Texas’s Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship

Texas’s Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship

What are the best colleges and universities in Texas if you reward schools for making the best use of their limited resources? Academic Stewardship asks how effectively schools manage their financial and human resources to gain the influence that makes them academically excellent. Schools that are exemplary in Academic Stewardship are doing everything in their power to help students and faculty achieve their full potential.

Colleges and universities in Texas deserve to be recognized when they do more with less. It’s impressive when a large wealthy school can spend money lavishly on expensive buildings and programs. But it’s even more impressive when a small school with limited means is able to train and inspire students that the larger wealthier schools tend to ignore.

The American Association of Colleges and Universities reported in late 2021 that almost 75 percent of higher-education professionals at US colleges and universities felt financial constraints prevented their schools from effectively attracting students. Distracted by the size and amenities of larger schools, prospective students tended especially to be overawed by the big research universities.

Texas’s smaller colleges, especially its liberal arts colleges, need effective ways of communicating their value to a world that celebrates “bigger is better” and “you need the best.” Unfortunately, most college ranking companies, such as U.S. News & World Report, define “best” in a way that devalues schools with smaller budgets and fewer students even when these schools do remarkable work in advancing their students’ education. By and large, college rankings penalize schools that serve underserved populations.

Inspired by Malcolm Gladwell, who for years now has criticized conventional college rankings for misrepresenting what’s good and valuable in education, we decided to construct a new ranking metric that highlights those schools that do more with less. That metric—called the Academic Stewardship metric—takes away both the size and the wealth advantage of schools, and focuses instead on how well schools use the resources available to them to advance the education of their students.

How We Measure the Academic Stewardship of Texas’s Colleges and Universities

Texas's Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship
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As a metric, Academic Stewardship is defined by a precise mathematical formula, which can be found in our Academic Stewardship white paper. Measuring the Academic Stewardship of Texas’s colleges requires measuring two forms of stewardship: 1) Stewardship of financial resources (using the money they have responsibility without waste) and 2) Stewardship of human resources (doing their best to help students, faculty, and administration to flourish). Together, these two types of stewardship form what we call  Academic Stewardship. If you want to learn more about the factors involved in Academic Stewardship, click the more button below.

  1. Stewardship of financial resources: To determine a school’s stewardship of financial resources, we factored in its undergraduate size, budget, endowments and reserves, as well as tuition and fees. All these data are available from the National Center for Educational Statistics Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. In addition, we factored in a school’s financial responsibility as gauged by the Federal Student Aid Office at the US Department of Education through its financial responsibility composite scores.
  2. Stewardship of human resources: To determine a school’s stewardship of human resources, we used our InfluenceRanking engine to track the influence of the school’s faculty and alumni but also to control for size of the undergraduate student body. We’ve found that measuring a school’s influence based on the contributions of faculty and alumni make in their fields of study but then also controlling for size of the undergraduate population is the single best indicator of academic excellence. We call this Concentrated Influence. Schools that rank highly in Concentrated Influence are schools that, given their available human resources, invest heavily in their students and faculty, and the results are demonstrable.
    • We measure the influence of colleges and universities based on the publications and citations of the schools’ faculty and alumni who are teaching in and working in areas related to their degrees. To do this, we take publicly available databases, such as Semantic Scholar, Crossref, and Wikipedia and use these to measure the influence of academics in their disciplines. Having measured the influence of persons, we then identify the schools that they’re affiliated with, adding up the influence scores of the faculty and alumni to measure the influence of the schools and their disciplinary programs. Finally, we control these influence scores by size of undergraduate student body so that schools do not score high in influence simply because of a size advantage. We lay out these methodological considerations on our methodology page.
  3. Academic Stewardship: Having measured a school’s stewardship of financial and human resources in the two previous points, we now divide the second measure by the first to define the Academic Stewardship metric. This metric spotlights smaller schools, with fewer financial resources and people, that invest wisely and do proportionately better in building influence than large wealthy schools. Many of these smaller, less wealthy schools are incentivized to make better use of their resources but would never get recognized in conventional school rankings, which directly or indirectly put a premium on the wealth of schools.

Academic Stewardship as so defined is connected to keeping tuition and other costs down, but it should not be confused with affordability or frugality. The schools that this metric ranks as exemplary academic stewards tend to be all over the map when it comes to tuition and other costs. At issue is the influence of schools given the financial and human resources they have on hand. If a school is going to charge more for tuition, then that needs to be reflected in the school having proportionately greater influence.

