midwestThe Midwest is known for its friendly people and wide open spaces, but it is also home to some of the best academic institutions in the country. While coastal schools may be more well-known, these colleges and universities located in the heart of our country have a lot to offer in terms of academics, athletics and student involvement. Without a doubt, it is worth checking out our list of schools in these so-called “flyover states” to pursue a college career as rich and bountiful as the landscape that surrounds them.

25. Gustavus Adolphus College

Location: St. Peter, MN

Student Enrollment: 2,457

College Type: Private nonprofit, 4-year

Affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Gustavus Adolphus College is named after a King of Sweden who helped lead his country to power. The school has a 67% acceptance rate, in which over 3,000 applications of the nearly 4,700 that are sent in get accepted.

Learn more about Gustavus Adolphus College

24. Kalamazoo College

Wikimedia Commons user AaronEndre

Wikimedia Commons user AaronEndre

Location: Kalamazoo, MI

Student Enrollment: 1,461

College Type: Private, nonprofit, 4-year

This college is unique in that it produces the most Peace Corps volunteers than any other academic institution in America and is among the 100 oldest colleges in the nation. Kalamazoo’s motto is Lux Esto which means “Let There Be Light”. Its colors are orange and black with Buzz the Hornet serving as their mascot.

Learn more about Kalamazoo College

23. Denison University

Flickr user OZinOH

Flickr user OZinOH

Location: Granville, OH

Student Enrollment: 2,278

College Type: Private, nonprofit, 4-year

Denison University students originate from all 50 states and 37 countries around the world. From time to time, biology and geology classes are held biological reserve just East of its campus. Popular majors include Biology, Communication, Economics, Psychology, History, and English.

Learn more about Denison University

22. Michigan State University

Flickr user VasenkaPhotography

Flickr user VasenkaPhotography

Location: East Lansing, MI

Student Enrollment: 50,081

College Type: Public, 4 year

Founded in 1855, Michigan State University introduced the collegiate study of packaging, hospitality business, supply chain management, music therapy and communication sciences. In 2015, the school received a record breaking number of more than 35,300 applications. Its colors are white and green and its mascot is Sparty the Spartan.

Learn more about Michigan State University

21. Indiana University—Bloomington

Flickr user Raul Pacheco-Vega

Flickr user Raul Pacheco-Vega

Location: Bloomington, IN

Student Enrollment: 46,416

College Type: Public, 4-year

IU Bloomington is the largest University in the state of Indiana. It has the most endowed faculty positions in the Big 10 with 1,823 full-time positions. There are 16 schools on campus offering over 550 majors and 40 graduate programs.

Learn more about Indiana University- Bloomington

20. DePauw University

Flickr user Morgan Burke

Flickr user Morgan Burke

Location: Greencastle, IN

Student Enrollment: 2,215

College Type: Private, nonprofit, 4 year

DePauw is a liberal arts college affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal Church. The average class size is 15 with no class consisting of more than 35 students. Its School of Music is one of the oldest private post-secondary music institutions in the U.S. DePauw is also responsible for founding the Society of Professional Journalists.  

Learn more about DePauw University

19. Rose Hulman Institute of Technology

Flickr user Jim Grey

Flickr user Jim Grey

Location: Terre Haute, IN

Student Enrollment: 2,388

College Type: Private, nonprofit, 4 year

This school specializes in engineering, mathematics, and science. Its campus stretches across 200 acres and has public artwork on display. The majority of the student body hails from the Midwest, namely Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Minnesota.

Learn more about the Rose Hulman Institute of Technology

18. University of Minnesota—Twin Cities

Location: Minneapolis, MN

Student Enrollment: 51,147

College Type: Public, 4 year

The U of M is divided into its Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses, about 3 miles apart. It is the second largest University in the Midwest in terms of enrollment. There are 19 colleges within the University including sister campuses in Crookston, Duluth, Morris and Rochester. Its mascot is the Golden Gopher and the school colors are maroon and gold.

