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2019 List of Best Colleges & Universities in Florida

Study.com has ranked the 20 best colleges in Florida for students interested in going to school in the Sunshine State. This resource provides information on programs, outstanding faculty, and other characteristics of the top universities in Florida.

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20 Best Florida Schools

We've ranked the twenty best schools in the state of Florida based on several criteria, including data provided by the U.S. Department of education, outstanding academic programs, accomplished faculty, and strong job placement rates. Many of these schools offer degrees in popular major areas such as business, nursing, and education, but we also took into consideration unique and in-demand major offerings that each school provides. We've also taken into consideration career preparation programs and other extracurricular factors that contribute to the overall quality of these top Florida schools.

1. University of Florida

Located in Gainesville, Florida, the University of Florida has earned our #1 spot for the Best College in Florida. With over 50,000 students, this university has cemented a strong academic reputation since its founding. Boasting an impressive array of academic offerings, with 100 undergraduate options, 200 graduate programs, and 30 certificates, the University of Florida has something for everyone.

Not only does UF provide ample options for learning, they do so with a stellar faculty. Two University of Florida faculty members have won Pulitzer prizes, while as of 2018, there are 43 faculty elections to prestigious organizations, including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences Engineering and the Institute of Medicine. In addition to its impressive faculty, UF contributes to the world of technology with an award-winning biotechnology incubator, and it has even launched around 200 startups based on researchers' technologies. In fact, UF's devotion to innovation is even integrated into 30 of its majors, through its unique Innovation Academy, focused on fostering creativity in a small college environment.

2. Florida State University

Like the University of Florida, Florida State University offers many degree programs, including over 100 undergraduate degrees, 120 master's degrees, 80 doctoral degrees, as well as a law program and medical school. The university also ensures their students are given the opportunity to study abroad with options throughout the world, including some special summer programs in Italy, Panama, England, and Spain.

Florida State has incredibly high retention and graduation rates, with 94% of freshman in 2016 returning for the next school year and 80% of students who began in 2011 graduating within six years. This may be due in part to the fact that FSU has a renowned faculty, some of whom have accrued a high number of honors and awards from prestigious associations, including 60 Associate of American Universities awards, 160 Top American Research University awards and 358 additional honors.

3. University of Central Florida

The main campus of the University of Central Florida is located in Orlando, with 9 other regional campuses sprawled throughout the state. Majors throughout UCF's 13 colleges include psychology, health sciences, nursing, hospitality management and health services administration. To help students prepare for careers in the workforce, the university offers co-ops, service-learning projects, internships, and extensive career services. The largest of UCF's colleges, with over 20 bachelor's degrees and 25 master's degrees is the College of Sciences, which offers opportunities to participate in field work internationally in places like Egypt and Peru. The University of Central Florida also works to ensure their students are happy and engaged in social and cultural activities by offering over 600 student organizations and clubs.

In terms of the school's value and affordability, UCF reported in 2018 that 48% of its students graduate without any financial debt. With a six-year graduation rate of over 70% for students who began their degrees in 2011, UCF is doing its part in preparing its students to succeed academically, financially and professionally.

4. University of South Florida- Main Campus

Priding itself on being a global research university that places a large emphasis on its students' success, the University of South Florida-Main Campus earns the #4 spot on our list of Top Florida Schools. Students can choose from over 180 undergraduate majors/concentrations, with popular areas of academic study including business, engineering, health, and arts and sciences. Some of the school's top graduate programs include audiology, criminology, library and information studies, rehabilitation counseling, industrial/manufacturing engineering, and clinical psychology.

In 2018, 60 members of the University of South Florida faculty were esteemed Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the fourth most of any one university worldwide. The Florida Board of Governors designated the university as a Preeminent State Research University in 2018. The university seeks to ensure it is accessible financially, so the school grants many Fulbright scholarships to its students to help them reduce the cost of their degree programs.

