Looking at the Best Public Colleges Rankings

More students are applying to public colleges as a way to save money on education costs.


Public colleges have seen a huge surge in popularity as a result of the current recession. Many publics have seen big increases in the number of applications as students and their parents are becoming more attracted to the lower sticker prices they find at the public colleges in their own states.

High unemployment, the ever rising cost of private college tuition, and the squeeze on financial aid budgets has meant that more and more students are looking for less expensive options. For many students, public colleges can be a far more affordable choice than a private college, with in-state tuition being the best bargain. Public colleges also can be the low-cost pick for many out-of-state students, because even out-of-state tuitions typically don't approach the prices at private colleges.

If you are interested in which public colleges and universities are the best, U.S. News has recently posted the top-ranked public schools from the 2010 edition of America's Best Colleges. The public schools are ranked within the 10 U.S. News categories. Some officials at American public research universities believe that their school's standing among its peer publics in the U.S. News Top Public National Universities ranking is the most important measure U.S. News offers.

How does U.S. News do these top public rankings? First, the public colleges must be in the top half of the rankings in their U.S. News Best Colleges ranking category, in which they are ranked against all of the schools eligible for that list, public and private. Next, U.S. News re-ranks just the publics that were in the top half of each category so that each public maintains its original rank order in the overall rankings. For example, since the University of California–Berkeley was the highest ranked public in the National Universities 2010 edition of the America's Best Colleges rankings, it was ranked No. 1 in the Top Public National Universities ranking. The University of California–Los Angeles and the University of Virginia were the next highest-ranked publics and also tied in the National Universities ranking, so they were both ranked No. 2 in the Top Public National Universities ranking.

Go to the links below to see which colleges are the top-ranked publics.

Top Public Colleges and Universities

  • National Universities
  • Liberal Arts Colleges
  • Master's Universities-North
  • Master's Universities-South
  • Master's Universities-Midwest
  • Master's Universities-West
  • Baccalaureate Universities-North
  • Baccalaureate Universities-South
  • Baccalaureate Universities-Midwest
  • Baccalaureate Universities-West