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2022 Best Colleges in the Southeast Region

682 Colleges
$56,400 Avg Salary*
69% Avg 4-Year Grad Rate*

There are lots of options to chooose from today when trying to decide which college to attend. College Factual was founded, in part, to help students make the decision as to what would be the best school for them. Our Top Southeast Region Schools ranking is part of that endeavor.

We analyzed 682 colleges and universities across the Southeast Region to determine which were the best in terms of overall quality. Instead of depending on subjective information, we focus on over 20 objective factors to determine this ranking. These factors include such things as student-to-faculty ratio, average graduate earnings, and graduation rate.

Learn more about our ranking methodology.

One Size Does Not Fit All

We've developed a number of other tools and rankings to help you make your college decision. Start by filtering this list by location or field of study and then explore our other rankings that feature schools great for different groups of students such as veterans or returnings adults.

We've created a tool called College Combat that lets you create your own customized comparisons based on the factors that matter the most to you. If you're torn between two schools, you can use it to help you see how they stack up against one another!

Top Colleges in the Southeast Region

Learn more about these excellent schools below:

#1

Duke University

Durham, North Carolina

Duke University tops this year’s ranking as the best school in the Southeast Region for overall quality. Duke is located in Durham, North Carolina and has a fairly large student population. In 2019-2020, this school awarded 6,686 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 0.9%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Duke make an average of $84,400 per year during the early years of their career.

Full Duke University Report

You’ll be in good company if you decide to attend Georgia Institute of Technology - Main Campus. It ranked #2 on our 2022 Best Colleges in the Southeast Region list. Georgia Tech is a large public school situated in Atlanta, Georgia. It awarded 8,534 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 1.3%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. During the early years of their career, graduates from Georgia Tech make an average of $79,100 a year.

Full Georgia Institute of Technology - Main Campus Report

#3

Vanderbilt University

Nashville, Tennessee

A rank of #3 on our Best Colleges in the Southeast Region list means Vanderbilt University is a great place for students working on their bachelor’s degree. Vanderbilt University is a fairly large private not-for-profit school located in Nashville, Tennessee that handed out 4,540 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

The student loan default rate at the school is 1.0%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1% During the early years of their career, graduates from Vanderbilt make an average of $69,000 a year.

Read More…

#4

University of Virginia - Main Campus

Charlottesville, Virginia

The excellent bachelor’s degree programs at University of Virginia - Main Campus helped the school earn the #4 place on this year’s ranking of the best schools in the Southeast Region . University of Virginia is a large public school situated in Charlottesville, Virginia. It awarded 8,198 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

The student loan default rate at the school is 1.6%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1% Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from University of Virginia make an average of $61,200 per year during the early years of their career.

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#5

Washington and Lee University

Lexington, Virginia

You’ll be in good company if you decide to attend Washington and Lee University. It ranked #5 on our 2022 Best Colleges in the Southeast Region list. Washington and Lee is a private not-for-profit institution located in Lexington, Virginia. The school has a small population, and it awarded 728 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

With a student-to-faculty rate of 8 to 1, it’s easy to see that the school is committed to helping their undergraduates succeed. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Washington and Lee make an average of $76,100 per year during the early years of their career.

Read full report on Washington and Lee University

#6

Wake Forest University

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Wake Forest University landed the #6 spot on the 2022 Best Colleges in the Southeast Region ranking. Wake Forest University is a private not-for-profit institution located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The school has a medium-sized population, and it awarded 2,699 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

With a freshman retention rate of 94%, the school does an excellent job of retaining its students. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University is $63,800 during the early years of their career.

Read full report on Wake Forest University

#7

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Wake Forest, North Carolina

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary landed the #7 spot on the 2022 Best Colleges in the Southeast Region ranking. SEBTS is a small private not-for-profit school situated in Wake Forest, North Carolina. It awarded 497 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

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#8

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill came in at #8 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges in the Southeast Region ranking. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a large public school located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina that handed out 9,954 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

Students who start out at the school are likely to stick around. The freshman retention rate is 96%. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from UNC Chapel Hill go into careers with an average salary of $55,600 during the early years of their career.

