20 Best Colleges in Louisiana

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The United States is a nation of immigrants, both recent arrivals and longtime residents. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in Louisiana.

Home to Louisiana Creole culture, Acadian culture, and Isleno culture, among others (representing unique mixes from people groups all over the world) this is truly a melting pot of a state and a melting pot that has preserved the distinct flavors of all the different ingredients (kind of like good jambalaya). And we shouldn’t neglect to mention the original inhabitants of the state either. In fact, Louisiana can lay claim to having more Native American tribes than any other Southern state. Given all of this, we shouldn’t be surprised to find this clause written into the state constitution: “the right of the people to preserve, foster, and promote their respective historic, linguistic, and cultural origins.”

Top 10 Best Colleges in Louisiana


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With broad cultural diversity in Louisiana, you shouldn’t be surprised to find broad diversity in terms of colleges and universities in the state. You can find large research universities and small liberal arts colleges, public and private. For the Best Online Schools in Louisiana, see our ranking. You might have a defined idea of what you’re looking for, but it’s good to keep an open mind. For example, even if you’re looking to save as much money as possible, you shouldn’t necessarily write off the private institutions. Some offer scholarships and financial aid packages that make them competitive with the public schools.

Best Colleges in Louisiana Badge

What are the best colleges in Louisiana?

Now that you’re ready to look at the Louisiana colleges, you’re probably wondering how we got our rankings. Well, our list is comprised of three main factors: academic quality, student body diversity, and return on investment. Academic quality is measured through a variety of data points, including the test scores of incoming freshmen, student-to-faculty ratio, and endowment size. Return on investment is a measurement of total cost of attendance against expected early career salary. All of our data comes from the IPEDS database, courtesy of the National Center for Education Statistics.

Rankings

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Tulane University of Louisiana
    Location

    New Orleans, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Tulane University of Louisiana was founded in 1834 as a medical school by seven young doctors in downtown New Orleans, Louisiana. At its founding, the medical school was the 15th medical college in the United States – designed to address fears concerning smallpox, yellow fever, and cholera. By 1847, the programs expanded to include traditional liberal art programs. In 1884, the original name changed to Tulane after its endowment benefactor, Paul Tulane. Today, Tulane University has a 110-acre campus in Uptown and a medical center in downtown New Orleans, Louisiana.

    Feature

    Today, Tulane University of Louisiana serves 8,452 undergrads at their campuses. In the classroom, student average class size is 21 students. And the student faculty ratio is 8 to 1. Outside the classroom, students can join over 200 student organizations – including 20 Greek organizations. On the weekends, students take a break from studying to attend a NCAA Division I sporting events. Top Programs include:

    • Business
    • Social Sciences
    • Biological & Biomedical Sciences
    • Health Professions
    • Psychology

    Notables

    Tulane is the 9th oldest private university in the top-ranked research institutions within the Association of American Universities. Its Law school is the 12th oldest in the nation. With all this historical traditions and elite status, it is important to remember that the French Quarter is four miles from the main campus. The French Quarter in New Orleans is known as a popular tourist spot complete with music, nightlife and shopping and annual events such as Mardi Gras and Crawfish festivals.

  2. University of New Orleans
    Location

    New Orleans, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of New Orleans was founded in 1958 on the on the southern shore of Lake Pontchartrain on the former United States Navy air station. – 15 minutes from the French Quarter. Its 195-acre campus is the first fully integrated public university in the South. Since its conception it has educated students from all over the globe. If you are talented, motivated and wish to learn, University of New Orleans is the place to be.

    Feature

    University of New Orleans serves 6,601 undergraduates pursuing over 50 areas of study. The university also offers over 40 graduate degrees. While there are residential options available, over 90% live off campus. Inside the classroom, classes are typically larger. Only 37% of the classes have less than 20 students. The student-faculty ratio is 20 to 1. Regardless of residential status, you can join over 100 campus organizations including Greek organizations and intramural sports. Top programs include:

    • Business
    • Biological & Biomedical Sciences
    • Engineering
    • Psychology

    Notables

    Student Loan Debt is a major topic in higher education. However, University of New Orleans has you covered. For the past six years, the university has been ranked among the top schools that have the least amount of student deb per the U.S. News & World Report.

