Georgia’s Best Public Colleges and 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 Georgia provide broad access to reputable degree programs, affordable tuition, and sprawling educational communities.

Georgia’s Best Public Colleges and Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in Georgia

Georgia has 70 colleges and universities, 38 of which are public institutions. The University of Georgia, located in the city of Athens, is the largest, with over 35,000 students. Those attending Georgia State University and Georgia Southern University will enter into a friendly athletics rivalry. Tuition at Georgia State costs $9,000, and at Georgia Southern, $6,000. Of the 20 religiously affiliated schools, Emory University has both the highest tuition, just over $50,000, and student population, with over 13,000 in attendance. Whether you’re looking to earn your associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree, Georgia schools offer plenty of options.

Students can earn degrees in religious studies, business, social work, law, and computer science. Those looking to attend technical colleges can also choose from a handful of schools that offer two-year degrees in medicine, nursing, and education. Part of the University System of Georgia, Atlanta Metropolitan State college is the state’s most affordable college at $3,000, and its students can major in fields like mathematics, criminal justice, and philosophy.

The Blue Ridge Mountains, oak and hickory forests, and the Atlantic Coastal Plain all make their home in Georgia, but the state’s most notable landform is the Okefenokee Swamp, the largest such water-mass in North America. This diverse landscape in The Peach State provides Georgia’s college and graduate students with a beautiful backdrop for an education.

Georgia also offers a loan repayment program for qualifying graduates in the medical field through the Georgia Board of Health Care Workforce. Check out the best degree programs and top career paths this southern state has to offer.

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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 22 public universities in Georgia; 7 of which meet our criteria. The list below of the best public universities in the state satisfies the following four conditions:

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

How do we determine Georgia's best public 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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Best Public Colleges & Universities in Georgia

  1. Georgia Institute of Technology
    #1

    Georgia Institute of Technology

    #145 institution's overall influence
    #39 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    22%

    Graduation

    86%

    Student body

    28K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1465/32

    Atlanta, GA

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    What is Georgia Institute of Technology known for?

    Georgia Institute of Technology's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Chemistry
    • Communications
    • Business
    • Physics
    • Mathematics
    • Earth Sciences
    • History
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. University of Georgia
    #2

    University of Georgia

    #138 institution's overall influence
    #58 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    49%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    37K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1325/29

    Athens, GA

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    What is University of Georgia known for?

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

    • Social Work
    • Law
    • Education
    • Medical
    • History
    • Business
    • Chemistry
    • Engineering
    • Sociology
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. Georgia State University
    #3

    Georgia State University

    #519 institution's overall influence
    #975 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    32K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1155/23

    Atlanta, GA

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    What is Georgia State University known for?

    Georgia State University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Criminal Justice
    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • Social Work
    • Nursing
    • Communications
    • Engineering
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. Georgia College & State University
    #4

    Georgia College & State University

    #1266 institution's overall influence
    #1195 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1195/25

    Milledgeville, GA

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    What is Georgia College & State University known for?

    Georgia College & State University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Nursing
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. Georgia Southern University
    #5

    Georgia Southern University

    #1684 institution's overall influence
    #187 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Acceptance

    68%

    Graduation

    47%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/23

    Statesboro, GA

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    What is Georgia Southern University known for?

    Georgia Southern University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Criminal Justice
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science
    • Anthropology
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Nursing
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. University of West Georgia
    #6

    University of West Georgia

    #1906 institution's overall influence
    #204 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Acceptance

    58%

    Graduation

    41%

    Student body

    12K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1000/20

    Carrollton, GA

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    What is University of West Georgia known for?

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

    • Psychology
    • Physics
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Nursing
    • History
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. Gordon State College
    #7

    Gordon State College

    #9134 institution's overall influence
    #599 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $4K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    945/17

    Barnesville, GA

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    What is Gordon State College known for?

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

    • Mathematics
    • Nursing
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

Find the best public college in Georgia for your interests

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

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