Our 2016 Ranking of the Best Midwestern Regional Universities are based exclusively on factors actual college freshmen said were most important to their college decision. According to a nationwide survey published by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, these factors include academic reputation, financial aid offerings, overall cost, and success of graduates in the post-college job market. Each of these factors were weighted equally in our ranking, and data was derived from a variety of publicly available sources, including U.S. News & World Report, the National Center for Education Statistics, and PayScale.
See our rankings methodology page.
Mount Mary University
Founded in Milwaukee in 1913, Mount Mary University is a private, Catholic, liberal arts university for women. Mount Mary is known for fostering academic excellence and creativity in all fields of study. Leadership, integrity, and concern for social justice emerge from the challenges that students face inside and outside of the classroom. About 1,200 undergraduate students attend Mount Mary, as do 500 men and women studying at the graduate level.
North Park University
Founded in 1891 by the Evangelical Covenant Church, North Park University is a private institution on the north side of Chicago. In addition to undergraduate programs, North Park also has a graduate school and a seminary. North Park values its urban environment in one of the most diverse neighborhoods of Chicago. Students at North Park graduate with a firm understanding of things practical and profound, and are thereby equipped to make a significant difference in the world.
Southern Illinois University—Edwardsville
About 20 miles northeast of St. Louis, Southern Illinois University—Edwardsville is the newer and smaller of the two institutions in the Southern Illinois University system. SIU Edwardsville was founded in 1957 and is also known as SIUE or The "e". Excellent undergraduate education is the university's first priority, although graduate and professional programs are also offered. Engagement in cultural arts, public service, and creative and scholarly research help SIU Edwardsville achieve its goal of providing a full and outstanding education.
Western Illinois University
Located in Macomb, Illinois, Western Illinois University was founded in 1899 as a teachers college. The university now offers a range of academic programs in Macomb and at its second campus in Moline. WIU's goal is to be an affordable path to the development of academic excellence, creativity, and social responsibility. Nearly 10,000 undergraduate students choose from majors in 41 academic departments and schools, all of which provide Honors College options in addition to the regular course of study.
Olivet Nazarene University
Olivet Nazarene University is a private, Christian, liberal arts university located an hour's drive south of Chicago. ONU seeks to develop students academically, professionally, and personally, preparing them for a life of service to God. More than 100 areas of study are available, as are multiple study abroad options. In addition to classrooms and residence halls, the university's campus includes a student-run Christian radio station, a new chapel for worship and community events, and one of three planetariums in Illinois with digital projection capabilities.
Originally known as Cleveland Bible College, Malone University was founded in 1892 in Canton, Ohio. Although Malone is an evangelical Christian university, its 2,500 students represent a variety of faith backgrounds. Malone seeks to engage its students in spiritual formation, academic excellence, and leadership. The university's four schools and colleges, as well as its abundant opportunities for on- and off-campus involvement, allow for such rich engagement.
Eastern Illinois University
Founded as a teacher's college in 1895, Eastern Illinois is now a comprehensive university in Charleston, Illinois. Inclusiveness, diversity, student-faculty scholarship, and applied learning experiences characterize the academic and social climate at EIU. The university offers bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and certificate programs in four undergraduate colleges, a graduate school, and a school of continuing education. All of these programs combined consist of about 9,000 students.
Indiana Wesleyan University
Indiana Wesleyan University was founded in 1920 and was known as Marion College until 1988. With nearly 3,000 undergraduate students, IWU is the largest private university in Indiana. In addition to residential undergraduate programs, Indiana Wesleyan also offers adult education, graduate, and online learning opportunities. The goal of all of these programs is to develop character, scholarship, and leadership in students who will change the world.
Ferris State University
Founded in 1884 as Big Rapids Industrial School, Ferris State is a public university in Big Rapids, Michigan. Ferris offers two- and four-year degrees in Big Rapids, at 19 off-campus locations, and online. The university seeks national leadership in career-oriented technological and professional education. Around 14,000 students are enrolled at Ferris State, and many are involved in the 200 campus clubs and organizations.
