In the following ranking, we examine the 15 best affordable colleges in Utah for bachelor’s degrees. Although Utah is known for its stunning natural views, breathtaking national parks, lush forests, expansive deserts, and towering mountains, how does the state fare when it comes to higher education? While college-goers in Utah often take advantage of local outdoor adventures, there are also many reasons to hang out on their schools’ campuses. Although Utah’s total population won’t break records anytime soon, the state makes up for its low resident density with nationally recognized colleges and universities such as the University of Utah and Westminster College — both of which attract students from around the country. Also, don’t forget Brigham Young University-Provo, a best-value, top-ranked university known for its reputation of catering to Utah’s Mormon students.
When it comes to value and affordability, institutions of higher education in Utah offer more benefits than those provided to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Although there are only a handful of colleges and universities in the state, the ones that do shine glow brightly. Below, we have ranked the top 15 affordable colleges in Utah based on three key metrics related to affordability, class size, and student success.
In the following ranking, our goal is to provide information related to the most affordable colleges in Utah while also ensuring that these schools are offering high-quality, rigorous academic programs. In order to capture this balance, we awarded points based on three of the most important features students look for in a college degree and school: tuition rates, student-to-faculty ratios, and graduation rates. To get our initial list of schools, we used the College Navigator database at the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and conducted a search for the term colleges in Utah offering bachelor’s degrees.
Average Cost of Attendance
Although tuition rates play a significant part in your decision to attend a certain college or university, keep in mind that cost isn’t everything, and that you should also consider the quality of the program and what the school has to offer instead of basing your decision on price alone. For this ranking, we awarded points based on the cost of tuition for an in-state student with a 15-hour course load per semester for one full year of study according to NCES. We also provided tuition rates for out-of-state students for your reference.
Under $7,500: 3 points
$7,500 to $15,000: 2 points
$15,001 and above: 1 point
When considering the size of an institution as well as the general learning environment, student-to-faculty ratios can paint a decent picture. In most cases, large state universities with high student-to-faculty ratios generally provide classes with more students, while small private colleges with low student-to-faculty ratios typically offer classes with fewer students. Consider your academic background and personal preference when comparing these figures as there is no one-size-fits-all school. For this ranking, we awarded the most points to schools with the lowest student-to-faculty ratios as reported from NCES and, therefore, the smallest classes as these institutions may be more likely to offer academic support and opportunities for students to develop relationships with their professors.
10:1 or less: 3 points
11:1 to 15:1: 2 points
Greater than 15:1: 1 point
Finally, we looked at graduation rates as a way to measure student success. After all, if a student is happy with a program, he or she may be more likely to stick with it until the end. Although not true of all schools, in most cases, institutions with high graduation rates are doing something correctly, whether it be offering high-quality programs, affordable tuition rates, or the academic support students are looking for in their college experience. As a result, students are generally happy and want to continue their studies, complete the program requirements, and earn their degree. For this ranking, we awarded the most points to schools with the highest graduation rates from NCES 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 Utah
15. Stevens-Henager College
Located in Orem, Stevens-Henager College is an affordable Utah college and one of four institutions associated with the Salt Lake City-based Center for Excellence in Higher Education. Established in 1891, SHC operates five campuses throughout Utah and Idaho. Students at SHC can pursue top-value bachelor’s degrees in highly sought-after career fields like graphic arts, information technology, business, and healthcare. Completing an inexpensive bachelor’s degree at SHC can take as few as 36 months of full-time enrollment, and students may graduate faster than a traditional university or college. SHC provides individual support, including one-on-one tutoring and advising, and classes are limited in size, allowing professors to provide individual mentoring.
In-State Tuition: $16,972
Out-of-State Tuition: $16,972
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 19:1
Graduation Rate: 19 percent
14. Independence University
Salt Lake City, Utah
Independence University, formerly known as California College for Health Sciences, is a university that provides affordable online learning in Utah. Headquartered in Salt Lake City, IU merged with Stevens-Henager College in 2010 to become a branch of SHC’s main campus. IU is comprised of four schools, including the School of Graphic Arts, the School of Technology, the School of Business, and the School of Healthcare. All students receive a laptop and tablet on their first day of study to use during their low-cost degree programs and keep after graduation. IU is known for its monthly program starts, personalized support, and fast-track inexpensive degree programs. Student life at IU includes online community support and exceptional faculty as well as personal involvement with each student’s IU Success Team. Students may take advantage of a number of online IU clubs and communities and communicate with peers for social engagement. Student support services consist of personalized financial planning, career services, academic advising, and tutoring.
