Best Colleges & Universities Idaho

best_colleges_IdahoThough most widely known for its potato farms, Idaho is also celebrated for its breathtaking scenery and magnificent Northern Rocky Mountain terrain. Imagine yourself hiking, camping, fishing, and stargazing on the wide-open plains and valleys, surrounded by the towering Grand Tetons and pine trees. In addition to its rich natural beauty, the state is home to a handful of renowned colleges and universities. In Idaho, you’ll get to experience the cultivation of mind, body, and soul. Countless exhilarating adventures undoubtedly await you here in the Gem State.

Though in-state colleges and universities are few, Idaho hosts several nationally ranked programs of study. Within the state, university research departments are widely acclaimed, and several other smaller but equally renowned programs (such as liberal arts or ministry degrees) are available, as well. Idaho is also home to several private, four-year Christian schools, the most significant being Brigham Young University – Idaho, which hosts a student population of over 19,000.

Even with its top-notch educational institutions, Idaho’s tuition and cost-of-living averages remain some of the lowest in the nation. Additionally, the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education offers a program called the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE<), helping non-resident students graduate with little-to-no debt. This non-resident tuition discount applies to students in 16 western states, including Idaho.

For students in Idaho, the low overall cost makes graduating with zero debt a genuine possibility! With plenty of top programs to choose from, as well as remarkably low tuition and living costs, Idaho may be the best post-secondary education option for you.

Related Programs That Might Interest You

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.


Colleges and Universities in Idaho Fast Facts

Fall enrollment (2017) = 131,803
Degrees awarded in Idaho (2016) = 22,856
Median in-state public tuition (2016) = $5,203
Median out-of-state tuition (2016) = $19,316
Largest schools = 1. Brigham Young University-Idaho, 2. Boise State University, 3. University of Idaho


EDsmart assesses colleges in Idaho based on data that covers four main areas:

  • Cost (average net price)
  • Academic quality (graduation rate)
  • Student satisfaction (retention rate)
  • Salary After Attending (the median earnings of former students who received federal financial aid, at 10 years after entering the school)

All data was gathered from the U.S. Dept of Education websites College Scorecard and College Navigator.

This ranking aims to help students assess the affordability and value of top online game design schools so they can make informed decisions about which college to attend.

Best Colleges in Idaho for 2020-2021

1. Brigham Young University – Idaho


Score: 100

Average Net Price: $7,977
Retention Rate: 72%
Graduation Rate: 58%
Salary After Attending: $42,700

Founded by the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints in Rexburg, Idaho in 1888, Brigham Young University – Idaho (BYUI) offers over one hundred degree options, including both bachelor’s and associate’s degrees. This private, faith-based institution’s 430-acre campus is located in Idaho’s scenic Snake River Valley. The campus serves as the perfect setting for obtaining an enriching education and developing spirituality. With an acceptance rate of 97%, and over 19,000 undergraduates in total, 4,500 of which attend online, BYUI’s student population is well above-average. The school’s course options are primarily science and humanities-based, a few of which include four-year programs in the physical sciences and engineering, performing and visual arts, and agriculture. BYUI also offers unique opportunities to earn bachelor’s degrees in religious studies. The U.S. News and World Report rates it at #24 among the Top Performers in Social Mobility, and it sits at #4 on’s list of Best Value Colleges in Idaho.

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2. Boise State University


Score: 99.8

Average Net Price: $14,354
Retention Rate: 80%
Graduation Rate: 56%
Salary After Attending: $74,100

On the banks of the Boise River, just past the city’s urban sprawl, is Boise State University’s 285-acre campus. The widely-recognized public institution offers low tuition rates for in-state residents and ranks #4 in’s list of Best Colleges in Idaho, as well as #42 among Most Innovative Schools in the U.S. News and World Report. The university hosts over 22,000 students in total and continues to expand, building new state-of-the-art tech facilities designed to meet the evolving needs of 21st-century students. Boise State is the largest graduate school in Idaho, but class sizes generally remain under 20 students, maintaining a 17:1 student-to-teacher ratio. The school offers over 200 different majors, a few of which include history, accountancy, and materials science and engineering. In addition to its renowned graduate programs, BSU grants opportunities for online degrees and even certificates in entrepreneurship, cybersecurity, and business anthropology.

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3. University of Idaho


Score: 98.3

Average Net Price: $15,017
Retention Rate: 77%
Graduation Rate: 58%
Salary After Attending: $70,600

This public university was founded in 1889 with the purpose of teaching students to overcome obstacles and achieve success both in education and in life. The University of Idaho’s main campus is located in Moscow, with additional teaching centers in Coeur d’Alene, Twin Falls, and Idaho Falls. For such a highly-ranked school, the 73% acceptance rate is both reasonable and realistic. U of I’s student body is comprised of over 11,700 students in total, and the university offers over 200 undergraduate and graduate programs, including STEM-based degrees, medical education programs, and counseling degrees. For all its student and faculty-driven research, the Carnegie Foundation officially recognizes U of I as a higher research activity university, and ranks it at #1 among Best Colleges in Idaho.