  3. Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College
    Location

    Baton Rouge, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The early 1800s there was a huge rush to obtain land grants from the United States. With the land grants obtained in 1806, 1811 and 1827, Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College was founded as a military academy patterned after the prestigious Virginia Military Institute (VMI). The military academy opened in 1860 near Pineville, Louisiana, otherwise known as Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on a 650-acre plateau on the banks of the Mississippi River. Louisiana State University is one of the only universities that have a land, sea and space grant status.

    Feature

    Today, Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College serves 26,123 undergraduate and 5,291 graduate students pursuing 71 bachelors, 7 certificates, 71 masters, and 47 doctoral degrees. Inside the classroom, students have a student-faculty ratio of 23 to 1 and about 36% of the classes have less than 20 students. Top majors include

    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Education
    • Biological & Biomedical Sciences

    Notables

    Today, Louisiana State University still an avid historian of military history. It has two cannons that were captured by the confederates and fired on Fort Sumter in 1861. It is affectionately known as “The Ole War Skule”. You can see the military history seeping in all areas of the college. For example – those cannons are in the LSU Miliary Science/Aerospace Studies Building.

  4. Louisiana Tech University
    Location

    Ruston, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Louisiana Tech University was founded in 1894 in Ruston, Louisiana. It is a rural campus with over 1788 acres and holds classes at other locations including Louisiana Tech University Shreveport Center, Cyber Innovation Center in Bossier City, Barksdale Air Force Base, and on the CenturyLink campus in Monroe. The main campus in Rushton is pedestrian-friendly with plenty of shady trees, parks, lakes and mountain biking trails.

    Feature

    Overall, Louisiana Tech University serves over 12,600 undergraduate students – including 1,400 students in the graduate school. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 24 to 1. Nearly 50% of the classes have less than 20 students. Outside the classroom, students can watch NCAA Division I athletics or join one of the numerous student organizations. Top programs include:

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

    Notables

    Louisiana Tech University is a Tier 1 national research university in the University of Louisiana System. According to the Carnegie Foundation, it is considered a R3: moderate doctoral research activity university. It has ongoing research projects funded by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Defense (DoD), and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

  5. Xavier University of Louisiana
    Location

    New Orleans, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Xavier University of Louisiana was founded in 1915 as a Historically Black College by St. Katherine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. They were dedicated to educating African Americans and Native Americans. As a testament to their faith and impact on the culture, there are 106 historically Black Colleges and 251 Catholic Colleges in the United States; however, Xavier University of Louisiana is both Black and Catholic.

    Feature

    Today Xavier serves over 2,300 students at its urban campus of 29-acres. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 14 to 1. Over 40% of the classes have less than 20 students. Outside the classroom there is a wide array of clubs, organizations, and teams for students to get involved in. Top majors include:

    • Biological & Biomedical Sciences
    • Physical Sciences
    • Psychology
    • Business
    • Health Professions

    Notables

    Xavier students earn high marks in whichever field they pursue. Xavier is the first in the number of African-American graduates who continue & complete a medical school program. They are also first in the number of African American undergraduate degrees in Biological Sciences, Life Sciences and Physical Sciences.

  6. University of Louisiana at Lafayette
    Location

    Lafayette, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    The University of Louisiana at Lafayette (UL Lafayette, ULL, or UL) was founded in 1898 in Lafayette, Louisiana. It has the largest enrollment within the nine-campus University of Louisiana System and has the second largest enrollment in Louisiana. UL owns over 1,400 acres at the main campus and additional properties throughout the states including the 100-acre New Iberia Research Center in New Iberia, La. Today, UL Lafayette is among the top 10 universities in the United States for its percentage of research and development expenditures funded by businesses.

    Feature

    On campus, the university supports 15,870 students pursuing over 50 distinct programs. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 23 to 1. Over 34% of the classes will have less than 20 students. Outside the classroom, students can attend a NCAA Division I games. Top programs include:

    • Health Professions
    • Business
    • Education
    • Humanities
    • Engineering

    Notables

    Students wanting to get off campus can walk over to downtown Lafayette to enjoy live music, art galleries, local shops and restaurants. Due to the warm climate, there are outdoor festivals all year – including the most impressive: Mardi Gras. If festivals are not your speed, there are plenty of outdoor spaces to hike, bike or participate in water-based fun.

  7. Centenary College of Louisiana
    Location

    Shreveport, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Centenary College of Louisiana was founded in 1825 by the United Methodist Church. Today, it is the oldest charted liberal arts college west of the Mississippi River. Prior to 1845, it was a leading educational institution that even rivaled Harvard. However, due to the lack of state funding and its rural location, it had to merge with Centenary College. Since the merger, the college has not exactly returned to the level of rivaling Harvard. Yet, it continues to be a place of innovation, traditions and local sense of pride. It is located on a 65-acre campus in Shreveport, Louisiana.

