centers including the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and the Croft Institute for International Studies.
While Ole Miss has its main campus in Oxford, the university maintains five other campus and center locations.
Mississippi State University is another top public university. Founded in 1878, the school got its start by providing training in agriculture, horticulture and the mechanical arts. Today, it contains eight accredited colleges that support more than 175 degree programs. Its main campus is in Starkville.
MSU attracts high-caliber students from across the nation. Among their ranks are recipients of Rhodes, Truman, Goldwater and Gates Cambridge scholarships. Research produced by Mississippi State is being used to improve manufacturing, explore space and even end hunger.
As an institution steeped in tradition, Mississippi State University hasn't forgotten its humble roots or its mission of personalized, accessible education. Affordable tuition and robust financial aid are part of what make this one of the best schools in Mississippi.
Often called Southern Miss, The University of Southern Mississippi stands out for the vast number of degree programs it offers. Not only are dozens of programs available on campus, but the school has a robust distance learning division that includes fully online degrees in popular fields such as business and education.
The University of Southern Mississippi was founded in 1910 as a teacher's college. It now serves nearly 15,000 students at its flagship campus in Hattiesburg, its Gulf Park campus in Long Beach and at five different teaching and research sites statewide. The school is known for its commitment to the arts and hosts 300 arts events each year.
Southern Miss is one of the state's public universities and houses one of the oldest Honors Colleges in the nation.
Founded in 1826, Mississippi College claims to be the oldest institution of higher learning in the state. Originally formed as the Hampstead Academy, it is also the second-oldest college in the nation that is affiliated with the Baptist Church. With a campus in Clinton, the school offers an education in the liberal arts and sciences.
MC enrolls more than 5,000 students in its undergraduate, graduate and law degree programs. It also has a selection of online degree programs available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. In addition to having excellent academic programs, the school is distinct from other Mississippi colleges in that it has the state's only physician assistant program.
Mississippi College is known for offering an affordable education and embracing core values such as fidelity, integrity, knowledge and respect.
William Carey University is another top Christian institution in Mississippi. The school is now named for William Carey, the founder of the modern Baptist missions, but it started as the Pearl River Boarding School in 1892. Today, it operates on two campuses: a main campus in Hattiesburg and a new Tradition Campus in Biloxi.
There are nine accredited colleges and schools at William Carey University, including a College of Osteopathic Medicine and a School of Music & Ministry Studies. There are numerous online courses available at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Once enrolled, students at William Carey University come back year after year. The school has a strong retention rate and graduation rate. It is also one of the best schools in Mississippi for financial assistance.
Bigger isn't always better, and the next of the best colleges in Mississippi is one of the smallest institutions on this list. With an enrollment of nearly 3,000, Mississippi University for Women gets high marks for cost, program availability and its retention rate. It's also one of the best online colleges for Mississippi with many of its students enrolled in distance education.
Known simply as The W, the school offers more than 60 undergraduate and graduate programs. Its most popular degrees include ones in nursing, business administration and education.
Don't let the university's name fool you. Although chartered as the nation's first state-supported women's college in 1884, The W now admits both men and women. Mississippi University for Women has its campus in Columbus.
Jackson State University is another of the best universities in Mississippi. The school was founded in 1877 as the Natchez Seminary by the American Baptist Home Mission Society. However, the state assumed control of the college in 1940, and it became the Urban University of the State of Mississippi in 1979.
More than 8,500 students are enrolled in JSU's seven academic colleges and schools. Available degrees span the undergraduate, graduate and specialist levels, and more than a quarter of those awarded in 2017 came from the College of Education & Human Development. Social work, biology and health care administration are also top choices for those enrolled at the school.
An affordable tuition, diverse student body and a strong alumni network all help distinguish Jackson State University as one of the top universities in Mississippi.
Delta State University offers a mix of rigorous academics and quirky traditions. Its mascot is the Okra, and a favorite annual event is Pig Pickin' which is part pep rally, part cooking competition. The school also prides itself on its many festivals as well as its commitment to the arts.
Academically, DSU offers more than 40 majors. The school is the only four-year university in the state to offer both a bachelor's and master's degree in commercial aviation. It also has a number of online graduate degrees in fields such as business, education and nursing.
As a regional university, Delta State keeps its tuition affordable, a factor that helps make it one of the best schools in Mississippi. It has its campus in Cleveland, Mississippi.
For students seeking online colleges in Mississippi, Belhaven University is worth considering. The university offers more than 30 online degree programs at all levels, from certificates and associate degrees to doctoral and post-graduate options.
Belhaven was founded in 1883 and is part of the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities. A Christian worldview is intertwined in all its programs. Belhaven University prides itself on providing small class sizes and personalized attention to the approximately 1,200 students who study on its Jackson campus. Although the school is historic, its facilities have been modernized and renovated in recent decades.
