2023 Best Colleges in Florida

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Published: September 1, 2022

By: Colleges of Distinction Staff

Jump to: Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University | Florida Atlantic University | Florida Institute of Technology | Florida Southern College | Lynn University | New College of Florida | Rollins College | Southeastern University | University of Miami | University of South Florida | University of West Florida | Frequently Asked Questions

Colleges of Distinction has hand-picked a selection of top schools that are well equipped to provide a personalized education catered to students’ interests. Through a rigorous vetting and interview process for the 2022-2023 academic year, we have refreshed and reaffirmed that these institutions strive for excellence in line with the four overarching distinctions—Student Engagement, Teaching, Community, and Outcomes.

These schools vary in size, cost, location, academic offerings, and more, but they are all distinguished by their commitment to the undergraduate experience. The diversity of the college list is intentional, giving students and parents a variety of public and private universities to consider. No matter what, they all exhibit the foundational qualities of a fulfilling undergraduate education.


Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

Tallahassee, FL ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) is a public, historically Black university located in Tallahassee, Florida. What distinguishes FAMU from other universities is its legacy of providing access to a high-quality, affordable education with programs and services that guide students toward successfully achieving their dreams. FAMU is part of the State University System of Florida and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

In addition to the main Tallahassee campus, FAMU has several satellite campuses across Florida. These include the College of Law in Orlando and the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Institute of Public Health, which has sites in Crestview, Tampa, Jacksonville, and Miami.

Acceptance rate 33%      •      Net price $12,903      •      SAT Range 1030-1150      •      Students submitting SAT scores 86%
Total Undergrad Population 9,184      •      Setting City: Midsize      •      Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 55%      •      Retention rate 85%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 14:1

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Florida Atlantic University

Boca Raton, FL ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

The most diverse public university in Florida, Florida Atlantic University serves over 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students with ample opportunities for research and groundbreaking scholarship. Every student is given the tools they need to succeed, enjoying meaningful connections with top-tier faculty and future-focused facilities.

Acceptance rate 75%      •      Net price $11,451      •      SAT Range 1060-1220      •      Students submitting SAT scores 78%
Total Undergrad Population 30,805      •      Setting City: Small • Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 56%      •      Retention rate 82%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 22:1

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Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, FL

Florida Institute of Technology

Melbourne, FL ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

Founded in 1958—the same year as NASA and in the same county as Kennedy Space Center—Florida Tech has always been a university for students who shoot for the stars. In fact, Florida Tech started as a night school for early space program workers, providing the advanced education they needed in order to win the space race. 

Today, Florida Tech is a comprehensive national research university offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in aeronautics and aviation, business, engineering, computing, science and mathematics, psychology, communication, and the humanities. 

With its dive-in, buckle-up, hands-on approach to education, Florida Tech is a top choice for students interested in innovation, hard work, and lofty goals. Annually, students from more than 100 countries worldwide choose Florida Tech.

Acceptance rate 70%      •      Net price $33,313      •      SAT Range 1130-1330      •      Students submitting SAT scores 75%
Total Undergrad Population 6,775      •      Setting City: Small      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 60%      •      Retention rate 82%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 15:1

Click here for available majors


florida southern college logo

Florida Southern College

Lakeland, FL ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

Florida Southern is nationally recognized for excellence in experiential education and the opportunity for students to study abroad, participate in professional internships, and graduate in four years. Offering more than 70 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, the College enrolls 3,000 students from 50 states and 50 countries. Florida Southern’s 113-acre, lakeside campus is ideally located directly between Tampa and Orlando in Lakeland, Florida—named one of the best places to live and fastest growing metropolitan areas.

Acceptance rate 50%      •      Net price $27,091      •      SAT Range 1110-1280      •      Students submitting SAT scores 60%
Total Undergrad Population 3,413      •      Setting City: Midsize      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 68%      •      Retention rate 81%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 14:1

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lynn university logo

Lynn University

Boca Raton, FL ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

An independent institution, Lynn is known for its innovative learning programs and diverse student body, with students from over 100 countries. Lynn embraces new ideas and technologies that empower its faculty to deliver creatively its nationally praised core curriculum. The Lynn community believes in providing an open and supportive environment in which professors, academic advisors, and mentors are readily available. Lynn University concentrates on the art of teaching, making good students great and great students remarkable.

JANUARY (J)-TERM
The January Term is a unique learning experience in which students can apply academic theories to projects, social initiatives, and internships. The goal of a J-Term is to allow students to more deeply explore their disciplines through real-life application. Students are expected to complete one course each January Term that explores specialized and application-based subjects.

Acceptance rate 79%      •      Net price $37,524
Total Undergrad Population 3,232      •      Setting City: Small      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 59%      •      Retention rate 73%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 17:1

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New College of Florida wordmark

New College of Florida

Sarasota, FL ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

Founded in 1960, New College of Florida is a nationally regarded public liberal arts college as well as the state’s Honors College of Florida. New College integrates stellar academics and career-building experience in an education tailored to each student’s academic interests, personal goals, and professional aspirations. Professors provide students with written performance evaluations that go beyond grades in assessing academic progress. More than 80 percent of students live on the beautiful, waterfront campus on Sarasota Bay. 

INDEPENDENT STUDY PERIOD (ISP)
January at New College is known as Independent Study Period (ISP), which is when students can focus on a specific aspect of their field of study or explore something new through an immersive experience that can take the form of a lab experiment, a scholarly paper, or a creative endeavor. The College does not hold regular class meetings in January, so students can also use the time to study abroad, complete internships, or pursue off-campus learning opportunities. 

