The Best Colleges in New Jersey

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Higher Education in Your State:

New Jersey’s colleges and universities are like New Jersey itself – a diverse, unconventional complex of all sorts of characters. New Jersey has the Ivy League and the small liberal arts college, the world-class public research university and the tiny regional college. Above all, New Jersey has New Jersey – innovation, entrepreneurship, and fearlessness. 

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New Jersey is one of the nation’s smallest states. It is located along the mid-Atlantic coast. This Atlantic-coast state, with 7,354 square miles, is the 47th smallest, but with a population that exceeds 9.3 million (2022), the Garden State is the most population-dense state in the country.

The Garden State is home to Princeton University, Atlantic City, and 120+ coastline miles famously known as the Jersey Shore. The state’s capital is Trenton, a small-sized city outside of Philadelphia, although Newark holds the record for the most populous city.

New Jersey is sandwiched between the Big Apple and the City of Brotherly Love. In fact, the majority of NJ residents are included statistically in one of two large metropolitan areas –

  • In Northeastern New Jersey, residents are included in what is known as the Tri-State area. This megalopolis includes New York/New Jersey/Connecticut. Two of New Jersey’s cities – Newark and Jersey City, are only separated from the Big Apple by the Hudson River.
  • In Southwestern New Jersey, these NJ residents are a part of the statistical data for the greater Philadelphia metropolitan area.

With the exception of New Jersey’s Warren County, all of the state’s 21 counties are within the combined statistical metropolitan areas of New York City or Philadelphia.

What Kinds of Colleges are in New Jersey?

New Jersey is home to a variety of public and private colleges in NJ – including a New Jersey Ivy League University – Princeton University.

New Jersey Public Research Schools

Rutgers University

Rutgers University (Rutgers) is the primary of all state schools and research universities in New Jersey. The school operates three primary campuses in New Brunswick, Newark, and Camden and a fourth biomedical/health campus. Rutgers University is a land-grant school that functions as the state’s flagship institution of higher education. Established as a private school (Queen’s College) in 1766, it became a public school in 1825.

Rutgers is the largest of all colleges in NJ. and operates as a sea and space-grant higher learning institution with nearly 69,000 undergraduate and graduate students studying across its Garden State campuses.

Montclair State University

Montclair State University (MSU) was established in 1908 as a state teacher’s college. Montclair State University has more than 21,100 students and is the second-largest state school in New Jersey and a space-grant and sea-grant higher learning institution. The suburban campus of Montclair State University covers nearly 500 acres and is only about 30 minutes from downtown New York City.

Montclair State University offers students more than 300 academic concentrations, majors, and minors through its eight colleges/schools. According to US News and World Report, several graduate programs from MSU have been ranked among the best in the nation.

New Jersey Institute of Technology

New Jersey Institute for Technology (NJIT) is another of the New Jersey state schools with a focus on research. Its main campus is in Newark (just outside NYC), with a nearby satellite education facility in Jersey City. This sea and space grant research school serves about 12,000 students yearly. According to rankings, the New Jersey Institute for Technology is recognized to be among the best engineering schools across several subcategories. Founded in 1881 as a technical school, the New Jersey Institute for Technology is now organized into five colleges/schools, plus an honors’ college.

The school’s faculty and alumni includes an impressive list of Turing Award Winners, Inventors, Members of the National Academy of Engineering, and even an astronaut and Congressional Gold Medal winner.

Rowan University

Rowan University (RU) was founded in the 1920s as one of the Garden State’s teacher training schools. Rowan’s main campus is in Glassboro, and a few other educational facilities throughout south Jersey. Rowan University operates with fourteen colleges/schools and as a sea- and space-grant higher learning institution. More than 19,000 students attend classes offered by one of New Jersey state schools with a focus on research. With regard to social mobility, Rowan ranks second in the nation.

The University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey

The University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) is a public, state-operated school dedicated to health sciences. The school operates a variety of locations throughout New Jersey. The University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey is organized into eight schools serving more than 10,000 students yearly. Notable faculty and school alumni include a surgeon general of the US Navy and several professors across various medical fields of study.

Schools That are Members of the New Jersey Association of State Colleges & Universities

The NJASCU is the state association that represents the seven New Jersey state colleges and universities.

The College of New Jersey

The College of New Jersey (CNJ) was founded in the 1850s as the first teacher-training school in the state. The campus is located in Ewing Township and has a student enrollment that exceeds 7,200. The College of NJ’s campus, which is a part of the greater Philadelphia metro area, is best known for its revival architecture and covers nearly 300 suburban acres.

Kean University

Kean University (Kean) is a multi-campus school that was founded in the 1850s in Newark as a teacher’s training institute. More than 16,000 students attend classes offered through its seven colleges – covering business, education, liberal arts, sciences, architecture/design, graduate school, and technology/math. In addition, Kean host a number of research institutions.

