25 Best Colleges in Missouri

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Are you ready to find your fit?

Is college worth it? It’s been getting more expensive, but its importance in the workplace has only increased.

Seeing that in the near future, 60 percent of all jobs will require a college education, the state of Missouri has announced its “Big Goal” to make sure that 60 percent of adults earn a certificate or degree by 2025. Do you want to be part of that effort?

The state of Missouri has the headquarters of some of the biggest companies in the country: Monsanto, Anheuser-Busch, O’Reilly Auto Parts, and others. It serves as the crossroads of Midwestern and Southern culture—which is especially exciting if you like barbecue. And it also has many high-quality and well-known colleges and universities.

Trying to find the right college is hard, which is why we’ve put this list together. If you’re considering going to college in Missouri, whether in-state or out-of-state, whether public or private, then you’ve come to the right place. We have even ranked the Top Online Schools in Missouri. We’ve combed through the data on all of the Show Me State’s educational institutions that offer 4-year degrees to determine which ones offer not only the highest educational quality, but also the best return on investment. College is expensive—you want to be sure that what you pay in tuition money will end up earning you money later on.

Top 10 Best Colleges in Missouri

Rank School Location
1 Washington University in Saint Louis Saint Louis, MO
2 College of the Ozarks Point Lookout, MO
3 Saint Louis University Saint Louis, MO
4 Rockhurst University Kansas City, MO
5 University of Missouri-Columbia Columbia, MO
6 University of Missouri-Kansas City Kansas City, MO
7 William Jewell College Liberty, MO
8 Missouri University of Science and Technology Rolla, MO
9 Westminster College Fulton, MO
10 Maryville University of Saint Louis Saint Louis, MO

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Best Colleges in Missouri Badge

What are the best colleges in Missouri?

To compose our ranking for the best colleges in Missouri, we looked at academic reputation, cost of attendance, early career earning potential, and student body diversity. Thus, our rankings are really focused on the nexus of quality and return on investment. But we also want to make sure that the college you choose is a place you can thrive. Considering everything from the opportunity to conduct research to what you can expect to earn once you graduate, we’ve done the painstaking examination of the data for you. If you’re curious, go ahead and browse the IPEDS database put together by the National Center for Education Statistics, a branch of the federal Department of Education. That’s where we found all of our data. Otherwise, have fun learning about the best colleges in Missouri!

Rankings

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Washington University in Saint Louis
    Location

    Saint Louis, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Washington University in St. Louis was founded in 1853 by St. Louis merchant, Wayman Crow, and his pastor, William Greenleaf Eliot, Jr. It opened 7 years before the Civil War to educate the huge waves of immigrants coming into St. Louis in industry, trade and generic courses outside of normal working hours. In 1891, Washington had the opportunity to acquire the St. Louis Medical College to form a Medical department. The merger was completed in 1899. Since then, Washington University has grown to be the 4th largest employer in St Louis with six locations for students to study.

    Features

    Today the current enrollment is over 14,000 students studying at the undergraduate, graduate and certificate levels. 7,400 of those students are undergraduates. All students have access to over 2,000 acres of the campus, multiple libraries, over 350 student clubs and St. Louis’ cultural center. While over 60% of the classes have less than 20 students, Washington University has strived to keep the student-faculty ratio low 8 to 1. Top majors include:

    • Engineering
    • Pre-Med Studies
    • Social Sciences
    • Business
    • Biological & Biomedical Sciences

    Notables

    Washington University is a research university named after George Washington – the first President of the United States at a time of mass immigration and Civil War rebuilding. That determination and sense of creating a new world together has built a strong institution whose motto is Strength through Truth.

  2. College of the Ozarks
    Location

    Point Lookout, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The College of the Ozarks is known as “Hard Work U” to the community. It was founded in 1906 by Presbyterian missionary James Forsythe as a place for local students to get a good education even if they could not afford it. It started as a high school and overtime added higher education courses. In 1965, the college could grant 4-year degrees. Students are not charged tuition at this institution. However, they are required to work 15 hours per week on campus and two 40-hour work weeks during school breaks.

    Features

    Today, there are 1400 students on this 1,000-acre campus studying one of 40 academic programs. Here the students are taught to value their time, education and to ethically work to create a better environment for the community. Inside the classroom, most of their classes are under 20 students. The student-faculty ratio is 13:1. Top majors include:

    • Business
    • Education
    • Health Professions
    • Law Enforcement
    • Animal sciences and Husbandry

    Notables

    It is not all hard work and academic courses, there are athletic and student life events The College of the Ozarks. They events like “epic tug of war game at the Mud Fest” or the Sadie Hawkins Dance. It is a small school with a promise of a very low debt after graduation. The lifestyle is not for everyone, but it is worth consideration with such high student loan debt.

