Overview of Iowa Colleges & Schools

The state of Iowa maintains several public institutions of higher education throughout the state, primarily in the form of community colleges, as well as a large number of private schools that are either not-for-profit or for-profit institutions. The state is the thirtieth in terms of population. The state's largest city, Des Moines, is also its, and along with other large cities such as Cedar Rapids and Davenport, are primary locations for institutions of higher learning. The state is bordered by Minnesota to the north, Wisconsin to the northeast, Illinois to the east, Missouri to the south, Nebraska to the west, and South Dakota to the northwest. The state’s shape and proximity to large cities in bordering state’s allows for ease of travel, particularly for the purposes of sport.

Iowa has several public institutions of higher learning that confer bachelor’s degrees or higher. Public institutions tend to support high student enrollment and low tuition. Public institutions receive their primary funding from the state, which is augmented for several sources, including tuition, grants, private donations, and federal support. The state of Iowa maintains three such institutions, one of which, the University of Northern Iowa, is master’s institution, which means it offers over 50 master degree programs and less than 20 doctoral programs. The state’s oldest public institution is the University of Iowa,a research university separated into eleven different colleges and considered a public ivy institution.

Public universities in Iowa:

Private institutions in the state of Iowa provide education for admitted students, generally at a higher cost. The higher cost allows the college or university to operate without aid from the state, providing its own curriculum and focus for students. These institutions also tend to have low enrollment and excellent student to teacher ratios, allowing for a more personal educational experience and a greater focus on an individual’s academic success. Many of these school’s utilize a liberal arts curriculum, with a large portion of those schools having a background and history related to a specific Christian denomination. Some schools continue their ties, while others acknowledge the connection as part of the school’s founding but have chosen more secular approaches to education.

Private colleges and universities include:

The state is home to large number of private career colleges and schools along with a number of public community college. These schools provide career training opportunities for individuals interested in entering the workforce rather than pursuing often expensive and long term education. These school usually offer courses and programs for high demand fields, with programs lasting less than a year or two years. Community college programs tend to cost less, and offer certificate or associate degree programs. Associate degree programs also provide transferable credits in the form of general education courses, and the school’s also have specific programs aimed at academic transfer to four year institutions.

The most populous city in Iowa is Des Moines, followed by Cedar Rapids and Davenport.  While the most populous county in Iowa is Polk County with Linn County and Scott County close to one another.   If you are interested in visiting the state of Iowa, consider visiting their state page or the state chapter of the Chamber of Commerce.

College Degree Breakdown for the State of Iowa

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, NCES, O*NET Online

Doctoral or professional degree34,9102.3
Master's degree00.0
Bachelor's degree300,06019.5
Associate's degree32,9602.1
Postsecondary nondegree award108,1507.0
Some college, no degree00.0
High school diploma or equivalent568,47037.0
No formal educational credential420,25027.4

Public Universities & Colleges

Image of Public College Campus

There are three public 4-year state universities and colleges in Iowa. These four-year institutions predominantly offer bachelor's or higher level programs and some may even include research facilities. See a state-wide list of the state universities and colleges in Iowa.

Private Universities & Colleges

Image of Private College Campus

In Iowa there are thirty-three accredited private four-year colleges. Similar to public schools, private colleges and universities offer bachelor's or higher level programs and research opportunities, although they usually have smaller classes and higher tuition. Compare admission requirements and tuition details for private colleges in Iowa.

Community Colleges

Community College in Iowa

Community colleges are public institutions that offer low cost, high quality education for residents throughout the state. These schools offer 2-year programs that grant associate degrees or offer training courses in specialized trades. Iowa" Community colleges also are the number one transfer-out programs available for four-year colleges and universities. Learn more and compare community colleges in Iowa.

Liberal Arts Colleges

Liberal Arts Colleges

Iowa has four accredited liberal arts colleges. These schools primarily focus on undergraduate programs in the liberal arts and sciences through comprehensive and flexible curriculums. Compare all the liberal arts colleges in Iowa.

Bible & Christian Colleges

Christian Colleges

Bible and Christian colleges generally provide specialized undergraduate education with a focus on religious or biblical study. There are approximately twenty-seven such colleges in Iowa located throughout the state. See a full list of Christian colleges in Iowa along with program and tuition information.

Browse Schools by Career in Iowa

Follow the links below to get information on accredited schools in our database that offer programs or degrees.

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