Top 25 Best Colleges in the Southwest: 2017 Rankings

southwestThe Southwest region of the United States is full of rich history, fascinating landscapes, and plenty of notable colleges and universities.

We analyzed hundreds of colleges in the region based on various measures, including campus diversity, student outcomes, selectivity, and more. (Note: For the purposes of these rankings, we included states west of Louisiana, including Texas.)

25. University of Utah

Flickr user Ellen Forsyth

Flickr user Ellen Forsyth

Location: Salt Lake City, UT

Student Enrollment: 31,515

College Type: Public, 4 year or above

Though it bears a beehive in its official seal, the University of Utah’s mascot is actually Swoop the red-tailed hawk. The school has a whopping 81% acceptance rate, meaning 9,860 of the more than 12,170 applications are accepted.

Learn more about the University of Utah

24. Neumont University

Wikimedia Commons user Neumont

Wikimedia Commons user Neumont

Location: Salt Lake City, UT

Student Enrollment: 431

College Type: Private, for-profit, 4 year or above

This small, no-board university has a total of 5 offered majors: Computer Programming, Information Technology Project Management, Web Page / Digital Multimedia / and Information Resources Design, Network and System Administration, and Modeling / Virtual Environments and Simulation.

Learn more about Neumont University

23. University of Arizona

Flickr user dmitri_66

Flickr user dmitri_66

Location: Tucson, AZ

Student Enrollment: 42,236

College Type: Public, 4 year or above

This university falls within the NCAA Division I-A for sports, and has nearly 480 athletes on campus. Popular sports include: Track, football, Swimming and Diving, and basketball. Their mascots are Wilma and Wilbur Wildcat. The school colors are UA red and Arizona blue.

Learn more about the University of Arizona

22. University of Dallas

Flickr user Steve Rainwater

Flickr user Steve Rainwater

Location: Irving, TX

Student Enrollment: 2,548

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

This liberal arts college sees a majority of their graduates participate in international programs! Located outside of Dallas, this university It has an acceptance rate of 64% which means over 1,400 of the nearly 2,230 applications sent in are accepted.

Learn more the University of Dallas

21. Saint Edward’s University

Flickr user Stuart Seeger

Flickr user Stuart Seeger

Location: Austin, TX

Student Enrollment: 4,686

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

Considered to be a Master College and University II by the Carnegie classification, Saint Edward’s has the motto: Take on Your World. They are Roman Catholic affiliated and sport the colors blue and gold.

Learn more about Saint Edward’s University

20. Arizona State University—Tempe

Flickr user Kevin Dooley

Flickr user Kevin Dooley

Location: Tempe, AZ

Student Enrollment: 50,320

College Type: Public, 4 year or above

Located about 8 miles away from Phoenix, the Tempe campus is one of four in Arizona State University. They all sport the colors maroon and gold. Tempe has an 86% first year retention rate and a student faculty ratio of 23:1. The most popular major on this campus is Business / Management / Marketing.

Learn more about Arizona State University—Tempe

19. Arizona State University—West

Wikimedia Common user Raymie

Wikimedia Commons user Raymie

Location: Glendale, AZ

Student Enrollment: 3,692

College Type: Public, 4 year or above

This university has a sun depicted in its logo, which is no surprise considering the West campus is powered almost entirely by solar power—the arrays were installed in 2011. The most popular majors on campus include: Psychology, Speech Communication and Rhetoric, Biology, Business, and Elementary Education.

Learn more about Arizona State University—West

18. Colorado State University—Fort Collins

Flickr user Brendan Bombaci

Flickr user Brendan Bombaci

Location: Fort Collins, CO

Student Enrollment: 31,354

College Type: Public, 4 year or above

Fort Collins is the main campus for CSU, which has 8 total throughout the state. People come from all over the country to attend this school. In fact, a majority of the students come from the following states: CO, CA, TX, IL.

