Back in 2003, the Higher Education Taskforce in Nebraska put together a plan to achieve three major goals for their state.

Best Colleges in Nebraska

The three goals include: sustain the state’s essential public services in the face of national and global expansion and diversification; increase the number of Nebraska residents with higher education experience; and reduce the number of students leaving the state for education elsewhere. The outcome of these ambitions can be seen rippling through the private and public higher education system of Nebraska.

In fact, Nebraska’s statistics on higher education nearly speak for themselves: their retention rate of college students is above the national average at 70 percent (the second-highest in the region); their average cost of tuition at a public university is lower than the national average at $7,000 a year; and Nebraska awards over $125 million in financial aid each year. The outcomes of the 2003 initiatives will clearly be felt for a long time. For additional rankings, see the Top Online Colleges in Nebraska.

What are the Best Colleges and Universities in Nebraska?

From large research universities to small liberal arts colleges, Nebraska has something for everyone. Despite the differences though, each school listed below shares something significant in common: they are the best colleges and universities in the state. To arrive at such a definitive list, we first looked into the academic reputations of schools across Nebraska, then looked for signs of student satisfaction and opportunity, such as retention rates and early career salary numbers. What we found are the colleges and universities listed here, each known for its research and academic standards, for making college an economic possibility for all, and for its professional development of students. Thus, these schools are the best of the best in Nebraska. Our figures and information come from the university and colleges’ websites, PayScale, the Nebraska Department of Education, and nationally recognized U.S. News & World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics.

1

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

College Choice Score: 100

Average Net Price: $15,109

School Website

Overview

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln was founded in 1869 in Lincoln, Nebraska, Nebraska is a 622-acre land-grant university, the third largest public university in Nebraska and one of the first institutions west of the Mississippi River to award doctoral degrees. Today, the university is classified by Carnegie as a “Doctoral Universities: Highest Research Activity” for their a solid mission for teaching and for research in the arts and sciences.

Features

University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers 150 majors for 20,182 undergraduate students. All freshmen must live on the school’s campus in downtown Lincoln. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 22-to-1. Nearly 36% the classes have less than 20 students. Outside the classroom, students have access to over 400 student organizations including Greek life organizations. Students look forward to cheering on their teams in the NCAA Division I conference. Top majors include:

  • Business
  • Engineering
  • Family and Consumer Sciences/Human Sciences
  • Education

Notables

Nebraska, in addition to being the state’s comprehensive research university, is a member of the Big Ten Conference and the Big Ten Academic Alliance. Their most notable alumni include: investor and philanthropist, Warren Buffett, and television talk show host, Johnny Carson.

2

Creighton University

College Choice Score: 99.75

Average Net Price: $28,551

School Website

Overview

Creighton University was founded in 1878 in Omaha, Nebraska, by Jesuit monks and Bishop James O’Connor. As early as 1892, women were welcome to attend Creighton University. Kate Drake was part of the first College of Medicine. Today, Creighton is one of 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the U.S with a campus of 139 acres.

Features

Creighton University offers 50 academic programs to 1,878 undergraduate students. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 11-to-1. Nearly 49% of the classes have less than 20 students. Outside the classroom, students have access to over 200 student organizations and Greek Life. In the last year, students have donated over 1.25 million service hours. Additional past-times include cheering their NCAA Division I sport teams. 60% of the students live on campus and nearly 91% of freshmen will return for their sophomore year.  Top majors include:

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

Notables

The university is named after Edward and Mary Lucretia Creighton, who were successful business owners and charitable community members.  The Creighton’s businesses included cattle ranching, banking, freight operations and involvement in the transcontinental telegraph line. Their charity work included delivering food, money and other items to needy Omaha families. After her death in 1876, Mary left the future Creighton University $100,000 as a memorial to her late husband “to purchase the site for a school in the city of Omaha and erect buildings thereon for a school of the class and grade of a college.”

