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Best Colleges in Indiana in 2024

by Ellie Chang
June 2, 2024
10 min read
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The whizzing of racecars on the Indy 500 tracks. The ripe organic smell of corns and soybeans. The flash of an orange basketball on high school courts. This is Indiana, home to the proud Hoosiers, and a vibrant higher education scene. In this guide we'll dive into the best colleges in Indiana, exploring the best of public, private and community colleges in the energetic Hoosier State.

From the world-renowned University of Notre Dame to the academically rigorous Purdue University, we're going to showcase all the top-tier institutions that Indiana has to offer. Each university has been selected according to statistics from the US News & World Report as well as an in-depth evaluation of the variety and value of academic programs, quality of facilities and faculty, and community spirit.

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public colleges in indiana

Best Public Colleges in Indiana

1. Purdue University - West Lafayette

Purdue University is easily the best public college in Indiana and is ranked #43 in National Universities (US News & World Report). With over 200 undergraduate programs to choose from, Purdue University is especially renowned for its engineering and technological programs.

What sets Purdue apart is its hands-on approach to learning, bolstered by state-of-the-art facilities like the Purdue Research Park and the Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering. Students here don't just study theory; they engage in real-world projects, collaborate with top industry partners, and drive meaningful change through research and innovation.

Beyond academics, Purdue fosters a vibrant campus life with diverse student organizations, cultural events, and Big Ten athletics. It's a place where tradition meets modernity, where the spirit of exploration thrives, and where students are empowered to become leaders and trailblazers in their fields. This is encapsulated no better than in its Boilermaker mascot, a holdover from its 1869 founding that has found a new life and spirit in representing Purdue's passion for revolutionizing the landscape of higher education.

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2. Indiana University - Bloomington

Nestled in the picturesque town of Bloomington, known affectionately as B-town, Indiana University Bloomington (IU Bloomington) stands as a beacon of academic excellence, cultural vibrancy, and Hoosier pride. Founded in 1820, IU Bloomington is the flagship campus of the esteemed Indiana University system, renowned for its rich history, top-ranked programs, and diverse student community.

Ranked #73 in National Universities by US News & World Report, this institution boasts more than 200 undergraduate and graduate programs, nearly 400 study abroad programs, and 750+ clubs. An IU Bloomington education prepares its student body to be bold and innovative with real-world experiences and the support of iconic Hoosier hospitality.

Outside of the classroom, IU Bloomington is steeped in tradition, from the iconic Sample Gates to the spirited Hoosier basketball games at Assembly Hall. The campus buzzes with cultural events, artistic performances, and opportunities for community engagement, creating a dynamic and enriching student experience.

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3. Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) - Indianapolis

Situated in the heart of downtown Indianapolis, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) is a dynamic urban campus that combines the strengths of two prestigious universities, Indiana University and Purdue University. Established in 1969, IUPUI has since evolved into a thriving academic community known for its life and health sciences programs and dedication to the well-being of the community.

At IUPUI, students experience the best of both worlds — the academic resources and traditions of IU and Purdue, coupled with the opportunities and energy of downtown Indianapolis. With a focus on experiential learning, interdisciplinary collaboration, and community engagement, IUPUI prepares students for success in their careers and as active citizens in a global society.

To support its students on their rigorous academic journeys, IUPUI has countless quality facilities and programs to ensure that its students undergo not just intellectual growth but personal growth, too. From its 65,000-square-foot Nation Institute for Fitness and Sport to the handy Crimson Card that gives students access to 100+ dining options on and off-campus, IUPUI ensures that your student life is just as dynamic and vibrant as your academic one.

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Best Private Colleges in Indiana

1. University of Notre Dame - Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame is, without a doubt, the best private college in Indiana and perhaps the best college in Indiana. It is #20 in national college rankings by the US News & World Report, and as a leading research university, continuously produces breakthroughs for a world deeply in need. Students here will get nothing short of a world class education.

The religious frameworks founded upon Catholic intellectual and moral traditions provide the basis upon which Notre Dame students engage with each other in the world. The sense of community and service is unparalleled at this private institution. Perhaps as a result of this moral focus, the University of Notre Dame is especially renowned for its business and social science programs.

Rising above the city of Notre Dame, the majestic Golden Dome and historic Basilica of the Sacred Heart provide a beautiful and historically rich landscape for the student population to engage in their college education. The Fighting Irish spirit is palpable in every aspect of campus life, from spirited athletic events to cultural celebrations and service opportunities that embody the university's commitment to making a difference in the world.

universities in indiana

2. DePauw University - Greencastle

DePauw University, nestled in the quaint town of Greencastle, Indiana, is a renowned private liberal arts college with a rich history dating back to its founding in 1837. Ranked nationally at #46 for the best liberal arts colleges and #1 in the state of Indiana, DePauw University offers a long tradition of academic excellence, personalized education, and vibrant campus life.