  3. Saint Louis University
    Location

    Saint Louis, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Saint Louis University (SLU) was founded in 1818 by Bishop Louis William Dubourg and the Jesuit Roman Catholics as a character-building college in the urban city of St. Louis. One could say that the City of St. Louis and St. Louis University grew together as time passed. Since its founding, the university has been known for several reasons. It is one of most prestigious Catholic universities, the second oldest Jesuit university in the United States, the first University in St. Louis, Missouri, and the first medical, law and business school west of the Mississippi River.

    Features

    Today, it is in the top 100 research universities in America with 13,000 students. The St. Louis’ campus has 271 acres and it has an amphitheater onsite. There are over 90 undergraduate and 100 graduate degree programs. There are 150+ student organizations with over 20 different chapters of Greek life. Top majors include:

    • Nursing
    • Biology
    • Kinesiology
    • Accounting
    • Psychology

    Notables

    St. Louis University also has a campus in Madrid, Spain, founded in 1967. It is the first US institution to be recognized by the Spanish higher education authority. Today, more than 670 students from 65 countries attend at this location.

  4. Rockhurst University
    Location

    Kansas City, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Rockhurst University was founded in 1910 in Kansas City, Missouri, by Fr. Michael Dowling, S. J. and the Jesuits. It was originally meant to be a high school, but the State of Missouri officials soon recognized that there was a need for higher education degrees. Rockhurst University has a 55-acre campus and over 50% of the students are Catholic; however, Rockhurst welcomes all faiths and denominations.

    Features

    Today, 3,000 students living and studying on the 55-acre campus in of 50 undergraduate and graduate programs. Over 50% of the students live on campus in the cultural district of Kansas City. About 40% of the classes have less than 20 students. The average class size is 25 students. The student-faculty ratio is 12 to 1. Top majors include:

    • Health Professions
    • Business
    • Biology & Biomedical
    • Psychology
    • Social Science

    Notables

    The Jesuits were started by St. Ignatius of Loyola who was a soldier and a scholar. The society of Jesus, or Jesuits, goal is to serve the community through education and volunteering service. Today, over 90% of the Rockhurst undergraduates will volunteer in the Kansas City community.

  5. University of Missouri-Columbia
    Location

    Columbia, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    University of Missouri – Columbia was founded in 1839 by James S. Rollins and the Missouri Legislature’s Geyer Act. It is affectionately known as Mizzou. Mizzou is the first public university west of the Mississippi River. It is only 1 of 6 schools that have a Medical School, Veterinary Medicine and Law School on the same 1,262-acre maintained botanical garden campus.

    Features

    Today the College has over 33,000 students pursuing 313 degree programs. 93 of those programs are online. Most undergraduates finish their degrees in 4.2 years. Every year, the college community performs over 250,000 hours of community service. Mizzou has over 600 student organizations for students and over 50 different Greek life chapters. Over 75% of the students live off campus. Currently, the student-faculty ratio is 20 to 1 and about 40% of the classes have less than 20 students. Popular majors include:

    • Business
    • Health Professions
    • Engineering
    • Biological & Biomedical Sciences

    Notables

    University of Missouri is the only NCAA Division l school in the state. The team’s name the Tigers was based on the name of the Columbia “home guard” militia, “Fighting Tigers of Columbia”, during the Civil War. Their mascot was named Truman the Tiger after President Harry Truman.

  6. University of Missouri-Kansas City
    Location

    Kansas City, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    University of Missouri – Kansas City was founded in 1929 by William Volker and the Missouri State Legislature. Over the years, it expanded to through partnerships with local area schools to added more opportunity for the area students. In 1963, the 93-acre school founded in 1929 merged with the University of Missouri system.

    Features

    Today, students can study 50+ programs in 125 academic areas at this top tier I university. Total enrollment in 2015 was 16,699 with just over 11,000 undergraduate students. There are hundreds of student groups to join as well as several Greek Life chapters. Top majors include:

    • Business & Commerce
    • Nursing
    • Liberal Arts & Sciences
    • Psychology

    Notables

    Former President Harry Truman attended the Law school for two years but never graduated. However, President Truman was the first honorary degree recipient. Like most institutions of higher education, University of Missouri – Kansas City strives to put eco-conscious initiatives to work. They have been named several times by the Sierra Club as one of the country’s top “green” campuses from 2012 to 2015. Everyone connected to the university does their part in creating a better world for the next person.

