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Public universities in Iowa include a short list of powerhouse schools. The public colleges in Iowa include the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and University of Northern Iowa. Nationally ranked Iowa public universities include UI and ISU which land on several rankings from myriad publishers. School locations include Cedar Falls, Iowa City, and Ames. The enrollment of state schools in Iowa tends to hover in excess of twenty-thousand students year over year. To learn more about the accredited universities in the state college system in Iowa, simply connect with the schools below or utilize our exclusive search technology to find degree programs to match your objectives.

2021 Best Public Colleges in Iowa

Iowa State University (ISU) is a top ranking university in Ames, Iowa, which is considered one of the best places to live in America. The school's central campus is known for its beauty and historic landmarks, and is notable for its landscape architecture.

ISU offers degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels in nearly 200 fields of study. At the undergraduate level, Iowa State University earns high marks for its academic programs in agriculture technology, sciences and arts. At the graduate level, ISU earns high marks for its programs in chemistry, statistics, physics, agricultural sciences, electrical engineering and economics.

The university also offers a variety of study abroad, service-learning, and work abroad programs. ISU attracts a diverse student population from all 50 states in the U.S. and more than 110 countries worldwide.

History

Iowa State University was one of the first land-grant universities established in the United States, after President Lincoln signed the law to establish colleges and universities throughout the country that would offer accessible higher education to all citizens, teach practical classes and share knowledge beyond the campus borders.

ISU was established in 1858 on a farm as "Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm." The school's first campus building, "The Farm House," was completed in 1861. The first students enrolled in 1869, and graduated in 1872. Iowa Agricultural College was considered a leader in agriculture, engineering, and home economics, among other practical subjects.

An increasing focus on technology led to the development of the world's first electronic digital computer near the end of the 1930s. Due to expansion into more technological areas of study, the school changed its name to "Iowa State University of Science and Technology" in 1959. This name was later shortened to "Iowa State University." Over the years, Iowa State University further developed its offerings and continued to achieve academic excellence in its expanding and top-ranking programs in agriculture, technology, science and art.

Academics

The academic calendar of Iowa State University follows the semester format, with fall, spring and summer semesters.

Colleges and Schools

  • College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • College of Business
  • College of Design
  • College of Engineering
  • College of Human Sciences
  • College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Graduate College

Student Life

According to the Student Activities Center, there are hundreds of student clubs and organizations available for participation at ISU, and students will find them listed under categories such as Media Production, Music/Performing Arts, Multicultural, Honoraries, Fraternities, Sororities, and Special Interest, among others.  The Center offers information and resources to students who wish to start their own club or organization on campus.

There are also many groups, venues, facilities, workshops and events available for arts, entertainment and recreation.  ISU students can choose from live music performances, leadership activities or multi-media courses through The Union Workspace, such as pottery-making classes, photography workshops, and carpentry workshops. Other activities available include ballroom dance and rotating art exhibits.  There is a student group called "ISU After Dark" that plans late night events throughout the year.

Several different options for on-campus housing and on-campus dining are available.

Traditions

ISU school colors are cardinal (red) and gold, and its mascot is a cardinal (bird) named "Cy."

Iowa State University's teams were nicknamed the "Cyclones" by a news reporter who covered their football games in the 1890s. The school's athletic department eventually adopted the nickname as their official name for all of Iowa State's sports teams.

Athletics

The Iowa State "Cyclones" compete in 18 intercollegiate sports, including:

Men's Sports:

  • Basketball
  • Cross Country
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Indoor Track and Field
  • Outdoor Track and Field
  • Wrestling

Women's Sports:

  • Basketball
  • Cross Country
  • Golf
  • Gymnastics
  • Indoor Track and Field
  • Outdoor Track and Field
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Swimming and Diving
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball

Community Life

As a state, Iowa is known as an area of friendly people, small towns and close-knit communities. It is also known for good schools and nice cities, with plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation in its many parks, as well as shopping and entertainment.

Ames, 30 minutes from Des Moines, is one of Iowa's nicest small towns. Due in part to the presence of Iowa State University, Ames draws top performers such as Dave Matthews, Kenny Chesney, international symphonies, Broadway musical tours, and more.

Enrollment

34,992

Student to Faculty Ratio

19:1

University of Iowa is a public university in Iowa City, considered to be one of the most dynamic colleges in the country, according to the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2011.  The university offers more than 100 areas of study at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The school also offers professional degrees. Its graduate programs in creative writing, audiology, nursing service administration, and speech-language pathology rank very high.

The University of Iowa, commonly known simply as "Iowa," has a well-respected faculty, and offers small class sizes, research opportunities for undergraduates and graduates, honors courses, special programs for transfer students, and discussion sessions to help first-year students.  Alumni include many notable figures, including inventors, distinguished researchers, doctors, CEOs, musicians, performers, athletes, politicians, and most notably, writers.  The Writer's Workshop of University of Iowa, founded in 1936, has produced 13 Pulitzer Prize winners since 1947.

History

The university was founded in 1847 as the State University of Iowa, a mere 59 days after Iowa became a state. Faculty did not offer instruction until 1855, and became the first public university to offer higher education equally to both men and women.  The first class of 124 students included 41 women.

Academics

The academic calendar for the University of Iowa includes four academic sessions during the school year: fall, winter, spring and summer.

