- 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 26, 2017: Online Learning, Chadron State College, https://www.csc.edu/online/; Online Learning, University of Nebraska Omaha, https://www.unomaha.edu/academics/online-learning.php#under; About, Wayne State College, https://www.wsc.edu/about; About, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, http://www.unl.edu/about/; Explore Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, http://explorecenter.unl.edu/; Degrees & Programs, Bellevue University, http://www.bellevue.edu/degrees/?bach=1&online=1; About, Peru State College, http://www.peru.edu/about; About UNK, University of Nebraska Kearney, http://www.unk.edu/about/index.php; Who We Are, Grace University, https://www.graceuniversity.edu/about/who-we-are/; About NMC, Nebraska Methodist College, http://www.methodistcollege.edu/about; About, Clarkson College, http://clarksoncollege.edu/about/;
- Campuses, University of Nebraska System, accessed May 26, 2017, https://nebraska.edu/campuses.html?redirect=true
- Nebraska's Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education, accessed May 16, 2017: Nebraska Opportunity Grant, https://ccpe.nebraska.gov/nebraska-opportunity-grant-nog;
- 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.
Nebraska is home to two public university systems: the University of Nebraska System and the Nebraska State College System. The University of Nebraska system consists of three general education university campuses, a multi-site health sciences academy and a college of technical agriculture. The Nebraska State College system comprises three regional four-year schools.
If you've already taken some college credit at Nebraska community colleges or elsewhere, the University of Nebraska Board of Regents provides a utility to help you plan your transfer. Whether you intend to transfer to a state system school or an independent institution, articulation agreements exist to help you transfer credits from a two-year to a four-year institution.
Best 4-Year Colleges in Nebraska
We wanted to provide prospective students with a simple guide to the best traditional and online colleges in Nebraska. We gathered data from U.S. Department of Education sources, including the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), and analyzed it with a 13-point system designed to give you an idea of how the state's universities match up with each other.
Chadron State College took the No. 1 spot in our rankings in convincing fashion, placing among the top three schools in the state on multiple metrics. The northwestern Nebraska school ranked No. 2 for both the affordability of its tuition and fees and the average net price of its estimated yearly expenses minus the expected amount of institutional grant aid per student.
Access and flexibility also stood out at CSC. Students had access to eight out of the ten on-campus flexibility initiatives we looked for in our analysis, including options for life experience credit and entire degree programs that could be completed via weekend and evening classes. It was also one of the top online colleges for Nebraska students, reporting at least some distance education enrollment in more than 72 percent of its student body.
The public urban university in the University of Nebraska system featured the state's second-largest catalog of undergraduate degrees available on campus, and that academic variety stretches equally into the online realm. Students seeking an online bachelor's degree in Nebraska can choose from four traditional subjects as well as a Bachelor of General Studies (B.G.S.) degree with 13 available concentrations.
UNO also featured top-tier affordability among Nebraska schools, posting the state's No. 5 most affordable raw cost of tuition and fees and supplying students with a proportion of institutional grant aid that was outdone by only two other schools on our list. Average net price figures for middle- and low-income students ranked No. 3 and No. 4 in the state, respectively.
This medium-small public university in Wayne featured the state's No. 1 most affordable tuition and fees expense in 2015-16 and placed at No. 4 and No. 3, respectively, for the average net price it charged middle- and low-income students. It also took the No. 3 spot among schools on our list for the selection of bachelor's degree programs available on campus.
Wayne State College students were reportedly among the best in the state when it came to managing student loan debt during enrollment and after graduation. The median amount of college debt accrued by alumni of Wayne State was lower than those at all but four other schools in the state, and the percentage of graduates able to repay their loan balance within three years of leaving school ranked No. 4 among schools in our top ten.
Founded nearly 150 years ago in 1869, the Lincoln campus of the University of Nebraska is the system's flagship school. The 266 degree programs available to campus-based students were enough for the No. 1 spot on our academic variety metric, and no other school on our list provided students with a greater proportion of their tuition as institutional grant aid.
Traditional measures of student success were other bright spots for UNL. The Lincoln school's graduation rate ranked No. 3 among our top ten schools, and its rate of retention of first-year students also placed third among the schools that made our list. The campus also features a specialized advising hub called the Explore Center to help undecided students better understand the range of options for their major.
Our No. 5 school took home a few top spots in the category rankings, perhaps most notably in out-of-pocket affordability. Bellevue University claimed the No. 1 ranking in the state for average net price for both middle- and low-income students. It also reported the lowest median student debt in the state for its graduates, averaging just over $17,000 in 2015.
Bellevue was also one of the top destinations for students seeking an online bachelor's degree in Nebraska. The size of its catalog of undergraduate distance education programs took the top spot in the state by a wide margin — more than double the second-place school in that category — and a distance education enrollment of more than 87 percent landed it at No. 2 in the state.
Access and affordability produced top marks for this medium-sized regional school on the Missouri River in the southeast section of the state. Only two other schools in the state charged a lower average amount of tuition and fees than Peru State College, and its average net price ranking came in at No. 5 statewide for both low- and middle-income students.
Peru State provides eight out of ten on-campus flexibility measures, tying three other schools on our list for the top spot on that metric. Weekend and evening degree programs are available at the Peru school, as well as remedial services for students who have taken several years off before returning to school to complete their undergraduate education and may need to be refreshed on some of the college basics.
The smallest general-purpose campus in the University of Nebraska system lies in Kearney, just north of the Platte River. Tuition and fees expenses here ranked No. 4 in the state for affordability, and only three other schools on our list offered a higher proportion of institutional grant aid. UNK also reported that more than 85 percent of graduates were able to repay their student loans within three years, enough to land it the No. 3 ranking on that metric.
