Alabama’s Best Colleges & Universities of 2021

Here are the best colleges and universities in Alabama, categorized into two lists – research universities and liberal arts colleges – to help you find the right kind of school for you.

Alabama’s Best Colleges & Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in Alabama

The 54 colleges and universities in Alabama allow students to pursue associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in many fields all over the state. Some of the most notable degree areas include law, nursing, biology, history, engineering, and religious studies.

Students hoping to obtain a four-year degree at a larger university can attend one of the two largest — as well as rivalry — schools, the University of Alabama and Auburn University. Both schools’ tuition is about $11,000, though the University of Alabama’s student population, at nearly 36,000 students, is larger than Auburn’s. Students also have the option of attending one of Alabama’s 18 private higher education institutes, many of which have religious affiliations. Tuition costs and student populations range greatly among these schools, from $36,000 to $4,000 and nearly 15,000 students to less than 100, letting students factor in their budget with their class size demands.

Additionally, students who need more flexibility can take advantage of the satellite campuses, like at the University of North Alabama, or the 70 online degree programs offered at the University of Alabama, to easily obtain their degrees. For more information on higher education in Alabama, check out some of the state’s top programs and their corresponding career paths.

For die-hard football fans and lovers of sweet tea, obtaining a higher education degree in Alabama can seem like an obvious choice. The Yellowhammer State, however, is also home to a unique mixture of coastal, mountainous, and swamp environments, making it a great choice for students who love soaking up the outdoors.

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Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

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How do we determine Alabama's best colleges and universities?

The best colleges pound for pound!

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why, at the undergraduate level, we rank the best colleges and universities based on what we call Concentrated Influence. Concentrated Influence takes the combined influence score of a college or university’s top academic influencers (including faculty and alums) and divides it by the school’s total number of undergraduates.

Using concentrated influence gives small and mid-sized schools an opportunity to shine by taking away the size advantage of larger universities. A small school with proportionately more influential faculty than a large school, whose influence in absolute terms may be bigger, will nonetheless score higher in a concentrated influence ranking. Our approach highlights undergraduate schools that truly rank for excellence, regardless of size.

If you are serious about finding the best colleges and universities for a bachelor’s degree, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching and whether their graduates are themselves advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence.

Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Concentrated Influence provides a ranking that is free from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

Find out more about our ranking methodology here.

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5 Best Research Universities in Alabama

A research university is a great option for students interested in obtaining STEM degrees. Research universities invest heavily in research, which consequently provides meaningful and extensive opportunities for its students and faculty to participate in research. We’ve identified 7 research universities in Alabama that satisfy the following three conditions:

  1. It must be a fully accredited university.
  2. It must offer doctoral degrees across the range of STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).
  3. It must report high levels of research activity based upon the number of research and/or practice doctorates awarded each year.

  1. Auburn University
    #1

    Auburn University

    #321 institution's overall influence
    #1155 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    75%

    Student body

    28K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1230/27

    Auburn, AL

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    What is Auburn University known for?

    Auburn University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • History
    • Communications
    • Business
    • Economics
    • Nursing
    • Computer Science
    • Philosophy
    • Chemistry
    • Earth Sciences

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. University of Alabama
    #2

    University of Alabama

    #199 institution's overall influence
    #94 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    36K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1170/27

    Tuscaloosa, AL

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    What is University of Alabama known for?

    University of Alabama's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • History
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Anthropology
    • Psychology
    • Social Work
    • Nursing
    • Engineering
    • Law

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. University of Alabama at Birmingham
    #3

    University of Alabama at Birmingham

    #767 institution's overall influence
    #1232 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    18K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1110/25

    Birmingham, AL

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    What is University of Alabama at Birmingham known for?

    University of Alabama at Birmingham's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Engineering
    • Chemistry
    • Anthropology
    • Psychology
    • Education
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. University of Alabama in Huntsville
    #4

    University of Alabama in Huntsville

    #1053 institution's overall influence
    #1326 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    81%

    Graduation

    49%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1195/28

    Huntsville, AL

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    What is University of Alabama in Huntsville known for?

    University of Alabama in Huntsville's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Physics
    • Engineering
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Computer Science
    • Communications
    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. Samford University
    #5

    Samford University

    #1429 institution's overall influence
    #912 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $32K

    Acceptance

    82%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1171/26

    Birmingham, AL

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    What is Samford University known for?