3

Nebraska Wesleyan University

College Choice Score: 90.35

Average Net Price: $20,987

School Website

Overview

Nebraska Wesleyan University was founded in 1887 in the former town of University Place, Nebraska, by the Great Plains Conference of the United Methodist Church. Today, the university is in Lincoln, Nebraska – the Great Plains’ greatest college town. Nebraska Wesleyan University is the #1 liberal arts university in Nebraska and dedicated to academic excellence in a Wesleyan environment at both its Lincoln campus (50 acres) and Omaha site and give students fantastic access to internships and jobs in all the majors represented in the university.

Features

Nebraska Wesleyan University offers 106 majors for 1,811 undergraduate students. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 13-to-1. Nearly 75% of the classes have less than 20 students. The average class size of 19. Outside the classroom, 70% of the student body live on campus student and have access to over 40 active student organizations and 6 Greek Life chapters. Students look forward to cheering on their NCAA Division III sports teams. Top majors include:

  • Health Professions
  • Business
  • Education
  • Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Biological & Biomedical Sciences

Notables

Nebraska Wesleyan University provides a continuing education program, called “Wesleyan Live”, for clergy, laity and community members. The Courses are taught in Lincoln by Nebraska Wesleyan University faculty. These live televised programs also allow participants and professors to interact throughout the telecast. United Methodist clergy can receive up to six continuing education contact hours for their participation.

4

Doane University

College Choice Score: 89.23

Average Net Price: $21,786

School Website

Overview

Doane University was founded in 1872 in Crete, Nebraska, by the United Church of Christ. The college is named after Thomas Doane, a local chief civil engineer for the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad. Doane serves as the representative institution for the Nebraska, Rocky Mountain, Kansas-Oklahoma and South Dakota conferences of the UCC. Today, it is Nebraska’s oldest private college. The main campus has 300 acres in Crete, Nebraska. There are additional campuses are in Lincoln, Grand Island, and Omaha.

Features

Doane University offers 39 majors and 32 minors for 1,057 undergraduate students. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 11-to-1. Nearly 80% of the classes have less than 20 students. Outside the classroom, students have access to over 60 student organizations, 10 Greek Life chapters. Students look forward to cheering on their NAIA athletic teams. Top majors include:

  • Education
  • Business
  • Biological & Biomedical Sciences
  • Visual and Performing Arts
  • Social Sciences

Notables

Doane University program takes a family-orientated approach to academic and residential education. Students are guaranteed graduation after four years; but, they are also able to engage in a leadership development program, join an honors program that requires time studying abroad and college-sponsored trips. It is a great place to live and learn.

5

University of Nebraska at Omaha

College Choice Score: 88.77

Average Net Price: $10,979

School Website

Overview

The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) was founded in 1908 in Omaha, Nebraska by the Presbyterian Theological Seminary at Omaha. The early founders wanted to create a learning environment “free from ecclesiastical control” that provided” sound learning and practical education” to anyone who sought higher education. Today, UNO is Omaha’s first and only municipal university. Even when it became a state institution in 1968, the relationship between UNO and Omaha continued to strengthen their commitment. Omaha has a population of 1.2 million within a 50-mile radius of the 683-acre campus.

Features

University of Nebraska at Omaha offers educational opportunities to 12,488 undergraduate students. It is a commuter-based institution with only 13% living in campus-sponsored residences. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 17-to-1. Nearly 40% of the classes have less than 20 students. Outside the classroom, students have access to over 120 student organizations. Students look forward to cheering on their NCAA Division I sports teams. Top majors include:

  • Criminal Justice & Safety Studies
  • Business
  • Finance
  • Education
  • Psychology

Notables

University of Nebraska at Omaha combines the resources of a Carnegie Doctoral Research University with a close-knit community in a regional area with a population over 1.2 million people. Student research opportunities are actively engaged with over 200 undergraduate and graduate students presenting at research fairs and competitions. Another point of interest is that 60% of recent undergraduates reported that they graduated with either no debt or a debt less than $5,000.

