Best Colleges & Universities In Iowa

by Tim Grigson | Last Updated: April 16, 2020

To identify the Best Colleges in Iowa for 2020 we averaged the results from the most respected college ranking systems ( + US News & World Report) from around the web to produce an entirely unique CollegeReviews Score for each school. And then ordered the schools based on that ranking. You won’t find a more exhaustive ranking of the best colleges and universities in Iowa anywhere.

Iowa has about 100 colleges and universities including both 2-year and 4-year schools and public and private institutions. Des Moines is both the state’s capital and the largest metropolitan area.

The top colleges in Iowa are located in the state’s smaller cities of Davenport, Waterloo, Dubuque and Iowa City. Even though the state only has three public universities, two of them—the University of Iowa and Iowa State University—are consistently ranked among the top colleges in the nation. There are over 30 choices including Drake University.

The community college system in Iowa is also strong with about 20 options sprinkled throughout the state including Western Iowa Tech Community College in Sioux City and Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids.

Regional Information about Iowa

Regional Information About Iowa
Major Cities: Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Davenport
Attractions: National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, State Capitol
Cost of Living: Best Places Iowa Cost of Living
Popular Schools: Grinnell College, University of Iowa, Iowa State University

About Our Methodology

Our methodology for determining the best colleges in Iowa takes both editorial rankings from US News & World Report, Times Higher Education and combines it with student rankings from We weight student rankings higher giving them about a 80% weighted score vs editorial rankings. Thus creating a more accurate viewpoint of the best colleges in any given state.


Grinnell College


University of Iowa


Iowa State University