Top Midwest Colleges and Universities

A list of 30 of Midwest's best colleges and universities

Midwest Region
Midwest Region.

The Midwest encompasses a wide range of colleges and universities—private and public, urban and rural, large and small, secular and religious. The 30 colleges and universities below were chosen based on a range of factors including retention rates, graduation rates, student engagement, selectivity, and financial aid. The schools are listed alphabetically to avoid the often arbitrary distinctions that separate #1 from #2, and because of the futility of comparing a large research university to a small liberal arts college.

The 30 colleges and universities in the list below were selected from Midwest states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin.

Albion College

Albion College Observatory
Albion College Observatory. kennethaw88 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 4.0
  • Location: Albion, Michigan
  • Enrollment: 1,533 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strengths in the liberal arts and sciences; good financial aid; 11 to 1 student / faculty ratio; NCAA Division III athletic program; over 100 student clubs and organizations
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Albion College profile

Carleton College

Carleton College Bell Tower
Carleton College Bell Tower. Roy Luck / Flickr
  • Location: Northfield, Minnesota
  • Enrollment: 2,097 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: one of the nation's ten best liberal arts colleges; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strengths in the liberal arts and sciences; high retention and graduation rate; attractive campus with an 880-acre arboretum; 9 to 1 student / faculty ratio
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Carleton College profile

Case Western Reserve University

Case Western Reserve University
Case Western Reserve University.

Rdikeman / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

 

  • Location: Cleveland, Ohio
  • Enrollment: 11,890 (5,261 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private university
  • Explore the Campus: Case Western Photo Tour
  • Distinctions: 11 to 1 student / faculty ratio; member of the Association of American Universities for strong research programs; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences programs; strong engineering programs; one of the top Ohio colleges
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Case Western Reserve University profile

College of Wooster

The College of Wooster
The College of Wooster. Allen Grove
  • Location: Wooster, Ohio
  • Enrollment: 2,004 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: member of the Five Colleges of Ohio Consortium; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences programs; 11 to 1 student / faculty ratio; one of the top Ohio colleges; strong independent study program; NCAA Division III athletic program
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the College of Wooster profile

Creighton University

Creighton University
Creighton University. Raymond Bucko, SJ / Flickr
  • Location: Omaha, Nebraska
  • Enrollment: 8,910 (4,446 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private Jesuit university
  • Distinctions: 11 to 1 student / faculty ratio; good financial aid and value; member of the NCAA Division I Big East Conference; one of the country's top Catholic universities
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Creighton University profile

Denison University

Denison University Swasey Chapel
Denison University Swasey Chapel. Allen Grove
  • Location: Granville, Ohio
  • Enrollment: 2,394 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: member of the Five Colleges of Ohio Consortium; one of the top Ohio colleges; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; 9 to 1 student / faculty ratio; 900-acre campus includes a 550-acre biological reserve; good financial aid
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Denison University profile

DePauw University

DePauw University Performing Arts Center
DePauw University Performing Arts Center. Rovergirl88 / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Greencastle, Indiana
  • Enrollment: 2,156 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: 9 to 1 student / faculty ratio; one of the top Indiana colleges; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; five different honors programs; campus features a 520-acre nature park; good financial aid
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the DePauw University profile

Grinnell College

Grinnell College
Grinnell College. Barry Solow / Flickr
  • Location: Grinnell, Iowa
  • Enrollment: 1,716 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: 9 to 1 student / faculty ratio; one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country; chapter of  Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; few core requirements; NCAA Division III athletic program
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Grinnell College profile

Hope College

Hope College
Hope College.

