In the following ranking, we examine the top 15 best affordable colleges in Mississippi for bachelor’s degrees based on a specific set of criteria. Located in the heart of the Deep South, Mississippi is a state characterized by deep rivers, deep accents, and deep thinking. Any prospective college student who is concerned about paying for their college degree should keep Mississippi in mind, a state with rigorous academic programs at prices that are among the lowest in the country. On one hand, institutions of higher education in Mississippi represent the usual mix of historic HBCUs, private religious schools, and large public universities. However, the top-value colleges and universities in Mississippi to distinguish themselves from others, including Ole Miss, which is known for its vibrant campus with spirit and competition to spare, and Mississippi State University, home to a four-year veterinary medical technology program that can only be found at a handful of other institutions in the U.S.
Perhaps most importantly, colleges and universities in Mississippi boast tremendous value, meaning that they have found a sweet spot that combines high-quality programs and low tuition rates into one affordable package. However, since it can be difficult for aspiring students to define “value” when it comes to choosing a college, we hope that the following methodology will help. We took into consideration several key metrics in higher education, including the average cost of attendance, student-to-faculty ratios, and graduation rates, to help identify the affordable colleges in Mississippi for nearly any major.
Regardless of the career path you wish to follow after you earn your bachelor’s degree in Mississippi, there are hundreds of low-cost degree programs available across the state. Since it is important to compare several factors such as tuition, class size, and student success, and the process of narrowing down prospective schools can be time-consuming, we decided to help by ranking the top 15 affordable colleges in Mississippi below. We conducted a search for colleges in Mississippi offering bachelor’s degrees using the College Navigator tool at the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and awarded points for each category as outlined below.
Average Cost of Attendance
Tuition rates are likely the first thing a prospective student thinks about when selecting a college or university. While it can be tempting to choose the cheapest, most inexpensive college in Mississippi simply because it will save you money, you will also want to ensure that the school you are considering offers the major in which you are interested, any extracurriculars in which you might want to participate, opportunities for hands-on learning or internships, or any other feature you are looking for you in your college experience. Below, we ranked each school and awarded points based on the cost of one full year of tuition for an in-state students according to NCES. Although we did not use out-of-state rates to award points, we felt it might be helpful to provide these costs as well.
Under $7,500: 3 points
$7,500 to $15,000: 2 points
$15,001 and above: 1 point
As you continue to compare universities and colleges, one feature that might come up is a particular school’s student-to-faculty ratio. We chose this metric, as reported by NCES, as a way to measure class size and, ultimately, the learning environment a student can expect at that particular institution. Although there is no steadfast rule that holds true for all schools, in most cases, colleges with low student-to-faculty ratios typically report smaller class sizes and, therefore, more opportunities for academic support, one-on-one learning, and a greater likelihood that students will get to know their professors on a personal basis. Therefore, we decided to award these institutions with the most points as outlined below.
10:1 or less: 3 points
11:1 to 15:1: 2 points
Greater than 15:1: 1 point
The final metric on which we based the following ranking was each school’s graduation rate. We used this information from NCES as a way to gauge student satisfaction and success. Again, although there are always exceptions, in most cases, colleges and universities with high graduation rates are producing successful students that we can assume were satisfied with their experience at that particular institution. In other words, these schools are doing something to retain students, whether that be employing experienced faculty, offering affordable degrees, or providing the academic support students need to succeed. Therefore, we determined that these institutions would receive the highest number of points as outlined below.
More than 50 percent: 3 points
Between 30 percent and 50 percent: 2 points
Less than 30 percent: 1 point
Ranking Top 15 Best Affordable Colleges in Mississippi
15. Rust College
Holly Springs, Mississippi
Located in Holly Springs, Rust College is ranked among the most affordable colleges in Mississippi. An HBCU affiliated with the United Methodist Church, the school was established in 1866, making it is the second-oldest private college in the state and one of only 10 HBCUs founded prior to 1868 that is still in operation today. The school is comprised of five divisions, including Social Science, Humanities, Science and Mathematics, Education, and Business, and its most popular low-cost degree programs by enrollment include biology, kindergarten and preschool education, broadcast journalism, business, and social work and youth services. Student life at this cheap college in Mississippi is comprised of intramural sports, religious life, the Student Government Association, on-campus extracurricular activities, student clubs and organizations, and student support services for disabled, first-generation, and low-income college students.