6

College of Saint Mary

College Choice Score: 86.82

Average Net Price: $17,691

School Website

Overview

The College of Saint Mary was founded in 1923 in Omaha, Nebraska, by the Sisters of Mercy on the Missouri River. The college of Saint Mary campus has 40 acres and is the only women’s college in the five-state Midwestern region. Omaha’s midtown development, Aksarben Village, just across the street from campus and provides access to new restaurants, retail stores, and a movie theatre. The campus reciprocates by offering concerts, events and art exhibits.

Features

The College of Saint Mary offers 30 majors for over 700 undergraduate students. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 12-to-1. Outside the classroom, students have access to over 20 student organizations. Students look forward to cheering on their NAIA sports teams. Top majors include:

  • Nursing
  • Rehabilitation & Therapy
  • Business
  • Education
  • Linguistics, interpretation and translation

Notables

The Sisters of Mercy was founded by Catherine McAuley, a 19th century Irish Catholic who used her inheritance to open the first House of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland on September 24, 1827, to shelter and educate women and girls. While her original intention was to create a Catholic lay corps of social workers, the Archbishop of Dublin advised her to establish a religious congregation. In the next 10 years, she and the sisters established 14 independent foundations in Ireland and England. After her death, the Sisters of Mercy began founding a long line of women’s secondary and post-secondary schools around the globe. Today, at the College of Saint Mary, the tradition continues with annual trips so that students learn while serving.

7

Bellevue University

College Choice Score: 85.14

Average Net Price: $11,786

School Website

Overview

Bellevue University was founded on a 46-acre main campus in Bellevue, Nebraska in 1966 by Bill Brooks and the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce. Today, the university offers classes at their main Campus in Bellevue and other sites in Broken Bow, Grand Island, Lincoln, Lozier Prof. Ctr. in West, Omaha, McCook, Norfolk, North Platte, and Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska; Scottsbluff, Iowa; and Sioux City, South Dakota and online. They also have a proud partnership with area community colleges as well to assist student achieve a bachelor degree in their chosen field.

Features

Bellevue University offers over 80 degrees and certificates in high-growth career fields to over 5,400 undergraduate students at the main campus and online. It is a commuter campus  with a student-faculty ratio is 32-to-1. Nearly 60% the classes have less than 20 students. Outside the classroom, students have access to over 40 student organizations and cheer for their NAIA sports teams. Top majors include:

  • Business
  • Social Sciences
  • Health & Medical Administrative Services
  • Computer & Information Sciences
  • Project Management

Notables

Bellevue University Bellevue University is ranked No. 92 in Best Online Bachelor’s Programs. However, if you choose to be onsite at Bellevue University, there are only 100 days of cloudy precipitation – the rest are sunny! The average temperature in the area in January is 10 degrees Fahrenheit and 84 degrees Fahrenheit in September.

8

University of Nebraska at Kearney

College Choice Score: 83.83

Average Net Price: $14,553

School Website

Overview

The University of Nebraska at Kearney was founded in 1903 in Kearney, Nebrasaka, by the Nebraska State Legislature and the State Board of Education as a teacher training school. It gained university status in 1991. Today, the University of Nebraska – Kearney’s 235-acre campus is about 150 miles west of Lincoln and ranked as one of the 2017 Best Colleges in the region.

Features

University of Nebraska at Kearney offers over 40 majors for 5,108 undergraduate students. 90% of freshmen, 35% of all students live on campus. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 14-to-1. Nearly 48% of the classes have less than 20 students. Outside the classroom, students have access to over 30 student organizations. Athletic teams participate in the NCAA Division II conference. Top majors include:

  • Business
  • Education
  • Operations Management & Supervision
  • Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies
  • Psychology

Notables

The University of Nebraska at Kearney offers students the option of a double major, Honors program, Independent study, and Teacher certification programs. Students are encouraged to participate in the co-op program or finish an Internship as part of their degree experience. Here at the Kearney campus, students can succeed.

9

Wayne State College

College Choice Score: 83.41

Average Net Price: $11,307

School Website

Overview

Wayne State College was founded in 1891 by James Pile, a math professor from Freemont, and the citizens of the town of Wayne, Nebraska. Two decades later, the state purchased the college and added to its Nebraska Educational System. Today, Wayne State College serves a 46-county area with students coming to learn even from Iowa.

