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Iowa Universities Ranked: The Best Colleges and Universities in Iowa

Daisy Waithereo Wambua - July 03, 2022

The best universities in Iowa will help you gain competitive skills to succeed in your career. Studying in Iowa will open up a wide range of possibilities. The state’s reputation for academic excellence precedes itself locally and internationally. Given its world-class education system, you will receive the value of the education you need to succeed.

In your college search, you’ll be looking for the perfect size university, a vibrant, friendly campus, and a range of student activities. The best universities in Iowa offer popular programs, from bachelor’s programs in political science to doctoral programs in liberal arts.

The breadth and diversity the state offers in terms of education are unmatched. We curated a list of the best colleges in Iowa to help you narrow your options. You will find the top 10 universities in Iowa, including admission requirements and job opportunities. We also tell you how Iowa universities ranked in the US.

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What Are the Best Universities in Iowa?

The best universities in Iowa are Iowa University, University of Iowa, Clarke University, Droidt University, and the University of Northern Iowa. Other top universities in Iowa are Mount Mercy University, Briar University, University of Dubuque, and Graceland University.

You can always enroll in an accredited college degree program if you’re looking for an associate degree . Some of the best colleges in Iowa are Loras College, Simpson College, Morningside College, Cornell College, and Coe College.

How Many Universities Are in Iowa?

There are 56 public universities in Iowa , according to the National Center of Education Statistics. The state is also home to 34 non-profit four-year educational institutions. These include two doctoral research universities, eight graduate schools, and 14 baccalaureate institutions that provide endless opportunities on campus and online.

What Are the Biggest Universities in Iowa?

The biggest universities are the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, Des Moines Area Community College, Kirkwood Community College, and the University of Northern Iowa. Other big universities are Eastern Iowa Community College, Iowa Western Community College, Western Iowa Tech Community College, Hawkeye Community College, and Drake University.

Largest Iowa Universities by Enrollment

  1. Iowa State University | 31,822
  2. University of Iowa | 30,318
  3. Des Moines Area Community College | 23,051
  4. Kirkwood Community College | 12,277
  5. University of Northern Iowa | 9,507

Iowa University Rankings: What Are the Top 10 Universities in Iowa?

Ranking School City Graduation Rate
1 Drake University Des Moines 78%
2 Iowa State University Ames 76%
3 University of Iowa Iowa City 74%
4 Dordt University Fayette 74%
5 University of Northern Iowa Cedar Falls 69%
6 Mount Mercy University Cedar Rapids 60%
7 Briar Cliff University Sioux City 56%
8 Clarke University Dubuque 54%
9 Graceland University Lamoni 47%
10 University of Dubuque Dubuque 40%

How We Defined Iowa University Rankings

Our ranking of the 10 best Iowa universities is based on the graduation rates of top schools in the state, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). In coming up with our list of 10 Iowa universities, we also consulted rankings conducted by US News & World Report and Times Higher Education, which you can reference in the expanded list below.

The Best Colleges and Universities in Iowa, Explained

The best colleges and universities in Iowa provide students with a top-notch education. On these learning platforms, you will find high-quality education programs that set you apart from other university graduates. Below we feature the top 10 universities’ graduation rates, acceptance rate, post-grad median salary, student population, and US News National Ranking.


Drake University

Grad Rate: 78%

This Des Moines university provides learners with undergraduate and graduate education programs. Multiple schools cater to Drake University’s student body. These include arts and sciences, business and public administration, education, journalism and communication, pharmacy and health sciences, and law.

Drake University Overview

  • Campus Location: Des Moines
  • Student Population: 4,774
  • Acceptance Rate: 68%
  • Graduation Rate: 78%
  • Post-Grad Median Salary: $63,528
  • US News National Ranking: #136
  • Times Higher Education Ranking: #136

Best Drake University Programs

  • Finance Major. This engaging program will help you gain hands-on experience in navigating the industry. You can become a security analyst , valuation expert, mortgage advisor, financial consultant, or financial manager. You can also boost your resume with a Bloomberg Markets Concept Certificate.
  • Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences. This four-year degree program has many student advantages. The degree program gives you 11 accelerated career pathway options. You can also complete the degree in three years instead of the traditional four years. According to the official website, 93 percent of the health sciences graduates landed jobs or attended a professional school.
  • Bachelor of Actuarial Science. The private degree program offered by Drake University is one of the most popular in the state. The Society of Actuaries officially recognizes Drake University as a center for Actuarial Excellence. It's taught entirely by actuaries with real-world experience.
  • Public Relations Major. This degree program equips you with essential communication skills to navigate the industry. You can use the degree program to gain a global perspective and ethical knowledge to advance into a well-paying role. You will work with PR majors on a multimedia campaign during your studies.
  • Marketing Major. This major features theoretical and practical aspects of the marketing industry. You can use the knowledge acquired to prepare for a career in marketing research, consumer analysis, marketing communications, brokerage, and marketing management. Upon completion, you may land a job at top companies such as Firestone, Wells Fargo, or Iowa Clubs.


