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

Maryland’s Best Public Colleges and Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in Maryland

The Old Line State has 46 colleges and universities, 30 of which are public and 16 of which are private. The United States Naval Academy offers programs in physical sciences, aeronautical engineering, and naval architecture. The largest private institution, Johns Hopkins University, has just over 24,000 students and a tuition rate of $54,000. Located in Baltimore, this research university is known for its science and medical discoveries.

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The University of Maryland in College Park boasts over 35,000 students with a price tag of $11,000. The school has 15 campuses, and students can choose from areas of study like criminal justice, communications, physics, and sociology. The most affordable school in the state, Baltimore City Community College comes in at $3,000 and has 37 associate degree programs to choose from. Maryland also provides loan forgiveness programs for its residents, including those for dentists and public servants. Students can also check out the Maryland SmartBuy Home Buyer Assistance and Forgiveness Program, where eligible applicants can receive up to 15% of the home purchase price toward outstanding student loan, to be paid off as part of closing.

Maryland is a state bursting with history, from its numerous museums to its historic battlegrounds. Students who attend school in Maryland can explore the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Park and walk the same streets as many influential Marylanders, including Francis Scott Key, Babe Ruth, Billie Holiday, and Thurgood Marshall.

Whether you’re looking to earn an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree, Maryland offers its students history, legacy, and numerous degree paths.


What are Maryland’s Colleges & Universities?

Maryland’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 Maryland; 6 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 50%.

How do we determine Maryland'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.

Best Public Colleges & Universities in Maryland

  1. #1

    United States Naval Academy

    #189 institution's historical influence
    #52 overall school desirability

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    90%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1350/29

    Annapolis, MD

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    What is United States Naval Academy known for?

    United States Naval Academy’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • History
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Computer Science
    • Chemistry
    • Earth Sciences
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    University of Maryland, College Park

    #81 institution's historical influence
    #214 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    51%

    Graduation

    87%

    Student body

    37K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1375/31

    College Park, MD

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    What is University of Maryland, College Park known for?

    University of Maryland, College Park’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Economics
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    St. Mary's College of Maryland

    #2289 institution's historical influence
    #900 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $15K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1175/25

    St. Mary's City, MD

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    What is St. Mary's College of Maryland known for?

    St. Mary's College of Maryland’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Philosophy
    • Economics
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    University of Maryland, Baltimore County

    #1151 institution's historical influence
    #1334 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    70%

    Student body

    11K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1270/26

    Baltimore, MD

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    What is University of Maryland, Baltimore County known for?

    University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Medical
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    Towson University

    #1074 institution's historical influence
    #1075 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    20K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1140/22

    Towson, MD

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    What is Towson University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #6

    Salisbury University

    #2299 institution's historical influence
    #1005 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    8K

    Salisbury, MD

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    What is Salisbury University known for?

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

    • Business
    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • History
    • Nursing
    • Earth Sciences
    • Chemistry
    • Medical

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