Leo Herzog / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

  • Location: Holland, Michigan
  • Enrollment: 3,149 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college affiliated with the Reformed Church in America
  • Distinctions: distinguished in Loren Pope's College's That Change Lives; 11 to 1 student / faculty ratio; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strengths in the liberal arts and sciences; located five miles from Lake Michigan
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Hope College profile

Illinois Wesleyan University

Illinois Wesleyan University
Illinois Wesleyan University. soundfromwayout / Flickr
  • Location: Bloomington, Illinois
  • Enrollment: 1,693 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: 11 to 1 student / faculty ratio; average class size of 17; high retention and graduation rates; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strengths in the liberal arts and sciences
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Illinois Wesleyan University profile

Indiana University at Bloomington

Sample Gates at Indiana University Bloomington
Sample Gates at Indiana University Bloomington. lynn Dombrowski / Flickr
  • Location: Bloomington, Indiana
  • Enrollment: 43,503 (33,301 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public research university
  • Distinctions: chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strengths in the liberal arts and sciences; membership in the Association of American Universities for research strengths; attractive 2,000-acre campus; Hoosiers compete in the NCAA Division I Big Ten Conference
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Indiana University profile

Kalamazoo College

Hoben Hall at Kalamazoo College
Hoben Hall at Kalamazoo College.

AaronEndre / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

 

  • Location: Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • Enrollment: 1,467 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: featured in Loren Pope's Colleges That Change Lives; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strengths in the liberal arts and sciences; strong student engagement through internships, service-learning and study abroad; located blocks from Western Michigan University
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Kalamazoo College profile

Kenyon College

Leonard Hall at Kenyon College
Leonard Hall at Kenyon College. Curt Smith / Flickr
  • Location: Gambier, Ohio
  • Enrollment: 1,730 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: member of the Five Colleges of Ohio Consortium; 10 to 1 student / faculty ratio; average class size of 15; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; campus features a 380-acre nature preserve
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Kenyon College profile

Luther College

Luther College
Luther College. Prizm / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Decorah, Iowa
  • Enrollment: 2,005 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • Distinctions: 11 to 1 student / faculty ratio; chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; institutional emphasis on service; high participation in study abroad; excellent value; NCAA Division III athletic programs
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Luther College profile

Macalester College

Macalester College - Leonard Center
Macalester College - Leonard Center. Evenjk / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Saint Paul, Minnesota
  • Enrollment: 2,174 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strengths in the liberal arts and sciences; 10 to 1 student / faculty ratio; average class size of 17; diverse student population; high retention and graduation rates; one of the country's best liberal arts colleges; NCAA Division III athletics
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Macalester College profile

Marquette University

Marquette Hall at Marquette University
Marquette Hall at Marquette University. Tim Cigelske / Flickr
  • Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Enrollment: 11,605 (8,435 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private Catholic university
  • Distinctions: 14 to 1 student / faculty ratio; average upper-level class size of 25; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; 116 majors and 65 minors; member of the NCAA Division I Big East Conference
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Marquette University profile

Miami University, Ohio

Miami University Ohio
Miami University Ohio. Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Oxford, Ohio
  • Enrollment: 19,934 (17,327 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public research university
  • Distinctions: one of the oldest public universities in the country; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; competes in the NCAA Division I Mid-American Conference; high graduation rate for a Division I school
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Miami University profile

Northwestern University

Northwestern University Hall in Evanston, Illinois
stevegeer / Getty Images
  • Location: Evanston, Illinois
  • Enrollment: 22,127 (8,642 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private research university
  • Distinctions: one of the most selective of all Illinois colleges; membership in the Association of American Universities for research strengths; one of the top U.S. universities; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strengths in the liberal arts and sciences; member of the NCAA Division I Big Ten athletic conference; impressive 6 to 1 student / faculty ratio
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Northwestern University profile

Notre Dame

Washington Hall at the University of Notre Dame
Washington Hall at the University of Notre Dame. Allen Grove
  • Location: Notre Dame, Indiana
  • Enrollment: 12,607 (8,617 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private Catholic university
  • Distinctions: chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; highly selective admissions; large 1,250-acre campus includes two lakes; excellent graduate school placement; extremely high high graduation rate; many Fighting Irish teams compete in the NCAA Division I Atlantic Coast Conference; one of the top universities and top Catholic universities
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Notre Dame profile

Oberlin College

Oberlin College
Oberlin College. Allen Grove
  • Location: Oberlin, Ohio
  • Enrollment: 2,812 (2,785 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: member of the Five Colleges of Ohio Consortium; 9 to 1 student / faculty ratio; strong Conservatory of Music; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa; first co-ed college in U.S.; diverse student body
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Oberlin College profile

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

 Colin Shipley / Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Location: Terre Haute, Indiana
  • Enrollment: 2,142 (2,085 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: undergraduate engineering college
  • Distinctions: often ranked #1 among top undergraduate engineering colleges; 295-acre art-filled campus; 11 to 1 student / faculty ratio; hands-on approach to learning; high job placement rate
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Rose-Hulman profile

St. Olaf College

St. Olaf College
St. Olaf College.