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4. Northwest Nazarene University

Score: 97.8

Average Net Price: $20,559
Retention Rate: 82%
Graduation Rate: 51%
Salary After Attending: $61,900

Northwest Nazarene University is an intentionally Christian university that is committed to academic excellence, facilitating connections and opportunities that bridge education and career and transforming the whole person intellectually, socially, and spiritually.  Recognized by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review and Colleges of Distinction (among others) for the exceptional educational experience it provides, NNU offers over 80+ areas of study, 18 master’s degrees, and 2 doctoral degrees. In addition to its 90-acre campus in Nampa, Idaho, the University also offers programs online as well as in Idaho Falls and in cooperation with programs in 35 countries. NNU provides competitive tuition, generous financial support, and a high return on investment with an almost 100% job placement in multiple programs and a greater than 80% acceptance rate into graduate medical programs. Through its over 100 year history and the success of its graduates in impacting the world, Northwest Nazarene University continues to be here for good.

Eugene Emerson founded Northwest Nazarene University in 1913 to be a Christian liberal arts institution, and what began as a small group of grade school bible students has since expanded into a university supporting over 8,000 individuals both on-campus and online. The 90-acre campus is located in Nampa, Idaho but an additional NNU learning center can be found in Idaho Falls. Residential high school students can also complete college courses through Northwest’s dual-enrollment. The U.S. News and World Report ranks it at #43 among Regional Universities West and #37 in Best Value Schools. Students can choose from 18 master’s degrees and 74 undergraduate options, a few of which include chemistry, criminal justice, global business, mathematics, and more. Northwest offers theology, business, and social work programs for students pursuing master’s degrees. For many of the more traditional subjects, online courses are also available.

5. College of Southern Idaho

Score: 97.5

Average Net Price: $6,060
Retention Rate: 58%
Graduation Rate: 27%
Salary After Attending: $45,600

The College of Southern Idaho held its first official night class at the local Twin Falls high school in 1965. Today the school is an integral part of the economic structure of Twin Falls and is also one of the fastest-growing colleges in the state. Twin Falls itself serves as the gateway to the Snake River Canyon and subsequently offers a plethora of exciting outdoor opportunities, such as rock climbing and base jumping. CSI enrolls approximately 7,600 students in total, maintaining a student-to-instructor ratio of 19:1. The school offers over 80 different associate’s and certificate programs to choose from, often centering on the travel industry, visual arts, library sciences, and much more. Students are also able to complete general studies courses, mathematics, and health-related programs. Additionally, Southern Idaho now offers a unique, four-year degree in advanced food technology. ranks it at #2 among Best Community Colleges in Idaho.

6. Idaho State University


Score: 96.3

Average Net Price: $13,135
Retention Rate: 64%
Graduation Rate: 49%
Salary After Attending: $60,600

At its 1901 founding, this institution was known originally as the Academy of Idaho. Today, the renamed Idaho State University’s (ISU) main campus is located in Pocatello, Idaho, with additional facilities in Twin Falls, Meridian, and Idaho Falls. ranks ISU at #7 among Best Value Colleges in Idaho, and the Carnegie Foundation officially recognizes it as a research-focused institution. ISU enrolls approximately 12,000 students, many of whom study remotely from across the United States. Although it is a large university, there is only a 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio, which allows for a highly personalized education experience. Idaho State offers 250 programs ranging anywhere from certificates to doctoral degrees, and students can find anything from business to rehabilitation undergraduate tracks, plus a variety of health professions and technology programs. As a highly-regarded research facility, ISU presents endless opportunities for funding new and existing research projects.

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7. The College of Idaho


Score: 96.3

Average Net Price: $21,043
Retention Rate: 78%
Graduation Rate: 63%
Salary After Attending: $30,300

Initially established in 1891 to be an institute of Presbyterian learning, the College of Idaho is the oldest private liberal arts school in the state. Located in the small town of Caldwell, this institution sits within easy reach of both urban and rural locations. With a student enrollment of only about 900 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1, students have the chance to enjoy a highly individualized educational experience. They can select from 26 undergraduate majors in fields like accounting, criminal justice, music, and more. Their 58 minor options, which range from environmental science to exercise psychology, allow students the flexibility to personalize their academic paths even further. Students are encouraged to choose three minors to embellish their portfolios, and the school encourages the study of different fields to help students best succeed in their professional careers. The U.S. News and World Report ranks the College of Idaho at #117 among National Liberal Arts Colleges.

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8. College of Eastern Idaho

Score: 96

Average Net Price: $9,434
Retention Rate: 72%
Graduation Rate: 31%
Salary After Attending: $54,700

Founded in 1969 under the original title of Eastern Idaho Vocational Technical School, this community college adopted its current name in the year 2017. The College of Eastern Idaho offers a multitude of two-year degree programs, affording options in a variety of fields. Centrally located in Idaho Falls, the school has an enrollment of over 1,300 students in total, maintaining a student-to-teacher ratio of 15:1. Nearly two-thirds of students attend part-time, which is an excellent option available to individuals with full-time employment. Eastern Idaho sponsors programs that enable students to obtain certification in two years or less through courses in fields like general education, business, technology, health professions, and more. All Eastern Idaho coursework is transferable to a four-year university. On the whole, ranks it at #1 among Best Community Colleges in Idaho.