Iowa State University

Grad Rate: 76%

Iowa State University is a public institution, offering learners extensive degree programs in various disciplines. You will find high-quality degree programs in engineering, technology, marketing, sciences, management, and humanities. This school is a nice size and provides students opportunities to participate in sports teams, greek life, and various clubs.

Iowa State University Overview

  • Campus Location: Ames
  • Student Population: 31,822
  • Acceptance Rate: 88%
  • Graduation Rate: 76%
  • Post-Grad Median Salary: $57,351
  • US News National Ranking:  #122
  • Times Higher Education Ranking: #219

Best Iowa State University Programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Marketing. You can use this marketing degree to land a job in public relations, market research, sales, advertising, and product management. Interns from the marketing manager program earn an hourly salary of $15.52. If you graduate from the marketing program, you can expect an annual salary of $49,245.
  • Bachelor of Science in Finance. To acquire this undergraduate degree in finance, you must complete the general courses, electives, and core requirements. It is an excellent program to gain a well-rounded education in finance. Students who pursue this degree become problem solvers and effective communicators.
  • Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Health. The College of Human Sciences offers this program. Students master the biological and behavioral nature of body movement through exercise physiology and biomechanics. The campus included career services, internships, and numerous facilities in the program to ensure each student's success.
  • Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems. This major is exceptional for mastering concepts in creating databases, information technologies, information security, and user interfaces. You will receive technical and managerial training in information systems to help you become a business analyst or a systems analyst.
  • Master of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering. This advanced degree program is excellent for professionals with Bachelor’s Degrees in Mechanical Engineering or another relevant field. You need a minimum of 30 academic credits to earn the master’s degree . Unlike other advanced degree programs, you do not need to complete a thesis to acquire this degree.


University of Iowa

Grad Rate: 74%

The University of Iowa is a renowned public institution that provides students with undergraduate, graduate, and research programs across multiple disciplines. You will find social sciences, law, medicine, public affairs, and business programs. The campus has over 12 colleges offering 200 fields of study and seven professional degrees.

University of Iowa Overview

  • Campus Location: Iowa
  • Student Population: 30,318
  • Acceptance Rate: 84%
  • Graduation Rate: 74%
  • Post-Grad Median Salary: $58,274
  • US News National Ranking: #83
  • Times Higher Education Ranking: #169

Best University of Iowa Programs

  • Bachelor of Arts in Marketing: Global Marketing Management. You can become a promotions manager, international marketing manager, market research analyst, digital marketing manager, or marketing coordinator through this degree program. Top employers of marketing graduates are Eden Mutual Insurance, Enterprise, Itopia, Cargill, and ABC Supply Co.
  • Bachelor of Arts in Management: Organizational leadership. This major focuses on principles of organizational management, organizational behavior, leadership skills, information systems application, and human resource management. Graduates of this program become business managers, consultants, project managers, or corporate recruiters.
  • Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance. Delivered by Tippies College of Business, the degree program provides essential skills in the industry. Ninety-four percent of finance alumni land job opportunities within six months of graduation. The average starting salary of finance grads at this university is $57,000 per year.
  • Bachelor of Arts in Health and Human Physiology. You can use this four-year degree to start your career in the health industry. The degree program will take you through chemistry, biology, mathematics, human anatomy, nutrition, human physiology, and applied exercise physiology.
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The four-year degree in nursing has an extensive reputation in the state and beyond. Being one of the first degrees in nursing offered in the state, you can expect a refined and competitive curriculum. You can also use this degree program to prepare for the NCLEX-RN exams, which will lead to your licensure.


Dordt University

Grad Rate: 74%

This is a private Christian school founded in 1955. You should expect a Christian-based curriculum. The high-quality degree programs offered by the campus attract over 1,313 undergrad students, 93 percent are full-time, and seven percent are part-time students.

Dordt University Overview

  • Campus Location: Sioux Center
  • Student Population: 1,662
  • Acceptance Rate: 72%
  • Graduation Rate: 74%
  • Post-Grad Median Salary: $48,164
  • US News National Ranking: #5 (Regional Colleges Midwest)
  • Times Higher Education Ranking: #401-500

Best Dordt University Programs

  • Bachelor in Agriculture Agri-business Emphasis. This specialization covers agro-ecosystems analysis, farm management and accounting, international business strategy in agriculture, and agriculture safety. You will also develop hands-on experience in agriculture.
  • Bachelor in Business Administration. This program equips you with management, human resources, and marketing skills. You can work in construction management, finance, information systems, international business, marketing, or public administration. You will find graduates working for Wells Fargo, Oxford Business Group, or ABS Global.
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing. This degree program features a low student-faculty ratio and a 100 percent career outcomes rate. You can rely on this major to develop hands-on experience in practice. The school features the Zylstra Nursing Education Center, providing students with faculty offices, two simulation labs, and a large classroom.
  • Bachelor of Education. This faith-infused degree program features multiple resources to give you a positive learning experience. You can expect model classrooms and labs, which are excellent for computer learning and science. You will also use teaching technology such as presentation equipment, document cameras, and Smart Boards.
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. You can use this social work degree program to become a court officer, counselor, mental health evaluator, or adoption worker. The Council on Social Work Education fully accredits the degree program.


