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2021 Best Colleges in the Southeast Region

434 Colleges
$58,496 Avg Salary*
74% Avg 4-Year Grad Rate*

With all of the options you have for higher education today, it can be tough to choose which direction to take. One of our goals at College Factual is to give you as much information as we can - such as our Top in the Southeast Region Colleges and Universities ranking - to help you make that decision.

We analyzed 434 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

Since one ranking on its own is not enough to give you a complete understanding of your educational options, you can refine this list by location and field of study. We've also developed a number of other tools and rankings based on other factors. These other rankings highlight colleges that excel in other factors such as value or diversity as well as schools that excel in serving different groups of students such as veterans or returnings adults.

One of our other unique offerings is College Combat. This tool lets you build your own customized comparisons utilizing the factors that are most important 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 of the U.S.

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. This fairly large private not-for-profit school is located in Durham, North Carolina, and it awarded 2,303 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

Since the school has a student-to-faculty rate of 7 to 1, those pursuing a bachelor’s degree will have more opportunities to interact with their professors. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Duke go into careers with an average salary of $84,400 during the early years of their career.

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#2

Vanderbilt University

Nashville, Tennessee

The excellent bachelor’s degree programs at Vanderbilt University helped the school earn the #2 place on this year’s ranking of the best schools in the Southeast Region . Vanderbilt is a private not-for-profit institution located in Nashville, Tennessee. The school has a fairly large population, and it awarded 2,280 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The 4-year grad rate at the school is 87%. That’s impressive when you compare it to the national rate of 33%. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt make an average of $69,000 per year during the early years of their career.

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#3

Washington and Lee University

Lexington, Virginia

Out of the 434 schools in the Southeast Region that were part of this year’s ranking, Washington and Lee University landed the #3 spot on the list. Located in Lexington, Virginia, the small private not-for-profit school handed out 564 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

Since the school has a student-to-faculty rate of 8 to 1, those pursuing a bachelor’s degree will have more opportunities to interact with their professors. 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.

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#4

Davidson College

Davidson, North Carolina

You’ll join some of the best and brightest minds around if you attend Davidson College. The school came in at #4 in the Southeast Region on this year’s overall quality ranking. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Davidson, North Carolina, and it awarded 560 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The 4-year grad rate at the school is 90%. That’s impressive when you compare it to the national rate of 33%. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Davidson make an average of $58,900 per year during the early years of their career.

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#5

Emory University

Atlanta, Georgia

A rank of #5 on our Best Colleges in the Southeast Region list means Emory University is a great place for students working on their bachelor’s degree. Emory is located in Atlanta, Georgia and has a fairly large student population. In 2018-2019, this school awarded 2,598 bachelor’s degrees to qualified undergradutates.

The 4-year grad rate at the school is 83%. 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 $66,000 during the early years of their career..

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#6

Wake Forest University

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Wake Forest University did quite well in the 2021 Best Colleges in the Southeast Region ranking, coming in at #6. Located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the medium-sized private not-for-profit school awarded 1,431 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

The school boasts an average 4-year graduation rate of 82%, which is excellent when compared to the national rate of 33%. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University go into careers with an average salary of $63,800 during the early years of their career.

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#7

University of Virginia - Main Campus

Charlottesville, Virginia

University of Virginia - Main Campus landed the #7 spot on the 2021 Best Colleges in the Southeast Region ranking. Located in Charlottesville, Virginia, the large public school awarded 5,167 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

The 4-year grad rate at the school is 87%. 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 $61,200 during the early years of their career..

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#8

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill landed the #8 spot on the 2021 Best Colleges in the Southeast Region ranking. This large public school is located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and it awarded 6,076 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

Bachelor’s degree students at the school tend to finish their degree on-time. The 4-year graduation rate is 81%, which is impressive compared to the national rate of 33%. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from UNC Chapel Hill is $55,600 during the early years of their career.

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#9

University of Richmond

University of Richmond, Virginia

University of Richmond landed the #9 spot on the 2021 Best Colleges in the Southeast Region ranking. University of Richmond is a small private not-for-profit school located in University of Richmond, Virginia that handed out 1,005 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

Bachelor’s degree students at the school tend to finish their degree on-time. The 4-year graduation rate is 83%, which is impressive compared to the national rate of 33%. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from U of Richmond is $64,500 during the early years of their career.

