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

Kansas’s Best Public Colleges & Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in Kansas

Beyond the 23 community and technical colleges, Kansas also has nine public universities, the largest being the University of Kansas (KU) with over 28,000 students. The school’s main campus is located in Lawrence, Kansas, but there are four other locations where students can attend KU classes: Overland Park, Kansas City, Wichita, and Salina. Kansas is also home to 22 private higher education institutions, with tuition ranging from $7,000 to $31,000.

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In addition, students can choose from one of 18 religiously affiliated schools, including Newman University, Wichita — a Catholic liberal arts university serving the state’s largest private school student population at just over 2,000. Just under the national tuition average at $9,230, Kansas is also an affordable state in which to earn your degree. The state awards associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in common fields of study, like economics, nursing, business, and education. Specialized degrees include aerospace engineering at the University of Kansas and agribusiness from Kansas State University. Those in the medical and health fields can check out loan forgiveness programs, such as the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program, which awards up to $50,000, tax free, for those who serve two years at an approved site.

Arguably, it was the 1939 cinema classic, The Wizard of Oz, that put Kansas on the map. But The Sunflower State is also known for its mouth-watering barbecue, open plains, and vast sunflower fields. Prospective students can also choose from 50 colleges and universities across this Midwestern state.

See what Kansas has to offer by checking out the top programs and career paths available.


What are Kansas’s Colleges & Universities?

Kansas’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 Kansas'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 7 public universities in Kansas, 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.
  4. It must have a graduation rate above 30%.

Best Public Colleges & Universities in Kansas

  1. #1

    University of Kansas

    #122 institution's historical influence
    #620 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    63%

    Student body

    23K

    Lawrence, KS

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    What is University of Kansas known for?

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

    • Biology
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Engineering
    • Medical
    • History
    • Literature
    • Law
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

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  2. #2

    Kansas State University

    #349 institution's historical influence
    #1154 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    18K

    Manhattan, KS

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    What is Kansas State University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    Washburn University

    #755 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    4K

    Topeka, KS

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    What is Washburn University known for?

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

    • Law
    • Literature
    • Business
    • Education
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Communications
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
  4. #4

    Wichita State University

    #929 institution's historical influence
    #407 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    48%

    Student body

    12K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1150/23

    Wichita, KS

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    What is Wichita State University known for?

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

    • Engineering
    • Education
    • Business
    • History
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    Pittsburg State University

    #1963 institution's historical influence
    #1370 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1050/21

    Pittsburg, KS

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    What is Pittsburg State University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Business
    • History
    • Literature
    • Engineering
    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
  6. #6

    Emporia State University

    #1572 institution's historical influence
    #1371 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    86%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1002/22

    Emporia, KS

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    What is Emporia State University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Business
    • Biology
    • History
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Literature
    • Physics
  7. #7

    Fort Hays State University

    #2464 institution's historical influence
    #1261 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $5K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    10K

    Hays, KS

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    What is Fort Hays State University known for?

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

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

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