Best Public Colleges in Wisconsin 2024

Badge for BEST IN WISCONSIN PUBLIC COLLEGES

Public colleges and universities account for almost 75 percent of all undergraduate students in the U.S. The best public colleges in Wisconsin provide broad access to reputable degree programs, affordable tuition, and sprawling educational communities.

10 Best Public Colleges in Wisconsin

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  1. University of Wisconsin–Madison
  2. University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
  3. University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire
  4. University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point
  5. University of Wisconsin–La Crosse
  6. University of Wisconsin–Whitewater
  7. University of Wisconsin–Green Bay
  8. University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh
  9. University of Wisconsin–Platteville
  10. University of Wisconsin–Parkside
  1. University of Wisconsin–Madison
  2. University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
  3. University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point
  4. University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire
  5. University of Wisconsin–River Falls
  6. University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh
  7. University of Wisconsin–Whitewater
  8. University of Wisconsin–Green Bay
  9. University of Wisconsin–Stout
  10. University of Wisconsin–La Crosse
  1. University of Wisconsin–Green Bay 91%
  2. University of Wisconsin–Stout 91%
  3. University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point 90%
  4. University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh 90%
  5. University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee 89%
  6. University of Wisconsin–Platteville 88%
  7. University of Wisconsin–River Falls 86%
  8. University of Wisconsin–Whitewater 83%
  9. University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire 77%
  10. University of Wisconsin–Superior 76%
  1. University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh 23 to 1
  2. University of Wisconsin–Green Bay 22 to 1
  3. University of Wisconsin–River Falls 21 to 1
  4. University of Wisconsin–Platteville 21 to 1
  5. University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire 21 to 1
  6. University of Wisconsin–Whitewater 20 to 1
  7. University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point 20 to 1
  8. University of Wisconsin–La Crosse 19 to 1
  9. University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee 18 to 1
  10. University of Wisconsin–Stout 18 to 1
  1. University of Wisconsin–Madison $9,273
  2. University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee $8,091
  3. University of Wisconsin–La Crosse $7,585
  4. University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire $7,361
  5. University of Wisconsin–Stout $7,014
  6. University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point $6,698
  7. University of Wisconsin–Superior $6,535
  8. University of Wisconsin–Whitewater $6,519
  9. University of Wisconsin–River Falls $6,428
  10. University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh $6,422
  1. University of Wisconsin–Madison $10,728
  2. University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee $10,701
  3. University of Wisconsin–La Crosse $8,651
  4. University of Wisconsin–Whitewater $8,270
  5. University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point $8,066
  6. University of Wisconsin–Parkside $8,028
  7. University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire $8,027
  8. University of Wisconsin–Green Bay $7,996
  9. University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh $7,949
  10. University of Wisconsin–Platteville $7,831
  1. University of Wisconsin–Superior
  2. University of Wisconsin–River Falls
  3. University of Wisconsin–Stout
  4. University of Wisconsin–Parkside
  5. University of Wisconsin–Platteville
  6. University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh
  7. University of Wisconsin–Green Bay
  8. University of Wisconsin–Whitewater
  9. University of Wisconsin–La Crosse
  10. University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point
  1. University of Wisconsin–Superior
  2. University of Wisconsin–Platteville
  3. University of Wisconsin–Parkside
  4. University of Wisconsin–La Crosse
  5. University of Wisconsin–Stout
  6. University of Wisconsin–Green Bay
  7. University of Wisconsin–Whitewater
  8. University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh
  9. University of Wisconsin–River Falls
  10. University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire
  1. University of Wisconsin–Madison 60%
  2. University of Wisconsin–La Crosse 74%
  3. University of Wisconsin–Parkside 75%
  4. University of Wisconsin–Superior 76%
  5. University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire 77%
  6. University of Wisconsin–Whitewater 83%
  7. University of Wisconsin–River Falls 86%
  8. University of Wisconsin–Platteville 88%
  9. University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee 89%
  10. University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh 90%
  1. University of Wisconsin–Madison 16 to 1
  2. University of Wisconsin–Superior 16 to 1
  3. University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee 18 to 1
  4. University of Wisconsin–Stout 18 to 1
  5. University of Wisconsin–Parkside 18 to 1
  6. University of Wisconsin–La Crosse 19 to 1
  7. University of Wisconsin–Whitewater 20 to 1
  8. University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point 20 to 1
  9. University of Wisconsin–River Falls 21 to 1
  10. University of Wisconsin–Platteville 21 to 1
  1. University of Wisconsin–Parkside $6,298
  2. University of Wisconsin–Green Bay $6,298
  3. University of Wisconsin–Platteville $6,418
  4. University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh $6,422
  5. University of Wisconsin–River Falls $6,428
  6. University of Wisconsin–Whitewater $6,519
  7. University of Wisconsin–Superior $6,535
  8. University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point $6,698
  9. University of Wisconsin–Stout $7,014
  10. University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire $7,361
  1. University of Wisconsin–Stout $7,298
  2. University of Wisconsin–Superior $7,640
  3. University of Wisconsin–River Falls $7,640
  4. University of Wisconsin–Platteville $7,831
  5. University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh $7,949
  6. University of Wisconsin–Green Bay $7,996
  7. University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire $8,027
  8. University of Wisconsin–Parkside $8,028
  9. University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point $8,066
  10. University of Wisconsin–Whitewater $8,270

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.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

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 the difference between public and private colleges?

