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.

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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 are Texas’s Colleges & Universities?

Texas’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 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. #1

    Rice University

    #115 institution's historical influence
    #15 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $49K

    Acceptance

    11%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1520/34

    Houston, TX

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    What is Rice University known for?

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

    • Mathematics
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Physics
    • Chemistry
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • Education
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    Southern Methodist University

    #270 institution's historical influence
    #1324 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    53%

    Graduation

    81%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1390/31

    Dallas, TX

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    What is Southern Methodist University known for?

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

    • Business
    • Law
    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • History
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

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  3. #3

    University of Dallas

    #1277 institution's historical influence
    #1419 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $43K

    Acceptance

    54%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1245/27

    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
    • Education
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Economics
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  4. #4

    Houston Baptist University

    #1763 institution's historical influence
    #270 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    47%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1100/21

    Houston, TX

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    What is Houston Baptist University known for?

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

    • Philosophy
    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Law
    • History
    • Communications
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  5. #5

    St. Mary's University, Texas

    #1321 institution's historical influence
    #282 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $32K

    Acceptance

    85%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/23

    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:

    • Law
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Medical
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Criminal Justice
    • Engineering
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #6

    Trinity University

    #993 institution's historical influence
    #236 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $45K

    Acceptance

    34%

    Graduation

    79%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1370/30

    San Antonio, TX

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    What is Trinity University known for?

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

    • Business
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Economics
    • Medical
    • Communications
    • Biology
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #7

    Baylor University

    #260 institution's historical influence
    #96 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $47K

    Acceptance

    68%

    Graduation

    79%

    Student body

    17K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1290/29

    Waco, TX

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    What is Baylor University known for?

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

    • Medical
    • Business
    • Law
    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Literature
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #8

    University of St. Thomas

    #2943 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    96%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1150/23

    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:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Religious Studies
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Medical
    • Philosophy
    • Communications
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  9. #9

    Southwestern University

    #1487 institution's historical influence
    #1188 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $44K

    Acceptance

    49%

    Graduation

    73%

    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:

    • Education
    • Literature
    • Business
    • Religious Studies
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  10. #10

    Hardin–Simmons University

    #2177 institution's historical influence
    #1182 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $30K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1056/20

    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
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Education
    • History
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Communications
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. #11

    LeTourneau University

    #3563 institution's historical influence
    #202 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    56%

    Graduation

    57%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1200/25

    Longview, TX

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    What is LeTourneau University known for?

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

    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Religious Studies
    • Nursing
  12. #12

    Howard Payne University

    #1472 institution's historical influence
    #939 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $29K

    Acceptance

    49%

    Graduation

    40%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1025/21

    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
    • Education
    • History
    • Business
    • Religious Studies
    • Medical
    • Law
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  13. #13

    Abilene Christian University

    #1204 institution's historical influence
    #771 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $36K

    Acceptance

    63%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1122/24

    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
    • Education
    • History
    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Chemistry
    • Medical
    • Physics
    • Biology
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  14. #14

    Texas Christian University

    #555 institution's historical influence
    #208 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $49K

    Acceptance

    48%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1250/28

    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:

    • Business
    • History
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • Religious Studies
    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  15. #15

    St. Edward's University

    #2276 institution's historical influence
    #364 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $47K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1152/25

    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:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. #16

    Austin College

    #1911 institution's historical influence
    #1129 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $41K

    Acceptance

    49%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1210/26

    Sherman, TX

    View profile

    What is Austin College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  17. #17

    Dallas Baptist University

    #3054 institution's historical influence
    #1101 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $30K

    Acceptance

    99%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1140/23

    Dallas, TX

    View profile

    What is Dallas Baptist University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Business
    • Religious Studies
    • History
    • Medical
    • Philosophy
    • Communications
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  18. #18

    Southwestern Assemblies of God University

    #4821 institution's historical influence
    #92 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $21K

    Acceptance

    89%

    Graduation

    49%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1010/19

    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:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  19. #19

    University of the Incarnate Word

    #2799 institution's historical influence
    #507 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    97%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1055/20

    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:

    • Medical
    • Education
    • Business
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Nursing
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Engineering
    • Religious Studies
    REQUEST INFO
  20. #20

    Texas Lutheran University

    #4997 institution's historical influence
    #205 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    55%

    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:

    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • Medical
    • History
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Nursing
    • Communications
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

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