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Top Rhode Island Colleges

8 of the Top Colleges in Rhode Island

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Even though it's the country's smallest state, Rhode Island has some wonderful choices for college. My top picks for the state range in size from a couple thousand students to over 16,000. The schools represent a wide range of missions and personalities, and my top picks include an Ivy League school, an art school, a professional school, and a public university. The admissions standards vary greatly, so be sure to click on the profiles to learn more. My selection criteria include retention rates, four- and six-year graduation rates, value, student engagement, and notable curricular strengths. I have listed the schools alphabetically rather than forcing them into any kind of artificial ranking; because the schools are so different, any kind of ranking would be dubious at best.

Compare Rhode Island Colleges: SAT Scores | ACT Scores

Brown University

Brown University Campus
_Gene_ Flickr

Bryant University

Bryant University
Bullshark44 / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Smithfield, Rhode Island
  • Enrollment: 3,632 (3,386 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private university
  • Distinctions: highly rated master's university in the North; strong business school; students from 31 states and 45 countries; 16 to 1 student / faculty ratio; member of the NCAA Division I Northeast Conference
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Bryant University profile

Johnson & Wales University

Providence Skyline
boliyou / Flickr
  • Location: Providence, Rhode Island
  • Enrollment: 10,974 (9,703 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private university with a professional focus
  • Distinctions: students from 50 states and 71 countries; hands-on, career-focused approach to learning; strengths in culinary arts, business, and hospitality; NCAA Division III athletic programs
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Johnson & Wales University profile

Providence College

Providence College
Obersmith / Flickr
  • Location: Providence, Rhode Island
  • Enrollment: 4,900 (4,238 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private Catholic college
  • Distinctions: 13 to 1 student / faculty ratio; one of the country's top Catholic colleges; distinct four-semester course on western civilization; member of the NCAA Division I Big East Conferene
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Providence College profile

Rhode Island School of Design

Rhode Island School of Design
spablab / Flickr
  • Location: Providence, Rhode Island
  • Enrollment: 2,406 (1,975 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private art and design school
  • Distinctions: one of the country's top art schools; high job placement rate; selective portfolio-based admissions; joint degree program with Brown University; 9 to 1 student / faculty ratio
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the RISD profile

Roger Williams University

Roger Williams University
bigfoot / Flickr
  • Location: Bristol, Rhode Island
  • Enrollment: 4,680 (4,310 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private university
  • Distinctions: 12 to 1 student / faculty ratio; average class size of 19; active student life with over 100 clubs and organizations; waterfront location and strong sailing team; NCAA Division III athletic programs
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Roger Williams University profile

Salve Regina University

Salve Regina University
Susan Cole Kelly / Flickr
  • Location: Newport, Rhode Island
  • Enrollment: 2,584 (1,989 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: private Catholic university
  • Distinctions: waterfront campus in a historic neighborhood; 14 to 1 student / faculty ratio; popular professional fields such as nursing, business and criminal justice; NCAA Division II athletics
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the Salve Regina University profile

University of Rhode Island

University of Rhode Island Quad
Wasted Time R / Wikimedia Commons
  • Location: Kingston, Rhode Island
  • Enrollment: 16,294 (13,093 undergraduates)
  • Type of Institution: public university
  • Distinctions: chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for strengths in the liberal arts and sciences; Honors Program for high achieving students; good educational value; member of the NCAA Division I Atlantic 10 Conference
  • For more information and admissions data, visit the University of Rhode Island profile

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