11 Best Colleges in Texas – 2024

May 13, 2024

best colleges in texas

Texas is the second most populated state in the country and that is reflected not only by the plethora of college options within its borders but also by the immense size of those institutions. In fact, UT Austin and Texas A&M are among the 10 largest schools in the country. The University of Houston cracks the top 20 of this same list. Residents of the Lone Star State are served quite well by the public university system but private options like Rice, Trinity, and SMU are also extremely desirable to high-achieving teens from around the world. The following list of the 11 best colleges in Texas is meant to give you a sense of the array of wonderful higher education options in the state. The data in each profile card is intended to give a better sense of the academic offerings and outcomes at each institution.


Click here to read our methodology for the Best Colleges in Texas. As you’ll see, some schools with spectacular (and deserved) reputations simply do not happen to fare well on metrics such as student-to-faculty ratio or spending per student. We understand that a list based solely on prestige/general reputation would look different than what you will find below.

Best Colleges in Texas

Here’s a quick preview of the first 10 Texas-based institutions that made our list. Detailed profiles and stats can be found when you scroll below.

1) Rice University

2) The University of Texas at Austin

3) Texas A & M University-College Station

4) Trinity University

5) Southern Methodist University

6) Southwestern University

7) Texas Christian University

8) Baylor University

9) The University of Texas at Dallas

10) Texas Tech University

All of the schools profiled below have a history of sending graduates to the most desirable employers and graduate schools in the country. College Transitions will provide you with—when available—each school’s:

  • Enrollment
  • Cost of Attendance
  • Acceptance Rate
  • Median SAT
  • Median ACT
  • Retention Rate
  • Graduation Rate

We will also include a longer write-up of each college’s:

  • Academic Highlights – Includes facts like student-to-faculty ratio, average class size, number of majors offered, and most popular majors.
  • Professional Outcomes – Includes info on the rate of positive outcomes, companies employing alumni, and graduate school acceptances.
#1 Best College in Texas
Rice University

Rice University

  • Houston, TX

Academic Highlights: Rice offers more than 50 majors across six broad disciplines: engineering, architecture, music, social science, humanities, and natural science. Programs in biology, biochemistry, cognitive science, and music are incredibly strong, while the School of Architecture and the George R. Brown School of Engineering are among the highest-ranking schools in their disciplines. One-third of computer science majors are female, almost twice the national average. Class sizes are ideally small with 66% containing fewer than 20 students and a median class size of only fourteen.

Professional Outcomes: Six months after graduation, 88% of Rice grads have found careers or a graduate school home. Companies that employ many recent grads include Deloitte, Capital One, JP Morgan Chase, Google, and Microsoft. Over one hundred alumni are also current employees of companies such as Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Amazon, Accenture, and Meta. Across all majors, the average starting salary is $73k. One-third of graduates move directly into graduate or professional school, with Harvard, Yale, Stanford, MIT, Columbia, and Berkeley being the most popular destinations.

  • Enrollment: 4,494 (undergraduate); 4,178 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $78,278
  • Median SAT: 1530
  • Median SAT: 35
  • Acceptance Rate: 9%
  • Retention Rate: 94%
  • Graduation Rate: 98%

#2 Best College in Texas
The University of Texas at Austin

The University of Texas at Austin

  • Austin, TX

Academic Highlights: UT Austin offers over 150 majors, including those at the Cockrell School of Engineering, one of the most heralded undergraduate engineering schools around, and The McCombs School of Business, which dominates in the specialty areas of accounting and marketing. The computer science department is also top-ranked. In terms of degrees conferred, engineering is tied with biology (12%) followed by communication (11%), business (11%), and the social sciences (8%). The elite Plan II Honors Program is one of the best in the country.

