Texas’s Best Private Colleges & Universities of 2021

Private colleges, unlike large public institutions, can be a great option for students wanting a more intimate campus experience, more personal attention from excellent professors, and more immediate access to support services. Here is our list of the best private colleges in Texas.

Texas’s Best Private Colleges & Universities of 2021

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.

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.

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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 private colleges and universities that offer four-year undergraduate degrees. We’ve identified 38 private universities in Texas, 26 of which meet our criteria. The list below of the 20 best private universities in the state satisfies the following four conditions:

  1. It must be a private, non-profit institution.
  2. It must be fully accredited.
  3. It must offer a broad range of bachelor’s degrees.
  4. It must have a graduation rate of greater than 40%.

How do we determine Texas's best private colleges and universities?

The best colleges pound for pound!

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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20 Best Private Colleges & Universities in Texas

  1. Rice University
    #1

    Rice University

    #90 institution's overall influence
    #15 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $47K

    Acceptance

    11%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1505/34

    Houston, TX

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    What is Rice University known for?

    Rice University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Physics
    • Earth Sciences
    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • Biology
    • Economics
    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. Southern Methodist University
    #2

    Southern Methodist University

    #303 institution's overall influence
    #1324 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    51%

    Graduation

    79%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1370/31

    Dallas, TX

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    What is Southern Methodist University known for?

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

    • Law
    • Religious Studies
    • Anthropology
    • Earth Sciences
    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Communications
    • History
    • Education
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. University of Dallas
    #3

    University of Dallas

    #1301 institution's overall influence
    #1419 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $41K

    Acceptance

    39%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1230/26

    Irving, TX

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    What is University of Dallas known for?

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

    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • Physics
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. Houston Baptist University
    #4

    Houston Baptist University

    #1383 institution's overall influence
    #270 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    44%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1115/22

    Houston, TX

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    What is Houston Baptist University known for?

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

    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy
    • Physics
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Business
    • Chemistry
    • History
    • Medical
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. St. Mary's University, Texas
    #5

    St. Mary's University, Texas

    #1468 institution's overall influence
    #282 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1150/24

    San Antonio, TX

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

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

    • Economics
    • Law
    • Communications
    • Criminal Justice
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Business
    • Sociology
    • Education
    • Social Work

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. Trinity University
    #6

    Trinity University

    #1110 institution's overall influence
    #236 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $43K

    Acceptance

    34%

    Graduation

    77%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1345/29

    San Antonio, TX

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    What is Trinity University known for?

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

    • Anthropology
    • Economics
    • Chemistry
    • Medical
    • Engineering
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Religious Studies
    • Communications
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. Baylor University
    #7

    Baylor University

    #397 institution's overall influence
    #96 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $46K

    Acceptance

    39%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    17K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1280/28

    Waco, TX

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    What is Baylor University known for?

    Baylor University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Nursing
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Sociology
    • History
    • Education
    • Law
    • Communications
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. University of St. Thomas
    #8

    University of St. Thomas

    #2153 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    82%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1155/23

    Houston, TX

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    What is University of St. Thomas known for?

    University of St. Thomas's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Medical
    • Religious Studies
    • Psychology
    • Chemistry
    • Education
    • Business
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. Southwestern University
    #9

    Southwestern University

    #1306 institution's overall influence
    #1188 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $42K

    Acceptance

    45%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1230/26

    Georgetown, TX

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    What is Southwestern University known for?

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

    • Economics
    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • Computer Science
    • Religious Studies
    • Literature
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Physics
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. Hardin–Simmons University
    #10

    Hardin–Simmons University

    #1216 institution's overall influence
    #1182 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $29K

    Acceptance

    84%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1085/21

    Abilene, TX

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    What is Hardin–Simmons University known for?

    Hardin–Simmons University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Literature
    • History
    • Earth Sciences
    • Medical
    • Communications
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Sociology
    • Nursing

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. LeTourneau University
    #11

    LeTourneau University

    #2759 institution's overall influence
    #202 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $30K

    Acceptance

    46%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1205/24

    Longview, TX

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    What is LeTourneau University known for?

    LeTourneau University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Social Work
    • Literature
    • Business
    • Communications
    • History
    • Medical
    • Education
    • Nursing

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. Howard Payne University
    #12

    Howard Payne University

    #1317 institution's overall influence
    #939 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $28K

    Acceptance

    58%

    Graduation

    41%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1025/20

    Brownwood, TX

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    What is Howard Payne University known for?

    Howard Payne University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Anthropology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Biology
    • Religious Studies
    • Chemistry
    • Business
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. Abilene Christian University
    #13

    Abilene Christian University

    #1463 institution's overall influence
    #771 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    57%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1135/24

    Abilene, TX

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    What is Abilene Christian University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. Texas Christian University
    #14

    Texas Christian University

    #764 institution's overall influence
    #208 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $47K

    Acceptance

    41%

    Graduation

    77%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1246/28

    Fort Worth, TX

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    What is Texas Christian University known for?

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

    • Chemistry
    • Psychology
    • Religious Studies
    • History
    • Business
    • Communications
    • Political Science
    • Criminal Justice
    • Biology
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. St. Edward's University
    #15

    St. Edward's University

    #1852 institution's overall influence
    #364 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $45K

    Acceptance

    86%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1175/24

    Austin, TX

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    What is St. Edward's University known for?

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

    • Chemistry
    • Computer Science
    • Philosophy
    • Communications
    • Religious Studies
    • Literature
    • Criminal Justice
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. Austin College
    #16

    Austin College

    #2305 institution's overall influence
    #1129 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $40K

    Acceptance

    55%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1230/24

    Sherman, TX

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    What is Austin College known for?

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

    • Political Science
    • Computer Science
    • Economics
    • Biology
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  17. Dallas Baptist University
    #17

    Dallas Baptist University

    #3319 institution's overall influence
    #1101 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $29K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1180/22

    Dallas, TX

    View profile

    What is Dallas Baptist University known for?

    Dallas Baptist University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Communications
    • Medical
    • Criminal Justice
    • Religious Studies
    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  18. Southwestern Assemblies of God University
    #18

    Southwestern Assemblies of God University

    #5540 institution's overall influence
    #92 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $21K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    45%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1040/20

    Waxahachie, TX

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    What is Southwestern Assemblies of God University known for?

    Southwestern Assemblies of God University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Criminal Justice
    • Mathematics
    • Religious Studies
    • Medical
    • Education
    • Social Work
    • History
    • Communications
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

  19. University of the Incarnate Word
    #19

    University of the Incarnate Word

    #2961 institution's overall influence
    #507 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1045/19

    San Antonio, TX

    View profile

    What is University of the Incarnate Word known for?

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

    • Nursing
    • Religious Studies
    • Medical
    • Criminal Justice
    • Psychology
    • Communications
    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • Business
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  20. Texas Lutheran University
    #20

    Texas Lutheran University

    #5972 institution's overall influence
    #205 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $30K

    Acceptance

    54%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1075/22

    Seguin, TX

    View profile

    What is Texas Lutheran University known for?

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

    • Sociology
    • Computer Science
    • Communications
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • History
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

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