2023 Top Colleges in New Jersey

New Jersey Colleges of Distinction

Published: September 1, 2022

By: Colleges of Distinction Staff

Jump to: Caldwell University | Kean University | Monmouth University | Ramapo College of New Jersey | Rider University | Rowan University | Rutgers University-Newark | Saint Elizabeth University | Seton Hall University | Stevens Institute of Technology | The College of New Jersey | 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.

Caldwell University

Caldwell, NJ ‧ Catholic ‧ 4-year

Beautiful, affordable, and equipped with nationally accredited programs, Caldwell University is the only Dominican college in New Jersey and one of only 19 Catholic colleges in the U.S. that are guided in the tradition of St. Dominic. Caldwell offers nationally accredited programs, small class sizes, and outstanding personalized attention. With one of the lowest private college tuitions in New Jersey, and significant financial assistance offered to 90% of students, a Caldwell University education is a great value!

At Caldwell University, each student’s success is taken to heart. The CARES center combines advising, registration, and financial aid to serve students as much as possible. This center ensures every student the opportunity and means to complete their degree program, not only in a timely manner and efficient manner, but also in a way that is enriching and rewarding.

Acceptance rate 92%      •      Net price $19,664      •      SAT Range 920-1110      •      Students submitting SAT scores 89%
Total Undergrad Population 2,274      •      Setting Suburb      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 64%      •      Retention rate 82%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 13:1

Click here for available majors

Kean University Seal

Kean University

Union, NJ ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

Global learning, collaborations between faculty and staff, and a welcoming academic environment make Kean a fantastic place for students to expand their worldviews and develop into leaders. As a national leader in diversity and the only public American university with a campus in China, Kean is uniquely suited to help students of all backgrounds succeed while exploring the world. 

Kean is a campus on the rise. Administrators and faculty are constantly making connections across disciplines to improve the student experience. Career planning, academic advising, and even coursework are done with input from experts from across campus, ensuring that Kean students take part in the most up-to-date and effective programs possible.

Kean University’s student body is exceptionally diverse—a privilege the entire campus celebrates across its services and curricula. Every program at Kean is designed with inclusion in mind.

Students promote inclusion through multicultural events that are open to all students so that everyone may learn more about cultures unlike their own. Additionally, the university is cognizant of the varying backgrounds and therefore hosts tailored student support groups to keep the community strong. Even classroom content incorporates diverse perspectives. Kean is a place where diversity is promoted, celebrated, and central to the campus environment. 

Acceptance rate 78%      •      Net price $17,401      •      SAT Range 920-1100      •      Students submitting SAT scores 85%
Total Undergrad Population 14,064      •      Setting Suburb      •      Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 50%      •      Retention rate 74%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 18:1

Click here for available majors

monmouth university logo

Monmouth University

West Long Branch, NJ ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

Monmouth University is just one mile from the beach, which means that, when the wind blows west, the smell of the ocean air washes over campus. Monmouth is also only one hour from NYC, with a university bus shuttling students to the nearby NJ Transit station for weekend trips. Monmouth’s close proximity to New York and Philadelphia provides many opportunities for students to network, experience real-world applications of their major, and ultimately prepare for life after college. These opportunities bring the core components of Monmouth’s educational philosophy to life.

Monmouth’s Hawk family is a tight-knit community that offers students guidance and support. Classes are small, and administrative staff work closely with students to ensure they are supported from orientation to graduation—and beyond. A phrase that sums up this closeness is often heard around campus and at the Division I athletic games: “Hawks fly together.”

Designed to help students connect their major to prospective career options, the Transformative Ten (T10) is a series of ten events that prepare students for life after Monmouth. Available to all students, this initiative is a direct response to student demand for exploring majors and career opportunities. The events include activities to develop student leadership, communication, problem-solving, teamwork, digital literacy, and networking. Students who attend at least three T10 events during the academic year are invited to a special capstone luncheon that features a keynote speaker with incredible insight on employment and industry trends as well as networking opportunities.

Acceptance rate 79%      •      Net price $31,594      •      SAT Range 1040-1210      •      Students submitting SAT scores 89%
Total Undergrad Population 5,674      •      Setting Suburb      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 74%      •      Retention rate 80%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 12:1

Click here for available majors

Ramapo College logo

Ramapo College of New Jersey

Mahwah, NJ ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

Ramapo College’s mission is focused on the four “pillars” of education: international, intercultural, interdisciplinary and experiential (hands-on), all of which are incorporated throughout the curricula and extracurriculars. The international mission is further accomplished through a wide range of study abroad and student exchange links with institutions all over the world. Additional experiential programs include internships, co-op and service learning.

The College’s interdisciplinary commitment helps students push intellectual boundaries; a commitment to experiential, hands-on learning allows them to push personal and professional boundaries as well. The commitment of faculty to attentive teaching and mentoring empowers students to learn actively and attain the skills they will need to succeed professionally and become lifelong learners.

