Prospective college students in Oklahoma have a lot to think about when they're choosing where to go to school. We wanted to make the process a little simpler by collecting a bunch of helpful info for college-bound Oklahomans — like job market projections, state-based financial aid programs and popular undergraduate majors — and listing it all in one convenient resource.
Oklahoma has three main university systems in the state — the University of Oklahoma system, the Oklahoma State University system and the Regional University System of Oklahoma. And of those three systems, only the Regional system has multiple institutions in our top ten. If you're a community college student hoping to follow through to a four-year degree, check with your advisors to see if your program is eligible for any special admissions agreements with in-state universities.
Best 4-Year Colleges in Oklahoma
Of all the factors that students consider when choosing among Oklahoma schools, affordability and flexibility tend to make the biggest impact. We analyzed data on tuition cost, financial aid, distance education, degree availability and student success in order to determine the best colleges and universities in Oklahoma -- read on below to see who made the grade. For more insight into education in the state, check out the top community colleges in Oklahoma, too.
The flagship Norman campus of the University of Oklahoma System is the second-largest institution in the state by enrollment, serving more than 21,000 students annually. First established as a university in 1890, UO is a public research institution that features one of the largest academic catalogs among all Oklahoma colleges.
The 18 academic schools and colleges at OU combine to offer a selection of around 170 undergraduate majors. Students who aren't sure which direction to take their education can complete OU's My Majors Assessment, an online quiz designed to help point you in the right direction.
Norman is a community of roughly 122,000 people located about 20 miles south of downtown Oklahoma City. It's a great size for a college town -- large enough for an urban feel but small enough to provide peace and quiet when you need it.
Oklahoma State University has the largest student body among Oklahoma universities, with a reported total enrollment of more than 24,000 students in 2016. The degree-seeking population leans heavily toward undergraduate programs. Nearly 85 percent of those enrolled pursue bachelor's degrees.
OSU is also one of the top colleges and universities in Oklahoma for online degrees and courses. Undergraduates can choose from around ten online degree programs, in subjects like business, nursing and interdisciplinary studies, while those seeking graduate plans make their choice from an online catalog that includes aviation, education, nutritional science, business analytics and more.
On top of that, on-campus students who want to add some flexibility to their schedules can take individual online courses in their major. Six of the institution's eleven academic colleges offer some of their coursework in the virtual classroom.
This private research university in Oklahoma's second-largest city has roots that go back to 1882, to the founding of a small Muskogee boarding school when Oklahoma was known as Indian Territory. The institution moved to Tulsa in 1907, the year of Oklahoma's statehood, and was chartered under its current name in 1920.
Fewer than 4,500 students seek their degrees here, including close to 3,300 undergraduates and more than 300 law students. If you're hoping to secure student aid, TU has an encouraging statistic for you: roughly 94 percent of students receive some form of financial assistance each year.
TU is also one of the top schools in Oklahoma for students who prefer a close-knit learning environment. The student faculty ratio was a comfortable 11:1 in 2017, and the average class size here is 22 students.
Oklahoma City University is a private institution in the state's capital that maintains an affiliation with the United Methodist Church. Fewer than 2,000 undergraduates attend classes here, so students who enjoy the culture of a small college campus should feel right at home.
The relatively low enrollment at OKCU allows the administration to foster an environment where professors can work closely with students who need help. The average class sizes for first-year and upper-division students is 17 and 13 respectively, and the ratio of students to faculty members is more than 30 percent better than the national average of 16:1.
Eleven academic colleges and schools offer campus-based degree plans at OKCU, including more than 50 undergraduate majors and over 35 pre-professional, master's and doctoral programs. A graduate seminary is also available for advanced students of religion.
This public regional university only took its present-day name in 1978, but it has a history that goes back further than any other school in the state. Northeastern State University was originally founded as Cherokee National Female Seminary in 1846, transitioning to state ownership in 1909 and offering bachelor's degrees by 1920.