In-State Tuition: $9,900
Out-of-State Tuition: $9,900
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 19:1
Graduation Rate: 33 percent
14. University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, located in Hattiesburg, is a public institution of higher education that awards cheap undergraduate, graduate, and specialist degrees to students looking to attend an affordable university in Mississippi. Established in 1910 as Mississippi Normal College, USM is a dual-campus school, operating a second location, Gulf Park, in Long Beach as well as teaching and research sites such as the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory and the John C. Stennis Space Center. Classified as a Carnegie R1 research institution, USM is one of the leading research universities in the nation in areas such as sports venue safety and security, polymer science and engineering, and ocean science and engineering. In fact, USM offers the only ocean engineering degree in the state. The school is also one of only 40 in the country that is accredited in music, dance, art and design, and theater. The campus is home to 30 study-abroad programs and 17 NCAA Division I athletic teams as well as the Art Institute of Mississippi and the Children’s Center for Communication and Development.
In-State Tuition: $8,624
Out-of-State Tuition: $10,624
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Graduation Rate: 49 percent
13. Jackson State University
Jackson State University is the fourth-largest university in the state and one of the largest HBCUs in the nation. It is also a member-school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and recognized among the top affordable colleges in Mississippi. Designated by the Carnegie Foundation as a research-intensive institution of higher education, JSU confers more than 90 low-cost bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in fields ranging from urban and regional planning, biology and biological sciences, and business to psychology, nursing, and elementary education and teaching. JSU complements its top-value academic programs in several ways, including multidisciplinary research centers, the Honors College, the Division of Undergraduate Studies, distance learning courses, and summer programs for high school students. Students can enjoy volunteering opportunities, sporting events and NCAA Division I athletics, on-campus artistic events, extracurricular activities, and JSU’s award-winning marching band, the Sonic Boom of the South, which dates back to the 1940s.
In-State Tuition: $8,051
Out-of-State Tuition: $19,279
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Graduation Rate: 43 percent
12. Alcorn State University
Located in Lorman, Alcorn State University is a public HBCU and a land-grant institution that offers cheap associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and specialist degrees to nearly 4,000 part- and full-time undergraduate and graduate students. Established in 1871 for the purpose of educating freedmen, it was the first African-American land-grant college in the country. Today, ASU has earned nationwide recognition not only for being an affordable Mississippi University but also for its excellence in nursing, music, technology, agricultural research, and the liberal arts. Outside of the classroom, students can get involved in NCAA Division I athletics as well as more than 40 organizations and clubs, including special-interest groups, student council, theater and music groups, religious groups, honor societies, the student-run radio station, the student yearbook and newspaper, and student government.
In-State Tuition: $7,084
Out-of-State Tuition: $7,084
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Graduation Rate: 40 percent
11. Belhaven University
Belhaven University is a private, Christian liberal arts university located in Jackson, that was established in 1883 through the merger of The McComb Female Institute and the Mississippi Synodical College. Today, Belhaven is nationally recognized for its top-rated faculty, rigorous academic programs, and its value. With more than 1,200 traditional students, a 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and 70 areas of study, including top-value academic majors and concentrations, Belhaven is a solid choice for students looking to earn an affordable degree in Mississippi. In addition, approximately 92 percent of students receive some type of financial aid that helps to offset the cost of tuition. Popular fields of study include art, business administration, biblical studies, music, and health administration. In fact, Belhaven is just one of a handful of schools in the U.S. to have earned national accreditation in all four of the arts, including visual art, theater, music, and dance, and it is one of only two Christian institutions of higher learning to be recognized for its science curriculum by the White House STEM Initiative.
In-State Tuition: $25,300
Out-of-State Tuition: $25,300
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 10:1
Graduation Rate: 47 percent
10. Mississippi College
Students seeking an affordable four-year degree in Mississippi may consider attending Mississippi College, a private Baptist institution of higher education in Clinton. Established in 1826, it is the oldest college in the state and the second-oldest Baptist-affiliated college in the nation as well as the largest private university in Mississippi with more than 5,000 students. MC college offers more than 80 economical undergraduate fields of study, covering all areas of a comprehensive liberal arts curriculum, as well as more than 50 top-value graduate fields of study ranging from art to the medical sciences to business. Doctoral degrees in professional counseling, educational leadership, and jurisprudence are also available. With more than 50 chartered student organizations ranging from campus ministries to academic societies, MC offers many opportunities for all students to get involved. MC also aims to infuse Christ into every aspect of its culture, including throughout campus life, in the classroom, and in the hearts of students.
