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

Nebraska’s Best Public Colleges & Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in Nebraska

Students can choose from 29 higher learning institutions, including community colleges, technical institutes, religious colleges, and public universities. Of the 15 public campuses, the University of Nebraska – Lincoln is the largest, with over 22,000 students. Coming in under the national average, the university’s tuition rate is $9,000, and students can earn their degree in fields such as law, mathematics, communication, and sociology.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

The most affordable schools in the state are its six community colleges with tuition ranging from $3,000 to $4,000. Nebraska also has 12 religiously affiliated institutions, including those with Methodist, Presbyterian, Catholic, and Lutheran influences. At $40,000 in tuition, Creighton University is both the largest and most expensive of these schools, and it boasts a 95% employment rate after graduation.

As one of the largest corn producers in the country, it’s no wonder Nebraska’s nickname is The Cornhusker State. The state is also home to an unusual monument — Carhenge. Replicating England’s famous Stonehenge, this structure is made out of vintage American automobiles that have been painted gray and lodged into the ground. With the Great Plains, over 20,000 square miles of sand dunes, and a portion of the Badlands, Nebraska offers a unique setting for students looking to earn their associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree.

Mental health, dental, and other health care professionals working in shortage areas can apply for loan repayment awards through the Nebraska Loan Repayment Program. Doctors and dentists may qualify for up to $200,000.

Come check out the top programs and earn your degree in Nebraska.

More see more Less see less

What are Nebraska’s Colleges & Universities?

Nebraska’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.

More see more Less see less
Nebraska's Best Public Colleges 2021 badge
Download Badge

How do we determine Nebraska'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.

More see more Less see less

This list is composed entirely of public colleges and universities that offer four-year undergraduate degrees. We’ve identified 6 public universities in Nebraska, the top 2 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. Its graduation rate must be greater than 50%.

Best Public Colleges & Universities in Nebraska

  1. #1

    University of Nebraska–Lincoln

    #241 institution's historical influence
    #711 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1240/25

    Lincoln, NE

    View profile

    What is University of Nebraska–Lincoln known for?

    University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Law
    • Political Science
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    University of Nebraska at Kearney

    #2579 institution's historical influence
    #545 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1079/23

    Kearney, NE

    View profile

    What is University of Nebraska at Kearney known for?

    University of Nebraska at Kearney’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Medical
    • History
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Physics
  3. #3

    Chadron State College

    #3576 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Graduation

    42%

    Student body

    2K

    Chadron, NE

    View profile

    What is Chadron State College known for?

    Chadron State College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • Criminal Justice
    • History
    • Medical
    • Physics
    • Psychology
    • Social Work
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    University of Nebraska Omaha

    #1602 institution's historical influence
    #970 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    82%

    Graduation

    49%

    Student body

    13K

    Omaha, NE

    View profile

    What is University of Nebraska Omaha known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    Wayne State College

    #4865 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    3K

    Wayne, NE

    View profile

    What is Wayne State College known for?

    Wayne State College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Communications
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Criminal Justice

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #6

    Peru State College

    #3904 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Graduation

    36%

    Student body

    2K

    Peru, NE

    View profile

    What is Peru State College known for?

    Peru State College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Criminal Justice
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Computer Science
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Sociology
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

Find the best public college in Nebraska for your interests

Resources for College-Bound Students

Photo By: Bkell at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY 2.0