Why This Matters


    According to College Navigator, Iowa has 20 public institutions, 36 private non-profit colleges, and 24 private for-profit colleges.


    On average, Iowa students paid $9,370 in tuition for the 2020-21 school year, making the state among the more affordable options in the nation.


    U.S. students received $14,940 on average in financial aid for the 2019-20 school year. This includes grants, scholarships, and loans that can be used toward tuition, technology fees, and textbooks.

Our Research

We’ve put together a list of the top colleges in Iowa, ranging in size from small liberal arts colleges to medium-sized universities with academic and research opportunities to large state universities. Our review includes factors such as tuition, how many credits are needed to obtain a degree, and whether a school offers in-person or virtual learning formats.

Our list only features accredited colleges and universities that comply with minimum quality, ethical, and academic standards. In general, accredited degrees are prioritized by employers and are a prerequisite for pursuing postgraduate studies. Most of the schools on our list are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an independent organization that ensures the quality of higher education in its 19-state region.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 70 hours to write this article
  • 167 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 282 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Colleges in Iowa

Best Colleges In Iowa


What You Should Know About Graduating From College in Iowa

Iowa offers a variety of job opportunities for residents with undergraduate degrees. The largest industry in the state is trade, transportation, and utilities, accounting for well over 300,000 people in Iowa’s workforce. Other top industries include goods-producing services, government, education and health services, and manufacturing.

There are nearly 150 fast-growing occupations in Iowa for those with undergraduate degrees. Among the top five occupations are operations research analysts, information security analysts, actuaries, loan officers, and personal financial advisors. The demand for workers in these careers is projected to grow significantly between 2016 and 2026.

Iowa is home to numerous large corporations, which may help college graduates transition into a full-time career. University of Iowa Health Care’s Carver College of Medicine is the largest employer in the state with approximately 11,000 employees. Other large employers include Principal Financial Group, Inc. and Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines as well as Collins Aerospace and CRST International in Cedar Rapids. Visit the page to see the full list of the top 50 employers in Iowa.

What’s Next?

Iowa residents pursuing undergraduate degrees may have access to need- and merit-based financial aid options through federal, state, and local agencies. The following resources provide information on available grants, loans, and scholarships:

  • Iowa College Student Aid Commission. The Iowa College Student Aid Commission promotes access to higher learning for all Iowans through a dozen scholarship, grant, and loan forgiveness programs. Through the website, visitors can learn about and apply for financial aid.
  • Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The U.S. Department of Education uses FAFSA to determine an individual’s eligibility for federal need-based scholarships, grants, and education loans. To find out if you’re eligible to fill out a FAFSA application, follow this link, or click here to apply online.
  • CareerOneStop. Backed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, CareerOneStop is a valuable resource for Iowans researching their options for funding their education. Through this website, visitors can identify grants, scholarships, work-study programs, and low-interest loans. Search results can be filtered by location and degree level.