Full University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Report

#9

Emory University

Atlanta, Georgia

Emory University landed the #9 spot on the 2022 Best Colleges in the Southeast Region ranking. Emory University is a fairly large private not-for-profit school located in Atlanta, Georgia that handed out 4,952 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

The school has an excellent freshman retention rate of 95%, which means students like the school well enough to return for a second year. Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to jobs making an average salary of $66,000 during the early years of their career..

Read More…

#10

Elon University

Elon, North Carolina

Elon University ranked #10 on this year’s Best Colleges in the Southeast Region list. Elon is a medium-sized private not-for-profit school situated in Elon, North Carolina. It awarded 2,028 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

With a freshman retention rate of 91%, the school does an excellent job of retaining its students. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Elon is $51,900 during the early years of their career.

Read full report on Elon University

#11

Virginia Tech

Blacksburg, Virginia

Virginia Tech came in at #11 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges in the Southeast Region ranking. This large public school is located in Blacksburg, Virginia, and it awarded 9,350 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 1.6%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to jobs making an average salary of $62,500 during the early years of their career..

Full Virginia Tech Report

#12

William & Mary

Williamsburg, Virginia

William & Mary came in at #12 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges in the Southeast Region ranking. William & Mary is a medium-sized public school located in Williamsburg, Virginia that handed out 2,980 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

Bachelor’s degree students at the school tend to finish their degree on-time. The 4-year graduation rate is 82%, which is impressive compared to the national rate of 33%. Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to jobs making an average salary of $58,500 during the early years of their career..

Read More…

#13

University of Florida

Gainesville, Florida

University of Florida ranked #13 on this year’s Best Colleges in the Southeast Region list. University of Florida is a large public school located in Gainesville, Florida that handed out 15,815 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

The school has an excellent freshman retention rate of 97%, which means students like the school well enough to return for a second year. Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to jobs making an average salary of $56,000 during the early years of their career..

Read full report on University of Florida

#14

James Madison University

Harrisonburg, Virginia

With a ranking of #14, James Madison University did quite well on the 2022 Best Colleges in the Southeast Region list. Located in Harrisonburg, Virginia, the large public school handed out 5,705 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

The low student loan default rate of 2.3% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1% Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from JMU go into careers with an average salary of $56,600 during the early years of their career.

Read More…

#15

University of Richmond

University of Richmond, Virginia

With a ranking of #15, University of Richmond did quite well on the 2022 Best Colleges in the Southeast Region list. This small private not-for-profit school is located in University of Richmond, Virginia, and it awarded 1,247 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 1.2%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from URichmond is $64,500 during the early years of their career.

Read full report on University of Richmond

#16

University of Georgia

Athens, Georgia

University of Georgia landed the #16 spot on the 2022 Best Colleges in the Southeast Region ranking.Athens, Georgia is the setting for this large institution of higher learning. The public school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 11,506 students in 2019-2020.

With a freshman retention rate of 96%, the school does an excellent job of retaining its students. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from UGA go into careers with an average salary of $50,500 during the early years of their career.

Read More…

#17

North Carolina State University

Raleigh, North Carolina

North Carolina State University ranked #17 on this year’s Best Colleges in the Southeast Region list. Located in Raleigh, North Carolina, the large public school awarded 9,559 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2019-2020.

Students who start out at the school are likely to stick around. The freshman retention rate is 94%. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from NC State is $52,500 during the early years of their career.

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Hillsborough Community College did quite well in the 2022 Best Colleges in the Southeast Region ranking, coming in at #18. Hillsborough Community College is a fairly large public school located in Tampa, Florida that handed out 4,060 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from HCC is $33,300 during the early years of their career.

Read More…

#19

Broward College

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Broward College did quite well in the 2022 Best Colleges in the Southeast Region ranking, coming in at #19. BC is located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and has a large student population. In 2019-2020, this school awarded 7,106 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from BC go into careers with an average salary of $34,900 during the early years of their career.