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#10

College of William and Mary

Williamsburg, Virginia

College of William and Mary came in at #10 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges in the Southeast Region ranking. College of William and Mary is a medium-sized public school located in Williamsburg, Virginia that handed out 2,072 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

With a freshman retention rate of 95%, the school does an excellent job of retaining its students. During the early years of their career, graduates from William & Mary make an average of $58,500 a year.

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Georgia Institute of Technology - Main Campus did quite well in the 2021 Best Colleges in the Southeast Region ranking, coming in at #11. Located in Atlanta, Georgia, the large public school awarded 3,717 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

Students who start out at the school are likely to stick around. The freshman retention rate is 97%. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Georgia Tech is $79,100 during the early years of their career.

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#12

University of Florida

Gainesville, Florida

University of Florida came in at #12 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges in the Southeast Region ranking. U of F is a large public school situated in Gainesville, Florida. It awarded 9,663 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

With a freshman retention rate of 96%, the school does an excellent job of retaining its students. During the early years of their career, graduates from U of F make an average of $56,000 a year.

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#13

Virginia Tech

Blacksburg, Virginia

Virginia Tech ranked #13 on this year’s Best Colleges in the Southeast Region list. Virginia Tech is a large public school located in Blacksburg, Virginia that handed out 7,156 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

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%. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech go into careers with an average salary of $62,500 during the early years of their career.

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#14

Elon University

Elon, North Carolina

Elon University came in at #14 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges in the Southeast Region ranking. Elon is a medium-sized private not-for-profit school situated in Elon, North Carolina. It awarded 1,666 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The student loan default rate at the school is 0.9%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1% During the early years of their career, graduates from Elon make an average of $51,900 a year.

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#15

University of Miami

Coral Gables, Florida

University of Miami ranked #15 on this year’s Best Colleges in the Southeast Region list.Coral Gables, Florida is the setting for this fairly large institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 3,118 students in 2018-2019.

The low student loan default rate of 1.9% 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 U Miami go into careers with an average salary of $60,100 during the early years of their career.

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#16

North Carolina State University

Raleigh, North Carolina

North Carolina State University ranked #16 on this year’s Best Colleges in the Southeast Region list. This large public school is located in Raleigh, North Carolina, and it awarded 5,953 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The low student loan default rate of 2.8% 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 NC State go into careers with an average salary of $52,500 during the early years of their career.

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#17

Tulane University of Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana

Tulane University of Louisiana came in at #17 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges in the Southeast Region ranking.New Orleans, Louisiana is the setting for this fairly large institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 2,417 students in 2018-2019.

Students who start out at the school are likely to stick around. The freshman retention rate is 93%. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Tulane make an average of $61,700 per year during the early years of their career.

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#18

Furman University

Greenville, South Carolina

Furman University did quite well in the 2021 Best Colleges in the Southeast Region ranking, coming in at #18. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Greenville, South Carolina, and it awarded 732 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The school boasts an average 4-year graduation rate of 79%, which is excellent when compared to the national rate of 33%. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Furman is $51,200 during the early years of their career.

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#19

Rhodes College

Memphis, Tennessee

Rhodes College did quite well in the 2021 Best Colleges in the Southeast Region ranking, coming in at #19. Rhodes College is a small private not-for-profit school located in Memphis, Tennessee that handed out 561 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

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 Rhodes College is $53,600 during the early years of their career.

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With a ranking of #20, Sewanee - The University of the South did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges in the Southeast Region list. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Sewanee, Tennessee, and it awarded 432 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

Students who start out at the school are likely to stick around. The freshman retention rate is 88%. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Sewanee make an average of $45,500 per year during the early years of their career.

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#21

Centre College

Danville, Kentucky

Centre College did quite well in the 2021 Best Colleges in the Southeast Region ranking, coming in at #21.Danville, Kentucky is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 378 students in 2018-2019.

The 4-year grad rate at the school is 83%. That’s impressive when you compare it to the national rate of 33%. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Centre College of Kentucky go into careers with an average salary of $45,500 during the early years of their career.

