Higher Learning Havens: The Top States for World-Class Universities 

With an extensive array of universities across the country, America has more than a little choice when it comes to post-secondary education.

The Best States For Universities

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While states like Massachusetts may be renowned for institutions like Harvard University, it doesn’t necessarily make them the optimal choice for selecting a university overall.

That begs the question, which states are best in terms of both university quality and the variety of options available?  

11. Minnesota 

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Paul Brady Photography / shutterstock.com

The 12th largest state in America, Minnesota, has a population of over 5.7 million.

11. Minnesota 

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Home to over 100 universities, Minnesota has one of the highest rates of bachelor’s degree holders or college-experienced adults in the country. 

According to Niche’s list of 2024 best colleges, six of the 250 are located in Minnesota.

10. Colorado

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A state with a mining heritage, it’s fitting that Colorado is the birthplace of the Colorado School of Mines, ranking 93rd in the top 250 national universities.

10. Colorado

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According to WalletHub, Colorado has the highest percentage of bachelor’s degree holders or college-experienced adults in the entire country.

Additionally, six of Colorado’s universities are featured in Niche’s top 250 list. Other notable universities are Colorado College and the University of Denver.

9. Illinois

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America’s third largest city, Illinois, boasts an impressive 239 universities. Of these, eight have made their way into Niche’s top 250 list.

 9. Illinois

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Most notable is Northwestern University, which is 14th in the country and is considered to be a globally-acclaimed research institution.

In 2023, Northwestern reached over one billion dollars in research funding. Illinois also hosts the University of Chicago, 15th overall. 

8. Virginia

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With one of the highest percentages in the country of individuals who have received graduate or professional degrees, Virginia has a student population of over half a million.

8. Virginia

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Stacker recognizes the University of Virginia as one of the best public colleges in the country, underscoring why educational opportunities in the state are so appealing. 

Washington and Lee University are also based in Virginia, one of the eight universities that rank within the top 250 nationwide. 

7. Florida

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Famous for its warm weather and relaxed way of living, Florida is also a strong contender for university options. With an impressive 11 universities in the country’s top 250, Florida is considered to have some of the most affordable options in America. 

7. Florida

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The University of Florida and the University of Miami are both highly popular choices in the state.

6. Ohio

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Ohio has a favorable 11 universities in the nation’s top 250, making it the sixth-best state when it comes to its post-secondary educational offering.

Case Western Reserve University and Kenyon College are two of Ohio’s more preferred schools.

5. Texas

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The second largest state in America, Texas, has a student population of over 1.5 million.

There are over 400 universities in the state, and with competitive acceptance rates averaging 16.78, it’s no wonder that there is a high demand for education within the state’s borders.

5. Texas

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With 12 universities on the top 250 list, Texas is most known for Rice University (#7 in the country), University of Texas – Austin and Texas A&M University. 

4. Massachusetts

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Boasting the highest amount of bachelor’s degree holders in the country, Massachusetts also enjoys a reputation for the highest university quality.

4. Massachusetts

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With a total of 18 universities in the top 250 list, the state is famously home to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (#1 in the country), Harvard University (#2 in the country) and Tufts University.

With over 700,000 applicants annually, it fosters a competitive environment that yields promising results.

3. Pennsylvania

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With a rich historical background, Pennsylvania emerges as an excellent choice for university education.

3. Pennsylvania

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The state has 18 universities that rank among the top 250 nationally, including the University of Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon University, and Haverford College. 

With over 300 universities overall, Pennsylvania has an acceptance rate of 30.50 and a diverse student population of over 600,000.

2. New York

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Internationally recognized for its iconic tourism, New York also stands as a reputable choice for pursuing higher education. The student population exceeds one million and offers a remarkable array of 418 universities. 

2. New York

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Among these institutions, New York is home to prestigious names like Columbia University, Cornell University, and the United States Military Academy at West Point. An impressive 22 universities are part of the top 250 list nationally.

1. California

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Finally, California stands out on the academic landscape. With an enormous student population of 2.5 million, California’s university acceptance rates are highly competitive, averaging at 13.25.

1. California

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The state itself has broad commitments to the education budget, bringing color to an already flourishing environment. With Stanford University and the University of Southern California, the state has 659 university options for prospective students.

Spoilt for Choice

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With almost 4,000 institutions offering options for higher education, America is undeniably abundant with excellent choices for students, regardless of where they choose to study.

One thing is for sure: for an individual hoping to earn a university-level degree, the future is brimming with promise and opportunity.

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This article was produced by TPR Teaching.

Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.

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