In-State Tuition: $16,972
Out-of-State Tuition: $16,972
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 26:1
Graduation Rate: 12 percent
13. Nightingale College
Salt Lake City, Utah
Nightingale College is an accredited college in Utah that educates registered nurses. Headquartered in Salt Lake City with hubs throughout Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming, Nightingale College is ranked among the most affordable colleges in Utah for its three nursing programs: the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), and the RN to BSN online program. Learners engage in capstone and didactic experiences in informatics, disease prevention, health promotion, gerontology, critical care, ethics, policy, leadership, and community nursing. The school enrolls around 325 undergraduate students, resulting in an impressive 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio that allows for academic advising and support, one-on-one mentoring, and personal relationships between students and faculty.
In-State Tuition: $52,375
Out-of-State Tuition: $52,375
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 10:1
Graduation Rate: N/A
12. Neumont College of Computer Science
Salt Lake City, Utah
Ranked among the top low-cost colleges in Utah, Neumont College of Computer Science is an institution of higher education that focuses solely on economical computer science degrees. Founded in 2003, Neumont’s campus in Salt Lake City offers an ideal environment for hands-on, experiential learning. Neumont offers six affordable Bachelor of Science degrees in Web design and development, technology management, software and game development, software engineering, information systems, and computer science. All inexpensive bachelor’s degrees are designed to be completed in three years instead of the traditional four or five years at other affordable colleges in Utah. Students learn in a project-based curriculum that weaves together practical application and theory, and undergraduates work on project teams to develop solutions to problems from their very first day of study. Neumont also encourages students to decompress through its student clubs, Residence Life program, and activities that take advantage of the school’s location to the great outdoors as well as downtown Salt Lake City.
In-State Tuition: $24,750
Out-of-State Tuition: $24,750
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 18:1
Graduation Rate: 62 percent
11. Utah State University
Located in Logan, Utah State University is a land-grant research university that was established in 1888 as an agricultural college. Enrolling nearly 20,000 students, USU is now the largest public residential institution of higher education in the state. The school is comprised of the Huntsman School of Business as well as seven affordable degree-granting colleges. USU offers 168 undergraduate degrees and 143 graduate degrees, and the school’s most popular cheap degree programs include elementary education, psychology, mechanical engineering, communicative disorders and deaf education, economics, and general studies. Students may also take advantage of study-abroad opportunities, an honors program, and global engagement. USU counts 23 Goldwater Scholars and seven Rhodes Scholars among its graduates, a true testament to the quality of its education. With a close-knit family of illustrious alumni, award-winning faculty, and nationally ranked degrees, USU is recognized as a top-value university in Utah.
In-State Tuition: $8,138
Out-of-State Tuition: $22,316
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 20:1
Graduation Rate: 50 percent
10. Western Governors University
Salt Lake City, Utah
Headquartered in Salt Lake City, Western Governors University is a high-value college in Utah that enrolls undergraduate and graduate students in a variety of affordable online, in-demand degree programs. WGU is unique in that it uses an online competency-based learning model in which students pay one flat tuition rate per semester and take as many courses as they can handle instead of the traditional model in which students pay per credit hour. WGU offers cheap undergraduate and graduate degrees in business, education, information technology, and health and nursing. Students who have prior experience may take competency assessments and accelerate their time to degree completion, thus further reducing the cost of tuition. Each student works with a mentor with experience in his or her major who provides feedback, helps develop a plan of study, and ensures students are motivated through weekly, regularly scheduled conversations. Students also have access to career services which include career planning, career exploration, and professional development, and WGU offers paid, part-time, and full-time internships through partner employers.
In-State Tuition: $6,670
Out-of-State Tuition: $6,670
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 41:1
Graduation Rate: 29 percent
9. Utah Valley University
Established in 1941 as Central Utah Vocational School, Utah Valley University is recognized as one of the most affordable colleges in Utah. A public university in Orem, UVU confers 44 certificates, 65 associate degrees, 91 bachelor’s programs, and 11 master’s degrees as well as 29 inexpensive online programs. Inexpensive areas of study cover a broad range of fields, including botany, digital cinema, respiratory therapy, mechatronics engineering technology, and personal financial planning. Students also benefit from numerous workforce training, technical, vocational, and academic projects and can choose to get involved in more than 150 active clubs. Campus recreation consists of intramural sports, the Student Life and Wellness Center, recreational sports, the Outdoor Adventure Center, a climbing wall, a rodeo, and a bowling and gaming center.
