There is no shortage of higher education options in Missouri. According to the Missouri Department of Higher Education, there are nearly 230 institutions of higher learning in the state. These include public universities and colleges, independent colleges, theological institutions and private career schools.
Of these, the state's 13 public universities may be among the best known. They include stand-alone institutions as well as members of the Missouri State University system and the University of Missouri system. There are also fourteen public colleges which offer two-year degrees and technical training. Students who choose to start their education at one of these colleges often find they are easily able to transfer credits to a four-year school thanks to articulation agreements between institutions.
Plus, many two-year and four-year schools in Missouri offer the opportunity to study online. Those looking for online Missouri degrees will find some of the best online colleges for Missouri are well-known institutions with long, storied reputations.
Best 4-Year Colleges in Missouri
If you're ready to get your degree, you probably want to know which institutions are the top colleges in Missouri. We analyzed both public and private schools for a host of factors including tuition, the availability of online courses, graduation rates and more. Once the numbers were crunched, the following were the ten best universities in Missouri. For more insight into education in the state, check out the best Missouri community colleges, too.
Known as Mizzou, the Columbia campus is the flagship location of the University of Missouri system. It was founded in 1839 as the first public university west of the Mississippi River. The school enrolls more than 30,000 students representing every state in the nation as well as 100 countries.
An extensive catalog of hundreds of degree programs is one reason Mizzou rises to the top among Missouri universities. It is one of only six public universities in the nation to have a law school, medical school and veterinary medicine college on the same campus. There are also dozens of online degree programs available for distance learners.
Beyond that, the University of Missouri-Columbia is notable for its affordable tuition and strong graduation rate.
Students seeking a technical education may want to look to the Missouri University of Science and Technology. Founded in 1870, Missouri S&T was one of the first technological institutes established west of the Mississippi River.
Nearly 100 degree programs are offered through the university's two colleges. They cover diverse fields such as business, humanities and behavioral sciences. However, Missouri S&T may be best known for its offerings in technical fields such as engineering and computer science.
The Missouri University of Science and Technology enrolls nearly 9,000 students who have the chance to participate in 18 design teams for projects such as a solar car, solar house and Mars rover. Among Missouri schools, the public institution is known for being a good investment. Its campus is in Rolla.
The flagship campus for Missouri State University enrolls more than 24,000 students in its many undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The school also offers a number of fully online degree programs. As one of the top colleges in Missouri, its classes are taught by full-time faculty who overwhelmingly have the most advanced degree available in their field.
MSU also is an affordable choice for higher education with nearly three-quarters of students receiving financial aid. On campus, those students can choose from hundreds of student organizations or intramural sports programs to enrich their educational experience. Students at Missouri State University-Springfield log more than 420,000 volunteer hours each year.
The Springfield campus was founded in 1905 and adopted the Missouri State University name 100 years later in 2005.
Truman State University has a rich history that began in 1867 when the institution opened as the North Missouri Normal School and Commercial College. It has since undergone many transformations and expansions to become the highly selective school it is today. In 1996, its name was changed to honor Harry S. Truman, the only U.S. president to hail from Missouri.
However, Truman State University has more to offer students than simply a historic campus and compelling legacy. Truman is home to numerous undergraduate, graduate and pre-professional studies programs. These include degrees in popular fields such as registered nursing and business administration.
Part of what makes Truman one of the best Missouri colleges is its affordable tuition and stellar graduation rate. It has its campus in Kirksville.
Saint Louis University also has the distinction of being one of the top schools in Missouri. Often called SLU, the university was founded in 1818. Not one is it one of the best universities in Missouri, but it's also the nation's oldest Catholic university.
Established in the Jesuit tradition, SLU enrolls nearly 13,000 students. Its 12 colleges and schools are joined by four degree-granting centers to offer nearly 200 undergraduate and graduate programs. Saint Louis University features small class sizes, and 99 percent of tenure and tenure-track faculty have the highest degree available in their field.
As for cost, SLU says 98 percent of its first-time freshman receive financial aid. Also notable is the school's commitment to public service. Students, staff and faculty complete 1.6 million volunteer hours each year.
A flexible learning environment and affordable degrees help propel the University of Central Missouri to a spot on the list of best colleges in Missouri. The university is also one of the state's top online colleges, offering a range of undergraduate and graduate degrees for distance learners.
Within its five colleges, UCM offers approximately 150 programs of study that range from short-term certificates to cooperative doctorates. Part of what makes the institution one of the best schools in Missouri is its strong placement rate. The university notes that more than 90 percent of graduates are employed within six month of earning their degree.
The University of Central Missouri was founded in 1871 and has its campus in Warrensburg. More than 12,000 students are enrolled, representing most states and more than 60 countries.
At Washington University in St. Louis, the school strives to create a community atmosphere in which diversity, excellence and leadership are fostered. The private school has a long history that has taken it from humble roots to become a renowned research institution.
Washington University was founded by a St. Louis merchant and his pastor. They were concerned about a lack of educational opportunities in the area and first offered evening classes in workers in 1854. Since that time, the school has expanded to offer programs covering everything from business to design to medicine.
Today, there are seven schools within Washington University in St. Louis. They enroll nearly 13,000 students in more than 300 areas of study. In addition to its main Danforth Campus, the university maintains five other learning locations.
Southeast Missouri State University has its main campus in Cape Girardeau and operates regional campuses and delivery sites in Kennett, Malden, Sikeston and Poplar Bluff. It is an affordable school that is also one of the best online colleges for Missouri.
