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Texas houses an impressive 244 postsecondary institutions, making it a prime location for degree-seekers. With the state's strong economy and growing industries, graduates can look forward to a promising job market.
The growing economy attracts professionals and degree-seekers alike. A total of 1.64 million people attend college in Texas, ranking it second on the list of states that attract the most college students. Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin made U.S. News' list of the top 10 colleges with the most undergraduate students.
With so many options, comparing the top schools can give you a snapshot of what Texas colleges can offer. Jumpstart your college search with the five best schools in Texas below.
Keep reading to learn more about tuition cost, accreditation, and job outlook for graduates from Texas colleges and universities.
Why Attend College in Texas?
Pursuing a college degree is a life-changing decision. A college diploma can provide opportunities for enriching experiences and higher-paying jobs. Attending a Texas institution can offer several benefits.
- Low Cost of Living
- In 2021, Texas ranked as the state with the lowest cost of groceries. Texas also boasts the third-lowest state-local tax burdens, and residents pay no individual income tax. However, if you study online and maintain residency in a different state, the cost of living may differ.
- Job Opportunities Post-Graduation
- With a booming economy, Texas reports the second-highest GDP percent change in the last quarter of 2020. The Projections Managing Partnership (PMP) also projects dramatic job growth, including a 37.5% increase for actuaries and a 31.9% increase for nurse practitioners. With this positive employment outlook, students may find it easier to land a job after graduation or while still in school.
- Education Initiatives
- The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) created the TEXAS Grant, which provides financial support to current or prospective college students. Another group, Educate Texas, partners with agencies and schools to create initiatives and programs that increase access to higher education.
- Plenty of Activities
- The diverse attractions and culture draws learners to the state. Students can enjoy 14 national parks, music festivals, delicious barbeque, traditional rodeos, and vibrant city life while pursuing a degree.
Texas Employment Prospects
In terms of economic stability, Texas ranks ninth in the country. This is in part due to the discovery of abundant petroleum in 1901 that brought an influx of jobs. Currently, eight of the ten largest public companies in Texas are in the oil and gas industry.
Both Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston appear on LinkedIn's 2017 list of the top 10 regions that hire graduating students. In these cities, the healthcare, financial, and information technology fields consistently employ many graduates.
The healthcare industry is a top employer in Texas, dominating all but seven major state regions as of 2019. As of May 2020, the healthcare industry employs 1.22 million people in Texas according to the BLS.
Higher-paying degrees in Texas include business, engineering, and computer science.
Other growing industries offer equally promising opportunities for recent graduates. For example, the educational instruction and library occupations industry employ 740,670 individuals. Additionally, management positions and business and financial operations employ 668,900 and 665,420 people respectively.
Higher-paying degrees in Texas include business, engineering, and computer science. As of 2017, first-year graduates earned on average of $66,320 with a business degree, $65,100 in the engineering field, and $53,250 in the computer science industry.
Texas' Top Employers
Deloitte forms part of the Big Four, which refers to the top U.S. accounting corporations. The firm boasts a high revenue of $47.6 billion in 2020. Deloitte's workforce includes 330,000 employees. Deloitte maintains offices in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio. Available careers include auditing, financial advisory services, and consulting.
Lockheed Martin specializes in technology for the aerospace and security industries. Forbes lists this $59.8 billion company as one of America's best employers for new graduates in 2020. The company employs 110,000 people globally. This employer actively holds career events for college students. Lockheed Martin has locations in various Texas cities. Graduates can pursue jobs in communications, engineering, and financial analysis.
MD Anderson Cancer Center has 20,000 employees in Houston, making it one of the largest Texan employers. Several company locations in Houston employ nurses, doctors, and healthcare workers. Recent graduates can also find work in marketing, research, law enforcement, accounting, and human resources.
Texas' Higher Education Landscape
Currently, Texas institutions enroll 7.5% of the entire U.S. college student population throughout 148 four-year and 96 two-year schools.
The college student population has grown in recent years, thanks to the Closing the Gaps by 2015 initiative established by the THECB. From 2000 to 2015, the number of enrolled college students increased by more than 537,000.
The graduation rate from Texas institutions has also increased over the past two decades. About 65.9% of first-year students in 2004 graduated with a bachelor's degree within 10 years, rising to 67.1% for first-year students in 2009. In 2019, The University of Texas at Austin celebrated the highest six-year graduation rate of 88.8%.
Texas institutions enroll 7.5% of the entire U.S. college student population.
The majority of Texas colleges reside in one of the four main urban areas: Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, Houston, and San Antonio. Urban locations can provide students with excellent networking and job opportunities.
If you do not live near a major Texas city or do not wish to relocate for school, online classes may offer an ideal solution. The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), which oversees 16 southern states, hosts the electronic campus program that offers online students in-state tuition rates. Many other postsecondary institutions offer online degrees, although some may require students to complete on-campus requirements.