Professional Outcomes: Within the College of Liberal Arts, six months after graduating, 68% of Longhorns are employed and 24% have entered graduate school. The for-profit sector attracts 65% of those employed while 19% enter public sector employment and 16% pursue jobs at a nonprofit. Major corporations that employ more than 500 UT Austin grads include Google, Meta, Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, and Apple. Engineering majors took home a median income of $79k and business majors took home $70k.

  • Enrollment: 41,309 (undergraduate); 11,075 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $30,752-$34,174 (in-state); $61,180-$69,310 (out-of-state)
  • Median SAT: 1430
  • Median ACT: 32
  • Acceptance Rate: 31%
  • Retention Rate: 95%
  • Graduation Rate: 88%

#3 Best College in Texas
Texas A&M University — College Station

Texas A&M University — College Station

  • College Station, TX

Academic Highlights: With nineteen schools and colleges and 130+ undergraduate degree programs, Texas A&M is a massive operation. As the name implies, there is a heavy emphasis on agriculture, engineering, and business, which all place well in national rankings and garner deep respect from major corporations and graduate/professional schools. Class sizes trend large, but 24% of courses enroll fewer than 20 students and personal connections with professors are entirely possible, particularly through the research-oriented LAUNCH program.

Professional Outcomes: On graduation day, 54% of students had already received at least one job offer and 22% were heading to graduate/professional school. Many Aggies go on to work at major oil, tech, and consulting firms; more than 500 are employed at each of ExxonMobil, Halliburton, Chevron, EY, Amazon, Microsoft, Intel, Accenture, and PWC. Starting salaries were strong—on average, College of Engineering grads made $80k and College of Agriculture & Life Sciences grads netted $54k. A&M is also the eighth-largest producer of law students in the entire country.

  • Enrollment: 57,512 (undergraduate); 16,502 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $31,058 (in-state); $59,336 (out-of-state)
  • Median SAT: 1270
  • Median ACT: 28
  • Acceptance Rate: 63%
  • Retention Rate: 95%
  • Graduation Rate: 84%

#4 Best College in Texas
Trinity University

Trinity University

  • San Antonio, TX

Academic Highlights: Trinity offers 57 majors and a demanding, carefully crafted liberal arts core curriculum. 68% of courses enroll fewer than 20 students, and 80% of students engage in some type of hands-on learning, whether through research or an internship. The well-regarded School of Business is most popular as finance, accounting, and business administration degrees account for 27% of the total degrees conferred. The social sciences (16%), biology (12%), foreign language (6%), and communication (5%) also have strong representation.

Professional Outcomes: Six months after receiving their diplomas, 98% of 2022 Trinity grads were either employed full-time or matriculated into graduate school; only 2% were still seeking employment. The companies employing the largest number of alumni include USAA (a San Antonio-based financial firm), PwC, EY, Deloitte, Dell, Accenture, Morgan Stanley, and Amazon. Recent bachelor’s degree earners have been accepted into graduate school at an overall rate of 75%.

  • Enrollment: 2,531 (undergraduate); 163 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $68,224
  • Median SAT: 1370
  • Median ACT: 31
  • Acceptance Rate: 28%
  • Retention Rate: 92%
  • Graduation Rate: 82%

#5 Best College in Texas
Southern Methodist University

Southern Methodist University

  • Dallas, TX

Academic Highlights: In total, SMU offers 100+ majors and 85 minors. Thanks in part to an 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio, 56% of classes enroll fewer than 20 students. This career-minded student body gravitates toward pre-professional degrees, particularly in business (27%) and engineering (6%). SMU’s Cox School of Business is top-ranked and has especially strong ties to Wall Street. Programs in engineering, sports management, and the performing arts are also very well-regarded.

Professional Highlights: On graduation day, over 66% of recent grads already had their first jobs or graduate school destinations in hand. Six months later, that figure was in the mid-90s. Major corporations employing the greatest number of Mustangs are Lockheed Martin, AT&T, EY, IBM, JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft, Deloitte, American Airlines, Accenture, Oracle, Amazon, and Goldman Sachs. In 2022, the average starting salary was $55k across all majors ($77k for Cox School of Business grads). In a typical year, 25% of seniors elect to immediately pursue an advanced degree.