In-State Tuition: $18,026
Out-of-State Tuition: $18,026
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Graduation Rate: 53 percent
9. William Carey University
William Carey University is an affordable, accredited university in Mississippi that is affiliated with the Mississippi Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention. A private, Christian liberal arts institution of higher education, WCU offers numerous high-value undergraduate, master’s, doctoral, and specialist degrees through both on-campus and online delivery methods. Students looking for low-cost college courses in Mississippi at the bachelor’s level can choose from economical degree programs in fields such as art education, cross-cultural business management, Christian ministry, intercultural studies, nursing, and speech communication. WCU values student involvement and student engagement, and the school encourages students to get involved as a campus ambassador. Student activities include the Student Government Association, intramural sports, and student organizations centered around hobbies and interests, academics, athletics, Greek life, and honor societies.
In-State Tuition: $12,600
Out-of-State Tuition: $12,600
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Graduation Rate: 47 percent
8. Blue Mountain College
Blue Mountain, Mississippi
Ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the number one best-value college in Mississippi, Blue Mountain College is a private liberal arts college located in Blue Mountain. The school is supported by the Mississippi Baptist Convention and began as a women’s college in 1873. Today, the school enrolls applicants who are actively involved in the Baptist church and boasts the lowest average student loan debt in the state, making it a solid option for students comparing affordable colleges in Mississippi. BMC offers programs leading to four types of low-cost undergraduate degrees: Bachelor of Music Education, Bachelor of Science in Education, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Arts. Notable areas of study include biology and medical technology, Christian ministry, exercise science, instrumental music, pre-physical therapy, worship leadership, and sports ministry. Student life consists of intramural sports, mission trips, chapel programs, and BMC Beacon, the student newspaper.
In-State Tuition: $12,584
Out-of-State Tuition: $12,584
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Graduation Rate: 49 percent
7. University of Mississippi
Chartered in 1844, the University of Mississippi, known as Ole Miss, is a public research university located in Oxford. Not only is Ole Miss the flagship university of the state, but it is also the largest university in Mississippi by enrollment, educating more than 23,000 students each year. From an accountancy school that ranks among the top 10 in the nation to a liberal arts college with nearly 40 academic areas of study, Ole Miss confers a variety of cheap degree programs to suit nearly any major. Low-cost popular areas of study at this high-value university in Mississippi include the liberal arts and humanities, psychology, marketing and management, nursing, accounting, and education. The school also features top-ranked graduate programs, including competitive medical and law schools, a prestigious Honors College, a spirited campus body, and world-class research programs. In fact, Ole Miss is home to a number of unique national centers of study and research, including the Center for Manufacturing Excellence, the Center for Intelligence and Security Studies, the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, and the Croft Institute for International Studies.
In-State Tuition: $8,660
Out-of-State Tuition: $24,614
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Graduation Rate: 64 percent
6. Mississippi State University
Located in Starkville, Mississippi State University for Agriculture and Applied Science, or simply Mississippi State University, is a public land, space-, and sea-grant institution of higher learning that was chartered in 1878 as Mississippi Agricultural and Mechanical College. Today, the school offers more than 175 top-value programs that lead to affordable bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees through its eight academic colleges: Veterinary Medicine, Forest Resources, Engineering, Education, Business, Arts and Sciences, Agriculture and Life Sciences, and Architecture, Art, and Design. Popular cheap degree programs by enrollment at this top-value university in Mississippi include the liberal arts and humanities, exercise science, business, communications, elementary education, and veterinary medical technology, one of fewer than 20 four-year programs of its kind in the country. Known as “the People’s University,” MSU boasts a spirited campus, which has earned national recognition for its notable alumni, rigorous education training programs, active alumni network, and for its commitment to service and research.
In-State Tuition: $8,650
Out-of-State Tuition: $23,250
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 20:1
Graduation Rate: 58 percent
5. Mississippi Valley State University
Itta Bena, Mississippi
Located in Itta Bena, Mississippi Valley State University is a public HBCU and a member-school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. Established in 1950 as Mississippi Vocational College, MVSU is a low-cost accredited university in Mississippi that provides comprehensive best-value undergraduate and graduate programs in the arts and sciences, education, and professional studies. Students from across the country attend MVSU to explore career-oriented subjects like teacher education, environmental health, mass communication, and engineering technology. The school’s high-value academic program is delivered by nationally renowned, highly qualified faculty members who serve as experts of the instruction and curriculum of their fields. Every program is complemented in several ways, including extended education and online courses, options for high school students, and other support services. On-campus clubs and organizations revolve around academics and honor societies as well as a number of NCAA Division I men’s and women’s athletic teams.
