By Iris Stone
In this ranking, we examine top value universities and colleges in Nebraska.
As a state known for its gargantuan agricultural industry, multiplicity of historical trails, and expansive prairie lands, Nebraska exudes typical Midwestern charm and down-to-earth living. This state’s universities won’t appeal to everyone, but if your college checklist includes a small campus, a religious curriculum, spirited athletics, and/or degree programs that emphasize agriculture, tech, and healthcare, Nebraska is the place for you. And last but definitely not least, Nebraska’s low cost of living translates into some of the country’s most affordable tuition rates. Cheap colleges abound in this Midwestern state (as you’ll see in the descriptions below) but that doesn’t mean they cheap out on academic resources or student services. Using indicators like graduation rate, net return on investment, and selectivity, we’ve determined the absolute top colleges in Nebraska for high satisfaction and low cost.
10. Nebraska Wesleyan University
Ranked the #1 liberal arts college in Nebraska by U.S. News, Nebraska Wesleyan University offers a comprehensive general education for students of faith. What makes NWU one of the best colleges in Nebraska? How about a 13:1 student-faculty ratio; an intimate yet substantial student body of 2,000; and over 100 degree granting courses of study in the arts, sciences, and pre-professional programs? And with a 69% graduation rate (well above the state and national averages), and a $200K ROI from PayScale.com, NWU ranks high on our list of top colleges as well.
Net Price: $20,987/yr
9. Union College
Affiliated with the Seventh-Day Adventists Education System, Union College is a member institution of the second-largest Christian school system in the world. This affords Union the resources of a much larger institution while maintaining an intimate student body of just under a thousand undergraduates. Campus ministry is an important part of student life at this affordable Nebraska college, where nearly 800 students participate in service outreach programs at over 70 local organizations. Union is also known for housing the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, which decorates the otherwise barren landscape with abundant flora.
Net Price: $10,979/yr
8. University of Nebraska at Omaha
The University of Nebraska at Omaha is one of the top universities in Nebraska for research and NCAA Division I athletics. In particular, Omaha is known for its computer science department, which features the Peter Kiewit Institute, a $70 million state of the art computer science and engineering facility. In addition to being the first school in Nebraska to be accredited by the Accreditation Board for Education and Technology, Omaha is also home to Firefly, one of the top 500 supercomputer clusters in the country. All of this makes Omaha a premiere destination for students looking to pursue careers in computer science, management information systems, and bioinformatics in their home state.
Net Price: $10,979/yr
7. Clarkson College
Clarkson College is a private institution that offers degrees in the health sciences at a highly affordable rate. One of the top colleges in Nebraska for the advancement of healthcare, Clarkson features a broad range of professional specializations that include nursing, medical imaging, imaging informatics, radiologic technology, healthcare business and administration, and physical therapy assistance. And with just a thousand students, education is tailored to your needs through close instruction and meaningful coursework. The personalized education this small school provides extends to comprehensive professional development services for all healthcare specializations, such as CPR, Basic Life Support (BLS), First Aid, Infection Prevention, and more.
Net Price: $18,344/yr
6. York College
Affiliated with the Churches of Christ, York College brings together Christians of all denominations to advance their careers and life journey through academic excellence. With just under 500 students, this affordable college in Nebraska puts students first. A 12:1 student to faculty ratio makes meaningful relationships with faculty members inevitable, and academic success all but guaranteed. Plus, York makes their already competitive tuition even more accessible with a wide range of academic, need-based, and performance scholarships that range from the $1,500 Blue and White Award for above-average students to a substantial “Sibling Scholarship” for families with a legacy of commitment to their alma mater.
Net Price: $17,943/yr
5. Creighton University
Creighton University brings the Jesuit tradition of scholastic advocacy and intellectual excellence into the twenty-first century. As the largest private, religious university in Nebraska, this top Nebraska college is a high-demand educational institution for students of faith, and is even ranked the best regional university in the Midwest by U.S. News (although a graduation rate of nearly 80% and $319K ROI from PayScale.com do kind of speak for themselves). And with dozens of stimulating academic programs like Medical Anthropology, Financial Management, and Sustainable Energy, Creighton caters to the brightest and most curious students in the state.
Net Price: $28,551/yr
4. College of Saint Mary
Founded just three years after women gained the right to vote in this country, the College of Saint Mary has a long-standing reputation of supporting and empowering women through biblical and liberal arts education. But Saint Mary is not just a cheap college in Nebraska – it’s also one of the best colleges in Nebraska, period. This intimate Catholic university features an unprecedented 10:1 student to faculty ratio and over 30 undergraduate degrees. In addition to more conventional amenities like honors and study abroad programs, Saint Mary features a unique Mother’s Living and Learning Program to support single mothers looking to gain a degree while living on campus.
Net Price: $17,691/yr
3. Bryan College of Health Sciences
Bryan College of Health Sciences is perfect for students looking to get started in their career in healthcare right away. Featuring specialized professional degree programs in Biomedical Sciences, Healthcare Studies, Nursing, and Sonography/Ultrasound, this cheap Nebraska college offers students the opportunity to develop practical skills that transition directly into the workforce. And with an 80% graduation rate, Bryan’s education model is exceptionally successful at producing certified medical practitioners. Student organizations on campus such as American Red Cross and the Health Promotion Organization also give students the chance to network, learn, and provide care even outside the classroom.
Net Price: $14,758/yr
2. Grace University
At Grace University, the Christian values of service, integrity, and devotion are at the heart of the curriculum. With just 500 students and 40 undergraduate degree programs, including Business, Intercultural Studies, Communication, Pastoral Ministries, Psychology, and Music, Grace allows students of faith to explore diverse interests all while cultivating their spirituality in a tightknit community of believers at one of the best Nebraska colleges. But the most popular (i.e., the largest) program at Grace is Teacher Education, where a biblical curriculum is integrated with the latest in education technology and psychology to produce faith leaders in elementary, middle, and high school education.
Net Price: $14,758/yr
1. University of Nebraska Lincoln
Chartered just two years after Nebraska achieved its statehood, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln is the oldest and largest university in the state. And while it may be best known for its football team—the Cornhuskers, which have been a fixture at the Big Ten Conference since its inception—Lincoln has a lot to offer its students outside of athletic pageantry. In fact, with 150 undergraduate majors and 20 professional programs, it’s hard to think of something it doesn’t offer. And if there’s any doubt that this is one of the best universities in Nebraska, just look at the ROI: a $329K return on PayScale.com proves that UNL is more than ready to “show you the money.”
Net Price: $15,109/yr
This concludes our ranking of best value Nebraska colleges and universities.
About the Author:
Iris Stone began her writing career as a freelance writer and researcher. She now owns and operates a writing and editing firm that works with clients all across the country. Her work has included articles related to education policy, colleges and universities, academic programs, and careers.