A private Roman Catholic college in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Aquinas College seeks to promote faith, learning, service, and community. Aquinas has about 2,000 students enrolled in its undergraduate and graduate programs. These students consistently volunteer throughout Grand Rapids and travel to various service-learning locations. Study abroad and exchange programs are also available.
University of Findlay
Located in Findlay, Ohio, the University of Findlay currently enrolls almost 3,700 students. These students benefits from Findlay's flexibility, taking classes on weekdays, nights, weekends, or online. Findlay offers more than 60 majors, as well as graduate degrees, and is often highlighted for the excellence of its science and business programs. Through these programs, extracurricular involvement, and relationships with faculty and staff, students at UF can embrace a challenging and fulfilling college experience.
University of Minnesota—Duluth
The University of Minnesota Duluth, formerly known as Duluth Normal School and Duluth State Teachers College, was founded in 1902. UMD's 11,000 students contribute to the school's reputation for academic excellence and innovative research. Duluth students are known for being hard-working and curious, which leads them to reach their personal potential and combat problems with creative solutions. Over 260 organizations, as well as outdoor recreation facilities, offer opportunities to get involved on campus.
University of Wisconsin—La Crosse
When the University of Wisconsin—La Crosse was founded in 1909, its focus was on physical education and teaching. Now, however, the school offers more than 90 undergraduate majors and 20 graduate degrees. UW—La Crosse is known for successful creative projects and research by undergraduate students. Education, business, and other programs and La Crosse have been repeatedly recognized for excellence.
University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire
The University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire, located on the Chippewa River, is known as Wisconsin's most beautiful campus. UWEC goes beyond beauty, however, producing an extraordinary number of Rhodes and Fulbright scholars. Eau Claire offers 80 majors and minors, an option to create your own major, and intensive hands-on learning opportunities. By their senior year, 37 percent of students have collaborated with faculty on projects and research, and many have research published in professional journals.
St. Ambrose University
Located in Davenport, Iowa, St. Ambrose is a private, liberal arts, Roman Catholic university. In addition to academic excellence and commitment to the liberal arts, St. Ambrose University defines itself by its concern for social justice and service. This spirit of service is made evident by the 70,000 hours that SAU students devote to serving their community each year. SAU's 3,000 undergraduate students form an intimate campus community and enjoy small classes taught by devoted professors.
Grand Valley State University
A public liberal arts institution in Allendale, Michigan, Grand Valley State University serves nearly 25,000 undergraduate and graduate students. GVSU also offers classes in Grand Rapids, Holland, Muskegon, and Traverse City. Grand Valley's focus on critical thinking, creativity, and cultural understanding challenges students to become active citizens in a rapidly changing world. Practical experience in professional fields is also available through internships, practica, and student teaching.
St. Xavier University
St. Xavier University is a private Roman Catholic institution founded in 1846. The university is located in Chicago and enrolls nearly 5,000 students. Students at St. Xavier University form a diverse community concerned with personal growth as well as social responsibility. SXU also has a campus in Orland Park, which offers professional studies and business administration programs.
University of St. Francis
The University of St. Francis is a Catholic, Franciscan university whose main campus is in Joliet, Illinois, just southwest of Chicago. The focus at USF is on forming people of integrity who will make an impact through leadership and compassionate service. Real-world experience such as participating in student organizations, studying abroad, and serving the community creates in St. Francis students the habit of lifelong learning. USF offers renowned education and healthcare professions programs, as well as other undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education opportunities.
Lawrence Technological University
Henry and Edsel Ford helped start Lawrence Technological University in 1932, using the space in an old Model T assembly plant. LTU is now a private university in Michigan that specializes in engineering, architecture, science, and applied technology. The goal of Lawrence Tech is to connect theory, practice, and advanced learning technologies to form able and aware professionals. Lawrence Tech offers undergraduate, master's, and doctoral programs.
