There are more than 100 colleges and universities — both campus-based and online schools — in the state of Ohio, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The public colleges and universities in Ohio are administered at the state level by the Ohio Department of Higher Education, and there are also private schools.
Having that many options to choose from can make it tough to narrow down your educational choices, particularly if you don't have much detailed information about the ways in which they compare to one another. We wanted to make it a little easier for Ohio students to sort out which schools in their state might be best for them, so we pulled loads of data from the NCES and other U.S. Department of Education sources and analyzed it to uncover the best traditional and online colleges in Ohio. We looked at the flagship campuses and satellite locations of the state's larger universities as separate schools.
While the rankings below focus on four-year schools, keep in mind that the Ohio Transfer to Degree Guarantee can help community college students line up their two-year education with the transfer requirements of a four-year school. When you're done browsing through the best four-year colleges in the state, be sure to review the best community colleges in Ohio, as well.
Best 4-Year Colleges in Ohio
Students looking for the best colleges in Ohio have a number of options. In addition to its network of community colleges, the state is home to many high-quality four-year schools. To find the following top universities in Ohio, we used a methodology that took into account tuition and fees, graduation rates and student support services, among other things.
The main Columbus campus of The Ohio State University has been an education center for nearly 150 years. As one of the best schools in Ohio, the university gets high marks for providing financial support to students and helping them graduate on time.
OSU is known for providing comprehensive education programs and has a history of academic achievement and innovation. Known as Buckeyes, the more than 66,000 students enrolled at The Ohio State University make it one of the largest educational institutions in the nation. There are programs available in more than a dozen colleges and schools as well as online degree programs.
The school was a top producer of Fulbright U.S. Scholars for the 2017-2018 school year, and OSU is also home to top-tier athletic programs.
A variety of available academic programs was one of the bright spots on the stat sheet for the University of Cincinnati. This university in the southwestern corner of the state offers more than 375 degree programs and is the largest employer in the region.
While the University of Cincinnati was established in 1870, it can trace its roots back to 1819. That's when Cincinnati College and the Medical College of Ohio were chartered, and those institutions were folded into the new university. Today, UC includes 14 colleges and is known for its robust research programs.
Students seeking the best universities in Ohio for online degrees will find a number of distance learning programs at UC. These include online undergraduate, graduate, certificate and continuing education options.
Just one year after Ohio became a state, its General Assembly authorized the creation of The Ohio University. Four years after its founding in 1804, the new school opened its doors in 1808. Since then, the university has grown into an institution rich with traditions that include, among other things, a ceremonial mace.
However, it isn't a mace that makes Ohio University one of the top colleges in Ohio. Instead, the university makes the cut for it well-known academic programs that span 11 colleges. OHIO is home to an innovation center that incubates businesses and three Centers of Excellence in the areas of energy, health and culture.
Ohio University has its main campus in Athens. Including online students, that campus enrolls nearly 35,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
At Xavier University, the students are known as Musketeers and a school slogan is "All for One and One for All." Founded in 1831, the Jesuit Catholic university has its campus in Cincinnati.
Community service, sustainability and religious inclusion are some of the hallmarks of Xavier University. As one of the best Ohio universities, the school is proud to note 98 percent of its graduates go on to jobs, have been accepted to graduate school, or are volunteering within six months of earning their degree.
More than 4,500 undergraduate students are enrolled at X, as the university is often called. There are more than 90 majors available, and all students have access to a professional mentor. Graduate students can also find online degree program options available at Xavier, including an online MBA.
The University of Dayton is another of the top Ohio colleges with a Catholic heritage. The school was founded in 1850 by the Marianists, also known as the Society of Mary. Today, the University of Dayton is one of the largest private universities in the state and has earned a reputation as a top-tier Catholic research institution.
Within the university's five colleges and schools, dozens of undergraduate and graduate degrees are available. These include options spanning the fields of business, engineering, health sciences, law and the liberal arts. An intensive English program is available to assist non-native speakers, and professional development courses are offered as well.
As its name suggests, the University of Dayton has its campus in the city of Dayton.
Attracting students from virtually every state and more than 40 countries, Cedarville University was established by the Reformed Presbyterian Church in 1887. While its affiliation has changed over the years, the school remains rooted in its goal to provide Christian higher education.
The degree program options at Cedarville University include traditional undergraduate and graduate programs, accelerated 3-year bachelor's degrees, accelerated BA/MBA pathways and online graduate degrees. A Biblical minor is built into every undergraduate degree and daily chapel further underscores the school's mission of forming students to carry out the work of the Gospel in the world.
Cedarville University enrolls more than 3,500 students with the majority of undergraduate students choosing to live on-campus in Cedarville.
Bowling Green State University is an affordable choice among the best schools in Ohio. The public university was founded in 1910 and enrolls more than 17,000 students at its main campus in Bowling Green, which is south of Toledo.
With more than 200 degree programs, the university is home to eight colleges that include business, musical arts and technology, architecture and applied engineering. Its athletic teams compete in the NCAA Division I.
For students who can't travel to campus, BGSU offers more than 40 online degrees and certificates. These include degree options at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Fully online degrees feature either 7-week or 16-week courses while students in blended programs will complete half their studies on-campus and the remainder online.
At the University of Toledo, availability of financial aid and access to distance learning options are among its strengths. And like some of the other best universities in Ohio, this institution has a long history. It was founded in 1872 and became a part of the state university system in 1967.
As one of the largest public universities in Ohio, the University of Toledo offers hundreds of degree options and has more than 350 student organizations. There are 13 colleges within the university and include one dedicated to law, medicine and pharmaceutical sciences.
Those seeking online degrees in Ohio can find them at both the undergraduate and graduate levels at UT. Night and weekend courses are also available, and students are welcome to enroll on a part-time basis.
Ashland University is another of the top schools in Ohio for online degrees and traditional campus programs. Founded in 1878, Ashland is a private institution with Christian heritage and an emphasis on individualized instruction. It has its campus in Ashland, Ohio.
The educational options at Ashland University are diverse. There are four academic colleges for the areas of arts and sciences, business and economics, nursing and health sciences, and education. Ashland also has a college of online and adult studies, a school of continuing education and a theological seminary.
A core curriculum for undergraduate students is molded around the values of intellectual rigor and contextual learning. With it, the school's goal is to graduate students who are capable of university-level thinking across diverse fields.
If you want to attend one of the best colleges in Ohio for research, consider Case Western Reserve University. The school has garnered a reputation as a leading independent research university and can claim 16 Nobel Laureates, hundreds of inventions and thousands of research projects.
Founded in 1826, Case Western Reserve has nine schools and colleges that offer undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Plus, the school has more than 100 interdisciplinary academic and research institutes and centers. These include The Great Lakes Energy Institute, The Center for Popular Music Studies and the University Center on Aging and Health.
All told, students have hundreds of education options at Case Western Reserve University. They can choose to study on the university's Cleveland campus or enroll in one of the school's online graduate degree programs.
Most Popular Degree Programs in Ohio
Certain major subjects were more popular than others among Ohio students in this past academic year. Take a look at this list and find out where most of your potential classmates are concentrating their efforts in today's educational climate.
In-Demand Careers in Ohio
Working with advisors and professors to align your studies with the needs of the statewide career market can help take some of the pain out of the job search once you've graduated. Find out if any of these in-demand Ohio careers fits with your personal academic goals.
|Career Title||Projected Job Growth||Total Employment||Annual Salary|
|Home Health and Personal Care Aides||43.7%||94,870||$23,810|
|Agents and Business Managers of Artists, Performers, and Athletes||30.2%||80||$97,830|
|Occupational Therapy Assistants||27.5%||3,990||$60,810|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||27.3%||6,040||$59,410|
|Information Security Analysts||25.8%||3,910||$96,550|
|Operations Research Analysts||24.4%||4,310||$83,950|
|Personal Financial Advisors||21.7%||7,040||$106,800|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||21.4%||420||$46,530|
|Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary||20.9%||10,560||$128,960|
|Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary||20.8%||3,410||$79,360|
|Ambulance Drivers and Attendants, Except Emergency Medical Technicians||20.6%||560||$29,680|
|Biological Scientists, All Other||20.3%||440||$78,770|
|Diagnostic Medical Sonographers||19.6%||2,940||$67,150|
|Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists||19.4%||26,410||$66,500|
|Physical Therapist Aides||19.2%||630||$28,740|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Ohio
Ohio students may be able to make use of state- and profession-based financial aid programs, including the following:
- The Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG) awards need-based aid to students in qualifying associate degree, bachelor's degree and nursing diploma programs.
- The Forever Buckeyes program extends in-state tuition rates to Ohio high school graduates who return for college after having left the state.
- The John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program (JRJ) offers student debt repayment assistance for law graduates who pledge to work in public defense or state prosecution for at least three years.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
Renewable if FAFSA is filed each year.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
Recipient must maintain academic progress and full-time status.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
- Ohio Department of Higher Education
- Ohio Transfer to Degree Guarantee
- Global Reach to Engage Academic Talent (Ohio G.R.E.A.T.)
- Ohio Staff Council of Higher Education
- Ohio Technology Consortium
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/
- High Points, The Ohio State University, Accessed March 2018, https://www.osu.edu/highpoints/
- Academics, The Ohio State University, Accessed March 2018, https://www.osu.edu/academics/
- About UC, University of Cincinnati, Accessed March 2018, http://www.uc.edu/about.html
- Focus on OHIO, Ohio University, Accessed March 2018, https://www.ohio.edu/focus/
- History & Traditions, Ohio University, Accessed March 2018, https://www.ohio.edu/students/history.cfm
- Xavier University Fast Facts, Xavier University, Accessed March 2018, https://www.xavier.edu/about/
- About, University of Dayton, Accessed March 2018, https://udayton.edu/about/index.php
- Why Cedarville, Cedarville University, Accessed March 2018, https://www.cedarville.edu/Why-Cedarville.aspx
- Distance Education Programs, Bowling Green State University, Accessed March 2018, https://www.bgsu.edu/distance-learning/browse-programs.html
- About BGSU, Bowling Green State University, Accessed March 2018, https://www.bgsu.edu/about.html
- About the University of Toledo, University of Toledo, Accessed March 2018, http://www.utoledo.edu/campus/about/
- Academics, Ashland University, Accessed March 2018, https://www.ashland.edu/content/academics
- About Ashland, Ashland University, Accessed March 2018, https://www.ashland.edu/about-ashland
- CWRU at a Glance, Case Western Reserve University, Accessed March 2018, http://case.edu/about/
- Research at a Glance, Case Western Reserve University, Accessed March 2018, http://case.edu/cwruresearch/
- CIO, accessed April 26, 2017: Top 10 metro areas for STEM jobs, http://www.cio.com/article/3036116/careers-staffing/top-10-metro-areas-for-stem-jobs.html#slide11; About Us, http://www.cio.com/about/about.html
- University of Cincinnati, U.S. News Best Online Colleges, U.S. News & World Report, accessed April 26, 2017, https://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/university-of-cincinnati-main-campus-201885
- State Grants & Scholarships, Ohio Department of Higher Education, accessed April 26, 2017, https://www.ohiohighered.org/sgs
- 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/