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#22

University of Georgia

Athens, Georgia

University of Georgia came in at #22 in this year’s edition of the 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 8,022 students in 2018-2019.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 2.3%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from UGA make an average of $50,500 per year during the early years of their career.

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#23

Clemson University

Clemson, South Carolina

With a ranking of #23, Clemson University did quite well on the 2021 Best Colleges in the Southeast Region list. Located in Clemson, South Carolina, the large public school awarded 4,676 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2018-2019.

The student loan default rate at the school is 2.9%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1% Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to jobs making an average salary of $52,400 during the early years of their career..

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#24

Florida State University

Tallahassee, Florida

Florida State University came in at #24 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges in the Southeast Region ranking.Tallahassee, Florida is the setting for this large institution of higher learning. The public school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 9,688 students in 2018-2019.

The school has an excellent freshman retention rate of 94%, 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 $46,400 during the early years of their career..

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#25

University of North Carolina School of the Arts

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

University of North Carolina School of the Arts did quite well in the 2021 Best Colleges in the Southeast Region ranking, coming in at #25. Located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the small public school handed out 196 bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019.

The low student loan default rate of 4.7% 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 $35,500 during the early years of their career..

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Rest of the Best 50 Colleges in the Southeast Region of the U.S.

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

#26

Virginia Military Institute

Lexington, Virginia
#27

James Madison University

Harrisonburg, Virginia
#28

Wofford College

Spartanburg, South Carolina
#29

Samford University

Birmingham, Alabama
#30

Rollins College

Winter Park, Florida
#31

Auburn University

Auburn, Alabama
#33

University of South Carolina - Columbia

Columbia, South Carolina
#34

Spelman College

Atlanta, Georgia
#37

Transylvania University

Lexington, Kentucky
#38

George Mason University

Fairfax, Virginia
#39

Berry College

Mount Berry, Georgia
#40

Citadel Military College of South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina
#41

Hendrix College

Conway, Arkansas
#43

Christopher Newport University

Newport News, Virginia
#44

Covenant College

Lookout Mountain, Georgia
#45

The University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, Alabama
#48

University of Central Florida

Orlando, Florida
#49

Agnes Scott College

Decatur, Georgia
#50

Virginia Commonwealth University

Richmond, Virginia

View Best Colleges Nationwide >

Rest of the Top 15% Colleges in the Southeast Region of the U.S.

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

Rank College Location
51 Belmont University Nashville, TN
52 Mercer University Macon, GA
53 Randolph - Macon College Ashland, VA
54 University of Arkansas Fayetteville, AR
55 Eckerd College Saint Petersburg, FL
56 Union University Jackson, TN
57 Presbyterian College Clinton, SC
58 University of Kentucky Lexington, KY
59 Harding University Searcy, AR
60 Appalachian State University Boone, NC
61 New College of Florida Sarasota, FL
62 Lipscomb University Nashville, TN
63 Millsaps College Jackson, MS
64 University of North Carolina at Wilmington Wilmington, NC
65 Roanoke College Salem, VA
Rank College Location

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Honorable Mentions

These schools also performed well in our Best Colleges ranking:

Rank College Location
66 Berea College Berea, KY
67 University of Alabama at Birmingham Birmingham, AL
68 University of Mississippi University, MS
69 Stetson University DeLand, FL
70 Hampden - Sydney College Hampden-Sydney, VA
71 Bellarmine University Louisville, KY
72 High Point University High Point, NC
73 Cabarrus College of Health Sciences Concord, NC
74 University of Louisville Louisville, KY
75 East Carolina University Greenville, NC
76 Savannah College of Art and Design Savannah, GA
77 Birmingham Southern College Birmingham, AL
78 College of Charleston Charleston, SC
79 John Brown University Siloam Springs, AR
80 Florida Southern College Lakeland, FL
Rank College Location
81 Jacksonville University Jacksonville, FL
82 Georgia College & State University Milledgeville, GA
83 University of North Florida Jacksonville, FL
84 Meredith College Raleigh, NC
85 Longwood University Farmville, VA
86 Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL

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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