21 Best Public Colleges and Universities in the USA

20 Best Public Colleges and Universities in The US
Photo credit: hager.angie / Flickr

Public colleges and universities typically operate under the supervision of state governments and are funded, in part, by tax dollars and subsidies from the state. As a result, these universities often offer discounted tuition to residents of their states. Public schools run the gamut from small liberal arts colleges to large research institutions.

These are the highest-ranked public colleges and universities in The US:

21. Clemson University

Clemson University is a public institution that was founded in 1889. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 17,260, its setting is suburban, and the campus size is 17,000 acres. It utilizes a semester-based academic calendar.

Its in-state tuition and fees are $14,240 (2015-16); out-of-state tuition and fees are $32,796 (2015-16).

As a student at Clemson, get ready to love the color orange. The orange Clemson Tigers compete in the NCAA Division I Atlantic Coast Conference. The teams are supported by notoriously passionate student fans and two costumed student mascots, known as The Tiger and The Tiger Cub.

There are more than 400 student clubs and organizations, and about 25 percent of students are involved in the school’s large Greek system. Clemson is set on Hartwell Lake, where students can sail, swim and fish. For indoor fun, the on-campus Underground Recreation Center has a bowling alley, arcade and billiards room.

Students can travel for free on campus bus system The CAT, which connects students between Clemson University and the nearby city of Clemson, S.C.

Clemson has graduated many famous athletes, including former Washington Redskins center Jeff Bostic and PGA Tour golfer Lucas Glover.

Other notable alumni include politicians such as former U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond and business personalities like George H. Ross, advisor to Donald Trump on “The Apprentice” and executive vice president and senior counsel for the Trump Organization.


When applying to Clemson University, it’s important to note the application deadline is May 1. Scores for either the ACT or SAT test are due May 1. The application fee at Clemson University is $70. It is more selective, with an acceptance rate of 52.8 percent.

Academic Life

The student-faculty ratio at Clemson University is 17:1, and the school has 51.6 percent of its classes with fewer than 20 students.

The most popular majors at Clemson University include: Engineering; Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services; Biological and Biomedical Sciences; Health Professions and Related Programs; and Social Sciences.

The average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, is 91.3 percent.

Student Life

Clemson University has a total undergraduate enrollment of 17,260, with a gender distribution of 53.5 percent male students and 46.5 percent female students. At this school, 41 percent of the students live in college-owned, -operated, or -affiliated housing and 59 percent of students live off campus.

Clemson University is part of the NCAA I athletic conference.

Campus Services

Clemson University offers a number of student services including nonremedial tutoring, placement service, health service, and health insurance.

Clemson University also offers campus safety and security services like 24-hour foot and vehicle patrols, late night transport/escort service, 24-hour emergency telephones, lighted pathways/sidewalks, student patrols, and controlled dormitory access (key, security card, etc). Of the students at Clemson University, 74 percent have cars on campus.

Alcohol is permitted for students of legal age at Clemson University.