Learn more about the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities

17. Miami University Oxford  

Flickr user Brandon C

Flickr user Brandon C

Location: Oxford, OH

Student Enrollment: 18,620

College Type: Public, 4 year or above

Known as the RedHawks, the students at this university come into their freshman year with an ACT average of 26-30 and an average SAT score of 1,179-1,340. Their mascot is named Swoop and their colors are red and white. The most popular major on campus is Finance, followed by Marketing and Accounting.

Learn more about Miami University- Oxford

16. Case Western Reserve University

Location: Cleveland, OH

Student Enrollment: 10,771

College Type: Private, nonprofit, 4 year

Approximately 5 miles from downtown Cleveland, this University emerged in 1967 when the Western Reserve University and Case Institute of Technology merged. Almost 50% of the student body are involved in Greek life on campus. The most popular majors include the following: biomedical engineering, biology/ biological sciences, social work, nursing, mechanical engineering and psychology.

Learn more about Case Western Reserve University

15. Wheaton College

Flickr user Matt

Flickr user Matt

Location: Wheaton, IL

Student Enrollment: 2,914

College Type: Private, nonprofit, 4 year

Located in the Chicago suburb of Wheaton, this school is a Christian liberal arts college. It is home to the internationally renowned Conservatory of Music which also hosts the Artist Series, attracting world class performers to the community. Its graduate programs are designed for developing theological training and ministry skills.

Learn more about Wheaton College

14. St Olaf College

Flickr user Derek Bruff

Flickr user Derek Bruff

Location: Northfield, MN

Student Enrollment: 3,034

College Type: Private, nonprofit, 4 year

Named after Saint Olaf II of Norway, this school is associated with the Evangelical Lutheran church. Its campus is known as “The Hill” and its residence halls house 96% of its students. The student to faculty ratio is 12:1 and the average GPA for incoming freshman is 3.62.

Learn more about St Olaf College

13. University of Wisconsin—Madison

Flickr user Shihmei Barger

Flickr user Shihmei Barger

Location: Madison, WI

Student Enrollment: 42,598

College Type: Public, 4 year

Considered one of America’s Public Ivy League institutions, UW is the official state univeristy of Wisconsin. It consists of 20 colleges offering 136 undergraduate degrees, 148 master programs and 120 doctoral programs. It is especially well known for its College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Learn more about the University of Wisconsin- Madison

12. Ohio State University

Flickr user Mark Cameron

Flickr user Mark Cameron

Location: Columbus, OH

Student Enrollment: 58,322

College Type: Public, 4 Year

OSU has regional campuses in throughout Ohio in Lima, Mansfield, Marion, Newark and Wooster. The Buckeyes compete in Division I athletics as a part of the Big 10 Conference. The University was originally established to specialize in agriculture and mechanics but is now a comprehensive top research institution.

Learn more about Ohio State University

11. Oberlin College

Flickr user Roy Luck

Flickr user Roy Luck

Location: Oberlin, OH

Student Enrollment: 2,978

College Type: Private, nonprofit, 4 year

This College of Arts and Sciences is also a Conservatory for Music—the oldest in the United States! It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the most popular major is Music Performance. Oberlin boasts a 9:1 student-faculty ratio and an impressive 92% first-year retention rate.

Learn more about Oberlin College

10. Kenyon College

Flickr user Kenyon College

Flickr user Kenyon College

Location: Gambier, OH

Student Enrollment: 1,662

College Type: Private, nonprofit, 4 year

Founded in 1824, Kenyon is the oldest private University in Ohio. It is affiliated with the Episcopal Church and is known for its academic programs in the humanities, fine arts, natural sciences and social sciences. Its acceptance rate for the class of 2019 was 23.8% with its students holding an average ACT score of 30.

Learn more about Kenyon College

9. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Flickr user Vince Smith

Flickr user Vince Smith

Location: Champaign, IL

Student Enrollment: 45,140

College Type: Public, 4 year

Home of the Fighting Illini, the U of I campus is split among the neighboring cities of Urbana and Champaign. With over 1,000 student organizations, 59 fraternities and 38 sororities, there are plenty of ways for students to be involved on campus. The University is also known for its science and engineering research programs.

