Best Public Colleges in Iowa 2022

Best Public Colleges in Iowa 2022

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

Colleges and Universities in Iowa

Iowa’s largest public university, Iowa State University, serves over 30,000 students and offers extra flexibility for those pursuing a graduate-level degree or certificate through online and distance learning opportunities in more than 50 academic fields. Additionally, the home of the Hawkeyes, the University of Iowa, is also home to some of the nation’s top programs in literature, philosophy, and law. This school has also been at the forefront of higher education, starting the nation’s first co-educational medical school, as well as being the first public school to grant a law degree to a woman, Mary B. Hickey Wilkinson, in 1873.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

For students hoping to obtain their degrees at a smaller school, Iowa offers over 40 options to choose from, with tuition ranging from $4,000 at Indian Hills Community College up to $52,000 for an academic year at Grinnell College. Furthermore, nearly half of the schools in Iowa are religiously affiliated.

Iowa is often recognized for its agriculture as it produces the most pork and corn in the nation. Equally noteworthy is Iowa’s wealth of one-of-a-kind roadside attractions. From the largest wooden nickel, to the crookedest street, to the Grotto of Redemption, The Hawkeye State is full of wonders. Students in search of curiosities and oddities while earning a degree can attend one of Iowa’s public or private colleges.

Whether you’re looking to earn your associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree, Iowa offers many higher education institutes to choose from. Discover more about Iowa’s top programs and career paths.

What are Iowa’s Colleges & Universities?

Iowa’s Best Overall

What is the difference between public and private colleges?

Public and private colleges and universities operate under different business models. Public colleges and universities are owned by the state and receive both state and federal funding to operate. Private colleges and universities are private companies with private funding. If you’re looking at the pros and cons of private vs. public colleges, 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 bachelor’s 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. Attending a college in-state is usually the cheapest option. Private universities and colleges can be very competitive with their funding opportunities, so do not simply believe that private colleges are always going to be more expensive. According to National Center for Educational Statistics, the average annual cost (tuition, fees, room and board for full-time students) at a public university was slightly over $20,000. In contrast, private universities cost, on average, nearly $43,000 annually. But in the end, the cost of college comes down to each student’s academic and financial situation.

Iowa's Best Public Colleges Badge
Download Badge

This list is composed entirely of public colleges and universities that offer bachelor’s degrees. We’ve identified 3 public universities in Iowa. To be included in our list of the best public colleges in Iowa, shcools must receive direct funding from the state, be fully accredited, and offer a broad range of bachelor’s degress.

Back to Top

Best Public Colleges in Iowa 2022

  1. #1

    University of Iowa

    Iowa City , IA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees






    Student body


    Median SAT/ACT


    University of Iowa’s Online Degrees

    BA in Liberal Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Expression in Writing and Arts
    • Global Studies
    • Family
    • Community
    • and Social Support
    • Health and Human Studies
    • Justice and Ethics
    • Organizational Studies
    • Required Credits: 120
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Applied Studies
    Degree Concentrations
    • Creative Writing
    • Human Relations
    • Justice Studies
    • Political Science
    • Required Credits: 60
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Enterprise Leadership
    • Required Credits: 120-136
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Nursing
    • Required Credits: 32
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BS in Radiation Sciences
    • Required Credits: 60
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Political Science
    • Required Credits: None Reported
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
Back to Top

Iowa’s Best Public College in Your Area of Interest

2021 Ranking Archive

Many of our 2022 undergraduate focused rankings look considerably different than 2021. That’s because we took a fundamentally different apporach. For 2021 we utiulized our Concentrated Influence algorithm, designed to take away the size advantage larger schools have when we rank their faculty and alumni’s academic influence. Concentrated influence highlights smaller schools that are proportionally as successful as larger universities at cultivating influential alumni and faculty.

  1. University of Iowa
  2. Iowa State University
  3. University of Northern Iowa