New Jersey City University

New Jersey City University (NJCU) was founded in 1927 as a state normal school. New Jersey City University is a multi-campus school that also operates as a space and sea-grant school. New Jersey City University is organized into the College of Education, he College of Professional Studies, the College of Arts/Sciences, and the School of Business. New Jersey City University has a student enrollment that exceeds 8,000 across campuses and online.   

Ramapo College of New Jersey

Ramapo College of New Jersey (RCNJ) was founded as a liberal art school in the late 1960s. Ramapo’s suburban campus in Mahwah (northern NJ) serves more than 5,500 students and is less than 60 minutes from New York City. RCNJ has been ranked as one of the top 40 regional schools located in the northeast.

Stockton University

Stockton University (Stockton) was founded in the 1960s as a state college. Its 1,500+ suburban main campus is located in Galloway Township and serves more than 9,000 students annually. The school is located near Atlantic City and has a large focus on hotel management and tourism. US News ranks Stockton University among the top regional northeastern universities and a top ten public school in the north.

Thomas Edison State University

Thomas Edison State University (TESU) was established in 1972 and is named to honor the inventor/scientist who worked primarily in New Jersey. Thomas Edison State University’s campus in Trenton – the NJ capital, serves nearly 14,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The school offers more than one hundred study areas within its five schools – arts/sciences, public service, nursing/health, management/business, and applied science/technology.

William Paterson University of New Jersey

William Paterson University of New Jersey (WP) was founded in 1855 as a public New Jersey state college focused on training teachers. William Paterson University of New Jersey now operates as a space-grant school with more than 8,200 students attending classes on-campus and online. The school’s present campus in Wayne, NJ, is on the land once owned by the family of the 24th United States Vice President – Garret Hobart.

Private Colleges in New Jersey

The AICUNJ – the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of NJ is the governmental liaison that administers and manages government liaison for each of these NJ private colleges. Private colleges often offer a lower student-faculty ratio than larger public public schools, with high academic quality and more in-depth academic programs for undergraduate students.

Princeton University – Of course, New Jersey’s best colleges include an Ivy League school. Like Harvard University or Yale University, Princeton University is one of the nation’s nine colonial colleges. Established in the 1740s, is among the leading Ivy League Universities in New Jersey. It holds the distinction of being one of the most elite schools in the world.

Although not a New Jersey Ivy League university, the state is home to these quality private colleges of New Jersey.

  • Bloomfield College
  • Caldwell University
  • Centenary University
  • Drew University
  • Fairleigh Dickinson University
  • Felician University
  • Georgian Court University
  • Monmouth University
  • Rider University
  • St. Elizabeth University
  • St. Peter’s University
  • Seton Hall University
  • Stevens Institute of Technology

In addition, students may consider the programs offered by these New Jersey private colleges –

  • Assumption College for Sisters
  • AIM’s Teterboro (Formerly Teterboro School of Aeronautics)
  • Eastwick College
  • Chamberlain University
  • Eastern International College (Several Locations)
  • The Kubert School of Cartoon & Graphic Art

Are There Community Colleges in New Jersey?

Community colleges are cost-effective educational opportunities. The school is typically funded partially by tax dollars. But note, the highest academic degree offered by a community college is typically a type of associate’s degree, which most students complete in two years. These schools also offer continuing education, certificate, and diploma coursework as well.

The state association representing New Jersey’s community colleges is the NJCCC – NJ Council of County Colleges.

  • Assumption College for Sisters
  • Atlantic Cape Community College
  • Bergen Community College
  • Brookdale Community College
  • Camden County College
  • County College of Morris
  • Eastwick College
  • Essex County College
  • Hudson County Community College
  • Jersey College
  • Mercer County Community College
  • Middlesex College
  • Ocean County College
  • Passaic County Community College
  • Raritan Valley Community College
  • Rowan College at Burlington County
  • Rowan College at Gloucester County
  • Salem Community College
  • Sussex County Community College
  • Union County College
  • Warren County Community College

According to the New Jersey Council of Community Colleges, more than 20,000 degrees/certificates were awarded in 2020 from the above-noted New Jersey community colleges.

Are There Technical State Schools in New Jersey?

The following is a list of the technical state schools for students in the Garden State –

  • Atlantic County Institute of Technology
  • Bergen County Technical School District
  • Burlington County Institute of Technology
  • Camden County Technical Schools
  • Cape May County Technical Schools
  • Cumberland County Technical Education Center
  • Essex County Schools of Technology
  • Gloucester County Institute of Technology
  • Hudson County Schools of Technology
  • Hunterdon County Vocational School District
  • Mercer County Technical Schools
  • Middlesex County Magnet Schools
  • Morris County Vocational School District
  • Ocean County Vocational Technical School District
  • Passaic County Technical-Vocational Schools
  • Salem County Vocational Technical School District
  • Somerset County Vocational and Technical Schools
  • Sussex County Technical School
  • Union County Vocational-Technical Schools
  • Warren County Technical School

What Are the Most Popular Majors in New Jersey?

