The 10 Best Universities in Florida and How to Choose the Right One for You

Explore the top 10 Florida universities and learn which ones might be the perfect fit

If you want to go to college in Florida, you have a lot of great options to choose from. After all, the Sunshine State boasts the best higher education system in the country. 

But with a lot of choices, there’s bound to be a lot of confusion. You hear the opinions of your parents, teachers, and friends, but you want to know objectively—what are the best universities in Florida? And which one is right for you?

Keep reading to find a list of the 10 best Florida universities, plus a few expert tips on how to decide which is the perfect fit for you.

The 10 best universities in Florida

Every year, the U.S. News and World Report ranks the top colleges and universities in the nation. The rankings are based on many factors, including graduation rates, faculty resources, and academic reputation.

To help guide your college search, I’ll shine a spotlight on the 10 highest-ranked Florida colleges and universities. I’ll share important admission and academic details for each school, plus a fun college tradition you could look forward to if you become a student.

The University of Florida

  • U.S. News & World Report Rank (National Universities): 28
  • Location: Gainesville, FL
  • Private or Public: Public
  • Undergraduate acceptance rate: 31%
  • Average high school GPA: 3.9
  • Average SAT score: 1290 – 1460 
  • Average ACT score: 29 – 33
  • Annual tuition & fees: $6,480 (in-state), $28,658 (out-of-state)
  • Student-faculty ratio: 17:1
  • 4-year graduation rate: 67%
  • Unique campus tradition: Sports are important to students at the University of Florida. (Go Gators!) Every year, thousands of fans celebrate the start of football season with fireworks and live music at the memorable Gator Growl.

Florida State University

  • U.S. News & World Report Rank (National Universities): 55 (tie)
  • Location: Tallahassee, FL
  • Private or Public: Public
  • Undergraduate acceptance rate: 32%
  • Average high school GPA: 3.6
  • Average SAT score: 1220 – 1350
  • Average ACT score: 27 – 31
  • Annual tuition & fees: $6,517 (in-state), $21,683 (out-of-state)
  • Student-faculty ratio: 21:1
  • 4-year graduation rate: 72%
  • Unique campus tradition: Nothing beats attending a performance of the Flying High Circus! This vibrant circus group at Florida State University is one of only two student-run collegiate circuses in the nation.

The University of Miami

  • U.S. News & World Report Rank (National Universities): 55 (tie)
  • Location: Coral Gables, FL
  • Private or Public: Private
  • Undergraduate acceptance rate: 33%
  • Average high school GPA: 3.6
  • Average SAT score: 1250 – 1420
  • Average ACT score: 28 – 32
  • Annual tuition & fees: $54,760
  • Student-faculty ratio: 12:1
  • 4-year graduation rate: 72%
  • Unique campus tradition: Different colleges have different homecoming traditions. At the University of Miami, students gather at the lake to watch the revered Homecoming Boat Burning—complete with fireworks and a homecoming game prediction.

New College of Florida

  • U.S. News & World Report Rank (National Liberal Arts Colleges): 82
  • Location: Sarasota, FL
  • Private or Public: Public
  • Undergraduate acceptance rate: 70%
  • Average high school GPA: 3.9
  • Average SAT score: 1160 – 1375
  • Average ACT score: 25 – 30
  • Annual tuition & fees: $6,916 (in-state), $29,944 (out-of-state)
  • Student-faculty ratio: 6:1
  • 4-year graduation rate: 56%
  • Unique campus tradition: Students at the New College of Florida love attending Center of the Universe Parties (COUPs) in the outdoor Palm Court, which is a large communal space in the midst of the residence halls. 

The University of South Florida

  • U.S. News & World Report Rank (National Universities): 103
  • Location: Tampa, FL
  • Private or Public: Public
  • Undergraduate acceptance rate: 49%
  • Average high school GPA: 3.9
  • Average SAT score: 1160 – 1320
  • Average ACT score: 25 – 30
  • Annual tuition & fees: $6,420 (in-state), $17,324 (out-of-state)
  • Student-faculty ratio: 22:1
  • 4-year graduation rate: 59%
  • Unique campus tradition: One of the most anticipated highlights of the year is USF Week—a chance for students to show school pride through talent shows, special lectures, a festive birthday bash, and more.

Eckerd College

  • U.S. News & World Report Rank (National Liberal Arts Colleges): 128 (tie)
  • Location: St. Petersburg, FL
  • Private or Public: Private
  • Undergraduate acceptance rate: 69%
  • Average high school GPA: 3.5
  • Average SAT score: 1090 – 1285
  • Average ACT score: 24 – 29
  • Annual tuition & fees: $47,704
  • Student-faculty ratio: 12:1
  • 4-year graduation rate: 59%
  • Unique campus tradition: Want to end the school year with a bang? Nothing beats the Kappa Karnival held before the last week of classes—complete with a Ferris wheel and a merry-go-round for students to enjoy.

