10 Best Colleges in Texas
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Everything is bigger in Texas, including its universities—the state is home to some of the largest higher education institutions in the nation. That said, the Lone Star State has a wide variety of colleges, from massive public institutions to prestigious research universities to small liberal arts colleges.
Our Ranking Methodology
Below is a list of the 10 best colleges in Texas. The list was constructed with a focus on school quality, outcomes, and return on investment (ROI), along with consideration of a host of other factors such as retention rate, selectivity, endowment per student, student-faculty ratio, median earnings, and cost of attendance. You can find CollegeVine’s rankings in their entirety here.
10 Best Colleges in Texas
1. Rice University
Location: Houston, TX
Acceptance Rate: 9%
Middle 50% SAT: 1460-1570
Middle 50% ACT: 34-36
Undergrad Enrollment: 4,076
Rice University is one of the handful of prestigious universities and colleges in the South commonly referred to as the “Southern Ivies.” Rivaling the prestige, academic excellence, and competitive admissions of its northern Ivy League counterparts, Rice was even founded by a Massachusetts-born businessman. William Marsh Rice chartered the school as a gift to the city of Houston, where he made his fortune. Similar to other top-ranked universities, Rice is known for its low student-to-faculty ratio, rigorous academics, and close-knit community.
Learn more about Rice University and what it takes to get accepted.
2. University of Texas at Austin | UT Austin
Location: Austin, TX
Acceptance Rate: 32%
Middle 50% SAT: 1230-1480
Middle 50% ACT: 26-34
Undergrad Enrollment: 40,048
UT Austin is one of the biggest colleges in the country—it’s home to over 40,000 undergraduates! UT Austin students are divided into 18 different colleges and schools (13 of which are for undergraduates) and encompass more than 170 fields of study. UT Austin isn’t just a big school, it’s also a very good one. Commonly listed among a group of public colleges known as the “Public Ivies”, it provides similar prestige, benefits, and career opportunities as Ivy League universities.
Learn more about the University of Texas – Austin and what it takes to get accepted.
3. Trinity University
Location: San Antonio, TX
Acceptance Rate: 33%
Middle 50% SAT: 1270-1420
Middle 50% ACT: 28-33
Undergrad Enrollment: 2,504
Trinity University was founded by the Presbyterian Church in 1869, offering liberal arts and pre-professional programs. Trinity’s “Pathways” curriculum, which features six educational requirements and three optional elements, is at the foundation of every degree awarded by the university. Trinity sits on a hilltop overlooking San Antonio—the seventh-largest city in the U.S.—and is known for its signature red brick buildings and oak-tree-dotted campus.
Learn more about Trinity University and what it takes to get accepted.
4. Texas Christian University | TCU
Location: Fort Worth, TX
Acceptance Rate: 48%
Middle 50% SAT: 1120-1310
Middle 50% ACT: 25-31
Undergrad Enrollment: 9,704
Texas Christian was established in 1873 as a college where men and women could acquire a classical education and develop character, making TCU one of the earliest co-ed institutions in the Southwest. Despite TCU’s association with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ, a Protestant denomination with Presbyterian and Baptist roots) and its name, the school isn’t just for Christians. Students from more than 60 faiths and backgrounds call TCU home, and it does not require students to take any Christian coursework.
Learn more about Texas Christina University and what it takes to get accepted.
5. Southern Methodist University | SMU
Location: Dallas, TX
Acceptance Rate: 53%
Middle 50% SAT: 1250-1440
Middle 50% ACT: 29-33
Undergrad Enrollment: 6,827
Southern Methodist University was founded in 1911 because of a conflict between the Methodist Church and Vanderbilt. This led the church to cut ties with Vanderbilt and make SMU its flagship institution. SMU maintains its relationship with the Methodist Church, however, it is nonsectarian in its teaching and enrolls students of all religious affiliations. Southern Methodist University is home to the largest private collection of research materials in the Southwest—more than four million volumes are housed in its eight libraries.