Learn more about Colorado State University—Fort Collins

17. University of Oklahoma—Norman Campus

Location: Norman, OK

Student Enrollment: 27,261

College Type: Public, 4 year or above

This university has two mascots named Boomer and Sooner, who are two white ponies who pull the school’s original mascot the Sooner Schooner, a covered wagon. Over 12,000 applications are sent to the school every year, and nearly 9,400 are accepted.

Learn more about the University of Oklahoma—Norman Campus

16. Brigham Young University—Provo

Flickr user Ken Lund

Flickr user Ken Lund

Location: Provo, UT

Student Enrollment: 30,484

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

This doctoral / research university is known for their academics. The average incoming freshmen scores between a 26 and 31 on the ACT and between a 1,250 and 1,376 on the SAT. The most popular major on this campus is Exercise Physiology, followed by Psychology.

Learn more about Brigham Young University—Provo

15. Austin College

Wikimedia Commons user Urbanative

Wikimedia Commons user Urbanative

Location: Sherman, TX

Student Enrollment: 1,301

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

Sporting the colors crimson and gold, the Austin College Fighting Roos find themselves in the NCAA Division III for athletics. Their school motto—”Nil nisi per aspera”—translates to mean “nothing but the fierce.” They have a 54% acceptance rate.

Learn more about Austin College

14. Southwestern University

Flickr user Dustin Coates

Flickr user Dustin Coates

Location: Georgetown, TX

Student Enrollment: 1,538

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

Over 3,700 applications are sent in to this university per year, and with an acceptance rate of 44% nearly 1,650 of those applications are accepted. The top 5 most popular majors include: Business / Commerce, Biological Sciences, Psychology, Speech Communication and Rhetoric, and English Language and Literature.

Learn more about Southwestern University

13. University of Tulsa

Flickr user Frank Boston

Flickr user Frank Boston

Location: Tulsa, OK

Student Enrollment: 4,682

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

This Presbyterian affiliated university have incoming freshmen ACT average scores of 26-32, and SAT scores from 1,175-1,415. The school has a 11:1 student to faculty ratio and is part of the NCAA Division I-A for athletics. The most popular major on campus is Petroleum Engineering.

Learn more about the University of Tulsa

12. University of Colorado Boulder

Flickr user Ken Lund

Flickr user Ken Lund

Location: Boulder, CO

Student Enrollment: 32,432

College Type: Public, 4 year or above

This university has a beautiful campus as it is located near the Rocky Mountains. Its largest college is the College of Arts and Sciences and it also has a highly selective College of Law. Colorado Boulder boasts the #1, 4-year graduation rate for public Colorado universities.

Learn more about the University of Colorado Boulder

11. University of Texas at Dallas

Flickr user Oemar

Flickr user Oemar

Location: Richardson, TX

Student Enrollment: 23,095

College Type: Public, 4 year or above

UT Dallas is actually located in the suburb of Richardson about 18 miles from the city. It began as the research facility for Texas Instruments and was officially established as a University in 1969. The University was named as a “Highest Research Activity” institution in the U.S by the Carnegie Foundation.

Learn more about the University of Texas at Dallas

10. Baylor University

Flickr user Rachel Knickmeyer

Flickr user Rachel Knickmeyer

Location: Waco, TX

Student Enrollment: 16,263

College Type: Private, Nonprofit, 4 year or above

Baylor is one of the largest Baptist Universities in the world and the oldest university in Texas. It has a very active Greek life with 14% of undergraduate male students belonging to fraternities and 21% of undergraduate females participating as sorority members. Baylor is a Division 1 school and competes in the Big 12 Conference as well.

Learn more about Baylor University  

9. Texas Christian University

Flickr user mckinney75402

Flickr user mckinney75402

Location: Fort Worth, TX

Student Enrollment: 10,033

College Type: Private, Nonprofit, 4 year or above

TCU is a research University with a liberal arts background. It has students enrolled from all 50 states and countries around the world. The TCU Horned Frogs are a part of the Division One Big 12 conference with many of its football players going on to play in the NFL.