At the heart of Ramapo College’s mission is excellence in teaching and learning. To that end, the College offers a wide array of innovative disciplinary and interdisciplinary majors and minors rarely found at small public colleges. Ramapo faculty, whom students consistently praise in institutional surveys, devote time and energy outside the classroom working with students on research projects and mentoring them about future career goals. The College’s close proximity to New York City turns that world city into a veritable classroom, rich with opportunities for enhancing student learning.

Acceptance rate 67%      •      Net price $17,286      •      SAT Range 1040-1220      •      Students submitting SAT scores 90%
Total Undergrad Population 6,042      •      Setting Suburb      •      Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 72%      •      Retention rate 85%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 16:1

Click here for available majors

Rider University logo

Rider University

Lawrenceville, NJ ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

For more than 150 years, students have chosen Rider to develop the knowledge, skills, and confidence needed for career success or to pursue advanced study. A private, coeducational university, Rider’s location in Lawrenceville, New Jersey — just 90 minutes from New York City and 60 minutes from Philadelphia — offers students exceptional internship, co-op, and field experiences to test and launch their careers. 

Rider students also are connected by a desire to make a difference as members of a global community that begins on campus and extends around the world. With more than 100 student clubs and organizations and a host of leadership development, study abroad, honors, and multicultural programs, Rider students are encouraged and supported in their efforts to make a difference.

The annual Independent Scholarship & Creative Activities Presentations (ISCAP) Day is a celebration of the creative and innovative minds that thrive at Rider, where dozens of students representing every field of study present the results of their independent study and research projects. It also provides a forum for students and faculty to engage in interdisciplinary discussions about their work.  

Acceptance rate 76%      •      Net price $29,396      •      SAT Range 1020-1220      •      Students submitting SAT scores 50%
Total Undergrad Population 4,636      •      Setting Suburb      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 65%      •      Retention rate 79%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 10:1

Click here for available majors

Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey Logo and Insignia

Rowan University

Glassboro, NJ ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

With a mission to be inclusiveagile, and responsive, Rowan University is always growing alongside every generation of students. Its nearly 15,000 undergrads are inspired every day within Rowan’s 90+ cutting-edge bachelor’s degree programs.

Rowan University’s First-Generation Support Program, Flying First, aims to provide tools and opportunities for students to have a successful personal, professional, academic, and social college experience. The program aims to help first-generation college students feel engaged and appreciated by the broader Rowan University community as a means of improving persistence and personal growth. 

Rowan has a robust Office of Career Advancement with teams that address Career Counseling & Readiness, Experiential Education, and Employer Relations. Numerous career fairs, career workshops embedded into class sessions, and special events with visiting employers are available to all students. In addition, numerous credit-bearing courses provide a structured approach to ensuring students are well-equipped to make decisions regarding and successfully transition to their careers. 

Acceptance rate 78%      •      Net price $24,810      •      SAT Range 1040-1250      •      Students submitting SAT scores 83%
Total Undergrad Population 19,678      •      Setting Suburb      •      Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 68%      •      Retention rate 84%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 17:1

Click here for available majors

Rutgers University Newark logo

Rutgers University–Newark

Newark, NJ ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

Rutgers University-Newark is a leading urban research university in Newark, New Jersey. Rutgers-Newark’s diverse student body uses their time on campus for community and self-improvement. With more than 40 majors, premier faculty and staff, and a location both within a major urban center and near several more, Rutgers-Newark gives students the tools to become successful professionals and engaged citizens.

As an anchor institution for the entire Newark area, Rutgers-Newark prides itself on connecting students to community service opportunities. Through the Office of University-Community Partnerships, students can find nonprofits, companies, and local projects that match their interests so that they may have a fulfilling experience that helps them and their community grow.

Rutgers University-Newark is an anchor for the entire Newark area, allowing students the chance to learn and live in the cultural center of New Jersey. Newark is a home for the arts, sports, and cultural and historical centers. Plus, Rutgers-Newark is just a short trip from New York City, where students can find activities no matter their interests.

Acceptance rate 74%      •      Net price $13,832      •      SAT Range 1010-1170      •      Students submitting SAT scores 94%
Total Undergrad Population 13,231      •      Setting City: Large      •      Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 65%      •      Retention rate 87%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 15:1

Click here for available majors

College of Saint Elizabeth is now Saint Elizabeth University. Morristown, New Jersey

Saint Elizabeth University

Morristown, NJ ‧ Catholic ‧ 4-year

Saint Elizabeth University (SEU) is a community of learning in the Catholic liberal arts tradition for students of diverse ages, backgrounds, and cultures focused on engaged learning for leadership in service to others. 

The University is devoted to preparing responsible leaders for meaningful lives in a changing world and is committed to providing a superior educational experience that is also affordable. This commitment to students is underscored by the University’s “SEU Promise,” which states that any student who fully participates in their program for all four years at SEU will be provided a paid six-month internship if they have not received a job offer or acceptance into graduate/professional school within six months of graduation.

The University’s general education curriculum promotes success. Classes are targeted, integrated, and developmental, giving students more flexibility to double major and take electives within their majors. Students are assigned to learning communities, comprising approximately 15 students and two faculty members, one of whom also functions as an academic advisor.