5. Ave Maria University

Ave Maria University is a small Catholic liberal arts university with a student body of a little over 1,000 in 2018. The university offers a wide array of degree programs in subjects including accounting, Catholic studies, early Christian literature, economics, finance, healthcare management, managerial economics and strategic analysis, marine biology, psychology, and theology.

Since the school has a student-faculty ratio of 14:1, it boasts smaller-than-average class sizes. Ave Maria students are also encouraged to take advantage of the school's sophomore success program, employer partnerships, and career prep model to better prepare them for success in school and upon graduation. Around 40% of students who interned while in school were offered full-time jobs at their respective organizations. In fact, according to the school's website in 2018, 80% of Ave Maria students gain employment or made plans for graduate school shortly following graduation.

6. New College of Florida

One of the smaller schools on our list at under 900 students in 2018, the New College of Florida strives to promote student engagement, graduate school success and to require a relatively inexpensive cost. The New College is the liberal arts honors college of Florida, but also the home to several first-class scientific facilities, including a sciences center that houses many research labs, an archaeology lab, an academic center, and a biology research center that features more than 100 aquariums.

From its Sarasota campus, New College students can choose from over 40 areas of academic concentration, and degrees awarded include an array of Bachelor of Arts degrees and a Master's of Science in Data Science. Ninety-seven percent of New College's 91 faculty members have terminal degrees, and the 10:1 student-faculty ratio helps students get personalized learning experiences from their professors. This results in an average class size of 17, which makes for an arguably more personalized educational experience compared to courses at larger universities.

7. Flagler College - St. Augustine

Another small liberal arts school on our list, Flagler College in St. Augustine is focused on developing the entrepreneurial spirit of their students. Flagler also encourages students to push themselves through conducting research, studying abroad, and completing internships. In most of the school's degree programs, an internship and/or experiential learning component complements coursework and helps students gain experience in the professional world.

The school has a 16:1 student-faculty ratio, enabling the students to feel connected to and heard by their professors and likely contributing to their impressive academic performance leading to more job opportunities upon graduation. Approximately 83% of Flagler's 2018 graduates had jobs or plans for graduate school, volunteer work or military service within several months of graduation. Flagler students have been hired at many reputable companies, including Amazon, CNN, Disney, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Orlando Magic, PGA Tour Entertainment, and United Healthcare, to name a few. Graduates from Flagler have also pursued higher degrees from top universities like Columbia, Harvard, Oxford, and the University of Pittsburgh.

8. The University of Tampa

The University of Tampa has over 200 areas of undergraduate study. This school had an average class size of 21 students and a student-faculty ratio of 17:1 in 2018, with popular majors including international business, nursing, marketing, finance, and biology/environmental science.

Focused on developing leadership abilities in its students, the University of Tampa offers a variety of leadership programs and institutional research projects. One example is the school's unique Learning By Doing program, which consists of undergraduate research and internships. The university also has an innovative program for first-year students that's designed to expose them to global and cultural issues, find possible career paths and strengthen their skills in communication/critical thinking.

9. Florida International University

Students who want a large public university experience in a big-city environment should check out Florida International University, located in Miami. The school has over 47,000 undergraduate students and offers degrees from the bachelor's level through the doctoral level through their 11 colleges, including a renowned honors college. It's also one of the top granters of bachelor's degrees to undergraduates of Hispanic descent, consisting of approximately 60% of the 2018 student body. Florida International University also has the top law school bar passage rate in the state.

There are more than 200 degree programs, including those in law and medicine, offered by Florida International University, many of which are available fully online. The school is also home to over 40 centers of many disciplines that provide opportunities to promote research, community engagement, and the pursuit of knowledge. With the addition of over 300 academic and cultural organizations and clubs, students are sure to find a group to help develop their mind, beliefs, and networking contacts.

10. University of North Florida

Situated in the city of Jacksonville, the University of North Florida shines in student interaction and engagement, with 16,500 students, and an 18:1 student-faculty ratio. The school has six colleges featuring the arts and sciences and an honors college.

