Princeton University, with its Ivy League reputation, may be the best known school in New Jersey. However, it is only one of numerous education options for residents.
The New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education recognizes 83 institutions which are authorized to provide post-secondary education in the state. These include public research institutions, state colleges and universities, theological seminaries and independent schools among others. These schools represent a diverse range of size and scope. Some may operate on a single campus while others have a flagship school as well as additional locations.
There is a system of 19 community colleges in New Jersey as well. Thanks to a statewide transfer agreement law, students who graduate with an A.A. or A.S. degree from one of these schools are guaranteed to have their credits transfer to a public four-year college or university.
Whether you are interested in a two-year degree, traditional on-campus experience or exploring online New Jersey degrees, you should have no trouble finding a school that fits your needs.
Best 4-Year Colleges in New Jersey
If you're looking for the top schools in New Jersey, you likely want an institution that is affordable, accessible and academically rigorous. To help narrow your choices in finding a degree program, we analyzed New Jersey institutions for factors such as cost, flexible learning options and program availability. These rose to the top as the best colleges in New Jersey. When you're done checking out the top four-year colleges, be sure to read about the top community colleges in New Jersey as well.
New Brunswick is home to the flagship campus of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. It was chartered as Queens College in 1766 and now has 250 years of educational experience under its belt. It's a leading research institution and encompasses 17 colleges and schools that represent every field of study and types of degree programs.
Rutgers University-New Brunswick is considered a powerhouse both in the classroom and on the athletic field. As a leading research institution, it is one of 14 schools that are part of the Big Ten Academic Alliance. On the field, its sports teams participate in the Big Ten Conference, ideal for athletes and sports fans alike looking to enroll in a degree program at the school.
More than 50,000 students enroll annually in accredited campus and online learning programs offered by Rutgers University-New Brunswick. More than three-fourths receive financial aid to reduce their cost of education.
Located in Newark, New Jersey Institute of Technology is another of the state's research universities. The school has been in existence since 1885 when it welcomed its first students who were pursuing an "industrial education."
As technology has changed, so too has NJIT. It now offers nearly 130 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in diverse fields ranging from computer science to theatre arts and technology, with online courses offered throughout. However, engineering technology remains one of the most popular degrees awarded by the school.
New Jersey Institute of Technology has a diverse student body and has been recognized as a leader in awarding engineering degrees to minority students. The school is also home to the Enterprise Development Center, the largest high technology and life sciences business incubator in the state.
The Stevens Institute of Technology invites students to come and create their own future. With a campus in Hoboken and just minutes from New York City, the institute offers not only quality academics but a dynamic learning environment.
Stevens was founded in 1870, and technological innovation has been a hallmark of the school right from the very beginning. The degree programs delivered in its four colleges and schools offer online courses and a unique curriculum that blends technical training with real-world experience. The school notes many of its graduates see a high ROI -- return on investment -- when it comes to the income they earn as compared to the tuition they spent.
Small class sizes and a strong retention rate are two more reasons Stevens Institute of Technology makes the list of top New Jersey schools.
Not all the top universities in New Jersey are public institutions. Seton Hall University, a leading Catholic institution, also makes the list. Founded in 1856, the school operates under the Archdiocese of Newark and is one of the oldest diocesan universities in the country.
Seton Hall University has ten colleges and schools. These include higher education mainstays such arts and sciences, business and law as well as less common schools of diplomacy and international relations and theology.
Students living on or near the South Orange campus have access to the Greek life, more than 130 student organizations and two dozen intramural and club sports teams. SHU provides nearly $100 million in financial aid each year, and virtually all students receive some tuition assistance when working on their degree programs.
As another of the best universities in New Jersey, Rowan University offers diverse degree programs. Students looking for a traditional college experience can earn an undergraduate or graduate degree on campus. Those who need more flexibility can earn an online graduate degree or enroll in one of the school's online undergraduate completion programs or other online courses.
Rowan University was founded in 1923 to prepare future teachers. However, it has grown into a regional university that includes 13 colleges and schools in addition to a global learning division. The university has set a goal for itself to be inclusive, agile and responsive. To that end, Rowan is known for affordable education and varied education experiences.
While the main campus is located in Glassboro, students can study at four different locations.
Known as TCNJ, The College of New Jersey has its historic campus in Ewing. It's a liberal arts school that was first founded as the New Jersey State Normal School in 1855. Today, it has seven schools and says its educational programs are defined by experiences such as global engagement and leadership development.
Among New Jersey schools, TCNJ is known for affordable tuition and its commitment to faculty-student collaboration. The schools strives to provide five signature experiences to its students. Those include the aforementioned global engagement and leadership development as well as rigorous education, real-world experiences and community engaged learning.
The College of New Jersey is one of the more selective schools on this list and only admits about half of those who apply. It enrolls nearly 7,500 students each year.
Ramapo College of New Jersey is one of the state's regional public colleges. It is a relative newcomer to the higher education scene and was founded in 1969. At its campus in Mahwah, students can choose from three dozen academic degree programs offered in its five schools.
Students in those programs often graduate on time, and Ramapo is known as an affordable education option. A robust program of institutional aid helps keep costs down, and the school awards nearly $15 million in grants and scholarships.
As the smallest public college in New Jersey, Ramapo enrolls slightly more than 6,000 students. It has an impressive retention rate for freshman and its graduates are overwhelmingly employed or in graduate school within a year of leaving the college.
Montclair State University has a reputation for being both a quality and comprehensive educational institution. Its more than 20,000 students can choose from nearly 300 majors, minors, concentrations and certifications. These are offered within the university's nine colleges and schools.
