Best Colleges in Wisconsin

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Although Wisconsin is known widely for its cheese and dairy products, the state is also a great place to go to college. Top-ranked Wisconsin schools offer impressive academics, flourishing student life, and great opportunities for student-athletes, which attract students native to the state and those from elsewhere for higher education.

When faced with the variety of colleges in Wisconsin, it can seem impossible to make a decision. Do you want to prioritize academics? Are you looking for rigorous online programs or a beautiful campus experience? Is a diverse student body more important? Are you passionate about sports? Ahead, explore Wisconsin colleges that reflect your core values and begin to narrow your list down from there.

Here at Bold.org, we are committed to helping students eliminate student debt. Apply for scholarships today!

Best Public Colleges in Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin—Madison

Location: Madison, WI

Undergraduate enrollment: 37,230

Acceptance rate: 49%

The University of Wisconsin—Madison is one of the best colleges in Wisconsin and ranks nationally among the top 15 public institutions and top 40 national universities. The University of Wisconsin—Madison participates in the Big Ten Conference for varsity sports at the Division I level, so it is a top school for student-athletes or any students passionate about sports.

The public institution is also known for its active Greek life scene, so it is a great choice for those interested in joining a fraternity, sorority, or related student organization.

The University of Wisconsin—Madison offers rigorous academics and is best known for its top-ranking business, nursing, computer science, and engineering programs. As a large public research university, the UW system offers state-of-the-art facilities and a plethora of research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students alike.

The university ranks among the top 100 best-value schools in the nation. The graduate school at UW—Madison offers a wide range of master's degree and doctoral degree programs, attracting students from around the country and internationally.

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University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee

Location: Milwaukee, WI

Undergraduate enrollment: 18,751

Acceptance rate: 95%

The University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee is one of the top colleges for students looking to attend a public institution within the urban setting of a major Wisconsin city. The school is known for its nursing program, which ranks among the top 60 nationwide.

The university is located just north of downtown Milwaukee, the historic Easttown neighborhood, and the theater district, giving students access to interesting neighborhoods to explore. The campus is also located within walking distance of Lake Michigan, which provides a plethora of recreation opportunities.

The University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee is known for its incentives that provide opportunities and support to first-generation and low-income students, including the Milwaukee Tuition Promise program, which offers free tuition for up to four years based on students' household income.

The program aims to increase the number of Wisconsin residents graduating with a bachelor's degree. This school is a great option for first-generation students and those from low-to-moderate-income households looking to save on their education while earning a degree.

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University of Wisconsin—Stevens Point

Location: Stevens Point, WI

Undergraduate enrollment: 7,313

Acceptance rate: 89%

University of Wisconsin—Stevens Point consistently ranks among the top 15 regional public universities in the midwest, the top 12 public schools, and the top 25 schools for veterans. 70% of UWSP graduates reported securing jobs prior to commencement, and the top 3 industries in which graduates begin their careers are K-12 education, healthcare, and government.

The public institution is known for its unique outdoor classroom environment, situated along the natural bounty of the Wisconsin River.

For prospective students looking to attain a bachelor's degree, UWSP offers more than 120 undergraduate programs in 48 majors and 78 minors. The public university offers more than 30 advanced degree programs across four colleges. UWSP also offers some distance learning options at both the undergraduate and graduate levels for anyone seeking the flexibility of an online program.

University of Wisconsin—River Falls

Location: River Falls, WI

Undergraduate enrollment: 4,772

Acceptance rate: 85%

The University of Wisconsin—River Falls ranks among the top 15 public schools and the top 70 regional universities in the Midwest, as well as the top 30 colleges for veterans. UWRF is known for its rural campus setting and relatively small size, so this school is perfect for those interested in a close-knit campus experience.

The campus is also 30 minutes from the rich cultural hub of Minneapolis/St. Paul provides plenty of opportunities for professional experiences and research.

The school offers 3 colleges with over 70 areas of study for undergraduates to choose from and more than 20 graduate degrees, certificate, and licensure programs, all with a student faculty ratio of 19:1. The Honors Program provides a customized curriculum, social opportunities, and more benefits exclusively for enrolled students with outstanding academic achievements.

best private colleges in wisconsin

Best Private Colleges in Wisconsin

Lawrence University

Location: Appleton, WI

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,426

Acceptance rate: 72%

Lawrence University is a small liberal arts school, ranking among the top 75 liberal arts colleges nationwide, among the top 50 best value schools, and as the #1 liberal arts college in Wisconsin. With an 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio, the private institution is known for its rigorous academics and close-knit campus environment.

At Lawrence, 99% of recent graduates receive a full-time job or enroll in graduate or professional programs within six months of graduating. The small student body guarantees a personalized learning experience with maximum attention from the professors.

