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2022 Best Colleges in Iowa

45 Colleges
$44,124 Avg Salary*
52% Avg 4-Year Grad Rate*

When pursuing a degree in today's world, there are many different options to choose from. College Factual has developed its Top Iowa Schools ranking as one item you can use to help make this decision.

We analyzed 45 colleges and universities across Iowa to determine which 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.

Find out 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

Grinnell College

Grinnell, Iowa

Our 2022 rankings named Grinnell College the best school in Iowa in terms of overall quality for students working on their bachelor’s degree.Grinnell, Iowa is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 516 students in 2019-2020.

Students who start out at the school are likely to stick around. The freshman retention rate is 94%. Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Grinnell go into careers with an average salary of $49,100 during the early years of their career.

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#2

Iowa State University

Ames, Iowa

Out of the 45 schools in Iowa that were part of this year’s ranking, Iowa State University landed the #2 spot on the list. Iowa State is a public institution located in Ames, Iowa. The school has a large population, and it awarded 8,834 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 3.3%, 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 $50,700 during the early years of their career..

Read full report on Iowa State University

#3

Drake University

Des Moines, Iowa

You’ll join some of the best and brightest minds around if you attend Drake University. The school came in at #3 in Iowa on this year’s overall quality ranking. Drake is a small private not-for-profit school situated in Des Moines, Iowa. It awarded 1,465 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

The low student loan default rate of 2.2% 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% The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Drake is $58,300 during the early years of their career.

Full Drake University Report

#4

University of Iowa

Iowa City, Iowa

The excellent bachelor’s degree programs at University of Iowa helped the school earn the #4 place on this year’s ranking of the best schools in Iowa. Located in Iowa City, Iowa, the large public school handed out 8,539 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

The student loan default rate at the school is 3.5%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1% Those who receive a bachelor’s degree from Iowa go into careers with an average salary of $51,900 during the early years of their career.

Read full report on University of Iowa

#5

University of Northern Iowa

Cedar Falls, Iowa

You’ll be in good company if you decide to attend University of Northern Iowa. It ranked #5 on our 2022 Best Colleges in Iowa list. UNI is a public institution located in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The school has a medium-sized population, and it awarded 3,061 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 3.6%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from UNI make an average of $44,600 per year during the early years of their career.

Full University of Northern Iowa Report

#6

Northwestern College

Orange City, Iowa

Northwestern College came in at #6 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges in Iowa ranking. Located in Orange City, Iowa, the small private not-for-profit school handed out 360 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

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% Upon graduation, bachelor’s degree recipients go on to jobs making an average salary of $38,400 during the early years of their career..

Read full report on Northwestern College

#7

Luther College

Decorah, Iowa

Luther College came in at #7 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges in Iowa ranking. Luther is a private not-for-profit institution located in Decorah, Iowa. The school has a small population, and it awarded 469 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 2.2%, 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 $47,400 during the early years of their career..

Read full report on Luther College

#8

Loras College

Dubuque, Iowa

With a ranking of #8, Loras College did quite well on the 2022 Best Colleges in Iowa list.Dubuque, Iowa is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 384 students in 2019-2020.

The low student loan default rate of 3.2% 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 $44,600 during the early years of their career..

Read full report on Loras College

#9

Simpson College

Indianola, Iowa

Simpson College did quite well in the 2022 Best Colleges in Iowa ranking, coming in at #9. Simpson College is a private not-for-profit institution located in Indianola, Iowa. The school has a small population, and it awarded 432 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

The low student loan default rate of 3.7% 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% During the early years of their career, graduates from Simpson College make an average of $47,500 a year.

Read full report on Simpson College

#10

Wartburg College

Waverly, Iowa

With a ranking of #10, Wartburg College did quite well on the 2022 Best Colleges in Iowa list. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Waverly, Iowa, and it awarded 380 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 4.6%, which is much lower than the national rate of 10.1%. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Wartburg make an average of $45,400 per year during the early years of their career.

Read full report on Wartburg College

Des Moines Area Community College came in at #11 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges in Iowa ranking.Ankeny, Iowa is the setting for this large institution of higher learning. The public school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 2,199 students in 2019-2020.

Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from DMACC make an average of $34,300 per year during the early years of their career.

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#12

Dordt University

Sioux Center, Iowa

Dordt University ranked #12 on this year’s Best Colleges in Iowa list. Dordt is a private not-for-profit institution located in Sioux Center, Iowa. The school has a small population, and it awarded 458 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 1.8%, 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 $41,700 during the early years of their career..