Founded in 1873, SEMO offers hundreds of degree options that span the undergraduate and graduate levels. For those who can't travel to class on campus, there are numerous online courses available. Through its Southeast Online division, out-of-state students get access to the same tuition rates as state residents. That helps keep SEMO affordable and contributes to it being among the top colleges in Missouri.
With nearly 12,000 students, Southeast Missouri State University is a mid-sized institution which helps it facilitate more personalized learning.
The City of St. Louis is home to many of the best universities in Missouri, and that includes Webster University. Founded in 1915, the school is a Catholic institution established by the Sisters of Loretto. It was one of the first Catholic women's colleges west of the Mississippi River and continues to be a trendsetter today.
The accredited school is noteworthy for being one of the top online colleges in the state. The online programs at Webster University allows students the flexibility to study a variety of fields from the comfort of their home on either a part-time or full-time basis.
Both online degrees and on-campus programs include an emphasis on global learning. Students are taught in small classes and encouraged to put what they learn in the classroom to work in their lives immediately.
Northwest Missouri State University has instituted policies which make it one of the most affordable schools in the state. Every full-time student receives a laptop, and textbooks can be rented at a price equal to $6 per credit hour. As a result, Northwest is one of the top Missouri schools when it comes to cost.
The school is another institution with a strong distance learning program, and a solid catalog of online degree programs. Between its online and on-campus programs, there are more than 250 degree options available. Northwest Missouri State University notes all its classes are taught by professionals, not graduate students.
Founded in 1905, Northwest is a public institution enrolling more than 6,000 students. It has its campus in Maryville.
Most Popular Degree Programs in Missouri
Missouri students have access to hundreds of majors and minors, but these are their top choices.
In-Demand Careers in Missouri
Many degrees are popular because they lead to in-demand careers. Here's a look at some of the occupations expected to see the most growth in coming years.
|Career Title||Projected Job Growth||Total Employment||Annual Salary|
|Solar Photovoltaic Installers||42.4%||-||$35,890|
|Information Security Analysts||41.7%||2,850||$91,210|
|Software Developers, Applications||40.1%||15,380||$93,880|
|Personal Care Aides||37.4%||60,330||$23,020|
|Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary||34.7%||4,710||$148,840|
|Home Health Aides||34.5%||11,710||$25,080|
|Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary||32.9%||1,210||$77,540|
|Computer and Information Research Scientists||32.1%||240||$96,810|
|Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers||31.8%||2,300||$28,110|
|Veterinary Technologists and Technicians||30%||1,620||$31,910|
|Computer Hardware Engineers||29.6%||170||$100,160|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors||29%||-||-|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||25.5%||320||$50,840|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||25%||2,240||$53,150|
|Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists||24.8%||9,920||$65,360|
|Business Teachers, Postsecondary||24.7%||1,000||$101,240|
|Operations Research Analysts||24.5%||1,540||$77,210|
|Hearing Aid Specialists||24%||180||$56,510|
|Community Health Workers||23.4%||1,370||$38,310|
|Geological and Petroleum Technicians||22.9%||60||$49,620|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Missouri
To make college more affordable and accessible, the state of Missouri maintains a number of financial aid programs. These include the A+ Scholarship, Access Missouri Program and Bright Flight Program among others. While some financial aid is merit-based, other awards are made to low-income students or those who fit a specific demographic.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
Renewable annually for up to 10 semesters until recipient has completed a bachelor's degree. Minimum 2.5 GPA, continue to attend an approved Missouri post-secondary school, and provide requested eligibily information are required in order to maintain the award.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
February 1 (Priority)
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
Minimum 3.25 GPA is required to retain scholarship.
- University of Missouri System
- Missouri State University System
- Missouri Department of Higher Education
- Missouri Community College Association
- Independent Colleges and Universities of Missouri
- Missouri Connections
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/
- About Mizzou, University of Missouri, Accessed April 2018, https://missouri.edu/about/
- Dig Deeper, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Accessed April 2018, http://www.mst.edu/about/
- About Missouri State, Missouri State University, Accessed April 2018, https://www.missouristate.edu/about/
- Facts about Truman, Truman State University, Accessed April 2018, http://www.truman.edu/about/facts-about-truman/
- Fast Facts About SLU, St. Louis University, Accessed April 2018, https://www.slu.edu/about/key-facts/index.php
- Fast Facts, University of Central Missouri, Accessed April 2018, https://www.ucmo.edu/about/facts/
- Who We Are, Washington University in St. Louis, Accessed April 2018, https://wustl.edu/about/
- About Southeast Missouri State University, Southeast Missouri State University, Accessed April 2018, http://www.semo.edu/about.html
- Values, Vision & Characteristics, Webster University, Accessed April 2018, http://www.webster.edu/about/
- Northwest Facts, Northwest Missouri State University, Accessed April 2018, https://www.nwmissouri.edu/facts/index.htm
- Missouri Higher Education Institutions, Missouri Department of Higher Education, May 2017, http://dhe.mo.gov/public-and-independent-colleges.php
- Committee on Transfer and Articulations, Missouri Department of Higher Education, Accessed May 2017, http://dhe.mo.gov/cota/
- Financial Aid for College, Missouri Department of Higher Education, Accessed May 2017, https://www.mo.gov/education/financial-aid-for-college/
- 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.
- 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/