The historic institution was founded in 1908 and is well known for its affordable tuition and fees. In addition to its numerous on-campus undergraduate programs, students can earn online graduate degrees from Montclair State. There are also night and weekend classes available to accommodate students who need a nontraditional schedule.
Among the school's guiding principles is a commitment to using cutting-edge technologies, providing exceptional value and helping students find both personal and professional success. Montclair State University also seeks to create a vibrant learning community on its Montclair campus.
In 1865, the Trenton Business College was established to train leaders for the post-Civil War era. Eventually, the college would transform into Rider University, a school that continues to train business leader but offers not only business degrees but degree programs in a wide range of fields.
The RIDER PROMISE represents the school's commitment to providing an open learning environment that prepares students to contribute meaningfully to the world. There are five colleges within Rider University, including the Westminster College of the Arts. A highly qualifies faculty helps make Rider one of the top universities in New Jersey. Nearly all full-time faculty members hold the highest degree possible in their field.
Rider University is a private institution with its main campus in Lawrenceville. A second campus can be found in Princeton.
The Newark campus of Rutgers University is another of the best schools in New Jersey. While not offering the same vast number of programs available at the university's flagship New Brunswick location, Rutgers-Newark does have many undergraduate and graduate programs in popular fields such as psychology, business administration, biology and accounting.
Rutgers University-Newark was originally the New Jersey Law School, an institution that opened its doors in 1908. RU-N still has a law school, but it is also home to five other colleges and schools as well. It's classified as a research institution.
In addition to all the other factors that make this one of the top universities in New Jersey, RU-N also has outstanding faculty. They include Fulbright Scholars, American Book Award winners and recipients of other distinguished awards.
Most Popular Degree Programs in New Jersey
Picking your college is only the one step in completing your education. You also need to select a degree. Here are the most popular on-campus and online New Jersey degrees.
In-Demand Careers in New Jersey
Once you have a degree in mind, you need to see what your job prospects will be like after graduation. The following occupations are some of the fastest growing careers in New Jersey.
|Career Title||Projected Job Growth||Total Employment||Annual Salary|
|Solar Photovoltaic Installers||100.3%||1,050||$50,990|
|Home Health and Personal Care Aides||49.2%||57,060||$27,200|
|Occupational Therapy Assistants||29.5%||640||$73,680|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||27.9%||1,420||$69,480|
|Manicurists and Pedicurists||25.3%||6,440||$25,230|
|Operations Research Analysts||25%||3,010||$110,320|
|Amusement and Recreation Attendants||24.2%||8,600||$24,520|
|Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists||24%||19,280||$37,400|
|Cargo and Freight Agents||23.9%||2,380||$54,500|
|Helpers--Pipelayers, Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters||23.4%||520||$35,130|
|Orthotists and Prosthetists||23%||-||$82,970|
|Locker Room, Coatroom, and Dressing Room Attendants||22.9%||490||$25,780|
|Physical Therapist Aides||22.5%||3,560||$27,830|
|Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers||22.5%||50,320||$113,510|
|Computer Numerically Controlled Tool Programmers||22%||460||$55,380|
|Special Education Teachers, Preschool||21.7%||610||$68,110|
|Fast Food and Counter Workers||21.6%||78,900||$23,340|
|Information Security Analysts||21.3%||4,120||$121,570|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in New Jersey
Most students know about federal grant and loan programs, but there is also money for higher education available from the state, whether you are attending an online college in NJ or campus-based school. New Jersey offers a Tuition Aid Grant, an Educational Opportunity Fund Grant and the Governor's Urban Scholarship among other forms of financial aid. Some are need-based while other awards are granted based on merit.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
Renewable if recipient maintains satisfactory grades and demonstrates financial need.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
- New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education
- New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities
- New Jersey Council of County Colleges
- NJ Transfer
- Higher Education Student Assistance Authority
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/
- Facts & Figures, Rutgers University- New Brunswick, Accessed March 2018, https://newbrunswick.rutgers.edu/about/facts-figures
- Quick Facts about NJIT, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Accessed March 2018, https://www.njit.edu/about/quickfacts/
- Stevens Institute of Technology, Accessed March 2018, https://www.stevens.edu/
- Seton Hall At-a-Glance, Seton Hall University, Accessed March 2018, https://www.shu.edu/about.cfm#
- Making History, Rowan University, Accessed March 2018, https://www.rowan.edu/home/about
- About TCNJ, The College of New Jersey, Accessed March 2018, https://tcnj.pages.tcnj.edu/about/
- Why Ramapo, Ramapo College of New Jersey, Accessed March 2018, https://www.ramapo.edu/why/
- About Montclair, Montclair State University, Accessed March 2018, https://www.montclair.edu/about-montclair/
- Facts & Figures, Rider University, Accessed March 2018, https://www.rider.edu/about-rider/facts-figures
- Outstanding Faculty, Rutgers University-Newark, Accessed March 2018, https://www.newark.rutgers.edu/outstanding-faculty
- History, Rutgers University-Newark, Accessed March 2018, https://www.newark.rutgers.edu/history
- 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/
- 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
- Grants & Scholarships, Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, Accessed April 2017, http://www.hesaa.org/Pages/NJGrantsHome.aspx
- NJ College & University Directory by Sector, Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, Accessed April 2017, http://www.nj.gov/highereducation/colleges/schools_sector.shtml
- State-wide Transfer Agreement, County College of Morris, Accessed April 2017, http://www.ccm.edu/studentLife/CampusServices/TransferResources/TransferAgreement.aspx