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2021 Best Value Liberal Arts General Studies Schools

Identifying Quality Schools at More Affordable Prices

1,019 Colleges
$4,814 Avg Tuition & Fees*
$26,786 Avg Salary

Finding the Best Liberal Arts General Studies School for You

In 2018-2019, 547,539 degrees and certificates were awarded to liberal arts general studies students, making the major the most popular in the country.

When it comes to higher education, there are a lot of options for students. You can choose a traditional brick and mortar school, or with the growth of online education, you can attend a school half-way across the country without even leaving your house. Also there are many trade schools that offer short-term programs that open up more career options.

Along with in-depth profiles of schools and the programs they offer, Course Advisor has created the Best Value Liberal Arts General Studies Schools to help you in your search for the best school for you. Our analysis looked at 1,019 schools in the United States to see which programs offered the best value experiences for liberal arts students with the aim of identifying those quality schools that are more affordable than some of their counterparts.

This ranking is not just a list of inexpensive schools. We also consider each school's quality, since we believe a low-quality school may not be a 'bargain' at any price. More specifically, we discount our quality score by the published tuition and fees charged by a school. This gives the cost per unit of quality for each college. The value is determined by how much quality your dollar buys.

For nationwide and regional rankings, we use out-of-state tuition and fees in our calculations. Average in-state tuition and fees are used for our statewide rankings.

2021 Best Value Liberal Arts General Studies Schools in the United States

The following schools top our list of the Best Value Liberal Arts General Studies Colleges.

Top 25 Best Schools for Affordable Quality in Liberal Arts

$1,968 Average Tuition & Fees

Our analysis found New Mexico Junior College to be the best value school for liberal arts general studies students who want to pursue a degree in the United States. Located in the remote town of Hobbs, New Mexico Junior College is a public college with a small student population.

Out-of-state tuition fees for undergraduate students at New Mexico Junior College are $1,968 per year. On average, liberal arts graduates from New Mexico Junior College take out $6,082 in student loans while working on their degree. For students who choose a 10-year repayment plan, the average monthly student loan payment is $63.

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$3,096 Average Tuition & Fees

The excellent programs at Southeast Community College Area helped the school earn the #2 place on this year’s ranking of the best liberal arts general studies schools in the United States. Southeast Community College is a moderately-sized public school located in the city of Lincoln.

Southeast Community College undergraduate students pay an average of $3,096 in tuition and fees each year. While working on their degree, liberal arts majors at Southeast Community College accumulate an average of around $9,625 in student debt. This translates to an average monthly loan payment of $100, based on a 10-year repayment plan.

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$3,990 Average Tuition & Fees

A rank of #3 on this year’s list means McLennan Community College is a great value for liberal arts general studies students. Located in the city of Waco, MCC is a public school with a moderately-sized student population.

The average tuition and fees for an out-of-state undergraduate student at MCC are $3,990 a year.

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$2,500 Average Tuition & Fees

You’ll join some of the best and brightest minds around you if you attend Eastern New Mexico University - Ruidoso Campus. The school came in at #4 on this year’s Best Value Liberal Arts General Studies Schools list. Located in the town of Ruidoso, ENMU - Ruidoso Campus is a public school with a fairly small student population.

Out-of-state tuition fees for undergraduate students at ENMU - Ruidoso Campus are $2,500 per year.

Full Liberal Arts General Studies at Eastern New Mexico University - Ruidoso Campus Report

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#5

Lake Region State College

Devils Lake, ND
$4,655 Average Tuition & Fees

You’ll be in good company if you decide to attend Lake Region State College. It ranked #5 on our 2021 Best Value Liberal Arts General Studies Schools list. Lake Region State College is a small public school located in the town of Devils Lake.

Out-of-state tuition fees for undergraduate students at Lake Region State College are $4,655 per year. On average, liberal arts graduates from Lake Region State College take out $10,000 in student loans while working on their degree. For students who choose a 10-year repayment plan, the average monthly student loan payment is $104.

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#6

Columbia Southern University

Orange Beach, AL

Columbia Southern University came in at #6 in this year’s edition of the Best Value Liberal Arts General Studies Schools ranking. Located in the town of Orange Beach, Columbia Southern University is a private for-profit college with a very large student population.

The average tuition and fees for an out-of-state undergraduate student at Columbia Southern University are $5,655 a year.

Columbia Southern University also claimed a spot on our Best Liberal Arts General Studies Schools list. It’s in the top 10% of all schools in this category.