Full Broward College Report

#20

Palm Beach State College

Lake Worth, Florida

With a ranking of #20, Palm Beach State College did quite well on the 2022 Best Colleges in the Southeast Region list. Palm Beach State College is a large public school located in Lake Worth, Florida that handed out 5,147 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

During the early years of their career, graduates from Palm Beach State College make an average of $33,300 a year.

Full Palm Beach State College Report

#21

Valencia College

Orlando, Florida

With a ranking of #21, Valencia College did quite well on the 2022 Best Colleges in the Southeast Region list. Valencia College is a large public school located in Orlando, Florida that handed out 8,919 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to jobs making an average salary of $32,600 during the early years of their career..

Read More…

#22

Furman University

Greenville, South Carolina

Furman University ranked #22 on this year’s Best Colleges in the Southeast Region list.Greenville, South Carolina is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 879 students in 2019-2020.

The 4-year grad rate at the school is 79%. That’s impressive when you compare it to the national rate of 33%. Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to jobs making an average salary of $51,200 during the early years of their career..

Read More…

#23

Northern Virginia Community College

Annandale, Virginia

Northern Virginia Community College ranked #23 on this year’s Best Colleges in the Southeast Region list. Northern Virginia Community College is a large public school situated in Annandale, Virginia. It awarded 5,170 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Northern Virginia Community College go into careers with an average salary of $42,000 during the early years of their career.

Full Northern Virginia Community College Report

#24

Clemson University

Clemson, South Carolina

With a ranking of #24, Clemson University did quite well on the 2022 Best Colleges in the Southeast Region list. Located in Clemson, South Carolina, the large public school awarded 6,915 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2019-2020.

The student loan default rate at the school is 3.1%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1% Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Clemson go into careers with an average salary of $52,400 during the early years of their career.

Full Clemson University Report

#25

Virginia Military Institute

Lexington, Virginia

Virginia Military Institute did quite well in the 2022 Best Colleges in the Southeast Region ranking, coming in at #25. Virginia Military Institute is a small public school located in Lexington, Virginia that handed out 383 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

The low student loan default rate of 1.7% is a good sign that students have an easier time paying off their loans than they might at other schools. For comparison, the national default rate is 10.1% Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to jobs making an average salary of $65,700 during the early years of their career..

Read full report on Virginia Military Institute

Rest of the Top 50 Best Colleges in the Southeast Region

Not only did these schools make the top 50 list, but they also landed in the top 15% of this year’s ranking:

#26

Rhodes College

Memphis, Tennessee
#27

Florida State University

Tallahassee, Florida
#28

Auburn University

Auburn, Alabama
#30

American Public University System

Charles Town, West Virginia
#31

George Mason University

Fairfax, Virginia
#32

Tulane University of Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana
#33

University of Miami

Coral Gables, Florida

#34

Florida SouthWestern State College

Fort Myers, Florida

#35

Belmont University

Nashville, Tennessee
#36

Christopher Newport University

Newport News, Virginia
#37

Tallahassee Community College

Tallahassee, Florida
#39

University of South Carolina - Columbia

Columbia, South Carolina
#40

Citadel Military College of South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina
#41

University of Central Florida

Orlando, Florida
#42

Wofford College

Spartanburg, South Carolina

#44

Randolph - Macon College

Ashland, Virginia

#47

Santa Fe College

Gainesville, Florida
#48

University of Mary Washington

Fredericksburg, Virginia
#49

Johnson & Wales University - Charlotte

Charlotte, North Carolina
#50

Central Piedmont Community College

Charlotte, North Carolina

View Best Colleges Nationwide >

Rest of the Top 15% Colleges in the Southeast Region

To learn more about the schools below, just click on their names:

