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

Indiana’s Best Public Colleges and Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in Indiana

Among Indiana’s schools are some well-known colleges and universities, including the University of Notre Dame, Purdue University, and Butler University. While tuition and student population vary greatly among these schools, each boasts a high graduation rate. The state’s largest public university, Indiana University Bloomington, also notes a high graduation rate for its roughly 40,000 students and offers tuition just above the national average at $11,000.

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Additionally, students hoping to attend a school with a religious affiliation have nearly 30 options to choose from. Students at these schools can study areas like engineering, business, philosophy, religious studies, and law. Indiana offers loan forgiveness programs for health care workers who work in areas with labor shortages as well as for lawyers providing public legal aid. Additionally, graduates of Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law pursuing public interest law can apply for a special grant program that will help cover the cost of preparing and sitting for the bar exam.

With town names like Popcorn and Santa Claus, it is clear Indiana is no stranger to a good time. Along with these unique towns, Indiana also hosts the Indianapolis 500, a long-distance auto race; boasts a thriving art scene; and has been home to iconic celebrities, including Larry Bird, James Dean, and David Letterman. Students wanting to experience all Indiana has to offer while studying have the option of attending one of Indiana’s more than 50 higher education institutes.

Explore Indiana’s more than 50 colleges and universities to find a program and future career path that’s right for you.


What are Indiana’s Colleges & Universities?

Indiana’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 13 public universities in Indiana; 4 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 Indiana's best public colleges and universities?

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.

Best Public Colleges & Universities in Indiana

  1. #1

    Purdue University

    #62 institution's historical influence
    #1204 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    67%

    Graduation

    83%

    Student body

    43K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1315/28

    West Lafayette, IN

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    What is Purdue University known for?

    Purdue University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Medical
    • Education
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    Indiana University Bloomington

    #56 institution's historical influence
    #875 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    80%

    Student body

    41K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1255/27

    Bloomington, IN

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    What is Indiana University Bloomington known for?

    Indiana University Bloomington’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Medical
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Education
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    Ball State University

    #698 institution's historical influence
    #1046 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    87%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    20K

    Muncie, IN

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    What is Ball State University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis

    #2542 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    24K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1100/22

    Indianapolis, IN

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    What is Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis known for?

    Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Engineering
    • Nursing
    • Economics
    • Psychology
    • Business
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

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