The Top 10 Public Universities On the Rise

7. Utah State University (Logan, UT)

photo by UtahStizzle via Wikimedia Commons

Historically, Utah State has been among the most accomplished public universities nationwide. Alumni of Utah State include 7 Rhodes Scholars, 1 Nobel Prize winner, 34 Goldwater Scholarship recipients, and a MacArthur “Genius” fellow.

In the 90s, Utah State saw a significant surge in growth, with an endowment increasing from $7m in the early 90s to $80m by 2000. As of this writing in 2019, the endowment stands at over $370 million.

Utah State has risen to become a highly-respected research university, earning the “very high research activity” R2 designation from the Carnegie Classification.

Between 2005-2016, Utah State saw a significant rise in stature under the presidency of Stan Albrecht. During his presidency, the school successfully acquired partnerships with international institutions, including four universities in China, as well as raised record amounts for developing the school’s academic programs and facilities.

Utah State is home to a number of highly rated programs, including the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, a program characterized by experiential learning.

Some unique offerings at this business school include The Center for Entrepreneurship, a program helping students foster business-building skills through internships and classes, as well as The Small Enterprise Education and Development Program, an initiative designed to encourage USU students to foster business growth in international communities. 


6. University of North Texas (Denton, TX)

photo by University of North Texas via Wikimedia Commons

Historically, the University of North Texas has been home to several of the country’s leading programs. Perhaps its most well-known department is the School of Music, home to a leading college-level jazz band that has won multiple Grammy awards for its outstanding playing. 

In recent years, not only has the UNT music program continued to elevate, the university as a whole has steadily risen to become a top public university in the country. 

In 2019, a number of other UNT programs were ranked in the top 100 nationwide by US News and Niche.com, including Public Affairs, Information Technology, Political Science, and over a dozen more majors.

In 2016, the Carnegie Classification rated University of North Texas as an R1 university, which is the highest possible award based on research activity. Less than 2% of all higher education institutions in the country have achieved this prestigious designation.

In recent years, UNT has made a pledge towards sustainability. In 2005, it created the first PhD in Environmental Ethics worldwide. Six years later, UNT erected The Life Science Complex, a facility achieving LEED Gold status. Further commitment to sustainability came in 2017 when the school began incorporating renewable energy.

University of North Texas is a rising institution among the best public universities nationwide.


5. Kansas State University (Manhattan, KS)

photo via Wikimedia Commons

In 2010, the Kansas State University laid the foundation for what is known as the 2025 Visionary Plan. The goal of the 2025 Visionary Plan is simple and straightforward: to become one of the nation’s top-50 public research universities by 2025.

Kansas State is well on its way towards achieving this status, if it has not already done so. 

Six years into its historical plan in 2016, K-State was given the prestigious  R1 designation from the Carnegie Classification for “very high” research activity.  Less than 2% of all higher education institutions have achieved this milestone, making K-State just one of 115 universities – public or private – in the nation with this accolade.

Recent rankings showcase the school’s tremendous rise in stature. Niche.com recently ranked K-state in the top-100 schools nationwide for Agricultural Sciences, Education, and Engineering. 

Through all of its recent accolades, rankings, and accomplishments, students and faculty use one word to describe the atmosphere at Kansas State University – family. Students who rate the school and their experience consistently say that the school’s environment feels like a large, close, and tightly-knit family.


4. Boise State University (Boise, ID)

photo by Iamneven via Wikimedia Commons

Just three years ago, Boise State was named one of just 20 “Rising Star” higher education institutions by a top UK-based consulting firm. 

Boise State has demonstrated a significant commitment to growth. Between 2003 and 2016, the school achieved numerous milestones, including a 29% growth in the school’s student body, a 373% increase in the number of donors, and over $300m+ spent on campus facilities. 

In May 2017, a new College of Fine Arts was constructed. In 2020, a state-of-the-art materials research building will be completed with funding by local Boise company Micron.

What makes Boise State special is not just the unprecedented expansion and growth; it is the quality of the people. Boise State’s students and faculty place significant emphasis on partnering with the local Idaho community. 

Efforts to this end include engineering capstone projects designed to benefit the Boise community, over 20 student clubs and activities partnering with people and organizations outside of Boise State, and more.

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