Why This Matters


    According to College Navigator, Wisconsin has 16 public colleges, 26 private non-profit colleges, and two private for-profit colleges.


    College Board estimates the average Wisconsin resident paid this amount in tuition for the 2021-22 school year. In-state tuition at public colleges in Wisconsin has decreased by 8% 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 2020-21 school year.

Our Research

This list features some of the best brick-and-mortar schools in Wisconsin. 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 Higher Learning Commission (HLC), a reputable organization that examines the objectives, quality, and overall effectiveness of education programs in the central 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 Wisconsin

Best Colleges In Wisconsin
Intelligent Pick
University of Wisconsin at Madison
Best Catholic Institution
Marquette University
Best Music Programs
Lawrence University
Best for International Students
Beloit College
Best for Study Abroad
Edgewood College
Best MBA Program
Concordia University Wisconsin
Best Graduation Guarantee
St. Norbert College
Best STEM University
Milwaukee School of Engineering
Best Native American College
College of Menominee Nation
Best Student Organizations
Ripon College

Carthage College


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 for workers with a bachelor’s degree are materials scientists, logisticians, data scientists, medical and health services managers, and actuaries.

In 2022, the top five industries employing the most people in Wisconsin were goods-producing; 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 150 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.