Best New Hampshire Schools
By Iris Stone
In this ranking, we examine top value universities and colleges in New Hampshire for 2020.
Despite its small size, New Hampshire is one of the most well-rounded states in New England when it comes to higher education. Colleges in New Hampshire run the gamut from small (Thomas More) to large (University of New Hampshire), religious (Saint Anselm) to secular (Keene State), academically accessible (Plymouth State) to intellectually rigorous (Dartmouth).
With so many choices crammed into the sliver of land that is New Hampshire, it’s easy to find value everywhere you look. In particular, the 9 universities we’ve included feature an eclectic mix of selling points, such as selective admissions rates, stellar graduation rates, and of course affordable tuition rates. You may also want to check out our ranking of the Top Online Schools in New Hampshire.
Read more about the methodology we used for this article here.
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.
One of the best colleges in New Hampshire, the U.S., and the world, Dartmouth offers a superb undergraduate education that includes your choice of 50 majors and unparalleled opportunities for research with faculty, study abroad, and career-boosting internships. Of course, you'll have to be one of the 12% who get accepted, first! Instead of a traditional two-semester year, Dartmouth has four terms (fall, winter, spring, summer) allowing students to design a schedule that suits their goals. The exception is "Sophomore Summer," an innovative program that supports continued academic growth for rising Juniors. Located in the idyllic (and low cost) town of Hanover, Dartmouth cements its status as a truly affordable college in New Hampshire through an exemplary need-blind admissions and financial aid policy.
University of New Hampshire
The flagship campus of the UNH system, this top university in New Hampshire offers plenty of appeal - just ask the 13,000 undergrads who attend! Located in a friendly college town that exudes classic New England charm, UNH provides a picturesque backdrop of tree-lined streets, green quads, and stately brick buildings. More than 200 degree programs offer you flexibility to explore fields as diverse as engineering, agriculture, marine science, and the liberal arts, while unique themed dorms ensure a thriving social experience. Options include a "Clubhouse" for sports enthusiasts, an arts and international living house, and a cabin-like residence hall out in the woods - a favorite of outdoor adventurers. Thanks to this notable freedom of both intellectual and personal expression, its no wonder UNH students achieve an impressive 76% graduation rate.
Plymouth State University
At this affordable New Hampshire university that accepts 75% of applicants, you'll find plenty of resources to support mind and body: there's a new facility called the Active Living, Learning, and Wellness Center, an Outdoor Center where you can borrow free equipment for your adventures, and the popular Student Outdoor Adventure Program (SOAR). There's even an annual Ski and Snowboard Day! Academic stimulation comes in the form of 55 majors and 60 minors, which include traditional majors in the arts and sciences, career-focused choices in business and sports management, and numerous interdisciplinary options - including an opportunity to design your own custom degree!
The mascot of Keene's Division III athletic teams is the owl - a sign of the wisdom of choosing this New Hampshire college. Keene is "large enough for boundless opportunities" and "small enough to make them happen." An emphasis on active, hands-on learning, promotes majors relevant, real-world majors like Sustainable Product Design & Innovation, Occupational Health, and Holocaust & Genocide Studies. Students who live on campus can bond with like-minded peers by joining Living Learning Communities with special themes, like equity and social justice; mind, body, and character; and BEST (Building Excellence in Science and Technology). And full-time freshmen and sophomores are required to live on campus - a mandate that further strengthens the close-knit community vibe at this high value yet cheap New Hampshire college.
Thomas More College of Liberal Arts
Thomas More is one of the most distinctive colleges in New Hampshire, thanks to its shockingly small student body and exceptionally rigorous curriculum. Fewer than 100 students attend this top college in New Hampshire, each of whom have willingly traded a traditional collegiate experience for the opportunity to study one-on-one with professors under the esteemed Great Books curriculum. You'll learn Latin or Greek, gain a thorough understanding of Western civilization through the ages, and spend an entire semester in Rome. Juniors and seniors can even design their own tutorials (under the guidance of professors, of course)! Balancing this weighty academic commitment is a lighthearted social scene; students join medieval "guilds" instead of traditional student clubs, building friendships while also building new skills in areas like woodworking, music, art, and homesteading.
Rivier, or "Riv" as it's called locally, is one of the best universities in New Hampshire for the study of education. Its Early Childhood Center serves 200 children, and partnerships with local elementary schools create myriad opportunities for teacher training. Earn your degree in one of nine educational specialties or other career-focused fields like international security, nursing, and criminal justice. Rivier also hosts a fast-track, "4+1" business program, which allows students to graduate with an MBA in just five years. Along with its commitment to career prep, Rivier emphasizes accessibility; non-traditional students benefit from evening classes, online and hybrid programs, and commuter-friendly satellite campuses in Boston, Providence, and Portland.
This Catholic liberal arts college seeks to develops students who possess a "well-balanced and agile intellect and a thirst for knowledge" through a curriculum that emphasizes "critical reflection, precise thinking and articulate communication." The supportive academic environment and challenging coursework helps this top New Hampshire college maintain a 75% graduation rate, but that doesn't mean life on campus is all work and no play. You can visit the local coffee shop to enjoy live music, warm-weather patio dining, and an ice cream fountain, or stop by the Students live on campus in dorms, townhouses, or apartments. At the Coffee Shop you can enjoy live music, an ice cream fountain, and warm-weather patio dining, or boost your school spirit at one of the school's competitive Division II athletic events.
Northeast Catholic College
Armed with a philosophy that believes "well-formed intellect to be an essential part of the integrated human person," Northeast Catholic College offers one of the most intellectually rigorous programs in New Hampshire. The Great Books curriculum, which relies exclusively on primary sources over textbooks, covers an expansive array of topics, from theology, philosophy, and the humanities to science, music, and art. Every student spends a month studying abroad in Rome, and those who opt for the honor program attend colloquiums, study advanced Latin, and write a thesis. As one of New Hampshire's best colleges, Northeast Catholic also emphasizes career development: the Career Pathways program alerts students to promising internships and job openings, helps students find mentors, and presents various seminars on postgrad opportunities.
University of New Hampshire at Manchester
As one of the 5 "coolest" college towns in New England, Manchester offers UNH students the gift of constant engagement. Between the independent coffee shops and eclectic art galleries - including the New Hampshire Institute of Art - plus exciting on-campus activities like the Classy Cats Dance Team, Pages of Pandora arts magazine, and indoor rock climbing, you'll have little time for boredom. Taking advantage of this affordable New Hampshire college's 80% acceptance rate offers academic benefits, too; career-oriented majors like Computer Science & Entrepreneurship, Cybersecurity, and English (with concentrations in creative and technical writing) stand alongside once-in-a-lifetime study abroad opportunities. In between adventures, take a break in an on-campus lounge, hit the local fitness center, or relax in one of the coveted student residences housed inside the Institute of Art.
This concludes our ranking of best value New Hampshire 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.