- 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 April 26, 2017: About Ohio University Zanesville, Ohio University, https://www.ohio.edu/zanesville/about/index.cfm; Administration, Lake Campus, Wright State University, http://lake.wright.edu/about/administration; Lancaster, Ohio University, https://www.ohio.edu/lancaster/; Ohio University Eastern, Ohio University, https://www.ohio.edu/eastern/; Southern Campus, Ohio University, https://www.ohio.edu/southern/; About Miami University Regionals, http://miamioh.edu/regionals/about/index.html;
- 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
- 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.
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.
Best 4-Year Colleges in Ohio
Here's our list of the best places in Ohio to earn an undergraduate degree, with details about why each school ranked where it did. Select the "methodology" button to read a full explanation of our 13-point system.
Our No. 1 school emerged from our analysis as the best one overall and also one of the best online colleges in Ohio. The University of Toledo ranked No. 2 in the state for its number of online degree programs — 46 of them, to be precise — and reported a healthy 36 percent of students enrolled in at least one online program. One of the larger schools on our list, UT also provided its students with a No. 4-ranked selection of degree programs available on campus.
Financial aid was also a bright spot for this riverside institution. Only three other schools in the state provided their students with a greater proportion of institutional grant aid relative to average tuition and fees costs than UT, according to NCES data for 2014-15.
Overall affordability helped this public Ohio school take the No. 2 spot. It placed in the statewide top three for its amount of institutional grant aid awarded as a percentage of tuition and fees, and that financial aid focus helped it also land in the top three on a more comprehensive metric of affordability.
Average net price is an out-of-pocket cost measure that subtracts the average expected amount of scholarship and grant aid from the projected costs of tuition, fees, room and board, books, supplies and other school-related expenses. Students at the Zanesville campus paid the third-lowest average net price in the state in 2014-15; the average tuition and fees for campus-based and online students came in at No. 5 statewide.
The Lake Campus of Wright State University is an up-and-coming institution, posting a 14 percent increase in enrollment between fall 2015 and fall 2016. That growth may be due to its No. 1 most affordable average net price, which not only beat out every other four-year school in Ohio but ranked in the top 40 of all 1,647 schools across the country that we surveyed for this analysis.
This accredited Celina school also earned a place among the best online colleges in Ohio, thanks to its 45 percent of students enrolled in at least some online progra. Only three other schools on our list posted a higher percentage of online students. The Lake Campus also had the No. 3-ranked graduation rate among our top ten schools.
The Lancaster campus of Ohio University tied for No. 3 in the state in the tuition and fees affordability category and ranked No. 4 among schools on our list for its amount of grant and scholarship aid awarded per dollar of tuition and fees. It also had the fourth-ranked average net price in the state, for middle-income as well as low-income students.
Students local to OUL who are hoping to pursue a bachelor's degree that falls outside the scope of the offerings available online or on campus can earn their first few semesters of credits at the Lancaster campus and then shift to a program at another OU school via the Ohio Transfer to Degree Guarantee. Make sure to talk with your advisor about the best way to proceed if you're thinking to take that route to graduation.
This St. Clairsville school is the smallest Ohio University campus on our list, but that doesn't mean that big opportunities aren't available here. OUE charged students the state's lowest raw price for tuition and fees in 2015-16, and its average net price came in at No. 7 statewide despite a ranking for institutional grant aid percentage that fell right in the middle of the pack.
Online programs were also a high point for OUE, where more than 59 percent of students took at least some of their coursework via online programs in 2016. No other school in our top ten reported a higher percentage of online enrollment, making OUE a top destination for students on the path to an online bachelor's degree in Ohio.
The main Columbus campus of Ohio State University comes in at No. 6 on our list, thanks in part to high marks in financial aid categories at both ends of the college journey. The main OSU campus took the top spot in the state for its percentage of institutional grant aid awarded, and nearly 75 percent of graduates reported that they were able to pay off their student loans within three years of completing their degrees. OSU's main campus also posted the best graduation rate among the schools on our list.