New Jersey’s location-near large metro employment centers, offers expansive job opportunities. However, statistics note that the most popular majors include business, education, health-related professions, engineering, computer science, communication, psychology, and journalism. A Georgetown University report notes that the highest-paying major in college was pharmacy or administration in the pharmaceutical industry.

How Many College Students are in New Jersey? 

Within all the colleges in New Jersey, there are 411,153 enrolled students. Approximately 346,000 were undergraduate, and the rest were graduate students. Female students outnumber male students – 229,166 to 181,987.

How Many Students Enrolled in Public and Private Colleges in NJ Study Online?

In New Jersey, 143,740 students enrolled exclusively in online courses, with more than another 110,000 students completing their programs by taking one or more online courses.

What Kinds of Jobs are Needed in New Jersey?

The per capita gross state product of New Jersey is typically one of the highest in the nation. In 2020, the state had more millionaires per square mile than any other US location. The economy of New Jersey is complex and multifaceted. In addition to agriculture – tomatoes, asparagus, blueberries, nuts, and spinach, NJ has robust biotech, information tech, publishing, chemical development, financial, food processing, telecommunications, and tourism, among others.

Based on its strategic location, New Jersey operates a key shipping port (The Port of New York and New Jersey) that is the busiest east coast port. Port Newark/Elizabeth Marine Terminal is recognized to be the first container port and is still the largest in the world. South Jersey has become a warehouse haven and performs as a large terminus for south, west, and north points.

New Jersey, with its proximity to Manhattan and Philadelphia, is home to impressive numbers of businesses, including 24 companies that make the Fortune 500 list.

The tourism industry in New Jersey tends to be two-fold. Tourists and big spenders flock to the 100+ miles of Jersey Shore and – Atlantic City – home to the Miss America Pageant, the street names used for the game of Monopoly and a gambling mecca since 1976, when the state’s voters approved casino gambling. Even before gambling, Atlantic City’s famed boardwalk was the first and is still the longest in the world.

What Makes New Jersey Unique 

New Jersey is a small state (fourth-smallest in the country) with a little bit of everything, and a place for everybody – which is why it’s the most densely-populated state, too. After all, it’s the Garden State, one of the biggest producers of blueberries, tomatoes, cranberries, spinach, and even peaches. But everyone forgets that, since New Jersey is also a highly industrialized state, built on shipping and manufacturing, and because high swaths of the state are taken up with suburbs crisscrossed by rail lines and freeways taking workers to New York City and Philadelphia. From bioengineering to food production to finance and tech, New Jersey’s diverse population has created a need for a diverse higher education system, capable of delivering a well-trained career and technical workforce, as well as Wall Street professionals, high-tech researchers, doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs.

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Value in New Jersey’s Colleges and Universities 

Somehow, New Jersey pulls it off. Nothing in New Jersey is cheap, but the state is full of value from the most elite to the most accessible colleges and universities. New Jersey has two Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution – the Ivy League Princeton University, and the Public Ivy, Rutgers University – and both have demonstrated a commitment to affordable education. With the largest per-student endowment in the nation, Princeton was the first university in the nation to completely eliminate student loans – every student has their need met with grants and scholarships. Rutgers has put a priority on outreach to underserved students, launching initiatives like the Future Scholars Program to nurture promising underprivileged students and provide scholarships. Generous financial aid from New Jersey’s many small liberal arts colleges, and affordable tuition at regional public universities, make sure everyone in New Jersey who wants an education can find their best value.

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Aya Andrews


Aya Andrews is a passionate educator and mother of two, with a diverse background that has shaped her approach to teaching and learning. Born in Metro Manila, she now calls San Diego home and is proud to be a Filipino-American. Aya earned her Masters degree in Education from San Diego State University, where she focused on developing innovative teaching methods to engage and inspire students.

Prior to her work in education, Aya spent several years as a continuing education consultant for KPMG, where she honed her skills in project management and client relations. She brings this same level of professionalism and expertise to her work as an educator, where she is committed to helping each of her students achieve their full potential.

In addition to her work as an educator, Aya is a devoted mother who is passionate about creating a nurturing and supportive home environment for her children. She is an active member of her community, volunteering her time and resources to support local schools and organizations. Aya is also an avid traveler, and loves to explore new cultures and cuisines with her family.

With a deep commitment to education and a passion for helping others succeed, Aya is a true inspiration to those around her. Her dedication to her craft, her community, and her family is a testament to her unwavering commitment to excellence in all aspects of her life.

Find your perfect value college is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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