The University of Central Florida

  • U.S. News & World Report Rank (National Universities): 148 (tie)
  • Location: Orlando, FL
  • Private or Public: Public
  • Undergraduate acceptance rate: 45%
  • Average high school GPA: 3.9
  • Average SAT score: 1160 – 1340
  • Average ACT score: 25 – 30 
  • Annual tuition & fees: $6,368 (in-state), $22,467 (out-of-state)
  • Student-faculty ratio: 31:1
  • 4-year graduation rate: 46%
  • Unique campus tradition: If you don’t mind getting a bit wet, you’ll love Spirit Splash at the University of Central Florida. Thousands of students rush into the Reflecting Pond during a homecoming pep rally for a chance to snag a yellow rubber duck. 

Florida International University

  • U.S. News & World Report Rank (National Universities): 162 (tie)
  • Location: Miami, FL
  • Private or Public: Public
  • Undergraduate acceptance rate: 58%
  • Average high school GPA: 3.9
  • Average SAT score: 1110 – 1260
  • Average ACT score: 23 – 29
  • Annual tuition & fees: $6,566 (in-state), $18,964 (out-of-state)
  • Student-faculty ratio: 23:1
  • 4-year graduation rate: 38% 
  • Unique campus tradition: FIU students attend the Trail of the Torch at the beginning of every year. They form a candlelight procession throughout campus to celebrate many of the university’s sports teams and student organizations.

Florida A&M University

  • U.S. News & World Report Rank (National Universities): 202 (tie)
  • Location: Tallahassee, FL
  • Private or Public: Public
  • Undergraduate acceptance rate: 33%
  • Average high school GPA: 3.6
  • Average SAT score: 1030 – 1150
  • Average ACT score: 20 – 24
  • Annual tuition & fees: $5,785 (in-state), $17,725 (out-of-state)
  • Student-faculty ratio: 14:1
  • 4-year graduation rate: 21% 
  • Unique campus tradition: One of FAMU’s most noteworthy organizations is the Marching “100” Band, which for years has set the standard for collegiate bands across the nation. Watching them perform at a home game will be a highlight of your college experience.

Florida Institute of Technology

  • U.S. News & World Report Rank (National Universities): 202 (tie)
  • Location: Melbourne, FL
  • Private or Public: Private
  • Undergraduate acceptance rate: 70%
  • Average high school GPA: 3.7
  • Average SAT score: 1130 – 1330
  • Average ACT score: 23 – 30
  • Annual tuition & fees: $43,246
  • Student-faculty ratio: 15:1
  • 4-year graduation rate: 43%
  • Unique campus tradition: If you’ve ever wanted to see a rocket launch in-person, you can’t beat the views from the balcony of Florida Tech’s Crawford Tower. Students will gather together for scheduled launches to watch history unfold.

How to choose the best Florida university for you

So now you have a list of the best Florida colleges and universities. But how will you decide which one to attend? After all, a higher ranking doesn’t mean a school is actually a better fit for you.

Here are a few tips to help you decide which Florida university is right for you.

1. Reflect on what matters to you. What are you looking for in a college? Take some time to think about how a school’s location, size, environment, and cost are important to you. 

Maybe location isn’t important, but you definitely want to attend a big school. Or perhaps you don’t care about size, but you need to be close to the beach. Figure out your priorities so you can pinpoint which Florida colleges offer what you want.

2. Identify your career direction and major. If you know what you want to study, you can narrow down your college options by whether or not they offer the right major for you. That’s why self- and career-exploration is so important to the work I do with students.

3. Visit the colleges you’re considering. There’s nothing like a college visit to help you decide if a college is right for you or not. It’s the best way to get a feel for student and campus vibes.

If you can’t visit all of your college options, attending virtual tours is the next best thing. You’ll still get to see inside buildings and learn important facts about the school—even if you can’t breathe the campus air and watch college students mill around.

4. Ask questions! Which college you attend is ultimately your choice, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek advice along the way. Asking questions helps you get more information to inform your decision. 

Talk to admissions counselors, current students, alumni, parents, and friends. Don’t make your college choice in a bubble—use the connections and resources available to you.

Final thoughts about the best universities in Florida

You can’t go wrong choosing among Florida’s excellent colleges and universities. But there are certainly some schools that are a better fit for you than others. Use this list of the best universities in Florida to guide your college search and help you land in the perfect place for you.

I’d love to hear from you! Which of these Florida colleges are you most excited about? Which ones do you need to research more? Drop a comment below, and I’d be happy to share my advice.

Posted in

Leave a Comment