Top 25 Best Colleges in the Midwest | 2020 Rankings

Top 25 best colleges in the midwest

The Midwest is called the heartland of America, and for good reason. Known for friendly people, sprawling farmland, growing industries, and wonderful cities, the Midwest is also home to some amazing colleges. 

We’ve included the following states as part of the Midwest: Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Indiana, and Wisconsin. 

On this list you’ll find an interesting mix of public and private  schools, well-known and lesser-known names, large and small campuses, and more. Check out the list down below to learn more about the very best of the Midwest! 

Best Colleges in the Midwest

This private research university is affiliated with 90 Nobel laureates, one of the highest concentrations of laureates in the world. The University of Chicago also houses the largest university press in America, the University of Chicago Press. The university’s most popular major is Econometrics and Quantitative Economics.
Location Chicago, IL
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 17,002
Known for its selectivity, Northwestern University has an acceptance rate of 8%. Out of 40,425 applicants, only about 3,235 students were admitted into the school. Northwestern is a large research university located on the banks of Lake Michigan. The university’s colors are purple and white.
Location Evanston, IL
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 22,127
The University of Notre Dame was originally an all-male school, founded in 1842. The school houses many well-known landmarks, including the Golden Dome and Basilica. Notre Dame has also graduated a number of famous faces---including: Regis Philbin, Condoleezza Rice, and Nicholas Sparks.
Location Notre Dame, IN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 12,607
Washington University in St. Louis has school colors of red and green. The university consists of seven schools open to graduates and undergraduates encompassing a plethora of subjects. Popular majors at the university include Finance, Psychology, Computer Science, and Biology. WUSTL has a 4-year graduation rate of 88%.
Location St. Louis, MO
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 15,852
This university is both academically and athletically talented, with many alumni going on to win Nobel Prizes or compete in the Olympics. Going by the Wolverines, their school colors are maize and blue. University of Michigan students most commonly study Business Administration and Management.
Location Ann Arbor, MI
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 46,716
Unlike many colleges, Carleton follows a trimester system, running on a 10-week term. Between 2000 and 2016, the school has been home to 122 National Science Graduate Fellows. Computer Science, Biology, Economics, International Relations, and Chemistry are the top five most popular majors.
Location Northfield, MN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,097
Around 2,200 students apply to Hillsdale College annually, but only 36% of them are accepted. Hillsdale College also boasts an impressively small student to faculty ratio, with 9 students to every 1 faculty member. Out of the 34 majors offered, the most popular majors include Economics, History, and English.
Location Hillsdale, MI
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,521
Macalester college has quite the Scottish influence. From its name, to its sports team (he Scots) to the mascot (Mac). The average ACT and SAT results of admitted students are 29--33 and 1,310--1,500 respectively. Notable alumni include actress Danai Gurira and former VP Walter Mondale.
Location St. Paul, MN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,174
Unlike many colleges, Grinnell does not require students to pay an application fee. The average ACT and SAT scores are between 30--34 and 1,370--1,530 respectively. Grinnell has graduated a number of notable people---including comedian Kumail Nanjiani, actor Gary Cooper, and musician Herbie Hancock.
Location Grinnell, IA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,716
The University of Wisconsin -- Madison was founded in 1848. UW Madison is the oldest and largest public university in the state. The school is known for many innovations, including the discovery of vitamins A and B. Its campus is located on Lake Mendota. Almost 73% of the student body studies at the undergraduate level.
Location Madison, WI
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 43,463
The school’s colors are scarlet and grey, and students go by the nickname of the Buckeyes. Ohio State’s mascot is named Brutus Buckeye. OSU’s motto, translated in Latin, means “Education for Citizenship.” The most popular majors at this college are Speech Communication and Rhetoric, Psychology, Finance, and Biology.
Location Columbus, OH
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 61,170
Students at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign are most likely to major in Research and Experimental Psychology, Accounting, or Economics, as those are the 3 most popular. The school has a six year graduation rate of 84%. Class sizes are relatively large, with 20 students for every 1 faculty member.
Location Champaign, IL
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 49,702