    Samford University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Social Work
    • Law
    • Nursing
    • History
    • Education
    • Religious Studies
    • Engineering
    • Criminal Justice
    • Business
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

10 Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Alabama

A liberal arts college is a school that puts a premium on undergraduate studies and offers a broad range of subjects for students to study. A college of liberal arts typically provides smaller class sizes, more direct engagement with professors, and, most importantly, the opportunity to sample a wide range of subject areas on the way to a bachelor’s degree. We’ve identified 17 liberal arts universities in Alabama that satisfy the following three conditions:

  1. It must be a non-profit institution.
  2. It must be fully accredited.
  3. It must have a student body of at least 1,000 students.

  1. Tuskegee University
    #1

    Tuskegee University

    #569 institution's overall influence
    #338 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $22K

    Acceptance

    52%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    960/22

    Tuskegee, AL

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    What is Tuskegee University known for?

    Tuskegee University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Nursing
    • Sociology
    • Literature
    • Chemistry
    • Social Work
    • Medical
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. Birmingham–Southern College
    #2

    Birmingham–Southern College

    #1173 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $18K

    Acceptance

    57%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/26

    Birmingham, AL

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    What is Birmingham–Southern College known for?

    Birmingham–Southern College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Sociology
    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Engineering
    • History
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. Spring Hill College
    #3

    Spring Hill College

    #1921 institution's overall influence
    #506 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $39K

    Acceptance

    66%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1100/22

    Mobile, AL

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    What is Spring Hill College known for?

    Spring Hill College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Mathematics
    • Nursing
    • History
    • Communications
    • Religious Studies
    • Literature
    • Sociology
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. Huntingdon College
    #4

    Huntingdon College

    #1169 institution's overall influence
    #1018 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $26K

    Acceptance

    58%

    Graduation

    39%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1074/21

    Montgomery, AL

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    What is Huntingdon College known for?

    Huntingdon College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Chemistry
    • Sociology
    • History
    • Communications
    • Education
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. Oakwood University
    #5

    Oakwood University

    #3299 institution's overall influence
    #960 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $20K

    Acceptance

    66%

    Graduation

    47%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    976/19

    Huntsville, AL

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    What is Oakwood University known for?

    Oakwood University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Communications
    • Chemistry
    • Education
    • Nursing
    • Social Work
    • Psychology
    • Sociology
    • Medical
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. University of Montevallo
    #6

    University of Montevallo

    #2422 institution's overall influence
    #1372 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    48%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    /23

    Montevallo, AL

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    What is University of Montevallo known for?

    University of Montevallo's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Social Work
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Sociology
    • Chemistry
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Education
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. University of North Alabama
    #7

    University of North Alabama

    #1832 institution's overall influence
    #726 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    64%

    Graduation

    43%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1100/22

    Florence, AL

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    What is University of North Alabama known for?

    University of North Alabama's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Nursing
    • Engineering
    • Education
    • Criminal Justice
    • History
    • Social Work
    • Chemistry
    • Business
    • Communications
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. University of Mobile
    #8

    University of Mobile

    #864 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $23K

    Acceptance

    47%

    Graduation

    48%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    988/21

    Mobile, AL

    View profile

    What is University of Mobile known for?

    University of Mobile's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • History
    • Nursing
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science
    • Medical
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. Troy University
    #9

    Troy University

    #1849 institution's overall influence
    #720 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    38%

    Student body

    14K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1052/21

    Troy, AL

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    What is Troy University known for?

    Troy University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Communications
    • History
    • Criminal Justice
    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • Nursing
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. Judson College
    #10

    Judson College

    #4961 institution's overall influence
    #1432 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $19K

    Acceptance

    48%

    Graduation

    39%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1097/20

    Marion, AL

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    What is Judson College known for?

    Judson College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Nursing
    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

Find the Best Schools in Alabama for your Major

Anthropology

Biology

Business

Chemistry

Communications

Computer Science

Criminal Justice

Earth Sciences

Economics

Education

Engineering

History

Law

Literature

Mathematics

Medical

Nursing

Philosophy

Physics

Political Science

Psychology

Religious Studies

Social Work

Sociology

Resources for College-Bound Students

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