Why Academic Stewardship Matters to Students and Their Families

The benefits of attending a school with strong academic stewardship include:

  • A clear reason for why students are at the school in the first place. Without the distraction of amenities and luxuries, these schools are at once unpretentious but also passionately committed to their educational mission. The schools in this ranking are financially efficient and academically rigorous. By avoiding frills, these schools take the most direct path to accomplishing their mission of educating students.
  • Valuing character over prestige and self-indulgence. A school that’s a good steward of its resources doesn’t instill shame in its students over what they are missing (such as elite cuisine) but rather pride in what they have and making the most of it. These schools exhibit a culture of good stewardship, which tends to build good character in the students that attend these schools.
  • Avoiding the spoiled-student syndrome. It’s easy to think that offering students endless options and opportunities will enrich their time at school in every way. But spoiling people—whether in business, sports, or academics—has the opposite effect, causing people to take their advantages for granted and in the end achieving less than they might otherwise, a point well-documented in Daniel Coyle’s The Talent Code. Schools exhibiting academic stewardship avoid this pitfall.
  • The best schools vs. the schools that help students to be their best. Students at schools demonstrating outstanding academic stewardship aren’t so much concerned about being at the “best” school, whatever that may mean, as about being at a school that helps them to be their best. These schools pay attention to their students, hoping that any glory goes to them rather than to the school. Small schools, and especially liberal arts colleges, help themselves by communicating this advantage to prospective students.
  • Emphasizing development over talent and achievement. Schools like Harvard and Stanford have their pick of academic talent, and their students have a long record of achievement even before they apply to such elite schools. But if a school doesn’t have the resources of a Harvard or Stanford, how does it build a great team of students? In that case, it must focus on student development. Colleges exemplifying academic stewardship emphasize student growth and development, ensuring that the schools are doing everything in their power to help students reach their full potential and thereby become their best selves.
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Texas’s Best Colleges and Universities by Academic Stewardship

  1. #1

    Wiley College

    Marshall , TX

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Graduation

    31%

    Student body

    <1K

    What is Wiley College known for?

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

    • Mathematics
    • Criminal Justice
    • Sociology
    • History
    • Education
    • Chemistry
    • Religious Studies
    • Communications
    • Biology
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    Austin College

    Sherman , TX

    Tuition + fees

    $44K

    Acceptance

    49%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1210/26

    What is Austin College known for?

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

    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • Biology
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Medical
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    University of Dallas

    Irving , TX

    Tuition + fees

    $47K

    Acceptance

    54%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1245/27

    What is University of Dallas known for?

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

    • Philosophy
    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Education
    • Literature
    • History
    • Physics
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    Sul Ross State University

    Alpine , TX

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    81%

    Graduation

    30%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Sul Ross State University known for?

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

    • Criminal Justice
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Nursing
    • History
    • Chemistry
    • Computer Science
    • Medical
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    Southwestern University

    Georgetown , TX

    Tuition + fees

    $47K

    Acceptance

    49%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1230/26

    What is Southwestern University known for?

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

    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • History
    • Education
    • Chemistry
    • Economics
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    93%

    Graduation

    43%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1045/20

    What is Concordia University Texas known for?

    Concordia University Texas’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Psychology
    • Nursing
    • Education
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Literature
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #7

    Houston Baptist University

    Houston , TX
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $36K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    47%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1100/21

    What is Houston Baptist University known for?

    Houston Baptist University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Physics
    • Literature
    • Criminal Justice
    • Chemistry
    • Business
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #8

    Trinity University

    San Antonio , TX
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $47K

    Acceptance

    34%

    Graduation

    79%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1370/30

    What is Trinity University known for?

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

    • Business
    • Economics
    • Communications
    • Biology
    • Religious Studies
    • Psychology
    • Sociology
    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #9

    St. Mary's University, Texas

    San Antonio , TX
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    85%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/23

    What is St. Mary's University, Texas known for?

    St. Mary's University, Texas’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Law
    • Criminal Justice
    • Physics
    • Communications
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Economics
    • Engineering
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. #10

    Abilene Christian University

    Abilene , TX
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $39K

    Acceptance

    63%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1122/24

    What is Abilene Christian University known for?

    Abilene Christian University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Social Work
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Communications
    • History
    • Literature
    • Criminal Justice
    • Education
    • Nursing

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. #12

    Texas Southern University

    Houston , TX

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    66%

    Graduation

    19%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    920/16

    What is Texas Southern University known for?