The main campus of NSU is located in Tahlequah, a city of fewer than 17,000 residents located an hour's drive south of Tulsa. The area around town has plenty of opportunity for outdoor recreation, including fishing, boating and swimming in nearby Lake Tenkiller and the Illinois River.
NSU also maintains satellite campuses in the region to serve students who may not be able to make it to classes at the Tahlequah flagship. Locations in Muskogee and Broken Arrow were opened in 1993 and 2001, respectively.
Oklahoma Christian University is one of the 20 accredited colleges and universities nationwide affiliated with the churches of Christ. Founded in 1950 with an enrollment of just 97 students, the institution now serves nearly 2,600 students annually.
The degree catalog here features 21 areas of study and more than 90 individual degree programs. OC also reports some of the highest student success rates in the state -- fully 100 percent of honors graduates since 2014 have been admitted to advanced degree programs.
Christian faith is a significant part of the mission here, and students are expected to adhere to the values of the Bible over those of the prevailing culture. The university does not discriminate against non-Christians in its admissions practices, but all full-time OC faculty and staff members are required to be active members of the church.
As another one of the best schools in Oklahoma for students seeking a Christ-centered education, Southern Nazarene University states a goal to "make Christlike disciples through higher education" in its official mission. The general education curriculum here is taught from a Christian perspective and includes coursework on Christian scriptures and traditions.
This small institution of around 2,200 students was founded in 1899 as a service of the Protestant Church of the Nazarene. The university as a whole is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and certain individual programs are accredited by agencies like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the National Association of Schools of Music.
Several online degree programs are available for SNU students, primarily in the field of business. Three bachelor's degree completion programs and three master's degree plans are offered as of 2018.
The second member of the Regional University System of Oklahoma to make our list has been educating students for more than 115 years, ever since the first enrolled class met in 1903. The institution went through half a dozen name changes before taking its current moniker, growing from a two-year teachers' college into a doctorate-awarding university.
Southwestern Oklahoma State University has also staked out a spot on the list of Oklahoma's homegrown online colleges, offering more than a dozen distance education programs to undergraduates and graduate students. In addition to its Web-based content, SWOSU features graduate degree plans delivered in interactive television (ITV) and webinar formats.
SWOSU is a mid-sized school, reporting total headcount enrollment near 5,500 in 2017. The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and boasts nearly 20 discipline-specific accreditations for its degree programs.
Named for its founder, Oklahoma-born televangelist Granville Oral Roberts, this faith-based institution has been educating students since 1965. Oral Roberts University consists of six academic colleges -- arts and cultural studies, science and engineering, business, education, nursing and theology and ministry -- which offer nearly 80 undergraduate majors and more than a dozen graduate programs.
Total enrollment here comes in just shy of 3,900 students and tilts significantly toward undergrads. Close to 3,300 students at ORU pursue bachelor's degrees, while fewer than 600 are enrolled in advanced programs.
ORU offers a wide variety of online degree programs, in secular as well as religious subjects. Online bachelor's degree plans in ministry, biblical literature and Christian counseling share catalog space with business, communication, psychology and information technology programs.
Oklahoma Baptist University is a small, private, Christian school in Shawnee, a community of around 31,000 residents located about 40 miles east of Oklahoma City. Approximately 2,100 students work toward their degrees from the seven academic colleges at OBU, which include bachelor's programs in church music, global studies and multilingual communication.
Students who like to be able to work one-on-one with professors are likely to find the environment they're looking for here, as well. The student-faculty ratio at the Shawnee institution is 13:1, nearly 20 percent better than the national average.
Expected tuition and fees expenses here are comparable to the cost numbers at other private colleges, but OBU students don't have to foot the bill alone. University administration reports that 100 percent of the student body receives some form of financial aid.
Most Popular Degree Programs in Oklahoma
It can help to be aware of the most popular majors in Oklahoma, whether you've already chosen your field of study or you're still looking for one that inspires you. Here's a list of Oklahoma's top degrees by enrollment, according to NCES numbers.
