Top Midwest Colleges and Universities

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

National Top Picks: Universities | Public Universities | Liberal Arts Colleges | Engineering | Business | Women's | Most Selective | More Top Picks

My top picks for the Midwest encompass 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. I have listed the schools 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.

Will You Get In? See if you have the grades and test scores you need to get into any of the top Midwest colleges with this free tool from Cappex: Calculate Your Chances for Top Midwest Colleges

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The Midwest Region

Midwest Region
Midwest Region.

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.

More Regions: New England | Middle Atlantic | SoutheastSouth Central | Mountain | West Coast

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Albion Marching Band
Albion Marching Band. Verybigfish86 / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Albion, Michigan
  • Enrollment: 1,514 (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; 13 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

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Carleton College Bell Tower
Carleton College Bell Tower. Roy Luck / Flickr
  • Location: Northfield, Minnesota
  • Enrollment: 2,018 (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

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Case Western Reserve University
Case Western Reserve University. Charles Burkett / Flickr
  • Location: Cleveland, Ohio
  • Enrollment: 9,636 (4,016 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private university
  • Explore the Campus: Case Western Photo Tour
  • Distinctions: 9 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

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College of Wooster
College of Wooster. JesseLegg / Flickr
  • Location: Wooster, Ohio
  • Enrollment: 2,008 (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

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Creighton University
Creighton University. White & Blue Review / Flickr
  • Location: Omaha, Nebraska
  • Enrollment: 7,730 (4,153 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private Jesuit university
  • Distinctions: 12 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

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Denison University Swasey Chapel
Denison University Swasey Chapel. Allen Grove
  • Location: Granville, Ohio
  • Enrollment: 2,288 (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; 10 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

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DePauw University Performing Arts Center
DePauw University Performing Arts Center. Rovergirl88 / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Greencastle, Indiana
  • Enrollment: 2,352 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: 10 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

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Grinnell Main Hall
Grinnell Main Hall. Aureliusxv / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Grinnell Iowa
  • Enrollment: 1,693 (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

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Hope College
Hope College. Daniel Morrison / Flickr
  • Location: Holland, Michigan
  • Enrollment: 3,249 (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; 13 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

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Illinois Wesleyan University
Illinois Wesleyan University. soundfromwayout / Flickr
  • Location: Bloomington, Illinois
  • Enrollment: 2,090 (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

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Indiana University Tower
Indiana University Tower. prw_silvan / Flickr
  • Location: Bloomington, Indiana
  • Enrollment: 42,731 (32,543 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

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Kalamazoo College
Kalamazoo College. AaronEndre / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • Enrollment: 1,375 (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

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Kenyon College
Kenyon College. godber / Flickr
  • Location: Gambier, Ohio
  • Enrollment: 1,658 (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

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Luther College
Luther College. Prizm / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Decorah, Iowa
  • Enrollment: 2,471 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • Distinctions: 12 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

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Macalester College
Macalester College. Mulad / Flickr
  • Location: Saint Paul, Minnesota
  • Enrollment: 2,005 (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

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Marquette University
Marquette University. scottfeldstein / Flickr
  • Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Enrollment: 12,002 (8,387 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

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Miami University in Oxford
Miami University in Oxford. ellievanhoutte / Flickr
  • Location: Oxford, Ohio
  • Enrollment: 17,395 (14,936 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

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Northwestern University Marching Band
Northwestern University Marching Band. powerbooktrance / Flickr
  • Location: Evanston, Illinois
  • Enrollment: 20,959 (9,466 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
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Northwestern University profile

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University of Notre Dame Golden Dome
University of Notre Dame Golden Dome. mandy pantz / Flickr

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Oberlin College
Oberlin College. Joe Shlabotnik / Flickr
  • Location: Oberlin, Ohio
  • Enrollment: 2,978 (2,959 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: member of the Five Colleges of Ohio Consortium; 11 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

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Rose Hulman Institute of Technology
Rose Hulman Institute of Technology. Colin Shipley / Wikimedia Commons

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St. Olaf College Old Main
St. Olaf College Old Main. Calebrw / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Northfield, Minnesota
  • Enrollment: 3,179 (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

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Truman State University
Truman State University. DavidOaks / Wikipedia

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University of Chicago
University of Chicago. puroticorico / Flickr

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University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. sirmikester / Flickr

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University of Michigan Tower
University of Michigan Tower. jeffwilcox / Flickr
  • Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Enrollment: 42,716 (27,407 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
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the University of Michigan profile

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University of Wisconsin Football
University of Wisconsin Football. royal broil / Flickr
  • Location: Madison, Wisconsin
  • Enrollment: 41,946 (29,880 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

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Washington University in St. Louis
Washington University in St. Louis. 黄若云 / Flickr
  • Location: St. Louis, Missouri
  • Enrollment: 13,908 (7,239 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
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Washington University profile

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Wheaton College, Illinois
Wheaton College, Illinois. DiscoverDuPage / Flickr
  • Location: Wheaton, Illinois
  • Enrollment: 3,069 (2,433 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private Christian liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: one of the 40 schools featured by Loren Pope in Colleges that Change Lives; 12 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

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Xavier University Basketball
Xavier University Basketball. Photo by Andy Lyons / Getty Images
  • Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Enrollment: 6,945 (4,540 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
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Xavier University profile

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Calculate Your Chances

Calculate Your Chances of Being Admitted
Calculate Your Chances of Being Admitted.

See if you have the grades and test scores you need to get into one of these top Midwest colleges and universities with this free tool from Cappex: Calculate Your Chances of Getting In