Best Colleges in New Jersey

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The east coast is full of internship and business opportunities, as well as educational options, but if you’re looking for excitement and the hustle and bustle of an urban education, New Jersey would be an excellent option for you. With big cities like Philadelphia and New York come big opportunities. New Jersey, more commonly know as the Garden State, is home to famous institutes like Rutgers University-New Brunswick, Ivy League’s Princeton University, Stevens Institute of Technology, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

The New Jersey State Department of Education offers tuition aid that can help you attend one of its many colleges and universities. The Tuition Aid Grant (TAG) and Part-Time Tuition Aid Grant are available to attendees of all New Jersey colleges and universities. At certain colleges, the state even administers the Educational Opportunity Fund.

Community College students are eligible for the state’s Opportunity Grant. Women and minority groups, specifically, are eligible for the Governor’s Industry Vocations Scholarship. More information about these programs can be found at https://www.state.nj.us/nj/education/aid/.

Besides all the educational opportunities and assistance programs, New Jersey is full of enjoyable places to visit. With nearly 130 miles of coastline, inland mountains, and open access to all that New York City has to offer, this state has everything an aspiring young student could want, and more.

Colleges and Universities in New Jersey Fast Facts

  • Fall enrollment (2017) = 419,037
  • Degrees awarded in New Jersey (2017) = 103,589
  • Median in-state public tuition (2017) = $11,619
  • Median out-of-state tuition (2017) = $20,718
  • Median private tuition (2017) = $29,300
  • Largest schools by degrees awarded = 1. Rutgers University-New Brunswick, 2. Montclair State University, 3. Rowan University

Sources: NCES and DataUSA

Ranking Methodology

The Best Colleges in New Jersey ranking is based on four main data points in four categories:

  • Affordability (average net price)
  • Student Satisfaction (retention rate)
  • Academic Quality (4-year graduation rate)
  • Student Outcome (20-year return on investment per Payscale.com)

Each data point is ranked with equal weight. Schools received a weighted overall ranking score for each individual point mentioned above–100 being the highest score possible.

In the case of a tie in scoring, the average net price was the determining factor for which school received the higher rank–the lower the net price, the higher the ranking.

All data was gathered from the National Center for Education Statistics website, College Scorecard, Payscale, and school websites.

Best Colleges and Universities in New Jersey

1. Rutgers University-New Brunswick

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Score: 100.0

Average Net Price: $20,379
Retention Rate: 93%
Graduation Rate: 81%
ROI: $576,000

Though the New Brunswick campus is quite large, Rutgers University boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of just 16 to 1. It ranks #62 among all National Universities, topping the list for Best Colleges in New Jersey. The university offers a wide array of degree options and sports to involved in. Campus sports teams have even won a few championships in the past.

A few of the most popular majors include psychology, biology, and computer science. Rutgers sits at #35 among Best Colleges for Veterans, so if you’re a service member, it’s definitely worth looking into. The only notable downside is that the acceptance rate was reported only at 60% in 2018, but if you have been a great student thus far that may not be a concern. Ultimately, Rutgers University-New Brunswick is one of the best institutions of postsecondary education in the state of New Jersey.

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2. Rutgers University-Newark

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Score: 99.3

Average Net Price: $13,205
Retention Rate: 84%
Graduation Rate: 70%
ROI: $532,000

Rutgers’ additional campus is located in Newark and ranks at #132 among National Universities, unlike its New Brunswick counterpart. Nonetheless, Newark is still an excellent option. Though undergraduate enrollment and campus size are also significantly less than Rutgers’ other locations, the quality of education is the same. Some of the more popular degrees include accounting, finance, and criminal justice. Graduate students attend either the School of Law, Business School, or the School of Criminal Justice–which is also highly ranked.

One of the most notable aspects of this particular Rutgers campus is its remarkable list of alumni, which includes several Federal Bureau of Investigation employees and even a former U.S. Secretary of Energy. This campus maintains over 100 different clubs and organizations despite its small size. All in all, it is one of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in the state of New Jersey.