Learn more about Southern Methodist University and what it takes to get accepted.
6. Baylor University
Location: Waco, TX
Acceptance Rate: 68%
Middle 50% SAT: 1200-1350
Middle 50% ACT: 26-31
Undergrad Enrollment: 14,399
Baylor has the distinction of being the oldest continually operating university in Texas. It was founded in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers. Service is an important aspect of life at Baylor; the university is the home of the first campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity, and students, faculty, and staff volunteer more than 150,000 hours of community service annually.
Learn more about Baylor University and what it takes to get accepted.
7. Texas A&M University
Location: College Station, TX
Acceptance Rate: 63%
Middle 50% SAT: 1170-1380
Middle 50% ACT: 26-32
Undergrad Enrollment: 55,568
Texas A&M has the distinction of being the second-largest university in the country. Founded as a military institution, it now boasts the largest uniformed body of students outside the U.S. military academies with its Corps of Cadets. The highest-ranking member of the Corps of Cadets is Reveille—also known as the First Lady of Aggieland—the rough collie who serves as Texas A&M’s mascot. In 2021, Reveille IX retired and Reveille X assumed the duties of campus mascot.
Learn more about Texas A&M University and what it takes to get accepted.
8. Southwestern University
Location: Georgetown, TX
Acceptance Rate: 49%
Middle 50% SAT: 1130-1270
Middle 50% ACT: 23-29
Undergrad Enrollment: 1,505
This small, private liberal arts college is located just 30 minutes outside of Austin, Wallethub’s best college town. Southwestern University is committed to providing students with the skills required to succeed in the future and in jobs that are yet to exist—it’s estimated that 65% of today’s students will one day be employed in jobs that have yet to be created. Hallmarks of a Southwestern University education include small class sizes (student-to-faculty ratio of 12:1), undergraduate research, and the development of in-demand skills.
Learn more about Southwestern University and what it takes to get accepted.
9. University of Texas at Dallas | UT Dallas
Location: Richardson, TX
Acceptance Rate: 78%
Middle 50% SAT: 1250-1450
Middle 50% ACT: 26-33
Undergrad Enrollment: 20,994
From “America’s Team” (the Dallas Cowboys) to television shows like Friday Night Lights, Texas has a reputation for football, which is why it’s surprising that UT Dallas doesn’t have a football team. What the university does have is a renowned chess team—24 Grandmasters (GMs) and International Masters (IMs) have played for UT Dallas since the program’s inception in 1996. The UTD chess team has participated in 17 out of the last 20 Final Four Collegiate Chess Tournaments. Outside of chess, UT Dallas is known for its highly ranked STEM programs—the college was founded by the three founders of Texas Instruments in the 1960s.
Learn more about the University of Texas at Dallas and what it takes to get accepted.
10. University of Houston
Location: Houston, TX
Acceptance Rate: 62%
Middle 50% SAT: 1140-1290
Middle 50% ACT: 22-28
Undergrad Enrollment: 39,165
The University of Houston is the second-most ethnically diverse major research university in the U.S. It is designated as both a Hispanic Serving Institution and an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution. About 90% of University of Houston students hail from Texas, but students from more than 137 nations call the campus home. The University of Houston is committed to making higher education accessible to low- and middle-income families. Through its Cougar Promise, the college offers free tuition to qualifying students from families with incomes at or below $65,000 and tuition support for those from families with incomes between $65,000 and $125,000.
Learn more about the University of Houston and what it takes to get accepted.
What Are Your Chances of Acceptance?
Wondering what your odds are of admission at one of the best colleges in Texas? CollegeVine can help. Our free chancing engine uses factors like your grades, standardized test scores, and extracurricular activities to estimate your odds of acceptance at hundreds of schools in Texas and across the country.
Our chancing engine can also help you build a balanced school list: by knowing your odds of acceptance, you can strategically assign safety, target, and reach schools and put yourself in the ideal position to get into a great fit school. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!