    Feature

    Today, Centenary College of Louisiana has an undergraduate enrollment of 523. This small school maintains an 8 to 1 student-faculty ratio with almost 90% of its classes with less than 20 students. Top programs include:

    • Biology
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Geology

    Notables

    Centenary is located in Shreveport, in the northwest corner of Louisiana near the Texas and Arkansas borders. The Shreveport-Bossier City metropolitan area has over 393,000 residents. There are plenty of year-round festivals, sports, activities, cultural events, and great food. For those who want to explore beyond the Shreveport-Bossier metropolitan area, the area is an easy driving distance of major cities such as Dallas, Houston, and New Orleans.

  8. Southern University at New Orleans
    Location

    New Orleans, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Southern University at New Orleans was established in 1956 as a branch of the Southern University and Agricultural & Mechanical College in in historic Pontchartrain Park, Louisiana a historic suburb of eastern New Orleans. First classes were in 1959 on 17 acres. Today, it is a public 4-year co-ed university in the Southern University system offering Associate, Bachelors and Masters degrees located about 7 miles from Downtown New Orleans.

    Feature

    Today, Southern University at New Orleans supports the educational pursuits of 1,200 undergraduate students. Inside the classroom, students will experience less than 30% of the classes with 20 students. However, Southern University has been able to keep the student-faculty ratio low: 15 to 1. Outside the classes, there is plenty to do with local student clubs, local non-profits and sport-related teams. Top Majors include:

    • Social work
    • Business
    • Counseling & psychology
    • Criminal justice
    • Biology

    Notables

    Southern University at New Orleans is often called by its initials: SUNO is a historically African American University that is a member of the Southern University System, Thurgood Marshall College Fund and prides itself with strong civic connections in the New Orleans, Louisiana community.

  9. Dillard University
    Location

    New Orleans, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Dillard University was founded in 1869 as two individual institutions: Straight College (founded by the United Church of Christ) and New Orleans University (founded by the United Methodist Church). In 1935, the two institutions merged to form Dillard University as a coeducational, interracial school. However, their focus was continuing to focus on the African-American community overcoming poverty and injustice. Today, it proudly proclaims it is a Historically Black University continuing in its predecessors commitments to freedom and education.

    Features

    Today, the focus of the liberal arts tradition focuses on Teacher education, Nursing and Business. While the coursework has expanded, the focus on creating successful students have not. Over 1100 students attend Dillard University. In the classroom should will have almost 60% of their classes with less than 20 students. They also have a close relationship with faculty due to the 14 to 1 student-faculty ratio. Top programs today include:

    • Nursing
    • Psychology
    • Public Health
    • Sociology
    • Biology & Biological Sciences

    Notables

    Dillard University is named after a James Hardy Dillard. He was a son of a white slave owner whose life work and Christian ministry was to educate African Americans. He was a distinguished academic leader, selfless servant, and devoted humanitarian. Booker T. Washington stated that Dillard would “speak to the poorest Negro in Alabama in the same way he speaks to President Taft.”

  10. Louisiana State University-Alexandria
    Location

    Alexandria, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Louisiana State University of Alexandria was founded in 1959 as a two-year commuter college under the governance of the LSU Board of Supervisors. The first students started in 1960. By 1974, LSUA was accredited to award associate degrees. Between 1976 to 2003 LSU of Alexandria partnered with LSU to offer upper level coursework and bachelor degrees. In 2001, LSU of Alexandria gained its own accreditation for bachelor degree programs. From 1976 through Spring 2003, Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College offered the upper-level course work for select bachelor’s degree programs on the LSUA campus through a program known as LSU Senior College

    Features

    Today, LSU of Alexandria is a 4-year school that several colleges and departments supporting over 3,200 undergraduate and graduate students towards their degrees. In the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 20 to 1. Nearly 50% of the classes will have less than 20 students. Top programs include:

    • Nursing
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Education
    • Criminal Justice

    Notables

    Alexandria is in the center of the state of Louisiana. It is the 9th largest city in Louisiana with just under 50,000 residents. Students can learn by going to a plantation, various art museums or head to the local Zoo. It has plenty of other things to do like shopping, hiking or just enjoying local parks.

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