Best Mississippi Colleges & Universities

Become Team
Become Team
September 7, 2021

Mississippi is home to a wide variety of educational institutions, including ten large public universities, nine private colleges, sixteen community colleges and two colleges dedicated to online learning. These numbers do not include the numerous trade colleges, vocational schools and small career schools in the state. We've compiled lists and rankings, explored college planning programs and created a comprehensive place where students seeking postsecondary learning in Mississippi can look to learn more about colleges in the state and compare a few schools of interest, based on certain factors like student debt and popular places to study in Mississippi.

Mississippi College Leaderboard: Rankings

You want to attend the best school possible. But how can you choose which one fits the bill? The following list ranks Mississippi colleges and universities based on a variety of characteristics, like student to faculty ratio, cost of tuition and financial aid availability. The resulting list offers a great overview of which Mississippi colleges might be the best for potential students.

Rankings Methodology Minimum Qualifications
  • Located in Mississippi
  • Public or private not-for-profit
  • Institutionally accredited
  • At least 10 total programs
Ranking Metrics
  • Median annual alumni earnings 10 years after entering the college
  • In-state tuition and fees for undergraduates
  • Student/teacher ratio
  • 6-year graduation rate
  • % of students receiving institutional financial aid (first-time, full-time undergrads)
  • Average amount of institutional aid awarded per student (first-time, full-time undergrads)
  • Availability of placement services upon completion
  • Availability of academic/career counseling services
  • Availability of employment services
  • 3-year student cohort loan default rate
Data Sources

Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS): National Center for Education Statistics

Latest 'Final Release' data available as of Fall 2016 College Scorecard: U.S. Department of Education

2-Year Programs

East Mississippi Community College View School Profile $ 27% 99.77 $25,700 12:1 78% N/A 62 94 Yes Yes
Northeast Mississippi Community College View School Profile $ 27% 98.77 $29,300 22:1 63% N/A 0 88 Yes No
East Central Community College View School Profile $ 24% 98.25 $27,200 22:1 55% N/A 0 31 Yes Yes
Itawamba Community College View School Profile $ 26% 97.93 $27,200 19:1 52% N/A 2 91 Yes Yes
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College View School Profile $ 25% 97.86 $28,400 22:1 1% N/A 4 100 Yes Yes
Hinds Community College View School Profile $ 13% 96.44 $25,400 18:1 22% N/A 5 170 Yes Yes
Pearl River Community College View School Profile $ 32% 96.18 $28,100 16:1 28% N/A 2 52 Yes No
Northwest Mississippi Community College View School Profile $ 18% 96.09 $26,900 23:1 26% N/A 17 90 Yes Yes
Meridian Community College View School Profile $ 35% 95.7 $24,200 21:1 34% N/A 4 56 Yes No
Copiah-Lincoln Community College View School Profile $ 27% 95.63 $25,700 23:1 35% N/A 0 77 Yes No
Jones County Junior College View School Profile $ 27% 95.51 $26,700 25:1 35% N/A 1 40 Yes Yes
Coahoma Community College View School Profile $ 26% 95.12 $20,700 26:1 30% N/A 0 81 Yes No
Southwest Mississippi Community College View School Profile $ 27% 95.03 $25,600 24:1 42% N/A 4 27 Yes No
Mississippi Delta Community College View School Profile $ 21% 94.6 $23,900 18:1 36% N/A 1 65 Yes No
Holmes Community College View School Profile $ 25% 86 $28,300 18:1 37% N/A 41 80 Yes No

4-Year Programs

Millsaps College View School Profile $$$$ 72% 99.79 $45,200 9:1 99% 57% 0 36 Yes No
Mississippi College View School Profile $$ 62% 97.38 $38,200 15:1 99% 63% 9 92 Yes No
University of Mississippi View School Profile $ 60% 97.27 $40,600 18:1 61% 81% 14 115 Yes No
Belhaven University View School Profile $$$ 49% 97.07 $37,900 12:1 98% 72% 18 57 Yes Yes
Mississippi State University View School Profile $ 58% 96.84 $39,600 19:1 68% 71% 10 126 Yes Yes
University of Southern Mississippi View School Profile $ 50% 96.25 $36,200 17:1 74% 67% 23 122 Yes No
Mississippi University for Women View School Profile $ 39% 95.82 $34,800 14:1 74% 94% 7 37 Yes No
Jackson State University View School Profile $ 45% 93.64 $29,500 15:1 55% 70% 2 74 Yes No
Delta State University View School Profile $ 37% 93.45 $33,800 13:1 42% 92% 9 54 Yes No
William Carey University View School Profile $$ 58% 93.37 $34,100 15:1 74% 50% 2 76 Yes No
Tougaloo College View School Profile $$ 51% 92.43 $29,500 11:1 27% 40% 0 19 Yes No
Mississippi Valley State University View School Profile $ 22% 92 $22,400 14:1 47% 16% 0 36 Yes Yes
Blue Mountain College View School Profile $$ 43% 91.65 $31,300 12:1 91% 55% 2 25 No No
Alcorn State University View School Profile $ 31% 91.38 $30,600 16:1 37% 78% 1 35 Yes No
Rust College View School Profile $$ 32% 86 $22,900 19:1 30% 39% 0 21 Yes No