The academic catalog at UNK was sizeable, particularly compared to its student body of fewer than 7,000 people. Only three other schools in our top ten offered a wider selection of on-campus degree programs.
Grace University, a Christian faith-based school, had the lowest total enrollment of any school on our list. Fewer than 500 students attended the Omaha institution in 2015, but those who do tend to stick around. Grace University took home the No. 1 ranking in the state for its percentage of first-year students who returned to continue their degree programs as sophomores.
Students at Grace also paid the state's second-lowest total estimated cost of books and supplies in 2015-16, and the student loan balances of recent graduates were reportedly among the most manageable in the state. A median student debt of $17,625 was reported for Grace University graduates in 2015, low enough for the No. 2 spot in the state in that category.
Health professions are among the fastest-growing ones in our current career market. Nebraska Methodist College, an affiliate of the Methodist Health System, focuses its efforts on preparing students to enter the growing health care field with four distinct Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) degree tracks and undergraduate degrees in healthcare management, respiratory care, imaging sciences and diagnostic medical sonography.
The graduation and retention rates at NMC ranked No. 3 and No. 5, respectively, and the roughly 54 percent of students enrolled in distance education courses nabbed it a No. 5 ranking in that category as well. Graduates eliminated their student debt within three years at the highest rate of any Nebraska school.
Clarkson College began as a school of nursing in 1888 — the first one in the state of Nebraska — but has grown to include training for a broad range of health careers. This small Omaha institution landed the No. 10 spot overall thanks to the considerable size of its online degree portfolio, which earned it the statewide No. 6 ranking in that category. It also reported a whopping 91 percent of its student body enrolled in at least one distance education course in 2015, the highest percentage in the state.
The graduation rate at Clarkson was also impressive, taking the No. 2 spot among schools in our top ten. Only two other schools on our list boasted a higher percentage of graduates paying down their student debt in three years or less.
Most popular degree programs in Nebraska
Nebraska residents enroll in certain college majors more than others, and knowing which are the most popular may help you better understand the students around you. Here's a quick rundown of the most popular degree programs in Nebraska, according to the most recent NCES data.
In-Demand Careers in Nebraska
The Nebraska job market is shifting with the times and knowing which professions have the highest demand for educated applicants can help you better prepare for the workforce while you're still in school. Take a look at today's high-growth careers in Nebraska.
|Career Title||Projected Job Growth||Total Employment||Annual Salary|
|Occupational Therapy Assistants||45.2%||140||$57,970|
|Orthotists and Prosthetists||36.7%||40||$56,370|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||33.7%||790||$44,920|
|Home Health Aides||32.7%||3,450||$23,190|
|Operations Research Analysts||31.9%||1,000||$64,960|
|Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operators, Metal and Plastic||31.9%||960||$36,170|
|Physical Therapist Aides||31%||400||$25,920|
|Dental Laboratory Technicians||29.8%||250||$41,920|
|Computer Numerically Controlled Machine Tool Programmers, Metal and Plastic||29.2%||100||$46,600|
|Industrial Machinery Mechanics||28.6%||2,700||$51,070|
|Veterinary Technologists and Technicians||28.5%||800||$32,150|
|Forensic Science Technicians||28.4%||110||$53,990|
|Reinforcing Iron and Rebar Workers||27.6%||-||$54,850|
|Helpers--Brickmasons, Blockmasons, Stonemasons, and Tile and Marble Setters||26.7%||200||$35,690|
|Septic Tank Servicers and Sewer Pipe Cleaners||26.2%||290||$38,720|
|Insulation Workers, Mechanical||26%||180||$57,420|
|Computer Systems Analysts||25%||3,540||$77,170|
|Computer Hardware Engineers||24.7%||-||$83,970|
|Software Developers, Applications||24.5%||4,590||$86,870|
|Personal Financial Advisors||23.7%||1,290||$92,340|
|Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics||23.6%||630||$35,240|
|Museum Technicians and Conservators||23.5%||110||$33,030|
|Brickmasons and Blockmasons||22.9%||540||$54,000|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Nebraska
State-based financial aid programs can help shoulder some of the cost burden for Nebraska students. The Nebraska Opportunity Grant (NOG) is a state-funded program awarded at the institution level that bases its aid amount on a student's expected family contribution (EFC) In addition, the Access College Early (ACE) Scholarship Program helps qualifying low-income high school students pay tuition and fees for dual- or early-enrollment college courses.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
- University of Nebraska System
- Nebraska State College System
- Nebraska's Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education
- EducationQuest Foundation
- Nest 529 College Savings Plan
- Nebraska Community College Association
- Transfer Nebraska
To get our list of the best colleges, we ranked 1,649 4-year colleges and universities in the U.S. Each school was scored on a 100-point scale, using the most recent data available from government sources. Our data points include:
- The in-state tuition and fees for full-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- The estimated cost of books and supplies, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- The average net price for students receiving Title IV grant and scholarship aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014-15
- The average net price for low-income students receiving Title IV grant and scholarship aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014-15
- 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, 2014-15
- Median debt of graduates, College Scorecard, 2014-15
- 3-year student loan repayment rate of graduates, College Scorecard, 2014-15
- No. of degree and certificate programs offered, 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, 2015-16
- Average retention rate for full-time and part-time students, National Center for Education Statistics, Fall 2015-16
- Graduation rate within six years, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Flexibility and student services, based on whether the school offers the following services, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- 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