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3. Stevens Institute of Technology

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Score: 98.5

Average Net Price: $36,620
Retention Rate: 95%
Graduation Rate: 83%
ROI: $937,000

Stevens Institute of Technology boasts more than a few remarkable features, and, with its relatively small campus size, it’s an excellent option for those looking for more personalized education. Smaller classes make for better networking, which can be extremely useful for those majoring in some of the more popular fields of study, such as business management or engineering. If you prefer to live on campus, this can be the best option for you, as housing is guaranteed for four years, and over half of all students live on campus.

Even though this college ranks at #74 among National Universities, it may seem daunting to attend an Institute of Technology, especially since this campus was notably a male-only school until the early 1970s. Now, however, females generally make up about 30% of those enrolled, so this campus is a comfortable place for anyone to receive a top-of-the-line education, regardless of gender.

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4. New Jersey Institute of Technology

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Score: 98.3

Average Net Price: $20,011
Retention Rate: 86%
Graduation Rate: 66%
ROI: $768,000

The New Jersey Institute of Technology comes in at #97 among National Universities and sits at #41 among Best Value Schools. A few of the most popular majors include architecture, biology, and engineering. With an acceptance rate of just 64%, an applicant’s GPA is one of the essential factors of acceptance, alongside letters of recommendation.

Plenty of NJIT classes host less than 20 students at a time, which makes class lectures both more engaging and personal. NJIT’s “Major & Degree Finder” page states that they offer “126 degree programs through six professional schools and colleges.” NJIT offers more than 42 online programs–14 online master’s degree programs and 21 graduate certificate programs.

5. The College of New Jersey

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Score: 98.3

Average Net Price: $26,670
Retention Rate: 94%
Graduation Rate: 85%
ROI: $513,000

The College of New Jersey ranks #4 among Regional Universities North. Though it maintains an undergraduate enrollment of just over 7,000 students, the school features an impressive 289-acre campus. The school offers over 50 programs across its various schools of study, as well as over 150 different student organizations. There are plenty of career paths to choose from.

This campus offers quite a few unique options for aspiring artists and other creatives. The school has two separate theaters, a music hall, an art gallery, and even a television and radio station hosted by students. When it comes down to it, the College of New Jersey is one of the best options for students seeking to jumpstart their futures and expand their creative horizons.

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6. Rutgers University-Camden

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Score: 97.5

Average Net Price: $13,225
Retention Rate: 88%
Graduation Rate: 66%
ROI: $341,000

This Rutgers campus is quite similar to its Newark counterpart, but it is slightly larger and ranks #166 among National Universities. Some of the most popular degrees include registered nursing, accounting, and criminal justice. With an acceptance rate of 71%, earning a high SAT or ACT score can boost your admission chances. Letters of recommendation are not essential, so focusing on your grades and test scores is more likely to increase your chance at acceptance.

It’s important to note that almost half the courses on this campus comprise less than 20 students at a time, and the average student-to-faculty ratio is 15 to 1. This ratio is slightly less than the previous colleges mentioned. The school also offers a few dual degree programs that will undoubtedly assist in your post-college success.

7. Ramapo College of New Jersey

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Score: 96.5

Average Net Price: $21,316
Retention Rate: 86%
Graduation Rate: 73%
ROI: $377,000

Ramapo College of New Jersey makes an impressive stand on our list, coming in at #32 among Regional Universities North. Undergraduate enrollment averages around 6,000, and the expansive campus sits on nearly 300 acres. Ramapo awards 40 different degrees, maintains over 100 student organizations and boasts 25 fraternities and sororities for students to choose from. The school also affords a variety of creative outlets for students, such as the school newspaper or the literary magazine, both of which are student-run.

Ramapo typically allows students to play intramural sports, but everyone is free to try out for any of the school’s varsity sports teams. If you’re big into sports, know that Ramapo competes in the NCAA Division III. The school also places #18 among Best Colleges for Veterans and #14 for Best Undergraduate Teaching.

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8. Montclair State University

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Score: 96.3

Average Net Price: $18,500
Retention Rate: 82%
Graduation Rate: 70%
ROI: $381,000

Montclair ranks #166 among National Universities, boasting a large campus, low tuition, and more than 300 different academic programs at all levels. The school’s career-planning services are designed to help students find internships, job opportunities, and networking experience. More than 200 clubs are available, as well as Greek life and athletic teams at both the intramural and varsity level.