9. Lewis-Clark State College

Score: 96

Average Net Price: $10,978
Retention Rate: 60%
Graduation Rate: 39%
Salary After Attending: $64,000

At its founding in 1893, Lewis-Clark State College was originally known as the Lewiston State Normal School, but in 1973, after several name changes, it officially took on its current name. The school sits on the banks of the converging Clearwater and Snake Rivers in Lewistown, Idaho, and has the lowest tuition for any public four-year college in the state. 95% of Lewis-Clark State graduates are either currently employed or actively pursuing graduate degrees. The student population amounts to nearly 3,700, with international students making up a major percentage of that number, and the school maintains a student-to-teacher ratio of 14:1. The college offers a wide variety of courses to choose from, including 194 programs in fields like psychology, music, interdisciplinary studies, and more. Lewis-Clark State also offers a pre-law pathway, as well as 178 various online courses.

10. North Idaho College


Score: 95.3

Average Net Price: $6,909
Retention Rate: 55%
Graduation Rate: 27%
Salary After Attending: $60,100

Situated on the banks of the picturesque Lake Coeur d’Alene, North Idaho College was initially founded in 1933 as a private institution under the name Coeur d’Alene Junior College. In 1971, the institution took on the title of North Idaho College and has been known by that name ever since. With educational centers in Bonners Ferry, Kellogg, and Sandpoint, the school is able to serve a broad range of students. It offers vocational training at the Workforce Center, the Parker Technical Education Center, and the Aerospace Center for Excellence, and is committed to an open-door policy, inviting students from all walks of life to participate in the school’s comprehensive learning processes. North Idaho maintains a 100% acceptance rate and, compared to other in-state tuitions, the cost is remarkably low. Undergraduate enrollment sits at over 5,000, with a student-to-instructor ratio of just 13:1. Students enjoy a variety of majors in accounting, culinary arts, geology, and much more. Through NIC’s convenient dual-enrollment tracks, local high school students can also receive early college credit.

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11. Boise Bible College


Score: 94.5

Average Net Price: $21,315
Retention Rate: 70%
Graduation Rate: 55%
Salary After Attending: $29,400

When Boise Bible College was founded by the First Church of Christ in 1945 as a ministers’ training school, its future impact was unknown. As the institution has expanded, its primary focus has remained the same: to equip servant leaders for the Church to advance the gospel worldwide. Students can earn both associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in fields like Christian ministry, education, psychology, and more. In addition, the college also offers a one-year Bible Certification that enables students to pursue careers teaching, proselyting, and spreading the Word of God. The Association for Biblical Higher Education has accredited Boise Bible College for its many distinguished programs. From its 16-acre campus in the scenic Pacific Northwest, Boise Bible College students have access to a plethora of outdoor escapes, scenic locations, and recreational activities. Since the school’s establishment, BBC students and alumni have always made it their mission to evoke change and spread the light of Christ throughout the world, and continue to do so today.

Quick Facts

  • 99% of students receive Financial Aid
  • $482,078 of scholarships and grants awarded in 2018-2019
  • 77% of the semester cost covered by Financial Aid
  • 75 years of equipping students

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12. Stevens-Henager College-Boise

Score: 92.5

Average Net Price: $23,205
Retention Rate: 20%
Graduation Rate: 41%
Salary After Attending: $44,600

Founded originally as the Inter-Mountain Business College in 1891, Steven-Henager College-Boise adopted its current title in 1959. The mission of this non-profit institution is to prepare students for business-oriented fields and equip graduates with real-world workplace skills. The school’s administration strives to provide the most beneficial tools and resources for students. The main campus is located in Boise; however, the school maintains additional campuses in Idaho Falls and throughout the state of Utah. With an acceptance rate of 100%, the school hosts only about 200 students in total, which allows for a highly personalized education experience. Students enjoy a variety of degree options in fields such as healthcare, business, graphic arts, technology, and more. The school’s online degree programs operate through a partnership with Independence University. By offering job services, flexible class schedules, and minimal class sizes, Steven-Henager College helps students on the fast track to success.

Now that you know about the Best Colleges in Idaho, you’re ready to get started on your new path. Whether you choose a large private school or a small public university, you’re already on the way to a better life through education!

2019-2020 Rankings for Best Colleges in Idaho:

1. Brigham Young University-Idaho
2. University of Idaho
3. Boise State University
4. The College of Idaho
5. Northwest Nazarene University
6. Lewis-Clark State College
7. Boise Bible College
8. College of Eastern Idaho
9. Idaho State University
10. College of Southern Idaho
11. North Idaho College
12. Stevens-Henager College-Boise

Related Programs That Might Interest You

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.