Best Colleges & Universities Idaho

best_colleges_universities_in_idahoThough it is most widely known for its potato farms, Idaho is also celebrated for its breathtaking scenery and vast expanses of 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 wealth of natural beauty, colleges and universities exist here in abundance. In Idaho, you will get to experience complete cultivation of mind, as well as body and soul. Countless exhilarating adventures undoubtedly await you here in the Gem State.

Though the number of in-state colleges and universities may be few, Idaho offers several nationally ranked programs of study. The college and university research departments in Idaho are widely acclaimed. Several other smaller, but equally renowned programs, such as liberal arts or ministry degrees, are available, as well. Idaho also contains private Christian schools with four-year programs, the most significant being Brigham Young University-Idaho, with a student population of over 20,000.

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) to help nonresident students graduate with little-to-no debt. It offers steep nonresident tuition discounts to students in 16 western states, including Idaho.

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

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 2019-2020

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 and associate degrees. This private, faith-based institution’s 430-acre campus, located in Idaho’s scenic Snake River Valley, is the perfect setting for enriching education and developing spirituality. With an acceptance rate of 97% and over 28,000 undergraduates, including 15,000 online attendees, the university’s student population is well above-average. BYUI’s course options are primarily science and humanities-based, some of which include four-year programs in physical sciences and engineering, performing and visual arts, and agriculture. BYUI also offers the unique opportunity to earn bachelor’s degrees in religious studies. US News rates BYU at #95 on the Safest School rankings list, and it sits at #22 on’s list of Best Online Colleges.

2. University of Idaho

Score: 99.8

Average Net Price: $14,354
Retention Rate: 80%
Graduation Rate: 56%
Salary After Attending: $41,900

This public university was founded in 1889 with the goal of teaching students to overcome obstacles and achieve success both in education and throughout life. The University of Idaho’s main campus is located in Moscow, with additional 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 about 12,000 undergraduate, online, and extension students in total. The university offers over 300 undergraduate and graduate programs, including STEM-based degrees, a medical education program, and counseling degrees. With a focus on student and faculty-driven research, the University of Idaho is officially recognized as a higher research activity university by the Carnegie Foundation, and ranks it at #1 in Best Colleges in Idaho.

3. Boise State University

Score: 98.6

Average Net Price: $13,796
Retention Rate: 79%
Graduation Rate: 42%
Salary After Attending: $37,100

On the banks of the Boise River, just outside the urban sprawl of the city, Boise State University (BSU) was founded by the Episcopal Church in 1932. This widely-recognized public institution offers low tuition rates for in-state residents, and ranks #4 in Best Colleges in Idaho, according to Boise State qualifies as a Tier 2 school in Best National Universities for 2019, according to US News. The university’s student population sits at over 25,000 students in total, and the campus 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 are generally under 20 students, and there is a 17-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio. The school offers over 200 majors, including public policy, physics, and interactive media. It also grants opportunities for online degrees in addition to its renowned graduate programs. Earning certificates in entrepreneurship, cybersecurity, and business anthropology is also possible at BSU.

4. The College of Idaho

Score: 98.6

Average Net Price: $21,433
Retention Rate: 73%
Graduation Rate: 61%
Salary After Attending: $40,000

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 settings. With a student enrollment of only about 1,000 and a student-to-instructor ratio of 9-to-1, students have the chance to enjoy a highly individualized educational experience. They can select from 26 undergraduate majors in fields such as professional studies, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. Their 56 minor options, which range from international political economy to exercise physiology, allow students the flexibility to personalize their academic paths even further. Students are encouraged to choose three minors to complete their courses of study, and the school encourages the study of different fields to help students best succeed in their academic careers. US News ranks The College of Idaho at #131 on the list of Best Colleges is National Liberal Arts in 2019.

5. Northwest Nazarene University

Score: 98.4

Average Net Price: $19,046
Retention Rate: 79%
Graduation Rate: 52%
Salary After Attending: $39,600

Eugene Emerson founded northwest Nazarene University in 1913 as a Christian-based liberal arts college. What began as a small group of bible study and grade school students has grown to a university supporting over 8,000 attendees, both on-campus and online. Northwest Nazarene University’s 90-acre campus is located in Nampa, Idaho, with additional learning centers in Idaho Falls. High school students that live close to campus can enroll in Northwest’s college-level courses with their dual-enrollment program. US News ranks this institution at #45 on the list of Best Value Schools, and at #52 in Best Regional Universities West division. Students can choose from 18 master’s degree options and 60 undergraduate options. Undergraduate areas of study include nursing, education, music, and biology. The school’s theology program is also widely acclaimed. For students pursuing master’s degrees, Northwest Nazarene offers programs in areas like theology, business, and social work. Online courses are also available in many of the more traditional subjects.

6. Lewis-Clark State College

Score: 96.6

Average Net Price: $11,152
Retention Rate: 58%
Graduation Rate: 29%
Salary After Attending: $34,600

Lewis-Clark State College was formerly known as the Lewiston State Normal School in 1893, but after several name-changes, it was officially dubbed LCSC in 1971. This public institution is located in Lewiston, Idaho, on the banks of the converging Clearwater and Snake Rivers. The school has the lowest tuition for any public four-year college in the state, and 95% of Lewis-Clark State graduates are either employed or actively pursuing graduate degrees. The student population amounts to nearly 3,700, a large percentage of which are international students. The student-to-teacher ratio is 13 to 1 in LCSC’s academic arena, and 8 to 1 in their career and technical divisions. The college offers a wide variety of courses to choose from, including 130 programs in fields such as accounting, chemistry, and psychology. Lewis-Clark State also offers a pre-law pathway, as well as 370 online courses, and nine online degree programs.