Montclair’s campus is only 12 miles away from New York City, so students have open-access to a plethora of urban adventures, not to mention internships, job opportunities, and creative outlets close to the big city. A few of the school’s most actively-pursued majors include visual and performing arts, social and human sciences, and various other business degrees.

9. Saint Peter’s University

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Score: 95.0

Average Net Price: $12,382
Retention Rate: 81%
Graduation Rate: 56%
ROI: $443,000

Saint Peter’s University is a private, Roman Catholic institution that ranks #86 among Regional Universities North. The school’s programs include business, biomedical sciences, and protective services. Of all freshmen, 82% remain at the school for the years required to earn their degree, which is a relatively high statistic for any college to claim. Almost 60% of classes host fewer than 20 students, and no classes host 50 or more at one time.

Saint Peter’s teams up with other universities, such as Rutgers University, to combine various degree programs. The institution is also G.I. Bill certified and participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which can be an essential factor for some students. With a 74% acceptance rate, grades, test scores, and letters of recommendation are all important factors for gaining acceptance.

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10. Stockton University

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Score: 94.5

Average Net Price: $20,364
Retention Rate: 87%
Graduation Rate: 73%
ROI: $276,000

Stockton University ranks #32 among Regional Universities North and maintains ten undergraduate academic departments. The school’s natural sciences, mathematics, arts, and humanities programs are the most widely known. Stockton allows students to begin their research projects early on, aiding them in their education process and upping their chances of receiving fellowships.

Stockton accepts 84% of undergraduate applicants, and at 87%, the freshmen retention rate is quite high. The school maintains a 2,000 acre-campus to accommodate its enrollment of over 8,000 undergraduates. With such low tuition rates, this school maintains one of the best balances between price and quality of any college out there.

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11. Rowan University

Score: 93.5

Average Net Price: $23,692
Retention Rate: 85%
Graduation Rate: 72%
ROI: $334,000

Since its founding in 1923, Rowan University has been committed to providing high-quality education for its students and enriching its community. It has evolved as an environmental research institution, having received over 13 green initiative awards. There are plenty of undergraduate and graduate degree options to choose from, but the school is most widely known for its S.T.E.M. majors.

Rowan accepts 73% of applicants, and admissions are based on applicants’ G.P.A. and recommendation letters. The freshman retention rate is high, and classes typically have fewer students. Rowan ranks #166 among National Universities. Overall, the cost and quality are a perfect balance.

12. Seton Hall University

Score: 93.5

Average Net Price: $27,563
Retention Rate: 85%
Graduation Rate: 66%
ROI: $445,000

Seton Hall is a small private school that sits at #139 among National Universities. The majority-led Catholic school is located only about 15 miles from New York City, so local adventures are just a train ride away. Seton Hall students can choose from over 60 different majors or pursue one of the school’s top-of-the-line graduate programs within one of the schools of Business, Education, or Law. The university maintains over 100 student organizations, Greek Life groups, and sports teams.

Seton Hall’s most popular majors include biological sciences, marketing, and nursing. Half of the classes have less than 20 students at a time, and the student-to-faculty ratio is only 13 to 1. Most Seton Hall graduates typically stay in the New Jersey and New York area to pursue the city’s plentiful professional opportunities.

13. Felician University

Score: 93.3

Average Net Price: $18,056
Retention Rate: 80%
Graduation Rate: 41%
ROI: $550,000

Felician University is a private, suburban institution that has been dedicated to furthering individualized education since its founding in 1942. Today, the school typically enrolls around 2,000 students or less with only 27 acres to the university. Felician offers unique combined-degree programs, the most popular of which include health professions, business, and biology-related sciences. Almost 70% of classes host less than 20 students, so networking and establishing contacts is a given.

Felician accepts 81% of applicants, and the admissions team looks at students’ G.P.A.s and test scores as major deciding factors. The typical A.C.T. score for Felician is between 15 and 22, and the application fee, tuition, and fees are relatively low.

14. Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham Campus

Score: 91.8

Average Net Price: $22,466
Retention Rate: 80%
Graduation Rate: 57%
ROI: $482,000

Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham sits at #56 among Regional Universities North. Over 70% of the school’s classes host less than 20 students at a time, meaning that students have the best chance to achieve a more personalized education. The most popular majors include degrees such as liberal arts, business, and the humanities. Students also have the option of obtaining dual-degrees, a process that involves working towards a bachelor’s and master’s degrees simultaneously.

