The Best Colleges in Maryland

Maryland will surprise you with its large metropolitan areas, geographic diversity, and stellar academic institutions. From the shining sea to the purple mountains majesty, Maryland is all that makes America great in a nutshell. The state’s natural beauty is equally matched by the prowess of its academic institutions, most of which reside within and around the cities of Baltimore, Washington D.C., and Annapolis.

After researching dozens of schools we have identified the best colleges in Maryland to help you navigate through the state’s plethora of scholastic institutions. We considered factors such as academic specialties, quality of student life, and overall value to choose our top picks, and then we detailed the rest of our favorite colleges in Maryland to give you an overview of the state’s higher education offerings.

Top Pick
Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University ranks as the #1 Biomedical School and #10 Overall National University for 2020 according to U.S. News.

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After reviewing all of Maryland’s colleges, we’ve chosen Johns Hopkins University as our top pick. The university is consistently ranked among the best schools in the nation and is a premier medical school that is partnered with a world-class hospital and medical learning facility.

The 5 Top-Rated Colleges in Maryland

Editor's PicksCollegeRating
Best OverallJohns Hopkins University4.8
Runner UpUniversity of Maryland College Park5.0
Best ValueLoyola University Maryland4.3
Best for AcademicsUnited States Naval Academy5.0
Best for Student LifeTownson University5.0

*Ratings are from U.S. News and Niche.com at the time of publication and can change.

Our Top Pick: Johns Hopkins University

A world leader in medical research, and a nationally ranked academic institution, Johns Hopkins University is the foremost institute for higher learning in all of Maryland. The university is internationally renown for its medical research and studies, but it also features a number of other prominent schools in which engineering, education, law, and more can be studied.

Look at any top college rankings list and you are bound to see Johns Hopkins University scoring well across the board. Niche.com ranks the university a Top 20 contender in over a dozen academic categories, recognizing the school as the #2 Best School for Nursing and Public Health for 2020.

There’s more to this university than academics— students love campus life at the school. Johns Hopkins University was rated by The Daily Meal as having the #4 Best College Food in America. There are four campuses around Baltimore and nine different schools under the university’s umbrella.

Johns Hopkins Hospital is considered a paragon of medical facilities, and it works in partnership with the university to teach students and conduct research. The resources of this university appear to be limitless, and students here are given incredible opportunities found nowhere else in the world.

Johns Hopkins University Key Features:

  • 7 to 1 student to faculty ratio
  • Four campuses are divided into nine schools
  • Quidditch is an on-campus sport
  • Freshman are required to live on campus

Our Runner Up Pick: University of Maryland College Park

Runner Up
University of Maryland College Park

With an abundance of quality academic offerings, a history of sports supremacy, and lively student life, University of Maryland College Park is a standout institution.

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If it weren’t for the world-class medical school in town, the University of Maryland College Park would be our top college pick in Maryland. That’s not to say that this school is lacking, because it’s certainly not. With nearly 280 academic programs to choose from, including a whopping 115 graduate programs, there’s no end to the amount of learning that can be had at this expansive university.

College Park is the flagship institution of the University of Maryland, a large university that has several branches scattered throughout the state, a number of which are highlighted below. This campus is home to the school’s highly acclaimed graduate degree in education, and it also houses the lauded Robert H. Smith School of Business and the A. James Clark School of Engineering.

The wealth of educational offerings is equally matched by an astounding amount of clubs and intercollegiate sports. Niche.com ranks the university as having the ninth Best College Athletics in America. Campus is located just a few miles from the heart of Washington D.C..

University of Maryland College Park Key Features:

  • 18 to 1 student to faculty ratio
  • Nearly 280 academic programs available
  • Over 800 clubs and organizations
  • NCAA Division I-FBS athletic status

Best Value: Loyola University Maryland

Best Value
Loyola University Maryland

Loyola University Maryland is a Catholic school that provides a great many benefits to its students— a quality education at an incredible value most important of all.

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Loyola University Maryland is a large Jesuit institution with a beautiful campus, award-winning academic programs, and a highly competitive collection of intercollegiate sports. This well-rounded university provides all of this at a great value to students who on average receive nearly four times the financial aid support of the typical college student.

People may at first scoff at the $18,000 per-semester cost of attendance, but with a heaping helping of financial aid and an after graduation earning rate that’s more than twice that of the average American, there’s no doubting this school’s value.

U.S. News ranks Loyola University Maryland as the #1 Best College for Veterans in the North, and the #4 Overall School in the Region for 2020. The high-quality education and campus experience of this university will pay off in dividends down the road. Those who are not interested in attending a Catholic school can find other schools of great value listed below.

