Rhode Island’s Best Colleges and Universities of 2021

Here are the best colleges and universities in Rhode Island. Our list will help you find the right kind of school for you.

Rhode Island’s Best Colleges and Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in Rhode Island

Of the three public schools, the University of Rhode Island is the largest, having more than 15,000 students in attendance. The main campus is located in Kingston, and the tuition rate is $14,000. The most prestigious school in the state is Brown University, a private Ivy League institution located in Providence. Over 9,000 students study on this campus in fields like biophysics, ethnic studies, and public health. Tuition is more expensive at about $55,000, but the school boasts a 96% graduation rate.

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Of the eight private schools, two are religiously affiliated. Both Salve Regina University and Providence College have under 5,000 students, though the tuition fees are more expensive at $40,000 and $51,000, respectively. Whether you seek an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree, Rhode Island also offers a unique opportunity for graduates. As a financial incentive to pursue a career or start a business in Rhode Island in the technology, engineering, design, or other sectors, the Wavemaker Fellowship program defrays student loan payments for up to four years.

Rhode Island is the smallest U.S. state, but it has more than 400 miles of coastline, giving it the nickname The Ocean State. With sandy beaches and colonial towns, this state offers relaxation and history. Rhode Island also has 11 public and private higher education institutions with an average tuition of just over $12,000.

Meet your academic goals at one of the higher learning centers in Rhode Island. Check out the top programs to see which school fits your needs.


What are Rhode Island’s Colleges & Universities?

Rhode Island’s Best Overall

Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

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How do we determine Rhode Island's best 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.


Every fall, more than 2 million high-school graduates will enroll in colleges and universities across the United States. Finding the best college for your educational, personal, and professional goals may be challenging. The purpose of this ranking is to help you manage this challenge with an accurate, objective, and up-to-date ranking of the best colleges and universities in Rhode Island for earning a bachelor’s degree.

We’ve identified a total of 8 colleges and universities in Rhode Island, all satisfy our criteria. The list below of the best schools in the state focuses on those that offer four-year undergraduate degrees, includes both public and private colleges and universities, and also meet the following two conditions:

  1. It must be fully accredited.
  2. It must have a graduation rate of greater than 40%.

Best Colleges & Universities in Rhode Island

  1. #1

    Brown University

    #33 institution's historical influence
    #7 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    8%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1505/34

    Providence, RI

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    What is Brown University known for?

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

    • Mathematics
    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Engineering
    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

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  2. #2

    Rhode Island School of Design

    #614 institution's historical influence
    #84 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    27%

    Graduation

    89%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1350/29

    Providence, RI

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    What is Rhode Island School of Design known for?

    Rhode Island School of Design’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Communications
    • Education
    • Business
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    Providence College

    #912 institution's historical influence
    #1192 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    54%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1280/29

    Providence, RI

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    What is Providence College known for?

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

    • Business
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Education
    • Medical
    • Religious Studies
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
  4. #4

    University of Rhode Island

    #419 institution's historical influence
    #511 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $15K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    15K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1145/25

    Kingston, RI

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    What is University of Rhode Island known for?

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

    • Biology
    • Business
    • Communications
    • Engineering
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Anthropology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  5. #5

    Roger Williams University

    #2136 institution's historical influence
    #741 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $37K

    Acceptance

    86%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    5K

    Bristol, RI

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    What is Roger Williams University known for?

    Roger Williams University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Biology
    • Law
    • Criminal Justice
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Education
    • History
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #6

    Bryant University

    #1988 institution's historical influence
    #441 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $47K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    4K

    Smithfield, RI

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    What is Bryant University known for?

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

    • Business
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Medical
    • Economics
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Sociology
    REQUEST INFO
  7. #7

    Salve Regina University

    #3023 institution's historical influence
    #358 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $43K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    76%

    Student body

    3K

    Newport, RI

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    What is Salve Regina University known for?

    Salve Regina University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • History
    • Education
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Nursing
    • Religious Studies

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  8. #8

    Rhode Island College

    #1826 institution's historical influence
    #928 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    81%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    980/17

    Providence, RI

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    What is Rhode Island College known for?

    Rhode Island College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Social Work
    • History
    • Computer Science
    • Medical
    • Literature

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