publicPublic colleges and universities are abound in the United States. They receive funding from the government, and every state has at least one public school. Although there are many wonderful schools in the country, we’ve put together a list of the top 25 public colleges from around the United States.

25. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Location: Blacksburg, VA

Student Enrollment: 31,224

College Type: Public, 4-year or above

More commonly known as Virginia Tech, the university offers over 100 bachelor’s degrees. The top three majors are: Mechanical Engineering, Biology, and Finance. The school has a 14:1 student-faculty ratio, and a first year retention rate of 94%.

Learn more about Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

24. University of Georgia

Flickr user Josh Hallett

Flickr user Josh Hallett

Location: Athens, GA

Student Enrollment: 35,197

College Type: Public, 4 year or above

This university has an acceptance rate of 53%, meaning that around 11,600 of the nearly 22,000 applications sent in each year are accepted. The school has an 18 to 1 student to faculty ratio, and a first year retention rate of 95%. The most popular major on campus is Psychology.

Learn more about the University of Georgia

23. University of Texas at Austin

Flickr user Robert Hensley

Flickr user Robert Hensley

Location: Austin, TX

Student Enrollment: 51,313

College Type: Public, 4-year or above

With over 51,000 students and more than 3,000 faculty, the University of Texas is one of the largest  universities in the nation in terms of enrollment. It offers over 100 bachelor’s degrees and 170 graduate degrees. Of these graduate degrees, its Latin, accounting, American history and petroleum engineering programs are ranked number one in the country.

Learn more about the University of Texas at Austin

22. University of Wisconsin-Madison

Flickr user Richard Hurd

Flickr user Richard Hurd

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 University 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

21. University of California-Irvine

Wikimedia Commons user Jccooper055

Wikimedia Commons user Jccooper055

Location: Irvine, CA

Student Enrollment: 30,051

College Type: Public, 4-year or above

The top 3 majors at UC-Irvine are: Biology, Public Health, and Social Psychology. Thanks to a student-run contest, the school mascot is an anteater nicknamed Peter, who has even appeared on Conan.

Learn more about the University of California-Irvine

20. Georgia Institute of Technology

Wikimedia Commons user TheCustomofLife

Wikimedia Commons user TheCustomofLife

Location: Atlanta, GA

Student Enrollment: 23,109

College Type: Public, 4 year or above

On this campus, these are the top 5 most popular majors: Mechanical Engineering, Business Administration and Management, Industrial Engineering, Computer and Information Sciences, and Electrical Engineering. It has a 19:1 student-faculty ratio and a first year retention rate of 97%.

Learn more about the Georgia Institute of Technology

19. SUNY at Binghamton

Flickr user yohey1028

Flickr user yohey1028

Location: East Vestal, NY

Student Enrollment: 16,695

College Type: Public, 4 year or above

A doctoral university with extensive research present, SUNY Binghamton freshmen have impressive ACT and SAT scores—on average, they scored between 27 and 31 on the ACT, and between 1,227 and 1,382 on the SAT. They have a 42% acceptance rate.

Learn more about SUNY at Binghamton

18. University of Connecticut

Flickr user Daderot

Flickr user Daderot

Location: Storrs, CT

Student Enrollment: 26,541

College Type: Public, 4 year and above

Also known as UCONN, this university sees nearly 35,000 applications submitted every year, and with an acceptance rate of 53% nearly 18,600 of those applications are accepted. The school is part of the NCAA I-A Division when it comes to athletics. Popular sports on campus include: football, ice hockey, rowing, and swimming / diving.

Learn more about the University of Connecticut

17. Ohio State University

Wikimedia Commons user Ibagli

Wikimedia Commons user Ibagli

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

16. University of California-Santa Barbara

Flickr user Marcus Bernales

Flickr user Marcus Bernales

Location: Santa Barbara, CA

Student Enrollment: 23,051

College Type: Public, 4-year or above

UC-Santa Barbara has an acceptance rate of 33% and gets around 70,000 applications each year. The UC-Santa Barbara campus is known for being very bicycle-friendly, and is also considered a Public Ivy.

Learn more about the University of California-Santa Barbara

15. University of California-San Diego

Wikimedia Commons user Daderot

Wikimedia Commons user Daderot

Location: La Jolla, CA

Student Enrollment: 30,709

College Type: Public, 4-year or above

UC-San Diego is a public, sea-grant and space-grant university. The top 3 majors are: Economics, Psychology, and Computer Science. Two popular campus traditions include the Pumpkin Drop that happens during Halloween, and the Watermelon Drop that occurs each spring.

Learn more about the University of California-San Diego

14. The College of New Jersey

Wikimedia Commons user Tcnjlion

Wikimedia Commons user Tcnjlion

Location: Ewing, NJ

Student Enrollment: 7,409

College Type: Public, 4-year or above

The College of New Jersey has a 49% acceptance rate, and a 95% first year retention rate. TCNJ’s mascot is a lion nicknamed “Roscoe”. Notable alumni include: Holly Black, The Lucas Bros, and Jim Florio.

Learn more about The College of New Jersey

13. University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign

Wikimedia Commons user HalloweenHJB

Wikimedia Commons user HalloweenHJB

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

12. University of Florida

Wikimedia Commons user DouglasGreen

Wikimedia Commons user DouglasGreen

Location: Gainesville, FL

Student Enrollment: 49,459

College Type: Public, 4 year or above

This university is a land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant school, in addition to being the state’s flagship school. Their colors are orange and blue and their mascots are Albert and Alberta Gator. The popular sports drink Gatorade was made for and named after the athletics at the school.