7. Boise Bible College

Score: 96.6

Average Net Price: $20,376
Retention Rate: 73%
Graduation Rate: 49%
Salary After Attending: $29,400

When Boise Bible College began in 1945 by the First Church of Christ in Boise, Idaho as a training school for ministers in the Pacific Northwest, it’s future impact was unknown. There were just a few students in those early years, but as Boise Bible College has grown the primary mission remains the same: To equip servant leaders for the Church to advance the gospel worldwide.
Students can earn both two and four-year degrees in Christian Ministry, Education, and Psychology. In addition, Boise Bible College also offers a one-year Bible Certification. The Association for Biblical Higher Education has accredited Boise Bible College for its many distinguished programs.
The college is located on a 16-acre campus at the edge of Boise. As a Bible college in the Pacific Northwest, Boise Bible College is minutes from hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities.
Starting with that first graduating class through the most recent, Boise Bible College alumni have passionately been on a mission and are making a significant impact around the world.

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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8. College of Eastern Idaho

Score: 96.4

Average Net Price: $14,210
Retention Rate: 61%
Graduation Rate: 55%
Salary After Attending: $26,200

Founded in 1969 under the title of Eastern Idaho Vocational Technical School, this community college took its current name in 2017. The College of Eastern Idaho provides students with a variety of two-year degree programs, affording options in a variety of fields. Centrally located in Idaho Falls, the school has an enrollment of over 17,000 students in total, as well as an impressive student-to-teacher ratio of only 9 to 1. Nearly two-thirds of the students attend part-time, which is an excellent option for students employed full-time. Eastern Idaho Vocational sponsors programs that enable students to achieve their certifications in two years or less. The school offers courses in general education, business, technology, and health professions. There is also a unique fire service technology program available. All course work is transferable to a four-year university for students intending to pursue higher education. ranks Eastern Idaho Vocational Technical School at #36 on the list of Best Community Colleges in America.

9. Idaho State University

Score: 96.4

Average Net Price: $16,689
Retention Rate: 66%
Graduation Rate: 29%
Salary After Attending: $35,700

Known as the Academy of Idaho at its founding in 1901, Idaho State University’s (ISU) main campus is located in Pocatello, Idaho, with other facilities in Twin Falls, Meridian, and Idaho Falls. There are plenty of options for outdoor recreation nearby. ranks ISU at #6 in the category of the best value for colleges in the state, and the Carnegie Foundation recognizes it as a research-focused institution. ISU has an enrollment of approximately 12,000 students, many of whom are students from across the United States. Although it is a large university, there is only a 13 to 1 student-to-teacher ratio, which allows students a highly personalized education experience. Idaho State offers 250 programs ranging 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 affords numerous opportunities for funding new and existing research projects.

10. College of Southern Idaho

Score: 96.2

Average Net Price: $7,114
Retention Rate: 58%
Graduation Rate: 24%
Salary After Attending: $29,300

Located in the Twin Falls, the College of Southern Idaho (CSI) held its first night class in the local 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. The city of Twin Falls is considered the gateway to the Snake River Canyon and offers many exciting outdoor opportunities, like rock climbing and base jumping. CSI enrolls approximately 6,800 students, and the student-to-instructor ratio is 15 to 1. The school offers a wide variety of two-year and certificate degree programs, with 25 courses of study to choose from, including degrees in the travel industry, visual arts, and library sciences. 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 #111 on the list of Best Community Colleges in America.

11. North Idaho College

Score: 96

Average Net Price: $7,931
Retention Rate: 56%
Graduation Rate: 24%
Salary After Attending: $31,000

Situated on the banks of the sparkling 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 was renamed North Idaho College. With additional educational centers in Bonners Ferry, Kellogg, and Sandpoint, the school’s main campus is located in Coeur d’Alene. The college also offers vocational training at the Workforce Center, the Parker Technical Education Center, and the Aerospace Center for Excellence. North Idaho is committed to its Open Door Policy, which invites students from all backgrounds to participate in the learning process. The acceptance rate for new students is 100%, and the cost of tuition compared to other in-state institutions is remarkably low. Undergraduate enrollment sits at over 6,000, with a student-to-instructor ratio of 14 to 1. Students enjoy a variety of majors in fields such as accounting, culinary arts, and pharmacy technology. High school students can also enroll to receive early college credit through North Idaho’s dual enrollment program.

12. Stevens-Henager College-Boise

Score: 93.8

Average Net Price: $27,085
Retention Rate: 41%
Graduation Rate: 37%
Salary After Attending: $28,800

Founded by James Ayers Smith 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. Steven-Henager College administration strives to provide the most beneficial tools and resources for students. The main campus is located in Boise; however, the school has additional campuses in Idaho Falls and throughout Utah. With an acceptance rate of 100%, the student body totals only about 300, which allows students a very personalized education experience. Degree options consist of associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. Students enjoy a variety of degree options in fields such as healthcare, business, graphic arts, and technology. The college also offers an online degree option through a partnership with Independence University. By offering job services, flexible class schedules, and small class sizes, Steven-Henager College specializes in helping students get on the fast-track to career success.

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

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