Loyola University Maryland Key Features:

  • 11 to 1 student to faculty ratio
  • NCAA Division I athletic status
  • Catholic school

Best for Academics: United States Naval Academy

Best for Academics
United States Naval Academy

The United States Naval Academy was rated the #1 Top Public School in America for 2020 by U.S. News.

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The United States Naval Academy is one of five federal service academies throughout the United States. Students here are referred to as midshipmen and are required to enlist in the navy after graduation in exchange for free tuition. Those who are looking for a more traditional college experience with excellent academic offerings should look to our overall Top and Runner Up picks for outstanding alternatives.

Depending on your perspective, the United States Naval Academy is the best value school on this list as tuition doesn’t cost a dime. The education you’ll receive at this school will be top-notch, and it’ll come packaged with real-world experience as you go on to use your education in service to the U.S. Navy.

The most popular majors at this academy are economics, political science, and various engineering programs. The scholastic education students receive is only one aspect of personal growth that will be found at the academy as midshipmen strengthen their bodies, learn interpersonal skills, adapt to extreme circumstances, and go on to serve their nation in a number of challenging ways. This path of higher education is like no other.

United States Naval Academy Key Features:

  • 8 to 1 student to faculty ratio
  • NCAA Division I athletic status
  • Students are required to enlist in the navy
  • Free tuition

Best for Student Life: Townson University

Best for Student Life
Townson University

A suburban campus in a college town that’s just outside of the big city, Townson University has everything a student could ever want, and more.

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Townson University’s breathtaking campus is located in the town of Townson, a suburb of Baltimore. Students here have access to all of the wonderful conveniences and entertainment of the city while keeping to their studies at a comfortable distance from urban distractions.

Academia rides the zephyrs through Townson. The suburban town is well acclimated to the collegiate atmosphere which is emanated from Townson University and the other schools within its borders, such as Goucher College and the Carver Center for Arts and Technology. This is a true college town.

The school competes in 19 different intercollegiate sports and dozens of quality degree paths to choose from. Townson University is a large public college with fairly inexpensive tuition, making it one of the best value schools on our list. Student life at this campus is about as good as it gets.

Townson University Key Features:

  • 17 to 1 student to faculty ratio
  • NCAA Division I-FCS athletic status
  • 44 graduate programs offered

Who Should Attend College in Maryland

Maryland is often referred to as America in Miniature. The state is home to rich diversity in both its people and its geography. With mighty mountains to the west, farmland to the east, huge metropolitan cities, quaint suburbs, and spectacular ocean beaches, Maryland is brimming with Americana in every section of the state.

The Old Line State has many great colleges to choose from, most of which are located around the metropolitan hubs of Baltimore, Washington D.C., and Annapolis. The United States Naval Academy in Annapolis is one of only five United States service academies in the nation and the University of Maryland is a top-tier institution with campuses all across the state.

Johns Hopkins Hospital, the best overall hospital in Maryland and one of the top research hospitals in the nation, has close ties to our top college pick of Johns Hopkins University, making the school one of the best locations for medical students in the world.

If you’re moving to a college town, then you won’t want to miss Life At College: 5 Keys To Finding Your Perfect College Town Apartment.

Top Pick
Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University ranks at the #1 Biomedical School and #10 Overall National University for 2020 according to U.S. News.

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Important Features to Consider

The college of your choice should fit your current needs and future goals. Here’s what to consider before applying to a college in Maryland.

  • Location. Maryland has three major metropolitan areas which are where most of the state’s college campuses can be found. There are suburban and rural campuses as well, so be sure to know what kind of environment you want to live and study in.
  • Your academic and career goals. There are a number of great colleges in Maryland to choose from, but they each have their own specialties worth considering. For example, medical students should look at Johns Hopkins University, while political science majors may want to gear their college search more toward the Washington D.C. metropolitan area.
  • Academics, student life, and value. Any of these can be your primary concern when choosing a college, but you’re likely looking for a specific balance of the three. We’ve built this list to detail which schools fall into these three broad categories and help guide you toward the college that is right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many colleges are in Maryland?

As of this article’s publication, there are 50 universities and colleges in Maryland. Of those, 21 are public schools and 29 and private.

Is a degree from UMUC respected?

UMUC, now known as the University of Maryland Global Campus, is a public university focused on online learning. The school is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. UMUC was ranked #1 in The Military Times as the Best for Vets: Colleges 2015.

Is University of Maryland an Ivy League school?

The University of Maryland is not an Ivy League school.

What GPA do you need for University of Maryland?

The University of Maryland does not have GPA requirements. However, the average incoming freshman in 2018 had a GPA of 4.28 and more than 90% of applicants had a GPA at or above 3.75. This data shows that most aspiring students will need to earn nearly straight A grades throughout high school.