The school offers graduate programs in health, education and business, and in 2018, around 87% of its seniors took part in professional internships before they graduated. There are around 12 fully online programs available to students at UNF, including Doctor of Nursing Practice, RN-BSN, Master of Science in American Sign Language, and Graduate Certificate in Early Childhood programs.

11. The Baptist College of Florida

The Baptist College of Florida, located in Graceville, is a small college that offers affordable tuition and degrees at the associate's, bachelor's and master's levels. The Baptist College of Florida is focused on Christian ministry and offers multiple degree programs in Christian studies, music and worship leadership, divinity, biblical studies, and ministry studies.

With only around 400 undergraduate students, this school has a 9:1 student-faculty ratio, which helps students develop strong mentoring relationships with their professors. In addition to offering smaller class sizes, the school also attempts to be affordable and accessible through offering reduced-cost distance learning options either online or through the school's two off-site campuses in Orlando and Jacksonville. The school is available for high school students who want to get a head start on their degree programs, through the Baptist College of Florida's dual-enrolled program. This online program is available for high school juniors and seniors who are home-schooled or enrolled in private high schools.

12. Palm Beach Atlantic University

Palm Beach Atlantic University is an interdenominational Christian university with an emphasis in the liberal arts. With a 12:1 student-faculty ratio in 2018, students can learn in close-knit classrooms from a highly qualified teaching faculty, 84% of whom hold terminal degrees in their fields.

Located in West Palm Beach, this school ties Christian ministry into its academic programs, and most students have a volunteering and chapel session requirement on top of their coursework. In terms of academics, undergraduate students can choose from 53 majors and evening undergraduate degrees in subjects like psychology, business administration, and Christian studies. The school also offers professional degree programs in pharmacy, nursing practice, and health systems leadership. Many of the school's graduates have gone on to pursue graduate programs, medical school, or law school at institutions including Boston College, Oxford University, University of Chicago, the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine, and Florida State University's School of Law.

13. Florida Atlantic University

Students looking for a large university in a small city setting should consider Florida Atlantic University. With 30,000 students spread over six campuses, Florida Atlantic offers more than 170 degree programs. The school's colleges cover traditional and more unique topics, with colleges of business and education as well as colleges of arts and letters, and design and social inquiry.

Florida Atlantic's Boca Raton campus offers honors programs for academically superlative students, and the Jupiter campus's Wilkes Honors College offers a four-year comprehensive honors curriculum. All students who are accepted to the Wilkes Honors College receive merit-based scholarships to help reduce the cost of their degree programs.

14. University of Miami

As one of the country's top research universities, the University of Miami has 17,000 students, nine schools and colleges, and over 180 academic majors and degree programs. Despite the large student body, students can enjoy relatively small class sizes; in fact, 75% of the school's classes have 26 or less students, and 50% of them have fewer than 16, resulting in a 12:1 student-faculty ratio.

UM offers dual degree programs that combine undergraduate and graduate studies in subjects like molecular biology, exercise physiology, law, marine geology and much more. Classes are taught by an esteemed faculty, 98% of whom have the terminal degree in their field. In addition to teaching classes, the faculty lead students in research projects, field work, and are devoted to continuing to hone their skills and develop those of their students. The commitment to learning is evident, as around 33% of the University of Miami's 2017 graduates went on to attend graduate school.

15. Florida Southern College

Florida Southern College is the oldest private college in the state and has spent over 120 years developing its mission and focus on student success. The school makes three guarantees to its students: that they would be able to graduate within four years, have successful internships, and have opportunities to study abroad. There are more than 70 undergraduate majors available, including some accelerated programs that enable students to attain an MBA or MEd in 5 years.

Founded in 1883 with Judeo-Christian beliefs at its core, the school still hosts Jewish and Catholic services or events weekly. With these religious principles in mind, Florida Southern College's Cornerstone outlines the moral mindsets it aspires to develop in its students, including honesty, academic integrity, respect, and a desire to better the school. As of 2017, the school had an 80% retention rate, which indicates that its 3,000 graduates are influenced heavily by the school's dedication to academics, educational, and personal support.

16. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Daytona Beach

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is mostly known for its degree programs in aeronautical science and aerospace engineering. Students who want to study these subjects can learn from state-of-the-art flight training devices, simulation equipment and educational laboratories in Daytona Beach. Students interested in a career as a professional pilot should consider this university. In addition to these aeronautical studies, students can choose from over 30 majors, including homeland security, engineering physics, and human factors psychology.

To help students gain employment following completion of their degree programs, the Career Service Office at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University offers a variety of services, including counseling, resumé critiques, an annual career fair, and job listing/interview databases for student and alumni job-seekers. Students can also choose a cooperative education program that's designed to place them with professional opportunities while still in school.

17. Beacon College

Based in Leesburg, FL, Beacon College is the first school in the U.S. to offer bachelor's degree programs geared directly and exclusively to students with learning disabilities. Baccalaureate degrees are offered in many subjects, including anthrozoology, business management, computer information systems, human services, humanities, psychology, and studio arts.

Around 83% of Beacon College students graduated within 6 years of starting their degree program, which makes the school's graduation rate much higher than average. Beacon hires highly qualified professors who all have at least master's degrees in their respective fields. Faculty and staff are also trained to specifically meet the needs of Beacon students, which further helps ensure student success and accommodation. With around 400 undergraduate students, the school has an 11:1 student-faculty ratio that allows for personalized attention from faculty. In addition to academics, Beacon helps students prepare for the professional world through their career development program and internship opportunities.

18. Florida College

Florida College, located in Temple Terrace, is a Christian college that offers degrees at the associate's and bachelor's levels. Students who want a small college experience can find it at Florida College. The school has around 500 students and a student-faculty ratio of 13:1, which creates smaller class sizes and an opportunity to develop close relationships with professors.

Subjects that Florida College students can choose from include biblical education, business administration, English, history, pre-law, pre-professional health science, and more. The school is also committed to integrating biblical studies into their degree programs, so if you're looking for a Christian college in a suburban environment, then Florida College may be the perfect choice.

19. The University of West Florida

The University of West Florida is based in Pensacola, although it has several campuses throughout the state. The University of West Florida is selective in their admissions, offering acceptance to only about 50% of applicants. Prospective students can choose to pursue degrees from over 70 programs ranging from the bachelor's to doctorate levels in the arts, sciences, and humanities, as well as business, education, professional studies, health, and engineering. Fully online programs are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels, providing students with the opportunity to study on their own schedules.

Integrity is a central value of the University of West Florida, with the institution placing an emphasis on fostering the creativity, cooperation, entrepreneurship, innovation, and inclusiveness of its students in a safe environment. The school also prides itself on its devotion to research in subjects ranging from cybersecurity to environmental issues.

20. Trinity Baptist College

Trinity Baptist College is a small Christian university that aims to prepare its students for lives of ministry. After initially specializing in biblical studies programs, Trinity Baptist has expanded its academic offerings to include liberal arts, professional, and graduate studies at the associate's, bachelor's, and master's levels. Trinity Baptist is committed to accelerating students' academic and professional success. Even if students began their educational careers elsewhere, the school offers a degree completion program so students can apply existing college credits from other schools toward their bachelor's degrees. Trinity Baptist also features a 3+3 Pre-Law program that prepares students to transfer to the Florida Coastal Law School in three academic years and earn their bachelor's and J.D. in only six years.

With a 15:1 student-faculty ratio, the college's 300 undergraduate students can receive individualized attention from their professors, or they can choose to pursue distance education through online options. The school is a great choice for students who want to earn degrees in biblical studies, education, music and worship, and Christian counseling. Outside the classroom, students can further practice ministry through the Trinity Baptist Church, which shares a close relationship with the university.

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