Go Aggies! And Utes! And Wildcats! And T-Birds! And…Whew, Utah has a bounty when it comes to higher education institutions. How do you decide which will give you the best bang for your buck? Degree for your dollar? Career for your cash? Euphemism for your English class? If you need more than a fridge magnet to recruit you, we’ve got you covered in our breakdown of what colleges in Utah are known for.
University of Utah
The state’s first college — the University of Utah — opened in 1850 and has since grown to more than 27,000 undergraduate students. The 1,534-acre campus is nestled in the Wasatch Mountain foothills, just minutes from downtown Salt Lake City. The U is most recognized for its medical program — the physician assistant program was fourth in the U.S. News & World Report annual rankings. The law and engineering programs are also notable. In fact, two of its grads include Adobe co-founder John Warnock and WordPerfect co-founder Alan Ashton.
Not sure what you want to study? There are more than 100 degrees to choose from, with standards such as accounting and communication. But there are also more unique options, such as urban ecology and peace and conflict studies.
The U was ranked 105th among national universities by U.S. News, for its full range of degrees and groundbreaking research. Tuition and fees topped $9,000 for the 2022-23 school year, making it the most expensive state school in Utah.
Prefer a small classroom? Say, your bedroom? You can also attend the U virtually through the UOnline program. Classes are taught by the same on-campus instructors.
Utah State University
Set on a hillside in Logan, Utah State University may be the coldest campus in Utah, but that doesn’t hamper it. Full-time enrollment there is around 18,000. The Aggies have been around since 1888, and as the mascot implies, USU began with an emphasis on agriculture.
You can still study agribusiness and agricultural science there. But it’s now also recognized for its programs in computer science and engineering. Proof: It has the most student experiments sent into space, and it’s the home of spider silk technology.
The education program is notable, as well. It was ranked 30th in the nation by U.S. News, the highest among all Utah schools. Tuition here is the second most expensive of the state-run schools — about $8,100 per year for tuition and fees.
You don’t have to move to Logan to attend USU, although that is where you’ll have the traditional college experience. There are also 30 USU centers across Utah, as well as the USU Eastern campus in Price.
Utah Valley University
Regardless of your high school grades, you’re welcome at Utah Valley University. It is an open enrollment school, with a 100% acceptance rate. Enrollment is around 18,000 full-time students, similar to Utah State. However, another 24,000 part-time students bump the total much higher.
The price of attending is less than most of Utah’s other large state schools — about $6,000 for tuition and fees each school year. There are more than 200 degree and certificate options, with psychology being the most popular.
UVU is considered a teaching institution. It also touts a dual mission: offering the rigorous courses of a major university while providing the accessibility of a community college. That works well for the student body, as some 80% of those enrolled work while in school. About one-third of the Wolverines are over age 25, and nearly 40% are first-generation students.
UVU has one of the largest Institute of Religion programs in the world — even larger than its neighbor, Brigham Young University. The National Student Exchange considers it one of the safest colleges in the U.S.
Weber State University
If you’ve been to a hospital in northern Utah, there’s a good chance your nurse attended Weber State University — registered nursing is its most earned bachelor’s degree. While health sciences lead the pack, computer science, communication and education are also common majors. There are more than 225 degree and certificate programs available at WSU.
The Ogden-based school has about 12,000 full-time undergraduate students, making it one of the larger state schools. Another 18,000 or so attend part time. Along with the main campus, there is another in Layton, as well as several centers in Davis and Weber counties.
U.S. News ranked WSU as 34th among the top best public schools in the west in 2022. It is an open enrollment school, with tuition and fees around $6,400 per year. Nearly half of the student body hails from Davis County. Only 3% of students live on campus.
Salt Lake Community College
Salt Lake Community College is one of the best schools in Utah for those wanting to earn an associate degree while attending part time. Roughly 22,000 Bruins attend part time, compared to the 6,200 full-time students.
Known as “slick” to Utahns, SLCC is all about flexibility. Class start times range from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. to accommodate busy schedules. You can work full time, have a family or be a ski bum and still make it work.
There are more than 120 fields of study among eight main areas: arts and media; business; computer science; health; humanities; construction; science and engineering; and social and behavioral sciences. Tuition is among the cheapest in the state — about $4,300 for two semesters.