Acceptance rate 70%      •      Net price $11,869      •      SAT Range 1160-1375      •      Students submitting SAT scores 80%
Total Undergrad Population 675      •      Setting City: Small      •      Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 64%      •      Retention rate 80%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 6:1

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Rollins College

Winter Park, FL ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

Rollins’ extraordinary undergraduate and graduate degree programs feature small classes taught by renowned faculty. The academic experience is enhanced by study abroad and internship opportunities as well as ways to participate in student organizations and the local community. Bordering Lake Virginia, Rollins has a lush, 70-acre campus located in Winter Park in the heart of Central Florida.

SUSTAINABILITY
Rollins has been a leader in environmental education and sustainable business practices for more than 20 years. Sustainability-focused academics, initiatives, and student-led programs have become ingrained in nearly every facet of life at Rollins. Rollins’ dedication to environmental stewardship and social responsibility has been recognized by The Princeton Review, which named Rollins as one of the most environmentally responsible colleges in the U.S. and Canada.

Acceptance rate 61%      •      Net price $33,216
Total Undergrad Population 3,104      •      Setting Suburb      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 81%      •      Retention rate 87%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 12:1

Click here for available majors


Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida

Southeastern University

Lakeland, FL ‧ Christian ‧ 4-year

Choosing the right college isn’t just about getting an education. It’s about finding a place that provides the support for a successful career and a lifetime of service to others.

Southeastern University gives students the foundation they need to succeed in life, not just at work. SEU has more than 80 degree programs to choose from as well as a thriving community that inspires deep, personal, and meaningful relationships.

SCHOOL LOCATION

One of the many things students love about SEU is its Central Florida location in the city of Lakeland. It’s a prime place to study and love life, surrounding the community with palm trees and abundant sunshine—even when the rest of the country still has winter weather! Lakeland has just the right balance of hometown connectivity and city-based excitement.

Acceptance rate 43%      •      Net price $25,987      •      SAT Range 960-1170      •      Students submitting SAT scores 45%
Total Undergrad Population 9,546      •      Setting City: Midsize      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 47%      •      Retention rate 66%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 28:1

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University of Miami

Coral Gables, FL ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

University of Miami is known for its major research initiatives. The University is involved in nearly $330 million in research a year—a vast majority of which is put to good use at the Miller School of Medicine. UM grooms its students to become strong individuals with excellent leadership skills. Students are taught to recognize their duty to both the local community as well as the global society.

THE COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING RESIDENCE
The College of Engineering has an established residence in University Village. Students living in the apartment are involved in a residential research experience in collaboration with the National Science Foundation. The focus of the project is develop habits of sustainability in conjunction with new technology.

Acceptance rate 33%      •      Net price $31,726      •      SAT Range 1250-1420      •      Students submitting SAT scores 55%
Total Undergrad Population 17,809      •      Setting City: Small      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 83%      •      Retention rate 91%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 12:1

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University of South Florida

Tampa, FL ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

Bright, talented students hailing from over 128 countries come to the University of South Florida to experience everything the institution has to offer: student access, innovative research opportunities, and a rigorous, interdisciplinary academic environment. USF graduates enter the workforce as thoughtful, dedicated, innovative citizens ready to change the world.

Founded in 1956, the University of South Florida is a major metropolitan research university located in the heart of Tampa Bay. USF is dedicated to empowering students to maximize their potential for lifelong success.

Acceptance rate 49%      •      Net price $10,004      •      SAT Range 1160-1320      •      Students submitting SAT scores 74%
Total Undergrad Population 50,626      •      Setting City: Large      •      Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 74%      •      Retention rate 92%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 22:1

Click here for available majors


University of West Florida Nautilus Shell Logo

University of West Florida

Pensacola, FL ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

Founded in 1963, the University of West Florida is a public institution with more than 12,000 students in undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and specialist programs. Its spirited community of learners forges new paths through education and research while embracing core values of caring, collaboration, entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity, and inclusiveness. 

The University of West Florida is creating the next generation of big thinkers who will change the world. Students challenge their limits in 70+ degree programs and small class sizes that ensure personalized attention from world-class faculty. 

DIVERSITY
UWF believes that success is unlimited when its community is seen, heard and understood. Diversity Programs advance the guiding principles of acceptance, awareness, and respect. Faculty, staff, and students are eligible to earn the University’s Cross-Cultural Competency Certificate at no cost, and monthly Campus Conversations events welcome the campus to build community through discussion.

Acceptance rate 58%      •      Net price $8,452      •      SAT Range 1060-1230      •      Students submitting SAT scores 65%
Total Undergrad Population 13,061      •      Setting City: Small      •      Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 48%      •      Retention rate 84%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 20:1

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What it’s like to attend schools in Florida and other FAQ:

What are average tuition costs in Florida?

The average undergraduate tuition & fees for colleges in Florida is $4,029 for in-state students at public institutions, $16,062 for out-of-state students at public institutions, and $18,521 for students at private institutions.

Cheapest degree program in Florida

The University of West Florida has an average net price of $8,452 making it the least expensive bachelor’s degree program in Florida that made our list.

Easiest degree program to get into in Florida

Lynn University has an acceptance rate of 79%, making it the least exclusive college on our list.

Degree program with lowest student debt in Florida

The New College of Florida has a median total debt after graduation of $15,297. This is the typical debt for a student who completed their undergraduate degree.

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