Search & Compare Colleges in Mississippi

When there are plenty of schools to choose from, narrowing down the options is important. That is often best achieved by looking at very personal, individual criteria that would make a student particularly happy. The following tool attempts to provide this comparison by allowing users to search and compare colleges in Mississippi based on several factors, including graduate rates, cost of attendance and more.

College Planning and Outreach Programs in Mississippi

Getting to college can be tough; choosing the right college is another hurdle. The state of Mississippi recognizes what a momentous challenge the pursuit of a college degree can be, and has created numerous programs to help students along their journey. Here are a few of them.

Rise Up!

This program is a comprehensive resource devoted to helping middle and high school students prepare for college. The website walks prospective college students and their families through the process. Much of the information provided covers financial aid for college, from both federal and state sources, but there is also information for transfer students and nontraditional students who are returning to school and other professional development.

Get2College

This is Mississippi's premier source for advice on how to get into and pay for college. A vast array of information is available here; for example, free counseling services help students submit the best applications possible as well as properly complete state and federal financial aid paperwork. The program is part of Mississippi's Model Schools Program, which works with select schools to provide onsite college advice to supplement the information and guidance provided by educators and counselors.

MPACT

Parents who want to 'lock in' tuition and fees can do so through the Mississippi Prepaid Affordable College Tuition Plan. The benefits can be used for any college, including two-year community colleges and four-year universities. Prepayment is flexible, with multiple savings pathways available. MPACT is a type of 529 college savings plan and therefore provides its users with many tax benefits, at both the federal and state level.

Cost of Attending College in Mississippi

Simply looking at tuition can be disheartening, as that bottom line usually appears rather high. In order to put the tuition numbers into perspective, students must consider financial aid. The following three charts will present these numbers for colleges in Mississippi as well as how they compare to national averages.

Source: CollegeBoard

Source: IPEDS

Source: IPEDS

* Institutional aid represents grant and scholarship funds directly awarded by a postsecondary institution.

* Financial aid data represents 4-year public and private nonprofit schools only.

Most Affordable Colleges in Mississippi

The net price of a college education is calculated by taking the tuition and subtracting the financial aid; the number left is the net price a student will be expected to pay out-of-pocket. This section provides these numbers for the six most affordable Mississippi colleges. There are also national average values so that the state's top colleges can be compared in a national context.

Mississippi College Net Price vs. National Average

Average
Annual Net Price
MISSISSIPPI $13,238
$18,073

Source: College Scorecard
Note: Rankings/data represent 4-year public and private nonprofit schools only.

Mississippi Colleges With Highest-Paid Alumni

One of the big selling points of going to college is the promise of making more money and improving professional growth opportunities. When deciding which school to attend, one factor to look at is how much money its graduates make. Below is a list of the top six schools in Mississippi with respect to alumni earnings. These values are compared to national averages for a wider view.

Mississippi Alumni Salaries vs. National Average

Annual Median Earnings
10 Years After Entering College
MISSISSIPPI $34,200
$42,759

Source: College Scorecard
Note: Rankings/data represent 4-year public and private nonprofit schools only.

Best Mississippi Colleges with Lower Student Loan Debt

Many prospective college students apply to college with the assumption that they will likely be graduating with some debt. To help determine which Mississippi colleges provide students with the most manageable debt loads upon graduation, we have compiled the following ranking. These numbers can also be compared the national average to help put things in perspective.

Mississippi College Grad Debt Vs. National Average

Median Federal Student
Loan Debt After Graduation
MISSISSIPPI $25,596
$23,145

Source: College Scorecard
Note: Rankings/data represent 4-year public and private nonprofit schools only.

Beyond College Expenses: Mississippi Cost of Living

Once tuition and financial aid are considered, the student should look at the broader area around the school. What is the cost of living in that particular area? Remember that a lower tuition or higher financial aid award might be negated by high costs of living. This table looks at the metro areas of Mississippi and their costs of living, as well as how they compare to the national average.

area composite index housing groceries utilities transportation health care misc.
Statewide Average 84% 71% 92% 85% 88% 91% 89%
Hattiesburg 84% 70% 98% 93% 87% 90% 86%
Jackson 84% 75% 89% 84% 84% 90% 89%
Tupelo 84% 68% 90% 78% 94% 95% 93%

Source: The Council for Community and Economic Research

Accreditation for Mississippi College

Deciding to attend college is a significant decision. Even for the most financially or academically gifted, it still takes a lot of time and effort to complete a program. Therefore, it is very important for prospective students to know that if they attend a school and complete a program, their degree, certificate or diploma will mean something. That's where accreditation comes in. Accreditation is a process in which an independent body monitors, assesses and evaluates a college to determine whether it meets the high standards of a quality education.

