Florida’s Best Public Colleges & Universities of 2021

Public colleges and universities account for almost 75 percent of all undergraduate students in the U.S. The best public colleges in Florida provide broad access to reputable degree programs, affordable tuition, and sprawling educational communities.

Florida’s Best Public Colleges & Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in Florida

Coming in under the national tuition average at $6,360, Florida’s colleges and universities make earning your degree affordable. Prospective students can choose from 40 public and 50 private institutions that award associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in fields like anthropology, nursing, law, religious studies, and earth sciences. With over 165,000 students across eight campuses and 21 outreach centers, Miami Dade College is the largest public college in the state with a tuition of $3,000.

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Students seeking a religious school can choose from 21 colleges and universities that are grounded in Judeo-Christian, Catholic, Seventh-day Adventist, and Christian principals. Ranked as the top two schools, the University of Florida (UF) and Florida State University (FSU) both have large student populations, with just over 45,000 at UF and just under 39,000 as FSU. Both are also affordable, with tuition at $6,000 and $7,000, respectively.

At $50,000, the University of Miami is the most expensive private college in the state and has graduated influential people, such as Gene Roddenberry, Sylvester Stallone, and Dwayne The Rock Johnson. Florida also offers its nursing students up to $4,000 in loan forgiveness through their Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness Program.

Coastal cities, sandy beaches, orange groves, and vibrant flowers — it’s no wonder Florida is called The Sunshine State. Home to the famous Everglades National Park and Disney World, Florida also boasts 90 higher education institutes.

With so many options and in such a beautiful setting, Florida has a lot to offer higher education students. Check out Florida’s best degree programs and top career paths.


What are Florida’s Colleges & Universities?

Florida’s Best Overall

What is a public college? And what is the difference between a private and public college?

Public and private colleges and universities operate under different business models — one is a private company with private funding; the other is owned by the state and receives both state and federal funding to operate. If you’re weighing the pros and cons of private vs. public college, consider that many public colleges provide diverse course offerings, influential professors, and an excellent return on your investment.

Public colleges are schools that receive most of their funding from tax revenues. As a result, the cost of a four-year degree at a public university is often lower than the equivalent cost at a private college — especially for students attending a public school in their home state. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the average annual cost (tuition, fees, room and board for full-time students) at a four-year public university was slightly over $20,000. In contrast, private universities cost, on average, nearly $43,000 annually.

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This list is composed entirely of public colleges and universities that offer four-year undergraduate degrees. We’ve identified 40 public universities in Florida. The list below of the 15 best public universities in the state satisfies the following three conditions:

  1. It must receive direct funding from the state.
  2. It must be fully accredited.
  3. Its offer a broad range of bachelor’s degree programs.
  4. Its graduation rate must be above 40%.

How do we determine Florida's best public colleges and universities?

Methodology

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.

15 Best Public Colleges & Universities in Flordia

  1. #1

    New College of Florida

    #1338 institution's historical influence
    #846 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1270/28

    Sarasota, FL

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    What is New College of Florida known for?

    New College of Florida’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

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  2. #2

    University of Florida

    #72 institution's historical influence
    #45 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Acceptance

    31%

    Graduation

    89%

    Student body

    47K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1390/30

    Gainesville, FL

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    What is University of Florida known for?

    University of Florida’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • History
    • Law
    • Chemistry
    • Literature
    • Education
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    Florida State University

    #156 institution's historical influence
    #174 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    32%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    40K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1270/28

    Tallahassee, FL

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    What is Florida State University known for?

    Florida State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Biology
    • Law
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science
    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    University of South Florida

    #336 institution's historical influence
    #239 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Acceptance

    49%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    44K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1250/27

    Tampa, FL

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    What is University of South Florida known for?

    University of South Florida’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Engineering
    • Education
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    Florida A&M University

    #1196 institution's historical influence
    #122 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Acceptance

    33%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1095/21

    Tallahassee, FL

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    What is Florida A&M University known for?

    Florida A&M University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Law
    • Engineering
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Communications
    • Chemistry
    • Psychology
  6. #6

    Florida International University

    #519 institution's historical influence
    #215 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    58%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    48K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1195/25

    Miami, FL

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    What is Florida International University known for?

    Florida International University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Law
    • Computer Science
    • Literature
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #7

    Florida Atlantic University

    #682 institution's historical influence
    #1363 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $5K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    26K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1160/24

    Boca Raton, FL

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    What is Florida Atlantic University known for?

    Florida Atlantic University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Engineering
    • Education
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • History
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  8. #8

    University of Central Florida

    #494 institution's historical influence
    #181 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Acceptance

    45%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    60K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1255/27

    Orlando, FL

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    What is University of Central Florida known for?

    University of Central Florida’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • Physics
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • History
  9. #9

    Seminole State College of Florida

    #4138 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $3K

    Graduation

    47%

    Student body

    12K

    Sanford, FL

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    What is Seminole State College of Florida known for?

    Seminole State College of Florida’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • Medical
    • Communications
    • Engineering
    • Nursing
    • Criminal Justice

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. #10

    University of West Florida

    #2019 institution's historical influence
    #156 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Acceptance

    58%

    Graduation

    48%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1170/25

    Pensacola, FL

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    What is University of West Florida known for?

    University of West Florida’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Education
    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Communications
    • Philosophy
  11. #11

    University of North Florida

    #1510 institution's historical influence
    #1230 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    15K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1175/22

    Jacksonville, FL

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    What is University of North Florida known for?

    University of North Florida’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Business
    • Education
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Engineering
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Communications
  12. #12

    Florida Gulf Coast University

    #2631 institution's historical influence
    #1392 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    13K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1135/23

    Fort Myers, FL

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    What is Florida Gulf Coast University known for?

    Florida Gulf Coast University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • Criminal Justice
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. #13

    Eastern Florida State College

    #6046 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $2K

    Graduation

    47%

    Student body

    11K

    Cocoa, FL

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    What is Eastern Florida State College known for?

    Eastern Florida State College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Medical
    • Criminal Justice
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Nursing
    • Communications
    • Social Work
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. #14

    Indian River State College

    #5149 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $3K

    Graduation

    43%

    Student body

    11K

    Fort Pierce, FL

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    What is Indian River State College known for?

    Indian River State College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • Computer Science
    • Criminal Justice
    • Biology
  15. #15

    University of South Florida Sarasota–Manatee

    #9467 institution's historical influence
    #103 overall school desirability

    Acceptance

    24%

    Median SAT/ACT

    1225/27

    Sarasota, FL

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    What is University of South Florida Sarasota–Manatee known for?

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