Top Colleges in Alabama

alabama colleges of distinction state badge

By: Colleges of Distinction Staff

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 we have affirmed 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.

alabama state university logo

Alabama State University

Montgomery, AL ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

Alabama State University is a public HBCU in Montgomery, Alabama. Students can explore their interests and passions through over 40 undergraduate and graduate programs and over 70 clubs and organizations.

Acceptance rate 99%      •      Net price $13,282      •      SAT Range 844-1049      •      Students submitting SAT scores 30%
Total Undergrad Population 3,614      •      Setting City: Midsize      •      Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 32%      •      Retention rate 62%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 15:1

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samford university logo

Samford University

Homewood, AL ‧ Christian ‧ 4-year

Founded in 1841, Samford University is the largest independently supported university in the state of Alabama. The serene suburban campus, with its rolling hills and stately Georgian Colonial architecture, provides the ideal college environment. On top of that, Samford is only minutes away from Birmingham, a diverse metropolitan area of 1 million people that is rich in culture, history, and spirit.

Few universities offer both a rigorous liberal arts education and support for the spiritual life of their students, faculty, and staff. Samford understands that faith grows with challenge and challenges the faithful to grow. At Samford, faith grows through convocation programs, Christian student interest groups, and foreign and domestic missions.

Surrounded by the University’s main academic, administrative, and cultural facilities, the quad is the geographic and social heart of Samford’s campus. In all seasons, it is a park for play, study, picnics, or even quick naps.

Acceptance rate 84%      •      Net price $31,322      •      SAT Range 1060-1240      •      Students submitting SAT scores 37%
Total Undergrad Population 3,576      •      Setting Suburb      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 77%      •      Retention rate 87%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 12:1

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Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Presbyterian HBCU

Stillman College

Tuscaloosa, AL ‧ Christian ‧ 4-year

Christian Education for a Changing World
For 143 years, Stillman College has provided outstanding educational experiences undergirded with the principles of faith and ethical integrity inherent in a Christian education. A Historically Black College (HBCU), Stillman is committed to providing unique opportunities to diverse populations while preparing all students for leadership and service. Experiential learning and community engagement provide students with unique opportunities to learn and grow, producing graduates who will contribute to society as well as the 21st-century knowledge economy.

At Stillman, faculty are encouraged to remain open to learning new methods and approaches to the delivery of course content material. In this way, the programs of study are constantly developing and incorporating active learning assignments, collaborative assignments, and projects that provide students with opportunities to use what they have learned to work together toward common learning goals. 

Acceptance rate 56%      •      Net price $19,922
Total Undergrad Population 712      •      Setting City: Midsize      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 21%      •      Retention rate 56%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 18:1

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tuskegee university logo

Tuskegee University

Tuskegee, AL ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

Develop a foundation of success through a liberal arts curriculum through Tuskegee University. Tuskegee is a private HBCU in Alabama.

Acceptance rate 61%      •      Net price $36,528      •      SAT Range 860-1045      •      Students submitting SAT scores 57%
Total Undergrad Population 2,280      •      Setting Town      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 52%      •      Retention rate 77%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 11:1

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university of montevallo logo

University of Montevallo

Montevallo, AL ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

The University of Montevallo provides a unique higher educational experience in Alabama as the only public liberal arts institution in the state. With a strong emphasis on undergraduate liberal studies, a 17:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and professional programs supported by a broad base of arts and sciences, the cumulative experience is designed for students’ intellectual and personal growth.

Montevallo’s vision is to offer academically capable students from all socio-demographic backgrounds an affordable, life-enriching “honors college” experience. Montevallo stresses community service and global awareness within an atmosphere of national, historic beauty and a tradition of innovative cultural expression.

UM’s Office of Service-Learning and Community Engagement supports faculty in integrating service into their teaching and research. The office also assists students in identifying appropriate service opportunities and supports their development as community leaders. Finally, the office is responsible for enhancing the University’s engagement in the community, serving as a clearinghouse of service opportunities for faculty, staff, and students.

Acceptance rate 61%      •      Net price $18,702      •      SAT Range 990-1215      •      Students submitting SAT scores 13%
Total Undergrad Population 2,228      •      Setting Suburb      •      Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 54%      •      Retention rate 78%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 12:1

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

What are average tuition costs in Alabama?

The average undergraduate tuition & fees for colleges in Alabama is $6,987 for in-state students at public institutions, $14,634 for out-of-state students at public institutions, and $15,818 for students at private institutions.

Cheapest degree program in Alabama

Alabama State University has an average net price of $13,282 making it the least expensive business degree program in Alabama that made our list.

Easiest degree program to get into in Alabama

Alabama State University has an acceptance rate of 99%, making it the least exclusive college with a program on our list.

Degree program with lowest student debt in Alabama

Samford University has a median total debt after graduation of $19,727. This is the typical debt for a student who completed their undergraduate degree.