Learn more about Texas Christian University

8. University of Denver

Flickr user Great Degrees

Flickr user Great Degrees

Location: Denver, CO

Student Enrollment: 11,809

College Type: Private, Nonprofit, 4 year or above

Just seven miles from from the heart of Denver, the University stretches across 125 acre and is also a designated arboretum. It has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2050 in its efforts to promote sustainability. DU offers traditional undergraduate programs with the Division of Natural Sciences & Mathematics and Divisions of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

Learn more about the University of Denver

7. Texas A&M University – College Station

Flickr user Oldag07

Wikimedia Commons user Oldag07

Location: College Station, TX

Student Enrollment: 61,642

College Type: Public, 4 year or above

Known for its engineering and athletic programs, Texas A&M is the largest University in Texas and the fourth-largest in the country. It has a staggering number of student organizations, with about 1,000 recognized by the University. The school offers over 130 undergraduate programs, 170 graduate programs, 93 doctoral programs and 5 professional degrees.

Learn more about Texas A&M University – College Station

6. Colorado School of Mines

Flickr user Ken Lund

Flickr user Ken Lund

Location: Laguna Beach, CA

Student Enrollment: 5,962

College Type: Golden, CO

Colorado School of Mines specializes in engineering and applied science. It was established in 1859 with the original purpose of acting as supply center for local miners and settlers. Incoming freshmen hold an average GPA of 3.8 and an average ACT score of 28-32. In 2015, USA Today named Mines as its top engineering school.

Learn more about Colorado School of Mines

5. Southern Methodist University

Flickr user Roy Luck

Flickr user Roy Luck

Location: Dallas, TX

Student Enrollment: 11,272

College Type: Private, nonprofit, 4-year or above

This school has over 200 student organizations to choose from and houses eight libraries containing the largest comprehensive collection of research materials in the region. It is a distinguished research facility with notable programs in humanities and the sciences and is home to the well-renowned Meadows School of the Arts.

Learn more about Southern Methodist University

4. Trinity University

Flickr user N1NJ4

Flickr user N1NJ4

Location: San Antonio, TX

Student Enrollment: 2,432

College Type: Private, nonprofit, 4-year or above

Trinity University is a liberal arts college located just North of downtown San Antonio. It boasts a 9:1 student/faculty ratio with 98% of faculty members holding a Ph.D. in their field. Trinity has the second highest standardized test scores among its students in the state of Texas with 80% of its students graduating within the top 10% of their high school class.

Learn more about Trinity University

3. University of Texas at Austin

Flickr user Kumar Appaiah

Flickr user Kumar Appaiah

Location: Austin, TX

Student Enrollment: 51,313

College Type: Public, 4-year or above

With over 51,000 students and more than 3,000 faculty, the University of Texas is one of the largest  Universities in the nation in terms of enrollment. It offers over 100 bachelor’s degrees and 170 graduate degrees. Of these graduate degrees, its Latin, accounting, American history and petroleum engineering programs are ranked number one in the country.

Learn more about the University of Texas at Austin

2. Colorado College

Flickr user Jeffery Beall

Flickr user Jeffery Beall

Location: Colorado Springs, CO

Student Enrollment: 2,067

College Type: Private, Nonprofit, 4-year or above

With approximately 8,000 applications per year, and about 1,400 of those being accepted, Colorado College has a 17% acceptance rate and a reputation of being selective. In terms of ACT and SAT scoring, the average Colorado College freshman has a 27 – 32 or a 1,220 – 1,425 respectively. Some of the popular sports on campus include: basketball, ice hockey, lacrosse, and  swimming.

Learn more about Colorado College

1. Rice University

Flickr user Ed Schipul

Flickr user Ed Schipul

Location: Houston, TX

Student Enrollment: 6,621

College Type: Private, Nonprofit, 4-year or above

Sporting the colors blue and grey, the students at Rice are nicknamed the Owls, and their mascot is Sammy the Owl. Science and mathematics are highly regarded at this school, the most common majors being: Biochemistry, Psychology, Chemical Engineering, Kinesiology, and Mechanical Engineering.

Learn more about Rice University

Each of these rankings is based on an analysis of data about the school’s selectivity, financial health, academic rigor, and student success. We’ve outlined our full methodology here.

Allison Wignall

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