As one of the geographically largest states in the nation, Texas is home to a significant number of colleges and universities. These include some of the country's most well-respected public and private institutions.
Many public schools belong to one of the state's university systems. These include The University of Texas System, Texas A&M University System and the Texas State University System, among others. While the flagship campuses for these systems are often the best known, many have high-quality schools based throughout Texas.
Other institutions in the state include independent universities, online colleges, private colleges and universities and community colleges. Rice University and Baylor University are two notable private schools in Texas.
There are also 50 community colleges that offer technical training and two-year degrees. Students wishing to start their education at one of these affordable institutions can often transfer their credits to a four-year school when they are ready to earn either an on-campus or online bachelor's degree in Texas.
Accredited schools on this list aren't fully online colleges, but you can find an opportunity to engage in online curriculum at many campus-based Texas schools. Whether interested in earning a criminal justice degree in person or completing a business administration degree program via online classes or online programs, there are many options at traditional and online schools in the state.
Best 4-Year Colleges in Texas
In this analysis, we took vital data points on more than 110 Texas schools, weighted them according to their importance to students and calculated scores for each institution in order to find out which ones were the best colleges and universities in Texas. Click the methodology button below if you're curious about how we balanced the numbers for affordability, flexibility, student success and other factors. Then, browse online colleges and other school listings on this page and take a step toward enrolling in campus-based or online programs in Texas.
Founded in 1876, Texas A&M University is a school steeped in tradition. Whether it's the Midnight Yell on the nights before football games or laying exam-day pennies at the foot of the statue of former university president Sul Ross, campus culture is full of rituals that help bond students together.
Even if you can't make it to campus, however, you can be a part of the Aggie spirit. Texas A&M is one of the top colleges and universities in Texas for online courses, thanks to a large distance education catalog that includes 48 degrees and 25 certificate programs.
Off-campus online degree programs at the College Station school cost the same amount per credit hour for resident and non-resident students. They may even be more affordable than in-state tuition for some courses.
Texas Tech University has 10 colleges, a medical school and a school of law. The faculty here is highly decorated, featuring a total of 37 Fulbright Scholars over the last decade.
The Worldwide eLearning option at Texas Tech University provides more than 100 fully online degree programs or certificates, earning the Lubbock institution a spot among the top online schools in Texas. Available degrees include options in popular fields such as general studies, political science and human services.
High school students may be dually enrolled at Texas Tech University or earn AP credit to be applied toward their degree program. Once enrolled, all students have access to career counseling and, after graduation, career placement.
Founded in 1879 and named for the famous Texan who helped the state gain independence from Mexico, Sam Houston State University is located about an hour north of Houston. The Huntsville school offers more than 80 undergraduate degree programs and over 50 master's degrees as well as doctoral programs in psychology, education, criminal justice and more.
SHSU has eight colleges, including an online learning department that offers financial aid incentives to incoming online graduate students. Bachelor's degrees in psychology, sociology, history and business administration are all available as fully online degree programs.
Students on the path to the upper echelons of the education profession can earn several advanced professional certifications at the Huntsville school. The list of credentials, each of which requires a master's degree, includes certifications for principals, superintendents, school librarians and behavior analysts.
Although it was founded by the group that's now known as The United Methodist Church, Southern Methodist University maintains a primarily secular approach to education and dedicates itself to open academic inquiry. Its flagship campus, located five miles north of downtown Dallas, sits on more than 230 acres.
Academic diversity is significant at SMU. Undergraduates can choose from over 100 bachelor's degree programs in more than 90 different fields of study, and graduates have around 115 master's degree plans to choose from.
If you're a big fan of Spanish art, you're in for a treat on the SMU campus. The Meadows Museum holds a collection of works by Goya, Picasso, Miró, El Greco and other Spanish masters that stands as one of the largest Spanish art collections in the world outside of Spain.
The Horned Frog might not sound like a fearsome beast, but the Texas Christian University athletes that compete under its name have been performing fiercely on the field. In 2016, for example, the Fort Worth School captured a total of seven Big 12 conference championships in team and individual sports.
It's not just athletes from TCU who get to travel the country in hopes of winning big. Every spring, graduating seniors in the acting and musical theater programs present an annual showcase for agents and casting directors in New York, should students be interested in a theater degree program.
TCU declares itself a predominately protestant Christian school, but the administration emphasizes that the institution in no way excludes students of other faiths. More than 20 religious organizations exist on campus.
