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 $13,630 for Rhode Island residents during the 2020-2021 academic year.


    Full-time undergraduate students from the U.S. frequently qualify for financial aid. The average amount was $14,940 during 2019-2020, and some students received more.

Our Research

We ranked the best colleges in Rhode Island based on factors that matter to students. For example, we considered cost, credit requirements, and course modes (online or in-person) when researching colleges. To make sure many students’ needs were covered, we included a variety of large research universities, midsize institutions, and liberal arts colleges that are smaller.

To make sure all listed programs have quality degree programs, we limited our research to only accredited institutions. Many of the colleges noted have accreditation through the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), which is well-respected for the high standards that all of its member schools must meet. A few colleges are alternatively accredited through the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools (ACCSC), which is also well-respected.

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.

  • 62 hours to write this article
  • 76 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 186 education programs we compared

The Top 9 Colleges in Rhode Island

Best Colleges In Rhode Island
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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 2020, USA Facts lists education and health services; trade, transportation, and utilities; government; professional and business services; and goods-producing as the five top 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 currently are marine engineers and naval architects, statisticians, machine setters/operators, fiberglass laminators and fabricators, and welding professionals.

For a sense of who Rhode Island’s biggest employers are, here are a few of the companies and organizations that rank among the state’s 50 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.