The colleges and universities of New Hampshire are a mix of public and private institutions. They include newer schools as well as one of the most prominent names in the history of higher education.
The state's public schools fall into two groups: University System of New Hampshire and Community College System of New Hampshire. The university system includes two universities and two colleges conferring four-year degrees. Community colleges provide technical training and award two-year associate degrees. Thanks to the New Hampshire Dual Admission program, students who begin their education at a community college can easily transfer credit to an institution within the University System of New Hampshire.
Meanwhile, private schools in the state include one of the nation's most historic institutions. There are also plenty of colleges and universities offering online New Hampshire degree programs. Others may have flexible learning arrangements, such as night and weekend classes or credit for life experiences that make it easy for adult learners to go back to school.
Best 4-Year Colleges in New Hampshire
New Hampshire schools run the gamut from Ivy League institutions to land grant colleges, and knowing which ones put up the best numbers for affordable tuition, accessible financial aid, flexible scheduling, student success rates and more can help narrow down your search. Read on for our list of the top colleges and universities in New Hampshire, and explore the best New Hampshire community colleges, too.
The University of New Hampshire is the flagship school within the University System of New Hampshire. Although the university also operates a satellite location in Manchester and a law school in Concord, the main campus in Durham serves as the system's crown jewel.
The 11 colleges and schools at UNH offer more than 200 campus-based and online degree programs. Its location near the Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge presents special opportunities for students who want to focus their studies on the life and features of marine environments -- the institution maintains an entire school of marine science and ocean engineering.
Founded in 1866, the Durham campus of UNH has grown into a robust college that educates more than 13,000 students annually. Over 30 club sports are available to help you stay active, and more serious competitors can choose among 20 Division I athletic teams.
Plymouth State University -- another University System of New Hampshire school -- takes an innovative approach to education. By employing a system of integrated learning clusters, PSU provides a cross-disciplinary academic environment that involves real-world projects and encourages knowledge sharing both among students and with professors.
Undergraduate students have more than 50 bachelor's degree plans to choose from, while the catalog of degree and certificate programs for graduate students tops out at nearly 70. PSU is also one of the top online schools in New Hampshire for aspiring educators, thanks to Master of Education (M.Ed.) programs in curriculum and instruction, education technology, online instructional design and more.
Plymouth State University was founded in 1871 and has its campus in the city of Plymouth. Close to 6,000 students were enrolled at the university in 2017.
Originally established in 1933 as a school for the daughters of local millworkers, this private, Catholic institution takes its name from Anne Marie Rivier, the foundress of Sisters of the Presentation of Mary. Rivier University became accredited in 1948 and today offers more than 50 academic programs to around 2,700 students.
Programs at Riv, as the university is often called, lead to both undergraduate and graduate degrees. It's also one of the best small schools in New Hampshire for online degrees and courses, offering over a dozen bachelor's and master's degree plans and providing the option to transfer up to 90 credits from previous education.
Rivier's origins in the Catholic religious tradition are reflected in its general education curriculum. As of 2018, core courses in religion and faith from a Catholic perspective are required of both first-years and advanced students.
Just one New Hampshire native has ascended to the highest political office in the U.S., and Franklin Pierce University chose its name to honor and memorialize him, our 14th president. The small, private institution admitted its first class of students in 1963 and became a full-fledged university with the addition of graduate degrees in 2007.
Today, the Rindge-based school awards certificates, bachelor's degrees and master's degrees. On-campus undergraduates have around two dozen majors to choose from, including an option for independently minded students who want to collaborate with advisors on designing their own major. A range of online bachelor's degree programs are available as well, if you're looking for extra flexibility.
If you think you'll need help paying for college at FPU, fear not. Financial aid was awarded to 100 percent of incoming students in the 2017-18 academic year.
Dartmouth College is a name you likely expected to see among the best colleges and universities in New Hampshire. This Ivy League school was founded before the American Revolution, possesses an endowment of nearly $5 billion and is ranked among the top 50 institutions on the globe by the Center for World University Rankings.
The total student population at Dartmouth comes in around 6,500, with nearly 2,100 graduate students and more than 4,400 undergrads. Traditional college departments are present here, but the school also makes use of interdisciplinary programs to help students gain wider academic context for their studies.
Dartmouth is a highly selective school, and students who get in tend to stay enrolled and finish their degrees. The Hanover school has some of the best retention and graduation rates in the state -- 97 and 96 percent, respectively.
Founded as a teacher training academy in the first decade of the 20th century, Keene State College joined the University of New Hampshire System in 1963 and serves today as the public liberal arts college of New Hampshire. More than 4,400 students attend classes at this exclusively undergraduate institution, and the degree catalog consists of 40 academic majors and 36 minors.