Webster is a private, nonprofit university with a global focus. Webster is located in Webster Groves, Missouri, but also has campuses across Europe, Asia, and Africa, as well as online programs. A globalized approach to learning is applied whenever possible in all five of Webster's schools and colleges. Webster provides access not only to a global community, but to the local community as well, offering students opportunities to build lasting relationships through academic work and extracurricular involvement.
University of Indianapolis
The University of Indianapolis, commonly referred to as UIndy, is a private institution affiliated with the United Methodist Church. The undergraduate division of UIndy is known for its teacher education, communications, and health sciences programs. The university and its 5,000 enrolled students impact not only those on campus, but also the educational and cultural life of the city. Thus the sense of community found on campus extends beyond the university's borders.
Located in Westerville, Ohio, Otterbein is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Otterbein defines itself as an inclusive community that integrates direct experience into a professional and liberal arts education, thereby forming engaged thinkers who make a difference in the world. The university is well established in arts, athletics, and community service. Otterbein's 74 undergraduate and 8 graduate programs prove that it is not lacking in the academic sector either.
Baker University, located in Baldwin City, Kansas, was founded in 1858 and is associated with the United Methodist Church. This private liberal arts university takes a holistic approach to education, integrating experiential learning, intentional reflection, and exposure to ethical issues into the university experience. Within Baker's four schools, opportunities abound for exploration and building relationships. Accelerated undergraduate programs are also available for certain fields.
University of Detroit Mercy
Founded in 1877, the University of Detroit Mercy is the largest Roman Catholic university in Michigan. The university offers over 100 academic programs, as well as support in finding internship, research, and study abroad opportunities. Nearly 90 percent of the UD Mercy faculty have earned doctorate degrees or the highest available degrees in their fields. Passion for their fields paired with concern for student growth and achievement make UDM's faculty an invaluable resource.
Bethel University is an evangelical Christian institution located in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. About 6,000 students are enrolled at Bethel, including undergraduate, graduate, seminary, and adult education students. Since 1871, Bethel has trained its students to work toward excellence by integrating faith in Christ into everything they do. In addition to academic excellence, Bethel is known for an outstanding performing arts program, including choirs that have performed throughout Europe and Scandinavia.
Capital University is located in Bexley, a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. More than 2,700 undergraduate students occupy Capital's residential campus. Originally founded as a Lutheran seminary, Capital University is now a private liberal arts and research institution offering a variety of undergraduate majors, as well as graduate and continuing education programs. Organizations like fraternities and sororities, honor societies, and service and social action groups keep students involved on and off campus.
University of Northern Iowa
The University of Northern Iowa is located in Cedar Falls, and the school also has strong international connections. UNI is known for having a high number of graduate students who study abroad, but there are plenty of traveling options for undergraduate students as well. The university enrolls 12,000 undergraduate students, who learn not only in the classroom but also through hands-on research experience alongside university faculty. With classes that average 32 students and are taught mostly by faculty rather than teaching assistants, UNI prepares students to overcome academic and professional challenges after graduating.
Located in Pepper Pike, Ohio, Ursuline College is a Roman Catholic liberal arts women's college offering undergraduate and graduate degrees. In addition to liberal arts majors, Ursuline students can major in professional fields such as nursing, business administration, and a nationally ranked fashion program. The college's spacious campus is only 10 miles from Cleveland and 30 miles from Akron. There are, however, plenty of opportunities to get involved with student organizations on campus.
University of Michigan—Dearborn
UM Dearborn is one of two University of Michigan campuses. The Dearborn campus, nearly 200 acres, was once owned by Henry Ford. Today the culture of UM Dearborn embraces Ford's boldness, entrepreneurship, and spirit of collaboration. The university's 9,000 students are not only being educated, but are being trained to make a positive difference in Michigan and throughout the world.