Other Colleges We Reviewed

Top Pick
Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University ranks at the #1 Biomedical School and #10 Overall National University for 2020 according to U.S. News.

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We looked at 20 other colleges in Maryland. Even though they didn’t make our five best colleges list, they’re still excellent in many ways and may be the right choice for you. The information you’ll need to compare each one is included with the listing below. All costs reflect the current per-semester in-state tuition and fees at the time of writing.

Maryland’s Academic Colleges

Capitol Technology University

Capitol Technology University

Capitol Technology University is a small private institution that focuses on highly technical career paths. Students here turn their attention toward computer programming courses such as information security systems and information science, and a wealth of engineering programs are available for study as well.

Key Features:

  • 16 to 1 student to faculty ratio
  • No athletic programs
  • All graduate programs are offered online or through distance education programs

Cost: $10,000

Goucher College

Goucher College

Goucher College is ranked the #11 Most Innovative College in America by Niche.com. This small campus continually reevaluates and reinvents its academic programs. Recently the school has implemented a “Goucher Commons” set of learning experiences and requires every student to study abroad before they can graduate.

Key Features:

  • 10 to 1 student to faculty ratio
  • Study abroad required
  • On-campus robotics lab

Cost: $15,000

Maryland Institute College of Art

Maryland Institute College of Art

The Maryland Institute College of Art is located in the heart of Baltimore where the art scene thrives amid the richly diverse urban environment of the city. The most popular majors at this college are graphic design, illustration, and painting, and the most popular graduate study is the fine arts.

Key Features:

  • 8 to 1 student to faculty ratio
  • 13 graduate programs available
  • No athletic programs

Cost: $20,500

St. John’s College Annapolis

St. John's College Annapolis

Singularly focused upon the humanities, St. John’s College guides students upon an exploration of the greatest artists, philosophers, and political thinkers the world has ever known. This is an uncommon school for uncommon minds, a place where those can think big without forgetting the wonts and desires of the heart.

Key Features:

  • 7 to 1 student to faculty ratio
  • Only one undergraduate major and graduate program
  • Ranked #12 Undergraduate Teaching college by U.S. News for 2020

Cost: $15,000

St. Mary’s College of Maryland

St. Mary's College of Maryland

A public honors college set on the beautiful shoreline of Chesapeake Bay, St. Mary’s College of Maryland gives the impression that it is an elite private college while maintaining the accessibility of its public school roots. The liberal arts reign supreme at this school where psychology and economics are the two most popular courses of study.

Key Features:

  • 10 to 1 student to faculty ratio
  • NCAA Division III athletic status
  • Catholic college

Cost: $10,000

University of Maryland Baltimore County

University of Maryland Baltimore County

The University of Maryland Baltimore County is one of several branches of the state’s largest university. The school, in general, provides a great value to students, and this specific campus is an academic powerhouse, especially for those interested in information technology.

Key Features:

  • 18 to 1 student to faculty ratio
  • NCAA Division I athletic status
  • Ranked a top 100 public university for 2020 by Niche.com

Cost: $8,000

University of Maryland Eastern Shore

University of Maryland Eastern Shore

A rural branch of the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore is a historically black college that was founded in 1886 by three teachers who taught only nine students. Today, thousands of undergrads from diverse backgrounds study a large variety of topics, the most popular being criminal science, sociology, and exercise science.

Key Features:

  • 13 to 1 student to faculty ratio
  • NCAA Division I athletic status
  • 18 graduate programs available

Cost: $8,000

Washington College

Washington College

Named in honor of General and President George Washington, Washington College was founded upon the principle of educating leaders who would better the new democracy of the United States. Business and political science are popular degree paths for students here.

Key Features:

  • 11 to 1 student to faculty ratio
  • 100% of freshmen live on campus
  • No application fee

Cost: $16,000

Maryland’s Colleges for Student Life

Bowie State University

Bowie State University

Bowie State University is Maryland’s first historically black college and its campus resides in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. This public university has a unique combination of a low acceptance rate and a low tuition cost.

Key Features:

  • 16 to 1 student to faculty ratio
  • NCAA Division II athletic status
  • Army and Air Force ROTC programs available

Cost: $6,500

Morgan State University

Morgan State University

Set on the banks of Herring Run against a woodland backdrop, Morgan Statue University has carved out a slice of suburbia for its students within Baltimore’s urban metropolitan area. Campus offers a bit of serenity away from the bulk of the city’s din while remaining in close quarters to all the conveniences of the surrounding urban environment.