Learn more about the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign

8. Macalester College

Flickr user Drew Geraets

Flickr user Drew Geraets

Location: Saint Paul, MN

Student Enrollment: 2,073

College Type: Private, nonprofit, 4 year

Macalester College received 6,031 applications for the class of 2019 and accepted 39% of applicants. The average ACT score is 31 and 71% of students were in the top 10% of their high school class. There are over 800 courses offered across 37 majors with the option for students to design their own interdisciplinary course of study.

Learn more about Macalester College

7. Grinnell College

Flickr user WordShore

Flickr user WordShore

Location: Grinnell, IA

Student Enrollment: 1,734

College Type: Private,nonprofit, 4 year

Grinnell is a highly regarded liberal arts college located between Iowa City and Des Moines. Psychology, Biology, History, Economics, English and Political Science are all popular majors. Students are encouraged to be politically and socially aware with 60% of undergraduate students participating in off-campus programs.

Learn more about Grinnell College

6. Carleton College

Flickr user CameliaTWU

Flickr user CameliaTWU

Location: Northfield, MN

Student Enrollment: 2,057

College Type: Private,nonprofit, 4 year

Known as the Knights, Carleton College has a fascinating history. It is named after donor William Carleton, who gave $50,000 to the school in 1871 after its president, James Strong, survived a carriage and train collision while fundraising for the college. The college has an impressive 97% first-year retention rate and a 91% 4-year graduation rate.

Learn more about Carleton College

5. University of Michigan- Ann Arbor

Location: Ann Arbor, MI

Student Enrollment: 43,625

College Type: Public, 4 year

The top 5 most popular majors on campus include: Business Administration, Economics, Experimental Psychology, Computer and Information Sciences, and Physiological Psychology. In terms of athletics it is a NCAA Division I-A school, and sports on campus include: track, football, lacrosse, and rowing among others.

Learn more about the University of Michigan- Ann Arbor

4. Washington University in St. Louis

Flickr user jayo128

Flickr user jayo128

Location: St. Louis, MO

Student Enrollment: 14,348

College Type: Private, nonprofit, 4 year

Psychology and Biology are the most popular majors at this university, where incoming ACT composite scores are between 32 and 34, and SAT combined scores are between 14,12 and 1,526. The university offers classes on campus and through distance learning, for both undergraduate and graduate students.

Learn More about Washington University- St. Louis

3. Northwestern University

Flickr user Allan Tokuda

Flickr user Allan Tokuda

Location: Evanston, IL

Student Enrollment: 21,554

College Type: Private, nonprofit, 4 year

Settled near the city of Chicago, Northwestern University offers more than 120 majors for undergraduate students to choose from. The school is a NCAA Division-I university, with close to 500 student-athletes.

Learn more about Northwestern University

2. University of Notre Dame

Flickr user Dan Dzurisin

Flickr user Dan Dzurisin

Location: Notre Dame, IN

Student Enrollment: 12,179

College Type: Private, nonprofit, 4 year

At the University of Notre Dame, students can live in one of 29 single-sex residence halls on campus. The most popular majors are finance and accounting, followed closely by accounting. Condoleezza Rice received her master’s degree in political science from the university in 1975.

Learn more about the University of Notre Dame

1. University of Chicago

Flickr user Luiz Gadehla Jr

Flickr user Luiz Gadehla Jr

Location: Chicago, IL

Student Enrollment: 15,097

College Type: Private, nonprofit, 4 year

The University of Chicago boasts a 100% first-year retention rate, and a 6:1 student to faculty ratio. Founded by John D. Rockefeller in 1890, UChicago has since given birth to 89 Nobel Prize winners, 5 of whom currently still teach at the institution.

Learn more about the University of Chicago

Each of these rankings is based on an analysis of data about the school’s selectivity, financial health, academic rigor, and student success. We’ve outlined our full methodology here.