North Central College
North Central College is a private liberal arts institution located in Naperville, Illinois, and affiliated with the United Methodist Church. North Central is known for its theater program, but there are over 50 other undergraduate majors to choose from. Five-year dual degree programs are also available, including degrees in Liberal Studies, Leadership Studies, and various business fields. Although North Central's campus is in a suburban area, the adventure and opportunities of Chicago are only a half hour away.
Lewis is a Catholic university located in Romeoville, Illinois, and sponsored by an international Roman Catholic teaching order called the De La Salle Christian Brothers. The Archdiocese of Chicago founded the school in 1932 as the Holy Name Technical School, which emphasized aviation technology courses. Lewis still has a strong aviation program, among 80 other undergraduate majors. Graduate, online, and adult undergraduate programs are also available.
Founded in 1873 and associated with the United Church of Christ, Drury University is a private liberal arts college in Springfield, Missouri. Nearly 1,500 traditional day students are part of the undergraduate program at Drury. Twelve percent of these students are international, representing 41 different countries. Drury University seeks to link liberal arts studies with professional life, while giving students the opportunity to develop their own philosophy of life.
St. Catherine University
St. Catherine University, also known as St. Kate's, offers undergraduate degrees for women, as well as associate, graduate, and continuing education programs for men and women. St. Kate's is a Catholic, liberal arts university whose mission it is to not only impart knowledge, but to teach students to use their knowledge for leadership. Nearly 3,500 undergraduate students are enrolled in St. Catherine in Minnesota's Twin Cities. Undergraduate programs at St. Kate's can also be completed on weekends, in the evenings, or online.
Baldwin Wallace University
Baldwin Wallace University, located in Berea, Ohio, was one of the nation's first colleges to admit students regardless of their race or gender. Even now BWU prides itself on a sense of inclusiveness that permeates all of campus. In addition to graduate students and evening and weekend learners, about 3,000 full-time undergraduate students attend Baldwin Wallace. The university sits in a historic, residential community, but the city of Cleveland is only 20 minutes away.
Dominican University began in 1901 as St. Clara College, a women's college in Wisconsin. Later moved to River Forest, Illinois, the college became Rosary College, and was renamed Dominican University to reflect its Catholic Dominican heritage. The university offers bachelor's and master's programs, as well as a PhD in library and information science. Dominican University is rich in student organizations, study abroad opportunities, and university ministry.
Augsburg College was founded in Minneapolis in 1869 as Augsburg Seminary, a Norwegian-American Lutheran institution. With 50 undergraduate majors and seven graduate degrees, Augsburg is committed to serving traditional and non-traditional students. The college is located near the Twin Cities' most diverse neighborhoods, and the campus surrounds the oldest park in Minneapolis. Augsburg also has a campus in Rochester, Minnesota, as well as international campuses in Africa and Central America.
Truman State University
Located in Kirksville, Missouri, Truman State University is a public liberal arts institution that was founded in 1867 as Northeast Missouri State University. Nearly 6,000 students live and learn on Truman's rural 140-acre campus. The mission of Truman State University is to provide an affordable, high-quality education to academically talented students. In addition to classroom education, Truman offers study abroad programs, service learning, fellowships, and various other opportunities for experiential learning.
Founded in 1854 and named after a bishop of the United Methodist Church, Hamline University is a private liberal arts college in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Hamline was the first university in the state of Minnesota and now enrolls nearly 4,500 students, over 2,000 of whom are pursuing an undergraduate degree. Besides academic excellence, social justice and civic responsibility are the focus at Hamline. These values are not only exercised in Saint Paul, as Hamline students study abroad in more than 40 countries.
Kettering University, originally the General Motors Institute, was founded in 1919 in Flint, Michigan to transform the automobile industry. Today Kettering offers undergraduate and graduate programs in STEM fields and in business. Kettering seeks to nourish innovation and research with respect, integrity, creativity, collaboration, and excellence. Because experiential learning is integral to the vision of Kettering University, students have the opportunity during their senior year to showcase what they have learned.
