The Best Public Universities in the USA

Deciding where to begin your next degree? Read more about the 10 best public universities in USA!


There are plenty of benefits to attending a public university. One obvious benefit of attending a public school is the tuition. Because of government support and funding, public universities in the USA can offer lower tuition to their in-state students, while still providing employable and high quality education. With the increasing cost of education in the USA, the value of a public education definitely should not be overlooked.



What is a public university?

Public universities receive their funding primarily from state governments, and typically have larger class sizes and a larger selection of majors than private schools. Each state in the USA has at least one public university, and students already living in the state commonly receive an in-state price on their tuition.


Alternatively, private universities operate on endowments given by private donors. With less majors to choose from and typically more expensive tuition costs, private universities can cost well over $100,000 for a four-year degree. These schools are privately owned and operated. This means that they maintain their own standards and regulations, like acceptance rates and attendance requirements.



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Many students in the USA choose to attend private universities for the greater class participation and more personal communication with classmates and teachers. On the other hand, they often have small faculties with limited resources available to offer to students.


Some public universities are even more accessible than private ones, especially if they have multiple campuses. Whether you are still choosing a major or already set in your field, you will find a great amount of options to choose from with a public university. Diverse student bodies and large class sizes will enhance your student experience, preparing you with hands-on experience to take throughout your career!



Top 10 Best Public Universities in the USA


1. University of California – San Diego


Although 74% of accepted students are California residents, University of California – San Diego is attended by an international body of students and is recognized as one of the top research universities in the world. Students enrolled in research programs undertake faculty-mentored research projects, gaining insight into potential career paths. The campus is home to Nobel laureates, MacArthur fellows, and National Academy members, as well as the country’s 10th largest centers for science, engineering, and medicine.



2. University of California – Berkeley


Admissions at UC Berkeley is extremely competitive, with a 17% acceptance rate. Its most popular majors include economics, cellular biology, and computer science. One of the largest institutions in the San Francisco Bay Area, 28,108 undergraduate students are enrolled, and the university’s alumni earn an average starting salary of $46,000.



3. Baruch College (CUNY)


At CUNY Bernard M Baruch College, students represent 168 different countries. The campus is located right in Midtown New York City and offers students four distinct schools to choose from, including the Zicklin School of Business, Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs, the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Continuing and Professional Studies. CollegeNET has named Baruch #1 on its annual Social Mobility Index, recognizing the school’s ability to effectively enroll low-income students and graduate them into well-paying jobs.



4. University of Michigan – Ann Arbor


Some common majors include childhood development and psychology, computer information systems, business administration and management, economics, and political science and government. In 2017, University of Michigan students came from 50 states, 122 countries, and 82 Michigan counties. As one of the state’s top 5 employers, the university offers a huge discount to students paying in-state tuition ($14,402 in-state and $47,476 out-of-state). Spanning fields from microbiology, to music theory, to business and economics, the graduate programs at the University of Michigan were ranked among the country’s top ten by the U.S. News & World Report.



5. University of California – Davis


Also referred to as UC Davis, the University of California, Davis takes pride in its outstanding academics, sustainability, and its reputation for solving problems related to society, food, health, and the environment. More than 500 of their faculty have earned prestigious awards and honors, both nationally and internationally. Noted for its hands-on experience, students in the UC Davis Center for Poverty Research have the opportunity to specialize in areas of labor markets and poverty, children and intergenerational transmission of poverty, the non-traditional safety net, and immigration.



6. University of Washington – Seattle


As one of the world’s most innovative universities, they proudly deliver a mission of education, discovery, and public service. The University of Washington offers 275 study abroad programs for its students around the world and creates a diverse learning environment on campus driven by the value of differing perspectives and experiences.



7. University of Florida


With an average 4.3 GPA and an average SAT score of 1918, the University of Florida strives for excellence, measured by its global impact. They have more than 200 research, service, and education centers that are dedicated to improving impact through research. The Clinical and Translational Science Institute, for example, is continuously advancing scientific discoveries into medical treatments for patients.



8. Binghamton University


In 2016, Forbes ranked Binghamton its #8 public university and #15 overall university in the country. The faculty at Binghamton University are the top scholars in their fields, including numerous Fulbright, Ford, and Guggenheim scholars. Modeled after Oxford University, the campus includes six residential communities, each equipped with their own learning community to foster smaller, more specialized learning experiences. 20% of graduates continue into Binghamton’s graduate programs, and there currently are more than 127,000 alumni spread across the world.



9. University of Texas at Austin


Founded in 1883, the university’s rich history has made it the world-renowned research and public service institute it is today. They provide comprehensive education opportunities, contributing to the advancement of society, serving its citizens through public programs and services. Home to more than 51,000 students and 3,000 teaching faculty, the University of Texas at Austin specializes in business studies, social sciences, and health studies.



10. University of Maryland – College Park


The University of Maryland, College Park offers students 92 different undergraduate majors, 107 Master’s programs, and 83 Doctoral programs. Between 2016 and 2017, its alumni represented 17 Fulbright Scholars and it was ranked the 15th most innovative school in the country by the U.S. News & World Report. The university’s history stretches back to 1856, starting with only 34 students. The institution slowly expanded to include engineering and liberal arts, following a mission to advance knowledge in areas significant to the state, to the nation, and to the world.



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Wrapping Up

As an alternative to costly private schools, many students prefer to earn their degrees online, with the comfort of their own environments and their own schedules. Online education is becoming more and more popular around the world, mainly due to its accessibility. Online universities such as the University of the People, provides students with high quality US accredited education with the flexibility to choose when they want to study, and tuition-free.  The low costs of online degrees often attract students who hold multiple jobs or balance their education with family life.


Choosing a degree is a big decision, regardless of your current situation. But if you know what your interests are before even sending the applications, the process can be made much easier. Narrowing down your areas of focus will produce realistic options, easing the path into your next venture. Try to discover your genuine interests early on and the right opportunities are sure to come your way!



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