Another advantage for OSU students comes in the form of its home city's rising prominence in cutting-edge employment fields. Columbus was recently named as one of the top ten metro areas for science, tech, engineering and math (STEM) jobs by CIO magazine, in a study that cited the city's expected growth of IT startup companies and projected growth to around 274,000 STEM positions in the region by 2018.
The Southern campus of Ohio University shared the No. 1 spot in the state for its affordability of tuition and fees. Perhaps even more impressively, it placed among the 20 most affordable institutions out of all 1,647 U.S. schools we included in our analysis. It was also one of the best online colleges in Ohio in 2016 — just one other school on our list posted a higher online program enrollment percentage than Ohio University Southern.
Thanks to its location close to Ohio's southern border, OUS extends special learning opportunities to students from neighboring counties in northern Kentucky. Qualifying Kentucky residents have access to in-state tuition rates, and those eligible for discounts through the Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship (KEES) program can apply them at the Ironton school.
Tuition and fees affordability at this central Ohio school tied for the No. 3 spot in the state in 2015-16, and the average net price for middle- and low-income students at Ohio University Chillicothe ranked No. 8 and No. 10 in the state respectively. Its 40 percent online learning enrollment rate was good for the No. 5 spot among schools on our list.
OUC was founded as the first regional campus of Ohio University, beginning its life in 1946, and it hasn't lost the small-campus sensibility that can help students feel like they won't get lost in the crowd. The NCES reports a total enrollment of just 2,320 students at OUC in 2015.
Variety of available academic programs was one of the bright spots on the stat sheet for the University of Cincinnati. This large university in the southwestern corner of the state offered 388 degree programs in 2015-16, enough to earn it the No. 2 spot statewide. Students also tended to persevere through their degree programs at UC, according to the numbers. The Cincinnati school ranked No. 2 for both graduation rate and first-year student retention rate among our top ten schools.
Students seeking an online bachelor's degree in Ohio have some major upside here: UC featured 52 online degrees in 2015-16, the most of any school in the state, and U.S. News & World Report named it as one of the top 100 schools in the country for online bachelor's degrees.
Our No. 10 school features the state's sixth-lowest average cost of tuition and fees and an average net price that ranked No. 7 on our list for both low- and middle-income students. Graduates also paid back their student loans within three years at the highest percentage of any school on our list.
Miami Hamilton may not have been one of the strongest online colleges in Ohio, by the numbers, but it does provide on-campus students with eight of the ten flexibility measures counted on our analysis. Available credit for life experiences, advanced placement (AP) credits, remedial services and degree programs that can be completed entirely on weekends and evenings were just a few of the accommodations made for students at this southwestern Ohio school.Additional Info
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|
|Occupational Therapy Assistants||47.8%||3,480||$59,070|
|Home Health Aides||39.6%||65,710||$21,450|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||39.1%||6,210||$58,080|
|Ambulance Drivers and Attendants, Except Emergency Medical Technicians||36.5%||940||$22,030|
|Physical Therapist Aides||35.2%||910||$27,160|
|Hearing Aid Specialists||31.8%||410||$51,260|
|Operations Research Analysts||27.8%||3,790||$82,290|
|Interpreters and Translators||25.5%||1,750||$41,100|
|Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs||25.3%||7,510||$23,450|
|Forensic Science Technicians||23.5%||370||$63,590|
|Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics||23.2%||11,160||$31,070|
|Health Technologists and Technicians, All Other||22.5%||4,370||$40,780|
|Ophthalmic Medical Technicians||21.5%||1,690||$37,170|
|Cartographers and Photogrammetrists||21.4%||90||$69,580|
|Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists||21.1%||3,110||$73,700|
|Veterinary Technologists and Technicians||20.4%||3,370||$34,390|
|Computer Systems Analysts||20.3%||27,200||$88,310|
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.
Renewable for three years if recipient maintains the minimum stipulated GPA.
Renewable each year if the recipient maintains stipulated GPA.
Renewable for three years if recipient maintains stipulated GPA.
- 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