Top 25 Best Southwest Colleges in the US | 2022 Rankings

When you hear “Southwest” what do you think of? Deserts and western movies? If so, it’s time to redefine. The Southwest has some of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes, from canyons to snowy mountains. The Southwest is also home to a range of great colleges and universities.

For 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 Southwest Colleges

A selective school, fewer than 9% of applicants are accepted into Rice. The school has 11 residential colleges and eight schools of academic study. Rice University was established in 1912 and named after William Marsh Rice. He had requested a free-tuition educational institute be opened after his death. Today, about 4,000 undergraduates and 3,300 graduates attend.
Location Houston, TX
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 7,282
Also known as UT Austin, UT, or Texas, the University of Texas at Austin was founded in 1883, but the first mention of it can be traced back to 1827. Famous alumni include Wes Anderson, James Baker, Matthew McConaughey, and Neil deGrasse Tyson. The two most popular majors at UT are Biological Sciences and Economics.
Location Austin, TX
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 51,090
Also known as SMU, the Southern Methodist University receives over 14,000 applications per year, and accepts about 53% of them. Believe it or not, only 36% of first-year students come from Texas, many also come from Florida, Illinois, and California. Additionally, 91% of those first-years continue their education at SMU.
Location Dallas, TX
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 11,824
College Station is the flagship campus of the Texas A&M University system. It’s also a land- sea- and space-grant school. Also known as TAMU, the school has an impressive 93% first-year retention rate and a 6-year graduation rate of 83%. Maroon and white are the official colors of the Texas A&M Aggies.
Location College Station, TX
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 68,726
A fairly selective school, Trinity University accepts only 34% of applications. Additionally, it does not charge for undergraduate applications. The school offers 49 majors, the most popular of which are Engineering Science, Accounting, and Marketing. Associated with the Presbyterian church, the school’s Latin motto “E Tribus Unum” means “From three, one.”
Location San Antonio, TX
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,606
73% of the students at Texas Christian University receive institutional aid to help cover the cost of college. Also known as TCU, this school has an impressive 91% freshman retention rate. Registered Nursing is the most popular major, quickly followed by Public Relations. Purple and white are the official school colors.
Location Fort Worth, TX
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 11,024
The University of Texas at Dallas has a rather patriotic motto: “A cultivated mind is the guardian genius of democracy.” 71% of the student body are studying for their bachelor’s degree, though the school offers up to the doctor’s degree level. UT Dallas athletic teams are known as the Comets, and their mascot is Temoc (comet spelled backwards).
Location Richardson, TX
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 29,543
Baylor University’s campus sits along the Brazos River. Quite a few notable alumni have come out of Baylor’s halls, including: director John Lee Hanock, comedian Jeff Dunham, author Thomas Harris, and gold-medal Olympian Michael Johnson. Baylor has a 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio and a 6-year graduation rate of 79%.
Location Waco, TX
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 18,033
A public research university, the University of Oklahoma - Norman offers up to the doctor’s degree level of education. There is an 88% first-year retention rate and a 72% 6-year graduation rate. Students come from all over to study at OU, primarily from Oklahoma, Texas, and California, Colorado, and Kansas.
Location Norman, OK
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 28,079
Royal blue, old gold, and crimson are the three official school colors of the University of Tulsa. The sports teams, known as the Golden Hurricanes, compete in rowing, basketball, volleyball, soccer, and other events. The student to faculty ratio of UT is 11:1. Alumni include inventors, businessmen, actors, scientists, and politicians.
Location Tulsa, OK
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 4,379
Tempe is home to the main campus of the Arizona State University system. One of the buildings on campus, the Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium, was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The school receives around 53,500 applications every year. 88% of the students at ASU Tempe get institutional aid to help pay for college.
Location Tempe, AZ
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 53,286
A small liberal arts school, Southwestern University has a 50% acceptance rate. Additionally, they do not charge students to apply. A whopping 98% of students receive institutional aid to help pay the costs of college. Business / Commerce is the most popular major, followed by Psychology and then Speech Communication.
Location Georgetown, TX
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,511
