5 Best Colleges In Texas

Updated February 6, 2023

Top 10 Colleges in Texas ; #2, University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, Fort Worth, and San Antonio ; #3, Deloitte University Dallas, Texas.

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Texas houses an impressive 244 postsecondary institutions, making it a prime location for degree-seekers. With the state's strong economy and growing industries, graduates can look forward to a promising job market.

The growing economy attracts professionals and degree-seekers alike. A total of 1.64 million people attend college in Texas, ranking it second on the list of states that attract the most college students. Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin made U.S. News' list of the top 10 colleges with the most undergraduate students.

With so many options, comparing the top schools can give you a snapshot of what Texas colleges can offer. Jumpstart your college search with the five best schools in Texas below.

Keep reading to learn more about tuition cost, accreditation, and job outlook for graduates from Texas colleges and universities.

Why Texas? | Higher Ed in TX | Picking Your School | Top Schools

Why Attend College in Texas?

Pursuing a college degree is a life-changing decision. A college diploma can provide opportunities for enriching experiences and higher-paying jobs. Attending a Texas institution can offer several benefits.

Low Cost of Living
In 2021, Texas ranked as the state with the lowest cost of groceries. Texas also boasts the third-lowest state-local tax burdens, and residents pay no individual income tax. However, if you study online and maintain residency in a different state, the cost of living may differ.
Job Opportunities Post-Graduation
With a booming economy, Texas reports the second-highest GDP percent change in the last quarter of 2020. The Projections Managing Partnership (PMP) also projects dramatic job growth, including a 37.5% increase for actuaries and a 31.9% increase for nurse practitioners. With this positive employment outlook, students may find it easier to land a job after graduation or while still in school.
Education Initiatives
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) created the TEXAS Grant, which provides financial support to current or prospective college students. Another group, Educate Texas, partners with agencies and schools to create initiatives and programs that increase access to higher education.
Plenty of Activities
The diverse attractions and culture draws learners to the state. Students can enjoy 14 national parks, music festivals, delicious barbeque, traditional rodeos, and vibrant city life while pursuing a degree.

Texas Employment Prospects

In terms of economic stability, Texas ranks ninth in the country. This is in part due to the discovery of abundant petroleum in 1901 that brought an influx of jobs. Currently, eight of the ten largest public companies in Texas are in the oil and gas industry.

Both Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston appear on LinkedIn's 2017 list of the top 10 regions that hire graduating students. In these cities, the healthcare, financial, and information technology fields consistently employ many graduates.

The healthcare industry is a top employer in Texas, dominating all but seven major state regions as of 2019. As of May 2020, the healthcare industry employs 1.22 million people in Texas according to the BLS.

Higher-paying degrees in Texas include business, engineering, and computer science.

Other growing industries offer equally promising opportunities for recent graduates. For example, the educational instruction and library occupations industry employ 740,670 individuals. Additionally, management positions and business and financial operations employ 668,900 and 665,420 people respectively.

Higher-paying degrees in Texas include business, engineering, and computer science. As of 2017, first-year graduates earned on average of $66,320 with a business degree, $65,100 in the engineering field, and $53,250 in the computer science industry.

Considering the pay and job availability throughout the state, earning a degree in healthcare, business, engineering, finance, or education may open more opportunities for recent Texas graduates.

Texas' Top Employers

Deloitte forms part of the Big Four, which refers to the top U.S. accounting corporations. The firm boasts a high revenue of $47.6 billion in 2020. Deloitte's workforce includes 330,000 employees. Deloitte maintains offices in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio. Available careers include auditing, financial advisory services, and consulting.

Lockheed Martin specializes in technology for the aerospace and security industries. Forbes lists this $59.8 billion company as one of America's best employers for new graduates in 2020. The company employs 110,000 people globally. This employer actively holds career events for college students. Lockheed Martin has locations in various Texas cities. Graduates can pursue jobs in communications, engineering, and financial analysis.