Full Liberal Arts General Studies at Columbia Southern University Report

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#7

College of the Mainland

Texas City, TX

College of the Mainland ranked #7 on this year’s Best Value Liberal Arts General Studies Schools list. Located in the midsize suburb of Texas City, COM is a public college with a small student population.

The average tuition and fees for an out-of-state undergraduate student at COM are $3,873 a year.

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American Public University System came in at #8 in this year’s edition of the Best Value Liberal Arts General Studies Schools ranking. American Military University is a fairly large private for-profit school located in the town of Charles Town.

The average tuition and fees for an out-of-state undergraduate student at American Military University are $7,324 a year.

On top of its placing in our value ranking, American Military University also did well on our Best Liberal Arts General Studies Schools list. It’s in the top 10% of all schools reviewed in this analysis.

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St Cloud Technical and Community College landed the #9 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best value liberal arts general studies programs. Located in the small city of Saint Cloud, St Cloud Technical and Community College is a public college with a small student population.

Out-of-state tuition fees for undergraduate students at St Cloud Technical and Community College are $5,538 per year. After completing their degree, liberal arts graduates from St Cloud Technical and Community College carry an average student debtload of $12,000. This translates to an average monthly loan payment of $125, based on a 10-year repayment plan.

In addition to its great value ranking, St Cloud Technical and Community College is in the top 15% of all schools on our Best Liberal Arts General Studies Schools list.

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#10

Hutchinson Community College

Hutchinson, KS
$4,350 Average Tuition & Fees

Hutchinson Community College came in at #10 in this year’s edition of the Best Value Liberal Arts General Studies Schools ranking. Located in the town of Hutchinson, Hutchinson Community College is a public school with a moderately-sized student population.

Out-of-state tuition fees for undergraduate students at Hutchinson Community College are $4,350 per year. Liberal Arts majors at Hutchinson Community College take out an average of $8,559 in student loans while working on their egree. Assuming that a graduate chooses a 10-year repayment plan, the average monthly loan payment is $89.

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#11

Anoka-Ramsey Community College

Coon Rapids, MN

Anoka-Ramsey Community College landed the #11 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best value liberal arts general studies programs. Anoka-Ramsey Community College-Coon Rapids Campus is a moderately-sized public school located in the large suburb of Coon Rapids.

Out-of-state tuition fees for undergraduate students at Anoka-Ramsey Community College-Coon Rapids Campus are $5,207 per year. After completing their degree, liberal arts graduates from Anoka-Ramsey Community College-Coon Rapids Campus carry an average student debtload of $12,950. This translates to an average monthly loan payment of $134, based on a 10-year repayment plan.

On top of its placing in our value ranking, Anoka-Ramsey Community College-Coon Rapids Campus also did well on our Best Liberal Arts General Studies Schools list. It’s in the top 15% of all schools reviewed in this analysis.

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#12

North Hennepin Community College

Brooklyn Park, MN

North Hennepin Community College did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best value schools for liberal arts general studies students. It came in at #12 on the list. Located in the suburb of Brooklyn Park, North Hennepin Community College is a public school with a moderately-sized student population.

North Hennepin Community College undergraduate students pay an average of $4,566 in tuition and fees each year. The average amount in student loans that liberal arts majors at North Hennepin Community College take out is $13,489. Assuming that a graduate chooses a 10-year repayment plan, the average monthly loan payment is $140.

On top of its placing in our value ranking, North Hennepin Community College also did well on our Best Liberal Arts General Studies Schools list. It’s in the top 15% of all schools reviewed in this analysis.

Full Liberal Arts General Studies at North Hennepin Community College Report

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$5,790 Average Tuition & Fees

Brigham Young University - Provo landed the #13 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best value liberal arts general studies programs. Located in the medium-sized city of Provo, BYU is a private not-for-profit school with a fairly large student population.

BYU undergraduate students pay an average of $5,790 in tuition and fees each year.

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#14

Bismarck State College

Bismarck, ND

Bismarck State College came in at #14 in this year’s edition of the Best Value Liberal Arts General Studies Schools ranking. Located in the city of Bismarck, BSC is a public college with a small student population.

BSC undergraduate students pay an average of $5,820 in tuition and fees each year. While working on their degree, liberal arts majors at BSC accumulate an average of around $10,450 in student debt. The average monthly payment of a loan this size is about $108, assuming that the borrower is on a 10-year repayment plan.

BSC also claimed a spot on our Best Liberal Arts General Studies Schools list. It’s in the top 5% of all schools in this category.

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#15

Lake Superior College

Duluth, MN
$5,334 Average Tuition & Fees

Lake Superior College ranked #15 on this year’s Best Value Liberal Arts General Studies Schools list. Located in the small city of Duluth, LSC is a public school with a moderately-sized student population.

