Finding the best college for you can be an overwhelming process. A great place to look no matter where you’re at on your journey are the top colleges by state. Whether you’re looking to stay in-state or venture elsewhere, best colleges are always good to keep in mind. They offer exceptional academics that could challenge you. Not sure where to start? We’ve organized the best schools in the USA by state for you to research. 

 

Which States Have the Most Colleges? 

The states that have the most colleges generally follow how populated a state is. It’s no surprise that California tops the list by being the most populated and having the most institutions – 644.  According to IPEDs data, the next in the top 5 states with the most colleges in them are New York, Texas, Florida, and Pennsylvania. All the colleges and universities on the follow list are Title IV institutions. This means that they have to meet basic criteria such as being accredited by the U.S. Department of Education, offering at least one program that leads to a degree, and more. Below you’ll find the number of colleges by state for the top 15 states with the most colleges: 

 

State 

Total Institutions 

1. 

California 

644 

2. 

New York 

423 

3. 

Texas 

394 

4. 

Florida 

328 

5. 

Pennsylvania 

301 

6. 

Ohio 

270 

7. 

Illinois 

234 

8. 

North Carolina 

164 

9. 

Michigan 

159 

10. 

New Jersey 

155 

11. 

Massachusetts 

148 

12. 

Tennessee 

148 

13.  

Virginia 

143 

14. 

Missouri 

142 

15. 

Georgia 

141 

 

 
 

States With the Most Top Ranked Universities 
 

The top 5 states that have the most top ranked colleges are: 

1. California: Along with having the most colleges by state in the U.S., California also has the highest number of top-ranked institutions. Some of the top ranked colleges on the list include Stanford University, Pomona College, and California Institute of Technology. Several of the public universities are also on the list, including University of California – Los Angeles, University of California – Berkeley, and University of Southern California, to name a few.  

2. New York: The state of New York has the second-most top ranked universities in the USA. Two of these are Ivy League schools: Cornell University and Columbia University in the City of New York. The state is also host to institutions such as the United States Military Academy, Barnard College, and schools in the State University of New York system. 

3. Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania is home to Ivy League school, University of Pennsylvania, and several other highly-ranked colleges and universities like Carnegie Mellon University and Haverford College.  

4. Massachusetts: In terms of number of colleges by state, Massachusetts is number 11. However, when it comes to the number of top ranked schools in the state, it ranks 4th. Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University regularly rank in the top 5 schools in the nation. It also has institutions like Amherst College, Boston College, and Boston University.  

5. Texas: Some of the most notable top ranked institutions in Texas are: Rice University, University of Texas at Austin, and Southern Methodist University

 
 

How are the Top Colleges in Each State Chosen? 

 
Cappex determines “Best Colleges” based on publicly-available information from the US Department of Education. Several factors include, but are not limited to, data about admitted students’ academic calibers, students’ expected career outcomes after graduation, and colleges’ investments toward making their institution accessible to all students. 

 
 

Explore the Best Colleges by State with Cappex! 

 
Below, you will find an organized list of colleges by state, featuring the top schools by state. You can use these lists as a starting point for your college research. You can also create a Cappex account to start saving them to your list. 

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