There is much to enjoy about the south. With beautiful cities, delicious food, southern hospitality, and weather that will keep you around in all seasons, the southern part of the United States is one so many are proud to call home. The south also presents many individual opportunities, including top-ranked universities that are worth considering when building your college list. Whether you’re interested in studying engineering, liberal arts, or the sciences, or looking to participate in sports, or explore a thriving new city, colleges in the south can lead to paths that are truly worth discovering and that you have never considered before. Not to mention, many of the cities within the south have become hubs for medicine, tech, and more, making them competitive options to cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles in terms of career opportunities to help you in your personal and professional development.
So, what top universities in the south should you consider during your college admissions journey? While this is not the end-all, be-all list, we hope this helps kickstart your search and provides you with information to get you started.
Duke University, Durham, NC
Duke University is a private university founded in 1838, now among the top ten universities in the United States. Considered a “Southern Ivy,” Duke provides top-quality education for students with an 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio, making it a top college in the south to consider during your college search. In addition to being ranked one of the best colleges in the south, Duke University is also known to be one of the best value schools and one of the most innovative schools in the United States today! Additionally, the institution is ranked third in nursing, sixth in biocomputing and bioinformatics, and sixteenth in the nation for the best undergraduate engineering program.
If you’re looking to explore your interests, Duke University presents many excellent opportunities to do so. Into athletics? Duke University’s Division 1 sports programs will surely have you cheering all year long! Interested in joining a club? The institution boasts hundreds of student-run clubs and organizations, making for the perfect place to meet new peers and gain important insights about your interests. Looking for professional opportunities? Duke’s expansive career support resources will help you as you transition into your professional life during and after your time in school.
Vanderbilt University – Nashville, TN
If you’re looking for another top southern college, look no further than Vanderbilt University. Founded in 1873, Vanderbilt University’s dedication to excellence and commitment to providing outstanding educational opportunities has made it one of the top universities to pursue the next step in your studies. Additionally, Nashville’s southern charm makes it the perfect location to enjoy the wonders of the south and all it has to offer while still making the most of your education. Vanderbilt University maintains an 8:1 faculty-to-student ratio, and students can further explore their choice of major within four schools, including the College of Arts and Science, Blair School of Music, School of Engineering, and the Peabody College of Education and Human Development.
Additionally, Vanderbilt offers various opportunities to maintain a well-balanced student life in and out of the classroom. Whether you’re interested in joining one of the 35 club and varsity teams on campus, exploring your interests with over 500 different student organizations to choose from, or enjoying the state-of-the-art facilities Vanderbilt has to offer, the time you’ll enjoy while studying at Vanderbilt University will allow you to discover your full potential.
Rice University – Houston, TX
The third top southern college we have on our list today is Rice University. Founded in 1912, Rice University has made its way to become a leading research university in Engineering, Kinesiology and Sports Therapy, Architecture, Psychology, and more. Its location in Houston, Texas, allows for the best of small suburban towns mixed with a larger city feel, providing students with opportunities to explore their interests academically, professionally, socially, and on a personal level.
Ranked 15th in the nation as a top university and among one of the top southern colleges, Rice University’s academics stand apart from the rest. The intellectual leadership in research, innovation, athletics, student success, and more make Rice a university you should consider when building your college list. The institution maintains a 6:1 faculty-to-student ratio, and students can study from one of 11 residential colleges while enjoying a student experience ranked in the top ten in the nation.
The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill – Chapel Hill, NC
Another one of the best colleges in the south, the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, is worth adding to your college list. Ranked 29th in the nation, UNC Chapel Hill is a university that will undoubtedly support your academic, professional, and personal growth and help to set you up for long-term success. The university was founded in 1793, making it the first US public institution to be founded within the United States, and its legacy of being one of the top universities in the south is truly stood the test of time.
Offering top programs in Business, Nursing, and Communications, and an unparalleled experience in athletics, the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill is surely a university that will allow you to discover your interests while thriving in and out of the classroom. Additionally, UNC Chapel Hill’s small-town feel will allow you to experience the feeling of a close-knit community, with the larger city of Raleigh not too far away.
University of Virginia
The University of Virginia, the next Southern university on our list, is a school that may be worth putting on your college radar. UVA is considered a “public Ivy,” meaning the education students receive is comparable to that of Ivy League schools such as Harvard and Princeton. Additionally, the university’s drive to provide students with the best education possible has allowed them to climb to become within the top five ranked public universities in the United States as well as one of the top southern colleges, according to US News and World Report. Unlike any other university in the country, the University of Virginia is also a UNESCO world heritage site, thanks to its founder, Thomas Jefferson!
When it comes to student life, UVA presents students with many opportunities, support, and more to help support their growth and development as students, professionals, and people. The university is located in downtown Charlottesville and provides students with a wonderful balance of a small university feel while located only a train ride away from Washington, D.C! Additionally, UVA’s ample facilities, Division I athletics, and student amenities allow for a well-rounded overall student experience.
University of Florida
If you’re looking for warm weather and sunshine, you can’t go wrong with adding the University of Florida to your list of colleges in the south to check out! The University of Florida, founded in 1853, has risen to become a prominent university in both the south and the nation overall, ranking 22nd among the top universities in the United States! Additionally, the dedicated faculty and staff, top-of-the-line facilities and resources, and overall student experience have allowed the University of Florida to become a leader for public universities in the country.
When it comes to student life, UF certainly does not disappoint. Located in Gainesville, Florida, there is much to enjoy within this college town, including hiking and biking, shopping, good eats, beautiful weather, and more. On campus, you’ll have access to beautiful recreation facilities, exciting athletics, top-of-the-line research facilities, and a college experience that will stick with you long after graduation.
Georgia Institute of Tech
Moving down to the beautiful state of Georgia, the Georgia Institute of Technology is another worthwhile choice to add to your list of colleges in the south to apply to. If you’re interested in pursuing a degree at a more technologically-focused university, Georgia Tech is the place for you! Founded in 1885, the university has made its way to becoming a top 50 university in the nation. For a good reason – Georgia Tech is a leading institution for engineering, computer science, business, the sciences, and even design and liberal arts.
Along with being one of the top academic institutions in the United States, Georgia Tech promotes an extensive professional and social environment for students to thrive. Located in the heart of Atlanta, the campus is surrounded by a beautiful yet ever-growing large city while maintaining a close-knit student community within the 400-acre campus. Georgia Tech’s variety of clubs and organizations, athletic teams, and other amenities is sure to make your time while studying at the institution memorable and the perfect stepping stone as you make your way through your higher educational journey.
While this list doesn’t cover all of the universities in the south that are available for you to choose from, we hope that you can take this forward as you continue on your college admissions journey. Finding and choosing your best-fit university is a personal decision, so consider what you want from a well-rounded college experience and use that as a guide to go forward. We at Empowerly are here to help you choose your best-fit university, and we’ll be here every step of the way. From helping you build your college list to ensuring you’re putting your best foot forward in your college essays, Empowerly is here to empower you to succeed.