These Are The 10 Best Small Colleges In Kansas

by Chris Kolmar
Rankings - 3 years ago

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You know there are a ton of great reasons to go to a small college — the opportunity to work with a smaller number of people, a chance to get a great education while remaining close to home, and of course, cost. After all, who wants to rack up huge student loans to get a degree that’s just about as valuable as one from a large institution?

But what small college in Kansas is the best of all?

We at Zippia decided to take a look at the data on the 17 institutions of higher learning in the Sunflower State to determine which programs offer the best all around experience for students. After analyzing the numbers, we sorted the schools by enrollment, limiting our report to institutions with under 2,000 students.

After the dust settled, we’re left with this set of the top small colleges or universities in Kansas:

  1. Newman University
  2. MidAmerica Nazarene University
  3. Central Christian College of Kansas
  4. Sterling College
  5. Bethel College-North Newton
  6. Southwestern College
  7. Haskell Indian Nations University
  8. University of Saint Mary
  9. Baker University
  10. Tabor College

If you go to one of these schools, chances are, you’re not surprised. After all, you know how great you have it.

But for the rest of you — keep reading and we’ll get to just why these schools have some of the best experiences Kansas has to offer.

For more KS reading, check out:

How We Determined The Best Small Colleges In Kansas

At its core, economics is the study of choices made under constraints. When it came to identifying the best small schools we wanted to approach the ranking like an economics major would — that is, by looking at data on how individual schools performed and comparing them to one another.

What better way to optimize your choice?

So with that mind, we looked at the following data from the NCES (National Center For Education Statistics) and College Scorecard data from to understand what small schools offer the best career opportunities:

  • Career Results
    • Mean Earnings After 6 Years
    • Mean Earnings After 10 Years
    • Ratio of people working to not working after 10 years
  • School Performance
    • Admissions Rate (More selective the better)
    • Graduation Rate
    • Average Cost Of Attendance (Lower is better)
    • Average amount of debt

It’s hard to argue with a selective school that produces strong earning potential for your career.

After we had this data, we looked at the 17 institutions of higher learning in Kansas which had populations under 2,000 students. We then ranked each of these schools from 1 to 17 for each of the criteria above with 1 being the best in any given criteria.

Next, we averaged the ranks for each school to create an “Quality Index”. The school with the best score on the “Quality Index”, Newman University, earned the distinction of being the ‘Best Small College’ in Kansas.

Any ties went to the larger school.

1. Newman University

Newman University, Kansas
Enrollment: 1,557

This small institution in Wichita, KS is the best small college in the state, when you look at the unbiased data.

Newman University graduates earn the 5th highest salaries in the state for all small colleges — even a decade after graduation. Its 52% admission rate means the college is exclusive (a good sign), and the cost is the 6th lowest, meaning you get a big bang for your buck.

2. Midamerica Nazarene University

Midamerica Nazarene University, Kansas
Enrollment: 1,302

Located in Olathe, MidAmerica Nazarene University is one of many private colleges to make this list. What makes it so great here?

For starters, it has the 7th lowest cost in the state. The admission rate is very low, and its graduation rate is the 5th highest in the state of all small colleges we measured.

3. Central Christian College Of Kansas

Central Christian College Of Kansas, Kansas
Enrollment: 346

Most people in the state know Central Christian College of Kansas as being a top-notch program. But this small, private college in McPherson isn’t just a great place for current students, but former students too.

Central Christian College of Kansas’s employment rate 10 years after graduation is the 2nd highest in Kansas, which is certainly something to brag about. So is an admission rate of 49%, also one of the best in the state.

4. Sterling College

Sterling College, Kansas
Enrollment: 440

Sterling College in Sterling gets high marks for a low admission rate and a high graduation rate. Additionally, for those lucky enough to get in, this is the 5th least expensive place to learn in the state.

5. Bethel College-North Newton

Bethel College-North Newton, Kansas
Enrollment: 506

If you want up-close personal attention at a private institution, than it’d be hard to beat Bethel College-North Newton, located in North Newton.

Besides high marks in several categories, what really stands out is the high graduation rates (3rd in the state).

6. Southwestern College

Southwestern College, Kansas
Enrollment: 1,114

This private college in Winfield gets high marks for cost (it’s the 15th lowest least expensive small college in KS), and for post-graduation earnings, where former students command the 2nd highest incomes in the state.

7. Haskell Indian Nations University

Haskell Indian Nations University, Kansas
Enrollment: 918

Only 58% of the young minds who apply to Haskell Indian Nations University are accepted, which is a sign of greatness. After all, when you turn so many students away, that means there’s high demand. In addition, graduates come out of school with the lowest amount of debt in the state.

Haskell Indian Nations University also has the highest employment rate after 10 years of all small colleges in Kansas.

This private school is located in Lawrence.

8. University Of Saint Mary

University Of Saint Mary, Kansas
Enrollment: 510

Not only is University of Saint Mary in one of the prettiest parts of Kansas, its students get the benefit of several leading categories. For instance, if you’re lucky enough to be accepted here, you’ll pay the 8th lowest amount of all small schools in the state.

And the whole reason you go to college is to earn the big bucks, right? University of Saint Mary grads command the 6th highest salaries in the state.

9. Baker University

Baker University, Kansas
Enrollment: 828

It’s hard to do better than little Baker University, located in Baldwin City. Students will appreciate the high graduation rate, lower-than-average costs and high salaries that graduates earn.

10. Tabor College

Tabor College, Kansas
Enrollment: 572

Tabor College is one of the private schools to make this list. It boasts the 6th highest graduation rate in the state, and graduates earn the 7th most of all the schools we looked at.

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