At DePauw University, a 9:1 student-faculty ratio enables students to benefit from close interactions with world-class faculty who are dedicated to mentoring and guiding them throughout their academic journey. The university's strong liberal arts curriculum encompasses a wide range of disciplines, providing students with a well-rounded education that fosters critical thinking, creativity, and ethical leadership.

Beyond academics, DePauw's campus buzzes with a rich array of extracurricular activities, cultural events, and community service opportunities. The university's commitment to service learning, a liberal arts education, and undergraduate research further enhances students' academic and professional growth, preparing them for successful careers and meaningful contributions to society.

3. Wabash College - Crawfordsville

Wabash College is an all-male private liberal arts college ranked #59 in Best Liberal Arts Colleges nationally. With an undergraduate enrollment of 820 students and the most accessible faculty among top colleges in the US, Wabash College is especially notable for its commitment and focus on the student body.

Wabash's close-knit community and guiding moral principles, the Gentleman's Rule, fosters a culture of camaraderie, creating a supportive environment where students can thrive academically, socially, and personally. This is exemplified no better than in their renowned WabashX program which provides students with the career resources and alumni network to catapult graduates into top positions in business, graduate and doctoral programs.

The Wabash College location in Crawfordsville offers a uniquely welcoming atmosphere of warmth and hospitality. The town's vibrant downtown area features quaint shops, local eateries serving up delicious cuisine, and cultural venues such as the Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County. Students at Wabash will feel supported, not only by a small student to faculty ratio, but by the town itself, offering the perfect atmosphere to pursue a higher liberal arts education.

Public universities offer world-class education, often at tremendous financial cost. Start reducing your expenses today with our carefully curated selection of scholarships!

community colleges in indiana

Best Community Colleges in Indiana

1. Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College, Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution, serves as a cornerstone of accessible and affordable college education in the state. With over 70 programs at 40 locations statewide and an additional 30+ satellite locations, Ivy Tech offers a diverse range of programs and courses designed to meet the needs of every student.

Whether pursuing a career-focused certificate or starting on the path to a bachelor's degree through transfer programs, Ivy Tech provides students with the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to succeed in today's competitive workforce. Furthermore, with IvyOnline, students can complete entire degrees purely through online programs and classes. This flexibility may be invaluable to students with a full-time job, children, or circumstances that prevent them from fulfilling a full-time student role.

Whether at Ivy Tech's main campus in Indianapolis or taking classes remotely through online programs, students at Ivy Tech are guaranteed to feel a sense of community with their peers, professors, and the state of Indiana at large.

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2. Vincennes University - Vincennes

In the picturesque town of Vincennes stands Vincennes University, a proud institution with a rich history dating back to 1801, making it one of the oldest universities in the country. As a comprehensive public university, Vincennes University offers a diverse range of academic programs tailored to meet the needs of its students, including associate degrees, certificates, bachelor's degrees, and workforce training programs across its academic divisions.

As a small university, Vincennes University boasts a stellar student to faculty ratio which can enable students to receive personalized support, attention and care. The university's commitment to student success is evident in its robust support services, including academic advising, tutoring, career counseling, and internship placement assistance, all geared toward helping students achieve their academic and career goals.

The town of Vincennes further boasts a legacy of rich culture and history. Some unique local landmarks include George Rogers Clark National Historic Park, Fort Knox II, and the mansion of Vincennes University's founder – US President William Henry Harrison.

top colleges in indiana

Other Top Colleges in Indiana

We've presented a selection of the best colleges in Indiana but it is by no means an exhaustive list. The Hoosier State has so much more to offer beyond world-class institutions like Purdue and Notre Dame. Let's dive into some other colleges which may be more affordable, suit your preferences better, or simply provide a little more information about the collegiate landscape in Indiana.

Top Public Colleges In Indiana

Ball State University - Muncie

Ball State University is a top-tier college for economic mobility and is a well-regarded public research university. With tuition among the lowest in Indiana, yet still providing the robust and quality support comparable to a private college, Ball State University enables students to make the most of their time and money as they pursue one of 270+ undergraduate and graduate programs.

Indiana University East - Richmond

Located in Richmond, Indiana, Indiana University East (IU East) is a dynamic and thriving institution within the esteemed Indiana University system. Established in 1971, IU East has evolved into a comprehensive regional campus offering a diverse array of academic programs across its five schools: the School of Business and Economics, the School of Education, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, the School of Natural Science and Mathematics, and the School of Nursing and Health Sciences.

