Why This Matters


    According to College Navigator, Wisconsin has 15 public colleges, 28 private non-profit colleges, and two private for-profit colleges.


    College Board estimates the average Wisconsin resident paid this amount in tuition for the 2020-21 school year. In-state tuition at public colleges in Wisconsin has decreased by 4.6% over the past five years.


    The average full-time undergraduate student in the U.S. was awarded this amount in grants, loans, tax credits, and/or work-study during the 2019-20 school year.

Our Research

This curated list of the best colleges in Wisconsin includes everything from large public research universities to midsized private schools and smaller-sized liberal arts colleges. Our criteria included tuition value, credits required to graduate, and whether coursework was offered in-person, online, or both.

The majority of colleges on this list are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the regional accreditor of post-secondary educational institutions in the central United States. When considering a college, regional accreditation is important because it ensures the quality of an institution’s academic programs, governance, resources, and finances.

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.

  • 53 hours to write this article
  • 188 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 321 education programs we compared

The Top 33 Colleges in Wisconsin

Best Colleges In Wisconsin
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What You Should Know About Graduating From College in Wisconsin

Career potential is a valuable factor to consider when choosing where you want to go to school. With a bachelor’s degree from a Wisconsin college, your career outlook is bright. The state has a lower than average unemployment rate, and the fastest-growing occupations are in the high-paying fields of aerospace engineering, software development, operations research analysis, market research analysis, and electrical engineering.

In 2020, the top five industries employing the most people in Wisconsin were goods-producing services; trade, transportation and utilities; manufacturing; education and health services; and government.

To get a sense of what your employment prospects might look like after graduation, here are five of the 50 largest employers in Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Bombardier Recreational Products, Menard Inc., Epic Systems Corporation, and ThedaCare Inc. With proximity to Illinois and Minnesota, residents of Wisconsin benefit from additional employment opportunities in the metro areas of Chicago and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

What’s Next?

Financing a college education is a big responsibility, but assistance is available. Here are some state and federal resources to help you understand the many different financial aid types available in Wisconsin.

  • Wisconsin Higher Educational Aids Board. The Higher Educational Aids Board (HEAB) administers state-funded financial aid in Wisconsin. This includes gift aid (grants and scholarships that don’t need to be repaid), loans, tuition capitation, and tuition reciprocity programs with other states.
  • Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Each year the U.S. Department of Education awards more than $120 billion in scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study jobs to help students pay for college. To estimate your eligibility for federal student aid, visit the FAFSA4caster. Because funds are limited, it’s important to submit your FAFSA application form by the priority deadline set by your state and college.
  • CareerOneStop. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, CareerOneStop lists more than 8,000 financial aid opportunities, including scholarships, grants, prizes, fellowships, and more. Narrow your search by using the filters for degree level and state where you plan to study.