  • Enrollment: 7,115 (undergraduate); 4,727 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $89,676
  • Median SAT: 1405
  • Median ACT: 32
  • Acceptance Rate: 61%
  • Retention Rate: 90%
  • Graduation Rate: 83%

#6 Best College in Texas
Southwestern University

Southwestern University

  • Georgetown, TX

Academic Highlights: One of the top liberal arts colleges in Texas, Southwestern offers 37 majors and 41 minors. Students engage in a flexible, three-part curriculum that consists of general education courses, major-specific courses, and electives as well as plenty of room for exploration. The most degrees are conferred in business (14%), psychology (8%), biology (6%), exercise science (6%), education (5%), political science (5%), and speech communication and rhetoric (5%). 64% of classes enroll under 20 students; the average class size is 17.

Professional Outcomes: 98% of the Class of 2022 had positive outcomes, with 75% employed and 23% attending graduate or professional school. Those employed held a wide range of roles at companies/organizations such as American Bookbinders Museum, Austin Galleries, Bank of America, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Flatiron Construction, IBM, Morrison Law Firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Tesla, GM, and Visa. The average starting salary was $48k. Of those who continued their education, many elected to do so in Texas, but others went on to schools like BU, Georgetown, and Temple.

  • Enrollment: 1,483
  • Cost of Attendance: $71,865
  • Median SAT: 1250
  • Median ACT: 28
  • Acceptance Rate: 45%
  • Retention Rate: 79%
  • Graduation Rate: 72%

#7 Best College in Texas
Texas Christian University

Texas Christian University

  • Forth Worth, TX

Academic Highlights: TCU offers 116 undergraduate majors. The most popular are housed in the Neely School of Business, including the highly-rated BBA in Entrepreneurship. 27% of all degrees conferred in 2022 fell under the business umbrella. The engineering program is also well-regarded. Other commonly conferred degrees include communications/journalism (15%), health professions (11%), and the social sciences (9%). 39% of its class sections have 20 or fewer students, and only 5% of courses seat more than 50.

Professional Outcomes: Upon graduating, 48% of recent diploma-earners were employed and 18% had their graduate school placement lined up. American Airlines, Deloitte, IBM, Lockheed Martin, and Medical City Hospitals employ the greatest number of recent alumni. Other companies with a large TCU presence include Microsoft, CBRE, Goldman Sachs, and AT&T. The most recent median starting salary was $58,900. For those who enrolled in an advanced degree program, the most commonly pursued areas of study were medicine/health (27%), business (21%), and psychology (13%).

  • Enrollment: 10,523 (undergraduate); 1,750 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $85,051
  • Median SAT: 1260
  • Median ACT: 28
  • Acceptance Rate: 56%
  • Retention Rate: 92%
  • Graduation Rate: 83%

#8 Best College in Texas
Baylor University

Baylor University

  • Waco, TX

Academic Highlights: Class sizes at Baylor generally range from small to medium, with 48% of sections containing fewer than 20 students and 76% enrolling fewer than 29. Far more Bears major in business/marketing (25%) than the second-place finisher, health professions (19%). Other popular academic pursuits are biology (12%) and communication/journalism (7%), both of which are very strong. The Hankamer School of Business is highly respected across the country.

Professional Outcomes: At the 180-day post-graduation point, those who earned their diplomas from Baylor had entered the world of full-time employment at a 50% clip, and 28% had entered a graduate or professional degree program. Large numbers of recent grads were scooped up by many of the most desirable employers in the country including Dell (19), EY (16), and Oracle (16). The average starting salary was $59k. Among recent grads, the most commonly attended graduate school was Baylor itself (125), followed by Texas A&M (12).

