Top 25 Best Colleges in the Southeast: 2017 Rankings

southeastThe Southeast region of the United States is known for its warm weather and rich culture. It is also known for having excellent institutions of higher education. While other regions of the United States may concentrate their more successful colleges and universities within a few states, the Southeast has a wide and even distribution of its schools, allowing for great opportunities throughout the entire area. Specifically, these acclaimed institutions are located among the beautiful states of Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee.

25. Transylvania University 

Location: Lexington, KY

Student Enrollment: 1,014

College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

The average ACT composite score for an incoming student ranges between 24 and 30, and the average SAT combined scores range between 1,128 and 1,332. As much as we wish their mascot was a vampire, the university mascot is actually a pioneer. The school has an 11:1 student-faculty ratio, and the top three majors are: Psychology, Biology, and Business.

Learn more about Transylvania University

24. University of Mary Washington

Location: Fredericksburg, VA

Student Enrollment: 4,535

College Type: Public, 4-year or above

Although it began as a women’s college, the University of Mary Washington is currently a coeducational school. The residence of the university president served as a field hospital during the Battle of Fredericksburg. The top three majors are: Business Administration, English Language and Literature, and Psychology.

Learn more about the University of Mary Washington

23. New College of Florida

Location: Sarasota, FL

Student Enrollment: 834

College Type: Public, 4-year or above

The average ACT composite scores for incoming students range between 26 and 31, and the average SAT combined scores range between 1,191 and 1,380. The school offers a degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences, and has a 10:1 student-faculty ratio.

Learn more about the New College of Florida

22. Keiser University—Fort Lauderdale

Wikimedia Commons user Michael Rivera

Wikimedia Commons user Michael Rivera [Note: Image not on Fort Lauderdale campus, but Tallahassee]

Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL

Student Enrollment: 19,110

College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Keiser University was started as a school for adult learners to gain important career skills, and continues to service both non-traditional and traditional students. The top three majors are: Business Administration, Criminal Justice, and Interdisciplinary Studies. The university has a 49% admissions rate.

Learn more about Keiser University—Fort Lauderdale

21. University of South Carolina—Columbia 

Location: Columbia, SC

Student Enrollment: 32,971

College Type: Public, 4-year or above

USC-Columbia has 25 on-campus residence halls, and over 400 organizations for students to get involved in. The top three majors are: Experimental Psychology, Exercise Physiology, and Biology. The university has the largest collection of work by Ernest Hemingway.

Learn more about the University of South Carolina—Columbia

20. Wofford College 

Wikimedia Commons user PegasusRacer28

Wikimedia Commons user PegasusRacer28

Location: Spartanburg, SC

Student Enrollment: 1,658

College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Established in 1854, Wofford strives to focus on literary, classical, and scientific education. The school has an interim semester during the month of January, designed to allow students more non-traditional experiences in academia.

Learn more about Wofford College

19. Sewanee—The University of the South 

Location: Sewanee, TN

Student Enrollment: 1,714

College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Sewanee has an acceptance rate of 41%, and receives around 4,500 applications each year. There is a 10:1 student-faculty ratio, and the most popular major is Economics. The campus is frequently referred to as “The Domain” or “The Mountain.”

Learn more about Sewanee—The University of the South

18. North Carolina State University at Raleigh 

Location: Raleigh, NC

Student Enrollment: 33,989

College Type: Public, 4-year or above

The average ACT composite scores for incoming students range between 26 and 30, and the average SAT combined scores are between 1,174 and 1,354. The university has a 15:1 student-faculty ratio, and a 93% first year retention rate.

Learn more about North Carolina State University at Raleigh

17. Virginia Military Institute 

Location: Lexington, VA

Student Enrollment: 1,700

College Type: Public, 4-year or above

VMI is the oldest state-supported military college in the United States. The school educates only military cadets through its highly disciplined academic and physical curriculum. Fourteen degrees are offered among engineering, liberal arts and science fields.

Learn more about the Virginia Military Institute

16. Elon University

Location: Elon, NC

Student Enrollment: 6,483

College Type: Private, not-for-profit, 4 year or above

Elon University offers many opportunities to its students. In fact, 72% of Elon students have studied internationally and many are able to do additional research, internships and service projects. Specifically, it boasts that 47% of students serve in campus leadership roles, 86% hold internships and 23% participate in research alongside University faculty.

Learn more about Elon University

15. James Madison University 

Location: Harrisonburg, VA

Student Enrollment: 20,855

College Type: Public, 4 year or above

JMU was founded as a women’s college in 1908. Today, the female to male student ratio is approximately 60/40. Students hail from all 50 states as well as 89 countries. With over 350 student organizations to choose from, there are plenty of ways to get involved on campus.