MD Anderson Cancer Center has 20,000 employees in Houston, making it one of the largest Texan employers. Several company locations in Houston employ nurses, doctors, and healthcare workers. Recent graduates can also find work in marketing, research, law enforcement, accounting, and human resources.

Recommended Schools

Texas' Higher Education Landscape

Currently, Texas institutions enroll 7.5% of the entire U.S. college student population throughout 148 four-year and 96 two-year schools.

The college student population has grown in recent years, thanks to the Closing the Gaps by 2015 initiative established by the THECB. From 2000 to 2015, the number of enrolled college students increased by more than 537,000.

The graduation rate from Texas institutions has also increased over the past two decades. About 65.9% of first-year students in 2004 graduated with a bachelor's degree within 10 years, rising to 67.1% for first-year students in 2009. In 2019, The University of Texas at Austin celebrated the highest six-year graduation rate of 88.8%.

Texas institutions enroll 7.5% of the entire U.S. college student population.

The majority of Texas colleges reside in one of the four main urban areas: Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, Houston, and San Antonio. Urban locations can provide students with excellent networking and job opportunities.

If you do not live near a major Texas city or do not wish to relocate for school, online classes may offer an ideal solution. The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), which oversees 16 southern states, hosts the electronic campus program that offers online students in-state tuition rates. Many other postsecondary institutions offer online degrees, although some may require students to complete on-campus requirements.

Education Statistics for Texas

Texas Data National Data
Number of Four-Year Colleges, 2020 148 2,679
Number of Two-Year Colleges, 2020 96 1,303
Postsecondary Education Appropriations per Full-Time Student, 2019 $7,888 $8,196
Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education, 2017 7.8% 5.8%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree, 2019 7.2% 8.5%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Bachelor's Degree, 2019 19.5% 19.8%
Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher, 2019 10.4% 12.4%

Sources: NCES, SHEEO, U.S. Census Bureau

Popular Degrees in TX, 2019

Bachelor's Degrees

[statbox label="#1" title="Business" content="19.1%" theme="primary"] [statbox label="#2" title="Humanities" content="17.5%" theme="primary"] [statbox label="#3" title="Health Professions" content="12.6%" theme="primary"]

Master's Degrees

[statbox label="#1" title="Business" content="26.2%" theme="secondary"] [statbox label="#2" title="Education" content="17%" theme="secondary"] [statbox label="#3" title="Health Professions" content="12.2%" theme="secondary"]

Source: NCES

Accreditation for Texas Schools

While searching for universities in Texas, students should verify that the school is accredited. Third-party organizations grant accreditation to schools that meet high quality educational standards. This assures future employers that your education meets the basic requirements for your field. Additionally, you must attend accredited schools to qualify for federal financial aid.

Two types of accrediting bodies exist: regional and national. Regional accreditation is generally considered more prestigious and rigorous. Some regionally accredited schools may have more competitive application processes than nationally accredited universities.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) oversees regionally accredited schools in Texas, 10 other southern states, and some international locations. SACSCOC requires each institution to present plans for evaluation processes, student achievement, and academic policies.

Consider your educational priorities when choosing among schools with national and regional accreditation. Students pursuing trade or vocational schoolmay consider national accreditation. Those who place a higher value on prestige and academic rigor may opt for a regionally accredited school.

How Much Does College Cost in Texas?

The average annual price for postsecondary institutions in Texas is less than the national average. Only private colleges require a slightly higher-than-average tuition, as shown in the table below.

Even with affordable tuition rates, students may need help to cover their expenses. Most students start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which determines financial aid eligibility.

The average annual price for postsecondary institutions in Texas is less than the national average.

You can also apply for grants, fellowships, or scholarships to fund your education and research. For example, the state offers TEXAS Grants to students with lower household incomes. Many schools — such as Sam Houston State University— also offer tuition waivers to eligible students. While loans may cover remaining costs, students must pay it back over time.

To learn more about financial aid options, follow the links below.

In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition

Out-of-state students pay higher tuition than in-state students at many schools. Public schools tend to charge out-of-state students more to compensate for the lack of tax dollars received from them.

