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

New Jersey’s Best Public Colleges and Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in New Jersey

Nearly half of the colleges and universities in this state are private, and tuition rates range from $6,000 to $52,000. With a graduation rate of 97% and a student population of just over 7,000, Princeton University is the state’s most esteemed institution. Narrowing in on the sciences and arts, this Ivy League school offers unique areas of study, including robotics, intelligent systems, and public life. The remaining 31 public colleges and universities range in tuition from $4,000 to $17,000.

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The state’s largest and top-ranked public research institution is Rutgers University. With campuses in New Brunswick, Newark, and Camden as well as smaller locations across the state, Rutgers awards degrees in physics, economics, criminal justice, and psychology. New Jersey also has 11 religiously affiliated colleges and universities, including the oldest diocesan university in the United States, Seton Hall University. This Roman Catholic university has a tuition rate of $42,000 and a student population of over 8,000.

New Jersey, known for its sandy shores and busy expressways, also has more diners than any other state in the U.S., as well as the world’s longest boardwalk, located in Atlantic City. Many influential people, including Buzz Aldrin, Frank Sinatra, and Thomas Edison, have called The Garden State home. Visitors can even peek at some of Edison’s early light bulbs at the Menlo Park Museum. And with 50 higher learning institutions to choose from, students can find a school that suits their career path and budget.

Learn more about earning your degree from one of New Jersey’s highly regarded colleges and universities.

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What are New Jersey’s Colleges & Universities?

New Jersey’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 New Jersey; 11 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 New Jersey'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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Best Public Colleges & Universities in New Jersey

  1. #1

    New Jersey Institute of Technology

    #811 institution's historical influence
    #1299 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $18K

    Acceptance

    66%

    Graduation

    70%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1290/27

    Newark, NJ

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    What is New Jersey Institute of Technology known for?

    New Jersey Institute of Technology’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Business
    • Physics
    • Mathematics
    • Education
    • Chemistry
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • History
  2. #2

    Montclair State University

    #955 institution's historical influence
    #1365 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    83%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    19K

    Montclair, NJ

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    What is Montclair State University known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Business
    • Philosophy
    • Communications
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Sociology
    • Computer Science
    • Biology
  3. #3

    The College of New Jersey

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

    Tuition + fees

    $16K

    Acceptance

    51%

    Graduation

    86%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1260/27

    Ewing, NJ

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    What is The College of New Jersey known for?

    The College of New Jersey’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    Rutgers University–Camden

    #3959 institution's historical influence
    #654 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $15K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1075/20

    Camden, NJ

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    What is Rutgers University–Camden known for?

    Rutgers University–Camden’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Law
    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • History
    • Literature
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

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  5. #5

    Ramapo College

    #2254 institution's historical influence
    #1306 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $15K

    Acceptance

    67%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/23

    Mahwah, NJ

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    What is Ramapo College known for?

    Ramapo College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Nursing
    • Political Science
    • Social Work
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #6

    Stockton University

    #2346 institution's historical influence
    #1201 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    11K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1115/23

    Galloway, NJ

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    What is Stockton University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Business
    • History
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Criminal Justice
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
  7. #7

    Rutgers University–Newark

    #4104 institution's historical influence
    #363 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $15K

    Acceptance

    74%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    11K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1110/22

    Newark, NJ

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    What is Rutgers University–Newark known for?

    Rutgers University–Newark’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Criminal Justice
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • Biology
    • History
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

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  8. #8

    Rowan University

    #1016 institution's historical influence
    #884 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    17K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1155/24

    Glassboro, NJ

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    What is Rowan University known for?

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

    • Medical
    • Education
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Engineering
    • History
    • Communications
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Chemistry
  9. #9

    William Paterson University

    #1411 institution's historical influence
    #537 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    81%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    9K

    Wayne, NJ

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    What is William Paterson University known for?

    William Paterson University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Communications
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Law
    • Nursing
    • Political Science
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. #10

    Kean University

    #1477 institution's historical influence
    #393 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    12K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1010/20

    Union, NJ

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    What is Kean University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • History
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Criminal Justice
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  11. #11

    Rutgers University–New Brunswick

    #1069 institution's historical influence
    #1275 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $15K

    Acceptance

    67%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    47K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1320/28

    New Brunswick, NJ

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    What is Rutgers University–New Brunswick known for?

    Rutgers University–New Brunswick’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Philosophy
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Medical
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Chemistry
    • Literature
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO

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