The Florham Campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University emphasizes the importance of balancing education and extracurricular activities, such as intramural sports and clubs. All major choices allow students the freedom to participate fully in extracurricular activities and acquire one-of-a-kind skills that set them up for a lifetime of personal and professional accomplishment.

15. Drew University

Score: 91.3

Average Net Price: $26,218
Retention Rate: 86%
Graduation Rate: 66%
ROI: $281,000

Since its founding in 1867, Drew University has been committed to the pursuit of bettering its students and its community through education. The school’s most popular degree options include both the social and biological sciences, and visual and performing arts. Overall, Drew ranks #117 among National Liberal Arts Colleges.

Due to its small campus, undergraduate enrollment is typically less than 2,000 annually. However, students have easy access to the hustle and bustle of New York City and everything it has to offer. Drew even enables students to experience a “Wall Street Semester,” among a few other NYC-based career-building opportunities. In other words, if you want to spend ample time in the Big Apple without paying hefty prices, this is the school for you.

16. New Jersey City University

Score: 90.5

Average Net Price: $12,659
Retention Rate: 77%
Graduation Rate: 47%
ROI: $327,000

New Jersey City University has been committed to enriching its community and bolstering its students’ futures through education since it was founded in 1927. Today, tuition rates remain relatively low even for those paying out-of-state tuition; a fact made noteworthy due to its relevance to the school’s placement at #33 among Top Performers on Social Mobility.

A few of the most popular majors include registered nursing, psychology, and criminal justice. This university offers a variety of post bachelor’s degree programs, master’s, and doctorate degrees. NJCU upholds an acceptance rate of 96% and is considered by many to be one of the least selective post-secondary educational institutions in the country. Ultimately, New Jersey City University is the perfect place for those willing to put in the work to overcome their situations and forge themselves a bright future.

17. College of Saint Elizabeth

Score: 90.3

Average Net Price: $19,476
Retention Rate: 64%
Graduation Rate: 61%
ROI: $415,000

The College of Saint Elizabeth is a Catholic liberal arts school that has been devoted to administering faith-based education and uplifting its community since its founding in 1899. Today, the school offers a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate programs. Saint Elizabeth operates two separate schools of study: the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Professional Studies.

Students can engage openly with their peers, colleagues, and professors while pursuing majors like biology, art, dance, music, health administration, social work, and much more. Within the fully-comprehensive curriculum, students acquire real-world experience, obtain crucial life lessons, and establish strong mentorships with trusted advisors and instructors.

18. Monmouth University

Score: 90.3

Average Net Price: $30,273
Retention Rate: 79%
Graduation Rate: 70%
ROI: $346,000

Monmouth University is a private college that has been serving the members of its community and providing higher education to hundreds of thousands of individuals since its founding in 1933. Today, the school enrolls a relatively small number of undergraduates but maintains an impressive campus on 168 acres of eastern Long Branch, New Jersey.

A few of the most popular majors include business and management, health professions, communications, and more. The school offers a variety of dual-degree programs, maximizing students’ potential to advance their educations and pursue master’s and doctorate degrees. Monmouth offers unique academic opportunities such as senior capstone seminars, writing classes, creative projects, and a plethora of other memorable first-year student experiences.

19. William Paterson University of New Jersey

Score: 90.0

Average Net Price: $17,064
Retention Rate: 76%
Graduation Rate: 57%
ROI: $325,000

The William Peterson University of New Jersey has been committed to providing education and bolstering students’ futures since its founding in 1855. Today, the school ranks #94 among Regional Universities North. Enrollment and campus size are relatively average, but tuition rates are quite low, even for out-of-state applicants. Over half of WPU’s classes comprise less than 20 students each, meaning each student receives the most individualized education possible.

A few of the most popular majors include business, psychology, communication, protective services, and the social sciences. William Paterson’s acceptance rate sits at approximately 93%, which is a benefit to those seeking to forge themselves a better future and rise out of their circumstances. Ultimately, this university is one of the best places to get your life on track and take your education to the next level.