St. John’s College sits in the shadow of Atalaya Mountain. A very small school, it should come as no surprise that the student to faculty ratio is a cozy 7:1. The mascot of the New Mexico branch of St. John’s is the axolotl. Only 18% of the first-year class call New Mexico home, others hail from primarily Texas and California.
Location Santa Fe, NM
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 363
The University of Arizona is actually older than the state itself - founded in 1885 where Arizona became a state in 1912. Today, nearly 45,000 students study at UA, 77% of which are pursuing their bachelor’s degree. Psychology is the most popular major among students. Additionally, the school has at least one student from every state - including DC.
Location Tucson, AZ
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 44,577
“Veritatem, Justitiam Diligite” is the motto of the University of Dallas. In English it means “Love Ye Truth and Justice.” The UD Crusaders compete in sports like soccer, lacrosse, track and field, and basketball. 60% of the students study at the undergraduate level, meaning the remaining 40% are graduate students.
Location Irving, TX
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,481
Austin College has a rather unique mascot - a kangaroo. The Fighting Kangaroo teams wear crimson and gold to represent the school colors. Alumni of Austin College have gone on to have impressive careers as musicians, politicians, educators, athletes, and authors. The school does not charge application fees.
Location Sherman, TX
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,314
Blue and white are the colors of Oklahoma City University’s Stars. Their mascot is a ram named Starsky. There are more female students than male students at both the undergrad and graduate levels - 67% and 60% respectively. 98% of all students on campus receive institutional financial aid to help pay for college.
Location Oklahoma City, OK
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,687
Also known as U of H, this university has the motto “In Tempore” which means “In Time.” Speaking of time, 62% of students will graduate within 6 years. 95% of the incoming students call the state of Texas home. Notable alumni from UH include singer Lizzo, actor Jim Parsons, basketball Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler, and NFL coach Wade Phillips.
Location Houston, TX
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 46,148
The main campus of six in the system, OSU Stillwater is also the state’s public flagship university. 17% of the students on campus study at the graduate level, studying up to the doctor’s degree level. Business, Marketing, and Mechanical Engineering are the three most popular majors. There is an 83% first-year retention rate.
Location Stillwater, OK
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 24,079
Texas Tech’s school motto is, “From here, it's possible.” The school has an acceptance rate of 70% and first year retention rate of 87%. Scarlet and black are the official colors of the Texas Tech Scarlet Raiders. The Raiders compete in sports like track, football, basketball, tennis, and baseball. The Masked Rider is the school’s mascot.
Location Lubbock, TX/span>
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 38,742
Located just south of the Colorado River, Saint Edward’s University was founded by Rev. Edward Sorin, who also founded the University of Notre Dame. The mountain goat is the mascot of the university and the Hilltoppers sports teams. Additionally, the school colors are blue and gold.
Location Austin, TX
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 3,976
The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology offers over 30 degree programs, the most popular of which are Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and Petroleum Engineering. There is a cozy 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio at New Mexico Tech. The school is considered a space-grant college.
Location Socorro, NM
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 1,835
Also called ACU, this university offers up to the doctor’s degree. 67 of the students, however, study at the undergraduate level. Sports and Fitness Administration is the most popular major, followed by Registered Nursing and Business. Purple and white are the official colors of the ACU Wildcats. Their mascot is named Willie.
Location Abilene, TX
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 5,292
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott campus is located just north of a wildlife sanctuary and the Willow Creek Reservoir. Alumni of the school have gone on to have impressive careers as astronauts, scientists, military members, authors, athletes, and politicians. Embry-Riddle has an acceptance rate of 67%.
Location Prescott, AZ
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,946
Founded in 1899, Northern Arizona University existed before Arizona even became a state. It is considered an HSI, or Hispanic Serving Institution. In fact, 25% of the student body are considered Hispanic. Blue and gold are the colors of the NAU Lumberjacks, who compete in sports such as tennis, soccer, football, basketball, and more.
Location Flagstaff, AZ
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 30,733

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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