2023 Best Midwestern Colleges and Universities

Often the Midwest is called the “heartland” of America. The phrase not only refers to a region but is also a term that extols the values and ideologies, such as hard work, small-town communities, rural heritage, simplicity, loyalty, and honesty. However, the Midwest is known for more than being the engine that drives America. For one, it’s home to many, many well-respected colleges and universities. In this piece, we will discuss the best of them.

Ohio State University – Columbus – With a student enrollment of nearly 59,837 undergraduate students and almost half a million alumni, it’s clear that OSU is a favorite school for many. OSU offers more degrees and programs of study than any other institution of higher education in Ohio. The school is recognized for its undergraduate teaching. The acceptance rate here is 48%. The academics are rigorous, but there’s plenty of opportunity for entertainment as well. Tuition and fees run $10,726 each year.

University of Michigan – Ann Arbor – With an enrollment of nearly 46,000 students, this university is among the largest in the nation, and it ranks #27 in universities across the country and has outstanding undergraduate instruction. The University of Michigan – Ann Arbor is also a good choice for veterans. The campus has a 27% acceptance rate. In-state students pay $15,262 annually in tuition and fees

The University of Chicago – offers the best of both worlds, with a vibrant campus life as well as big-city atmosphere right in the prestigious Hyde Park neighborhood. Known for its rigorous academics, the university boasts 70 majors and several renowned post-graduate programs.

Northwestern University – is best known for its music, performing arts, and communications programs. Between challenging academics and a busy social scene, students are fully occupied. Frequent plays, concerts, and social gatherings enliven a highly collaborative academic atmosphere.

The University of Notre Dame – is a private Catholic school just 100 miles away from Chicago. A strong athletic program (especially football!) are among the many things that make students’ experience here exceptional.
Purdue University – is a large flagship university whose focus is agriculture and STEM. It offers at least 275 degree programs, most notably in Pharmacy and Veterinary Medicine.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln – The undergrad enrollment at this public university is 26,079, and the school is part of the Big Ten Conference. Students can choose from 150 majors, and the 400 students organizations on campus enrich the college experience. Warren Buffet and Johnny Carson earned degrees from this school, and it’s considered #129 in the nation as well as a best-value school. Tuition and fees run $9,242 annually.

University of Kansas – This university ranks at #129 nationwide, and it focuses on research and teaching. The programs in special education and public administration are outstanding, and the KSU law program is a top 20 choice for value. Annual tuition is approximately $11,148.

University of Iowa – Has one of the top programs in the nation for leadership with its unique Leadership Development Series. A smoke-free campus means a healthy environment for future leaders.

Iowa State University – This large flagship university boasts eight different colleges and 100 bachelor’s degree programs, including animal ecology and aerospace engineering. It is also the scene of the invention of the first electronic computer.

University of Wisconsin – La Crosse – This public school offers nearly 100 undergraduate majors as well as plenty of co-curricular activities for a well-rounded education. It’s a best-value school, a top public school and has a recognized business program. In-state tuition is less than $10,000 per year.

Benedictine College – At #13 in regional colleges of the Midwest, this private Catholic school hand-picks their admitted students, and getting in is not easy. Students are encouraged to study abroad through the university, and options include programs in Italy and Ireland at sister campuses. Tuition and fees are $29,530 annually.

Carleton College – Carlton has achieved the distinction of being ranked 8th among liberal arts universities nationwide. Students benefit from small classes, and 96% of freshmen report being satisfied with their educational experience here. This private school ranks first in undergraduate teaching, is a best-value school, and in the top dozen innovative schools in the nation. Annual tuition and fees are approximately $54,759.

Bethel University – The focus at Bethel is on Christian principles in every one of the programs of study offered at the college. Business, nursing, and education are popular majors, and students learn how to become servant leaders. Annual tuition is $37,300. Bethel is tied for 17th in the Midwest.

Catherine University – St. Kate’s ranks eleventh in the Midwest region, and it’s also considered a best-value school. This school is known for its programs in nursing public health, and social work. Women make up 96% of the student body. The acceptance rate here is 69%, and tuition and fees are $38,349 annually.

University of Wisconsin – Superior –  This university comes in at #35 among Midwest colleges in the region. The student enrollment is small, and therefore, degree candidates enjoy small classes and closer engagement with faculty. The university devotes time to community service projects and regionally relevant research. Annual tuition and fees (in- and out-of-state) are $8,126 and $15,699 respectively.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – With 17 different schools and colleges and over 1000 students organizations, any student can find a niche at this large urban university. It is particularly well-known for its programs in engineering, library science, and psychology.