University of Northern Iowa

Grad Rate: 69%

The University of Northern Iowa is a public university offering over 90 majors. You will find degree programs in education, arts, humanities, business, and social sciences. The university has a 98 percent career placement rate, with students gaining employment within the first year after graduation.

University of Northern Iowa Overview

  • Campus Location: Cedar Falls
  • Student Population: 9,507
  • Acceptance Rate: 79%
  • Graduation Rate: 69%
  • Post-Grad Median Salary: $49,563
  • US News National Ranking:  #19 (Regional Universities Midwest)
  • Times Higher Education Ranking:  #501-600

Best University of Northern Iowa Programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Biology. In this 126-credit degree program, you will master calculus, chemistry, biostatistics, and genetics. You will develop in-demand skills essential to succeed in this field or any biology-related field.
  • Bachelor of Arts in Finance. To graduate from this degree program in finance, you will need to complete 120 credit hours. This involves general education and elective courses. You can expect to cover financial, accounting, marketing, organizational management, macroeconomics, investments, risk management, and securities analysis.
  • Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education. This degree program will help you master mathematics, life science, human development, children’s literature, social studies, and human relations. In total, you will need to complete 120 academic credits. In addition to a competitive curriculum, you should take advantage of the campus's vibrant student community.
  • Bachelor of Arts in Business Analytics. This is one of 20 undergraduate degree programs offered by the University of Northern Iowa’s College of Business. The college also gives students valuable internship opportunities, study abroad programs, certifications, and access to expert mentorships.
  • Master of Arts in Psychology. You can specialize in clinical science or social courses in the program. The social concentration requires students to complete two research projects. The clinical science concentration requires a thesis and allows students to work with children, adolescents, and adult clinical populations.


Mount Mercy University

Grad Rate: 60%

Mount Mercy University is a private institution that offers fine arts, philosophy, religious studies, natural science, and social science courses. The campus features over 40 undergraduate programs and seven graduate programs. Some of these programs are available online.

Mount Mercy University Overview

  • Campus Location: Cedar Rapids
  • Student Population: 1,705
  • Acceptance Rate: 76%
  • Graduation Rate: 60%
  • Post-Grad Median Salary: $50,047
  • US News National Ranking: #51 (Regional Universities Midwest)
  • Times Higher Education Ranking: #601-800

Best Mount Mercy University Programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing. This bachelor’s degree features a 97 percent employment rate within nine months of graduation. Its high-quality programs include clinical lab simulations, hands-on projects, and theoretical content. The competitive curriculum helps graduates land jobs in top-rated hospitals and health centers.
  • Bachelor of Business Administration. The business department offers students a thorough curriculum covering essential areas of the business world. The curriculum offers majors in human resources, accounting, marketing, or sports management. The business major can be taken online and accelerated.
  • Bachelor of Business Administration-Human Resource Management. You can finish this degree program in 18 or 24 months at Mount Mercy University. The 123-credit degree program is certified by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). You can become a mediator, occupational analyst, recruiter, or human resource specialist.
  • Bachelor of Business Administration-Finance. The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute affiliate program garners attention from local and international students. This proves its adherence to high-quality standards of education for learners in the finance field. This can lead to high student enrollment. However, the campus maintains a strict 14-to-one student-faculty ratio.
  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology. One hundred percent of first-year and transfer students are eligible for scholarships and grants. Many students take psychology because they want to understand human behavior better. This course, like many, studies self-awareness and encourages critical thinking.


Briar Cliff University

Grad Rate: 56%

This private university, located in Sioux City, is a Catholic university that celebrates a sense of community. Briar Cliff began as a two-year college for women and grew into a top-quality educational program provider on all levels to all individuals.

Briar Cliff University Overview

  • Campus Location: Sioux City
  • Student Population: 1,076
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Graduation Rate: 56%
  • Post-Grad Median Salary: $47,922
  • US News National Ranking: #29 (Regional Colleges Midwest)
  • Times Higher Education Ranking: N/A

Best Briar Cliff University Programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing. This is an on-campus undergraduate degree. You will receive training from instructors who have extensive clinical experience. These professionals are well conversant with the current and best practices in the field. You will also have access to laboratories and 800 clinical hours in hospitals and health agencies.
  • Bachelor of Social Work. This degree program is accessible online and in person. As a social work student, you collaborate with peers and professionals on multiple projects. You can expect high-quality education from this accredited program.
  • Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration. This is another popular course offered on campus and online. You can customize the online degree program to fit your schedule. You will also enjoy a career-focused curriculum delivered by experienced faculty. Veterans can access the veteran faculty and internships.
  • Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology. This in-person program will help you land a career in health, physical education, wellness, or health care. The degree program is led by professionals from different health-related fields. The program has small class sizes to ensure student success.
  • Bachelor of Science in Human Performance. You will develop a solid background to navigate the job market in this program. The campus uses the National Integrative Kinesiology model to prepare you for a job in health, physical education, wellness, and sports performance. You will also enjoy access to laboratories offering different types of equipment.


