Top 25 Best Southwest Colleges in the US | 2023 Rankings

Top Southwest Colleges 2023 badge.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 11% 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 7,643
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 50,476
Also known as SMU, the Southern Methodist University receives over 14,000 applications per year and accepts about 53% of them. Only 39.5% of first-year students come from Texas; others come from Florida, New York, and California to attend. Additionally, 90% of those first-years continue their education at SMU.
Location Dallas, TX
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 12,373
A fairly selective school, Trinity University accepts less than 34% of applications, and it does not charge for undergraduate applications. The school offers 49 majors, the most popular of which are Research and Experimental Psychology, 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 2,677
College Station is the flagship campus of the Texas A&M University system and a land- sea- and space-grant school. Also known as TAMU, the school has an impressive 94% 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 70,418
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 92% freshman retention rate. Registered Nursing is the most popular major, followed by Finance. Purple and white are the official school colors.
Location Fort Worth, TX
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 11,379
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 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio and a 6-year graduation rate of 79%.
Location Waco, TX
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 19,297
The University of Texas at Dallas has a very inspiring motto: “A cultivated mind is the guardian genius of democracy.” 74% of the student body are studying for their bachelor’s degree, though the school offers up to doctoral degrees. 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 28,669
A public research university, the University of Oklahoma - Norman offers up to the doctor’s degree level of education. There is an 87% first-year retention rate and a 72% 6-year graduation rate. Students come from all over to study at OU, but primarily from Oklahoma and Texas. It is currently considered one of the top schools in Oklahoma.
Location Norman, OK
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 27,772
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, Political Science and Government, Biology.
Location Georgetown, TX
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,506
The University of Arizona is actually older than the state itself. Founded in 1885, Arizona became a state later in 1912. Today, over 45,000 students study at UA, 77.5% of which are pursuing their bachelor’s degree. Psychology is the most popular major among students. And the school has at least one first-year student from every state plus Washington DC.
Location Tucson, AZ
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 45,601
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 74,795
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 others. The student to faculty ratio of UT is 10:1. Alumni include inventors, businessmen, actors, scientists, and politicians.
Location Tulsa, OK
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 3,960
“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. 58% of the students study at the undergraduate level. The University of Dallas also has a 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio and an 81% first year retention rate.
Location Irving, TX
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,489
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 1,302
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 11% 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 355
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. 96% 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 47,090
The main campus of six in the system, OSU Stillwater is also the state’s public flagship university. Nearly 83% of students are pursuing their bachelor’s at the moment, and the school offers up to doctoral degrees. Business Administration and Management, Marketing, and Mechanical Engineering are the three most popular majors, and OSU Stillwater boasts an 85% first-year retention rate.
Location Stillwater, OK
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 24,535
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. They compete in sports like track, football, basketball, tennis, and baseball with their mascot, The Masked Rider, cheering them on.
Location Lubbock, TX
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 40,322
LeTourneau University got its start as the LeTourneau Technical Institute in 1946 where the classes were almost entirely veterans who had just returned from World War II. It would get its current name in 1989. 98% of students attending today receive institutional grants from the university – an average of $16,707 per student.
Location Longview, TX
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 3,122
The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology offers over 30 degree programs, the most popular of which are Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science, and Electrical and Electronics Engineering. A space-grant college, New Mexico Tech has an 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio and 81% first year retention rate.
Location Socorro, NM
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 1,686
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 2,617
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 just under 67%.
Location Prescott, AZ
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 3,004
The flagship of the University of North Texas System, UNT was originally established in 1890. Located in the metropolitan area of Dallas-Fort Worth, the campus stretches 1,200 acres. Today, the school is the 5th largest in the state. They accept 84% applicants, have an 85% first year retention rate, and nearly 92% of those attending are from Texas.
Location Denton, TX
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 40,953
Also called ACU, this university offers up to doctoral degrees. 66% of the students, however, study at the undergraduate level. Sports and Fitness Administration/Management is the most popular major, followed by Registered Nursing and Business Administration and Management. Purple and white are the official colors of the ACU Wildcats and their mascot is named Willie.
Location Abilene, TX
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 5,291

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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