Colleges and Schools

  • College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Tippie College of Business
  • College of Dentistry
  • College of Education
  • College of Engineering
  • Graduate College
  • College of Law
  • Carver College of Medicine
  • College of Nursing
  • College of Pharmacy
  • College of Public Health
  • University College

Student Life

Students seeking involvement opportunities at University of Iowa have more than 450 student organizations to choose from.  There are also opportunities to attend a lecture by a visiting scholar, join a study group or a discussion group with an instructor.  There are many things to do on campus and also off-campus in Iowa City, including arts and entertainment, shopping, nightlife, sports and recreation.

There are 10 residence halls on campus, as well as university apartments for students with families.  Several of the fraternities and sororities near campus also offer housing.

Traditions

The University of Iowa school colors are black and gold.

Athletics

The "Hawkeye" athletics teams at the University of Iowa compete in more than 20 intercollegiate sports, with top teams in field hockey, wrestling and football.  The Dance Team and cheerleading are also very popular.

Men's Sports:

  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Cross Country
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Gymnastics
  • Swimming and Diving
  • Tennis
  • Track and Field
  • Wrestling

Women's Sports:

  • Basketball
  • Cross Country
  • Field Hockey
  • Golf
  • Gymnastics
  • Rowing
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Swimming and Diving
  • Tennis
  • Track and Field
  • Volleyball

Satellite Campuses

The Iowa River flows through the University of Iowa's main campus in Iowa City, splitting it into west and east sides.  The university has one satellite campus in nearby Coralville, which is called Oakdale Campus.  Oakdale is home to many of the university's research facilities.

Community Life

The University of Iowa combines the benefits of a large, top-ranked school with the benefits of small-town life.  The "pedestrian mall" of the city offers many restaurants and bars, boutiques and shopping venues, museums and galleries, and there are plenty of recreational activities in the area.

Enrollment

31,656

Student to Faculty Ratio

16:1

University of Northern Iowa is a public institution located in Cedar Falls, IA and provides a large number of program options for students. Around 13,000 students enroll at UNI per year. Here is a list of some of the popular programs UNI offers:

  • Education
  • Business And Marketing Studies
  • Psychology
  • Biological And Biomedical Sciences
  • History
To be considered for admissions, students may be asked to complete an application, write a personal statement, and submit test scores or other school records, which are then evaluated by admissions officials. Most students admitted to University of Northern Iowa score in-between 21 to 26 on the ACT. UNI accepts about 80 percent of applicants yearly. Of those students admitted, about 54 percent of students attended the school. More information on admissions can be found at uni.edu. The cost of tuition varies for in-state and out-of-state residents. In-state residents pay around $8,100, while out-of-state residents pay $18,000 per year. Housing is available on-campus for students. The annual cost of housing is approximately $4,000. Students attending University of Northern Iowa may qualify for aid which is usually grants and loans. The University of Northern Iowa Panthers participate in several athletic programs, within the NCAA organization. Athletic programs offered include:
  • Basketball (NCAA Division I-AA)
  • Track & Field (NCAA Division I-AA)
  • Football (NCAA Division I-AA)
Contact information, academics information, areas of study, and much more can be viewed on school's website at http://www.uni.edu.

Enrollment

11,187

Student to Faculty Ratio

18:1

Popular Degree Paths for Iowa College Students

As the thirtieth most populous state, students can find virtually any degree path offered by the state schools in Iowa. Regionally specific degree programs may includefarming and ranching,agriculture,meteorology,agronomy & crop science,biotechnology,hydrology,industrial engineering,healthcare administration, andsystems engineering. Students may also enjoy pursuing more common degree paths likemath,history,philosophy,engineering, orbusinessor trade specific degrees such aswelding,electrician,auto mechanic,cosmetology, ornail technician. In either case, understanding your goals and objectives before you start studying at a college or university will allow you to manage your time effectively as you strive to leverage education to advance your career.

-2

The 2 schools listed below are part of the -2 system. By following the links below, you can view each school's profile in detail.

Iowa Wesleyan University in Ames, IA

Visit the website for Iowa Wesleyan University at http://www.iw.edu

Program Details

  • More Than 20,000 Undergraduate Students Enrolled
  • Tuition & fees $27,000 per year for state residents ($33,000 Nonresidents)
Kirkwood Community College (Iowa) in Iowa City, IA

Visit the website for Kirkwood Community College at http://www.kirkwood.edu

Program Details

  • More Than 20,000 Undergraduate Students Enrolled
  • Tuition & fees $5,000 per year for state residents ($7,000 Nonresidents)

Other Public 4-Year State Universities & Colleges

Below is a list of other 4-year state universities and colleges in Iowa.

Northwestern College (UNI Panthers Northern Iowa) in Cedar Falls, IA

Visit the website for Northwestern College at http://www.nwciowa.edu/

Program Details

  • 10,000 to 19,999 Undergraduate Students Enrolled
  • Tuition & fees $34,000 per year

Notes: Tuition & fee amounts are for both Iowa in-state residents and out of state students, unless noted otherwise. The tuition information displayed is an estimate, which we calculated based on historical data and should be solely used for informational purposes only. Please contact the respective school for information about the current school year.

Source: IPEDS Survey 2012-2020: Data obtained from the US Dept. of Education's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Data may vary depending on school and academic year.

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