In addition to its on-campus student body, more than 3,000 students are enrolled in Belhaven's online courses or take classes at adult learning centers in Jackson, Memphis, Chattanooga and Atlanta.
As the oldest historically black land-grant school in the nation, Alcorn State University can trace its roots to 1871. It is also the second-oldest state-supported institution of higher learning in Mississippi.
Alcorn State University gets high marks today for offering an affordable education and ready access to financial aid. The university strives to make admissions accessible to students with diverse backgrounds and interests. Nearly 4,000 students are enrolled in the school which offers more than 40 student organizations and clubs that help foster a family atmosphere on campus.
The main campus of Alcorn is in Claiborne County while classes are also offered in Natchez and Vicksburg. The university offers degrees through five schools as well as online programs. Its online degrees are mainly at the graduate level although some undergraduate degree options are available.
Most Popular Degree Programs in Mississippi
While some degrees are only available at a limited number of schools, the following popular programs are available at many of the top colleges in Mississippi.
In-Demand Careers in Minnesota
Graduates are hoping for more than a degree; they want a job as well. For that reason, students may want to consider studying in a field that could prepare them for one of these in-demand occupations.
|Career Title||Projected Job Growth||Total Employment||Annual Salary|
|Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers||27.2%||2,200||$87,030|
|Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary||26.8%||1,720||$150,240|
|Home Health and Personal Care Aides||26.1%||17,960||$20,860|
|Operations Research Analysts||25%||290||$74,840|
|Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary||24.7%||580||$74,070|
|Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Programmers||23.6%||150||$46,580|
|Fast Food and Counter Workers||23.4%||16,640||$20,080|
|Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists||19%||2,580||$46,390|
|Business Teachers, Postsecondary||18.9%||430||$90,920|
|Occupational Therapy Assistants||18.3%||290||$62,290|
|Information Security Analysts||17.8%||400||$75,980|
|Security and Fire Alarm Systems Installers||16.7%||320||$44,610|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||16.6%||810||$48,290|
|Biological Science Teachers, Postsecondary||16%||450||$75,030|
|Psychology Teachers, Postsecondary||15.8%||340||$72,150|
|Engineering Teachers, Postsecondary||15.2%||210||$104,550|
|Diagnostic Medical Sonographers||14.7%||660||$61,480|
|First-Line Supervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers||14.4%||9,530||$30,380|
|Food Servers, Nonrestaurant||14.4%||3,990||$20,110|
|Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary||14%||60||$74,940|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Minnesota
In addition to loans and grants available through the federal government, Mississippi students may be eligible for financial aid through the state. The state of Mississippi maintains several programs such as the Mississippi Eminent Scholars Grant, Mississippi Resident Tuition Assistance Grant and the Higher Education Legislative Plan for Needy Students Grant.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
Renewable if recipient has a minimum 2.5 GPA and continuous enrollment.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
Renewable if recipient has a minimum 3.5 GPA and Continuous, full-time enrollment.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
Renewable if recipient maintains full time enrollment and a minimum 2.5 GPA.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
- Mississippi Public Universities
- Mississippi Community College Board
- Mississippi Articulation and Transfer Tool
- Rise Up!
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/
- Academics, The University of Mississippi, Accessed April 2018, http://olemiss.edu/academics/
- Points of Pride, Mississippi State University, Accessed April 2018, https://www.msstate.edu/about/points-of-pride/
- Undergraduate Programs 100% Online, The University of Southern Mississippi, Accessed April 2018, http://choose.usm.edu/degrees.php?location=3
- At a Glance, Mississippi College, Accessed April 2018, https://www.mc.edu/about/glance
- Degrees & Programs, William Carey University, Accessed April 2018, https://www.wmcarey.edu/academics#collapseUndergraduate
- We Are The W, Mississippi University of Women, Accessed April 2018, http://www.muw.edu/
- 2017-2018 Facts and Figures, Jackson State University, Accessed April 2018, http://www.jsums.edu/institutionalresearch/files/2010/06/2017-2018-FACTS-AND-FIGURES-update-2.pdf
- Discover JSU, Jackson State University, Accessed April 2018, http://www.jsums.edu/
- Graduate & Continuing Studies, Delta State University, Accessed April 2018, http://www.deltastate.edu/graduate-and-continuing-studies/graduate-programs/
- About, Belhaven University, Accessed April 2018, http://www.belhaven.edu/belhaven/default.htm
- We are Alcorn, Alcorn State University, Accessed April 2018, https://www.alcorn.edu/discover-alcorn
- Mississippi's Public Universities, Mississippi Public Universities, Accessed May 2017, http://www.mississippi.edu/universities/
- Mississippi's Statewide Articulation Agreement between MS Community Colleges and Public Universities, Mississippi Public Universities, Accessed May 2017, http://www.mississippi.edu/oasa/articulation_agreement.asp
- News and Updates, MS Institutions of Higher Learning, Accessed May 2017, http://riseupms.com/state-aid/news-and-updates/
- 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/