Accredited Schools & Colleges in Iowa

Iowa College Guide – What You Need to Know

Best Colleges & Universities in Iowa

Iowa is incredibly diversified in its stellar higher learning educational opportunities. Iowa does not offer small four-year public colleges and universities; the three primary four-year public universities comprise the majority of the undergraduate population in Iowa. These are Iowa State University, the University of Northern Iowa, and the University of Iowa. They each have extension locations and online courses so that people in rural areas, people outside of Iowa, and people in other countries are able to receive the same top educational opportunities as those who chose to attend in-state.

You will also find dozens of highly reputable, small private colleges and universities. Some of the best-known include Drake University, Grinnell College, Luther College, Central College, Simpson College, Northwestern College, and the University of Dubuque.

What are the most popular bachelor’s degrees offered in Iowa?

The industries in Iowa are diversifying and, as a result, so are the degrees. You will find that Iowa is at the top of the financial services and insurance industries in the country. Major tech industries have been moving to Iowa in recent years and Iowa leads the nation in the renewable energy industry. All of these industries impact the degree options and popularity.

Many popular degrees exist in computer science, agriculture, virtual reality, research, entrepreneurship, technology, transportation and logistics, veterinary, and community and regional planning. The following are four of the most popular bachelor’s degrees at all of the major universities:

The top degrees in Iowa include:

How Much Can You Make by Having a Degree in iowa

Much like anywhere in the US, you have to complete a degree to make more money. With each degree you earn, you can expect that your salary will increase by roughly $10,000 to $15,000 annually. Work experience will also influence your pay. The same is true if you continue to complete certificates throughout your career as a way to improve upon your skills and to remain current in your industry and your field. Remember that online degrees provide schedule flexibility to minimize disruption to your home life and your current work life.

$27,040* $37,024* $43,472* $60,996* $72,852* $90,636*

Best Colleges Project in Iowa

Best 2-Year Associate Degree Programs

Some of the best two-year associate programs are available at community colleges and private four-year higher learning institutions. Many of the award-winning and nationally recognized two-year programs in Iowa include STEM degrees, nursing, education, agriculture, computer networking and information security, criminal justice, business, sport management, and much more. No matter your career goals, getting started with an associate degree from an excellent school is never a bad idea.

Best 4-Year Bachelor’s Degree Programs

Iowa has a wealth of high-ranking private higher learning institutions in addition to some of the best state colleges and universities. From these remarkable colleges and universities, students can choose some of the best bachelor’s programs in Iowa. Programs offered include business and management, marketing, social sciences, engineering, communication and journalism, sustainable agriculture, education, and biomedical sciences. A bachelor’s degree may be the last degree you ever need in order to succeed in your chosen field, so find the school that’s right for you.

Best Advanced (Master’s and Doctorate) Degree Programs

Roughly 30% of students at Iowa’s four-year colleges and universities are in pursuit of a master’s degree, a doctoral degree, or postgraduate training. The best graduate degree programs in Iowa are featured at both public and private higher learning institutions. The types of degrees you will find vary from one school to another depending on what’s in-demand in the area. Some of the highest quality master’s and doctoral degrees offered in Iowa include those in law, medicine, MBAs, engineering, agriculture, computer science, social and behavioral sciences, education, and veterinary medicine.

Best Online Colleges

Iowa colleges and universities are embracing and adapting quality and highly effective distance learning at a rapid rate. Great online programs are being offered all over the state, either one course at a time or as fully developed degree programs that you can complete part-time or take at an accelerated rate so you can get to work fast. The most popular and top-ranking online programs in Iowa cover nearly every field such as engineering, computer science, business, agriculture, sport management, medicine, healthcare, life sciences, management, design, education, and marketing. Students will also have access to experiential learning opportunities with many Iowa online degree programs no matter where they live.

Cost of Iowa College Education & Salaries

Iowa only has three colleges and universities that are four-year public schools. They have roughly 42 four-year private schools and 16 two-year public community colleges. The cost of in-state tuition at the four-year public schools is roughly $1,000 less than the national average and significantly less than out-of-state tuition. The most reputable private schools are often more expensive than out-of-state tuition; therefore, many students choose the four-year state public schools.

The four-year public universities in Iowa have some of the best graduation rates in the nation. This is highly important to consider as you make your decision. You should also consider the number of years it will take to complete a degree program. The less time it takes for you to complete a degree the more money you save.

All three schools offer on-campus and off-campus housing and they all offer many accredited degree programs that can be completed entirely or partially online. The cost of living, activities, entertainment, and safety of the towns in which you would be residing are also significant selling points. Iowa is also a renewable energy state. You can find bike share, public transportation, charging stations, and affordable biodiesel everywhere.

The schools offer a significant portion of student employment opportunities. And you can begin internships with large corporations and SMEs for college credit at any time. For those who require financial assistance, the state offers many grant and scholarship options. Be sure to look at scholarships and grants throughout the country as many apply to students pursuing certain degrees and professions rather than simply a geographical location

College Cost Analysis - Iowa vs National

Average Iowa Tuition & Fees at 4 Year Public Schools

In-State Tuition - $8,766

National – $9,970

Out-of-State – $24,107

National out-of-state – $25,620

Percentage of Students Receiving Financial Aid

Students who choose a public college or university in Iowa will have plenty of access to state and federal financial assistance. You can choose to apply for student loans, scholarships, or grants. Each state varies in their financial assistance offerings and packages. Higher education is expensive, and a small percentage of parents pay for the entire bill. Many studies estimate that over 80% of students receive some form of financial aid in the US. It is important to pursue all options to minimize the amount of debt you have at the start of your career. Some state schools in Iowa have over 80% of their students receiving some type of financial assistance.