The college offers 65 majors, minors, and academic programs from humanities to sciences to interdisciplinary fields. The school is known for its Conservatory of Music, with over 50 studios, programs, and ensembles to advance your musicianship and creativity.

The campus culture centers on creativity and performance, with musical and theatrical performances almost every night of the term. There are three on-campus exhibition spaces featuring work from contemporary artists, the college's collection, and art students.

Marquette University

Location: Milwaukee, WI

Undergraduate enrollment: 7,528

Acceptance rate: 87%

Marquette University is a private Catholic Jesuit research school in Milwaukee, WI. The school ranks among the top 90 national universities and among the top 50 best-value schools. The university also ranks among the top 20 for best undergraduate teaching and the top 35 most innovative schools.

Beyond the school's reputation for academic excellence and strong national rankings, Marquette University is known for its athletics. The Marquette Golden Eagles compete in the NCAA Division I Big East Conference. Prospective students who are athletes themselves or interested in sports will enjoy the athletic culture at the private institution.

For students pursuing a bachelor's degree, the university offers 85 undergraduate majors and 92 minors to choose from. Pre-professional programs include coursework in dentistry, law, and medicine. The university also offers a robust graduate school, with 75 doctoral and master's degree programs as well as 24 graduate certificate programs. The university also offers a School of Dentistry and a School of Law.

Carthage College

Location: Kenosha, WI

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,559

Acceptance rate: 82%

Carthage College is a private institution located along Lake Michigan, halfway between Milwaukee and Chicago. The school ranks among the top 35 regional universities in the Midwest and among the top 20 best value schools.

Carthage College also ranks among the top 10 best schools for undergraduate teaching, the top 15 best colleges for veterans, and the top 100 performers for social mobility. The college blends liberal arts traditions with a focus on career development and personal attention from distinguished faculty.

At Carthage College, undergraduate students can choose from more than 75 subject areas, including high-demand fields such as nursing and engineering. The school offers graduate programs in business, sports management, music, and athletic training, as well as a range of dual-degree programs.

The school is ideal for students interested in going to school in a suburban setting while maintaining convenient access to major metropolitan areas like Milwaukee and Chicago.

best community colleges in wisconsin

Best Community Colleges in Wisconsin

Blackhawk Technical College

Location: Janesville, WI

Blackhawk Technical College offers flexible learning options, innovative programs, and first-class facilities to Wisconsin students. The school is a part of the Wisconsin technical college system and offers 64 different educational and technical programs to choose from.

Blackhawk also offers a litany of resources for students who want to pursue a four-year degree, with specialized advisors and a university transfer center to assist in the process of transferring to four-year colleges and universities within the Wisconsin transfer agreement or beyond.

Chippewa Valley Technical College

Location: Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls, WI

Chippewa Valley Technical College offers over 100 educational programs offering flexible, hands-on learning designed to get students fulfilling, high-paying jobs. The school also offers a range of certificate and apprenticeship programs for a total of over 165 academic offerings to choose from across multiple campuses in Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls.

CVTC has an exceptionally high employment rate, with 95% of graduates employed within six months after graduation. CVTC offers dual enrollment options for high school students looking to jumpstart college while completing their high school education.

Fox Valley Technical College

Location: Appleton, WI

Fox Valley Technical College offers 250 academic programs across 15 areas of study, with flexible course scheduling and start dates to suit students' unique needs. FVTC graduates earn an annual salary of about $68,000 five years after graduation and $51,000 within six months of graduating.

FVTC has strong outcomes, with an employment rate of 93% and a satisfaction rating of 96%. The school offers a range of services supporting students interested in transferring to the University of Wisconsin or any other four-year institution.

best small colleges

Best Small Colleges in Wisconsin

St. Norbert College

Location: De Pere, WI

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,814

Acceptance rate: 84%

St. Norbert College is a private Catholic liberal arts college in northeast Wisconsin. The school ranks among the top 100 liberal arts colleges nationwide and the top 70 best-value schools nationally. St. Norbert also ranks among the top 40 performers in social mobility.

The Saint Norbert College location is suburban, situated along the Fox River just south of the Green Bay of Lake Michigan. The school is known for its NCAA Division III sports teams and rigorous academics.

The small student body ensures a personalized academic experience and maximum contact with top-tier professors. For those looking to pursue a bachelor's degree, the school offers dozens of majors and minors across five academic divisions: humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, visual and performing arts, and the Schneider School of Business and Economics.

The school also offers three master's degrees: an M.A. in Liberal Studies, a Master of Theological Studies, and an M.B.A. program.