  7. William Jewell College
    Location

    Liberty, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    William Jewell College began in 1849 in Liberty, Missouri, near the American wilderness by a group of Baptists. Its founders were some Baptist laymen: A Mexican War hero named Colonel Alexander Doniphan, a Physician and legislator named Dr. William Jewell and Minister Robert S. James. Since 2003, the 200-acre campus is no longer associated with the Missouri Baptist Convention.

    Features

    Today the campus sits between urban skyscrapers and rural landscapes. Over 1,000 students enjoy both world as they pursue one of the 50 undergraduate and graduate programs. Over 65% of their classes with less than 20 students and a 10:1 student-faculty ratio. Popular majors include:

    • Health Professions
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Education
    • Social Sciences

    Notables

    William Jewell College offers a minimum of 2,000 to juniors to complete a self-designed, life enriching experience in the world. This grant has allowed students to shadow healthcare professionals, volunteer amongst the those experiencing hardship due to war, famine or loss of job, or studying their craft in a place where it began. In addition to designing their own Journey, students are known for their commitment to the local community by serving the people in Liberty doing over 82,000 hours of volunteer service annually.

  8. Missouri University of Science and Technology
    Location

    Rolla, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Missouri University of Science and Technology was founded in 1870 in Rolla, Missouri in response to the Morrill Land-Grant Acts opportunity. They proposed this site to be the first technical institutions west of the Mississippi in the heart of the Missouri lead and mining district. The Acts was approved in 1970 and the first graduates finished in 1874. In 2008, the college rebranded to its current name. As its name suggests, the focus of this school is on the STEM degrees: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The school’s overall specialty in engineering, computing, technology and management systems.

    Features

    Today, there is over 8900 undergraduate and 1900 graduate students studying one of 91 degree programs on the campus of 284-acres. The school prides itself on 18 engineering and computing undergraduate degree programs. Class sizes typically have over 20 students in them and the student-faculty ratio is 19 to 1. Popular majors amongst undergraduate students include:

    • Engineering
    • Computer and Information Sciences
    • Biological & Biomedical Sciences
    • Engineering Technologies
    • Physical Sciences

    Notables

    Missouri University of Science and Technology and the town of Rolla, Missouri, are home to several unique endeavors. The county district provides over 70% of the lead and zinc in the United States. The University has built a stone hedge replica of the one in England and is knowns for its Solar Village. The Solar Village is a student built and live in as a real-world experiment in sustainable living.

  9. Westminster College
    Location

    Fulton, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Westminster College was established in 1851 by Reverend William Robertson and local Presbyterians in the town of Fulton, Missouri. The college is known as one of the most diverse small liberal arts college since it has such a high percentage of international students. Winton Churchill delivered his famous Iron Curtain speech in 1946.

    Features

    Westminster College has 950 students studying one of the 50+ majors, minors or pre-professional programs. The college guarantees that the bachelor degree will be finished in four years. Inside the classroom, students can expect almost 70% of their classes to have less than 20 students and have a student-faculty ratio of 14 to 1. Top majors include:

    • Business
    • Biology
    • English
    • Political Science
    • Education

    Notables

    Outside the classroom there are plenty of outlets for the students to socialize including Greek life and over 50 other groups. Nearly 94% live on the Greek revival 86-acre property. The college is home to the National Winston Churchill Museum. It is housed in the Church of St. Mary. An interesting fact concerning the Church of St. Mary is that it was originally built in London. It was torn down and rebuilt on the Westminster property.

  10. Maryville University of Saint Louis
    Location

    Saint Louis, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The Maryville University of Saint Louis was founded in 1872 by the Religious of the Sacred Heart, a French religious order focused on excellence in education for underprivileged young women. Over time, the underprivileged school developed into a junior college, then a 4-year institution. In 1968, it converted a co-education institution. By 1991, it had grown into a university.

    Features

    Today, over 6,800 students study over 90 undergraduate degrees, 19 master’s programs and 5 doctoral programs on the 130-acre campus. The roughly 3,000 undergraduates attend an average class size of 15 students and a 13:1 student-faculty ratio. There are over 90 organizations to join and over 2,500+ athletic events to attend in the area. Top undergraduate programs include

    • Nursing
    • Healthcare
    • Business
    • Accounting
    • Psychology

    Notables

    The university is located within 20 minutes of downtown St. Louis on a campus of rolling hills, wooded areas, creeks, lakes and long walking trails. The school is enjoys a great connection with the downtown cultural expertise and the activities that surround their NCAA Division II sports in the Great Lakes Valley conference. There are endless new events and traditions popping up in the area.

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