20 BEST VALUE COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES IN MISSOURI

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By Iris Stone

In this ranking, we highlight the best values in colleges and universities in Missouri. We’ve also compiled a ranking of the top online universities in Missouri.

A quick look at your academic choices in this Midwestern state should easily convince you that Missouri is overflowing with best value colleges. Be warned if you have trouble making decisions! With all-star universities like Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Missouri in Columbia, and the Missouri University of Science and Technology, you can feel confident that this ranking has something for everyone. Even if you’re seriously strapped for cash, fear not; one of the top schools we’ve included offers nearly free tuition!

How did we determine our ranking? While it’s difficult to claim that any college or university would be a great fit for everyone, we do know that there are certain features almost everyone looks for during their college search: affordability, selectivity, and student success (both before and after graduation). Using these metrics and weighting them according to importance, we’ve produced a list that is heavy on academic excellence, resources, and student programs while treading lightly on your pocketbook.

Our Ranking Methodology:

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 88 to 145, 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 Missouri.

Ranking the Best Values in Missouri Colleges and Universities

Rank School Location
1 Washington University in St. Louis Saint Louis, MO
2 College of the Ozarks Point Lookout, MO
3 Truman State University Kirksville, MO
4 Park University Parkville, MO
5 Central Christian College of the Bible Moberly, MO
6 Saint Louis University St. Louis, MO
7 University of Missouri Columbia Columbia, MO
8 Missouri University of Science and Technology Rolla, MO
9 University of Missouri Kansas City Kansas City, MO
10 Rockhurst University Kansas City, MO

Featured Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

  1. Washington University in St. Louis
    Location

    Saint Louis, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    If you're even remotely familiar with the top colleges in Missouri, you probably expected Washington University in St. Louis to show up at the #1 spot. Its 95% graduation rate, 17% acceptance rate, and $500,000 net ROI make it an unequivocal leader in all respects. You could visit the gorgeous campus any day and overhear passionate conversations between intellectual students discussing ambitious plans for research or promoting the cause with a social justice group. But while Wash U is one of the best universities in Missouri for smart students, they still make time for fun in the city; conversations also include stories of their visits to museums, evenings at The Loop (one of the top 10 streets in America), and trips to cheer on the beloved Cardinals.

  2. College of the Ozarks
    Location

    Point Lookout, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Although its official name is College of the Ozarks, you might as well call this school Hard Work U.C of O professes to exemplify what is right with America, namely the work ethic and dedication that once established the United States as a beacon of equal opportunity. This Missouri college doesn't participate in any loan programs, but it is still one of the most affordable Missouri colleges. How? Its Work Education Program, which provides all students with on-campus jobs (you might work in a computer lab, the Child Development Center, or a museum, among other places) that defray tuition costs. Students frequently graduate debt-free, which has made C of O incredibly popular - so much so that its acceptance rate is only 8%.

  3. Truman State University
    Location

    Kirksville, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Truman State University takes on a unique position on this ranking of the most affordable top universities in Missouri. Unlike the many large public research schools and small religious colleges in the state, TSU is a midsized, public university of traditional liberal arts values. Students choose TSU because they want to stand out from the crowd instead of getting lost in it. The 16-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio offers young scholars the advantage of taking small classes from professors who know their name - and who might even invite them to partner on research projects. Academics focus on high impact learning activities like internships and study abroad travel, and this hands-on approach has led TSU to an notable graduation rate of 71%.

  4. Park University
    Location

    Parkville, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    With exciting metropolitan areas like St. Louis and Kansas City, it might be hard to imagine why anyone would choose to attend college in Parkville. But don't pass judgment too quickly. The small town's antique stores, art galleries, and historic architecture offer a quaint alternative to big-city chaos. And despite its humble location, this Missouri university takes a worldly approach to education. Its core values include global citizenship, inclusivity, and excellence - values that are reflected in its many engaging student programs, including the International Center for Music, where artists can take lessons in the renowned European apprenticeship model. Park is also one of the most affordable colleges in Missouri, putting students in a comfortable financial position upon graduation and contributing to a $435k 20-year net ROI.