A private liberal arts college located outside of Chicago, Elmhurst is affiliated with the United Church of Christ and emphasizes service-oriented learning. Nearly 3,000 undergraduates study on its 48-acre campus. Three academic centers help students find career options and internships that fit their skills and passions. As a result, 93 percent of Elmhurst graduates have a job or start graduate school within six months.
Rockhurst is a private Jesuit university in Kansas City, Missouri. RU was founded in 1910 as Rockhurst College and has always been committed to forming leaders through education. Undergraduate and graduate programs run on Rockhurst University's 55-acre campus, involving over 2,800 students. The undergraduate program includes majors from four schools as well as pre-professional tracks.
University of Evansville
Located in Evansville, Indiana, the University of Evansville was founded in 1854 and is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. UE is known for its renowned theatre program, but more than 80 other majors are offered in areas as varied as Protective Services, Health Professions, and Environmental Studies. UE also has a British campus, Harlaxton College, where many Evansville students study abroad. Of the University of Evansville's undergraduate population, 14 percent are international students.
The fourth-oldest Jesuit university in the nation, Xavier University was founded in 1831 in Cincinnati. The undergraduate program at Xavier consists of over 4,500 students in more than 90 academic majors and pre-professional programs. Xavier has a 91 percent career placement rate for its graduating students. The university offers an abundance of extracurricular clubs, as well as faith and service opportunities.
Butler University is situated on a 300-acre campus in the historic Butler-Tarkington neighborhood of Indianapolis. A private university founded in 1855, BU now has more than 60 majors in six academic colleges. Butler boasts a Community of Care, a campus culture built on collective concern and healthy behaviors. With 150 student organizations and 94 percent of the student body involved in extracurricular activities, Butler makes it easy for students to get involved outside of class.
Founded in 1881, Drake University is a private institution located in Des Moines, Iowa. The 3,000 undergraduate students enrolled choose from 70 majors, combine majors, or create their own majors. Drake seeks to combine liberal arts with professional preparation so that students graduate ready to take on an array of professional challenges. Drake also has graduate programs and professional programs in business, law, and pharmacy.
Milwaukee School of Engineering
The Milwaukee School of Engineering offers degrees in fields such as engineering, business, math, and nursing. With 2,500 students enrolled, the undergraduate programs are the schools primary focus. However, graduate programs are also offered in engineering, business, and nursing. MSOE also gives students the opportunity to study abroad in places like Germany, China, and Italy.
A private, independent university founded in 1897, Bradley is located in Peoria, Illinois. The 84-acre residential campus houses 5,000 undergraduate students. Bradley University offers 100 undergraduate majors, 30 graduate programs, and short-term and extended study abroad opportunities. The university is dedicated to useful learning and ethics, equipping students to contribute to the good of the world.
John Carroll University
John Carroll University, located on the outskirts of Cleveland, has a 60-acre campus that is home to 3,000 undergraduate students. JCU is a Jesuit university and was founded in 1886. In addition to undergraduate majors in liberal arts, sciences and business, John Carroll also offers graduate and international programs. The John Carroll Access Initiative, JCU's unique financial aid strategy, allows students from lower-income backgrounds to attend the university.
Valparaiso University, also known as Valpo, is located in the Indiana city with the same name. Valpo is a private, Lutheran-affiliated university that was founded in 1859 as one of the nation's first coeducational colleges. There are now more than 70 majors to choose from within the university's five undergraduate colleges. About 3,000 students, from across the United States and 50 different countries, make up the undergraduate population.
A private Jesuit university, Creighton offers an experience that is not only about academic excellence, but also a tradition of service and solidarity. Over 50 academic majors are available to Creighton's 4,000 undergraduate students, and volunteer opportunities abound within and beyond the university's Omaha home. The university was founded in 1878 by John Creighton, one of the founders of the city of Omaha. Creighton University now makes a positive impact on its community and draws students from various backgrounds.