Best Missouri Colleges & Universities

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November 20, 2020 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Missouri is dedicated to higher education. In the state's Blueprint for Higher Education, Missouri vows to become a top ten state for investment research, rank among the ten most affordable states for a degree or certificate, and increase the number of working-age adults who hold postsecondary credentials to 60 percent, all by 2025. This guide presents various lists and rankings of the most affordable schools, popular areas to attend college and resources to help students interested in earning a degree in Missouri. Read on to learn more about Missouri colleges and universities.

Missouri College Leaderboard: Rankings

Let's be honest: it is very easy to become overwhelmed by the vast number of Missouri colleges available to aspiring students. To help make things easier, we have ranked Missouri colleges based on a variety of important characteristics, such as cost of attendance, availability of financial aid, and graduation rates. Students can use these rankings list as the basis of their college search.

Rankings Methodology Minimum Qualifications
  • Located in Missouri
  • 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

State Fair Community College View School Profile $ 21% 99.84 $29,200 17:1 14% N/A 17 Yes Yes
Crowder College View School Profile $ 22% 99.76 $26,500 15:1 18% N/A 10 Yes Yes
Jefferson College View School Profile $ 24% 99.18 $28,900 19:1 12% N/A 3 Yes Yes
East Central College View School Profile $ 17% 98.86 $26,700 19:1 6% N/A 0 Yes Yes
State Technical College of Missouri View School Profile $ 59% 98.79 $36,400 12:1 5% N/A 0 Yes No
North Central Missouri College View School Profile $ 30% 98.56 $27,700 19:1 21% N/A 20 No Yes
Moberly Area Community College View School Profile $ 19% 98.22 $27,800 21:1 7% N/A 4 Yes Yes
Ozarks Technical Community College View School Profile $ 20% 98.16 $27,500 23:1 4% N/A 13 Yes Yes
Mineral Area College View School Profile $ 27% 98.08 $25,800 23:1 15% N/A 1 Yes Yes
Three Rivers Community College View School Profile $ 17% 97.88 $26,400 24:1 17% N/A 18 Yes No
Missouri State University – West Plains View School Profile $ 27% 97.39 $25,400 22:1 29% N/A 0 Yes No
St Charles Community College View School Profile $ 19% 97.3 $32,000 24:1 4% N/A 0 Yes No
Lake Career and Technical Center View School Profile $ 93% 96.43 N/A 7:1 N/A N/A 0 Yes No
Texas County Technical College View School Profile $$ 76% 86 N/A 12:1 N/A N/A 0 Yes No