Clarke University

Grad Rate: 54%

This private university offers multiple undergraduate and graduate degree programs. At Clarke University , you will find more than 19 academic departments featuring 40 programs. You can expect the campus to provide competitive degree programs that will land you well-paying job opportunities.

Clarke University Overview

  • Campus Location: Dubuque
  • Student Population: 855
  • Acceptance Rate: 89%
  • Graduation Rate: 54%
  • Post-Grad Median Salary: $47,254
  • US News National Ranking: #239
  • Times Higher Education Ranking: #217

Best Clarke University Programs

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing. This degree program provides a holistic approach to various science concepts. The instructors offer a unique blend of theoretical and practical ideologies to help you become the best in the industry. Students have access to the Marie Mike Center for Science Inquiry, a simulation lab, and industry-grade equipment.
  • Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. This four-year degree program will sharpen your analytical skills in understanding human processes and deciphering cognition. To amplify your college experience, you can actively participate in Into the Streets , a community volunteer effort. You will also actively participate in the Food for the World experience.
  • Bachelor of Arts in Education. The degree program features a dedicated team to help you develop cognitive skills essential to teaching. It's an excellent, unique program that takes the student through Professional Development School sessions enabling you to teach elementary, middle, or high school.
  • Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration. Clarke University has been training students in business for over 85 years. If you attend this degree program, you will have an option to concentrate on business management, business finance, or business marketing.
  • Bachelor of Science in Biology or Bachelor of Arts in Biology. You can earn your degree in a supportive and challenging learning environment. You will work with the biology faculty who possess PhD degrees. They will help you learn how to use lab equipment, technology, tools, and materials. You can also expect to participate in investigations to solve problems and develop scientific skills.


Graceland University

Grad Rate: 47%

Graceland University is a private institution offering students high-quality degree programs online and on-site. The university has campuses in Iowa, Lamoni, and Missouri. Founded in 1895 by the Community of Christ, you can expect a Christian-oriented curriculum. Graceland University-Lamoni is the main campus. It features over 50 academic degree programs and 18 residential sports.

Graceland University Overview

  • Campus Location: Lamoni and Independence
  • Student Population: 1,517
  • Acceptance Rate: 68%
  • Graduation Rate: 47%
  • Post-Grad Median Salary: $41,637
  • US News National Ranking:  #119-157 (Regional Universities Midwest)
  • Times Higher Education Ranking: #>800

Best Graceland University Programs

  • Bachelor of Arts in Business management. You can attend the program online or on-campus at Lamoni. You will master accounting, management principles, business law, organizational behavior, business policy, and information systems management through this program.
  • Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education. This K to 6-grade degree program will help you master public speaking, human relations, education psychology, and world civilization. You can also choose electives in math, arts, English, health, special education, reading, physical education, or science.
  • Bachelor of Science – Allied Health. This degree program is for professionals interested in physical therapy, chiropractic, occupational health, or any other related profession. The degree program is only available on-site at the main campus.
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Information Technology. You can use this degree program to develop real-world skills in computing, object oriented programming, and systems analysis. You will also gain familiarity with databases, operating systems, and computer networks.
  • Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Research methods, developmental psychology, behavioral neuroscience, and environmental psychology are some topics you will cover in this degree program. You can select this program as your major or minor at Graceland University. It is only available at the Lamoni campus.


University of Dubuque

Grad Rate: 40%

This private institution is a Presbyterian four-year institution with over 1,815 students. The University of Dubuque features bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs. To gain entry, you will need to provide an SAT score between 828 and 1070. You can substitute the SAT scores with ACT scores ranging between 17 and 23. You also need to pay an application fee of $25.

University of Dubuque Overview

  • Campus Location: Dubuque
  • Student Population: 2,180
  • Acceptance Rate: 79%
  • Graduation Rate: 40%
  • Post-Grad Median Salary: $47,629
  • US News National Ranking: #69 (Regional Universities Midwest)
  • Times Higher Education Ranking: #>600

Best University of Dubuque Programs

  • Bachelor of Business Administration. This degree program will help you take your business skills to the next level. You will learn macroeconomics, literature, financial accounting, principles of management, and contemporary economics. The program will give you access to career fairs, internships, and expert instructors and mentors.
  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication. The program of study is excellent for professionals seeking a career in journalism or related fields. You will develop research, writing, social media management, intercultural communication, mass media, and literature skills. The degree program also features an internship program that will help you develop professional skills and networks.
  • Bachelor of Science in Biology. This degree program allows students to build their skills and work with a faculty supervisor on a research project. This will reinforce your knowledge of molecular biology, evolution, ecology, and organizational behavior.
  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology. This degree will take you through child development, personality, creativity, cognition, behavioral disorders, genetic influences, and gender. By the end of the program, you will be more conversant with basic theories in psychology, interpersonal relationships, and mental processes.
  • Master’s in Management. You can pursue this master’s degree with a concentration in communication or sports management. The program provides comprehensive human resources, finance, strategy, and operations knowledge. Students who choose this degree program go through internship opportunities.