Features

Wayne State College offers 90 majors for 3,361 undergraduate students. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 18-to-1. Outside the classroom, students have access to over 100 student organizations. Athlete teams participate in the NCAA Division II conference. Top majors include:

  • Business Administration
  • Education
  • Pre-Professional (medical, dental, pharmacy, physical therapy, etc.)
  • Criminal Justice
  • Industrial Technology

Notables

The main research and study hub at Wayne State College is the Conn Library. The library has a valuable collection of books, periodicals and access to high-speed internet connections. It also has plenty of comfortable furniture and is the home of the Jitters Coffee shop. All WSC residence halls and most WSC administration buildings provide wireless service. The academic buildings contain at least one smart classroom, or technology enhanced classrooms, that integrates networking, digital and audio visual technologies.

10

Concordia University, Nebraska

College Choice Score: 82.08

Average Net Price: $18,937

School Website

Overview

Concordia University, Nebraska was founded in 1894 by The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Concordia University. The main campus is in Seward, Nebraska – the #1 town for the lowest crime rate. Seward, Nebraska has a population 7,000 and is located about 25 minutes from Lincoln, Nebraska, and 75 minutes from Omaha.  The main campus has 120 acres. An additional campus is located in In Lincoln, Nebraska, serving as the graduate campus for face-to-face and online degrees. Concordia is the 23rd most affordable private institution in the country, according to MONEY magazine.

Features

Concordia University, Nebraska offers 75 majors for 2,600 undergraduate students. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 14-to-1. Nearly 51% of the classes have less than 20 students. Outside the classroom, 67% of undergraduate students lived on campus. However, all students have access to over 40 student organizations and cheering on their NAIA sport teams. Top majors include:

  • Education
  • Business
  • Biological & Biomedical Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies

Notables

Concordia University, Nebraska was the first LCMS school to admit females. However, the accepted females had to follow some strict guidelines. In 1919, the female students were not allowed to live or eat on campus. When they did add female dorms, women were prohibited from wearing slacks or doing their boyfriend’s laundry.  While that is not the case today, students still laugh about these strange historical traditions like building a manure spreader in the Weller Hall lobby or a Volkswagen Beetle in the dining hall. Find out more unique features of Concordia during your visit on campus.

11

Hastings College

College Choice Score: 82.01

Average Net Price: $18,556

School Website

Overview

Hastings College was founded in 1882 by the Presbyterian Church in Hastings, Nebraska. Even today, Hastings College is the only Presbyterian College in Nebraska. The main campus has 120 acres in south-central Nebraska and is 2.5 hours west of Omaha, 6 hours east of Denver and 5 hours northwest of Kansas City.

Features

Hastings College offers over 60 majors for 1,200 undergraduate students. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 14-to-1. Nearly 66% of the classes have less than 20 students. Outside the classroom, students have access to over 100 student organizations, 10 Greek chapters and NAIA sport team games. Top majors include:

  • Business
  • Education
  • Social Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Biological & Biomedical Sciences.

Notables

In order to become a true Hastings College student, you have to read The H Book. It is a one-stop-tell-all about all things Hastings. The H Book was started in the 1930s to contain school history, traditions, dating advice, and background on unique attributes of the college, like the Clyde Sachteben Observatory. It is important to know that Hastings College is one of the few higher education institutions that has its own observatory that offers a roll-back roof and four mid-sized telescopes.  The observatory is even open to the public, so you can visit when you schedule your campus tour.

12

Midland University

College Choice Score: 80.91

Average Net Price: $22,363

School Website

Overview

Midland University was founded in 1883 in Fremont, Nebraska by the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Midland University’s name comes being in a central location within the State of Nebraska. Today, the main campus has 33 acres and is located 20 minutes from Omaha.