Since tuition prices increase greatly for out-of-state enrollees, many states and regions participate in tuition reciprocity programs. For instance, Texas forms part of the SREB's Academic Common Market (ACM).

Fifteen of the 16 states in the southern region participate in this program, with the exception of North Carolina. In Texas, 28 institutions participate in the ACM, offering in-state tuition to residents in other southern states who wish to enroll in one of the eligible programs.

Texas's Cost of Living

Knowing the cost of living in Texas can help you determine an accurate budget. According to the World Population Review, Texas offers the 18th least expensive cost of living, with a total cost index of 91.5. This index considers how much the average person spends on necessities such as food, healthcare, and clothing.

Texas ranks as one of the most affordable states for groceries and transportation expenditures. It boasts the lowest grocery index in the country and the ninth-lowest transportation index.

Selecting Your Texas University

Tuition costs are important when searching for the right school. However, you should also consider other factors that can impact your decision, including student-to-faculty ratio, available programs, and future earning potential.

  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: This ratio represents how many students one instructor addresses at a time. If you prefer more personalized instruction, look for schools with a lower student-to-faculty ratio.
  • Concentrations and Specializations: A program's available concentrations and specializations can set the stage for your career. Verify that your school of choice includes classes, labs, and/or capstone projects in your desired specialization.
  • Earning Potential: What you study and where you earn your degree can impact your income potential after graduation. Studying at a more prestigious institution — such as Rice University or Texas A&M — may help you land a higher-paying job.

Should You Consider Online Schools in Texas?

Before a global pandemic caused a massive shift towards online learning, colleges were already reporting an increase in distance learning. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the number of students enrolled in online learning courses rose from 2.8 to 3.7 million between 2012 and 2018.

In Texas, 22.4% of enrollees take distance learning classes. Many institutions, including West Texas A&M and Trinity University, offer online programs designed for students pursuing a degree while continuing work or family responsibilities.

Consider whether an online setting best suits your learning style and current situation. Some students struggle with motivation and focus at home, while others excel in this environment.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a degree cost in Texas?

According to the NCES, Texas residents pay an average of $8,678 annually for a public four-year program. Nonresidents pay more for a degree, with yearly expenses averaging $25,031 for a public four-year program. Private schools charge an average of $34,476 regardless of residency status.

Does Texas have online degrees?

Yes, many Texas institutions offer online degrees. Several universities provide programs either fully or partially online. Depending on the program, there may be some on-campus requirements.

How do I become a Texas resident?

Becoming a Texas resident requires a few basic steps. After moving to the state, you need to change your permanent mailing address, apply for an updated driver's license or state ID, register to vote, and switch to a local Texan bank or branch. However, Texas universities only consider applicants as residents after they have lived for one year in the state and established a domicile.

What city in Texas has the best schools?

With 244 institutions across the state, prospective students enjoy many higher education options in multiple cities. Depending on the type of school and program you hope to attend, you may find the best schools in Houston, San Antonio, Austin, or Dallas.

The Top Five Universities in Texas

College Choice offers helpful tools that provide insight into the complicated process of selecting the right school. Whether you are searching through our Texas list for a school that matches your interests, career plans, budget, class size preference, and/or locale, College Choice simplifies your search. We provide helpful, easily readable comparisons of cost data, strengths and weaknesses, and special offerings for the finest schools in the Lone Star State.

  1. Rice University

    Houston, TX


    William Marsh Rice University, which is known as Rice to students and faculty, is one of the top universities in Texas. It is a private, not-for-profit, research university that is located in Houston, Texas. It is the most competitive university in the state and it is regionally accredited by the SACS COC.


