The Best Colleges in Kansas

Higher Education in Your State:
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The colleges and universities in Kansas are part of Kansas’ identity, shaped by hard work, religious faith, and Sunflower State pride. From the state’s many affordable public universities to Christian liberal arts colleges that offer ample student support, Kansas puts value first in higher education.

The landlocked state of Kansas – a.k.a. The Sunflower State – has been home to Native American tribes for thousands of years. The first settlement by euro-Americans was in the 1820s in Fort Leavenworth.

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The state of Kansas was adopted as the 34th state in 1861, a few years after it was established as a territory by the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act. The state’s constitution included authorization to establish a university. By the early 1860s, the state legislature had created its first college in Kansas – the Emporia-based Kansas State Normal School – a teacher’s training school. These Kansas colleges and universities also include Manhattan’s Agricultural College and The University, located in Lawrence, Kansas. Additional congressional acts

From a historical perspective, the state of Kansas is unexpectedly progressive. Many find it surprising to learn a coeducation college in KS, which opened in 1863, was the nation’s second coed school. The first coeducation class at Kansas State University had 52 students – half of whom were women.

Are There Any Colleges in Kansas?

Yes. There are a variety of private and public universities in Kansas from which to choose that will likely offer the higher education program that meets your education and career objectives. The mission of Kansas’s higher education system is to meet its diverse population’s higher education needs/objectives. It is designed to offer a comprehensive selection of affordable programs that prepare graduates for life and a successful entrance into the workforce.

The Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR), which includes nine members, is recognized to be the state’s education governing board. The KBOR has coordinating authority over the other three types of postsecondary education institutions and manages the state’s financial aid, high school equivalency, and adult ed programming.

How Many Colleges are in Kansas?

Overall, the board governs these public institutions of higher education –

  • Six state-funded and operated colleges and universities in Kansas.
  • One municipal school.
  • Six technical schools.
  • 19 community colleges.

In addition, there are 27 private schools, colleges, and universities In KS.

Public Colleges in Kansas

The University of Kansas (KU)

The largest university in Kansas is the Lawrence-based University of Kansas (KU), and the only school in the state that is a member of the AAU. KU operates as a Space Grant institution of higher education with several satellite campuses in Wichita, Leavenworth, Kansas City, Salina, and Overland Park. More than 27,000 undergraduate and graduate students attend this Kansas school. The medical school for the university is located in Kansas City.

The University of Kansas offers more than 340 academic degree programs on-campus and online. According to US News, the state’s largest school ranks 56th of all public universities in the nation.

Emporia State University (ESU)

Emporia State University is another space-grant higher education institution that was the campus of the original Kansas State Normal school. The rural campus of Emporia State University is home to more than 5,000 students attending classes offered by its four colleges/schools. The school is organized into four colleges/schools, which include liberal arts, library/information management, business, and the teacher’s college.

US News recognizes Emporia State University as the 24th-best public university that is classified as a regional school, while the Princeton Review notes that Emporia State University is among the best of the Midwest’s colleges and institutions.

Fort Hays State University (FHSU)

Fort Hays State University began in 1902 as a branch of the state’s normal school.  This Kansas School’s main campus covers more than 200 acres and includes the Big Creek (a running stream) and more than three dozen limestone buildings. Each building on campus (with parts still located on what was once a military reservation of the fort, is named to honor someone who is a part of the university’s long history. As the fourth largest public university in Kansas, this space-grant school serves more than 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students each year.

Kansas State University (KSU)

Kansas State University (K-State) is a land-grant school that was founded in the early 1860s as an agricultural college. The school holds the distinction of being Kansas’s first publicly run institution of higher education. The school’s main campus is in Manhattan, with branch campuses in Olathe and Salina. Kansas State University maintains nine colleges/schools that offer programs in veterinary science, aviation, technology, engineering, health/human sciences, agriculture, architecture, and design, among others. Notable alumni of Kansas State University include a former state governor, a senator, and the president of Georgia’s Institute of Technology.