4-Year Programs

Washington University in St Louis View School Profile $$$$ 94% 99.77 $62,300 8:1 51% 17% 0 Yes No
Saint Louis University View School Profile $$$$ 70% 98.92 $55,200 12:1 88% 61% 4 Yes No
Maryville University of Saint Louis View School Profile $$$$ 70% 98.78 $44,500 13:1 97% 72% 4 Yes Yes
William Jewell College View School Profile $$$$ 69% 98.11 $40,300 10:1 100% 63% 0 Yes No
Rockhurst University View School Profile $$$$ 69% 98.08 $47,600 12:1 100% 77% 0 Yes No
Truman State University View School Profile $ 74% 97.59 $42,700 17:1 98% 74% 0 Yes No
Westminster College View School Profile $$$ 70% 97.25 $41,500 14:1 97% 66% 0 Yes No
Webster University View School Profile $$$ 64% 97.1 $39,400 13:1 94% 72% 23 Yes Yes
University of Missouri-Columbia View School Profile $$ 71% 97.02 $46,000 20:1 62% 78% 15 Yes No
Missouri University of Science and Technology View School Profile $$ 65% 96.48 $65,500 18:1 81% 86% 15 Yes No
Park University View School Profile $$ 41% 96.34 $43,900 12:1 80% 67% 9 Yes Yes
University of Missouri-Kansas City View School Profile $$ 44% 95.71 $43,100 14:1 75% 64% 2 Yes Yes
Northwest Missouri State University View School Profile $ 52% 95.68 $38,900 24:1 93% 77% 6 Yes No
Lindenwood University View School Profile $$ 41% 95.53 $39,700 13:1 94% 53% 10 Yes Yes
William Woods University View School Profile $$$ 49% 95.21 $34,200 10:1 100% 76% 6 Yes Yes
Avila University View School Profile $$$$ 43% 95.11 $41,600 12:1 98% 52% 2 No Yes
University of Missouri-St Louis View School Profile $$ 47% 94.98 $40,400 17:1 88% 76% 0 Yes No
Fontbonne University View School Profile $$$ 34% 94.66 $40,200 11:1 94% 91% 4 Yes Yes
Missouri State University-Springfield View School Profile $ 55% 93.94 $37,200 20:1 51% 85% 20 Yes No
University of Central Missouri View School Profile $ 49% 93.61 $36,600 18:1 60% 78% 19 Yes Yes
Hannibal-LaGrange University View School Profile $$ 51% 93.46 $33,900 12:1 84% 61% 4 Yes Yes
Culver-Stockton College View School Profile $$$ 50% 93.15 $36,100 15:1 100% 58% 3 Yes No
Southwest Baptist University View School Profile $$$ 54% 93.01 $32,800 15:1 94% 62% 1 Yes No
Central Methodist University-College of Liberal Arts and Sciences View School Profile $$$ 50% 92.92 $33,400 14:1 100% 61% 0 No No
College of the Ozarks View School Profile $$ 62% 92.83 $31,700 15:1 79% 8% 0 Yes No
Evangel University View School Profile $$$ 46% 92.75 $34,000 14:1 88% 65% 2 Yes Yes
Stephens College View School Profile $$$$ 56% 92.7 $30,700 9:1 99% 54% 4 No No
Southeast Missouri State University View School Profile $ 46% 92.69 $36,000 22:1 76% 85% 10 Yes No
Kansas City Art Institute View School Profile $$$$ 59% 92.02 $25,800 9:1 99% 60% 0 No Yes
Columbia College View School Profile $ 42% 91.31 $37,600 34:1 24% N/A 26 Yes Yes
Missouri Western State University View School Profile $ 30% 90.88 $32,400 17:1 60% N/A 1 Yes Yes
Missouri Valley College View School Profile $$ 25% 90.86 $33,400 16:1 99% 44% 1 Yes No
Missouri Baptist University View School Profile $$$ 38% 90.21 $33,100 20:1 99% 60% 7 Yes Yes
Calvary University View School Profile $$ 44% 90.15 $30,600 7:1 78% 100% 1 No Yes
Drury University View School Profile $$$ 48% 89.9 $32,200 19:1 76% 74% 8 Yes No
Missouri Southern State University View School Profile $ 33% 89.52 $32,800 18:1 51% 96% 11 Yes Yes
Harris-Stowe State University View School Profile $ 8% 88.68 $27,900 13:1 20% N/A 0 Yes No
Lincoln University View School Profile $ 24% 87.58 $30,300 17:1 41% N/A 2 No Yes
Baptist Bible College View School Profile $$ 29% 86.64 $29,500 14:1 70% N/A 1 No No
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary View School Profile $ 44% 86 N/A 17:1 12% 76% 2 Yes Yes

Search & Compare Colleges in Missouri

Missouri is home to many great colleges and universities, but that can make it tough to find the perfect fit. From financial considerations to learning styles and everything in between, sometimes students just need to look at very individual factors. The following tool allows students to compare schools side by side by reviewing the criteria that matters to them, like tuition, school type and acceptance rate.

College Outreach Programs in Missouri

For many individuals, going to college is the most significant event they will have faced up to that point in their young lives. From studying hard in high school to figuring how to pay for college, just getting there takes a lot of effort. Once there, other considerations take center stage, including which major to explore. To assist Missouri students, the state has created several resources; here are some of the best.

Multi-State Collaborative on Military Credit

The MCMC is an alliance of 13 states that developed a plan to make the transition from military life to college life as easy and seamless as possible. There is special emphasis placed on allowing veterans to transfer what they have learned in their military service to their college curriculum. Continuing efforts are underway to make it easier for veterans to obtain a degree, certificate, diploma or other credentials and training so that they may more easily enter the civilian workforce. The MCMC is a very new program, so keep in mind that the rules are not yet set in stone.

