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Why This Matters


    According to College Navigator, the four-year colleges in Iowa include 3 public and 33 private non-profit options.


    For the 2022-23 school year, the average in-state tuition for public four-year colleges in Iowa is $10,113, according to College Board.


    In the U.S., full-time undergraduate students attending college in 2021-22 received an average of $15,330 per year in financial aid.

Our Research

This list features some of the best brick-and-mortar colleges in Iowa. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality. We included liberal arts colleges and research universities as well as small, midsize, and large institutions. Next, we compared this comprehensive list to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications, such as U.S. News & World Report, to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

The colleges on our list are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) — this organization examines the objectives, quality, and overall effectiveness of postsecondary education programs in the central United States.

We evaluated each school on tuition costs, admission standards, retention and graduation rates, faculty, and reputation as well as the resources and services provided for on-campus students. Then, we used this information to calculate the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Online College Programs That Might Interest You

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

The Top 50 Colleges in Iowa

Best Colleges In Iowa

University of Iowa

University of Northern Iowa

Simpson College

St. Ambrose University

Wartburg College

Upper Iowa University

University of Dubuque

William Penn University

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What You Should Know About Graduating From College in Iowa

Iowa offers a wide variety of job opportunities. The five largest industries in the state are office and administrative support occupations, transportation and material moving, sales, production, and food preparation and serving.

There are nearly 150 occupations with increasing employment in Iowa for those with undergraduate degrees. Among the top occupations are information security analysts, data scientists, and logisticians. The demand for workers in these careers is projected to grow significantly between 2020 and 2030.

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

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 Aid. This agency promotes access to higher learning for all Iowans with more than a dozen scholarship, grant, and loan forgiveness programs. Through their website, visitors can learn about and apply for financial aid.
  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Provided by the U.S. Department of Education, FAFSA is the main form students use to apply for financial aid for college. To determine if you’re eligible for aid, submit a completed FAFSA form online.
  • CareerOneStop Scholarship Finder. This tool will show you available scholarships, grants, and loans and can be filtered by state and degree type. It includes information such as dollar amounts, how to apply, qualifications, deadlines, and contact details.

Colleges by State

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