Southern Colleges and Universities in the U.S.

The southern region of the United States is home to hundreds of public and private non-profit colleges and universities. Compare four of the schools to determine which one might be right for you.

School Ranking Overview

Students who want a Southern college experience have a substantial number of schools to choose from, including large four-year universities, small private colleges and public community or technical schools. To help students explore the options, this article compares four of the region's largest institutions and ranks them in the following areas:

  • Program Variety
  • Net Price
  • Graduation Rate
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio

Program Variety

While small schools have their advantages, going to a larger institution offering a wide range of academic programs can be beneficial to those who are undecided about their interests and career goals. Of the four southern schools compared, the three below have the most programs.

1. University of Georgia

A four-year public school in Athens, the University of Georgia offers 191 academic programs to students pursuing bachelor's degrees, graduate certificates, master's degrees and doctorates. The school offers several programs related to veterinary medicine, ranging from veterinary pathology and infectious diseases to small animal medicine. The University of Georgia offers several other healthcare-related fields in addition to programs in education, historic preservation, psychology, art, international relations, journalism, finance, agriculture and the biological sciences.

2. The University of Texas at Austin

The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) has 171 programs that culminate in degrees at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels, in addition to undergraduate and graduate certificates. A sampling of the many fields of study available at the university include ethnic studies, architecture, business administration, management information systems, advertising, educational administration, public health, pharmacy, social work and performing arts. Several engineering programs are available in the fields of electrical, petroleum, aerospace, biomedical, civil and industrial engineering, among others.

3. Miami Dade College

Miami Dade College ranks third with a program count of 131. Based out of Miami, FL, the public school offers undergraduate certificates, associate's degrees and bachelor's degrees. Areas of study available to undergrads include business, architectural technology, web design, computer programming, early childhood education, engineering technology, firefighting, criminal justice and interior design. Students seeking healthcare training have multiple options at the college as well, including nursing, emergency medical technology, diagnostic medical sonography and many more.

Net Price

When researching and comparing schools, one of the priorities for most prospective students is to find an affordable institution that fits their budgets. According to the 2012-2013 figures from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the following schools have the lowest net prices for full-time undergraduate students. These prices are calculated by subtracting the average amount of financial aid students receive from the average total cost to attend, which includes tuition, fees, room and board, among other items.

1. University of Georgia

The University of Georgia has the most reasonable net price of the four compared institutions; undergrads here pay $12,862 a year on average.

2. Miami Dade College

Students enrolled at Miami Dade College can expect a net price of $14,535 on average. Financial aid from institutional and government sources -- including loans, grants and scholarships -- can help students at this and other schools meet the financial demands of a college education.

3. The University of Texas at Austin

UT Austin takes third place in this ranking. Undergrads pay an average net price of $15,336 per academic year.

Graduation Rate

Finding the right program is essential for college students, but they also need to be sure that the school is effective in its delivery of that program. To get some insight into educational quality, examining graduation rates can be useful. The institutions below have the highest graduation rates of those compared, as reported by the NCES. These stats are based on full-time students who began undergraduate programs in fall 2007 and graduated within 150% of normal completion time.

1. University of Georgia

Claiming the top spot once again is the University of Georgia with an overall graduation rate of 83%. Of the students who began pursuing a bachelor's degree full-time in fall 2012, 94% re-enrolled at the school in fall 2013 (NCES). With high percentages like these, it's evident that the majority of students are satisfied with their choice to attend the University of Georgia.

2. The University of Texas at Austin

UT Austin's graduation rate is also relatively high at 79%. Most students here seem to think positively of their academic experience based on the university's retention rate; 94% of full-time bachelor's-seeking students who enrolled in fall 2012 returned the next fall (NCES).

3. Liberty University

Based out of Lynchburg, VA, Liberty University is a private non-profit school offering undergraduate and graduate programs. It has the third highest graduation rate of the four profiled schools at 50%. Its fall 2012 to fall 2013 retention rate for full-time students in bachelor's degree programs was 69% (NCES).

Student-to-Faculty Ratio

Attending a school with a low student-to-faculty ratio may be helpful for academic success, as it likely means that more individualized attention is available from educators. According to the NCES, the following Southern institutions have the lowest student-to-faculty ratios of the profiled schools.

1. University of Georgia

With a student-to-faculty ratio of 17:1, the University of Georgia ranks first in this category. Students here should have little difficulty in getting one-on-one assistance from their professors. In fall 2013, the university had a faculty of 2,559 full-time and 383 adjunct employees; over 2,000 graduate assistants were also on campus (NCES).

2. Liberty University

Despite having a population of more than 77,000 students, Liberty University manages to maintain a student-to-faculty ratio of 18:1 (NCES). As of 2013, the institution has 1,675 full-time and 1,005 adjunct professors on hand to educate students (NCES).

3. The University of Texas at Austin

UT Austin also has a ratio of 18 students for every one faculty member. It takes the third spot because the school serves a smaller student population than Liberty, although it is still quite large at over 52,000 (NCES). UT Austin employs 2,752 full-time professors, 283 part-time faculty and has over 5,000 graduate assistants, according to 2013 NCES figures.

Southern Schools: At a Glance

School Name Location School Type Programs Offered Area Ranking
Liberty University Lynchburg, VA Private non-profit Undergraduate and graduate certificates; associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees #3 in Graduation Rate, #2 in Student-to-Faculty Ratio
Miami Dade College Miami, FL Public Undergraduate certificates; associate's and bachelor's degrees #3 in Program Variety, #2 in Net Price
The University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX Public Undergraduate and graduate certificates; bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees #2 in Program Variety, #3 in Net Price, #2 in Graduation Rate, #3 in Student-to-Faculty Ratio
University of Georgia Athens, GA Public Graduate certificates; bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees #1 in Program Variety, #1 in Net Price, #1 in Graduation Rate, #1 in Student-to-Faculty Ratio

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