Features

Midland University offers 30 majors for 1,400 undergraduate students. Nearly 60% of students reside on campus, creating a united campus community.  Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 10-to-1. The average class size is 18 students. Outside the classroom, students have access to over 50 student organizations and 250 opportunities in the performing arts. Students look forward to cheering on 31 NAIA athletic teams – the most teams at one university within the state! Top majors include:

  • Education
  • Nursing Science
  • Business & Commerce
  • Health & Physical Education
  • Biology/Biological Sciences

 Notables

Midland University offers The Midland 4-Year Graduation Guarantee. This is to assure students that meet requirements that they will graduate within 4-years with the assistance of dedicated professional advisors. If this does not occur, Midland University will pay all tuition until you do. Sounds like a great deal to me.

13

Union College

College Choice Score: 79.36

Average Net Price: $20,426

School Website

Overview

Union College was founded in 1890 in Lincoln, Nebraska, by Mid-American Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.  It is a 4-year, co-ed college on 50 acres located 7-minutes from downtown Lincoln, the Nebraska state capital and easy access to Lincoln, Omaha and Kansas City airports. Lincoln is only a one-hour flight from Denver or Chicago. Today, it is known as the #1 ethnically diverse institution in Midwestern regional colleges.

Features

Union College offers 50 majors for 805 undergraduate students – over 70% live on campus. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 11-to-1. Nearly 72% of the classes have less than 20 students. Outside the classroom, students have access to over 19 student organizations. Students look forward to cheering on their NAIA sport teams. Top majors include:

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

Notables

Union takes pride in supporting the local Lincoln community. Each fall, Union cancels classes just a week after they begin to send nearly 80% the student body (and employees) to help 50 social service agencies. The campus community, both students and employees, participate in college’s student-run Project Impact annual community service day.

14

Peru State College

College Choice Score: 79.22

Average Net Price: $11,955

School Website

Overview

Peru State College is known as the “Campus of a Thousand Oaks” and a member of the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum. Peru was founded in 1965 to train teachers by the Methodist Episcopal Church in Peru, Nebraska. It is the first and oldest institution in Nebraska with 104 acres. Since 1978, Peru State college is public 4-year liberal arts institution in the Nebraska State College System.

Features

Peru State College offers 13 undergraduate degrees with 47 options for 1,150 undergraduate students. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 23-to-1. Outside the classroom, students have access to over 40 student organizations and NAIA Division II sporting events. Top majors include:

  • Business
  • Psychology
  • Criminal justice
  • Education
  • Biochemistry & Molecular biology

Notables

The college overall is nationally recognized as one of the best bang for your buck. But you are not stepping onto a cheap looking campus. They have spent over $50 million in renovations throughout the campus, including the Peru State College music hall. Today, the music hall renovation provides students with access to best tools in music production, recording and marketing.

15

Chadron State College

College Choice Score: 77.21

Average Net Price: $11,344

School Website

Overview

Chadron State College was founded in 1909 by the Nebraska Legislature to provide a higher education location to train teachers in the town of Chadron, a rural agricultural community. Today, Chadron State College is the only 4-year and graduate-degree college in Western Nebraska.  The campus has 281 acres and is located 1-hour away from the Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota and over 8 hours away from Yellowstone Park.

Features

Chadron State College offers 52 majors for 1,837 undergraduate students. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 20-to-1. Outside the classroom, students have access to over student organizations and Greek life chapters. However, Greek life tends to be low key and has little effect on the social scene. Nevertheless, the athletic teams participate in the NCAA Division II conference. Top majors include:

  • Business
  • Education
  • Criminal Justice and Corrections
  • Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies
  • Agronomy, Range and Crop Science

Notables

Chadron State College is in the Pine Ridge area on the southern boundary of Chadron, Nebraska, surrounded by grassland, cattle ranches, wheat fields and light forest at an elevation of 3,400 feet.  Chadron was founded in 1885 and is listed as one of the top 50 outdoor sports towns and one of the best mountain biking towns in the united states. While this might be too rural for you, students can take a plane ride to Denver International Airport to enjoy large-city attractions or connect to other flights.

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