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

Utah’s Best Public Colleges & Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in Utah

Students hoping to earn their associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in Utah can choose from among 18 different colleges and universities. Ten of these schools are private, including a fully online school — Western Governors University — which serves almost 80,000 students. Brigham Young University in Provo, one of Utah’s two religiously affiliated schools, has some of the state’s top programs in religious studies, history, and business.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

While tuition at private schools can be costly, fees at these two schools fall below the national average, ranging between $6,000 and $7,000. Utah’s public universities are also on the cost-friendly side. Utah Valley University, the state’s largest public school, serves over 28,000 students and has a sticker price of about $6,000. The University of Utah, another affordable option, is close behind, with a student population of just under 28,000 students. Here, students can earn degrees in fields such as computer science, chemistry, engineering, and anthropology.

If you’re someone who lives life to the extreme, Utah may be just the place for you. Careening down the hills at its world-class ski resorts, braving the rapids on white-water rafting trips, hiking through national parks, and speeding across mountain bike trails are just some of the ways visitors and residents of The Beehive State can get their thrills. Another selling point for Utah? Average tuition for this state’s colleges and universities falls thousands of dollars below the national average.

Learn more about Utah’s higher education opportunities by checking out the state’s many affordable colleges and universities.


What are Utah’s Colleges & Universities?

Utah’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.

Utah's Best Public Colleges 2021 badge
Download Badge

How do we determine Utah's best public 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.


This list is composed entirely of public colleges and universities that offer four-year undergraduate degrees. We’ve identified 7 public universities in Utah, 5 of which satisfy our criteria. The list below of the best public universities in the state satisfies the following four conditions:

  1. It must be a non-profit institution.
  2. It must receive direct funding from the state.
  3. It must be fully accredited.
  4. It offers a broad range of bachelor’s degree programs.

Best Public Colleges & Universities in Utah

  1. #1

    University of Utah

    Salt Lake City , UT
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    28K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1261/25

    What is University of Utah known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  2. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    23K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1180/24

    What is Utah State University known for?

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

    • Biology
    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Economics
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  3. Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Graduation

    36%

    Student body

    19K

    What is Weber State University known for?

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

    • Business
    • Education
    • History
    • Engineering
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Chemistry
    • Communications
    • Philosophy
    REQUEST INFO
  4. #4

    Southern Utah University

    Cedar City , UT

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/23

    What is Southern Utah University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Business
    • History
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • Engineering
    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    REQUEST INFO
  5. Tuition + fees

    $6K

    Graduation

    32%

    Student body

    29K

    What is Utah Valley University known for?

    Utah Valley University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • Medical
    REQUEST INFO

Find the best public college in Utah for your interests

Resources for College-Bound Students

Photo By: UofUHealthCare at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0