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

    • Criminal Justice
    • Law
    • Education
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Sociology
    • Engineering
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. #13

    St. Edward's University

    Austin , TX

    Tuition + fees

    $50K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1152/25

    What is St. Edward's University known for?

    St. Edward's University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Philosophy
    • Chemistry
    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Criminal Justice
    • Religious Studies
    • Communications
    • Literature
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. #14

    Midwestern State University

    Wichita Falls , TX

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    44%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1025/19

    What is Midwestern State University known for?

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

    • Chemistry
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Communications
    • Nursing
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. #15

    Angelo State University

    San Angelo , TX

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    43%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1025/20

    What is Angelo State University known for?

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

    • Nursing
    • Physics
    • Communications
    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • Medical
    • History
    • Business
    • Earth Sciences

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    81%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1105/21

    What is University of Houston–Clear Lake known for?

    University of Houston–Clear Lake’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Physics
    • Sociology
    • Medical
    • Chemistry
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Social Work

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    43%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1155/24

    What is University of Texas at Tyler known for?

    University of Texas at Tyler’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  17. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    53%

    Graduation

    81%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1390/31

    What is Southern Methodist University known for?

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

    • Religious Studies
    • Business
    • Law
    • Anthropology
    • Social Work
    • History
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Engineering
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  18. #19

    Prairie View A&M University

    Prairie View , TX

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    37%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    955/18

    What is Prairie View A&M University known for?

    Prairie View A&M University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Criminal Justice
    • Social Work
    • Engineering
    • Mathematics
    • Chemistry
    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • Nursing
    • Biology
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  19. #20

    University of the Incarnate Word

    San Antonio , TX

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    97%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1055/20

    What is University of the Incarnate Word known for?

    University of the Incarnate Word’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Nursing
    • Medical
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Chemistry
    • Business
    • History
    • Communications
    • Political Science
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  20. #21

    Lamar University

    Beaumont , TX

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    83%

    Graduation

    37%

    Student body

    14K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1050/20

    What is Lamar University known for?

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

    • Mathematics
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Chemistry
    • Criminal Justice
    • Nursing
    • Physics
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  21. #22

    Texas Woman's University

    Denton , TX

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    48%

    Student body

    14K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1040/19

    What is Texas Woman's University known for?

    Texas Woman's University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Nursing
    • Sociology
    • Literature
    • Criminal Justice
    • Social Work
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  22. #23

    Stephen F. Austin State University

    Nacogdoches , TX

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    11K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1085/21

    What is Stephen F. Austin State University known for?

    Stephen F. Austin State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Criminal Justice
    • Earth Sciences
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Sociology
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

  23. Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    100%

    Graduation

    44%

    Student body

    20K

    What is University of Texas at El Paso known for?

    University of Texas at El Paso’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Communications
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Computer Science
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Chemistry
    • Earth Sciences
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

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Texas’s Best Colleges in Your Area of Interest

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Colleges and Universities in Texas

Texas offers more than 30 colleges and universities that serve communities of 10,000 students or more. The largest school in the bunch (and in the nation), Texas A&M University in College Station serves more than 65,000 students. The University of Texas at Austin is the next largest, serving about 45,000 students — but it too has a big claim to fame, as the wealthiest public university in the United States. Texas’s private colleges and universities, including Baylor University and Southern Methodist University, are also impressive in size and scope. The majority of these schools have religious affiliations and offer degrees in a variety fields, such as nursing, religious studies, criminal justice, business, and education.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

For students who prefer a more intimate educational environment, Texas offers a long list of smaller public and private colleges and universities, such as Abilene Christian University and University of Texas of the Permian Basin. Additionally, Texas has generous loan forgiveness programs for qualifying nurses, physicians, teachers, legal aid attorneys, and lawyers who work in the Texas Attorney General’s office.

Texas is known for doing things big. Big cities, big open spaces and, of course, big fun. Whether you’re hitting up the live music scene in Austin, catching a Cowboys game in Dallas, or strolling down the River Walk in San Antonio, you’re sure to have a good time. And, with more than 150 higher education institutes, it’s safe to say The Lone Star State is big on education too.

If you’re looking to earn your degree in the state of Texas, you’ll have plenty of higher learning institutes to choose from.


What are Texas’s Colleges & Universities?

Texas’s Best Overall