Best College and University Entry-Test Prep Books

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Iowa University Admission Requirements

The admission requirements to attend a university in Iowa are official high school transcripts, letters of recommendation, an application fee, test scores, and a statement of purpose. The Iowa university admission requirements differ from one campus to another. The requirements are also dependent on the degree option you selected.

Admission Requirements for Universities in Iowa

  • Official high school transcripts
  • Test scores
  • Application fee
  • Writing sample
  • Statement of purpose

How to Apply to Iowa Universities

You can apply to Iowa universities directly on the official website. Schools offer a direct application on the degree program they are offering. Most students visit the official school website to apply for a degree program. This is to determine the exact degree requirements for one to gain admission.

Iowa Universities Admissions Process

  1. Visit the official university’s website.
  2. Search for the desired degree program.
  3. Select apply and start filling out the online application form.
  4. Provide the required documents.
  5. Pay the application fee.

Best Online Bachelor’s Degrees

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Why Study in Iowa?

You should study in Iowa because of the cost of living, natural environment, and educational opportunities. Find out more details below on why studying in Iowa is an excellent choice for college and university students.

Cost of Living

According to PayScale, the cost of living in Des Moines in Iowa is 10 percent less than the national average. To maintain your standard of living in the state, you will need at least $24,931 per year. The median rent coverage is $897, and the energy bill is $165 each month.

Natural Environment

Iowa’s serene environment will provide a relaxing environment for you to focus on your studies. The area has tall grass, dense forest, and wetlands. Iowa State University is well-known for its beautiful campus and stunning displays of autumn leaves.

Educational Opportunities

There are many student opportunities in Iowa. You can pursue an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, doctorate degree, or professional development certificate program in the state. Some universities offer students undergraduate to graduate degree programs.

More Iowa University Rankings: What Other Universities Are the Best in Iowa?

Additional Iowa university rankings below will help you find the best school for your specific needs. Other best universities in Iowa are the University of Iowa, Drake University, and Upper Iowa University. Iowa colleges are also highly reputable, such as Grinnell College, Coe College, and Cornell College.


Best Iowa State Universities

  1. University of Iowa. With a 15-to-one student-to-teacher ratio, you can expect high-quality education at this campus. The university’s successful job placement rate showcases the effectiveness of the degree programs. The University of Iowa has a 93 percent job placement rate.
  2. Iowa State University of Science and Technology. This institution is excellent for professionals looking to advance in their careers. You can pursue a degree in business, agriculture, engineering, IT, or marketing at the campus.
  3. Drake University. This private school is known for encouraging experiential learning. You will find more than 130 degree programs across its seven colleges and schools. To maintain high-value education, the school only allows a 10-to-one student-faculty ratio.


Best Public Universities in Iowa

  1. Iowa State University. This public school caters to students in Iowa and beyond. The school boasts a diverse degree program, 800 student organizations, internships, and study-abroad programs. The campus features ten schools and colleges catering to its 30,708 students.
  2. The University of Iowa. Founded in 1847, this public school offers higher education to local and international learners. It is well known as an academic medical center and its strides in leadership. Its world-class undergraduate, graduate, and professional development programs attract a wide range of learners.
  3. University of Northern Iowa. This school is among Iowa’s top three public universities. It has over 90 degree programs in various disciplines. The public school is known for its robust and hands-on learning experiences.


Best Private Universities in Iowa

  1. Clarke University. This university is a leader in innovation in the US. It’s the first university to partner with 15 different Iowa community colleges. You will find multiple research-based degree programs for undergraduates and graduate students.
  2. Dordt University. This campus has recognition from the Wall Street Journal, US News and World Report, Money Magazine, and Princeton Review. The recognition stems from the high standard of education the university provides. According to the official website, 99.2 percent of 2020 graduates landed jobs within six months.
  3. Upper Iowa University. Founded in 1857, the private institution offers undergraduate and graduate degree courses on campus, online, or in a hybrid format. You can also take advantage of the school's professional development courses and continuing education studies.