Mississippi colleges with accreditation are a student's best bet, as anything less can be quite costly in several ways. Non-accredited schools often are not eligible for all financial aid benefits, the degree might be dismissed by potential employers, and credits might not transfer to other institutions. Schools can be accredited at both the institutional and program level. In Mississippi, the institutional accrediting body is the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, one of six regional accrediting institutions in the nation.

But entire schools aren't the only thing that can be accredited; programs can as well. For instance:

Major College Cities in Mississippi

Jackson

Jackson is Mississippi's capital and largest city. Founded in 1821, Jackson is known as the "City with Soul" for its rich music history and culture. Named after Andrew Jackson, Jackson offers a wide variety of historical and contemporary activities, such as fine dining, countless "juke joints," Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame Museum and the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra. This means that students attending one of the many colleges and universities located in Jackson will have plenty to do when not in class.

College Name School Type Annual Net Price Annual Median Earnings
10 Years After College

Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

JacksonBelhaven University Private not-for-profit $22,258 $37,900
Belhaven University has been teaching students with religious instruction since 1883. The school currently educates 1,200 students from over 40 states and 20 countries with a nationally recognized curriculum. Belhaven University is just one of two Christian universities with science programs recognized by the White House's STEM Initiative and is one of only 36 universities nationally accredited in each of the major arts: music, theatre, dance and visual arts.
JacksonJackson State University Public $13,690 $29,500
Jackson State University is a historically black college with about 9,500 students. JSU is probably most well-known for its marching band, "The Sonic Boom of the South." Originally founded in 1877, Jackson State University provides students with over 90 degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, along with plenty of personalized attention from its professors; the student-to-faculty ratio is approximately 15:1.
JacksonMillsaps College Private not-for-profit $23,321 $45,200
Founded by the Methodist Church in 1890, Millsaps College is located in the center of Jackson. The school has a student body of just under 1,000 and offers a liberal arts education in 32 majors, all consistent with the mission of the Methodist Church. If students desire personal attention, they can find it at Millsaps College, with an average class size and student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1.
Oxford

The city of Oxford, incorporated in 1837, is now well known as the location of the University of Mississippi. Like many other cities with a university as one of its most prominent claims to fame, Oxford is a vibrant and popular college town, especially noted by college football fans. According to USA Today, Oxford has been ranked as the ninth best college town in the country. But college life isn't the only thing Oxford has to offer. A wonderful atmosphere, southern charm and rich history permeate the city and make Oxford a popular place to live and work.

College Name School Type Annual Net Price Annual Median Earnings
10 Years After College

Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

OxfordUniversity of Mississippi Public $13,858 $40,600
More commonly referred to as ?Ole Miss,? the University of Mississippi was founded in 1848. As the largest university in Mississippi with over 23,000 students, Ole Miss offers numerous degree options and areas of study. There are almost 40 degree programs and seven schools, including the schools of accountancy, law, education, engineering and pharmacy. For sports fans or those who want to pursue athletic careers, Ole Miss is home to many teams regularly noted on the national stage.

Source: College Scorecard

Mississippi College Resources

For information on getting into one of the many colleges in Mississippi, check out the following list of resources. They provide valuable information on higher education options as well as how to pay for them.

College Savings MACS

In order to help students pay for college, the state of Mississippi offers a variety of 529 college savings plans, special investment and savings vehicles that provide certain tax benefits.

Mississippi Articulation and Transfer Tool

MATT explains the college transfer process for Mississippi students as well as how adult or nontraditional learners can transition back to college learning.

Mississippi Gradjobs

Mississippi Gradjobs is an online source bringing together recent graduates who are looking for a job with Mississippi employers looking to hire recent grads.

Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning

The Institutions of Higher Learning is a group of eight public universities in Mississippi. Along with the Board of Trustees, they have the mission of running Mississippi's public university system as effectively as possible.

Mississippi Office of Student Financial Aid

The Mississippi Office of Student Financial Aid administers state-based financial aid to Mississippi residents. Students can use the website to submit their application and check on its status.

Office of Adult Basic Education

This office provides professional and educational opportunities to individuals who want to become productive members of the Mississippi workforce.

Become Team
Become Team
Contributing Writer