    Although Rice isn’t the largest of all the universities in Texas, it is one of the most rigorous and selective universities in the state. It confers over 100 degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate levels. It is best known for its engineering and liberal arts programs. Here’s a quick peek at a few of the most popular programs:

    • Bachelor of Arts in Women, Gender and Sexuality
    • Master of Architecture
    • Doctor of Musical Arts


    The school is one of the best examples of European collegiate campus life coming to roost in Texas. Rice has 11 residential colleges situated all around Houston, with the main campus adjacent to Hermann Park. This park holds a museum, the Houston Zoo, the Astrodome, and an outdoor theatre. This has led to student life being one of the highest-rated factors for student satisfaction at this university.

  2. Trinity University

    San Antonio, TX


    Trinity University is one of the premier colleges in Texas. This is a private, independent liberal arts research university that are located in San Antonio, Texas. It is regionally accredited by the SACS COC.


    This is a small university that enrolls less than 2,500 students annually. However, that does not mean that the school lacks program variety; in fact, this school confers six degrees in over 50 areas of study at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The school is known for its liberal arts curriculum and focus on business, health care, and psychology programs. Some of the top programs include:

    • Bachelor of Arts in International Business
    • Master of Science in Health Care Administration
    • Master of Arts in School Psychology


    This university is nestled in San Antonio, making it a great school for students who want diversity in terms of entertainment and student life when they are not in class. Students also have access to fraternities, sororities, and student organizations, making Trinity a great school for any student who is interested in an interesting life while attending university.

  3. University of Texas at Austin

    Austin, TX


    Students who attend the University of Texas at Austin fondly call the school UT Austin. This is a public, space-grant research university that is the flagship of the University of Texas System. It is located in Austin, Texas and is the seventh-largest school in the nation. It is regionally accredited by the SACS COC.


    As one of the largest colleges in Texas, UT Austin confers over 250 degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, postgraduate, and professional levels. The school has 18 colleges and schools, including six professional schools. The most well-known are the School of Law, which is continuously ranked in the top 25 best law schools in the country. Here are the most popular programs:

    • Bachelor of Business Administration
    • Master of Science in Marine Sciences
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology


    UT Austin is home to more than 40,000 students annually. Students come from all over the country and from 120 countries. This has led to a diverse campus, which is further recognized by the over 1,000 registered student organizations. Every type of religion, political affiliation, humanitarian interest, and sports team is represented on this campus, allowing students to create their own unique UT Austin experience.

  4. St. Mary’s University

    San Antonio, TX


    St. Mary’s University is a private, Roman Catholic, Marianist, liberal arts institution that is headquartered in San Antonio, Texas. It is one of the best colleges in Texas and is nationally ranked by U.S. News and World Report. This university is regionally accredited by the SACS COC.


    Although this university is small and enrolls less than 3,000 students annually, it is one of the top universities in Texas. The school confers nearly 100 degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate degrees. The school also houses a School of Law, which can be found at the school’s downtown campus. Other popular programs include:

    • Bachelor of Business Administration
    • Master of International Relations
    • Master of Engineering Systems Management


    Being located in such a diverse location as San Antonio, it will come as no surprise that St. Mary’s University is just as diverse through its campus life. Soccer is a popular sport on campus, and there are over 60 registered organizations on campus alone, many of which are minority and international groups for the student population. Add in the flourishing art and entertainment aspect that the city brings, and this becomes one of the best schools in the state to attend.

  5. Southern Methodist University

    Dallas, TX


    Southern Methodist University is known for being one of the best universities in Texas, and for good reason. This private research university has an endowment surpassing $1 billion and is one of just 95 universities in the country to have met this goal. It is located in Dallas, Texas, with satellite campus all across the Southwest. It is regionally accredited by the SACS COC.


    This one of the few Methodist colleges in Texas that confers a lot of degrees. The university offers more than 60 degrees in 100 fields of study at the undergraduate, graduate, postgraduate, and professional levels. It is best known for its focus on STEM and business degrees. Other stand-out degrees include:

    • Bachelor of Business Administration
    • Master of Laws in Taxation
    • Doctor of Engineering


    Southern Methodist is known for being a conservative campus that focuses on Greek organizations and political groups as part of its student life. Football is also an important part of the university’s identity, and all the games are popular events with both students and faculty.

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