The city of Keene, where Keene State is located, is a community of around 23,000 people with a rich artistic tradition. Its location in the geographical heart of New England means you can reach major metro areas like Boston, New York, Montreal and Portland within a few hours.
Keene State was also one of the more accommodating New Hampshire colleges for students with financial need. About 90 percent of students receive some form of aid, according to the school.
Southern New Hampshire University maintains a campus in Manchester where approximately 3,000 students attend classes, but that figure belies the true size of the SNHU student body. The private, non-profit institution reports that more than 90,000 students attend online classes there, making it one of the top online colleges in New Hampshire and nationwide.
More than 200 accredited bachelor's, master's and associate degree programs are available online at SNHU. Distance education students can choose from 14 areas of study that include art and design, criminal justice, social science, math and business, among others.
SNHU was founded in 1932 as the New Hampshire School of Accounting and Secretarial Science but earned a university charter and began granting degrees in the 1960s. Tuition and fees for its online programs cost more than 20 percent less per 24-credit year than the national average.
It may not have the largest online student body among New Hampshire colleges, but New England College makes distance education a big part of its mission. More students attend NEC in the virtual classroom than attend on campus -- 1,500 and 1,200, respectively -- and its catalog of online programs is strikingly diverse.
Online degrees for undergraduates include accounting, communication, psychology, homeland security and several specialized concentrations in business administration and criminal justice. Graduate students can choose from a variety of Master of Education (M.Ed.) and Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degrees, as well as a few graduate certificates and a Master of Arts (M.A.) in professional writing.
NEC's home city of Henniker is located 15 minutes from Concord and half an hour from Manchester. Fewer than 5,000 people live in this Contoocook River town, making for a quiet and picturesque place to study.
Unlike its counterpart in Durham, the University of New Hampshire at Manchester is a close-knit school in an busy urban area. More than 110,000 people live in the city -- New Hampshire's largest, with arts, culture and entertainment on tap -- and the enrolled population tops out at roughly 1,000 students.
UNH Manchester is also one of the youngest institutions among New Hampshire universities, having just over 30 years of history behind it, but by no means does that mean it's lacking in academic opportunity. More than 20 bachelor's degree plans are available here, including cutting-edge programs in digital media and digital language arts.
Thanks to an 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio, UNH at Manchester makes it possible for professors to enhance classroom lessons by working closely with individual students. Around 90 percent of students here receive some form of financial aid.
Founded in 1972, Granite State College is a medium-small institution in Concord that concentrates its energy on educating non-traditional students. The average age of GSC undergraduates is 34, for example, while less than 30 percent of students are between the ages of 18 and 24.
Part-time and transfer students make up a significant portion of the student body here as well, which may be thanks to GSC's Transfer Pathways -- streamlined course plans accessible to applicants who already hold an associate degree. Returning students can also get course credit for prior job training or work experience that meets program requirements.
More than 40 degree programs are available in total at GSC. Undergraduates have around 30 Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) options to choose from, including four degree programs that include teacher certification.
Most Popular Degree Programs in New Hampshire
The most popular degrees in New Hampshire include fields of study ranging from the liberal arts to health to business.
In-Demand Careers in New Hampshire
Your career prospects after graduation depend on a number of factors, including your degree. Before selecting a field to study, consider whether it might make you eligible for one of these jobs which are expected to show significant growth in New Hampshire.
|Career Title||Projected Job Growth||Total Employment||Annual Salary|
|Home Health and Personal Care Aides||37%||8,260||$27,500|
|Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers||28.8%||8,990||$109,900|
|Information Security Analysts||27.8%||520||$102,770|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||24.6%||330||$61,520|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||24.2%||40||$46,450|
|Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists||23.5%||2,420||$68,260|
|Veterinary Technologists and Technicians||22.4%||820||$36,840|
|Forest Fire Inspectors and Prevention Specialists||22.4%||30||$39,750|
|Community Health Workers||22.2%||210||$45,360|
|Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers||21.9%||380||$28,430|
|Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary||20.7%||170||$72,890|
|Medical Secretaries and Administrative Assistants||19.4%||3,670||$39,970|
|Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary||19.3%||520||$106,170|
|Interpreters and Translators||19.3%||230||$48,640|
|Film and Video Editors||19%||-||$65,550|
|Diagnostic Medical Sonographers||19%||250||$80,880|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in New Hampshire
Students heading to New Hampshire colleges and universities can apply for federal loans, grants and work-study programs. There is also aid available specifically to state residents. The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation awards more than $5 million each year, making it the largest provider of publicly available scholarships in the state. Money through the foundation is available for adult learners, technical students and traditional students.