LSC undergraduate students pay an average of $5,334 in tuition and fees each year. The average amount in student loans that liberal arts majors at LSC take out is $14,330. When it comes time to repay the loan, graduates who are on a 10-year repayment plan pay an average monthly payment of $149.

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#16

Mid-Plains Community College

North Platte, NE
$4,140 Average Tuition & Fees

Mid-Plains Community College landed the #16 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best value liberal arts general studies programs. Located in the remote town of North Platte, Mid-Plains Community College is a public school with a small student population.

Out-of-state tuition fees for undergraduate students at Mid-Plains Community College are $4,140 per year. After completing their degree, liberal arts graduates from Mid-Plains Community College carry an average student debtload of $8,900. Assuming that a graduate chooses a 10-year repayment plan, the average monthly loan payment is $92.

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#17

Highline College

Des Moines, WA
$4,576 Average Tuition & Fees

With a ranking of #17, Highline College did quite well on this year’s best value schools for liberal arts general studies students. Located in the suburb of Des Moines, Highline is a public school with a medium-sized student population.

The average tuition and fees for an out-of-state undergraduate student at Highline are $4,576 a year.

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$3,570 Average Tuition & Fees

Cloud County Community College came in at #18 in this year’s edition of the Best Value Liberal Arts General Studies Schools ranking. Cloud County Community College is a small public school located in the rural area of Concordia.

Out-of-state tuition fees for undergraduate students at Cloud County Community College are $3,570 per year. Liberal Arts majors at Cloud County Community College take out an average of $9,497 in student loans while working on their egree. When it comes time to repay the loan, graduates who are on a 10-year repayment plan pay an average monthly payment of $99.

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$5,716 Average Tuition & Fees

Northland Community and Technical College did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best value schools for liberal arts general studies students. It came in at #19 on the list. Located in the town of Thief River Falls, Northland Community and Technical College is a public school with a small student population.

The average tuition and fees for an out-of-state undergraduate student at Northland Community and Technical College are $5,716 a year. The average amount in student loans that liberal arts majors at Northland Community and Technical College take out is $15,848. The average monthly payment of a loan this size is about $164, assuming that the borrower is on a 10-year repayment plan.

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$4,545 Average Tuition & Fees

Metropolitan Community College came in at #20 in this year’s edition of the Best Value Liberal Arts General Studies Schools ranking. MCC is a fairly large public school located in the city of Omaha.

The average tuition and fees for an out-of-state undergraduate student at MCC are $4,545 a year. While working on their degree, liberal arts majors at MCC accumulate an average of around $7,517 in student debt. For students who choose a 10-year repayment plan, the average monthly student loan payment is $78.

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#21

Brazosport College

Lake Jackson, TX

With a ranking of #21, Brazosport College did quite well on this year’s best value schools for liberal arts general studies students. BC is a small public school located in the suburb of Lake Jackson.

Out-of-state tuition fees for undergraduate students at BC are $4,727 per year.

In addition to its great value ranking, BC is in the top 10% of all schools on our Best Liberal Arts General Studies Schools list.

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#22

Central Texas College

Killeen, TX

Central Texas College landed the #22 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best value liberal arts general studies programs. Located in the midsize suburb of Killeen, Central Texas College is a public school with a large student population.

Central Texas College undergraduate students pay an average of $7,050 in tuition and fees each year.

On top of its placing in our value ranking, Central Texas College also did well on our Best Liberal Arts General Studies Schools list. It’s in the top 5% of all schools reviewed in this analysis.

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#23

Inver Hills Community College

Inver Grove Heights, MN

With a ranking of #23, Inver Hills Community College did quite well on this year’s best value schools for liberal arts general studies students. IHCC is a small public school located in the large suburb of Inver Grove Heights.

IHCC undergraduate students pay an average of $5,485 in tuition and fees each year. Liberal Arts majors at IHCC take out an average of $12,593 in student loans while working on their egree. This translates to an average monthly loan payment of $131, based on a 10-year repayment plan.

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Central Lakes College - Brainerd landed the #24 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best value liberal arts general studies programs. Located in the remote town of Brainerd, Central Lakes College is a public school with a small student population.

Out-of-state tuition fees for undergraduate students at Central Lakes College are $5,611 per year. After completing their degree, liberal arts graduates from Central Lakes College carry an average student debtload of $12,000. This translates to an average monthly loan payment of $125, based on a 10-year repayment plan.

