In this ranking, we examine top value universities and colleges in Nevada. For a look at convenient online programs, see Best Value Online Colleges and Universities in Nevada.
To most of the world (and the country, for that matter) Nevada is practically synonymous with Las Vegas, the gambling epicenter and “sin city” that almost exclusively represents the state in popular culture. But locals understand that Nevada encompasses so much more than the infamous “What happens in Vegas…” tagline. And students who choose to attend college in Nevada would tell you the same. Admittedly, Nevada isn’t exactly rife with options when it comes to higher education, and given that our methodology rates schools by comparing them only to other universities in the state (making it a relative comparison), it’s understandable that Nevada colleges’ scores stand somewhat lower than their peers.
That being said, Nevada has plenty to offer ambitious college students, as our “best value” ranking below reveals. From career prep to the creative arts to outdoor adventures for nature lovers, Nevada universities are diamonds in the rough that bring value in spades – all while carrying costs that will make your heart happy. So join the club and take a moment to see what this state has to offer!
Methodology: Ranking the Best Universities and Colleges in Nevada Based on Value
Graduation Rate: This indicator refers to the percentage of students who complete their degree within 150% of normal time (six years for a typical four-year degree program). Schools that perform well in this area have a track record of keeping students engaged and successful for their entire time on campus. We weighted this category 30% of the total and retrieved the information from College Navigator.
Net Price: In order to make sure that cost was still a factor in the ranking, we also considered overall net price as an indicator. Taken from data on College Navigator, “net price” is an approximate value that refers to the average amount of money a student could expect to pay each year after taking into account tuition, room and board, living expenses, scholarship awards, and financial aid packages. We weighted this category 25% of the total.
Acceptance Rate: Academically challenging, popular universities tend to be more selective and thus have a lower acceptance rate. In order to pinpoint those colleges that boast rigorous academics and also receive a large number of applications, we considered acceptance rate – the percentage of students out of the total number of applicants who receive an acceptance letter. We retrieved this information from College Navigator and weighted it 30% of the total.
20-Year Net Return on Investment: Taken from information on the website PayScale, this statistic provides a picture of how much students can expect to make after they graduate from a particular college. More specifically, the figure is calculated by taking the average income an alumnus will make over his or her first 20 years after graduation and subtracting the amount paid in tuition. Schools with a high ROI tend to be better at preparing their students for the job market. We weighted this category only 15% because data was not available for all colleges considered.
After adding all the points, we gave each university a final score out of 200. The schools below have scores ranging from 70 to 130, and each has something different to offer in terms of its cost, quality, and reputation. No one college is perfect (which is why the scores vary so much) but this ranking offers you a premier selection of universities to help get you started on your search for an education in Nevada.
5. Great Basin College
Great Basin College fulfills an important role in higher education as one of the only schools available to rural Nevada residents. Students from six counties and two time zones attend GBC for its practical baccalaureate, associate, and certificate programs. This affordable college in Nevada takes its commitment to student success very seriously, and it has worked hard to increase the number of accredited programs, reach out to employers in the region, and grow its online presence in order to better serve learners from multiple regions. Degree options focus mainly on technical subjects with immediate application to local job markets, including Elementary Education, Management Technology, Biological Sciences, Nursing, and Land Surveying.
Net Price: $28,800/yr
4. Sierra Nevada College
Incline Village, NV
As the only private, accredited, four-year college in Nevada, SNC holds a prominent position in the state’s education scene. A liberal arts institution at its core, Sierra Nevada College expounds on the classical learning model through its four-pronged approach to education. In addition to the liberal arts, this top Nevada college also values professional preparedness, sustainability, and entrepreneurial thinking, all of which provide an ideal framework for students who want a career that is both practical and fulfilling. Students are encouraged to be active-oriented in both intellectual and recreational pursuits, whether they’re working in the Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences, building their photojournalism portfolio, or exploring the nearby Sierra Mountains and scenic Lake Tahoe.
Net Price: $28,800/yr
3. Nevada State College
Although Nevada State College is the youngest institution of higher learning in the state, it has come a long way in the last decade. The campus, located just 15 minutes from downtown Las Vegas, hosts a thriving, active student body of students from myriad cultures and backgrounds. Small class sizes (they average 20 students or less), experienced professors, and comprehensive resources (including a 1.4 million volume e-book library – the first “cloud-based” library in Nevada) lend an air of sophistication to this top university in Nevada that is far beyond its years.
Net Price: $13,173/yr
2. University of Nevada Las Vegas
Las Vegas, NV
From its humble roots as a small branch college, the University of Nevada Las Vegas has evolved into a distinguished research university and a powerful economic engine for one of the United States’ most entrepreneurial cities. Far from being distracted by the glitz and glamor of Las Vegas, students at this affordable university in Nevada are deeply focused on their academics. The school’s admissions rate – 55% – is one of the most selective in the state, so those who get accepted understand that their hard work has just begun. Academic programs span an impressive selection of subjects, from Art and Creative Writing to Philosophy and Landscape Architecture, Biochemistry and Graphic Design to Nuclear Medicine and Social Work.
Net Price: $12,240/yr
1. University of Nevada Reno
For an interactive campus experience that combines challenging academics with a vibrant social scene, the University of Nevada Reno is the way to go. The renowned Nevada university offers everything students could want in a traditional college – Division I athletics, a diverse student body, and awesome off-campus adventures (the nearby Black Rock Desert, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, and Reno practically ensure freedom from boredom). Add to this combination the 250+ student organizations, active Greek life, and top-ranked research programs (the school secured more than $150 million in grants and contracts over the last decade) and its pretty obvious why UNR lands the coveted #1 spot as the best university in Nevada.
Net Price: $15,583/yr
This concludes our ranking of best value Nevada 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.