Best Southern Universities

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The Best Universities of the South

Our ranking of the best Southern 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.

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Top 10 Best Southern Universities

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  1. Mercer University
    Location

    Macon, GA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Mercer University Mercer University is the oldest private university in Georgia and one of the most distinctive. It is a faith-based institution that sits on 150 acres an hour south of Atlanta in the city Macon, Georgia. Consistently, the business major is the most popular major on campus. The Mercer student body includes in more than 100 student organizations, a vibrant Greek life, and athletic program. Students at Mercer also have access to an alumni network of over 71,000 graduates and professionals.

  2. Rollins College
    Location

    Winter Park, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Rollins College Rollins College is a private, liberal arts college located in Winter Park, Florida just north of Orlando along the shores of Lake Virginia. The Princeton Review recently named Rollins College as the #1 Most Beautiful Campus in the nation. For 20 consecutive years, U.S. News & World Report has ranked Rollins among the top two regional universities in the South and first in Florida. As of 2010, the acceptance rate was 54%. Every year, students are awarded more than $50 million in support. Students are also involved in study-abroad and internship opportunities, organizations, and the local community.

  3. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
    Location

    Daytona Beach, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Located in Daytona, Florida, Embry-Riddle offers the world’s most comprehensive collection of academic programs with focus on aviation, aerospace, business, engineering and security. Embry-Riddle also has a campus in Prescott, Arizona as well as a “Worldwide Campus” to support military and those abroad wanting to continue their education. Students come from more than 125 countries around the world and are involved in 150-plus clubs, including 16 fraternities and sororities. More than 95% of Embry-Riddle students receive some sort of financial aid.

  4. The Citadel
    Location

    Charleston, SC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The Citadel For the fourth consecutive year, The Citadel, located in Charleston, South Carolina, has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as the top public college in the south for institutions granting up to a master's degree. Although the Citadel is known for the South Carolina Corps of Cadets, non-military degrees and certifications programs are also offered from The Citadel Graduate College and the Evening Undergrad Studies program for non-traditional students. The Citadel currently offers seven evening undergrad programs: Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Political Science, or Social Studies Education. The Citadel currently holds an 80% acceptance rate.

  5. Stetson University
    Location

    DeLand, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Stetson University Stetson University is a private, nonprofit university located in DeLand, Florida about an hour north of Orlando. There is also a second campus in Gulfport, Florida. Stetson also has two satellite locations in Tampa, FL and in Celebration, FL. Stetson boasts a rich history and offers 73 academic programs. A majority of incoming students enroll in the arts and sciences. Undergraduates have the opportunity to be a part of leadership and research programs, volunteer services, and student body activities.

  6. James Madison University
    Location

    Harrisonburg, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    James Madison University James Madison University, in Shenandoah Valley of Harrisonburg, Virginia, is a public research university located only two hours south of Washington D.C. James Madison currently offers 122 different degree programs. As of Fall 2014, there were 19,144 undergraduates enrolled with a 65% acceptance rate. Students engage in a variety of community service events, student organizations, Greek life, and international programs. Eighty percent of JMU graduates do research, an internship, a practicum or student teach.

  7. Elon University
    Location

    Elon, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Elon University Elon University is a small, private liberal arts university in Elon, North Carolina with just under 6,000 students currently enrolled. Previously Elon College, it became Elon University in 2001. It has been ranked #1 for its study abroad programs and number of students with global study abroad experience. It is also listed as one of the nation’s most beautiful and affordable private universities. Elon offers small classes with faculty focused on teaching, mentoring, and taking the ranking as the #1 school “focused on student success” according to the U.S. News & World Report.

  8. Samford University
    Location

    Birmingham, AL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Samford University Established in 1841, Samford University is a private university in Homewood, Alabama, just out of Birmingham. It is Alabama’s top-ranked private university and offers 32 graduate and undergraduate degree programs. Currently, there are 4,933 students enrolled from 44 states and 25 countries. It has been top-ranked for its academic programs, value, and affordability. Samford University has a current enrollment of 4.933 students and has an 83% acceptance rate. Samford also prides itself on small class sizes, numerous student organizations, honors programs, and a 94% placement rate of graduates into either employment or graduate school within six months of graduation.

  9. Union University
    Location

    Jackson, TN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Union University Union University is a private, evangelical Christian liberal arts university. It is located in Jackson, Tennessee, with additional campuses in Germantown and Hendersonville. Union has been named one of the top institutions in the Southern Region for the past eleven years by U.S. News & World Report. It is dedicated to growing students’ knowledge and faith with a highly trained faculty and small class size. Students hail from 44 states and 33 countries and Union consistently holds a 91% retention rate. Union offers over 100 programs of study as well as student organizations, study abroad programs, and faith-centered support.

  10. Appalachian State University
    Location

    Boone, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Appalachian State University Appalachian State is a public university located in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Boone, North Carolina. Just this month, the Princeton Review named Appalachian State among the “Best in the Southeast” recommended schools in its “2016 Best Colleges: Region by Region” website feature. The university was also included in a list of 353 “Green Colleges.” Appalachian offers 103 undergraduate majors and holds a 63% acceptance rate. There are almost 16,000 undergraduates currently enrolled at Appalachian State, “known for its value and affordability.”

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