The Top 10 Best and Most Prestigious Universities in Texas

We ran the numbers on some of the best colleges in Texas – keep reading to see our top 10!

Michael Yan Leila Le
Published: (Updated: ) - 5 min read

Photo by Pete Alexopoulos / Unsplash

Texas has something for everyone, and that includes higher education. As one of the fastest-growing states in the nation, Texas is home to over 200 higher-education institutions. Whether you are seeking a large research university or a small liberal arts college, your choices are plentiful in the Lone Star State. If you are looking to make Texas a part of your education plans, use our guide to the best universities in Texas to begin your research and find the school that best fits you!

How We Compiled This List

We've rounded up details from U.S. News & World Report,, and other college-ranking authorities to present you with the best universities in Texas. We have also taken into account the average salaries after graduation, class sizes, tuition and fees, and other factors that may impact your decision-making process.

While this guide is a great starting point in your research, we also recommend visiting universities of interest in person. This will give you a feel for the campus, the student population, and the surrounding college town. It also gives you a great opportunity to meet with on-campus counselors and professors, potentially audit classes, and explore any extracurricular activities of interest.

Continue reading for our list of the best universities in Texas, based on the most recent available information.

1. Rice University

  • U.S. News National Ranking: 15
  • Campus Location: Houston
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 4,247 (fall 2021)
  • Tuition and fees: $54,960
  • Median starting salary of alumni: $67,500

Located right in the heart of Houston’s Museum District, Rice University ranks among the top 20 universities in the country. The acceptance rate is just 11% at this prestigious school, where you’ll find a 6:1 student-teacher ratio. Its 11 residential colleges and eight schools of academic study attract students from a range of disciplines, including those pursuing space science, nanotechnology, biomedical engineering, humanities, and business.

Founded in 1912, Rice also boasts 14 varsity NCAA Division I athletic teams, including its renowned baseball program. With free tickets to all varsity athletic events, students find it easy to cheer on the Rice Owls.

2. University of Texas at Austin

  • U.S. News National Ranking: 38
  • Campus Location: Austin
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 40,916 (fall 2021)
  • Tuition and fees: $11,752 in-state; $40,996 out-of-state
  • Median starting salary of alumni: $58,800

Founded in 1883, the University of Texas at Austin is one of the largest U.S. schools. The public institution consists of 13 schools and colleges, with a student-teacher ratio of 18:1. This includes the College of Liberal Arts, along with highly ranked graduate programs such as the McCombs School of Business and its School of Nursing. Situated on 431 acres, the beautiful main campus features 17 libraries and seven museums. Students can choose from over 1,300 student organizations and unique hands-on learning opportunities, including a coding bootcamp. In addition, its 15 career centers provide ample access to career advice, while Division I Big 12 athletics keep sports enthusiasts cheering for their home team.

3. Texas A&M University

  • U.S. News National Ranking: 67
  • Campus Location: College Station
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 56,723 (fall 2021)
  • Tuition and fees: $13,178 in-state; $40,087 out-of-state
  • Median starting salary of alumni: $60,100

Founded in 1876, the public Texas A&M University is situated on 5,200 acres in central Texas and has a student-teacher ratio of 19:1. It was once an all-men’s school known as the Agricultural and Mechanical College, or A&M for short. Today, the co-ed university appeals to a number of different majors and interests, including business, agriculture, and engineering. It boasts some of the nation’s most renowned graduate programs, including petroleum engineering, nuclear engineering, and veterinary medicine. As a United States Senior Military College, Texas A&M also has both civilian students and a volunteer corps of cadets. Division I sports and plentiful clubs and organizations make this a well-rounded institution.

4. Southern Methodist University

  • U.S. News National Ranking: 72
  • Campus Location: Dallas
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,908 (fall 2021)
  • Tuition and fees: $61,980
  • Median starting salary of alumni: $60,100

Southern Methodist University (SMU) is a private, nonsectarian institution that was founded in 1911 and has a 12:1 student-teacher ratio. During their first two years at SMU, students live on campus, which features 104 undergraduate degrees, 113 graduate degrees, and 27 doctoral degrees. The well-known Dedman School of Law and Cox School of Business are among the nation’s finest. Unique programs at the adjacent Taos and Plano campuses offer additional learning opportunities, including the SMU-in-Taos program in New Mexico. Division I athletics, plus plentiful outdoor activities and city parks in Dallas, are a draw for outdoor and sports enthusiasts. Meanwhile, experiences such as the Dallas International Film Festival, the Festival of Lights, and the Mane Event celebrate the region’s cultural diversity.

5. Baylor University

  • U.S. News National Ranking: 77
  • Campus Location: Waco
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 15,191 (fall 2021)
  • Tuition and fees: $51,738
  • Median starting salary of alumni: $53,400

The private, co-ed Baylor University is located on 1,000 acres in Waco, a small city 100 miles from Dallas and Austin. Founded in 1845, it is a Baptist institution that emphasizes service and volunteerism. Every semester, students collectively donate 12,000 hours of their time to various service projects, including both local and global initiatives. Activities such as its “Be the Change: Missions Week” and daily campus prayer at noon keep students actively engaged in their faith. In addition, students can choose from over 300 student organizations and outdoor recreation activities such as hiking and mountain biking. As one of the only private universities in the NCAA Division I Big 12 Conference, Baylor is a strong competitor, particularly in football. With a 16:1 student-teacher ratio, Baylor offers a range of majors, with the most popular being Registered Nursing, Biological Sciences, Communication, Finance, and others. Many faculty members and students engage in research, including a partnership with the city of Waco for some of its research initiatives.

6. University of Texas at Dallas

  • U.S. News National Ranking: 151
  • Campus Location: Richardson
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 21,445 (fall 2021)
  • Tuition and fees: $14,564 in-state; $39,776 out-of-state
  • Median starting salary of alumni: $45,300

7. Texas Christian University (TCU)

  • U.S. News National Ranking: 89
  • Campus Location: Fort Worth, Texas
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 10,222 (fall 2021)
  • Tuition and fees: $51,660
  • Median starting salary of alumni: $48,600

8. University of Houston

  • U.S. News National Ranking: 182
  • Campus Location: Houston, Texas
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 38,581 (fall 2021)
  • Tuition and fees: $9,699  in-state; $21,891 out-of-state
  • Median starting salary of alumni: $59,000

9. Texas Tech University

  • U.S. News National Ranking: 219
  • Campus Location: Lubbock, TX
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 33,132 (fall 2021)
  • Tuition and fees: $11,852 in-state; $24,122 out-of-state
  • Median starting salary of alumni: $45,500

10. Trinity University

  • U.S. News National Ranking: N/A
  • Campus Location: San Antonio, Texas
  • Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,526 (fall 2021)
  • Tuition and fees: $47,392
  • Median starting salary of alumni: $60,200

Which Texas School Is Right for You?

No matter what type of school you are seeking, there is bound to be at least one that matches your criteria in Texas. Take a closer look at some of these universities, and see for yourself what sets them apart from the rest. Who knows? You might just find the school that will be home to your academic future.

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