Missouri Connections

This free online resource provides students and parents with information to make plans for life after high school. Whether attending college or entering the workforce, students can take part in exercises to help them figure out what they want to do or study, and depending on the student's plans, find ways to pay for college or professional training. Parents will also find Missouri Connections useful in figuring out ways to support their child's education or professional plans, both financially and academically.

Show Me to College

This is a statewide program holds events across the state of Missouri at "FAFSA Frenzy" sites. The purpose is to promote financial aid resources to prospective college students and their families. At these FAFSA Frenzy sites, parents and students can learn more about the financial aid process and other ways to pay for college in Missouri. Also attending these events will be teachers, counselors and other financial professionals to help promote access to Missouri's higher education options.

Cost of College in Missouri

College can be expensive, so finding which school provides the most learning for your education buck is very important. It is important to remember that tuition doesn't tell the whole story. Another major factor is financial aid, such as how much is available and how easily students can obtain it. The following charts display this information for Missouri schools so that the actual cost of college can be more easily calculated and compared against other states in the nation.

* 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.

Missouri’s Most Affordable Colleges

The following section represents the six most affordable colleges in Missouri. To create this list, we looked at tuition rates, then factored in the average financial aid award for enrolled students. The resulting values provide a more accurate idea of what a college in Missouri will cost. Then we went a step further and included national average numbers to put Missouri college costs in a larger context.

Missouri College Net Price vs. National Average

Annual Net Price
MISSOURI $17,155

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

Best Missouri Colleges for Maximizing Earnings Potential

For colleges in Missouri, one selling point that often goes overlooked is what its alumni are making several years after graduating. One way to figure out if going to a particular school is worth it or not is to evaluate the earning potential of its graduates. These numbers represent how much alumni were making ten years after enrollment.

Missouri Alumni Salaries vs. National Average

Annual Median Earnings
10 Years After Entering College
MISSOURI $43,035

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

Colleges in Missouri With Least Student Loan Debt

College debt can be a huge burden to students, especially when that debt means putting big life milestones on hold. Therefore, almost as important as how much graduates can expect to earn is how much graduates have in student debt when they finish school. The following ranking presents the colleges in Missouri where students graduate with the least amount of debt.

Missouri College Grad Debt Vs. National Average

Median Federal Student
Loan Debt After Graduation
MISSOURI $22,074

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

Missouri Cost of Living: College Expenses Beyond Tuition

Understanding the tuition rate and probable financial aid award is just part of the equation when calculating the actual cost of a particular school. Tuition may be low and financial awards generous, but if the cost of living is high, a "cheap" school may end up being one of the more expensive options. To help students make a more informed decision, we have examined the cost of living in various areas of the state.

area composite index housing groceries utilities transportation health care misc.
Statewide Average 91% 79% 97% 97% 93% 95% 95%
Columbia 96% 88% 96% 107% 90% 102% 101%
Jefferson City 91% 77% 95% 100% 91% 100% 98%
Joplin 87% 70% 90% 118% 92% 91% 88%
Springfield 89% 76% 100% 76% 96% 102% 96%
St. Joseph 94% 89% 95% 97% 97% 88% 97%

Source: The Council for Community and Economic Research

Accreditation for Missouri Colleges

Accreditation has often been a prime consideration for students attending online schools, in order to avoid diploma mills and make sure their degree will mean something. But remember that confirming a school's accreditation is always important, whether they offer classes online or not. Accreditation ensures that a school meets certain minimum education requirements and that students will graduate with a competitive level of knowledge.

Schools can be accredited at either the school or program level, or both. Most schools in Missouri are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an independent corporation that accredits schools in Missouri and 18 other states in the North Central Region. Other organizations offer accreditation at the program level. These accreditations ensure the program is on a par with other programs in the field. Here are a few examples:

Popular College Cities in Missouri


Columbia is a quintessential college town, with the University of Missouri being the single biggest claim to fame. In fact, Columbia ranks 11th in USA Today's list of 25 best small college towns. Even for those not pursuing higher education, Columbia stills ranks as an amazing place to live - ranked Columbia as the 3rd best college town to live in. But there's more to Columbia than just the school. Things to do include visiting a museum or art gallery, enjoying the county fair or going on a microbrewery taste adventure.