Learn more about the University of Florida

11. University of Maryland-College Park

Wikimedia Commons user Kieronbarclay86

Wikimedia Commons user Kieronbarclay86

Location: College Park, MD

Student Enrollment: 37,610

College Type: Public, 4 year or above

Incoming freshmen at this university score, on average, between a 27 and 32 on the ACT, and between 1,210 and 1,420 on the SAT. They have an impressive 95% first-year retention rate. The 5 most popular majors on campus include: Biology, Criminology, Economics, Psychology, and Accounting.

Learn more about the University of Maryland—College Park

10. United States Coast Guard Academy

Wikimedia Commons user US Coast Guard Academy

Wikimedia Commons user US Coast Guard Academy

Location: New London, CT

Student Enrollment: 896

College Type: Public, 4 year

Here students are referred to as “cadets” and the school motto is “Scientiæ Cedit Mare” or “The sea yields to knowledge.” There are 8 majors offered at the school: Business Administration and Management, Political Science and Government, Oceanography, Civil Engineering, Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Operations Research.

Learn more about the United States Coast Guard Academy

9. United States Military Academy

Flickr user Mike65444

Flickr user Mike65444

Location: West Point, NY

Student Enrollment: 4,414

College Type: Public, 4 year

With its motto of “Duty. Honor. Country.” this Academy—founded by former US President Thomas Jefferson—produces cadets with bachelor’s degrees in a number of academic fields. The most popular majors on campus include Mechanical Engineering, Economics, and Business Administration.

Learn more about the United States Military Academy

8. College of William and Mary

Wikimedia Commons user Smash the Iron Cage

Wikimedia Commons user Smash the Iron Cage

Location: Williamsburg, VA

Student Enrollment: 8,437

College Type: Public, 4 year or above

The second oldest institution of higher learning in America, the College of William and Mary was founded by King William III and Queen Mary II. Each year, nearly 15,000 applications are sent in, though only 5,000 or so are accepted, giving the college an acceptance rate of 34%. Business Administration and Management is the most popular major on campus.

Learn more about the College of William and Mary

7. University of California—Los Angeles

Flickr user Ignacio Andrade

Flickr user Ignacio Andrade

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Student Enrollment: 41,845

College Type: Public, 4 year or above

An impressive 93,000 some applications are submitted to UCLA. The university has a 17% acceptance rate, so only about 16,000 are accepted per year. It has a 96% first-year retention rate. There are countless notable alumni, including: composer John Williams, CEO of YouTube Susan Wojcicki, and director Francis Ford Coppola, among many others.

Learn more about the University of California–Los Angeles

6. United States Air Force Academy

Wikimedia Commons user David Shankbone

Wikimedia Commons user David Shankbone

Location: Colorado Springs, CO

Student Enrollment: 3,925

College Type: Public, 4 year

The gyrfalcon is the mascot of this Academy, and their school colors are blue and silver. It is as academic as it is historic—drawing in about a million tourists every year. It has a student-faculty ratio of 8:1 and a 94% first-year retention rate. The most popular major on campus is Business Administration.

Learn more about the United States Air Force Academy

5. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Flickr user Jimmy Yeh

Flickr user Jimmy Yeh

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. University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill

Flickr user Tim Schleicher

Flickr user Tim Schleicher

Location: Chapel Hill, NC

Student Enrollment: 29,135

College Type: Public, 4 year or above

UNC is known for the Old Well located in the middle of campus—in fact, the Well is the symbol for the school. About 30,000 applications are sent into UNC every year, with over 9,600 of them being accepted—giving the university a 31% acceptance rate. Biology is the most common major on campus.

Learn more about the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

3. University of California-Berkeley

Flickr user Curtis Cronn

Flickr user Curtis Cronn

Location: Berkeley, CA

Student Enrollment: 37,565

College Type: Public, 4 year or above

UC Berkeley is the oldest of the 10 research universities associated with the University of California system. Their school motto “Fiat lux” means “Let there be light.” With their signature colors of Berkeley Blue and California Gold, UC Berkeley students are nicknamed the Golden Bears. The most common major on campus is Economics, followed by Cell and Molecular Biology and Electrical Engineering.

Learn more about University of California–Berkeley

2. University of Virginia

Flickr user Alex Proimos

Flickr user Alex Proimos

Location: Charlottesville, VA

Student Enrollment: 23,732

College Type: Public, 4-year or above

Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and James Madison (among others), helped select the city of Charlottesville to be home to the university. Here you’ll find liberal arts studies and business to be the most popular majors.

Learn more about the University of Virginia-Main Campus

1. United States Naval Academy

Wikimedia Commons user David Shapinsky

Wikimedia Commons user David Shapinsky

Location: Annapolis, MD

Student Enrollment: 4,511

College Type: Public, 4-year or above

The campus of the Naval Academy is a National Historic Landmark, and the motto is “From Knowledge, Sea Power”. The academy has a 98% first-year retention rate, and the most popular majors are economics and systems engineering. All students are required to live on campus, and the academy is a member of the NCAA.

Learn more about the United States Naval Academy

About our methodology

Colleges are ranked based on a combination of factors, including graduation rates, campus diversity, endowment per student, and other data as reported via the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for the most recently-available enrollment year. Some colleges may have been excluded from rankings based on certain criteria, including specialization and classification. Learn about our full methodology.