In-Demand Careers in Oklahoma
There may be no degree that can guarantee you a job after graduation, but knowing which career fields are expected to have high demand for qualified applicants can help you point your education in a favorable direction for post-college employment. Check out this list of Oklahoma's hottest careers.
|Career Title||Projected Job Growth||Total Employment||Annual Salary|
|Home Health and Personal Care Aides||36.8%||18,200||$22,020|
|Marriage and Family Therapists||27.8%||570||$64,040|
|Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Analysts and Testers||24.4%||7,370||$87,740|
|Operations Research Analysts||24.1%||660||$76,420|
|Radio, Cellular, and Tower Equipment Installers and Repairers||23.4%||330||$51,120|
|Rotary Drill Operators, Oil and Gas||22.7%||3,480||$56,300|
|Derrick Operators, Oil and Gas||22.1%||1,040||$51,140|
|Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists||22%||5,250||$58,800|
|Roustabouts, Oil and Gas||21.9%||6,380||$39,720|
|Fast Food and Counter Workers||20.7%||39,330||$19,940|
|Physical Therapist Aides||20.6%||660||$22,810|
|Service Unit Operators, Oil and Gas||20.5%||3,490||$42,450|
|Hotel, Motel, and Resort Desk Clerks||20.1%||3,040||$20,880|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||19.7%||1,550||$59,180|
|Helpers--Pipelayers, Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters||19.6%||990||$34,980|
|Occupational Therapy Assistants||19.5%||770||$64,570|
|Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary||19.4%||520||$58,440|
|Surveying and Mapping Technicians||19.4%||930||$44,580|
|Information Security Analysts||19.1%||950||$81,900|
|Earth Drillers, Except Oil and Gas; and Explosives Workers, Ordnance Handling Experts, and Blasters||19%||980||$43,510|
|Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers||18.9%||1,710||$26,470|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Oklahoma
Oklahoma offers some state-based grant and scholarship programs to help residents pay for college. Included is the Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant (OTAG) is a need-based award of up to $1,000 for students at public universities and up to $1,300 for private college students. In addition, The Oklahoma Tuition Equalization Grant (OTEG) provides qualifying students with $2,000 per year to help balance the additional costs of attending a private institution.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
Minimum 3.25 GPA and full-time enrollment are required to retain scholarship.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
Minimum 3.25 GPA with full-time status is required to retain scholarship.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
Award is renewable for up to three years.
- Regional University System of Oklahoma
- Oklahoma State University System
- Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education
- Oklahoma's Promise
- Oklahoma College Assistance Program
- Oklahoma Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (Oklahoma GEAR UP)
- Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan
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 8-9, 2018: About OU, The University of Oklahoma, https://www.ou.edu/web/about_ou; Explore Our Colleges, The University of Oklahoma, http://www.ou.edu/admissions/academics/explore-our-colleges; Find Your Major, The University of Oklahoma, http://www.ou.edu/admissions/academics/find-your-major; Normal Graduate Programs, The University of Oklahoma, http://www.ou.edu/gradweb/academic_programs/norman_campus; Headcount Enrollment Projections, Oklahoma State University, https://irim.okstate.edu/sites/default/files/StudentProfile/2017/2017EnrollmentProjections.pdf; Online Degree Programs, Oklahoma State University, https://ocampus.okstate.edu/Degrees.vbhtml#; Online Courses, Oklahoma State University, https://ocampus.okstate.edu/Courses.vbhtml; About, The University of Tulsa, https://utulsa.edu/about/; History & Traditions, The University of Tulsa, https://utulsa.edu/about/history-traditions/; Points of Pride, The University of Tulsa, https://utulsa.edu/about/points-of-pride/; TU Fast Facts, The University of