SLCC has the most diverse student population of any Utah school, and 56% of attendees are first generation college students. The majority of students eventually transfer to the U.
Southern Utah University
Southern Utah University calls itself the University of the Parks. If you love the outdoors, you can’t ask for a place closer to it. The campus is in the quaint town of Cedar City, within five hours of 20 national parks and monuments — although some are much closer.
More than 8,600 students are enrolled at SUU full time, seeking 150 undergraduate degrees. Small classes are the norm, particularly in upper division ones. Besides the college, SUU is home to the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Theater students from across the state may know the campus from the summer camps and competitions hosted there.
Students pay more than $6,700 per year for tuition and fees, but housing tends to be a bit cheaper there than schools along the Wasatch Front. SUU ties with WSU as the 32nd top public school, according to U.S. News, and 64th among regional universities in the west. Thunderbirds most often graduate with degrees in business and education, although science, communication and family sciences are popular as well.
It’s a good place for future leaders, too, apparently. Former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt and former Nevada Senator Harry Reid are both SUU alumni.
Sun, sun, sun, here I come. If you prefer to skip the long, cold, lonely winter, Utah Tech University is the place. Located in St. George, Utah’s own sun bowl, you can leave your puffy parka in the closet for the school year.
You can also leave some of your pennies in the bank. At just over $6,000 per year, Utah Tech is one of the cheapest universities for tuition and fees. UT offers degrees from six colleges: Arts, Humanities, Health Sciences, Education, Business and Science, Engineering and Technology. Choose from 240 programs among 53 bachelor’s degrees and four master’s.
The most common majors are nursing and liberal arts. UT is a midsize school, with about 7,200 full-time students. It also has four satellite campuses: Hurricane, Kanab, Hildale and Panguitch.
Starting at a smaller school can be a better fit for those wanting to get their feet wet, but not quite ready to jump into the university pool. The second smallest on the list of colleges in Utah is Snow College, which has about 3,500 full-time students. You’ll also get a small-town experience, as it’s located in the rural town of Ephraim, population 7,000.
The junior college ranked first for student success by the Chronicle of Higher Education, based on how well it prepares students to graduate. In addition, of the graduates, 42% continue their education at other colleges.
Tuition and fees are about $4,000 per year. It’s an affordable option for students wanting to earn a certificate in areas such as automotive technology, HVAC training and dental hygiene. There are also associate degrees in more than 80 fields.
Brigham Young University
It’s hard to say whether the U or BYU is more well known in Utah. But if you’re talking national — and even international — recognition, BYU may be the winner. The university is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is home to 31,000 full-time undergraduate students, with over 1,000 from around the world.
Members of the Church pay about $6,300 in tuition for two semesters; it’s double for everyone else. General freshman scholarships are limited and extremely competitive, but there are more departmental ones available after your first year.
Aside from football — former NFL quarterbacks Steve Young and Ty Detmer went there — BYU is known for its animation program. Over 40 students have been hired by Pixar, and the program has earned 11 student Emmy awards.
Campus tour guides say the CIA recruits heavily at BYU, especially the students who speak a second language — which some 85 percent do. Business and health sciences are popular majors among the 180 offered there. If you decide to stay on, the J. Reuben Clark Law School is consistently ranked among the best in the nation.
Founded in 1875 — the same year as BYU — Westminster College is one of the oldest in the state. The private liberal arts school is also the smallest, with about 1,100 undergraduate students. It’s not short on offerings, though. There are 57 undergrad programs in art, business, science and education. Nursing is the most common bachelor’s degree.
Westminster was ranked fifth as a best value school by U.S. News, and 15th for best undergraduate teaching. It doesn’t come cheap. Tuition and fees are about $40,000 per year, although all first-year students receive some financial assistance.
The Griffins attend on a 27-acre campus in the Sugar House neighborhood. The school has a reputation for attracting skiers, especially with the slopes just 30 minutes away. Over the years, more than 50 winter Olympians have attended Westminster.
The list of colleges in Utah is a long one. Peruse career opportunities on KSL Jobs to find areas you might be interested in studying. Then visit the college campuses. They all offer free tours to give you even more insight into the life of a Trailblazer. And a Cougar. And a Wolverine. And a …