It’s no surprise that Texas has some of the biggest colleges in the country. This outsized-state rarely does things small. But Texas universities are also known for the high quality of their academics, their elite collegiate sports programs, and their state-of-the-art research facilities. Not to mention the access to job opportunities growing Texas cities like Austin and San Antonio offer students and recent grads.
For these reasons and more, university-bound students regularly seek out the opportunity to study at one of the top Texas colleges. And while there aren’t any Ivy League schools in Texas (the entire Ivy League is located in the Northeastern U.S), applicants will still find world-class institutions – and sometimes more manageable price tags – in the Lone Star State.
Introducing: 6 Top Colleges in Texas:
If you’re interested in studying at one of the best colleges in Texas, you’re in luck. There are multiple options to choose from, including large universities, liberal arts colleges, and top ranked public and private schools. You’ll find different student body sizes, a range of majors, minors, and professional programs, and urban and rural locations. It’s important to do your research to find which institution is the best match for your needs (and your preferred lifestyle).
To help you with your search, here are the 6 best Texas colleges you should check out in 2023:
Texas A&M University
The biggest of the big, Texas A&M University is a public, land, sea, and space-grant university with an undergraduate enrollment of 55,000+ students. Since 2021, it has enrolled the largest total student body in the U.S.
Founded in 1876 in College Station as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, the Texas legislature renamed it in 1963 to reflect the expansion of its academic offerings. They kept the “A&M” as a nod to the institution’s history. Texas A&M University now sits on a 5,500 acre campus halfway between Houston and Austin, in the eastern part of the state.
Aggies, as students of Texas A&M University are called, have a wealth of options when it comes to choosing their area(s) of study, including 133 undergraduate degree programs. The university also offers 175 master’s degree programs, 92 doctoral degree programs, and 5 first professional degrees.
And Texas A&M has a booming personality to match its expansive reach. 1,000+ student organizations, 400+ study abroad options, and legendary game days – you won’t be bored at Texas A&M.
University of Texas at Austin
Clocking in at 40,000 students, the University of Texas at Austin is also one of the largest higher education institutions in the country. And while there are no Ivy League schools in Texas, UT Austin is often found on the list of what’s known as the “Public Ivies” – a group of public universities recognized as the best in the U.S.
UT Austin offers a full range of academic programs. Students here can obtain undergraduate, graduate, law, and medical degrees. There is also a Master of Fine Arts in Writing program, dual degree programs, and more. With 18 schools and colleges housed at UT Austin, you’re sure to find the right area of study for you.
Students appreciate UT Austin’s location in what is one of the most sought after cities in the U.S. for young professionals. Life in Austin is good, with a bustling music and arts scene, ample opportunities for outdoor activities, and year-round sunshine. There’s also a booming job market as major U.S. and international companies establish large presences in Austin.
University of Houston
Among the top Texas colleges you’ll find the University of Houston. The third largest university in Texas, UH contains 16 separate schools and colleges as well as an honors college, and online programs. Approximately 37,000 undergraduate and 10,000 graduate students attend UH.
UH is proud of its commitment to diversity and its multicultural campus. It was the first Tier One public research university in the state to be designated an Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) by the U.S. Department of Education. HSIs have full-time undergraduate student body enrollments consisting of at least 25% Hispanic students (it’s 32.2% at UH).
Located in the southeast part of Houston, not far from downtown, UH provides students with easy access to career-enhancing internships and networking. Students also enjoy all that Houston has to offer, from world-class museums to countless outdoor activities, to a well-connected international airport.
Public institutions aren’t the only best colleges in Texas in 2023. Baylor University, a private baptist research university, ranks in the top 100 on U.S. News and World Report’s coveted list of top U.S. universities, and is a sought-after private option in the Lone Star State.
Founded in 1845, Baylor is located in Waco, Texas. Its campus covers 1,000+ acres, making it the largest baptist university in the world. 20,000+ combined undergraduate and graduate students call Baylor home.
Comprising 12 schools and colleges, Baylor University offers students a slate of 125 majors and minors to choose from. Student athletes compete in Division 1 sports, as part of the Big 12 conference. With a strong reputation for both athletics and academics, Baylor University is the whole package, easily earning its spot on the list of top Texas colleges.
Smaller than Baylor, Rice University is also a private research institution, and holds the #15 spot on U.S. New and World Report’s 2022-2023 ranking of national universities. Approximately 4,200 undergraduate students enjoy a 6-to-1 student to faculty ratio. The university also enrolls 3,900+ graduate students at its Houston, Texas campus.
With a campus near Space Center Houston, Rice University has forged a close relationship with NASA since the 1950s. To date, 16 Rice University alumni and faculty have served as astronauts or as NASA Administrator. Another unique relationship claimed by Rice University is with the city of Paris, France. The Rice Global Paris Center in the heart of the Marais district serves to facilitate exchange and collaboration with international partners on a range of research topics.
Small class sizes, a prime campus location, and advantageous relationships with global juggernauts like NASA and the city of Paris, France make Rice University one of the top Texas colleges. And although there are no Ivy League schools in Texas, Rice is part of what is often referred to as one of the “Southern Ivies” – a collection of prestigious colleges and universities in the southern U.S.
Students looking for a top private liberal arts college in Texas should consider Trinity University. Founded in 1869, it has the smallest student body of any of the Texas universities on this list, with roughly 2,500 undergraduates and 200 graduate students. Proving that in Texas, some good things do come in small packages, Trinity lands at spot #55 on U.S. News and World Report’s 2022-2023 ranking of National Liberal Arts Colleges.
Located in San Antonio, Texas, Trinity University refers to its approach to the liberal arts as “Liberal Arts, Plus.” This is in reference to its main concentration on the liberal arts that it blends with the sciences by including select pre-professional and advising programs among its offerings. This interdisciplinary approach attracts students who want to approach liberal arts subjects with a scientific lens – and scientific solutions.
Overlooking San Antonio, Trinity University’s 125 hilltop acres are embrace long-term sustainability while respecting the campus’ history. Students are encouraged to get involved in the university’s sustainability programs, through students groups, a beekeeping consortium, and classroom sustainability-driven content.
6 Top Texas Colleges – Something for Everyone
College-bound students shouldn’t overlook what Texas colleges and universities have to offer. Students interested in the big campus experience, with heart-pounding game days and endless options for areas of study will find plenty to love at Texas A&M University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Houston University. These are the big of the bigs, representing some of the largest student bodies in the U.S. along with highly-ranked academics and athletics.
If you prefer a more intimate private institution, Texas has those, too. Top ranked Baylor is the perfect mix of big university sports excitement and a smaller campus feel. Rice University and Trinity University are the two liberal arts colleges on the list, making them attractive to students looking for the liberal arts experience.
Are There Ivy League Schools in Texas?
Remember: there aren’t any Ivy League schools in Texas. College applicants often forget that the Ivy League is confined 100% to the northeastern U.S. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t top ranked schools outside of the northeast. On the contrary, the U.S. has world famous universities and colleges across the country, including in Texas. So, whether you’re from Texas and want to stay close to home for your studies, or you’re interested in relocating to Texas – an excellent choice for job opportunities and unique access to partners such as NASA – consider one of these 6 top colleges in Texas.