  5. Central Christian College of the Bible
    Location

    Moberly, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Right off the bat, it's easy to see what makes this Missouri college unique. While many independent religious universities have trouble keeping costs down, Central Christian seems to have uncovered the secret to becoming a great cheap college in Missouri. In fact, many of the college's alumni graduated entirely debt-free. Central also distinguishes itself through its unusually strict code of conduct, which prohibits alcohol consumption, R-rated movies, spending the night with a significant other, and staying out past midnight on weeknights. Although this lifestyle deviates substantially from what many consider to be the traditional collegiate experience, CCC is anything but unpopular. Its acceptance rate is only 42%, which means it has to turn away almost 60% of applicants each year.

  6. Saint Louis University
    Location

    St. Louis, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    As another one of the great Jesuit institutions in Missouri, this Missouri university holds a dual reputation for both academic excellence and cultural diversity. 8,600 undergraduates from all faiths and backgrounds (including 75+ countries) choose SLU in an attempt to capture this inclusive spirit, and in return the school makes a committed effort to offer its students the world. And between the school's ideal placement within the St. Louis' cultured art district; its satellite campus in Madrid, Spain; the nearly $40 million in research support; and its endless catalog of international programs (the international business program is also one of the best in the nation), SLU undoubtedly achieves its goal.

  7. University of Missouri Columbia
    Location

    Columbia, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Missouri Columbia, or Mizzou as locals say, is the largest public research university in the state and the flagship campus of the UM system. And forget being one of the top colleges in Missouri - Mizzou is without a doubt one of the top public schools in the United States. At this school, it's all about being comprehensive; 300 degree programs, 35k students from 120 nations, and $235 million in annual research expenditures prove that the University of Missouri Columbia offers more variety and opportunities than you could possibly uncover in four short years. That being said, Mizzou also has a reputation for excellence in a few very specific areas, most notably as a top choice for creative writing and journalism.

  8. Missouri University of Science and Technology
    Location

    Rolla, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    With the skyrocketing cost of education, most students can't afford to think of college as anything other than an investment - not just in terms of their own growth, but also in the financial return they should expect. At this Missouri university, this reality empowers students to take their studies seriously. Degree programs focus almost exclusively on engineering, sciences, and computing - Aerospace Engineering, Geophysics, and Applied Mathematics among them - and incorporate frequent guest lectures and labs. The school's Experimental Mine has even been ranked the #1 Awesome Lab in the country for four years running. Between the low cost and high ROI (a whopping $726,000), MST really is one of the most affordable colleges in Missouri for ambitious students.

  9. University of Missouri Kansas City
    Location

    Kansas City, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    It's hard to know where to start with a school like the University of Missouri Kansas City. While some schools offer a clear strength in one area, colleges like UMKC seem to excel across the board. This makes UMKC not just one of the best universities in Missouri, but a simultaneous powerhouse and well-rounded jack-of-all-trades. This Missouri university has earned a community engagement classification from the Carnegie Foundation; has been ranked a military-friendly, gay-friendly, and environmentally friendly; and it has earned academic distinctions for its law, management, nursing, pharmacy, and public administration degrees. The university generally accepts about 64% of applicants, and with its growing popularity this figure is likely to become increasingly selective in the future.

  10. Rockhurst University
    Location

    Kansas City, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    This Missouri university is one of 28 Jesuit institutions of higher learning in the United States, and its connection with the nation's largest network of private colleges affords it some serious advantages. For one, the Jesuit approach to education - which fosters a genuine love of learning and emphasizes truth, inquiry, and philosophical curiosity - encourages students to make the most of their experience on campus, thinking about school as more than a conduit to a credential. In addition, Rockhurst makes a priority out of student engagement, and as a result it boasts some of the highest educational satisfaction ratings in the entire country. It's no surprise, then, that RU maintains a respectable 69% graduation rate and impressive $400k 20-year ROI.

Sources:
Pay Scale
College Navigator
Wikipedia

This concludes our ranking of the best value Missouri 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.

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