Learn more about James Madison University

14. Rhodes College 

Location: Memphis, TN

Student Enrollment: 2,054

College Type: Private, not-for-profit, 4 year or above

Rhodes College is a liberal arts school affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. It is known for its beautiful, historic Gothic architecture as well as its emphasis on research and writing. The student to faculty ratio is 10:1 and approximately 30 majors are offered.

Learn more about Rhodes College

13. Furman University 

Location: Greenville, SC

Student Enrollment: 2,973

College Type: Private, not-for-profit, 4 year or abov

This college’s campus lies at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The school colors are purple and white and it has 20 Division 1 varsity athletic teams. Its student body consists of 2.700 undergraduates and 200 graduates. It is the oldest and most selective private education institution in South Carolina.

Learn more about Furman University.

12. Florida State University

Location: Tallahassee, FL

Student Enrollment: 41,226

College Type: Public, 4 year or above

FSU is made up of 16 colleges and offers over 360 majors. In particular, it is home to the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory which is the only National Laboratory in the state of Florida. It boasts nationally ranked programs in law, business, medicine, film, engineering, and many more areas.

Learn more about Florida State University

11. Tulane University of Louisiana 

Location: New Orleans, LA

Student Enrollment: 12,603

College Type: Private, not-for-profit, 4 year or above

Tulane was established in 1834 and holds $1.22 billion in endowment, making it one of 76 U.S schools with an endowment in excess of $1 billion. Its motto is “Not for oneself, but for one’s own.” and its colors are sky blue and olive green. Tulane’s athletic programs compete in the NCAA Division 1 as a member of the American Athletic Conference and are known as the Tulane Green Wave.

Learn more about Tulane University of Louisiana  

10. Centre College 

Location: Danville, KY

Student Enrollment: 1,387

College Type: Private, not-for-profit, 4 year or above

On this campus, the following are the top 5 most common majors: Economics, Biology, Political Science and Government, English Language and Literature, and Psychology. It has a 11:1 student to faculty ratio, a first-year retention rate of 89%, and a 4 year graduation rate of 80%.

Learn more about Centre College

9. University of Miami 

Location: Coral Gables, FL

Student Enrollment: 16,674

College Type: Private, not-for-profit, 4 year or above

A majority of the students at this research university are undergraduates, in fact 67% are working towards their bachelor’s degrees, while the remaining 33% are graduate students. The school receives over 33,400 applications, and with an acceptance rate of 38% nearly 12,700 of those are accepted.

Learn more about the University of Miami

8. Clemson University

Location: Clemson, SC

Student Enrollment: 21,857

College Type: Public, 4 year or above

This doctoral / research university has incoming freshmen that score on average between a 26 and 31 on the ACT, and between 1,185 and 1,365. The 5 most popular majors on campus include: Business Administration and Management, Biology, Psychology, Marketing, and Mechanical Engineering.

Learn more about Clemson University

7. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Location: Blacksburg, VA

Student Enrollment: 31,224

College Type: Public, 4 year or above

Also known by its much shorter nickname, Virginia Tech, this university is primarily composed of undergraduate student—in fact, about 78% of students are pursuing their bachelor’s degree at the school. Their official colors are maroon and burnt orange.

Learn more about Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

6. University of Georgia 

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

5. Wake Forest University

Location: Salem, NC

Student Enrollment: 7,788

College Type: Private, not-for-profit, 4 year or above

According to the Carnegie classification, this is a research-intensive university. The incoming freshmen score, on average, between a 27 and 31 on the ACT, and between a 1,234 and 1,394 on the SAT. They have an acceptance rate of 29%.

Learn more about Wake Forest University

4. Georgia Institute of Technology 

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

3. University of Florida 

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

2. University of Richmond 

Location: Richmond, VA

Student Enrollment: 4,182

College Type: Private, not-for-profit, 4 year or above

The top 5 most popular majors at this university are: Business Administration, Accounting, Biology, Organizational Behavior Studies, and Multi / Interdisciplinary Studies. Their school motto—”Verbum Vitae et Lumen Scientiae”—translates to mean “Word of life and the light of knowledge.”

Learn more about the University of Richmond

1. Emory University

Location: Atlanta, GA

Student Enrollment: 14,769

College Type: Private, not-for-profit, 4 year or above

Founded in 1836, this historic university is associated with the United Methodist church. Nearly 20,500 applications are sent in each year, and with an acceptance rate of 24% nearly 5,000 of those applications are accepted. It is well-known for its scientific research, and has an 8:1 student-faculty ratio.

Learn more about Emory University

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.

Laura Davison

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