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2023 Best Colleges in Iowa

40 Colleges
$48,738 Avg Salary*
53% Avg 4-Year Grad Rate*

When pursuing a degree in today's world, there are many different options to choose from. One of our goals at College Factual is to give you as much information as we can - such as our Top Iowa Colleges ranking - to help you make that decision.

Our analysis looked at 40 schools in Iowa to determine which ones were the best in terms of overall quality. Our ranking methodology focuses on over 20 different objective factors - such as graduation rate, post graduate earnings, and a school's average expenditure per student - to make this determination.

Learn more about our ranking methodology.

Custom Rankings

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.

You can create your own custom comparison that focuses on the factors most important to you using our tool, College Combat. Test it out by comparing your favorite schools against others you are considering!

Top Colleges in Iowa

Learn more about these excellent schools below:

#1

Iowa State University

Ames, Iowa

Our 2023 rankings named Iowa State University the best school in Iowa in terms of overall quality for students working on their bachelor’s degree. Iowa State University is a large public school located in Ames, Iowa that handed out 8,681 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

The student loan default rate at the school is 2.4%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1% Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State make an average of $57,351 per year during the early years of their career.

Full Iowa State University Report

#2

University of Iowa

Iowa City, Iowa

A rank of #2 on our Best Colleges in Iowa list means University of Iowa is a great place for students working on their bachelor’s degree. This large public school is located in Iowa City, Iowa, and it awarded 9,628 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

The student loan default rate at the school is 2.2%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1% Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Iowa make an average of $58,274 per year during the early years of their career.

Read full report on University of Iowa

#3

Grinnell College

Grinnell, Iowa

Out of the 40 schools in Iowa that were part of this year’s ranking, Grinnell College landed the #3 spot on the list. Grinnell is a small private not-for-profit school situated in Grinnell, Iowa. It awarded 496 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

The 4-year grad rate at the school is 78%. That’s impressive when you compare it to the national rate of 33%. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Grinnell is $59,488 during the early years of their career.

Full Grinnell College Report

#4

University of Northern Iowa

Cedar Falls, Iowa

Out of the 40 schools in Iowa that were part of this year’s ranking, University of Northern Iowa landed the #4 spot on the list. This medium-sized public school is located in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and it awarded 3,013 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

Students who start out at the school are likely to stick around. The freshman retention rate is 86%. Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to jobs making an average salary of $49,563 during the early years of their career..

Read full report on University of Northern Iowa

#5

Drake University

Des Moines, Iowa

A rank of #5 on our Best Colleges in Iowa list means Drake University is a great place for students working on their bachelor’s degree. Located in Des Moines, Iowa, the small private not-for-profit school handed out 1,503 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

Students who start out at the school are likely to stick around. The freshman retention rate is 86%. Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to jobs making an average salary of $63,528 during the early years of their career..

Read full report on Drake University

#6

Northwestern College

Orange City, Iowa

Northwestern College ranked #6 on this year’s Best Colleges in Iowa list. Located in Orange City, Iowa, the small private not-for-profit school handed out 388 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

The student loan default rate at the school is 1.8%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1% The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from NWC is $44,904 during the early years of their career.

Read full report on Northwestern College

#7

Luther College

Decorah, Iowa

Luther College ranked #7 on this year’s Best Colleges in Iowa list.Decorah, Iowa is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 460 students in 2020-2021.

The low student loan default rate of 1.8% 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% Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to jobs making an average salary of $51,981 during the early years of their career..

Read More…

#8

Saint Ambrose University

Davenport, Iowa

With a ranking of #8, Saint Ambrose University did quite well on the 2023 Best Colleges in Iowa list. Located in Davenport, Iowa, the small private not-for-profit school awarded 909 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2020-2021.

The low student loan default rate of 3.3% 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% Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from St. Ambrose University make an average of $54,600 per year during the early years of their career.

Full Saint Ambrose University Report

#9

Loras College

Dubuque, Iowa

Loras College ranked #9 on this year’s Best Colleges in Iowa list. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Dubuque, Iowa, and it awarded 393 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

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% Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Loras make an average of $52,435 per year during the early years of their career.

Read full report on Loras College

#10

Simpson College

Indianola, Iowa

With a ranking of #10, Simpson College did quite well on the 2023 Best Colleges in Iowa list. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Indianola, Iowa, and it awarded 355 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

The student loan default rate at the school is 3.4%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1% The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Simpson College is $50,628 during the early years of their career.