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

Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

ColumbiaUniversity of Missouri Public $16,940 $46,000
The University of Missouri was the first university west of the Mississippi River when it was established in 1839. Over 300 degrees and certificates are available, with over 80 degrees offered online. Programs include academic areas such as law, engineering (the school boasts the most powerful university nuclear research reactor), medicine, journalism and music. Providing so many learning options comes as no surprise given Mizzou's enrollment size of over 35,000 students.
ColumbiaColumbia College Private for-profit $3,459 N/A
Established in 1851, Columbia College focuses on providing a high quality liberal arts and science curriculum. As a private school, emphasis is placed on small class sizes and high-quality, intensive learning experiences. The main campus is in Columbia and supports about 3,000 students, but there are dozens of campuses located all over the United States. Columbia College offers a total of 10 associate degrees, 59 bachelor's degrees and four master's degrees, of which 29 degrees are offered online.
ColumbiaStephens College Private not-for-profit $23,175 $30,700
An all women's school consisting of about 650 students, Stephens College was founded in 1883. It is also the second oldest women's college in the United States. Despite this, some of the online and graduate programs are coeducational. The curriculum emphasizes arts and science, with extra emphasis on providing hands-on learning. The level of attention provided to students is impressive, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1. Stephens College is especially renowned for its theatre and fashion programs.

Springfield was incorporated in 1838 and serves as an ideal college town, given the many schools that call the city home. Each year approximately 50,000 students choose to attend a college or university in Springfield. Besides being a great college town, Springfield hosts a variety of activities, such as museums, wineries, great shopping, theatres and salons. The area is widely known for its availability of outdoor activities, especially in the Ozarks.

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

Only includes former students who received federal financial aid.

SpringfieldDrury University Private not-for-profit $23,726 $32,200
Drury University is a private liberal arts college founded in 1873. The Springfield Campus sits on about 90 acres and educates 3,600 students. As a private school, the student-to-faculty ratio is an ideal 10:1, with an average class size of 18 students. Academic offerings include 46 majors and 39 minors.
SpringfieldOzarks Technical Community College Public $8,091 $27,500
Founded in 1990, OTCC provides a wide range of course offerings in both degree and non-degree tracks. Academic offerings include criminal justice, chemistry, business, teaching, computer science and fire science technology. In addition to associate degrees, the curriculum at Ozarks Technical Community College is particularly suited for providing practical job skills and preparing students to transfer to a four-year college or university.
SpringfieldMissouri State University Public $14,817 $37,200
MSU is comprised of four campuses, with its flagship campus located in Springfield. With over 24,000 students, Missouri State University is the second largest university in the state. There are six academic colleges, one graduate college and the school of agriculture. MSU's graduate programs are especially notable. For example, the online cybersecurity program ranks #2 in the country.

Source: College Scorecard

Missouri College Student Resources

The state of Missouri has several online resources available to help college students. The following list is specific to Missouri and covers numerous key topics, from paying for college to learning about higher education options and workforce initiatives.

This government resources website aids those searching for a job, as well as Missouri employers looking to hire.

Missouri Department of Higher Education

The Department of Higher Education oversees state efforts to maintain and improve the college and university system in Missouri.

Missouri Scholarship and Loan Foundation

This is a nonprofit organization that helps make higher education more accessible to students by providing scholarships and low-cost loans.


MOHELA is Missouri's higher education loan authority. In addition to servicing many of the student loans for Missouri students, MOHELA also provides information to help manage student debt by lowering and streamlining payments.


This is Missouri's 529 college savings plan. With the plan, students, parents and other individuals can save for college through certain investment vehicles that have special tax benefits.

St. Louis Graduates

Organizations in this program work together to make college more accessible to students, especially in the St. Louis region.

Become Team
Become Team
Contributing Writer is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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