Key Features:

  • 13 to 1 student to faculty ratio
  • NCAA Division I-FCS athletic status
  • A top 100 ranking by Niche.com in 2020 for Best Greek Life and Top Party School

Cost: $7,500

Salisbury University

Salisbury University

Salisbury University resides far away from the big city hubbub of Washington D.C. and Baltimore. Campus resides in a small rural town and students are required to live on campus for their first two years of schooling. Popular majors include social work, communications, and psychology.

Key Features:

  • 16 to 1 student to faculty ratio
  • 4-1-4 based academic calendar
  • Students are required to live on campus for their first two years

Cost: $9,000

Stevenson University

Stevenson University

Stevenson University lives on the outskirts of Baltimore. This private school boasts high-quality dorms and accounting degrees, both of which rival the best in the state. School leadership prides itself on its student-to-career focus through its Stevenson University Career Architecture program which helps students choose the best educational path based on their specific skills and provides functional learning on how to begin a successful career.

Key Features:

  • 16 to 1 student to faculty ratio
  • Ranked #13 for Best College Dorms in America by Niche.com for 2020
  • Rated the #1 school for a Forensic Accounting Degree in 2018 by topaccountingdegrees.org

Cost: $14,000

University of Baltimore

University of Baltimore

The University of Baltimore provides a well-rounded approach to education that makes degrees accessible to students of all different ilks. The school offers numerous online degree programs, many of which are at competitively low prices. The physical campus is located in the center of Baltimore.

Key Features:

  • 14 to 1 student to faculty ratio
  • Rated the #3 school in America for a Cybersecurity MBA in 2019 by securitydegreehub.com
  • Evening and online degree programs available

Cost: $10,000

Washington Adventist University

Washington Adventist University

Student life at Washington Adventist University is hailed as being a quiet and productive academic environment. This is one of the safest campuses in all of Maryland, and students often praise it as a home away from home. Popular majors include psychology, nursing, and business.

Key Features:

  • 9 to 1 student to faculty ratio
  • A top 50 college for diversity according to Niche.com for 2020
  • Christian university

Cost: $9,000

Maryland’s Value Colleges

Coppin State University

Coppin State University

The stunningly inexpensive Coppin State University seeks to make higher education affordable to innercity Baltimore students from low-income families. The low cost of tuition is met with higher-than-average financial aid assistance, making this an extremely affordable public institution.

Key Features:

  • 18 to 1 student to faculty ratio
  • NCAA Division I athletic status
  • 14 on-campus graduate programs available

Cost: $4,000

Frostburg State University

Frostburg State University

Frostburg State University offers award-winning degree programs online and on-campus at a fraction of the cost of the big universities. The wildlife biology graduate program, sports science degree, and online computer science courses are highly acclaimed and provide a great value to students.

Key Features:

  • 14 to 1 student to faculty ratio
  • NCAA Division III athletic status
  • Ranked #34 Top Public School by U.S. News for 2020

Cost: $6,500

Hood College

Hood College

Hood College is a private institution with Christian roots that accepts students from all backgrounds. Popular majors include business, psychology, and communications. On average, students here receive financial aid that amounts to nearly four times the national average.

Key Features:

  • 10 to 1 student to faculty ratio
  • Ranked #16 Value School in America’s North by U.S. News for 2020
  • NCAA Division III athletic status

Cost: $12,000

McDaniel College

McDaniel College

McDaniel College holds a lot of appeal. This private institution resides in a suburban setting and has a charming campus. Academically, the school offers a variety of great programs, the most popular being physical education and business. Students here receive nearly five times the financial aid of the average American student.

Key Features:

  • 11 to 1 student to faculty ratio
  • Ranked #1 Value School in America’s North by U.S. News for 2020
  • 4-1-4 academic calendar

Cost: $11,000

Mount St. Mary’s University

Mount St. Mary's University

Mount St. Mary’s University is a Catholic school that is primarily intended for women, though men are allowed in a number of programs as well. The school is home to several top-ranked women’s sports teams and has a wide range of degree options. U.S. News ranked this the #1 Top Performer in Social Mobility in the North for 2020.

Key Features:

  • 12 to 1 student to faculty ratio
  • NCAA Division I athletic status
  • Catholic university primarily for women

Cost: $14,000

Notre Dame of Maryland University

Notre Dame of Maryland University

A very low student to faculty ratio and incredibly high on-average financial aid award amounts make Notre Dame of Maryland University a stellar value school in Maryland. This is primarily a nursing school, though students can also work toward degrees in humanities, biology, and business.

Key Features:

  • 7 to 1 student to faculty ratio
  • NCAA Division III athletic status
  • Catholic university

Cost: $10,000

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