Best Online Universities in Iowa

  1. Iowa State University. This institution offers online programs you can curate to fit into your schedule. Students receive sufficient educational support to ensure a successful learning experience. You can expect tips and tutorials on the site or from the admissions officer to guide you.
  2. Graceland University-Lamoni. Being an accredited university, you will find high-quality degree programs on different education levels. The campus has provided online education for more than 20 years. This gives students confidence that they’re getting the same learning experience as students attending on-campus programs.
  3. Mount Mercy University. This school is an excellent option for learners looking for a bachelor’s degree program while continuing their jobs. There are degree programs in applied management, business, healthcare administration, healthcare leadership, registered nurse, human resource management, marketing, and religious studies.


Best Universities in Iowa for International Students

  1. Cornell College. This college offers an easy admission process to international students. You’ll need to provide high school transcripts, test scores, a personal portfolio, and teacher recommendations to enroll.
  2. Coe College. This college encourages cultural diversity at its residential and online campuses. It features more than 80 international peers from a wide range of countries. You can expect research projects and off-campus study sessions as part of your curriculum. The school offers internships and scholarships.
  3. Grinnell College. As an international student, enrolling in a university offering extensive student support is important. The Office of International Student Affairs (OISA) of the college will provide you with the best educational experience with multicultural programs. You will receive support regardless of nationality, tradition, or citizenship status.

Best Bachelor’s Degrees

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Top Iowa Universities by Major

To further narrow your list of the best colleges in Iowa, we curated the following section to help you select the best school by major. These are major degree programs that lead to in-demand careers in the state. Find the best universities in Iowa for computer science, nursing, engineering, business, and marketing.


Best Computer Science Universities in Iowa

  1. Iowa State University. The Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET accredits Iowa State’s computer science program. You can simultaneously acquire your bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Computer Science. Many students combine their Bachelor’s in Computer Science with a Master's in Business Administration.
  2. Briar Cliff University. Take advantage of the high-quality degree programs at Briar Cliff University to develop a solid background in computer science. Companies like Blue Cross, Blue Shield, and Microsoft are some of the companies hiring Briar Cliff University’s graduates.
  3. University of Northern Iowa. This university boasts of an exceptional degree in computer science . You will work closely with expert instructors to develop job-ready skills. Students work on various research projects and participate in student organizations. Computer science student clubs on campus include Women in Computing and UNISEC, a cyber security club.


Best Nursing Universities in Iowa

  1. Mount Mercy University. The Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing offered at Mount Mercy University is a high-quality and long-standing degree program. Ninety-seven percent of nursing graduates from Mount Mercy University land a job within nine months after graduation.
  2. Morningside University. The nursing degree program provided by the Nylen School of Nursing is flexible for professionals looking to break into the industry. The nursing programs are approved by the Iowa Board of Nursing and accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
  3. Briar Cliff University. This university offers multiple nursing programs to professionals. You will find associate, bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral degrees , and certificate programs. Students have access to laboratories, hands-on experience, and easy career transitions.


Best Engineering Universities in Iowa

  1. Iowa State University. This accredited university’s engineering college offers 13 undergraduate degree programs in engineering , accredited by ABET. The wide variety of degree options attracts students from the local and international levels. It features environmental, industrial, software, and mechanical engineering programs.
  2. University of Iowa. The University of Iowa’s engineering college has more than 2,200 undergraduate students. These students pursue engineering programs in computer-aided designs, biotechnology, medical imaging, and environmental solutions. The research-based curriculum gives learners hands-on, real-world experience.
  3. University of Northern Iowa. The Department of Applied Engineering and Technical Management trains students in engineering techniques, technologies, and best practices. The school designed the engineering programs with industry partners to ensure students acquire in-demand skills.


Best Business Universities in Iowa

  1. Iowa State University. The Debbie and Jerry Ivy College of Business at Iowa State University offers students an opportunity to develop in-demand skills to impact the world. The college provides a high-quality curriculum with international faculty members and offers internships, co-ops, study abroad ventures, and classroom projects.
  2. Drake University. The business degree programs offered at this university are multidisciplinary. The curriculum touches on management, business law, management, accounting, and insurance. The university provides internship opportunities to companies that hire Drake students, like J.P. Morgan, Wells Fargo, Voya Financial, or EMC Insurance Company.
  3. University of Iowa. The Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa features multiple programs addressing different departments in a business. You will find degree programs in entrepreneurship, ethics, accounting, leadership, marketing, and portfolio management. The university ranks 36th for part-time MBA programs.


Best Marketing Universities in Iowa

  1. Drake University. This academic program helps students develop a theoretical and practical understanding of marketing concepts. You will master essential marketing activities and best practices through the curriculum. It's an excellent program for learners who wish to customize their learning schedules.
  2. Kirkwood Community College. This college offers associate and certificate programs that teach various aspects of marketing. The associate degree programs include multiple education methods, engagement exercises, and internships to help students succeed in the marketing industry.
  3. Loras College. This college offers excellent degree programs in marketing. The college features a marketing club students use to network and learn about the industry’s best practices. The club offers multiple marketing tours and presentations.