DePaul University – Small class sizes and friendly, supportive students and staff set this small Catholic university apart. Communications and liberal arts are the most popular majors.
Loyola University Chicago – Has been ranked as one of the top Catholic universities in the nation. It is best known for its business school and its liberal arts program.

University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire – This school is ranked #38 in regional universities in the Midwest. The Eau Claire campus focuses on hands-on learning experiences in a variety of disciplines including STEM and education. Students are encouraged to student abroad, and some education majors student teach overseas. The university requires all students to complete a service learning project before graduation. Tuition and fees are $8,820

Hamline University – This college is the oldest institute of higher learning in Minnesota. This small school has big ideas about college studies, and it encourages students to study abroad, participate in co-curricular activities, and make the most of their time spent in small class sizes. If bachelor’s degree candidates do not graduate in four years, Hamline pays for the additional semesters until graduation.

Case Western Reserve University – Located in Cleveland, Case Western Reserve is ranked at #42 in the nation among national universities. This institution of higher education is known for its research, and as a result, attracts graduate students to its top-rated programs. Undergrads engage in rigorous academics, and the can also take advantage of the school’s tremendous extracurricular programs. Annual tuition and fees here run $49,042.

Kettering University – Kettering involves students in hands-on learning experiences that help them gain relevant expertise in their chosen fields of study. As a result, freshmen gain valuable work experience that enhances their learning. By the time students graduate from Kettering, they are more prepared to innovate in their careers than many of their peers who graduate from other universities. Annual tuition and fees are $42,490.

Wabash College – One of only three men’s colleges in the entire nation, Wabash is consistently ranked among the top liberal arts schools in the US. A requirement of comprehensive exams for earning a degree ensures that students have learned all course materials.

Butler University – Caring professors and a close-knit community of students are among the many things that make the “Butler Way” a top choice. For plenty of personal attention and a small student-teacher ratio, Butler is an excellent option.

University of Dayton – This private, Catholic school offers students more than 80 degree programs and 200+ organizations to become involved in. The University of Dayton weighs in at #124 among national schools, is considered a best-value choice, and has earned excellent ratings in business and engineering. Annual tuition and fees are $42,000.

University of Cincinnati – Known for fine arts and health programs of study, the University of Cincinnati also awards degrees in business, engineering, and law. The school is veteran-friendly, and it’s also considered a best-value choice among similar schools. Expect to approximately $11,000 in tuition and fees.

Kent State University – This large, public university offers plenty of programs of study, but it’s well-known for its programs in business, education, health and human services, and speech pathology and audiology. Kent State is a top-notch public school with a recognized business program. Annual tuition and fees for in-state students run approximately $11,000.

University of Minnesota – Duluth – This institute of higher education ranks 45th in the Midwest region of the United States and students can choose from 93 programs of study. Tuition and fees run $13,367 annually.

Creighton University – This Jesuit-affiliated private school offers nine programs for undergraduates and graduate students, as well as for students seeking professional certification. Students can take advantage of international opportunities for study, during the regular semester or exclusively in the summertime. This university has an impressive 91% freshman rate, and Creighton ranks #1 in regional schools in the Midwest. Tuition and fees are $39,916 annually.

Washington University in St. Louis – Coming in at #19 in the United States, Washington is comprised of four undergraduate schools and four graduate schools. They offer programs in social work, business, law, medicine, arts, engineering, applied science, and education. Annual tuition and fees are $53,399.

Webster University – Webster represents the best of the Midwest, but it also maintains an international presence with campuses in Europe and Asia. Students are encouraged to study abroad, especially if studying global journalism or international business. This school is ranked #23 in the Midwest, and it is a best-value school. Expect to pay $27,900 for tuition and fees.

Louis University – Although the school was founded on Jesuit principles, it welcomes students of any faith.  The college is ranked #106 of universities in the United States, and it is also a best-value school. This school also has the distinction of being the first public institution of higher education west of the Mississippi. The university has a 64% acceptance rate. Annual tuition and fees average $43,996.

Nebraska Wesleyan University – Ranked at #17 in Midwestern universities, more than two-thirds of the classes at Nebraska Wesleyan have fewer than twenty students. Nebraska Wesleyan is affiliated with the Methodist church.

This liberal arts school is also considered a best-value among similar schools, and many graduates continue their studies and pursue masters and doctoral degrees. The tuition and fees run approximately $33,000 annually.

Hastings College – Another private school in Nebraska, Hastings is ranked at #23 among Midwestern colleges, and it’s a best-value school as well. Almost one-third of the students participate in Greek life. Hastings offers an Irish Fellows program, in which students study abroad for one month. This college is affiliated with the Presbyterian church, and tuition is $30,050 per year.

Click here to learn more about the ranking methodology that we used to compile this list.

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