Edgewood College

Location: Madison, WI

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,233

Acceptance rate: 95%

Edgewood College is a private institution rooted in the Dominican tradition and ranked among the top 125 in social mobility. The school is known for its wide range of degree programs and small student body, which ensures a tight-knit campus environment and a personalized learning experience for all students.

The wide range of degree options enables students to specialize according to their particular interests and academic strengths while preparing students for their professional careers. Edgewood College offers a range of undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs, including online degree options as well as professional and continuing education.

The school offers degrees in ten core areas of interest, including arts and communications, business, education, government and public administration, information technology, nursing and health, and STEM. This institution also offers a curriculum to help students earn an educator license.

Ripon College

Location: Ripon, WI

Undergraduate enrollment: 766

Acceptance rate: 81%

Ripon College is a small private liberal arts college known for its athletic teams competing in the Division III Midwest Conference. The school ranks among the top 85 performers on social mobility and among the top 150 liberal arts colleges.

The athletic opportunities at Ripon College make it a great choice for any student interested both in college sports and the learning environment of a small liberal arts school. Athletic activities are an integral part of campus culture and the Ripon College experience, with a range of varsity sports and club sports to participate in.

The exceptionally small student body at Ripon College ensures a personal learning environment and a tight-knit campus experience. The school offers over 80 areas of study to choose from at the undergraduate level and recently introduced a premier graduate program, a Master of Exercise Science. The school also offers fine arts programs in visual art, theatre, music, and more.

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Concordia University Wisconsin

Location: Mequon, WI

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,817

Acceptance rate: 70%

Concordia University Wisconsin is a private university known for its wide variety of on-campus and online degree programs, as well as dual degree programs. CUW is home to six schools: the Batterman School of Business, the School of Arts & Sciences, the School of Education, the School of Health Professions, the School of Nursing, and the School of Pharmacy.

The university's rigorous, professionally oriented degree programs ensure students are amply prepared for careers in the contemporary job market. Concordia University Wisconsin offers degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels, as well as licensure programs in education and educational administration.

The wide range of program offerings and flexible in-person or online degree options ensure a personalized learning experience that meets each student's specific needs. The Christian university is a solid choice for students looking for a religiously affiliated learning experience amidst a Christian student body.

Beloit College

Location: Beloit, WI

Undergraduate enrollment: 964

Acceptance rate: 66%

Beloit College is a small liberal arts school in the small city of Beloit. The school ranks among the top 90 liberal arts colleges nationally and among the top 40 best-value schools nationwide. The school also ranks among the top 20 first-year experiences and among the top 60 performers in social mobility. As Wisconsin's oldest college, Beloit College has earned a long legacy of academic excellence.

Beloit College offers a range of bachelor's degree programs in traditional liberal arts areas of study, as well as more professionally oriented degree options in the School of Business or the School of Health Sciences.

The school also offers four pre-professional tracks for undergraduate students, including engineering and pharmacy programs, as well as specialized pre-law and pre-med/health advising. Beloit College has an exceptionally small student body, making it a great choice for any student looking for a personalized learning experience and a tight-knit campus environment.

Best Colleges in Wisconsin for STEM

Milwaukee School of Engineering

Location: Milwaukee, WI

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,575

Acceptance rate: 63%

The Milwaukee School of Engineering is one of the best colleges in Wisconsin for pursuing a degree in a STEM subject. The school ranks among the top 5 regional universities in the Midwest, as well as among the top 15 best-value schools nationwide.

Milwaukee ranks among the top 15 best undergraduate engineering programs among schools where doctoral degrees are not offered, ranking among the top 5 in computer engineering and the top 10 in electrical and mechanical engineering. The school also ranks among the top 25 best colleges for veterans, the top 15 most innovative schools nationally, and the top 40 performers on social mobility.

The Milwaukee School of Engineering offers a range of bachelor's degree programs and master's degrees, including 20 undergraduate programs in engineering, business, nursing, and math, plus a range of minors and certificates.

Graduate programs help advance students' careers in engineering, business, education leadership, healthcare, or nursing with M.B.A., M.S.N., and M.S. programs in engineering, perfusion, and machine learning. MSOE's varsity athletic teams compete in NCAA Division III sports.

university of wisconsin

University of Wisconsin—Madison

The University of Wisconsin—Madison is one of the best colleges in Wisconsin and ranks nationally among the top 15 public institutions and top 40 national universities.

The University of Wisconsin's reputation as a large public research university offers a plethora of research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students alike, as well as advanced facilities. The university ranks among the top 100 best-value schools in the nation.

The College of Engineering offers more than 60 programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and more than 65 labs for hands-on learning.

Departments include Biomedical Engineering, Chemical & Biological Engineering, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Industrial & Systems Engineering, Materials Science & Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Nuclear Engineering & Engineering Physics. The average starting salary after graduation is $69,000.

Best Colleges in Wisconsin for Business

University of Wisconsin—Madison

The University of Wisconsin—Madison is one of the best colleges in Wisconsin and ranks nationally among the top 15 public institutions and top 40 national universities. The Wisconsin School of Business offers a range of undergraduate, specialized master's, and M.B.A. degree programs, including full-time, flexible, and executive options.

At the undergraduate level, students interested in business can choose from over ten majors with unparalleled career prep and support. Specialized master's degree options allow graduate students to choose from 10 different concentrations, such as Arts & Creative Enterprise Leadership and Data, Insights, and Analytics.

Marquette University

Marquette University ranks among the top 90 national universities and among the top 50 best-value schools. The college offers a strong real estate program, which ranks among the top 15 in the nation. Business students at the College of Business Administration can choose from 5 academic departments, eight specialty programs and centers, and a wide range of in-person and online M.B.A. programs, as well as specialized graduate degree options.

The school has an impressive 98% undergraduate placement rate, with the vast majority of graduates working full-time or enrolled in an advanced degree program. The university also ranks among the top 20 for best undergraduate teaching and the top 35 most innovative schools.

business in wisconsin

University of Wisconsin—River Falls

The University of Wisconsin—River Falls ranks among the top 15 public schools and the top 70 regional universities in the Midwest, as well as the top 30 colleges for veterans.

The College of Education, Business, and Allied Health offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in Accounting, Business Administration, Economics, Finance, Management, and Marketing, as well as online M.B.A. and M.S. Business Analytics programs.

The Honors Program provides a customized curriculum, social opportunities, and more benefits exclusively for enrolled students with outstanding academic achievements. The college campus is just 30 minutes from the rich cultural hub of Minneapolis/St. Paul provides plenty of business opportunities for gaining professional experience while enrolled.

Best Colleges in Wisconsin for Nursing

University of Wisconsin—Madison

The University of Wisconsin—Madison is one of the best colleges in Wisconsin and ranks nationally among the top 15 public institutions and top 40 national universities. The School of Nursing offers three tracks for a BSN, including a traditional BSN, accelerated BSN, and RN to BSN program.

The school also offers two doctoral programs for graduate students, including DNP and PhD degrees, and three certificates for nurses at different education levels, including nurse educators, psychiatric mental health, and school nursing programs.

As a large public research university, the UW system offers state-of-the-art facilities and a plethora of research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students alike. The university ranks among the top 100 best-value schools in the nation.

Marquette University

Marquette University ranks among the top 90 national universities and among the top 50 best-value schools. The university also ranks among the top 20 for best undergraduate teaching and the top 35 most innovative schools.

The college is known for its nursing program, which ranks among the top 60 in the nation. Nursing students at the College of Nursing can choose from a range of graduate programs, including master's, DNP, and doctoral programs, as well as certificate programs. The school is known for its social justice and person-centered approaches to health research.

wisconsin colleges

Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Colleges in Wisconsin

How much is college tuition in Wisconsin?

Tuition and fees in the Wisconsin system of public schools average $6,615 for in-state students and $21,582 for out-of-state students, excluding costs of room and board. WI tuition at private institutions averages $27,173, excluding room and board costs.

Some Wisconsin schools offer specialized scholarship programs for Wisconsin residents. For example, the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee offers the Milwaukee Tuition Promise program, which offers free tuition for up to four years based on students' household income.

The program aims to increase the number of Wisconsin residents graduating with a bachelor’s degree, particularly first-generation students and those from low-to-moderate-income households.

How do I pay for college in Wisconsin?

Financing a college education is possible with appropriate research and planning. Achieving strong grades and standardized test scores while pursuing your high school diploma opens the door to scholarships and financial aid opportunities. Attaining high ACT scores or SAT scores might also unlock specialized scholarship and financial aid packages at specific schools.

Paying for college, university, or any higher education program may seem like a daunting task, but with ample research and preparation, financing your education becomes manageable. You can hone your scholarship research to those most relevant to your goals and background by searching for scholarships by major or searching by state, age, and demographic information. To begin your scholarship search, check out these top computer science scholarships!

How do I establish residency in Wisconsin for college?

Students are classified as resident or nonresident for tuition purposes. In general, to be eligible for resident tuition, you must be a bona fide resident of Wisconsin during the 12 months prior to enrollment. Individuals who enter and remain in Wisconsin primarily for educational purposes do not qualify as bona fide residents for tuition purposes even after living in Wisconsin a year or more.

At Bold.org, we are committed to helping students eliminate student debt. Check out our Scholarship Blog for more information and learn how to apply for scholarships today!