Best universities in Texas

Explore the top universities in Texas using data from the Wall Street Journal / Times Higher Education US College Rankings

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November 12 2020
University of Texas at Austin


Texas is the second largest state in the USA. Known as the "Lone Star State", Texas covers a huge area in the deep south of the United States.

The state has a wide range of landscapes and environments, from the seaside towns on the gulf coast to the plains of the panhandle in the North, including swamps, rolling prairies, forests. The western mountains and the deserts form the backdrop to the cowboy films that give Texas its "Wild West" image.

The state struck oil in the early 1900s and never looked back. The huge reserves found beneath Texas have fuelled the state’s economy ever since and lead to growth in many other sectors. Texas has the second highest GDP in the USA after California.

Houston is the city with the highest population and home to many of the most prestigious universities in Texas. 

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Texas has its own unique culture, food and music with a long history of cultural exchange across the border with Mexico.

Austin is the state capital and cultural heartland, famous for its music and arts scene.

The state’s higher education sector is booming, helped in no small part by the discovery of oil on land owned by the Permanent University Fund. There are about 34 separate public higher education institutions in Texas, several of which rank highly as research institutions.

If you want to study in Texas you need to find out which university is right for you. Here are the best universities in Texas based on the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education US College Rankings 2021

1. Rice University

Rice University is a private research university in Houston, Texas.

It has a reputation for pioneering academics and a small student body – with a focus on quality over quantity.

The university was named after businessman and founder William Marsh Rice. The university was originally called the William Marsh Rice Institute for the Advancement of Literature and the first classes were taught in 1912 with only 77 students.

The university has a strong focus on undergraduates and, unusually, couples this with a strong research focus. More than half of Rice undergraduates are involved in research projects.

Rice’s prestige comes from the quality of its applied science research into fields such as space science, artificial heart research and nanotechnology. The university consistently ranks extremely highly in the global rankings for its material science research.

Rice’s admissions process is notoriously selective, part of the reason for its small student body. But the community is diverse; 12 per cent of the undergraduate population are international students.


2. University of Texas at Austin

The University of Texas at Austin (known as UT Austin) is the flagship institution of the University of Texas System. This public research university was opened in 1883 in the state capital.

UT Austin ranks highly among American public universities and has a global reputation for the quality of its teaching and research.

The academic and alumni community includes Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners and recipients of the Turing Award.

The student population is almost 50,000, putting it in the top 10 largest single campus enrolments in the US.

Students study a huge range of subjects at both an undergraduate and a postgraduate level, and the university is home to many prestigious research institutes.

UT Austin is one of the top recipients of research grants in the country, research that has gone on to produce hundreds of patents and dozens of start-up companies. 

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The best universities in Texas 2021

Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2021 profile

US College Rank 2021 Texas Rank 2021 University City
=15 1 Rice University Houston
61 2 University of Texas at Austin Austin
=83 3 Texas A&M University-College Station College Station
88 4 Southern Methodist University Dallas
113 5 Trinity University San Antonio
=171 6 Texas Christian University Fort Worth
=175 7 Baylor University Waco
=205 8 Southwestern University Georgetown
=255 9 Austin College Sherman
=318 10 University of St Thomas (Texas) Houston
=339 11 University of Texas at Dallas Richardson
=364 12 University of Houston Houston
401-500 =13 University of Dallas Irving
401-500 =13 St Edward's University Austin
401-500 =13 University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Edinburg
401-500 =13 Texas Tech University Lubbock
501-600 =17 Abilene Christian University Abilene
501-600 =17 Hardin-Simmons University Abilene
501-600 =17 University of Houston-Downtown Houston
501-600 =17 University of the Incarnate Word San Antonio
501-600 =17 University of North Texas Denton
501-600 =17 Our Lady of the Lake University San Antonio
501-600 =17 Sam Houston State University Huntsville
501-600 =17 Schreiner University Kerrville
501-600 =17 Texas A&M International University Laredo
501-600 =17 University of Texas at El Paso El Paso
501-600 =17 Texas State University San Marcos
501-600 =17 University of Texas at Tyler Tyler
501-600 =17 Texas Woman's University Denton
> 600 =30 University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Belton
> 600 =30 Stephen F. Austin State University Nacogdoches
> 600 =30 Texas A&M University-Commerce Commerce
> 600 =30 Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Corpus Christi
> 600 =30 The University of Texas at San Antonio San Antonio

Read more: Best universities in the world

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