Texas Woman's University is another of the best traditional and online colleges in Texas. Its array of fully online and hybrid undergraduate degree completion programs includes at least a dozen options, from business and accounting to dental hygiene and health studies.
Multiple institutes and advancement centers can be found on the Denton campus. TWU is home to the Center for Global Nursing, the Center for Women in Business and the Woodcock Institute for the Advancement of Neurocognitive Research and Applied Practice, among others.
Men have been admitted to all undergraduate degree programs at Texas Woman's University since 1994, even though the school remains a member of the Women's College Coalition. With a student body of approximately 15,000, TWU is one of the nation's largest institutions of higher education that primarily serves women.
The city of Denton, where the University of North Texas is located, has a population of around 130,000 -- just about perfect for a college town. It's large enough that you can expect a solid portfolio of conventional metropolitan services, but not so large that the needs of its educational institutions get lost in the hustle and bustle.
This Denton university features some schools and colleges that cover specific subjects in a finer-grained way than they may be treated at other schools. The college of merchandising, hospitality and tourism, for example, is one of the largest of its kind both among Texas colleges and nationwide.
Undergraduates have over 100 bachelor's degree programs to choose from at UNT. Available online programs include degrees in education, health, business and information science.
The University of Texas at Austin is not an online college as it doesn't offer any online degrees, but it does boast a list of benefits for campus-based students. For one thing, national rankings agencies in 2018 list almost all of its undergraduate degree programs in business and engineering among the top ten programs in the country in their subjects.
Since first opening its doors in 1883, UT Austin has grown into the largest school by enrollment among all Texas universities. It now serves as the flagship campus for the University of Texas System, which maintains 14 institutions statewide.
The degree program catalog at UT Austin is formidable, featuring more than 170 fields of undergraduate study and a total of nearly 400 bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. The college campus also has four museums and over 10 million books in its many libraries.
As the flagship campus in the system bearing the same name, the University of Houston calls itself the "Powerhouse." It was founded in 1927 and has grown from one campus into a system including four locations.
Distance education students at UH can take advantage of four bachelor's degree completion plans and around 20 online master's degree programs. The university also features an online catalog of more than 950 courses, making it possible for most students to craft a convenient class schedule.
The commitment to student success at UH can be exemplified by its UHin4 program -- a graduation plan partnership designed to simplify the college process and help students complete their degrees in four years. Elements of the plan are available to both first-year students and transfers.
Originally chartered by the co-founders of Texas Instruments as the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest, this Dallas institution joined the University of Texas system in 1969. Students here have more than 140 degree programs to choose from, including several PhDs and other terminal degrees.
The Naveen Jindal School of Management at UT Dallas was recognized by Financial Times as one of the top online business colleges in Texas, particularly for its global MBA programs. Other business programs available via distance education include master's degrees in marketing, accounting and information technology management.
Aspiring top-level public servants have an additional incentive here, as well. UT Dallas is one of the few Texas colleges to maintain an entire school of economic, political and policy sciences.
Most Popular Degree Programs in Texas
There are many on-campus and online degrees available in Texas, at online colleges or traditional campuses. However, the following degree programs, some offered as online programs, are the ones that have proven most popular with students in recent years.
In-Demand Careers in Texas
Before deciding to attend traditional or online colleges, or on a degree program, you might find it beneficial to review which jobs are expected to grow most in the coming years and shape your agenda for online programs around that. Take a look at these in-demand careers for Texas before looking at campus-based or online schools in the state.
|Career Title||Projected Job Growth||Total Employment||Annual Salary|
|Wind Turbine Service Technicians||108.7%||1,730||$55,340|
|Forest Fire Inspectors and Prevention Specialists||43.4%||100||$63,470|
|Home Health Aides||42.7%||69,600||$21,910|
|Personal Care Aides||37.8%||206,240||$19,960|
|Physical Therapist Assistants||37.3%||7,550||$69,890|
|Operations Research Analysts||36.2%||11,190||$82,660|
|Occupational Therapy Assistants||36.1%||3,650||$74,650|
|Diagnostic Medical Sonographers||34.6%||4,870||$71,580|
|Computer Numerically Controlled Machine Tool Programmers, Metal and Plastic||33.8%||1,590||$58,660|
|Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers, Including Fast Food||33.7%||389,740||$20,880|
|Information Security Analysts||33.5%||8,520||$104,170|
|Software Developers, Applications||33.3%||71,260||$108,760|
|Rail-Track Laying and Maintenance Equipment Operators||31.4%||1,290||$48,590|
|Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists||30.8%||29,560||$78,200|
|Occupational Therapy Aides||30.8%||220||$31,390|
|Terrazzo Workers and Finishers||30.3%||350||$36,380|
|Nonfarm Animal Caretakers||30.2%||15,660||$23,420|
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Texas
Financial aid is available to many students attending traditional and online schools in Texas. Students can apply for federal assistance, but the state also offers grants and scholarships specifically to its residents. These include the Texas Public Educational Grant Program, the Top 10 Percent Scholarship Program and the TEXAS Grant Program among others.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
Recipient must reapply for renewal.