Financial Aid Iowa Nationally
Received Federal Grants 36% 37.7%
Average $ per Recipient $9,564 $10,927

* Institutional aid represents grant and scholarship funds directly awarded by a postsecondary institution.
* Financial aid data represents 4-year public and private nonprofit schools only.

Iowa College Tuition Costs Vs Salary Potential

Helping You Maximize Your Education Earnings

Iowa Colleges Tuition & Fees In-State Tuition & Fees Out-Of-State Books & Supplies Room & Board Campus Room & Board Off Campus Graduation Rate Undergrads Median Salary
Iowa State University $8,636 $22,472 $994 $11,731 $10,976 74% $54,900
University of Iowa $8,965 $30,609 $950 $10,976 $12,008 72% $53,600
Northern Iowa University $8,699 $19,241 $900 $12,692 $11,731 65% $51,400

**Salary after attending is a median salary, your degree and field can affect your median salary.

Best Scholarships for Iowa

  • HSTS
  • DMWC
  • IMSS
  • RDBS
  • AIOS
  • LWCS
  • PEI
  • BES


The Herman Sani Tournament Scholarship

Amount: $2,000
Deadline: March 18
The Iowa Golf Association selects a number of high school seniors to be awarded a $2,000 scholarship for four years at the annual Sani Awards Banquet. Applicants must provide a self-statement, an official transcript, two letters of recommendation, and proof of financial need. All applicants must also be residents of Iowa, enrolled to an accredited college or university in the US, have a background or experience in golf, and be an active participant in extracurricular activities.



The Des Moines Women’s Club (DMWC) Scholarships

Amount: $33,500 (Shared between recipients)
Deadline: January 20
The Des Moines Women’s Club (DMWC) provide many scholarships each year for higher education. Eleven scholarships are dedicated to high schoolers, eight to college students, and two to graduate students. These scholarships are dedicated to women. Each scholarship focuses on a different area of study, including science, technology, engineering, and math. Another scholarship is for women pursuing education. Each scholarship is different, and all recipients share the $33,500. The recipients are limited to a few select counties in Iowa and all must have a GPA over 2.75.


Iowa’s Matthew Shepard Scholarships

Amount: $49,000
Deadline: March 1
Iowa’s Matthew Shepard Scholarships is granted by the Eychaner Foundation. Applicants to receive the Gold Scholarship, which is valued at $40,000, must attend Iowa State University, University of Iowa, or University of Northern Iowa. Those who wish to apply to the Silver Scholarship, valued at $9,000, can be attending any accredited college in the US. Applicants must have completed a high school education in Iowa. They must demonstrate “academic aptitude for college,” as stated by the scholarship. And all applicants must be active in the LGBTQ community.


The Robert D. Blue Scholarship

Amount: $500 - $1,000
Deadline: May 10
The Robert D. Blue Scholarship is administered by the Iowa State Treasurer’s Office. This tuition assistance is dedicated to young people in Iowa who demonstrate moral character, courage, ambition, trustworthiness, and scholastic ability. Applicants will require a federal tax return, an essay on good citizenship, a high school transcript and a student aid report. To be eligible, applicants must reside in Iowa, intend to attend an accredited state college in Iowa, require financial need, and maintain a full-time student status with good academic results.


All Iowa Opportunity Scholarship

Amount: $8,368 per year
Deadline: March 1
The All Iowa Opportunity Scholarship is funded by the Iowa College Student Aid Commission (ICSAC). It is dedicated to those who require significant financial need who plan to attend a college or university in Iowa. Applicants can be in pursuit of either an associate or bachelor’s degree. Special favor will be bestowed upon those applicants who participate in alternative high schools or federal TRIO programs. The scholarship requires that applicants are an Iowa high school graduate, first-time freshman, 2.5 GPA minimum, and their Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is less than $8,368.


Larry W. Carter Scholarship

Amount: $3,000
Deadline: May 15
The Larry W. Carter Scholarship was founded by the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines. The scholarship is dedicated to minority students in pursuit of either an undergraduate or graduate degree of any kind. Applicants must be an African American Iowa resident, they must enroll part-time or full-time to an accredited college or university program, and they must exemplify the same “perseverance to achieve goals” as demonstrated by the namesake of the scholarship Larry W. Carter, as stated by the scholarship.



Professional Educators of Iowa (PEI) Scholarships

Amount: $5,000
Deadline: April 1
The Professional Educators of Iowa (PEI) Scholarships have a number of different scholarships dedicated to various areas, such as education and science. Some examples include the Teacher of Tomorrow Scholarship. This scholarship is dedicated to those who wish to teach in a classroom, from kindergarten to seniors in high school. The Ed Christian Memorial Scholarship is dedicated to high school seniors who wish to study science. The Child of PEI Member Scholarship is dedicated to the children of educators within the state of Iowa. All applicants must attend either a two-year or four-year college as a full-time student, must be involved in the community and the school, and they must demonstrate the need for financial assistance.


Byers Environmental Scholarships

Amount: $1,000
Deadline: January 6
The Keep Iowa Beautiful (KIB) initiative awards five scholarships to young students who are passionate about living a green and environmentally friendly life. Preference is often provided to applicants who participate in the Hometown Pride Program. To apply, you must provide an essay, a list of extracurricular activities, and a transcript. Applicants must be graduating from an Iowa high school with the intent to become a full-time student in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree from an Iowa college or university. Applicants must also intend to study fields relating to sustainability, conservation, environmental science, landscape design, architecture, natural resources, or urban planning. A significant amount of experience and a background in community development is also required.