Full Dordt University Report

#13

Central College

Pella, Iowa

With a ranking of #13, Central College did quite well on the 2022 Best Colleges in Iowa list. This small private not-for-profit school is located in Pella, Iowa, and it awarded 300 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

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% During the early years of their career, graduates from Central make an average of $44,700 a year.

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#14

Cornell College

Mount Vernon, Iowa

Cornell College came in at #14 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges in Iowa ranking. Located in Mount Vernon, Iowa, the small private not-for-profit school handed out 297 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

The student loan default rate at the school is 2.7%, which is quite low when compared to the national default rate of 10.1% Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Cornell College make an average of $43,000 per year during the early years of their career.

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#15

Saint Ambrose University

Davenport, Iowa

Saint Ambrose University came in at #15 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges in Iowa ranking. Saint Ambrose University is a small private not-for-profit school located in Davenport, Iowa that handed out 830 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

During the early years of their career, graduates from St. Ambrose University make an average of $47,300 a year.

Read full report on Saint Ambrose University

#16

Coe College

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

With a ranking of #16, Coe College did quite well on the 2022 Best Colleges in Iowa list. Coe is a small private not-for-profit school situated in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It awarded 462 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

The low student loan default rate of 3.1% 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 Coe make an average of $46,200 per year during the early years of their career.

Read full report on Coe College

#17

Morningside College

Sioux City, Iowa

Morningside College landed the #17 spot on the 2022 Best Colleges in Iowa ranking. Located in Sioux City, Iowa, the small private not-for-profit school awarded 708 diplomas to qualifed bachelor’s degree students in 2019-2020.

Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Morningside make an average of $43,700 per year during the early years of their career.

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#18

Buena Vista University

Storm Lake, Iowa

Buena Vista University came in at #18 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges in Iowa ranking. BVU is a small private not-for-profit school situated in Storm Lake, Iowa. It awarded 653 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

The student-to-faculty rate of 7 to 1 is a sign that students will have more opportunities to engage with their professors one-on-one. During the early years of their career, graduates from BVU make an average of $40,000 a year.

Full Buena Vista University Report

Northwest Iowa Community College came in at #19 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges in Iowa ranking. Northwest Iowa Community College is a small public school situated in Sheldon, Iowa. It awarded 222 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

Graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Northwest Iowa Community College make an average of $43,100 per year during the early years of their career.

Read full report on Northwest Iowa Community College

#20

Mount Mercy University

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Mount Mercy University did quite well in the 2022 Best Colleges in Iowa ranking, coming in at #20.Cedar Rapids, Iowa is the setting for this small institution of higher learning. The private not-for-profit school handed out bachelor’s degrees to 680 students in 2019-2020.

The school has an impressive student loan default rate. It’s only 4.3%, 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 $45,300 during the early years of their career..

Read full report on Mount Mercy University

#21

Kirkwood Community College

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

With a ranking of #21, Kirkwood Community College did quite well on the 2022 Best Colleges in Iowa list. Kirkwood Community College is a fairly large public school situated in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It awarded 1,610 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

During the early years of their career, graduates from Kirkwood Community College make an average of $35,800 a year.

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#22

Grand View University

Des Moines, Iowa

With a ranking of #22, Grand View University did quite well on the 2022 Best Colleges in Iowa list. Located in Des Moines, Iowa, the small private not-for-profit school handed out 584 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Grand View University is $43,200 during the early years of their career.

Full Grand View University Report

#23

Waldorf University

Forest City, Iowa

Waldorf University did quite well in the 2022 Best Colleges in Iowa ranking, coming in at #23. Waldorf is a private for-profit institution located in Forest City, Iowa. The school has a small population, and it awarded 1,059 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

During the early years of their career, graduates from Waldorf make an average of $37,800 a year.

Full Waldorf University Report

#24

Upper Iowa University

Fayette, Iowa

Upper Iowa University landed the #24 spot on the 2022 Best Colleges in Iowa ranking. Upper Iowa University is a small private not-for-profit school located in Fayette, Iowa that handed out 1,492 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

The average salary of a graduate with a bachelor’s degree from UIU is $42,900 during the early years of their career.

Full Upper Iowa University Report

Graceland University - Lamoni came in at #25 in this year’s edition of the Best Colleges in Iowa ranking. Graceland Lamoni is a private not-for-profit institution located in Lamoni, Iowa. The school has a small population, and it awarded 570 bachelor’s degrees in 2019-2020.

During the early years of their career, graduates from Graceland Lamoni make an average of $36,200 a year.

Read full report on Graceland University - Lamoni

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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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