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
MAX. AWARD AMOUNT
Satisfactory academic progress is required to retain scholarship; minimum 2.5 GPA required.
- The University of Texas System
- The University of Texas System Online Consortium
- The Texas A&M University System
- The Texas State University System
- Texas Association of Community Colleges
- University of Houston System
- College for All Texans
- Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
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 March 21-22, 2018: Midnight Yell, Texas A&M University, https://www.tamu.edu/traditions/gameday/midnight-yell/; Pennies on Sully, Texas A&M University, https://www.tamu.edu/traditions/aggie-culture/pennies-on-sully/; Distance Education, Texas A&M University, http://distance.tamu.edu/; Billing Explanations, Texas A&M University, https://sbs.tamu.edu/accounts-billing/tuition-fees/schedule/#DIST_ED_DIFF; Online & Regional Site Degrees, Certificate and Certification Preparation Programs, Texas Tech University, https://www.depts.ttu.edu/elearning/programs/index.php; Rankings, Texas Tech University, http://www.ttu.edu/about/rankings/; About, Sam Houston State University, http://www.shsu.edu/about/; Degrees Offered, Sam Houston State University, http://www.shsu.edu/academics/degrees.html?degTyp=doc; Online Undergraduate Degree Programs, Sam Houston State University, http://online.shsu.edu/degrees/undergraduate/; Professional Certifications and Special Programs, Sam Houston State University, http://www.shsu.edu/academics/certs_and_special/index.html; SMU Facts, Southern Methodist University, https://www.smu.edu/AboutSMU/Facts; Unique Resources, Southern Methodist University, https://www.smu.edu/AboutSMU/Facts/UniqueResources; Horned Frogs Athletics, Texas Christian University, http://www.tcu.edu/116.asp; Church Ties, Texas Christian University, http://www.tcu.edu/96.asp; BFA, Emphasis in Acting, https://finearts.tcu.edu/theatre/academics/areas-of-study/bfa-emphasis-in-acting/; Online Degrees and Certificate Programs, Texas Woman's University, https://www.twu.edu/tlt/information-for-students/online-degrees-and-certificate-programs/; About TWU, Texas Woman's University, https://www.twu.edu/about-twu/; Institutes and Centers, Texas Woman's University, https://www.twu.edu/about-twu/institutes-and-centers/; About UNT, University of North Texas, https://www.unt.edu/about-unt; Hospitality & Tourism Management, University of North Texas, https://htm.unt.edu/; Academic Majors, Degrees and Programs, University of North Texas, https://www.unt.edu/academics/majors-degrees-programs; Online Programs & Certificates, University of North Texas, https://online.unt.edu/; Facts & Figures, The University of Texas at Austin, https://www.utexas.edu/about/facts-and-figures; About the University of Texas System, University of Texas System, https://www.utsystem.edu/about; Welcome to the Powerhouse, University of Houston, https://ssl.uh.edu/powerhouse/; Programs List, University of Houston, https://ssl.uh.edu/online/programs/online-programs/graduate/; UHin4, University of Houston, http://www.uh.edu/provost/students/new-coogs/uhin4; A Historical View of UT Dallas, The University of Texas at Dallas, https://www.utdallas.edu/create/index.html; Academic Programs, The University of Texas at Dallas, https://www.utdallas.edu/academics/; About, The University of Texas at Dallas, https://www.utdallas.edu/about/; Online Programs, Naveen Jindal School of Management, The University of Texas at Dallas, http://jindal.utdallas.edu/online-programs/;
- Higher Education, U.S. News and World Report, accessed March 21-22, 2018: Texas Woman's University, https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/texas-womans-university-3646; Overall Rankings, The University of Texas at Austin, https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/university-of-texas-3658/overall-rankings;
- 25 of the top distance learning MBA providers, Financial Times, accessed March 22, 2018, https://im.ft-static.com/content/images/e677c5bc-b5b5-11da-9cbb-0000779e2340.pdf
- 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.
- 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/