Pittsburg State University (PSU)

Pittsburg State University (Pitt State) is a member school of the state’s Board of Regents and a space-grant school. It was founded as a teacher’s training institute (a branch of Emporia’s Normal School) in 1903, achieving full university status in 1977. Pitt State’s 200+ acre rural main campus, which is situated in the southeastern portion of the state, serves nearly 6,000 students each year. PSU also maintains additional academic facilities in the greater Kansas City area, as well as two-degree programs through the Salina Technical College.

Wichita State University (WSU)

Wichita State University was founded in the 1890s and was once a prep school for women known as the Young Ladies College. WSU now operates as a space-grant higher learning institution with a main campus in Wichita and four satellite academic locations nearby. The school’s student enrollment nears 17,0000 across all campuses and online. WSU is a research school with dedicated labs in innovation, physics, aviation, biology, and chemistry, among others. The school is comprised of nine colleges/schools, offering programs in applied studies, business, innovation, engineering, health sciences, graduate studies, and the honors college.

Kansas is home to a Municipal University – Washburn University.

There is one municipal university in Kansas. A municipal university differs from the state’s because its funding is from a city rather than funds through earmarked legislation.

Washburn University was founded as a private school in the 1860s. The city of Topeka, KS, voted to make the school a municipal school governed by the state’s Board of Regents. The school’s urban campus serves more than 5,300 students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. It is noted that a technical school is affiliated with Washburn University – the Washburn University Institute of Technology.

The List of Kansas Colleges & Universities That Operate Privately.

In 1999 the Kansas State Board of Education transferred the responsibility for providing authorization to non-public educational institutions the ability to confer degrees in Kansas to the Board of Regents. Ever since, private schools and out-of-state institutions must first receive authorization from the Board of Regents before they may operate in Kansas. Private colleges usually have a lower student-faculty ratio and more individualized attention for students. Many private colleges are religiously affiliated, with denominations such as the United Methodist Church or the Southern Baptists. Unlike a public institution, a private liberal arts college can require students to follow religious rules. Smaller schools may offer less student resources and graduate programs than a large public university.

These are the registered/approved private colleges and universities In KS.

  • Central Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Kansas Christian College 

Contact the Kansas Independent College Association for more information regarding these private colleges and universities in Kansas –

  • Baker University
  • Benedictine College
  • Donnelly College
  • Friends University
  • Barclay College
  • Hesston College
  • Kansas Wesleyan University
  • Bethany College
  • Bethel College
  • Central Christian College
  • Cleveland University-KC
  • The University of Saint Mary
  • Newman University
  • Ottawa University
  • Southwestern College
  • Manhattan Christian College
  • McPherson College
  • MidAmerica Nazarene University
  • Sterling College
  • Tabor College

Are There Community Colleges in Kansas?

The Kansas Association of Community College Trustees was established in 1917 by state legislation. Kansas’s community colleges serve over 100,000 students annually.  Since 1999 the Kansas Board of Regents has been tasked with the responsibility of serving as the statewide coordinating agency for the community colleges operating in Kansas.

Community colleges are designed to help students achieve mastery and success in academic programs that offer –

  • Transferrable Credits to Four-Year Related Programs.
  • Adult & Continuing Professional Education.
  • Developmental Education.
  • Technical Certificates & Diploma Programs.
  • Customized Training for Nearby Businesses & Industries.

The mission of 19 community colleges in Kansas is to provide access to quality and affordable entry-level and technical education programs.  The state offers academic programs in these community colleges –

  • Allen Community College
  • Barton Community College
  • Butler Community College
  • Cloud County Community College
  • Coffeyville Community College
  • Colby Community College
  • Cowley Community College
  • Dodge City Community College
  • Fort Scott Community College
  • Garden City Community College
  • Highland Community College
  • Hutchinson Community College
  • Independence Community College
  • Johnson County Community College
  • Kansas City Kansas Community College
  • Labette Community College
  • Neosho County Community College
  • Pratt Community College
  • Seward County Community College

Are There Technical Colleges Available in Kansas?

The mission set forth for the Kansas technical college sector is to prepare those who wish to enter a specific sector of the technical and professional job market. This is done by offering various training to assist industry and business as well as basic adult education, noncredit coursework, technical certificates, and degrees – usually Association of Applied Science degrees.

