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

Mississippi’s Best Public Colleges & Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in Mississippi

The majority of the learning institutes in Mississippi are public schools, with the University of Mississippi, also known as Ole Miss, being the largest. This university, located in Oxford, boasts alumni like William Faulkner, John Grisham, and James Meredith. Tuition at Ole Miss runs about $9,000, just below the national average. The eight private colleges, all of which have religious affiliations, range in tuition costs from $10,000 at Rust College to $40,000 at Millsaps College.

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Students who attend these schools have the option to pursue degrees in fields like nursing, business, dentistry, Christian ministry, education, and literature. Additionally, all of these private schools are considered small schools, serving under 5,000 students. Mississippi also offers up to $12,000 of undergraduate loan forgiveness, over the course of four years, for teachers who work in designated shortage areas or who teach in critical shortage subjects, like special education or mathematics.

From Mississippi mud pie to fried chicken, Mississippi brings a whole new meaning to the term comfort food. The Magnolia State is easy on the eyes too. With nearly endless forests spilling over with hickory, pine, and oak trees, the intricate river system, and the Gulf Island National Seashore, Mississippi is a true destination for lovers of outdoor adventure. And students who plan on earning their associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in Mississippi have 31 colleges and universities to choose from.

Explore some of the top schools and career paths Mississippi has to offer.

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What are Mississippi’s Colleges & Universities?

Mississippi’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 Mississippi'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.

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This list is composed entirely of public colleges and universities that offer four-year undergraduate degrees. We’ve identified 8 public universities in Mississippithe top 4 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 greater than 40%.

Best Public Colleges & Universities in Mississippi

  1. #1

    University of Mississippi

    #333 institution's historical influence
    #710 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    20K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1135/25

    University, MS

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    What is University of Mississippi known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    Mississippi University for Women

    #1872 institution's historical influence
    #445 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    99%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1080/21

    Columbus, MS

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    What is Mississippi University for Women known for?

    Mississippi University for Women’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Nursing
    • History
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Chemistry
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    Mississippi State University

    #600 institution's historical influence
    #821 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    20K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1175/26

    Mississippi State, MS

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    What is Mississippi State University known for?

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

    • Business
    • Engineering
    • History
    • Biology
    • Education
    • Communications
    • Earth Sciences
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

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  4. #4

    University of Southern Mississippi

    #1084 institution's historical influence
    #825 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    96%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    13K

    Hattiesburg, MS

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    What is University of Southern Mississippi known for?

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

    • Business
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Chemistry
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    Delta State University

    #2334 institution's historical influence
    #1013 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    100%

    Graduation

    39%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1115/21

    Cleveland, MS

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    What is Delta State University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Business
    • Medical
    • History
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Nursing
    • Mathematics
    • Social Work
    • Sociology
  6. #6

    Alcorn State University

    #1258 institution's historical influence
    #425 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    38%

    Graduation

    45%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    885/20

    Alcorn State, MS

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    What is Alcorn State University known for?

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

    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Nursing
    • History
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Criminal Justice
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #7

    Mississippi Valley State University

    #4118 institution's historical influence
    #623 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    83%

    Graduation

    27%

    Student body

    2K

    Itta Bena, MS

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    What is Mississippi Valley State University known for?

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

    • Education
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Criminal Justice
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Law
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #8

    Jackson State University

    #1262 institution's historical influence
    #257 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    90%

    Graduation

    44%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    981/19

    Jackson, MS

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    What is Jackson State University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

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