Public and private colleges and universities operate under different business models. Public colleges and universities are owned by the state and receive both state and federal funding to operate. Private colleges and universities are private companies with private funding. If you’re looking at the pros and cons of private vs. public colleges, 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 bachelor’s 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. Attending a college in-state is usually the cheapest option. Private universities and colleges can be very competitive with their funding opportunities, so do not simply believe that private colleges are always going to be more expensive. According to National Center for Educational Statistics, the average annual cost (tuition, fees, room and board for full-time students) at a public university was slightly over $20,000. In contrast, private universities cost, on average, nearly $43,000 annually. But in the end, the cost of college comes down to each student’s academic and financial situation.

Wisconsin's Best Public Colleges Badge
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This list is composed entirely of public colleges and universities that offer bachelor’s degrees. We’ve identified 13 public universities in Wisconsin. To be included in our list of the best public colleges in Wisconsin, shcools must receive direct funding from the state, be fully accredited, and offer a broad range of bachelor’s degress.

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Best Public Colleges in Wisconsin 2023

  1. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    60%

    Graduation

    89%

    Student body

    38K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1360/29

    Career Outlook for degree at University of Wisconsin–Madison

    Cost of Degree: $10,796
    Expenses: $17,198
    Starting Salary: $55,865
    Salary after 4 years: $69,709
    Cost Recoup Time: 9 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
  2. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    90%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    7K

    Career Outlook for degree at University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point

    Cost of Degree: $8,376
    Expenses: $11,294
    Starting Salary: $39,226
    Salary after 4 years: $44,374
    Cost Recoup Time: 9 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point known for?

    University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    74%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    10K

    Career Outlook for degree at University of Wisconsin–La Crosse

    Cost of Degree: $9,232
    Expenses: $9,058
    Starting Salary: $45,231
    Salary after 4 years: $56,956
    Cost Recoup Time: 7 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is University of Wisconsin–La Crosse known for?

    University of Wisconsin–La Crosse’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    83%

    Graduation

    63%

    Student body

    11K

    Career Outlook for degree at University of Wisconsin–Whitewater

    Cost of Degree: $7,864
    Expenses: $11,660
    Starting Salary: $42,490
    Salary after 4 years: $51,481
    Cost Recoup Time: 8 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is University of Wisconsin–Whitewater known for?

    University of Wisconsin–Whitewater’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    6K

    Career Outlook for degree at University of Wisconsin–Green Bay

    Cost of Degree: $7,873
    Expenses: $12,364
    Starting Salary: $38,853
    Salary after 4 years: $46,110
    Cost Recoup Time: 9 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is University of Wisconsin–Green Bay known for?

    University of Wisconsin–Green Bay’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    90%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    10K

    Career Outlook for degree at University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh

    Cost of Degree: $7,795
    Expenses: $12,694
    Starting Salary: $48,971
    Salary after 4 years: $53,545
    Cost Recoup Time: 8 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh known for?

    University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    7K

    Career Outlook for degree at University of Wisconsin–Platteville

    Cost of Degree: $7,862
    Expenses: $12,931
    Starting Salary: $51,555
    Salary after 4 years: $61,258
    Cost Recoup Time: 8 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is University of Wisconsin–Platteville known for?

    University of Wisconsin–Platteville’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    42%

    Student body

    4K

    Career Outlook for degree at University of Wisconsin–Parkside

    Cost of Degree: $7,466
    Expenses: $12,714
    Starting Salary: $37,606
    Salary after 4 years: $49,176
    Cost Recoup Time: 9 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is University of Wisconsin–Parkside known for?

    University of Wisconsin–Parkside’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    7K

    Career Outlook for degree at University of Wisconsin–Stout

    Cost of Degree: $9,663
    Expenses: $12,300
    Starting Salary: $50,792
    Salary after 4 years: $58,897
    Cost Recoup Time: 8 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is University of Wisconsin–Stout known for?

    University of Wisconsin–Stout’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    86%

    Graduation

    57%

    Student body

    5K

    Career Outlook for degree at University of Wisconsin–River Falls

    Cost of Degree: $8,135
    Expenses: $11,934
    Starting Salary: $43,087
    Salary after 4 years: $51,803
    Cost Recoup Time: 9 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is University of Wisconsin–River Falls known for?

    University of Wisconsin–River Falls’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    43%

    Student body

    2K

    Career Outlook for degree at University of Wisconsin–Superior

    Cost of Degree: $8,167
    Expenses: $11,623
    Starting Salary: $40,672
    Salary after 4 years: $44,323
    Cost Recoup Time: 9 years
    Paid back at 15% of annual salary
    What is University of Wisconsin–Superior known for?

    University of Wisconsin–Superior’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

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Wisconsin’s Best Public College in Your Area of Interest

2021 Ranking Archive

Many of our 2022 undergraduate focused rankings look considerably different than 2021. That’s because we took a fundamentally different apporach. For 2021 we utilized our Concentrated Influence algorithm, designed to take away the size advantage larger schools have when we rank their faculty and alumni’s academic influence. Concentrated influence highlights smaller schools that are proportionally as successful as larger universities at cultivating influential alumni and faculty.

  1. University of Wisconsin–Madison
  2. University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
  3. University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point
  4. University of Wisconsin–Green Bay
  5. University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire
  6. University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh
  7. University of Wisconsin–Whitewater
  8. University of Wisconsin–Stout
  9. University of Wisconsin–Superior
  10. University of Wisconsin–River Falls
  11. University of Wisconsin–La Crosse
  12. University of Wisconsin–Platteville

Check out our directory of public colleges throughout the U.S. for a look at the top public colleges in every state.

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