Read More…

#11

Dordt University

Sioux Center, Iowa

Dordt University did quite well in the 2023 Best Colleges in Iowa ranking, coming in at #11.Sioux Center, Iowa is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 456 students in 2020-2021.

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 Dordt make an average of $48,164 per year during the early years of their career.

Full Dordt University Report

#12

Upper Iowa University

Fayette, Iowa

Upper Iowa University came in at #12 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges in Iowa ranking. Upper Iowa University is a small private not-for-profit school located in Fayette, Iowa that handed out 1,464 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to jobs making an average salary of $49,292 during the early years of their career..

Read More…

With a ranking of #13, Maharishi International University did quite well on the 2023 Best Colleges in Iowa list. MIU is a small private not-for-profit school situated in Fairfield, Iowa. It awarded 603 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to jobs making an average salary of $25,941 during the early years of their career..

Read full report on Maharishi International University

#14

Morningside College

Sioux City, Iowa

Morningside College came in at #14 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges in Iowa ranking.Sioux City, Iowa is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 614 students in 2020-2021.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 4.4%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Morningside go into careers with an average salary of $50,044 during the early years of their career.

Full Morningside College Report

#15

Coe College

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Coe College ranked #15 on this year’s Best Colleges in Iowa list. Coe is a private not-for-profit institution located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The school has a small population, and it awarded 395 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

The student loan default rate at the school is 2.8%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1% The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Coe is $52,967 during the early years of their career.

Read More…

#16

Buena Vista University

Storm Lake, Iowa

Buena Vista University landed the #16 spot on the 2023 Best Colleges in Iowa ranking. Located in Storm Lake, Iowa, the small private not-for-profit school handed out 567 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

The student loan default rate at the school is 4.1%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1% During the early years of their career, graduates from BVU make an average of $44,699 a year.

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With a ranking of #17, Graceland University - Lamoni did quite well on the 2023 Best Colleges in Iowa list. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Lamoni, Iowa, and it awarded 518 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Graceland Lamoni go into careers with an average salary of $41,637 during the early years of their career.

Full Graceland University - Lamoni Report

#18

Wartburg College

Waverly, Iowa

With a ranking of #18, Wartburg College did quite well on the 2023 Best Colleges in Iowa list.Waverly, Iowa is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 303 students in 2020-2021.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 3.9%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Wartburg is $52,864 during the early years of their career.

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With a ranking of #19, Des Moines Area Community College did quite well on the 2023 Best Colleges in Iowa list. Located in Ankeny, Iowa, the large public school awarded 3,727 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2020-2021.

The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from DMACC is $39,097 during the early years of their career.

Read More…

#20

Waldorf University

Forest City, Iowa

Waldorf University did quite well in the 2023 Best Colleges in Iowa ranking, coming in at #20. This small private for-profit school is located in Forest City, Iowa, and it awarded 959 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Waldorf make an average of $43,860 per year during the early years of their career.

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#21

Mount Mercy University

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Mount Mercy University landed the #21 spot on the 2023 Best Colleges in Iowa ranking. Located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the small private not-for-profit school handed out 589 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

During the early years of their career, graduates from Mount Mercy make an average of $50,047 a year.

Read More…

#22

Iowa Western Community College

Council Bluffs, Iowa

Iowa Western Community College did quite well in the 2023 Best Colleges in Iowa ranking, coming in at #22. Located in Council Bluffs, Iowa, the medium-sized public school handed out 1,256 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

During the early years of their career, graduates from Iowa Western Community College make an average of $38,863 a year.

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#23

Iowa Central Community College

Fort Dodge, Iowa

Iowa Central Community College did quite well in the 2023 Best Colleges in Iowa ranking, coming in at #23. Located in Fort Dodge, Iowa, the medium-sized public school handed out 1,064 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Iowa Central Community College go into careers with an average salary of $40,846 during the early years of their career.

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#24

Briar Cliff University

Sioux City, Iowa

Briar Cliff University came in at #24 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges in Iowa ranking. Briar Cliff is a small private not-for-profit school situated in Sioux City, Iowa. It awarded 281 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Briar Cliff is $47,922 during the early years of their career.

Read More…

#25

Grand View University

Des Moines, Iowa

Grand View University ranked #25 on this year’s Best Colleges in Iowa list. Grand View University is a small private not-for-profit school located in Des Moines, Iowa that handed out 565 bachelor’s degrees in 2020-2021.

Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Grand View University make an average of $49,451 per year during the early years of their career.

Full Grand View University Report

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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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