  • Enrollment: 15,213
  • Cost of Attendance: $69,970
  • Median SAT: 1320
  • Median ACT: 30
  • Acceptance Rate: 46%
  • Retention Rate: 90%
  • Graduation Rate: 81%

#9 Best College in Texas
University of Texas at Dallas

University of Texas at Dallas

  • Dallas, TX

Academic Highlights: There are 140+ degree plans at UT Dallas which sports a 25:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Only 7% of classes are taught by graduate assistants, but classes are on the large side – 27% of course sections contain 50 or more students. The two most popular areas of study at this university are business (20%) and computer science (20%). Biology (14%), engineering (13%), and health professions (8%) also enjoy solid popularity. Even better, UT Dallas has a strong national reputation in all of these academic areas.

Professional Outcomes: The most commonly entered industries are internet and software, healthcare, accounting, IT, and higher education. Those graduating with a degree in information technology and systems had an average starting salary of $76,900 while those earning an accounting degree brought home a mean figure of $59,700. UT Dallas graduates have less undergraduate debt than the national average and receive the third-best ROI of any public university in Texas.

  • Enrollment: 21,617
  • Cost of Attendance: $35,960 (In-State); $51,126
  • Median SAT: 1290
  • Median ACT: 28
  • Acceptance Rate: 85%
  • Retention Rate: 87%
  • Graduation Rate: 74%

#10 Best College in Texas
Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University

  • Lubbock, TX

Academic Highlights: Texas Tech has 1,900 faculty members across 10 colleges and 150 academic programs. With a fairly high 21:1 student-to-faculty ratio just 33% of course sections enroll fewer than 20 students. Business/marketing (20%) is by far the most popular major, followed by biology (10%), engineering (10%), journalism (10%), and family & consumer sciences (9%). Petroleum engineering gets the most acclaim, but the business, CS, and psychology departments are also very solid.

Professional Outcomes: The most popular industries entered by Texas Tech include utilities ($96k median starting salary), petroleum engineering ($97k), manufacturing ($64k), finance and insurance ($49k), and transportation and warehousing ($57k). The companies employing the most Red Raider alumni are Dell Technologies, JP Morgan Chase and Co., Microsoft, Oxy, ConocoPhillips, Kimley-Horn, and Pioneer Natural Resources Company.

  • Enrollment: 32,579
  • Cost of Attendance: $30,277 (In-State); $42,877 (Out-of-State)
  • Median SAT: 1180
  • Median ACT: 25
  • Acceptance Rate: 67%
  • Retention Rate: 86%
  • Graduation Rate: 64%

#11 Best College in Texas
University of Houston

University of Houston

  • Houston, TX

Academic Highlights: Nearly 100 undergraduate majors are offered across 11 different colleges. Programs within the College of Business and College of Engineering are particularly strong, especially petroleum engineering, entrepreneurship, and marketing. The most degrees are conferred in business/management/marketing (28%), psychology (7%), computer science (7%), engineering (7%), biological sciences (7%), and social sciences (6%). 34% of classes enroll fewer than 20 students, and

Professional Outcomes: By graduation day, 29% of recent grads had already accepted a full-time position and 11% had been accepted to graduate school. For those who entered the workforce, top employers were Houston ISD (as well as several other school systems), JPMorgan Chase, Houston Methodist, and Walgreens. Of those continuing their education, the highest percentage stayed at the University of Houston followed by the University of Texas, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas A&M, Texas Woman’s University, and Rice.

  • Enrollment: 37,946 (undergraduate); 8,730 (graduate)
  • Cost of Attendance: $24,268 (in-state); $39,868 (out-of-state)
  • Median SAT: 1230
  • Median ACT: 25
  • Acceptance Rate: 70%
  • Retention Rate: 87%
  • Graduation Rate: 65%

We hope you have found our list of the Best Colleges in Texas to be useful and informative as you continue your college search process. We also invite you to check out some of our other resources and tools including: