You’ve decided on a major and how much you can afford. Now you need to figure out where to go. Whether you prefer a small or large institution, in your home state or across the country, on campus or online, you’re probably not even considering if the school you’re eyeing is a non profit college or for-profit university. But maybe you should.
What’s the difference between non profit colleges and for-profit colleges?
The main difference is in their name. Non profit colleges don’t have any owners, so all the money they get in tuition, federal and state funding, and private donations go back into the school; whereas, for-profit institutions are basically businesses with investors that expect high ROI — which typically means tuition increases to keep them happy.
Which is better — non profit colleges or for-profit colleges?
Typically, non profit colleges have lower tuition rates and other expenses, better financial aid packages, and more scholarships than for-profits. But money shouldn’t be the only determining factor. The number and kind of programs offered, campus life, facilities, professors… the entire educational experience should be weighed when choosing the right higher ed institution.
What are some of the best non profit colleges and non profit online colleges?
We’ve compiled a list of 25 non profit colleges that offer 150+ bachelors, masters, doctorate, or certificate programs (some can be conferred by distance learning) and ranked them based on number of academic programs (highest is best) and the 12-credit, per semester tuition rate for a bachelor’s degree (lowest is best). Check them out below.
1. Florida State University (51 points)
Located in the Sunshine State’s capital city, Florida State University has 17 colleges — from business and criminal justice to motion picture arts and entrepreneurship — with almost 300 academic majors (14 of which are offered online). With its median temperature of 68˚ F, 700 miles of trails near by, and 21 on-campus clubs, it’s easy to see why this public university topped our best non profit colleges and non profit online colleges list.
- Number of Academic Programs: 271
- Tuition: $2,592
- Student Enrollment: 42,450
2. Florida International University (46 points)
On over 342 acres just west of Miami, Florida International University has one of the most online programs on our non profit online colleges list — 62 of 190 total majors offered. Eleven colleges and schools provide students with a wide range of options, including hospitality and tourism management, medicine, law, nursing and health sciences, and engineering and computing. Plus, many bachelors, masters, minors, and certificate programs are offered fully online, like early childhood education, electrical engineering, and Afro-Latin American studies.
- Number of Academic Programs: 190
- Tuition: $2,472
- Student Enrollment: 57,942
3. North Dakota State University (45 points)
North Dakota State University offers students a well-rounded college experience — with over 300 academic programs, 270 on-campus organizations, endless outdoor activities along the Red River of the North, and a rich arts culture. Originally an agricultural college, NDSU has expanded to include other sought after degrees, such as nursing, mechanical engineering, aerospace studies, and computer science.
- Number of Academic Programs: 311
- Tuition: $4,303
- Student Enrollment: 12,846
University of South Dakota (45 points/tied)
Boasting 280 academic programs and the second largest enrollment in the state, University of South Dakota packs a big punch in its 216-acre campus near the Missouri River. The state’s flagship higher ed institution has undergrad, grad, signature programs, and online, accredited opportunities in the arts and sciences, business, education, fine arts, health sciences, medicine, and law. During their down time, students can enjoy outdoor activities like kayaking or sailing, hiking, golf, or snow skiing, or take a road trip to Sioux Falls, Omaha, or Minneapolis.
- Number of Academic Programs: 280
- Tuition: $3,732
- Student Enrollment: 8,976
5. University of Arkansas (44 points)
Amidst the rebuilding of the state after being ravaged by the Civil War, the first public university was built — University of Arkansas. One temporary building was built on a hilltop farm in Fayetteville and opened its doors to eight students in 1872. Today, this land grant college has sprawled to over 700 acres and includes over four miles of sidewalk engraved with Razorback graduates, 96 undergrad majors, 81 masters degrees, 38 doctoral and specialist programs, and 32 certificates. Students can also enjoy campus life with lectures, concerts, outdoor feature films, almost 400 student organizations, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, rock-climbing wall, club and intramural sports, and a long list of volunteer activities.
- Number of Academic Programs: 247
- Tuition: $3,024
- Student Enrollment: 27,562
6. Liberty University (43 points)
Liberty University’s 7,000 acres are packed full of recreation and student activities, intramural sports, an ice arena, fitness center, plus a 5,000-acre mountain with year-round snow fun — and more than 700 academic programs. From accounting to physics, life coaching to graphic design (and almost 500 other online options), students will see why this is one of the best non profit online colleges.
- Number of Academic Programs: 700
- Tuition: $4,740
- Student Enrollment: 79,152
7. Southeast Missouri State University (42 points)
With roots as a normal school, Southeast Missouri State University has a long tradition of handing out teaching degrees… but with 220 bachelors and masters programs, there’s more to this 328-acre college along the Mississippi River than P-12 educators. Students interested in arts and media, business and computing, health, and human services, humanities and social science, or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics will also find a degree on campus. Or if they’re looking for fully remote, flexibly scheduled degrees or certificates, 43 online programs are also available.
- Number of Academic Programs: 220
- Tuition: $3,120
- Student Enrollment: 12,000
University of Central Missouri (42 points/tied)
Known as Warrensburg Teachers College when it opened its doors to 30 students in 1871, the University of Central Missouri is now home to almost 11,000 co-eds studying from a list of 190 academic programs. This Division II school offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, along with bachelors/masters dual degrees, continuing education courses, workforce and professional education, along with 62 fully online associate, bachelors, masters, minors, doctorate, and certificate programs.
- Number of Academic Programs: 190
- Tuition: $2,856
- Student Enrollment: 11,000
9. Arizona State University (41 points)
A solar-powered campus with a legendary path lined with 100+ palms, Arizona State University is a sight to see… and experience. As one of the best non profit colleges in the US, this Pac-12, public institution has more than 350 undergrad programs, plus 450 grad degrees and certificates — with 250 of them offered online. Students can declare a major in one of the many schools — business, health solutions, design and arts, engineering, global futures, integrative sciences and arts, liberal arts, or teaching.
- Number of Academic Programs: 800
- Tuition: $5,355
- Student Enrollment: 74,878
University of Denver (41 points/tied)
110 student-run organizations, plus 300 days of sunshine, in addition to over 300 programs in 10 schools and colleges… all add up to this private, research academic institution. The University of Denver offers degrees in a variety of concentrations — Chinese to Jazz Studies, Real Estate to Wellness — along with research projects, internships, study abroad programs, and interterm courses.
- Number of Academic Programs: 300
- Tuition: $4,440
- Student Enrollment: 11,952
11. University of Toledo (40 points)
University of Toledo is located in the heart of the city, where it was founded in 1872 as the Toledo University of Arts and Trades. Today, this public research institution has over 250 undergrad, grad, doctorate, and certificate programs in art, business, education, engineering, law, medicine, natural sciences, nursing, and pharmacy. Students can also find 51 100% online degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of niches, including accounting technology, web design for the workplace, educational assessment, and human donation science, making this one of the best non profit online colleges.
- Number of Academic Programs: 270
- Tuition: $4,020
- Student Enrollment: 18,547
12. University of Wyoming (38 points)
Nestled in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, University of Wyoming offers breathtaking views and more than 170 academic programs for a bachelors, masters, doctorate, or certificate in science and technology, arts and humanities, environment and natural resources, life sciences, and law. Students can choose from majors like microbiology, modern and classical languages, social work, professional land management, or atmospheric science. Plus, online, combination-delivery, and site-based programs are also available.
- Number of Academic Programs: 170
- Tuition: $2,604
- Student Enrollment: 12,450
13. University of Wisconsin (37 points)
With 900 student organizations, 1,000 seats overlooking Lake Mendota, IM leagues like Call of Duty and NBA 2K, and more than 9,000 courses in 450 academic programs, it’s not hard to imagine why University of Wisconsin cracked the top 15 of our best non profit colleges list. Though the majority of UW grads walk away with business degrees, the Big 10 school also offers undergrad, masters, doctoral, and professional degrees in everything from astronomy to wildlife ecology.
- Number of Academic Programs: 450
- Tuition: $5,940
- Student Enrollment: 45,000
Bowling Green State University (37 points/tied)
More than 19,000 students from all 50 states and 70 countries flock to Bowling Green State University to earn one of 280 degrees. With a bachelors or masters, doctorate, or certificate, graduates can nab a career as an accountant, ad exec, architect, clinical psychologist, digital artist, or one of the many other offerings in BGSU’s nine colleges. Over 50 online programs make this one of the best non profit online colleges.
- Number of Academic Programs: 280
- Tuition: $4,728
- Student Enrollment: 19,331
15. Arkansas Tech University (35 points)
Two Arkansas Tech University campuses provide almost 160 certificates, endorsements, associate, bachelors, masters, and specialist degrees in person and 21 online. Unlike what its name implies, ATU offers more than just computer science, engineering, and technology majors. There are also art, behavioral science, communication, and education degrees, as well as music, nursing, physical science, English, history, and emergency management, among many others. Plus, there are 150+ miles of trails and waterways, 172 clubs, on-campus movie screenings, concerts, and other small town activities for an al-around great college experience.
- Number of Academic Programs: 159
- Tuition: $2,784
- Student Enrollment: 10,866
16. University of Alabama (34 points)
Only a year after Alabama became a state in 1819, the University of Alabama (known then as The University of the State of Alabama) planted roots in Tuscaloosa. With nearly 200 academic programs in 13 schools, Crimson Tide co-eds have been learning at the one of the best non profit colleges in the country for generations. From communication and information sciences to education, and community health to law, there are 70 undergrad, 120 masters, specialist, and doctorate degrees, along with 73 online options.
- Number of Academic Programs: 190
- Tuition: $4,284
- Student Enrollment: 38,103
17. Indiana State University (32 points)
More than 3,000 trees dot Indiana State University’s campus in the Wabash River Valley — most prominently, the sycamore, which is paid homage with the college’s blue and white wolf mascot, Sycamore Sam. In the heart of Terre Haute, this 200-acre gem is one of the best non profit online colleges in the country with more than 70 fully-online bachelors and masters degrees in areas like nursing, safety management, and psychology. Plus, there are 175+ undergrad, grad, certificate, and licensure programs on campus.
- Number of Academic Programs: 175
- Tuition: $3,924
- Student Enrollment: 13,044
18. Arkansas State University (31 points)
Farmland and rolling hills envelop Jonesboro, the southern city just hours from Memphis, Little Rock, Saint Louis, and Nashville… and home of Arkansas State University. From accounting to world languages and studies, this 100+-year-old institution offers 160 minors, associates, bachelors, masters, and certificates, along with over 50 online degrees. Plus, the A-State Red Wolves have 150 student organizations, intramural sports, an on-campus fitness center, as well as local fare, like bream and bass fishing, biking, shopping, award-winning restaurants, and trampoline park.
- Number of Academic Programs: 160
- Tuition: $3,560
- Student Enrollment: 14,085
19. Ball State University (30 points)
Muncie, Indiana is known for several things — hometown of Jim Davis (creator of Garfield) and David Letterman, the filming location for the 1977 Steven Spielberg classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Ball State University. This 731-acre, public institution has almost 300 academic programs, including an honors college, ROTC, study abroad options, over 60 online majors, and 30 bachelors degrees that can be fast-tracked in three years. Some of the areas of study include voice (music performance), risk management and insurance, pre-med, landscape architecture, and fashion merchandising.
- Number of Academic Programs: 284
- Tuition: $8,138
- Student Enrollment: 22,541
20. George Mason University (28 points)
Just 15 miles from the nation’s capitol, George Mason University has a lot to offer — free tickets to the Center for the Arts performances, free Metro rides to Fairfax area shopping, outdoor adventures, fitness centers, IM sports, more than 350 student organizations, and over 200 undergrad, masters, and doctoral degrees. The school’s 10 colleges cover a broad range of disciplines — including law, education, science, and policy and government — plus, interdisciplinary and integrative programs, and customizable degrees.
- Number of Academic Programs: 210
- Tuition: $4,752
- Student Enrollment: 37,316
Mississippi State University (28 points/tied)
Large universities are known for many things, but few are renowned for producing 369,000 gallons of milk, 9,000 gallons of ice cream, and 300,000 pounds of cheese annually… like Mississippi State University. With a lineage in agriculture, horticulture, and the mechanical arts, and 560 cares of working farmland, 10 green houses, and an award-winning dairy, it’s no wonder that over 35,000 students graduate from MSU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences each year. But this land-grant college also offers degrees in architecture, arts and sciences, business, education, engineering, forest resources, and veterinary medicine.
- Number of Academic Programs: 175
- Tuition: $4,404
- Student Enrollment: 22,986
22. Ohio University (27 points)
In 1804, this public university became the state’s first. Today, Ohio University has 11 campuses, 21 bike paths, 7 art galleries, over 600 organizations, 116 countries represented across the student population, and 250+ academic programs. Thirteen colleges — from international studies to leadership and public affairs — provide students with ample possibilities to earn an associates, bachelors, masters, doctorate, or non-degree (such as real estate pre-licensure or continuing education). Plus, there are almost 100 online programs, including certificates, print-based learning, and correctional education classes, making this one of the premier non profit online colleges.
- Number of Academic Programs: 250
- Tuition: $6,306
- Student Enrollment: 28,480
University of Colorado Denver (27 points/tied)
In the state capital near the Rocky Mountains and venues like the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, 16th Street Mall, and Denver Zoo sits the University of Colorado Denver. With 40 bachelors, 58 masters, 14 doctoral, and 76 certificate programs, CU offers more than just spectacular landscapes and attractions. With eight schools, students can find degrees in film and TV, urban planning, information systems, counseling, civil engineering, criminal justice, and a long list of other potential options.
- Number of Academic Programs: 188
- Tuition: $4,440
- Student Enrollment: 66,872
24. University of Delaware (26 points)
Steeped in tradition, the University of Delaware is the oldest college in the state and among the oldest in the country. This land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant university has 150+ bachelors, 250+ masters degrees, and 6 online programs spread throughout 10 schools, including agriculture and natural resources; engineering; earth, ocean, and environment; and the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration.
- Number of Academic Programs: 303
- Tuition: $22,776
- Student Enrollment: 19,500
25. Georgetown University (25 points)
Georgetown University is in the middle of the country’s epicenter, just minutes from the US Capitol, Library of Congress, Kennedy Center, and all the other tourist attractions in between. But on-campus life is just as vibrant. There are more than 300 student clubs, 9 libraries, an art gallery, and numerous live performances. Whether students are seeking a bachelors, masters, certificate, or doctorate, they’ll have almost 500 possibilities to choose from — including 44 online programs.
- Number of Academic Programs: 492
- Tuition: $28,692
- Student Enrollment: 5,365
Our Ranking Methodology
First, we compiled the top 129 non profit colleges and non profit online colleges from four sources and ranked them by the number of academic programs each offered (largest was highest). Then we gathered the 12-credit tuition rate (based on an in-state, bachelor’s degree) from each school’s website and assigned them a rank (lowest was highest). We added the two rankings together to get a final score, then listed the top 25.
Have Problems With Your Ranking?
If you’re employed by one of the schools listed and disagree with the information we’ve provided, please feel free to contact us and we’ll make the correction.