Tuition Costs for Iowa Universities

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the tuition costs for public in-state universities are $19,809. For out-of-state students, the tuition and required fees cost $27,346. A public university costs much less compared to private universities. If you attend a private university, you will pay a total tuition fee of $44,850.

Most Affordable Universities in Iowa

  1. Simpson College | Tuition: $425/Credit. You can take advantage of the multiple financial payment options offered by the school to advance your education. The total comprehensive fee for undergraduate students is $54,762. This fee does not include books, transport, and personal costs.
  2. Morningside College | Tuition: $610/Credit. You can save a significant amount of money by attending Morningside College. If you are a full-time student, you qualify to receive full funding from the campus. You can also apply for scholarships and federal grants to further reduce tuition fees.
  3. Northwestern College | Tuition: $730/Credit. One hundred percent of full-time undergraduate students from Northwestern College receive financial aid. The campus offers financial support to learners depending on their family income. The higher your family income, the less financial aid you will receive.
  4. University of Northern Iowa | Tuition: $648/Credit. The school gives a tuition rate of $7,780 for 12 credits, we divided this by 12 to give you an average per credit rate. This school is one of the most affordable and accessible institutions in Iowa. The tuition fee depends on the academic credits you select.
  5. Clarke University | Tuition: $1,190/Credit. You can attend Clarke University’s degree program as a full-time residential student by paying a tuition fee of $18,450 per semester. A full academic year will cost $36,900.

How to Pay for Chosen School Path

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Financial Aid Options for the Best Universities in Iowa

Financial aid options for the best universities in Iowa are federal grants, private loans, work-study programs, and public student loans. Find out which is the most suitable for your degree program below.

Financial Aid for Iowa Universities: A Summary

  • Federal grants. A federal grant is a government fund offered to learners based on their financial needs. These funds do not require repayment. You can also find grants from schools, state governments, colleges, or non-profit organizations.
  • Private student loans. These are funds offered by private organizations, typically banks. Credit unions and state-based organizations also offer private loans. You should determine the interest rate of your loan before you commit. Generally, private student loans are more expensive than federal loans.
  • Work-study programs. You can pay for your degree program comfortably through a work-study program. These are programs designed for students to study while working on the campus. It provides them with an opportunity to pay their tuition and gain experience before graduation.
  • GI Bill benefits. Veterans do not need to worry about the high tuition fees of universities and colleges. Multiple schools allow veterans to pay tuition fees using GI bill benefits. It’s an excellent way to offload the tuition burden. Confirm with the admissions office or check the university’s website.
  • Scholarship. You can apply for a scholarship from your university or any other organization. Scholarships are excellent for covering fees since they do not require repayment. You can use your scholarship to cover your tuition fees partially or fully.

Iowa University Eligibility Requirements: Who Qualifies for Financial Aid at Iowa Universities?

  • Students enrolled in an eligible degree program
  • Students with intellectual disabilities
  • Students in financial need
  • High-achieving students
  • US citizens

Private Iowa Universities With Good Financial Aid

  1. Southeastern Community College. To be eligible for Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) financial aid, you must demonstrate financial needs, provide a high school diploma, enroll in an eligible program, and be a US citizen.
  2. Des Moines Area Community College. You can complete the Free Application for Federal Students Aid online to jumpstart the process. The form will provide access to multiple funding options to cater to your tuition fees. To determine your eligibility, you can look through the financial aid checklist on the website.
  3. Kirkwood Community College. This community college offers financial aid options to US and non-US citizens. You can enroll as long as you have a high school diploma or a degree. You should note that each financial aid option features different qualifications. Check the requirements on the school’s official website.

Universities in Iowa That Provide Financial Aid to Out-of-State Students

  1. University of Iowa. If you are not a permanent resident or US citizen, you can take advantage of this university’s financial aid offerings. You should look into the International Distinction Education Award and Collegiate and Departmental Scholarships.
  2. Northwestern College. Northwestern College offers grants and donor scholarships. The international grant ranges from $5,000 and $15,000 each year, whereas the donor scholarship is awarded to students based on merit and need.
  3. Northeast Iowa Community College. To qualify for financial aid, you must complete the admission application. You must also provide high school transcripts, financial statements, a health insurance form, and TOEFL test scores.

How to Apply For Financial Aid and Scholarships for Iowa State Universities

  1. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) during your application process.
  2. Review your student aid report.
  3. Research scholarship opportunities offered by the university or state.
  4. Complete the online application.
  5. Review your tuition fees and make necessary payments before the deadline.

Demographics of Universities in Iowa

We feature the demographics of universities in Iowa to help you get a better sense of the student life on campus and in the state. These diverse statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics are essential for out-of-state and international learners.

Diversity Statistics for Universities in Iowa

  • White: 79.2%
  • Black: 6.1%
  • Hispanic: 8.1%
  • Asian: 3.3%
  • Pacific Islander: 0.2%
  • American Indian: 0.5%
  • Two or More Races: 2.8%

Iowa Employment Outlook for University Students

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment rate in Iowa is increasing . From January 2022 to April 2022, employment in Iowa shows a steady increase. The unemployment rate lowered by 0.7 percent.

