Idaho’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 Idaho provide broad access to reputable degree programs, affordable tuition, and sprawling educational communities.

Idaho’s Best Public Colleges & Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in Idaho

Just over half of the 13 colleges and universities in Idaho are public schools. Boise State University, Idaho’s largest public university, serves roughly 17,000 students. Here, students can pursue degrees in fields like communications, earth sciences, and engineering. Idaho is also home to five private schools, including the state’s largest school, Brigham Young University Idaho, which has a student population of nearly 49,000 students.

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While students at BYU school can expect to pay around $4,000 in tuition, well below the national average, the other private school tuition costs range between $13,000 to $30,000. The majority of Idaho’s colleges and universities can be considered small schools, serving student populations of 4,000 or less. However, the state’s largest schools offer the most affordable tuition fees, ranging from as little as $4,000 to $8,000. Students who pursue their degrees in Idaho can study fields like chemistry, law, and anthropology at the University of Idaho or religious studies, psychology, and literature at New Saint Andrews College. Additionally, Idaho offers a loan forgiveness program of up to $100,000 to physicians who work in the state’s rural areas.

French fries, mashed potatoes, tater tots, and even potato-inspired ice cream — Idaho is, as per its reputation, a potato lover’s dream. But it’s not all spuds in this state. Along with countless hiking trails, rivers perfect for rafting trips, and 72 types of gemstones, this state offers higher education institutes with competitive tuition fees and programs.

For more information, explore some of Idaho’s top programs and future career possibilities.


What are Idaho’s Colleges & Universities?

Idaho’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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How do we determine Idaho'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.


This list is composed entirely of public colleges and universities that offer four-year undergraduate degrees. We’ve identified 4 public universities in Idaho, all of which satisfy 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.

Best Public Colleges & Universities in Idaho

  1. #1

    University of Idaho

    #637 institution's historical influence
    #1023 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    74%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1125/23

    Moscow, ID

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    What is University of Idaho known for?

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

    • Biology
    • Engineering
    • Education
    • Business
    • Chemistry
    • History
    • Law
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
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  2. #2

    Boise State University

    #1516 institution's historical influence
    #981 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    18K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/23

    Boise, ID

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    What is Boise State University known for?

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

    • Business
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Literature
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  3. #3

    Idaho State University

    #1519 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Graduation

    34%

    Student body

    9K

    Pocatello, ID

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    What is Idaho State University known for?

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

    • Biology
    • Education
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Engineering
    • History
    • Anthropology
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    Lewis–Clark State College

    #6482 institution's historical influence
    #404 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    100%

    Graduation

    36%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    990/19

    Lewiston, ID

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    What is Lewis–Clark State College known for?

    Lewis–Clark State College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • History
    • Engineering
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Earth Sciences
    • Mathematics

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