Top Mountain State Colleges and Universities

Despite its relatively low population density, the mountain state region of the United States has a wide range of options for higher education. The colleges and universities below were selected from the Mountain State region of the United States: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. My top picks vary in size from one of the country's largest public universities to a tiny Christian college with under 200 students. You'll find some familiar names here as well as a few less well-known schools. The colleges and universities below were chosen based on factors such as retention rates, four- and six-year graduation rates, student engagement, and value. 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.

01
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Arizona State University
Arizona State University. kevindooley / Flickr
  • Location: Tempe, Arizona
  • Enrollment: 72,254 (58,404 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public university
  • Distinctions: Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for its strengths in the liberal arts and sciences; one of the largest universities in the country; other campuses in Phoenix and Mesa; member of the NCAA Division I Pacific 12 Conference
  • Explore the Campus: Arizona State Photo Tour
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Arizona State University profile

02
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Brigham Young University - BYU
Brigham Young University - BYU. DOliphant / Flickr
  • Location: Provo, Utah
  • Enrollment: 34,101 (30,684 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private university affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • Distinctions: Largest religious university in the U.S.; excellent value; large percentage of students do missionary work during college; member of the NCAA Division I West Coast Conference
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Brigham Young University profile

03
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Carroll College
Carroll College. sheadonato / Flickr
  • Location: Helena, Montana
  • Enrollment: 1,436 (all undergraduate)
  • Type of Institution: private Catholic liberal arts and pre-professional college
  • Distinctions: Excellent value; 12 to 1 student/faculty ratio; many options for outdoor activities; institutional focus on service and volunteerism; students can choose from 42 majors and 8 pre-professional programs
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Carroll College profile

04
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The College of Idaho
The College of Idaho. Photo Credit: The College of Idaho
  • Location: Caldwell, Idaho
  • Enrollment: 1,041 (1,018 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: Creative curriculum allows students to earn one major and three minors in four years; 12 to 1 student/faculty ratio; average class size of 11; diverse student body from 30 states and 40 countries
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the College of Idaho profile

05
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Colorado College Science Center
Colorado College Science Center. Greverod / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Enrollment: 2,043 (2,026 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; breathtaking location at the foot of the Rocky Mountains; creative one-class-at-a-time curriculum; 10 to 1 student/faculty ratio
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Colorado College profile

06
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Colorado School of Mines
Colorado School of Mines. rkimpeljr / Flickr
  • Location: Golden, Colorado
  • Enrollment: 5,524 (3,947 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public engineering school
  • Distinctions: 14 to 1 student/faculty ratio; high average starting salaries for graduates; excellent value; highest admissions standards of any public university in Colorado
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Colorado School of Mines profile

07
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Colorado State University
Colorado State University. ecopolitologist / Flickr
  • Location: Fort Collins, Colorado
  • Enrollment: 30,467 (23,075 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public university
  • Distinctions: Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; 17 to 1 student/faculty ratio; students from all 50 states and 85 countries; member of the NCAA Division I Mountain West Conference
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Colorado State University profile

08
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Embry-Riddle Flight Training Center
Embry-Riddle Flight Training Center. Elliott P. / Flickr
  • Location: Prescott, Arizona
  • Enrollment: 1,723 (1,627 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private aeronautical and aerospace institute
  • Distinctions: 14 to 1 student/faculty ratio; average class size of 21; one of the world's top institutions for aeronautics and aerospace engineering; students from 50 states and 25 countries; facilities include many flight simulators and training aircraft
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the ERAU Prescott profile

09
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Headquarter for the Very Large Array are on the New Mexico Tech campus
Headquarter for the Very Large Array are on the New Mexico Tech campus. Hajor / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Socorro, New Mexico
  • Enrollment: 1,859 (1,454 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public engineering school
  • Distinctions: 11 to 1 student/faculty ratio; excellent value; high average salaries for graduates; many strong engineering programs; numerous research opportunities through affiliated science and engineering research centers
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the New Mexico Tech profile

10
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New Saint Andrews College
New Saint Andrews College. Dratwood / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Moscow, Idaho
  • Enrollment: 169 (149 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: Christian liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: Classical great books curriculum modeled after Harvard in the 17th-century; exceptional value (one-half what most similar schools cost); students from 35 states and 8 countries; highly regarded among Christian colleges, conservative colleges, and colleges for home-schooled students
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the New Saint Andrews College profile

11
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Regis University
Regis University. Jeffrey Beall / Flickr
  • Location: Denver, Colorado
  • Enrollment: 11,253 (5,643 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private Catholic university
  • Distinctions: 13 to 1 student/faculty ratio; institutional emphasis on community service; popular business and nursing programs; stunning views of the Rocky Mountains
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Regis University profile

12
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St. John's College Santa Fe
St. John's College Santa Fe. teofilo / Flickr
  • Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Enrollment: 447 (365 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: Great books curriculum with a single course of study in the liberal arts and sciences; 8 to 1 student/faculty ratio; small seminars taught by two faculty members; no textbooks; excellent placement rate for law, medical, and graduate school; ability to take a semester at St. John's Annapolis campus
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the St. John's College Santa Fe profile

13
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United States Air Force Academy
United States Air Force Academy. GretchenKoenig / Flickr

14
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University of Arizona
University of Arizona. Aaron Jacobs / Flickr
  • Location: Tuscon, Arizona
  • Enrollment: 39,236 (30,665 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public university
  • Distinctions: Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; member of the Association of American Universities for strong research programs; member of the NCAA Division I Pac 10 Conference
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the University of Arizona profile

15
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University of Colorado at Boulder
University of Colorado at Boulder. Aidan M. Gray / Flickr
  • Location: Boulder, Colorado
  • Enrollment: 32,558 (26,530 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public university
  • Distinctions: fFagship campus of Colorado's university system; chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; member of the Association of American Universities for strong research programs; member of the NCAA Division I Pac 12 Conference
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the University of Colorado at Boulder profile

16
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University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Jeff Foster / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Enrollment: 10,183 (8,012 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public university
  • Distinctions: Rapidly growing university; stunning location at the foot of Pikes Peak; strong engineering school; popular programs in business, communications and nursing; NCAA Division II athletic programs
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs profile

17
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DU, University of Denver
DU, University of Denver. CW221 / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Denver, Colorado
  • Enrollment: 11,797 (5,453 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private university
  • Distinctions: Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; campus has easy access to both outdoor activities and urban culture; popular business programs; member of the NCAA Division I Sun Belt Conference
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the University of Denver profile

18
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University of Idaho
University of Idaho. Allen Dale Thompson / Flickr
  • Location: Moscow, Idaho
  • Enrollment: 12,312 (9,586 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public university
  • Distinctions: Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; students from all 50 states and 77 countries; skiing, camping, rafting, hiking, and biking in the immediate vicinity; member of the NCAA Division I Western Athletic Conference
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the University of Idaho profile

19
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University of Utah Mascot Swoop
University of Utah Mascot Swoop. HeffTech / Flickr
  • Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Enrollment: 31,660 (24,297 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public university
  • Distinctions: Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strong liberal arts and sciences; students from over 100 countries and all 50 states; excellent value; member of the NCAA Division I Pac 12 Conference
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the University of Utah profile

20
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Westminster College, Salt Lake City
Westminster College, Salt Lake City. JonMoore / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Enrollment: 3,358 (2,549 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private liberal arts college
  • Distinctions: 11 to 1 student/faculty ratio; students from 39 states and 31 countries; located in a historic neighborhood; high level of alumni satisfaction; good grant aid; the only liberal arts college in Utah
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Westminster College profile