Iowa has job opportunities in mining and logging, construction, manufacturing, trade and transportation, information, and financial activities. There are also several opportunities in business services, education, leisure, and government.

5 In-Demand Iowa Jobs

Below, we look into the top five in-demand Iowa jobs to help you narrow your search. You will find pertinent information about the job positions, such as average salaries, employment, overall job growth, and the best Iowa university program to lead you to the career path.


Information Security Analysts

Average Salary: $102,600

Information security analysts are professionals responsible for monitoring a company’s networks for security breaches. Their expertise is essential in maintaining powerful encryption and firewalls to protect sensitive information. They are also key in providing information on the best and latest security trends.

  • Average Salary in Iowa: $125,650
  • Employment in Iowa: 1,280
  • Overall Job Growth: 33%
  • Best Iowa University Program: Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity at the University of Dubuque


Web and Digital Interface Designers

Average Salary: $95,460

Web and digital interface designers are essential professionals that understand a website's technical aspects. Often, these professionals meet with clients to establish their website needs and functionality. This information is key in creating and testing user-friendly applications, interfaces, and menus for a website.

  • Average Salary in Iowa: $111,200
  • Employment in Iowa: 930
  • Overall Job Growth: 13%
  • Best Iowa University Program: Bachelor of Science in Computer Science at Iowa State University


Sales Engineers

Average Salary: $103,710

Sales engineers are responsible for planning and modifying products to meet consumer needs. These professionals often work with sales team members to provide sales support. They demonstrate new products and services to customers through technical presentations to meet sales targets.

  • Average Salary in Iowa: $87,610
  • Employment in Iowa: 650
  • Overall Job Growth: 8%
  • Best Iowa University Program: Bachelor of Science in Computer Science at the University of Iowa


Electrical and Electronics Drafters

Average Salary: $67,090

Electrical and electronic drafters are responsible for preparing diagrams essential for manufacturing. Companies expect them to use computer-aided drafting equipment to develop detailed drawings that resolve problems for engineers. They also design electrical systems and review work orders.

  • Average Salary in Iowa: $61,080
  • Employment in Iowa: 140
  • Overall Job Growth: -2%
  • Best Iowa University Program: Associate of Applied Science in CAD/Mechanical Engineering at Kirkwood Community College


Computer Programmers

Average Salary: $93,000

Companies hire computer programmers to write and test code for computer software applications. The job duties of a computer programmer require extensive knowledge in programming, as they create new applications from scratch. Computer programmers understand the fundamentals of programming languages and computer architecture.

  • Average Salary in Iowa: $78,400
  • Employment in Iowa: 1,310
  • Overall Job Growth: -10%
  • Best Iowa University Program: Bachelor of Science in Computer Science at the University of Iowa

Is a University in Iowa Right for You?

Yes, a university in Iowa is right for you. Numerous universities offer a wide range of degree programs to cater to student needs. You can choose to study on campus or online in most universities. Some campuses offer students flexible hybrid programs to complete their degrees.

Iowa’s universities offer various high-quality education pathways for its students. Whichever university or college you select from this guide. You will receive a quality education.

Universities in Iowa also feature supportive student communities and cultural activities. This is an important factor to consider as an international student. You will receive the guidance and support you require to complete the degree program you’ve selected successfully.

Last but not least, universities in Iowa charge a relatively lower tuition cost than other states. You will also enjoy a lower cost of living in Iowa. The cost of housing and food is much more affordable in Iowa compared to a city like New York.

How to Get Into the Best Colleges and Universities

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Best Universities in Iowa FAQ

Which is the most prestigious university in Iowa?

The most prestigious university in Iowa is Iowa State University. This is followed by the University of Iowa, University of Northern Iowa, Maharishi International University, and Grinnell College. Other popular universities in Iowa are Drake University, Luther College, Cornell College, and Wartburg College.

What is the University of Iowa’s most popular major?

University of Iowa’s most popular majors are exercise science and kinesiology, finance, psychology, organizational leadership, marketing, and management sciences and quantitative methods.

What minimum GPA score do you need to get into a university in Iowa?

You need a minimum GPA score of 3.0 to get into a university in Iowa. However, universities provide different GPA scores for different programs. You should check the school’s official website to determine the minimum GPA score for admission.

Which is the largest university in Iowa?

The largest university in Iowa is Iowa State University. The campus records a high student enrollment of 30,708 students in 2021. The school has 25,808 undergraduate students, 4,264 graduates, and 636 professional study students.

About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.

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Daisy Waithereo Wambua

About the author: Daisy is a seasoned writer with a decade of experience in writing, proofreading, and editing. She has spoken at Maseno University to help young women explore new careers and learn more about technology. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Communications and Public Relations, a Certificate in Web Development, and a Master's Degree in International Studies.

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