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$5,268 Average Tuition & Fees

With a ranking of #25, Houston Community College did quite well on this year’s best value schools for liberal arts general studies students. Located in the city of Houston, Houston Community College is a public college with a very large student population.

Out-of-state tuition fees for undergraduate students at Houston Community College are $5,268 per year.

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Rest of the Top 50 Best Value Liberal Arts General Studies Schools

#27

Tyler Junior College

Tyler, TX
#28

Lone Star College System

The Woodlands, TX
#29

Century College - White Bear Lake

White Bear Lake, MN
#31

Normandale Community College

Bloomington, MN
#32

Oakland Community College

Bloomfield Hills, MI
#33

Brookhaven College

Farmers Branch, TX
#34

Pierce College-Puyallup

Puyallup, WA
#37

North Lake College

Irving, TX
#40

Ridgewater College

Willmar, MN
#41

Seattle Central College

Seattle, WA
#43

Central Community College

Grand Island, NE
#44

Marshalltown Community College

Marshalltown, IA
#47

Midland College

Midland, TX
#50

South Central College

North Mankato, MN

Remaining Award Winners

This section represents the remainder of the colleges awarded a Best Value Liberal Arts General Studies Schools badge. Showing in this list means the school was ranked in the top 15% of the 1019 different United States liberal arts general studies schools we analyzed.

Rank College Location
51 Camden County College Blackwood, NJ
52 Crowder College Neosho, MO
53 Johnson County Community College Overland Park, KS
54 Ranger College Ranger, TX
55 Labette Community College Parsons, KS
56 Mountain View College Dallas, TX
57 Northwest Iowa Community College Sheldon, IA
58 Amarillo College Amarillo, TX
59 Fort Scott Community College Fort Scott, KS
60 Indian Hills Community College Ottumwa, IA
61 Wayne County Community College District Detroit, MI
62 South Plains College Levelland, TX
63 Coffeyville Community College Coffeyville, KS
64 New Mexico State University - Grants Grants, NM
65 St Charles Community College Cottleville, MO
65 Richland College Dallas, TX
67 Meridian Community College Meridian, MS
67 Trinity Valley Community College Athens, TX
69 Hill College Hillsboro, TX
70 Ellsworth Community College Iowa Falls, IA
71 El Paso Community College El Paso, TX
72 Clarendon College Clarendon, TX
73 Hawkeye Community College Waterloo, IA
74 Cedar Valley College Lancaster, TX
75 Butler Community College El Dorado, KS
76 Northwest Mississippi Community College Senatobia, MS
77 Northeast Texas Community College Mount Pleasant, TX
78 Brigham Young University - Idaho Rexburg, ID
79 Neosho County Community College Chanute, KS
80 Saint Louis Community College Saint Louis, MO
81 Kirkwood Community College Cedar Rapids, IA
82 Northern Wyoming Community College District Sheridan, WY
83 Iowa Western Community College Council Bluffs, IA
84 Delgado Community College New Orleans, LA
85 Odessa College Odessa, TX
86 Kilgore College Kilgore, TX
86 Minneapolis Community and Technical College Minneapolis, MN
88 East Arkansas Community College Forrest City, AR
89 Mesa Community College Mesa, AZ
90 El Centro College Dallas, TX
91 Prince George’s Community College Largo, MD
92 Del Mar College Corpus Christi, TX
93 Lincoln Land Community College Springfield, IL
93 Spokane Falls Community College Spokane, WA
95 Arkansas State University - Beebe Beebe, AR
96 Rochester Community and Technical College Rochester, MN
97 Cowley County Community College Arkansas City, KS
98 North Central Texas College Gainesville, TX
99 Western Iowa Tech Community College Sioux City, IA
100 Ozarks Technical Community College Springfield, MO
101 Rowan College at Burlington County Mount Laurel, NJ
102 Marion Technical College Marion, OH
103 Howard College Big Spring, TX
104 Saint Paul College Saint Paul, MN
105 Thomas Edison State University Trenton, NJ
106 North Arkansas College Harrison, AR
107 Yakima Valley College Yakima, WA
108 Southern Maine Community College South Portland, ME
109 Santa Fe College Gainesville, FL
110 Northeast Iowa Community College Calmar, IA
110 State Fair Community College Sedalia, MO
112 Arkansas State University - Newport Newport, AR
113 New Mexico State University - Carlsbad Carlsbad, NM
114 North Dakota State College of Science Wahpeton, ND
115 Indiana Wesleyan University - National & Global Marion, IN
116 Genesee Community College Batavia, NY
116 Kansas City Kansas Community College Kansas City, KS
118 Charter Oak State College New Britain, CT
119 Central Maine Community College Auburn, ME
120 University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana Hope, AR
121 Des Moines Area Community College Ankeny, IA
122 Excelsior College Albany, NY
122 Wake Technical Community College Raleigh, NC
124 Northeastern Junior College Sterling, CO
124 Peninsula College Port Angeles, WA
126 New Mexico State University - Dona Ana Las Cruces, NM
127 Southeastern Community College West Burlington, IA
128 Pima Community College Tucson, AZ
129 Macomb Community College Warren, MI
130 East Los Angeles College Monterey Park, CA
131 Florida State College at Jacksonville Jacksonville, FL
132 Columbia College Columbia, MO
132 East Central College Union, MO
134 Eastfield College Mesquite, TX
135 Northern Virginia Community College Annandale, VA
136 Laredo Community College Laredo, TX
137 Hibbing Community College Hibbing, MN
138 Itawamba Community College Fulton, MS
139 Southwestern Community College Creston, IA
140 Metropolitan Community College - Kansas City Kansas City, MO
140 Palomar College San Marcos, CA
142 GateWay Community College - Phoenix Phoenix, AZ
143 Ocean County College Toms River, NJ
144 Tallahassee Community College Tallahassee, FL
145 Bemidji State University Bemidji, MN
145 Massachusetts Bay Community College Wellesley Hills, MA
147 New Mexico State University - Alamogordo Alamogordo, NM
148 Big Bend Community College Moses Lake, WA
148 Iowa Central Community College Fort Dodge, IA
150 Bergen Community College Paramus, NJ
151 Olympic College Bremerton, WA
152 Hillsborough Community College Tampa, FL

