Wisconsin’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 Wisconsin.

Wisconsin’s Best Private Colleges & Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in Wisconsin

Between community colleges, technical schools, and universities, Wisconsin has 30 public schools. All the public schools in Wisconsin have affordable tuitions, ranging from $4,000 to $11,000. The University of Wisconsin – Madison has over 35,000 students in attendance, making it the largest in the state. The tuition runs about $11,000, and the school boasts an 85% graduation rate. Public affairs, veterinary medicine, and human ecology are just some of the fields students can study here.

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Of Wisconsin’s 29 private schools, 18 are religious. With just under 10,000 students, Marquette University is the largest, and tuition for this school is about $42,000. Located in Milwaukee, this Catholic, Jesuit university offers degrees in fields like business, engineering, physical therapy, and law. Also located in Milwaukee, the state’s smallest institution, the Wisconsin School of Professional Psychology, is a private graduate school with just over 30 students, and is geared toward those earning their doctoral degree in clinical psychology. Wisconsin, like many states, also provides a loan forgiveness program to those who are working in the health care field.

When people think Wisconsin, they might immediately crave cheese. After all, the state is home to a museum dedicated to all things cheese, including the annual making of a 90-pound wheel of Swiss. But The Beaver State is also known for its more than 15,000 lakes, including Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. Prospective students looking to earn their associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree will enjoy the food, landscape, and educational variety Wisconsin has to offer.

Learn more about Wisconsin’s higher education opportunities by checking out the state’s variety of colleges and universities.


What are Wisconsin’s Colleges & Universities?

Wisconsin’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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How do we determine Wisconsin's best private 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 private colleges and universities that offer four-year undergraduate degrees. We’ve identified 20 private universities in Wisconsin, all of which satisfy our criteria. The list below of the 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 above 40%.

Best Private Colleges & Universities in Wisconsin

  1. #1

    Marquette University

    Milwaukee , WI
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $46K

    Acceptance

    82%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    11K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1220/26

    What is Marquette University known for?

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

    • Law
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • History
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  2. #2

    Beloit College

    Beloit , WI
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $53K

    Acceptance

    58%

    Graduation

    78%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1230/27

    What is Beloit College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  3. #3

    Ripon College

    Ripon , WI

    Tuition + fees

    $47K

    Acceptance

    74%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1105/22

    What is Ripon College known for?

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

    • Education
    • History
    • Communications
    • Philosophy
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  4. #4

    Lawrence University

    Appleton , WI

    Tuition + fees

    $51K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    79%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1315/28

    What is Lawrence University known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Anthropology
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Sociology
    • Economics
    • Chemistry
    REQUEST INFO
  5. Tuition + fees

    $44K

    Acceptance

    60%

    Graduation

    70%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1275/27

    What is Milwaukee School of Engineering known for?

    Milwaukee School of Engineering’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Business
    • Nursing
    • Medical
    REQUEST INFO
  6. #6

    Mount Mary University

    Milwaukee , WI

    Tuition + fees

    $32K

    Acceptance

    53%

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    935/18

    What is Mount Mary University known for?

    Mount Mary University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • Social Work
    • Business
    • History
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Nursing
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  7. #7

    St. Norbert College

    De Pere , WI

    Tuition + fees

    $41K

    Acceptance

    84%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1155/24

    What is St. Norbert College known for?

    St. Norbert College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Religious Studies
    • Computer Science
    • Law

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  8. #8

    Edgewood College

    Madison , WI
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $32K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1080/22

    What is Edgewood College known for?

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

    • Business
    • Education
    • Nursing
    • Religious Studies
    • History
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • Sociology
    • Political Science
    REQUEST INFO
  9. #9

    Northland College

    Ashland , WI

    Tuition + fees

    $39K

    Acceptance

    64%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    <1K

    What is Northland College known for?

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

    • Biology
    • Education
    • History
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Sociology
    • Engineering
    • Religious Studies
    • Earth Sciences
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  10. Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1055/20

    What is Cardinal Stritch University known for?

    Cardinal Stritch University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Nursing
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Criminal Justice
    REQUEST INFO
  11. #11

    Carroll University

    Waukesha , WI

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    70%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1135/23

    What is Carroll University known for?

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

    • Medical
    • History
    • Education
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science
    • Engineering
    • Mathematics
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  12. Tuition + fees

    $18K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1105/22

    What is Maranatha Baptist University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Nursing
    • Religious Studies
    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • Biology
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Criminal Justice
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  13. #13

    Marian University

    Fond Du Lac , WI

    Tuition + fees

    $29K

    Acceptance

    68%

    Graduation

    48%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    980/19

    What is Marian University known for?

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

    • Medical
    • Education
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Nursing
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Criminal Justice
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  14. #14

    Alverno College

    Milwaukee , WI

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    43%

    Student body

    1K

    What is Alverno College known for?

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

    • Education
    • Nursing
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Social Work
    • Philosophy
    REQUEST INFO
  15. #15

    Carthage College

    Kenosha , WI

    Tuition + fees

    $32K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1110/24

    What is Carthage College known for?

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

    • Business
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • History
    • Medical
    • Religious Studies
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    REQUEST INFO
  16. Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    61%

    Student body

    4K

    What is Concordia University Wisconsin known for?

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

    • Education
    • Medical
    • Business
    • History
    • Nursing
    • Religious Studies
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  17. #17

    Lakeland University

    Plymouth , WI

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    982/19

    What is Lakeland University known for?

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

    • Education
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Social Work
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Communications
    • Literature
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  18. #18

    Viterbo University

    La Crosse , WI

    Tuition + fees

    $29K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1160/23

    What is Viterbo University known for?

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

    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • History
    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Literature
    • Religious Studies
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  19. Tuition + fees

    $32K

    Acceptance

    96%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1155/24

    What is Wisconsin Lutheran College known for?

    Wisconsin Lutheran College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  20. #20

    Holy Family College

    Manitowoc , WI

    Acceptance

    51%

    Graduation

    59%

    Median SAT/ACT

    988/18

    What is Holy Family College known for?
    REQUEST INFO

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