Education Statistics for Texas
|Texas Data||National Data|
|Number of Four-Year Colleges, 2020||148||2,679|
|Number of Two-Year Colleges, 2020||96||1,303|
|Postsecondary Education Appropriations per Full-Time Student, 2019||$7,888||$8,196|
|Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education, 2017||7.8%||5.8%|
|Percentage of Adults Over 25 With an Associate Degree, 2019||7.2%||8.5%|
|Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Bachelor's Degree, 2019||19.5%||19.8%|
|Percentage of Adults Over 25 With a Graduate Degree or Higher, 2019||10.4%||12.4%|
Popular Degrees in TX, 2019
Accreditation for Texas Schools
While searching for universities in Texas, students should verify that the school is accredited. Third-party organizations grant accreditation to schools that meet high quality educational standards. This assures future employers that your education meets the basic requirements for your field. Additionally, you must attend accredited schools to qualify for federal financial aid.
Two types of accrediting bodies exist: regional and national. Regional accreditation is generally considered more prestigious and rigorous. Some regionally accredited schools may have more competitive application processes than nationally accredited universities.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) oversees regionally accredited schools in Texas, 10 other southern states, and some international locations. SACSCOC requires each institution to present plans for evaluation processes, student achievement, and academic policies.
Consider your educational priorities when choosing among schools with national and regional accreditation. Students pursuing trade or vocational schoolmay consider national accreditation. Those who place a higher value on prestige and academic rigor may opt for a regionally accredited school.
How Much Does College Cost in Texas?
The average annual price for postsecondary institutions in Texas is less than the national average. Only private colleges require a slightly higher-than-average tuition, as shown in the table below.
Even with affordable tuition rates, students may need help to cover their expenses. Most students start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which determines financial aid eligibility.
The average annual price for postsecondary institutions in Texas is less than the national average.
You can also apply for grants, fellowships, or scholarships to fund your education and research. For example, the state offers TEXAS Grants to students with lower household incomes. Many schools — such as Sam Houston State University— also offer tuition waivers to eligible students. While loans may cover remaining costs, students must pay it back over time.
To learn more about financial aid options, follow the links below.
In-State Versus Out-of-State Tuition
Out-of-state students pay higher tuition than in-state students at many schools. Public schools tend to charge out-of-state students more to compensate for the lack of tax dollars received from them.
Since tuition prices increase greatly for out-of-state enrollees, many states and regions participate in tuition reciprocity programs. For instance, Texas forms part of the SREB's Academic Common Market (ACM).
Fifteen of the 16 states in the southern region participate in this program, with the exception of North Carolina. In Texas, 28 institutions participate in the ACM, offering in-state tuition to residents in other southern states who wish to enroll in one of the eligible programs.
Texas's Cost of Living
Knowing the cost of living in Texas can help you determine an accurate budget. According to the World Population Review, Texas offers the 18th least expensive cost of living, with a total cost index of 91.5. This index considers how much the average person spends on necessities such as food, healthcare, and clothing.
Texas ranks as one of the most affordable states for groceries and transportation expenditures. It boasts the lowest grocery index in the country and the ninth-lowest transportation index.
Selecting Your Texas University
Tuition costs are important when searching for the right school. However, you should also consider other factors that can impact your decision, including student-to-faculty ratio, available programs, and future earning potential.
- Student-to-Faculty Ratio: This ratio represents how many students one instructor addresses at a time. If you prefer more personalized instruction, look for schools with a lower student-to-faculty ratio.
- Concentrations and Specializations: A program's available concentrations and specializations can set the stage for your career. Verify that your school of choice includes classes, labs, and/or capstone projects in your desired specialization.
- Earning Potential: What you study and where you earn your degree can impact your income potential after graduation. Studying at a more prestigious institution — such as Rice University or Texas A&M — may help you land a higher-paying job.
Should You Consider Online Schools in Texas?
Before a global pandemic caused a massive shift towards online learning, colleges were already reporting an increase in distance learning. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the number of students enrolled in online learning courses rose from 2.8 to 3.7 million between 2012 and 2018.
In Texas, 22.4% of enrollees take distance learning classes. Many institutions, including West Texas A&M and Trinity University, offer online programs designed for students pursuing a degree while continuing work or family responsibilities.
Consider whether an online setting best suits your learning style and current situation. Some students struggle with motivation and focus at home, while others excel in this environment.
Top Universities in Nearby States
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a degree cost in Texas?
According to the NCES, Texas residents pay an average of $8,678 annually for a public four-year program. Nonresidents pay more for a degree, with yearly expenses averaging $25,031 for a public four-year program. Private schools charge an average of $34,476 regardless of residency status.
Does Texas have online degrees?
Yes, many Texas institutions offer online degrees. Several universities provide programs either fully or partially online. Depending on the program, there may be some on-campus requirements.
How do I become a Texas resident?
Becoming a Texas resident requires a few basic steps. After moving to the state, you need to change your permanent mailing address, apply for an updated driver's license or state ID, register to vote, and switch to a local Texan bank or branch. However, Texas universities only consider applicants as residents after they have lived for one year in the state and established a domicile.
What city in Texas has the best schools?
With 244 institutions across the state, prospective students enjoy many higher education options in multiple cities. Depending on the type of school and program you hope to attend, you may find the best schools in Houston, San Antonio, Austin, or Dallas.
The Top Five Universities in Texas
College Choice offers helpful tools that provide insight into the complicated process of selecting the right school. Whether you are searching through our Texas list for a school that matches your interests, career plans, budget, class size preference, and/or locale, College Choice simplifies your search. We provide helpful, easily readable comparisons of cost data, strengths and weaknesses, and special offerings for the finest schools in the Lone Star State.
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