Interested in other Midwest colleges? Check out our comprehensive guide on the best colleges in Michigan!

Top Private Colleges in Indiana

Butler University - Indianapolis

Butler University is ranked #1 in Regional Colleges in the Midwest and emphasizes an education centered around the student, innovative and rooted in experience. With an Indianapolis Community Requirement, Butler University ensures its students have a passion for serving the community and real-world experience in their academic major.

Marian University - Indianapolis

Marian University offers a wide breadth of degrees, from associate's degrees to the classic 4-year bachelor's to doctoral programs. As a Catholic Franciscan school, Marian University presents itself and its faith as a family to support and uplift its student body into success. With small class sizes and two campuses to choose from, prospective students should know that they'll find a home at Marian University.

Huntington University - Huntington

Huntington University proudly proclaims on its website: "Christ. Scholarship. Service." As a non-profit liberal arts college, the institution is dedicated to giving back to the local community. Students have frequently praised the spiritual atmosphere and career preparation resources at Huntington.

Honorable Mentions

  • Valparaiso University - Valparaiso
  • Hanover College - Hanover
  • Indiana Wesleyan University - Marion
  • Rose Hulman Institute -
  • Franklin College - Franklin
  • Saint Mary's College - Notre Dame
  • Goshen College - Goshen
  • Trine University - Angola
  • Oakland City University - Oakland City
  • Earlham College - Richmond
  • Manchester University - North Manchester
  • Taylor University - Upland

If you're a high school student trying to find some help for your college selection process, make sure to also look into our scholarships for high school students!

best colleges to apply for in indiana

Frequently Asked Questions About Best Colleges in Indiana

How much is college in Indiana?

The cost of college in Indiana varies depending on several factors, including the type of institution (public or private), the specific college or university, residency status, and the chosen program of study.

On average, tuition and fees for public universities in Indiana range from around $8,000 to $10,000 per year for in-state students, while out-of-state students may pay significantly higher rates. Private colleges and universities in Indiana typically have higher tuition costs, ranging from $30,000 to $50,000 per year or more, although financial aid, scholarships, and grants can help offset these expenses.

What is the cheapest college in Indiana?

Ivy Tech Community College is often considered one of the most affordable options for higher education in Indiana. Tuition rates at Ivy Tech can vary based on residency status and program of study, but they average $4,637 for in-state and $8,927 for out-of-state students.

How can I establish residency in Indiana for college?

It's essential to understand the specific residency requirements of your college and consult their residency office or admissions department for guidance. However, here are some ways to demonstrate your intent:

  • physically residing in Indiana for at least a year before college enrollment
  • maintaining financial independence or showing ties through employment or income
  • registering to vote in Indiana
  • obtaining an Indiana driver's license and vehicle registration
  • opening a bank account
  • filing state taxes as a resident
  • providing documentation such as lease agreements, utility bills, and official records that establish your ties to Indiana

Still have questions about colleges, financial aid, and more? Hop on over to our scholarships blog, where we answer all these questions and more!

Ellie Chang
Content Writer

About Ellie

Ellie is an exceptional writer and researcher with expertise in financial aid, scholarship applications, and aid negotiation. Throughout high school, she applied for scholarships and was able to win enough to cover all of her external scholarship limit.

Ellie is a freshman at Brown University, majoring in Classics and Literary Arts with a focus on fiction. She’s currently a research assistant for the American Sign Language department at Brown University where she fulfills many different roles to promote ASL's presence on campus and in the local community.


Despite being a recent high school graduate, Ellie has already built a strong foundation as a writer. She volunteered with an online nonprofit to launch their pilot blog program, excelling as both a writer and editor. Her role as the editor-in-chief of her high school newspaper further honed her editorial skills, while her participation in international Debate & Forensics competitions enhanced her ability to craft compelling arguments and narratives. These experiences showcase her initiative, leadership, and dedication to the craft of writing.

Since joining the team in 2024 as a Content Writer, Ellie has leveraged her extensive background as a scholarship applicant and recipient to help others navigate the scholarship application process. Her expertise also includes crafting resumes, writing cover letters, and preparing for interviews.

As a student who will invariably graduate with debt, she is increasingly sensitive to the financial pressures college students face. Motivated by her desire to make a meaningful impact, she aims to advocate for accessible financial resources and support systems that can help alleviate the burden of higher education costs for future students.

Ellie is driven by her passion to make a meaningful impact. Through her creative and engaging writing, she addresses relevant issues with the powerful art of storytelling. Ellie strives to make information accessible, helping students understand the nuances of college life.

Quote from Ellie

 "There is a defiance in being a dreamer." 

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