Top 25 Best Colleges in the Southwest US | 2021 Rankings

Best southwest colleges badgeDo you imagine nothing but arid desert land and Spaghetti Westerns when you hear “Southwest?” If so, it’s time to redefine the word. The Southwest has some of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes, from canyons to snowy mountains. The Southwest is also home to a large range of amazing colleges and universities.

For the purposes of this list, we’ve included the following states as part of the Southwest: Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas.

We looked at hundreds of colleges to determine the best of the southwest. Check out the full list below!

Top 25 Best Colleges in the Southwest US

Rice University opened its doors as a co-ed school, something that was unusual at the time. A year later, they created the Honor System. Today, Rice University has over 7,000 students and receives over 20,000 applications every year. Some of the most popular majors at Rice include Computer and Information Sciences, Chemical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering.
Location Houston, TX
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 7,124
Students who choose to attend the University of Texas at Austin will find themselves surrounded by amazing academic and campus resources. The university is home to one of the largest academic libraries, the most extensive Latin American university collection, and the biggest university museum in America. Biology is the most popular major.
Location Austin, TX
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 51,832
Over 11,600 students currently attend Southern Methodist University and the university itself has two other satellite campuses. Students attending the university have hundreds of student organizations to choose from -- the school even has a student-run newspaper that’s been in print since 1915. Popular majors include Finance, Economics, and Mathematics.
Location Dallas, TX
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 11,649
Texas A&M University was founded in 1876 and has since had a long and rich history. Not only is it the flagship school of the Texas A&M university system, it’s the only school in Texas to be a land-, sea-, and space-grant institution and the first public university in Texas. Around 36,000 students apply to the university annually and 11,000 end up enrolling.
Location College Station, TX
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 68,679
Trinity University is part of the Annapolis Group and Associated Colleges of the South, two consortiums that focus on the liberal arts. Every year, Trinity University receives over 8,600 applicants. Popular majors at the university include Biology, Mass Communications, and Accounting.
Location San Antonio, TX
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,637
Purple and white are the colors of the TCU Horned Frogs. There are over 500 student-athletes that play a variety of sports, including basketball, tennis, beach volleyball, equestrian, and swimming. 75% of the students at TCU receive institutional financial aid to help cover the cost of college. The school has an acceptance rate of 47%.
Location Fort Worth, TX
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 10,918
The University of Texas at Dallas, often shortened to UT Dallas, has a rather valliant school motto -- “Education, the Guardian of Society.” Flame orange and evergreen are the colors of the UT Dallas Comets. Their mascot is named Temoc. 69% of students on campus study at the undergraduate level and the remaining 31% are graduate students.
Location Richardson, TX
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 28,755
Located near the Brazos River, Baylor is a research university that offers up to a doctor's degree. In addition to a costumed mascot named Bruiser, Baylor University also has two live black bears -- Joy and Lady. On average, incoming students score around 26 -- 31 on the ACT and 1240 -- 1430 on the SAT.
Location Waco, TX
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 17,217
Though called the University of Oklahoma, the school is abbreviated as OU. 86% of the students there receive institutional financial aid to help cover the cost of college. Students come from all over the country to attend OU, but 57% of the incoming class call Oklahoma home. Zoology is the most popular major on campus.
Location Norman, OK
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 28,564
Located in the heart of downtown Phoenix, as its name would suggest, this public university offers over 20 major programs. Criminal Justice, Health and Physical Education, Registered Nursing, Journalism, and Kinesiology are the 5 most popular. Two of ASU Phoenix’s colleges are named after some famous people -- namely Walter Kronkite and Sandra Day O’Connor.
Location Phoenix, AZ
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 11,584
Located on the Salt River, Arizona State University -- Tempe serves as the main campus in the ASU system. It’s a large research university that has an 86% acceptance rate. Given its size, it’s unsurprising that ASU has a 19:1 student-to-faculty ratio. One building on campus, the Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium, was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Location Tempe, AZ
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 51,585
Royal blue, old gold, and crimson are the trio of school colors for the University of Tulsa. The sports teams are known as the Hurricanes and the mascot is Captain Cane, a colorful superhero. There are nearly 400 student-athletes on campus and some popular sports include rowing, soccer, tennis, basketball, and football.