 Daniel Edwins / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.5

  • Location: Northfield, Minnesota
  • Enrollment: 3,048 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • Distinctions: chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strengths in the liberal arts and sciences; 12 to 1 student / faculty ratio; featured in Lauren Pope's Colleges That Change Lives; high graduation and retention rates; good financial aid; NCAA Division III athletics
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the St. Olaf College profile

Truman State University

Truman State University
Truman State University.

Derhai / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Location: Kirksville, Missouri
  • Enrollment: 5,853 (5,504 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: one of the country's top public liberal arts colleges; excellent value; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strengths in the liberal arts and sciences; 17 to 1 student / faculty ratio; average class size of 24; NCAA Division II athletic programs
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Truman State University profile

University of Chicago

University of Chicago
University of Chicago. puroticorico / Flickr
  • Location: Chicago, Illinois
  • Enrollment: 17,002 (6,532 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private research university
  • Distinctions: strong first-year student housing system; 5 to 1 student / faculty ratio; one of the most selective Illinois colleges; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; member of the Association of American Universities for research strengths; one of the top U.S. universities
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the University of Chicago profile

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, UIUC
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, UIUC. Christopher Schmidt / Flickr
  • Location: Urbana and Champaign, Illinois
  • Enrollment: 49,702 (33,915 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public research university
  • Distinctions: one of the top public universities; one of the top engineering schools; member of the Association of American Universities for research strengths; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strengths in the liberal arts and sciences; member of the NCAA Division I Big Ten Conference
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the UIUC profile

University of Michigan

University of Michigan Tower
University of Michigan Tower. jeffwilcox / Flickr
  • Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Enrollment: 46,716 (30,318 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public research university
  • Distinctions: one of the top public universities in the country; membership in the Association of American Universities for strong research programs; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; member of the Big Ten Conference; 11 to 1 student / faculty ratio
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the University of Michigan profile

University of Wisconsin Madison

Bascom Hall
Bruce Leighty / Getty Images
  • Location: Madison, Wisconsin
  • Enrollment: 43,463 (31,705 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public research university
  • Distinctions: one of the country's top public universities; member of the Association of American Universities for strong research programs; chapter of  Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; waterfront campus; member of the NCAA Division 1 Big Ten Conference
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the University of Wisconsin profile

Washington University in St. Louis

Washington University St. Louis
Washington University St. Louis. 阿赖耶识 / Flickr
  • Location: St. Louis, Missouri
  • Enrollment: 15,852 (7,751 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private research university
  • Distinctions: most selective and prestigious university in Missouri; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strengths in the liberal arts and sciences; membership in the Association of American Universities for strong research programs; high retention and graduation rates; residential college system; 7 to 1 student / faculty ratio
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Washington University profile

Wheaton College, Illinois

Wheaton College Illinois
Wheaton College Illinois. Teemu008 / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Location: Wheaton, Illinois
  • Enrollment: 2,944 (2,401 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private Christian liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: one of the 40 schools featured by Loren Pope in Colleges that Change Lives; 10 to 1 student / faculty ratio; interdenominational with students from over 55 church denominations; highly ranked liberal arts college
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Wheaton College profile

Xavier University

Xavier University
Xavier University.

Sapphire / Wikimedia Commons /  CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Enrollment: 7,127 (4,995 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private Catholic university
  • Distinctions: one of the country's top Catholic colleges; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strengths in the liberal arts and sciences; strong preprofessinal programs; Musketeers compete in the NCAA Division I Big East Conference; 11 to 1 student / faculty ratio
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Xavier University profile