Additional Noteworthy Schools

These are some additional schools worth mentioning that are also great but just didn't quite make the cut to earn our top Best Value Liberal Arts General Studies Schools award.

Rank College Location
153 University of Maryland Global Campus Adelphi, MD
153 Durham Technical Community College Durham, NC
155 Madison Area Technical College Madison, WI
155 Pearl River Community College Poplarville, MS
155 Navarro College Corsicana, TX
158 Cuyahoga Community College District Cleveland, OH
159 Phoenix College Phoenix, AZ
160 Moberly Area Community College Moberly, MO
161 West Texas A&M University Canyon, TX
161 Arkansas State University - Mountain Home Mountain Home, AR
161 El Camino College Torrance, CA
164 Rogue Community College Grants Pass, OR
165 Central Piedmont Community College Charlotte, NC
166 Valencia College Orlando, FL
167 Lower Columbia College Longview, WA
168 North Iowa Area Community College Mason City, IA
169 Craven Community College New Bern, NC
170 Tarrant County College District Fort Worth, TX
171 Weatherford College Weatherford, TX
172 Holmes Community College Goodman, MS
173 Saddleback College Mission Viejo, CA
174 Mineral Area College Park Hills, MO
175 Southwest Texas Junior College Uvalde, TX
176 Washtenaw Community College Ann Arbor, MI
177 Carroll Community College Westminster, MD
177 Hinds Community College Raymond, MS
177 Galveston College Galveston, TX
180 Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College Cloquet, MN
180 Compton College Compton, CA
182 Vernon College Vernon, TX
183 Skagit Valley College Mount Vernon, WA
184 South Dakota State University Brookings, SD
185 Raritan Valley Community College Branchburg, NJ
186 San Juan College Farmington, NM
187 Central New Mexico Community College Albuquerque, NM
188 Chandler-Gilbert Community College Chandler, AZ
189 Jefferson College Hillsboro, MO
190 Southwestern Illinois College Belleville, IL
191 East Central Community College Decatur, MS
192 Forsyth Technical Community College Winston-Salem, NC
193 Azusa Pacific University College San Dimas, CA
194 Ivy Tech Community College Indianapolis, IN
195 Lorain County Community College Elyria, OH
196 Milwaukee Area Technical College Milwaukee, WI
197 Cincinnati State Technical and Community College Cincinnati, OH
198 Bellevue College Bellevue, WA
199 North Central Missouri College Trenton, MO
199 Central Arizona College Coolidge, AZ
201 Quincy College Quincy, MA
201 Iowa Lakes Community College Estherville, IA
203 Georgia Military College Milledgeville, GA
203 Orange Coast College Costa Mesa, CA

Liberal Arts General Studies by Region

View the Best Value Liberal Arts General Studies Schools for a specific region near you.

Region
Southeast
New England
Rocky Mountains
Plains States
Middle Atlantic
Far Western US
Southwest
Great Lakes

Notes and References

*These averages are for the top 25 schools only.

  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of the rest of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard).

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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