Location Tulsa, OK
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 4,365
“Nil nisi per aspera” or “Nothing but the fierce” is the official motto of Austin College. Students interested in applying to Austin College will be happy to know that there is no application fee. Additionally, 100% of students receive institutional financial aid to help pay for college. The school also has an interesting mascot, the kangaroo.
Location Sherman, TX
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,299
In addition to being a flagship university, the University of Arizona is also a land-grant and space-grant school. The school has a 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio and has an 81% first-year retention rate. Psychology, Interdisciplinary Studies, Physiology, Speech, and Public Health are the top 5 most popular majors on campus.
Location Tuscon, AZ
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 44,097
Black and gold are the colors of the Southwestern University Pirates. A baccalaureate college, the highest degree offered at Southwestern is the bachelor’s degree. Southwestern has an acceptance rate of 49%, accepting around 2,300 of the nearly 4,800 applications sent in every year. A whopping 90% of incoming students call Texas home.
Location Georgetown, TX
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,434
“Veritatem, Justitiam Diligite” is the Latin motto of the University of Dallas, which in English means “Love Ye Truth and Justice.” Biology, Business, English, Political Science, and Economics are the top 5 most popular majors at the university. Alumni of the University of Dallas include writers, politicians, actors, academics, and businesspeople.
Location Irving, TX
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,542
A large research university, the University of Houston offers up to the doctoral degree level of education. However, 83% of the students on campus are pursuing their bachelor’s degree. “In Tempore” is the school motto, which means “In Time.” Speaking of time, 61% of students graduate within 6 years.
Location Houston, TX
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 46,324
80% of the students at Oklahoma State University receive financial aid from the school to help cover the cost of college. OSU, as it’s often called, has an 82% first-year retention rate and a student-to-faculty ratio of 19:1. 63% of the incoming class comes from the state of Oklahoma, but many others come from neighboring Texas.
Location Stillwater, OK
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 24,690
Liberal Arts and Sciences is the only major offered at the Sante Fe campus of St. John’s College. It should come as no surprise, then, that St. John’s has an extensive reading list for students that can include the Odyssey, Hamlet, the Divine Comedy, Paradise Lost, and Faust among many other famed pieces of literature.
Location Santa Fe, NM
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 371
A research university, the highest degree offered by Texas Tech is the doctor’s. However, 84% of Texas Tech students are studying for their bachelor’s degree. “From here, it's possible” is the official motto of the school, one that alumni took to heart. Graduates include authors, CEOs, actors, politicians, journalists, activists and more.
Location Lubbock, TX
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 38,209
Did you know that the Arizona State University West campus is almost entirely powered by solar energy? Business, Psychology, Biology, Speech Communication, and Social Work are the most popular majors at ASU West. There is a 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio at the school. 76% of the incoming class call Nevada home, but many other students come from California.
Location Glendale, AZ
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 4,445
Blue and white are the colors of the Oklahoma City Stars. A star also features in their school logo. Additionally, the mascot is named Starsky the Ram. OCU has over 250 student-athletes that participate in NAIA Division I sports, including basketball, rowing, soccer, golf, and wrestling. 39% of students on campus study at the graduate level.
Location Oklahoma City, OK
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,773
One of the younger schools in the country, ASU Polytechnic opened its doors in 1996. However, it was initially called ASU East and was changed to its current title in 2005. Engineering, Business, Liberal Arts, Biology, and Aeronautics are the 5 most popular majors on campus. There is an 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio.
Location Mesa, AZ
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 5,095
Though the highest degree offered is the doctor’s, 88% of the students on campus study at the undergraduate level. 94% of the students at Saint Edward’s University receive financial aid from the school to help cover the cost of college. The sports teams are known as the Hilltoppers and the mascot is a mountain goat.
Location Austin, TX
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 4,301
Those interested in applying to LeTourneau University won’t have to pay an application fee. The school has a 45% acceptance rate and 98% of students receive institutional grants. Also known as LETU, the school was originally founded to educate WWII veterans. 65% of incoming students call Texas home.
Location Longview, TX
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 3,175

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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