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

Ohio’s Best Public Colleges & Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in Ohio

Ohio offers over 120 colleges and universities for students to earn their associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree. The largest school in the state, Ohio State University, a public institution, serves almost 55,000 students. This university has five regional campuses, which have graduated alumni like writer Harlan Ellison and Wikipedia cofounder Larry Sanger. The majority of Ohio’s schools, however, are private.

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Tuition at these schools varies greatly, with costs as low as $7,000 at God’s Bible School and College, and as high as $56,000 at Kenyon University. The state is also home to nearly 40 higher education institutes with religious affiliations, offering plenty of options for students aiming to blend their faith with higher education. Although tuition costs in Ohio are higher than the national average, Ohio provides several loan forgiveness programs to those pursuing careers as public defenders and prosecutors, dentists, nurses, primary care physicians, and mental health providers. Many of these programs require individuals to work in shortage areas around the state for a certain time period in order to qualify.

If you’re someone with a wide variety of interests, Ohio might just be the place for you. In The Buckeye State, individuals can visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, take a trip through Amish Country, attend a professional sporting event, and hike waterfalls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It seems this state has something for everyone, including those pursuing a higher education degree.

Learn more about the numerous excellent degree paths and career prospects available in Ohio.

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What are Ohio’s Colleges & Universities?

Ohio’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 Ohio'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 23 public universities in Ohio, 10 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. Its graduation rate must be greater than 40%.

Best Public Colleges & Universities in Ohio

  1. #1

    University of Cincinnati

    #152 institution's historical influence
    #1179 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    33K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1235/26

    Cincinnati, OH

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    What is University of Cincinnati known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

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  2. #2

    Ohio State University

    #56 institution's historical influence
    #77 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    68%

    Graduation

    87%

    Student body

    56K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1355/30

    Columbus, OH

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    What is Ohio State University known for?

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

    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Engineering
    • Psychology
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Education
    • Physics
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  3. #3

    Ohio University

    #338 institution's historical influence
    #591 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $13K

    Acceptance

    87%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    26K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1155/23

    Athens, OH

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    What is Ohio University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    Bowling Green State University

    #556 institution's historical influence
    #940 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    16K

    Median SAT/ACT

    990/21

    Bowling Green, OH

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    What is Bowling Green State University known for?

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

    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Education
    • Business
    • History
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    Miami University

    #314 institution's historical influence
    #70 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $15K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    20K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1290/27

    Oxford, OH

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    What is Miami University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  6. #6

    Cleveland State University

    #701 institution's historical influence
    #415 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    48%

    Student body

    14K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1095/22

    Cleveland, OH

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    What is Cleveland State University known for?

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

    • Law
    • Business
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science
    • Communications
    • History
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  7. #7

    Kent State University

    #515 institution's historical influence
    #803 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    84%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1135/23

    Kent, OH

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    What is Kent State University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #8

    University of Toledo

    #657 institution's historical influence
    #561 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    95%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    17K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1120/23

    Toledo, OH

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    What is University of Toledo known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #9

    University of Akron

    #651 institution's historical influence
    #394 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    48%

    Student body

    16K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1110/22

    Akron, OH

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    What is University of Akron known for?

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

    • Engineering
    • Chemistry
    • Business
    • Education
    • History
    • Law
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. #10

    Ohio State University at Mansfield

    #10822 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Graduation

    20%

    Student body

    <1K

    Mansfield, OH

    View profile

    What is Ohio State University at Mansfield known for?

    Ohio State University at Mansfield’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • History

Find the best public college in Ohio for your interests

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