Florida’s Best Small Colleges & Universities of 2021

Small colleges in Florida are a great option for students interested in a more intimate campus experience, more personal attention from excellent professors, and more immediate access to support services. Whether the focus is on the technical or on the liberal arts, small colleges give you the chance to pursue a well-rounded education while working closely with classmates and professors in a dynamic community atmosphere.

Florida’s Best Small 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.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

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.

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The following list of the best small colleges and universities in Florida is composed mainly of four-year undergraduate schools (though a handful also offer graduate programs). We’ve identified a total of 34 small colleges in Florida. The list below of the 20 best small colleges in the state satisfies the following three conditions::

  1. It must be a non-profit institution.
  2. It must be fully accredited.
  3. Its student body must consist of 5,000 or fewer students.
  4. Its graduation rate must be above 40%.

How do we determine Florida's best small 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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20 Best Small Colleges & Universities in Florida

  1. New College of Florida
    #1

    New College of Florida

    #1262 institution's overall influence
    #846 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1270/28

    Sarasota, FL

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  2. Ave Maria University
    #2

    Ave Maria University

    #2575 institution's overall influence
    #1037 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $22K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1135/24

    Ave Maria, FL

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  3. Eckerd College
    #3

    Eckerd College

    #1548 institution's overall influence
    #357 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $46K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    70%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1185/26

    Saint Petersburg, FL

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    What is Eckerd College known for?

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. Rollins College
    #4

    Rollins College

    #919 institution's overall influence
    #472 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $52K

    Acceptance

    61%

    Graduation

    75%

    Student body

    4K

    Winter Park, FL

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    What is Rollins College known for?

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

    • Business
    • Literature
    • Education
    • Chemistry
    • History
    • Economics
    • Communications
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. St. Thomas University
    #5

    St. Thomas University

    #3615 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $32K

    Acceptance

    60%

    Graduation

    44%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    990/19

    Miami Gardens, FL

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    What is St. Thomas University known for?

    St. Thomas University 's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Law
    • Education
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Medical
    • Criminal Justice
    • Computer Science
    • Communications
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. Stetson University
    #6

    Stetson University

    #833 institution's overall influence
    #797 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $48K

    Acceptance

    81%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    4K

    DeLand, FL

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    What is Stetson University known for?

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

    • Law
    • Business
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Religious Studies
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. Flagler College
    #7

    Flagler College

    #3812 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $20K

    Acceptance

    56%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    3K

    Saint Augustine, FL

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    What is Flagler College known for?

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. Florida Southern College
    #8

    Florida Southern College

    #1721 institution's overall influence
    #1434 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $38K

    Acceptance

    50%

    Graduation

    63%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1192/26

    Lakeland, FL

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    What is Florida Southern College known for?

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. Jacksonville University
    #9

    Jacksonville University

    #1512 institution's overall influence
    #406 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $38K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    43%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1035/21

    Jacksonville, FL

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    What is Jacksonville University known for?

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. Palm Beach Atlantic University
    #10

    Palm Beach Atlantic University

    #3787 institution's overall influence
    #941 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1090/23

    West Palm Beach, FL

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    What is Palm Beach Atlantic University known for?

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. Lynn University
    #11

    Lynn University

    #4072 institution's overall influence
    #543 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $39K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1075/23

    Boca Raton, FL

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    What is Lynn University known for?

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

    • Business
    • Education
    • Communications
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Criminal Justice
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. Everglades University
    #12

    Everglades University

    #7942 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $18K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    2K

    Boca Raton, FL

    View profile

  13. St. Johns River State College
    #13

    St. Johns River State College

    #5497 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $3K

    Student body

    5K

    Palatka, FL

    View profile

    What is St. Johns River State College known for?

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. University of South Florida Sarasota–Manatee
    #14

    University of South Florida Sarasota–Manatee

    #9461 institution's overall influence
    #103 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Acceptance

    24%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1225/27

    Sarasota, FL

    View profile

  15. Florida Gateway College
    #15

    Florida Gateway College

    #7861 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $3K

    Student body

    2K

    Lake City, FL

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    What is Florida Gateway College known for?

    Florida Gateway College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • Criminal Justice
    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. Northwest Florida State College
    #16

    Northwest Florida State College

    #8211 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $3K

    Student body

    4K

    Niceville, FL

    View profile

    What is Northwest Florida State College known for?

    Northwest Florida State College's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  17. South Florida State College
    #17

    South Florida State College

    #6056 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $3K

    Student body

    2K

    Avon Park, FL

    View profile

    What is South Florida State College known for?

    Most Influential Alumni

  18. Beacon College
    #18

    Beacon College

    #6304 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $41K

    Acceptance

    45%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    <1K

    Leesburg, FL

    View profile

  19. Lake–Sumter State College
    #19

    Lake–Sumter State College

    #12835 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $3K

    Student body

    3K

    Leesburg, FL

    View profile

  20. Chipola College
    #20

    Chipola College

    #6691 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $3K

    Student body

    1K

    Marianna, FL

    View profile

    What is Chipola College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

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