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Renewable up to three times.
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- University System of New Hampshire
- Community College System of New Hampshire
- Independent Schools Association of Northern New England
- New Hampshire College & University Council
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges
- NHHEAF Network
- NH Transfer
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 May 28-29, 2018: Facts & Figures, University of New Hampshire, https://www.unh.edu/node/5038; Academics at UNH, University of New Hampshire, https://www.unh.edu/main/academics; Colleges & Schools, University of New Hampshire, https://www.unh.edu/main/colleges-schools; Our Learning Model, Plymouth State University, https://www.plymouth.edu/academics/our-learning-model/; Quick Facts, Plymouth State University, https://www.plymouth.edu/about-psu/about-psu/quick-facts/; Online Programs, Plymouth State University, https://www.plymouth.edu/online/online-degrees/; History, Rivier University, https://www.rivier.edu/about/history/; Rivier at a Glance, Rivier University, https://www.rivier.edu/about/about-rivier-at-a-glance/; Rivier University Online, Rivier University, https://online.rivier.edu/; The Curriculum, Rivier University, http://catalog.rivier.edu/content.php?catoid=107&navoid=1784; About, Franklin Pierce University, https://www.franklinpierce.edu/about/index.htm; Quick Facts, Franklin Pierce University, https://www.franklinpierce.edu/about/facts.htm; History, Franklin Pierce University, https://www.franklinpierce.edu/about/history.htm; Undergraduate Degrees and Certificates, Franklin Pierce University, https://www.franklinpierce.edu/academics/ugrad/index.htm; Undergraduate Online, Franklin Pierce University, https://www.franklinpierce.edu/academics/ugrad_online/index.htm; Dartmouth at a Glance, Dartmouth College, https://home.dartmouth.edu/dartmouth-glance; Departments & Programs -- Arts & Sciences, Dartmouth University, https://home.dartmouth.edu/education/departments-programs-arts-sciences; Dartmouth Maps, Dartmouth University, https://home.dartmouth.edu/dartmouth-maps; Undergraduate Retention, Graduation, and Honors Awarded, Dartmouth University, https://www.dartmouth.edu/~oir/data-reporting/factbook/retention_grad_rates.html; Keene State College, https://www.keene.edu/; Admissions, Keene State College, https://www.keene.edu/admissions/; Discover Keene, NH, Keene State College, https://www.keene.edu/campus/keene/; About Us, Southern New Hampshire University, https://www.snhu.edu/about-us; Accredited Online College Degrees, Southern New Hampshire University, https://www.snhu.edu/online-degrees; Leadership & History, Southern New Hampshire University, https://www.snhu.edu/about-us/leadership-and-history; Online Tuition and Fees, Southern New Hampshire University, https://www.snhu.edu/tuition-and-financial-aid/tuition-and-fees/online-tuition; NEC At A Glance, New England College, https://www.nec.edu/about/nec-at-a-glance/; Facts & Figures, New England College, https://www.nec.edu/life/facts-figures/; Undergraduate Programs Online, New England College, https://www.nec.edu/academics/undergraduate-degree-online/; Graduate Programs Online, New England College, https://www.nec.edu/academics/graduate-degree-online-programs/; About, University of New Hampshire at Manchester, https://manchester.unh.edu/about; Degree Programs, University of New Hampshire at Manchester, https://manchester.unh.edu/academics/degree-programs; About, Granite State College, https://www.granite.edu/about/; Facts and Figures, Granite State College, https://www.granite.edu/about/facts-and-figures/; Bachelor's Degrees, Granite State College, https://www.granite.edu/degree-programs/bachelors-degrees/; Transfer College Credits, Granite State College, https://www.granite.edu/why-gsc/transfer-credits/;
- QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, accessed May 28-29, 2018: Keene city, New Hampshire, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/keenecitynewhampshire/PST045216; Manchester city, New Hampshire, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/manchestercitynewhampshire/PST045216;
- Quick Facts, Town of Henniker, NH, accessed May 29, 2018, http://www.henniker.org/general/page/quick-facts
- Tuition and Fees and Room and Board over Time, Trends in Higher Education, The College Board, accessed May 29, 2018, https://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-fees-room-and-board-over-time
- ntegrated 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/
- Scholarships, NHHEAF, Accessed May 2017, https://www.nhheaf.org/scholarships.asp
- Who We Are, University of New Hampshire System, Accessed May 2017, https://www.usnh.edu/