Located on 200 beautiful acres that overlook the Watchung Mountains in Morris County, Saint Elizabeth University is a suburban campus located just 35 miles from New York City, which can be accessed by a convenient train station at the edge of the campus. The campus is close to Fairleigh Dickinson and Drew University, allowing students to cross-register.

Acceptance rate 75%      •      Net price $20,121
Total Undergrad Population 1,272      •      Setting Suburb      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 51%      •      Retention rate 76%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 11:1

Click here for available majors

Seton Hall University logo

Seton Hall University

South Orange, NJ ‧ Catholic ‧ 4-year

Seton Hall offers superior opportunities for career development before and after graduation. More than 75 percent of students participate in an internship, practicum or clinical program to gain professional experience; the university also boasts a career-related job placement rate 10 to 15 percent above the national average and an international alumni network more than 70,000 strong.

The university combines the resources of a large university with the personal attention of a small liberal arts college. Its attractive suburban campus is only 14 miles by train, bus or car to New York City, with the wealth of employment, internship, cultural and entertainment opportunities the city offers.

As the nation’s oldest diocesan Catholic university, Seton Hall embraces students of all races and religions, challenging each to better the world with integrity, compassion and a commitment to serving others.

Acceptance rate 78%      •      Net price $33,652      •      SAT Range 1150-1310      •      Students submitting SAT scores 83%
Total Undergrad Population 9,814      •      Setting Suburb      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 72%      •      Retention rate 84%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 14:1

Click here for available majors

Stevens Institute of Technology logo

Stevens Institute of Technology

Hoboken, NJ ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

Since its founding in 1870, Stevens Institute of Technology has made a steadfast commitment to innovation and research. All of its students are not only able, but encouraged to work personally with their faculty members to sharpen their skills, prepare for their careers, and even pursue entrepreneurial endeavors while still in school.

Stevens’ special curriculum takes a multifaceted approach to technical training through team collaboration, internships, and cooperative education programs. A community of practice, and an institution of action, Stevens Institute of Technology continues to defend its reputation as a leader of research in the fields of technology, engineering, financial systems, healthcare, and environmental sustainability.

In addition to a Greek life base of 16 fraternities and sororities, Stevens offers Special Interest Housing to students who share common passions and interests. The Lore El Center for Women is an all-female residence for those interested in women’s rights and empowerment, and the C.A.R.E House fosters an active community dedicated to continual service.

Acceptance rate 53%      •      Net price $40,303      •      SAT Range 1320-1480      •      Students submitting SAT scores 73%
Total Undergrad Population 7,257      •      Setting Suburb      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 88%      •      Retention rate 93%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 12:1

Click here for available majors

TCNJ The College of New Jersey Logo

The College of New Jersey

Ewing Township, NJ ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

The College of New Jersey is on a mission to keep the most talented students from NJ within their home state for their college education. The College of New Jersey combines the best practices of the finest private institutions with a public mission.

Throughout the winter and summer sessions, faculty lead TCNJ students on intensive study abroad experiences to extend their fields of study beyond the home campus and into various destinations around the world. These short-term programs allow faculty to have their students focus intensely on one topic, all while guiding them along the journey of a lifetime.

TCNJ’s Bonner Institute is responsible for connecting students, faculty, and staff to service opportunities both in and outside of the campus. The Institute addresses a wide array of social issues, ranging from poverty to environmental needs. One component of the program is the Bonner Community Scholars Corps, a small group of highly committed students who receive academic scholarship for their engagement. Scholars are also responsible for motivating the campus community to get involved.

Acceptance rate 51%      •      Net price $24,617      •      SAT Range 1140-1320      •      Students submitting SAT scores 87%
Total Undergrad Population 7,783      •      Setting Suburb      •      Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 86%      •      Retention rate 94%      •      Student-to-faculty ratio 13:1

Click here for available majors

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

What are average tuition costs in New Jersey?

The average undergraduate tuition & fees for colleges in New Jersey is $9,045 for in-state students at public institutions, $18,193 for out-of-state students at public institutions, and $19,464 for students at private institutions.

Cheapest degree program in New Jersey

Rutgers University–Newark has an average net price of $13,832, making it the least expensive institution in New Jersey that made our list.

Easiest degree program to get into in New Jersey

Caldwell University has an acceptance rate of 92%, with an SAT range of 920-1110, making it the least exclusive college in New Jersey on our list.

Degree program with lowest student debt in New Jersey

Georgian Court University has a median total debt after graduation of $21,250. This is the typical debt for a student who completed their undergraduate degree.

Best New Jersey Colleges by Award

2023 Best Business Schools in New Jersey

Best Colleges by State

California | Texas | Florida | New York | Pennsylvania | Illinois | Georgia | Ohio | Alabama | Colorado | Connecticut | Massachusetts | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maryland | Michigan | Minnesota | Missouri | North Carolina | Oklahoma |Oregon | Tennessee | Virginia | Washington | Wisconsin