Tulsa, https://utulsa.edu/about/tu-fast-facts/; Quick Facts, Oklahoma City University, https://www.okcu.edu/main/about/quickfacts; Undergraduate & Graduate Degree Programs, Oklahoma City University, https://www.okcu.edu/academics/home; NSU Heritage, Northeastern State University, https://www.nsuok.edu/heritage/HeritageHome.aspx; NSU at a Glance, Northeastern State University, https://www.nsuok.edu/AboutUs/NSUataGlance.aspx; Our Campuses, Northeastern State University, https://www.nsuok.edu/AboutUs/OurCampuses.aspx; University Profile, Oklahoma Christian University, http://www.oc.edu/about/university-profile.html; List of Church of Christ Colleges and Universities, Oklahoma Christian University, http://www.oc.edu/about/church-of-christ/list-of-church-of-christ-colleges-and-universities.html; Degrees and Programs, Oklahoma Christian University, https://oc.edu/academics/#degrees-alphabetical; The OC Covenant, Oklahoma Christian University, http://www.oc.edu/about/mission/oc-covenant.html; About SNU, Southern Nazarene University, http://snu.edu/about; Mission Statement, Southern Nazarene University, http://snu.edu/mission-statement; Accreditations, Southern Nazarene University, http://snu.edu/accreditations; Gen Ed Learning Outcomes, Southern Nazarene University, http://snu.edu/learning-outcomes; Online Bachelor's Programs, Southern Nazarene University, http://snu.edu/ol-online; Fast Facts, Southern Nazarene University, http://snu.edu/Websites/snuokc/images/ASEC/General_International_SNU_Fast_Facts.pdf; About SWOSU, Southwestern Oklahoma State University, http://www.swosu.edu/resources/about.aspx#; SWOSU History, Southwestern Oklahoma State University, http://www.swosu.edu/administration/president/history.aspx; Fall 2008-Fall 2017 Headcount and Full-time Equivalent, Southwestern Oklahoma State University, http://www.swosu.edu/administration/research/2017/5-fall-headcount-fulltime-equivalent-a.pdf; SWOSU Programs Available through the Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning, http://www.swosu.edu/administration/distance/programs.aspx; About ORU, Oral Roberts University, http://www.oru.edu/about-oru/; Quick Facts, Oral Roberts University, http://www.oru.edu/about-oru/quick-facts.php; Oral Roberts University, Online Degrees, http://www.oru.edu/online/#degrees; Find your place at OBU, Oklahoma Baptist University, https://www.okbu.edu/about/index.html; Academic Programs, Oklahoma Baptist University, https://www.okbu.edu/catalog/programs/index.html; Quick Facts, Oklahoma Baptist University, https://www.okbu.edu/about/quick-facts.html; History, Oklahoma Baptist University, https://www.okbu.edu/about/history.html;
- About the City, City of Norman, Oklahoma, accessed May 8, 2018, http://www.normanok.gov/content/about-city
- QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, accessed May 8-9, 2018: Norman city, Oklahoma, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/normancityoklahoma/PST045216; Tahlequah city, Oklahoma, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/tahlequahcityoklahoma/PST045216; Shawnee city, Oklahoma, https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/shawneecityoklahoma/PST045216;
- Regional Universities, Regional University System of Oklahoma, accessed May 8, 2018, https://www.ruso.edu/regional-universities
- 21 Liberal Arts Colleges With the Lowest Student-Faculty Ratios, U.S. News and World Report, Jordan Friedman, April 19, 2016, accessed May 8, 2018, https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/the-short-list-college/articles/2016-04-19/21-liberal-arts-colleges-with-the-lowest-student-faculty-ratios
- 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/
- OKCollegeStart.org, accessed May 18, 2017: Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant, https://secure.okcollegestart.org/Financial_Aid_Planning/Oklahoma_Grants/Oklahoma_Tuition_Aid_Grant.aspx; Oklahoma Tuition Equalization Grant, https://secure.okcollegestart.org/Financial_Aid_Planning/Oklahoma_Grants/Oklahoma_Tuition_Equalization_Grant.aspx;
- Frequently Asked Questions, Oklahoma's Promise, accessed May 18, 2017, http://www.okhighered.org/okpromise/faq.shtml