Why This Matters


    According to College Navigator, Rhode Island has two public universities and 10 private non-profit colleges.


    College Board estimates that in-state tuition and fees averaged $14,100 for Rhode Island residents during the 2021-2022 academic year.


    Full-time undergraduate students from the U.S. frequently qualify for financial aid. The average amount was $14,800 during 2020-2021, and some students received more.

Our Research

This list features some of the best brick-and-mortar schools in Rhode Island. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions. 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 like the U.S. News & World Report among others 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 New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), a reputable organization that examines the objectives, quality, and overall effectiveness of education programs in the northeastern United States.

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

The Top 50 Colleges in Rhode Island

Best Colleges In Rhode Island
Intelligent Pick
Brown University
Best Christian Institution
Providence College
Best in the Northeast
University of Rhode Island
Best Internship Placement
Bryant University
Best Campus
Salve Regina University
Best Student Support Services
Roger Williams University
Best Private Institutions
Johnson & Wales University
Best Specialization Options
Rhode Island College
Most Innovative Curriculum
New England Institute of Technology


What You Should Know About Graduating From College in Rhode Island

When choosing a college and degree program, you should consider how the degree will be useful in the future job market. As of October 2021, USA Facts lists education and health services; trade, transportation, and utilities; professional and business services; government; and goods-producing as the five industries that employ the most people in Rhode Island.

Many of these schools offer degrees that are highly relevant to Rhode Island’s job market. The fastest growing occupations in the state that require a bachelor’s degree are materials engineers, religious workers, data scientists, information security analysts, and logisticians.

For a sense of the job opportunities that are available in Rhode Island, here are a few of the companies and organizations that rank among the state’s 150 largest employers: Lifespan Finance, Rhode Island Hospital, Brown University, and CVS Health Corporation. Of course, there are many other companies that employ 1,000 or more people.

What’s Next?

While researching Rhode Island’s colleges, make sure you understand what financial aid is available. Here are some state and federal resources that help with finding and applying for grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities.

  • Rhode Island Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner. The Rhode Island Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner has details on multiple financial aid opportunities that are available to students in the state.
  • Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). U.S. college students receive more than $120 billion annually in financial aid. The funds are awarded by the Department of Education and through the FAFSA program. Check whether you qualify for aid through the Aid Estimator, and apply through an online form if you do qualify.
  • CareerOneStop. CareerOneStop is an effort of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and it serves as a robust source for grant and scholarship information. Scholarships can be sorted by state, and they can be further sorted by award amount, requirements, deadlines, and other considerations.