Rank College Location
51 Miami Dade College Miami, FL
52 The University of Tennessee - Knoxville Knoxville, TN
53 University of South Florida - Main Campus Tampa, FL
54 Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, VA
55 Shenandoah University Winchester, VA
56 Georgia College & State University Milledgeville, GA
57 The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL
58 Harding University Searcy, AR
59 University of North Carolina at Wilmington Wilmington, NC
60 University of Arkansas Fayetteville, AR
61 Appalachian State University Boone, NC
62 Samford University Birmingham, AL
63 Hampden - Sydney College Hampden-Sydney, VA
64 Gwinnett Technical College Lawrenceville, GA
65 University of Kentucky Lexington, KY
Rank College Location
66 Johnson & Wales University - North Miami North Miami, FL
67 Florida International University Miami, FL
68 East Carolina University Greenville, NC
69 John Brown University Siloam Springs, AR
70 Polk State College Winter Haven, FL
71 Georgia Southern University Statesboro, GA
72 Centre College Danville, KY
73 Roanoke College Salem, VA
74 Augusta University Augusta, GA
75 Indian River State College Fort Pierce, FL
76 Longwood University Farmville, VA
77 Florida State College at Jacksonville Jacksonville, FL
78 Hampton University Hampton, VA
79 Berea College Berea, KY
79 Spelman College Atlanta, GA
81 Keiser University - Ft Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale, FL
82 University of North Carolina at Charlotte Charlotte, NC
83 University of Alabama at Birmingham Birmingham, AL
84 Southwest Tennessee Community College Memphis, TN
85 Berry College Mount Berry, GA
86 Kennesaw State University Kennesaw, GA
87 Presbyterian College Clinton, SC
88 Wake Technical Community College Raleigh, NC
89 Richard Bland College of William and Mary South Prince George, VA
90 Mercer University Macon, GA
Rank College Location
91 Southern Regional Technical College Thomasville, GA
92 St Petersburg College Clearwater, FL
93 Agnes Scott College Decatur, GA
94 Oglethorpe University Atlanta, GA
95 Marymount University Arlington, VA
96 Eastern Florida State College Cocoa, FL
97 University of Louisville Louisville, KY
98 Rasmussen University - Florida Ocala, FL
99 Mississippi State University Mississippi State, MS
100 University of Mississippi University, MS
101 Transylvania University Lexington, KY
102 Covenant College Lookout Mountain, GA
103 State College of Florida - Manatee - Sarasota Bradenton, FL

All Majors and Fields of Study >

Honorable Mentions

These schools also performed well in our Best Colleges ranking:

Rank College Location
104 West Virginia University Morgantown, WV
105 College of Charleston Charleston, SC
106 The University of Tampa Tampa, FL
107 University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro, NC
108 Motlow State Community College Tullahoma, TN
109 Florida Institute of Technology Melbourne, FL
110 Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, FL
111 Florida Gulf Coast University Fort Myers, FL
112 Eastern Mennonite University Harrisonburg, VA
113 Chattahoochee Technical College Marietta, GA
114 Daytona State College Daytona Beach, FL
115 Rappahannock Community College Glenns, VA
116 Lipscomb University Nashville, TN
117 Tennessee Technological University Cookeville, TN
117 Bellarmine University Louisville, KY
Rank College Location
119 Old Dominion University Norfolk, VA
120 Radford University Radford, VA
121 University of Charleston Charleston, WV
122 Georgia State University Atlanta, GA
123 Hendrix College Conway, AR
124 DeVry University - Florida Miramar, FL
125 DeVry University - Georgia Decatur, GA
126 University of North Georgia Dahlonega, GA
127 Georgia Military College Milledgeville, GA
128 The University of West Florida Pensacola, FL
129 Lake-Sumter State College Leesburg, FL
130 Florida Gateway College Lake City, FL
131 University of North Florida Jacksonville, FL
132 Strayer University - Virginia Arlington, VA
133 Everglades University Boca Raton, FL
134 The University of Tennessee - Chattanooga Chattanooga, TN
135 Lanier Technical College Oakwood, GA
136 Bridgewater College Bridgewater, VA
137 Trevecca Nazarene University Nashville, TN

More Rankings >

Notes and References

Footnotes

*These averages are for the top 25 schools only.

References

  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard).
  • Information about the national average student loan default rate is from the U.S. Department of Education and refers to data about the 2016 borrower cohort tracking period for which the cohort default rate (CDR) was 10.1%.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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