In-State Tuition: $6,550
Out-of-State Tuition: $6,550
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 15:1
Graduation Rate: 29 percent
4. Tougaloo College
Established in 1869 to educate freedmen and their offspring, Tougaloo College is a private HBCU located in Tougaloo. A liberal arts institution of higher education and one of the most affordable colleges in Mississippi, Tougaloo offers inexpensive undergraduate degrees in 29 majors in the areas of the social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities as well as top-value graduate degrees in child development and teaching. Tougaloo ranks among the top 25 institutions in the country whose graduates earn doctorates in the engineering and science disciplines, and the school is recognized among the top 10 “Best Bang for the Buck” institutions of higher learning in the nation. Tougaloo students enjoy many activities across campus, including an annual leadership retreat, a competitive intramural sports program, the Student Government Association, a student-produced newspaper, the yearbook, Greek life, the Tougaloo Ambassadors for Meritorious Scholars, and Tougaloo’s gospel choir, the Anointed Voices of Gifts Received at Christ’s Expense (GRACE).
In-State Tuition: $10,600
Out-of-State Tuition: $10,600
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 9:1
Graduation Rate: 35 percent
3. Delta State University
Located in Cleveland, Delta State University is one of eight publicly funded universities in Mississippi. Established in 1924, DSU enrolls more than 3,700 students each year across five colleges and schools: Business and Aviation, Arts and Sciences, Education and Human Sciences, Nursing, and Graduate and Continuing Studies. Students pursuing a degree at this low-cost university in Mississippi can choose from inexpensive majors in unique areas such as entertainment industry studies and commercial aviation as well as more traditional programs in business administration, music education, and interdisciplinary studies. Outside of the classroom, students have access to more than 100 organizations and clubs as well as NCAA Division II athletic teams. Career services at DSU include career fairs, assistance with locating internships and/or a job, professional coaching, mock interviews, document consultations, workshops and on-campus interviews, a professional clothes closet supplied through donations, and a student organization known as the Career Ambassadors.
In-State Tuition: $7,246
Out-of-State Tuition: $7,246
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Graduation Rate: 39 percent
2. Mississippi University for Women
With one of the lowest tuition rates in the region, Mississippi University for Women is a cost-effective university in Mississippi. Founded in 1884 as the Industrial Institute and College for the Education of White Girls and later the Missippi State College for Women, The W was the first public women’s college in the country. In 1982, the school welcomed its first male students, and today, men make up approximately 18 percent of the student body. The W enrolls more than 3,400 students, of which nearly 84 percent are in-state students. The W confers more than 50 cheap undergraduate majors and concentrations as well as 11 graduate programs. The school’s top-value majors include nursing, business administration, kinesiology, and elementary education as well as public health education, biology, speech pathology, and psychology. There are a number of different organizations at The W, including special interest, leadership, social, service, religious, performing, and departmental groups as well as honorary societies, the Student Government Association, and Greek life.
In-State Tuition: $6,940
Out-of-State Tuition: $6,940
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Graduation Rate: 48 percent
1. Southeastern Baptist College
Ranked as the best affordable colleges in Mississippi, Southeastern Baptist College in Laurel is a private institution of higher learning affiliated with the Baptist Missionary Association of Mississippi. Established in 1948, the school offers both a two-year and a four-year curriculum for students looking to begin their college experience in a Christian-centered atmosphere. Students can choose from either a cheap Bachelor of Science in Church Ministries or a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Although the number of baccalaureate programs are limited and mainly designed for aspiring church ministers, undergraduate students may pursue top-value associate programs and build a solid foundation in religious education before transferring and completing their four-year degree elsewhere. The school’s 3:1 student-to-faculty ratio is nearly unheard of in higher education, so it stands to reason that everyone knows everyone on this friendly religious campus.
In-State Tuition: $6,025
Out-of-State Tuition: $6,025
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 3:1
Graduation Rate: 50 percent
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Most In-Demand Industries in Mississippi for Graduates with a Bachelor’s Degree?
Regardless of whether you have an occupation in mind or you are looking to learn more about the job outlook of several positions, understanding industry trends may influence your decision to pursue a specific major. According to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES), the following are the top 10 most in-demand industries across the state as well as each industry’s total projected employment growth between 2016 and 2026.