Case Western Reserve University has three official school colors---blue, grey, and black. They compete athletically as the Spartans. Popular majors include Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science, and Mechanical Engineering. The school has a six year graduation rate of 85%.
Location Cleveland, OH
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 11,890
The University of Minnesota -- Twin Cities’ motto, translated from Latin, means “A common bond for all the arts.” Popular majors reflect the school’s motto, with top subjects of study being Psychology, Biology, Computer Science, and Journalism. The UM Twin Cities also has athletic teams that compete in NCAA Division 1 sports.
Location Minneapolis, MN
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 50,734
Kenyon College’s colors are purple and white. Unlike many other schools, students get different nicknames based on their gender; the women’s teams are known as the Ladies, and the men’s teams are known as the Lords. Kenyon does not require students to pay an application fee.
Location Gambier, OH
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,730
The college’s motto is “Learning and Labor.” Oberlin college lives by their motto, offering 50 majors, minors and concentrations. Oberlin alumni include Rhodes Scholars, Nobel laureates, and MacArthur fellows. The Academic calendar runs on a 4-1-4 plan; full semesters are 4 months long, with 1 month mini-sessions in between.
Location Oberlin, OH
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,812
Students attending Miami University -- Oxford go by the RedHawks, with school colors of red and white. Their mascot’s name is Swoop. The student body is a majority undergraduate, with 87% studying for their bachelor’s degree. Marketing is the most popular major studied on campus.
Location Oxford, OH
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 19,934
Wheaton has a high acceptance rate of 83%, accepting a relatively equal percentage of men and women. Popular majors at the university include Business / Managerial Economics, English and Health Sciences. The school has a four year graduation rate of 77% and relatively smaller class sizes with 10 students for every one faculty member.
Location Wheaton, IL
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,944
Indiana University -- Bloomington has a motto of Lux et Veritas, meaning “Light and Truth.” The university has many notable alumni, including Grammy and Emmy Award winners, Olympic medalists, and Nobel laureates. The school’s colors are cream and crimson. IU Bloomington students have a nickname of the Hoosiers.
Location Bloomington, IN
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 43,503
Denison is the second-oldest liberal arts college in Ohio, and is a rather selective school. The average ACT and SAT scores of admitted students is between 28--31 and 1,210--1,380 respectively. The school has a four year graduation rate of 82% and smaller class sizes, with 9 students for every 1 faculty member.
Location Granville, OH
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,394
St. Olaf’s school colors are black and gold. The school’s mascot is a lion, known as Ole. Popular majors include Biology, Economics, Psychology, and Mathematics. The school has a four year graduation rate of 82%. Class sizes are relatively small, with 12 students for every one faculty member.
Location Northfield, MN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 3,048
In addition to being a flagship school, Purdue is also a land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant university. Of all the majors offered, Business Administration, Mechanical Engineering, and Industrial Engineering are the most popular. Purdue’s colors are old gold and black. They’re part of the Big Ten conference and play as the Boilermakers.
Location West Lafayette, IN
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 44,474
This institute has a significantly smaller graduate class, with only 57 graduate students compared to over 2,000 undergraduates. The school has a six-year graduation rate of 81%. Mechanical Engineering is by far and away the most popular major on campus. Students are known, fittingly, as the Fightin’ Engineers.
Location Terre Haute, IN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,142
Black and gold are the official school colors of DePauw University. DePauw’s mascot is, fittingly, Tyler the Tiger. The highest degree offered is the bachelor’s, which is why the student body is comprised entirely of undergraduates. Communication and Economics are tied for the most popular majors.
Location Greencastle, IN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,156
Michigan State’s colors are green and white, and those attending the school go by the Spartans. The university’s motto is “Advancing Knowledge, Transforming Lives.” Indeed, MSU transforms a great number of lives, being one of the largest universities in the United States in terms of enrollment.
Location Lansing, MI
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 50,351

Interested in any of these schools? Check out College Raptor’s free match tool to see if they’re a good fit for you!

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.

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