20. Rider University

Score: 90.0

Average Net Price: $28,952
Retention Rate: 79%
Graduation Rate: 66%
ROI: $358,000

Since it was established in 1865, Rider University has been committed to the advancement of postsecondary education and opening opportunities for its students. It ranks #35 among Regional Universities North, #21 among Most Innovative Schools, and #28 for Best Value Schools.

Approximately 33% of students are pursuing business administration and management degrees, with education and visual and performing arts being the next two most popular choices. The student-to-faculty ratio is 10 to 1, meaning students receive the most individualized educational experience possible. In-person interviews are recommended for admission.

21. Kean University

Score: 89.3

Average Net Price: $19,044
Retention Rate: 75%
Graduation Rate: 63%
ROI: $316,000

Since its founding in 1855, Kean University has been devoted to uplifting its community and bolstering its students’ chances at success. The campus is located only about 30 minutes from New York City and 90 minutes from Philadelphia, so there are plenty of options for adventure, internships, and creative hotspots nearby.

Kean students get to choose from almost 50 different undergraduate majors and more than 30 different master’s degrees, as well as over 150 clubs. They can also write for the school newspaper, or even visit the nearby zoo, which hosts two of the school’s cougar mascots. Many Kean students pursue the school’s more popular degrees, which include psychology, biology, and business.

22. Fairleigh Dickinson University-Metropolitan Campus

Score: 88.5

Average Net Price: $16,136
Retention Rate: 74%
Graduation Rate: 53%
ROI: $297,000

The Metropolitan Campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University has been serving its community through education and service since its founding in 1942. The various sports, large residence halls, and the recently constructed fitness center (to promote student’s health and well being) all contribute to a vibrant campus atmosphere.

FDU-Metropolitan residence halls allow for unique living options. For example, there are specific halls for students who require quiet studying, honors students, and even individuals who prioritize physical exercise and prefer to have access to an on-site gym. All in all, Fairleigh Dickinson at the Metropolitan is one of the most student-friendly campuses on this list. It is a school that prioritizes its students’ needs to better prepare them for successful futures and careers.

23. Caldwell University

Score: 87.5

Average Net Price: $22,604
Retention Rate: 81%
Graduation Rate: 48%
ROI: $283,000

Caldwell University is a private institution that has been serving members of its community and jumpstarting its students’ futures since its founding in 1939. Today, the school ranks #75 among Regional Universities North, and although tuition can average to a relatively high amount, the school’s high retention rate implies that attending students are more likely to remain here to pursue their education rather than transfer to a different university.

The top three most popular majors pursued by Caldwell students are within the realms of health professions, business, and psychology. Caldwell also offers a few dual-degree opportunities and additional graduate programs to enable students to continue their educations further. Caldwell seniors’ capstone projects categorically boast distinguished results while providing the students completing them with beneficial marketing opportunities and invaluable real-world experience.

24. Georgian Court University

Score: 86.3

Average Net Price: $24,553
Retention Rate: 77%
Graduation Rate: 64%
ROI: $177,000

Georgian Court University is a private institution that has been serving its suburban community and providing students with high-quality postsecondary education for over 100 years. With just under 80% of classes hosting fewer than 20 students, this school knows what it means to individualize education, enabling students to obtain the one-on-one instruction that they need to succeed.

GCU ranks #108 among Regional Universities North. A couple of the most popular degree programs are psychology and registered nursing. Unlike most of the schools on this list, GCU does not offer virtual bachelor’s degrees. So, if you are the type of student that works more efficiently on-campus, obtain your degree at Georgian Court University.

25. Bloomfield College

Score: 85.0

Average Net Price: $19,171
Retention Rate: 64%
Graduation Rate: 35%
ROI: $245,000

Last but certainly not least, Bloomfield College has been an institution dedicated to the furthering of individualized education and career preparedness since its founding in 1868. Today, it ranks at #108 among Top Performers on Social Mobility and currently offers more than 40 different programs, as well as various career development programs to aid in a student’s post-college success.

According to the school’s official website, it ranks at #20 among colleges that improve economic standing and is considered a “workforce ready” institution. In other words, every Bloomfield student can be sure to receive opportunities for high-quality internships and job placement.

College facts have been collected from the U.S. News and World Report’s Education Panel found here.

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