- Food Preparation and Serving-Related Occupations: 12.3 percent
- Healthcare Support Occupations: 10.9 percent
- Operations Specialties Managers: 10.1 percent
- Personal Care and Service Occupations: 9.8 percent
- Community and Social Service Occupations: 9.1 percent
- Education, Training, and Library Occupations: 9.0 percent
- Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations: 8.9 percent
- Preschool, Primary, Secondary, and Special Education School Teachers: 8.0 percent
- Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations: 7.9 percent
- Management Occupations: 7.8 percent
Within the top 30 occupations based on yearly demand, positions with wages greater than the state annual average of $39,420 are registered nurses, general and operations managers, heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, elementary school teachers except for special education, and first-line supervisors of administrative and office support workers.
What are the Highest-Paying Jobs in Mississippi?
For prospective students considering attending an affordable college or university in Mississippi, it is important to consider occupational employment and wage estimates across the state, regardless of whether you have a career in mind or you are looking to see which job provides the highest salary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), who calculated occupation information from employers and all industries across the state, the annual mean wage was $39,420 as of May 2018. The top five highest-paid positions included:
- Surgeons: $280,350
- Pediatricians, General: $258,910
- Internists, General: $240,050
- Obstetricians and Gynecologists: $234,160
- Family and General Practitioners: $227,390
Since this article revolves mainly around affordable bachelor’s colleges in Mississippi, however, we felt it was important to also provide occupational statistics for jobs that undergraduates could pursue after earning their degree. Below, we have listed 10 high-paying occupations that a student can pursue either with a bachelor’s degree alone or with a bachelor’s degree and additional licensure, certification, experience, and/or training.
- Architectural and Engineering Managers: $122,550
- Chief Executives: $112,310
- Aerospace Engineers: $110,760
- Chemical Engineers: $109,940
- Sales Managers: $108,100
- Actuaries: $107,910
- Marine Engineers and Naval Architects: $106,130
- Commercial Pilots: $103,000
- Personal Financial Advisors: $102,820
- Financial Managers: $101,840
What are the Best Schools in Mississippi for Bachelor’s Recipients?
The Magnolia State, named after the mighty Mississippi River, is known for its southern culture, charm, and academic institutions, both private and public, as well as its influence on the blues music genre and in classic American literature. Students who are thinking of attending a college in this state should consider how their investment in a degree will pay off in the future to ensure they are getting the most bang for their educational buck. Below, we have taken the top five schools in Mississippi for in-state students and provided information related to early- and mid-career earnings for undergraduates as well as each school’s 20-year net return on investment (ROI), or the amount one can expect to earn over 20 years after graduating with a bachelor’s degree, according to PayScale. Schools are ranked in order from the highest ROI to the lowest ROI.
- 1. Mississippi State University
– 20-Year Net ROI: $293,000
– Early Career Pay: $50,000
– Mid-Career Pay: $92,500
- 2. University of Mississippi
– 20-Year Net ROI: $246,000
– Early Career Pay: $47,800
– Mid-Career Pay: $87,700
- 3. University of Southern Mississippi
– 20-Year Net ROI: $178,000
– Early Career Pay: $44,400
– Mid-Career Pay: $81,800
- 4. Mississippi College
– 20-Year Net ROI: $132,000
– Early Career Pay: $44,800
– Mid-Career Pay: $75,100
- 5. William Carey University
– 20-Year Net ROI: $131,000
– Early Career Pay: $41,800
– Mid-Career Pay: $67,600
Mississippi is a solid choice for future students seeking a public institution of higher education, and when it comes to getting the most out of your investment, Mississippi State University is the way to go. Located in Starkville, MSU began as an agricultural and mechanical college but now boasts the highest ROI out of any school in the state. The University of Mississippi, or Ole Miss, is another smart option for a bachelor’s degree. The campus, though slightly larger than MSU, is known for its passionate sports teams and vibrant student life as well as rigorous, high-quality academic programs that students would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.
This list provides students with a good foundation of best-value and cost-effective colleges and universities for bachelor’s degrees to meet any academic need. With many colleges and universities offering a multitude of inexpensive degrees in the state, we hope this list will guide you to find the best affordable colleges in Mississippi for bachelor’s degrees to start you on your path to success.
This concludes our ranking of the top 15 best affordable colleges in Mississippi for bachelor’s degrees.
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