The agency responsible for managing the state’s technical colleges is Kansas Technical Colleges. The Kansas technical college system began with legislation in 1964. The coordination of the state’s technical colleges and various vocational-technical schools was officially transferred to the Board of Regents in 1999.  

The seven technical colleges in Kansas serve more than 16,000 students each year. They offer an array of academic, certificate, and technical diploma programs to students and working learners.

  • Flint Hills Technical College
  • Manhattan Area Technical College
  • Northwest Kansas Technical College
  • Salina Area Technical College
  • Washburn Institute of Technology
  • Wichita Area Technical College

How Many Colleges in Kansas Offer Distance Learning?

Most universities and colleges in Kansas offer distance learning. Of the total number of students in college in Kansas, nearly 57,000 study online exclusively, with a fair number of students choosing to finish their education with a hybrid mix of online and on-campus classes. Clearly the convenience offered by online or hybrid programs has been a game-changer for many busy, working learners and parents. Some featured online programs include pre-professional programs, elementary education, health professions, business administration, and more.

What Are the Most Popular Majors in Kansas?

According to the US Census, their statisticians track more than 150 undergraduate fields of study that provide a degree program. In spite of the vast differences that exist among these academic programs, more than half of American adults complete a baccalaureate degree in one of about 15 fields of study.

The most popular majors in Kansas include agriculture, nursing, business, education, biology, aviation, and one of the hard sciences. This is because degrees in these fields offer the necessary preparation for careers in those in-demand Kansas industries. Statistics reveal that adults in Kansas are approximately six times as likely to have an agricultural economics degree than other average American students.

This is not a surprising statistic as this degree reflects a key Kansas state industry – agriculture which accounts for a large and significant contribution to the state’s economy.

How Many College Students are in Kansas? 

For the academic year 2021-22, the Kansas Board of Regents reports there are nearly 240,000 students in one of the colleges and universities in Kansas. Of the total number of publicly and privately enrolled students in a college in KS, more than 100,000 students are studying at one of the quality public universities in Kansas. More than 100,000 students attend one of the community colleges provided through the statewide Kansas colleges and universities system.  About 18,000 students attended one of the technical colleges in Kansas in 2022.  

Which colleges are Less than two years in Kansas?

Kansas offers its students and working learners more than two dozen 2-year schools and colleges that provide an array of academic degrees, certificates, diplomas, adult education, high school equivalency, and noncredit programs. Visit the website for the Kansas Association of Community College Trustees or the Kansas Technical Colleges to learn more about these education opportunities in Kansas.

What Kinds of Jobs are Needed in Kansas?

Kansas is the approximate center of the United States boundaries. While there are several metro cities and areas in the state, it’s best known as a rural paradise. More than 90% of the state is dedicated to agriculture. Its most significant crop is wheat, with an estimated 40% of winter wheat sourced from the state of Kansas. Other agricultural products contributing to the Kansas economy include corn, soybean, sorghum, cotton, and livestock.

With regard to manufacturing, Kansas holds one of the top honors for manufacturing the most aircraft equipment. The largest private employers are in the industries of food products, aviation, telecommunications, roofing/siding, and automobile manufacturing.

Kansas is also one of the top states that produce wind and other renewable energies, with more than 3,000 wind turbines (2019). In addition, the state is considered a top ten producer of both natural gas and petroleum extraction.

Why Kansas Goes to College

Kansas became part of America in 1803 when the United States bought the area from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase. Since then Kansas has had an interesting history. The state was hit hard by the great depression and parts of the state were blown away in the Dust Bowl. However, Kansas rebounded quickly and became an epicenter of the aircraft and mineral production industries in America. Kansas’ industrial economy created a tremendous need for educated workers in the state and very progressive views on education. In fact, the landmark US Supreme Court ruling Brown v. Board of Education that banned segregation in the nation’s schools happened in Kansas.

The State of Higher Education in Kansas

Currently, the Kansas Board of Regents oversees 6 state universities, 19 community colleges, 11 technical colleges, and one municipal university. In addition to the public schools, Kansas hosts several dozen private 4-year institutions and an American Indian University. There are plenty of choices and opportunities for every student, traditional or online, https://www.valuecolleges.com/rankings/online-colleges-kansas/  to attend school in Kansas, and to come out to a thriving job market awaiting them at graduation.


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