In-State Tuition: $5,726
Out-of-State Tuition: $16,296
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 25:1
Graduation Rate: 35 percent
8. University of Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah
The University of Utah, located in Salt Lake City, is a public research university and the flagship institution of higher education in the state. Founded in 1850, U of U serves nearly 33,000 students, including more than 24,700 undergraduates. Offering more than 100 low-cost undergraduate majors and nearly 100 graduate programs to students seeking an affordable degree in Utah, U of U is known as one of the best schools in the country for creating startup companies based on faculty and student research. U of U is also home to top-ranked cheap degree programs in the entertainment arts and engineering. The campus itself is chock full of exciting things to do, including Broadway-quality theater, gardens, museums, concerts, and lectures. Local attractions include the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Red Butte Garden, Pioneer Theater, Kingsbury Hall, and the Natural History Museum of Utah.
In-State Tuition: $9,222
Out-of-State Tuition: $29,215
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 16:1
Graduation Rate: 70 percent
7. Southern Utah University
Cedar City, Utah
Located in Cedar City, Utah, Southern Utah University is a public institution of higher learning that was established as a normal school in 1897. Today, SUU enrolls more than 10,000 students each year in an array of in-demand, high-quality academic degrees. With more than 145 affordable undergraduate programs as well as 18 graduate and certificate programs across six colleges, SUU is an accredited university in Utah that offers project-based, world-class learning opportunities where students gain hands-on experience before they enter the job market. SUU’s top-value degree programs include business, biology, theater, psychology, criminal justice, aviation, and outdoor recreation, and its nursing program ranks among the top three in the state. The school is known as the “University of the Parks,” mainly due to its educational partnerships with the National Park Service as well as its close proximity to a handful of outdoor recreational areas. The campus is also home to the Southern Utah Museum of Art, where students will find artwork from renowned artists, emerging artists, and local landscape artists.
In-State Tuition: $6,770
Out-of-State Tuition: $20,586
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 19:1
Graduation Rate: 49 percent
6. Weber State University
Students seeking an affordable university in Utah may consider Weber State University, a public institution of higher education located in Utah. Weber State enrolls more than 24,000 students at its main campus as well as at locations in Layton, Clearfield, Roy, Morgan, and Farmington. Students may pursue more than 100 affordable undergraduate majors and emphasis areas that lead to associate and bachelor’s degrees in interest areas such as engineering and technology, computer and information systems, business and finance, the health professions, visual and performing arts, and professional trades. In addition, this cheap university in Utah is home to a vibrant, thriving campus, complete with student clubs and organizations, athletics, Greek life, and student-run media. Recognized by The Princeton Review as a “Green School,” Weber is also known for its commitment to sustainability and has pledged to have a carbon-neutral campus by 2050.
In-State Tuition: $5,859
Out-of-State Tuition: $15,646
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 27:1
Graduation Rate: 34 percent
5. Dixie State University
St. George, Utah
Located in St. George, Utah, Dixie State University is a best-value university in Utah that was established in 1911 by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Today, Dixie State University boasts the lowest tuition of all four-year state institutions in Utah, making it the top choice for students searching for affordable colleges in Utah. Dixie is comprised of six colleges: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Health Sciences, Education, Business and Communication, and Science, Engineering, and Technology. The most popular cheap degree programs by enrollment at Dixie include the liberal arts and humanities, nursing, business, communications, dental hygiene, criminal justice and safety studies, and accounting. Campus life at Dixie is comprised of student government, clubs and organizations, and NCAA Division II athletic teams. The school is located 45 minutes from Zion National Park, a little more than an hour from Brian Head, one and a half hours from Las Vegas, and two hours from Lake Powell.
In-State Tuition: $5,253
Out-of-State Tuition: $15,051
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 22:1
Graduation Rate: 35 percent
4. Snow College
Ranked among the most affordable colleges in Utah, Snow College boasts the lowest tuition on our list. Located in Ephraim, Snow College offers certificate and associate programs as well as two cheap bachelor’s degrees: the Bachelor of Music with an emphasis in commercial music and the Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering with emphasis areas in entrepreneurship, Web development, and digital media design. Student life at Snow consists of clubs and organizations centered around academics, service, athletics, personal interests, and hobbies, including a ballroom dance club, an astronomy club, an intervarsity Christian fellowship, and a group dedicated to Magic: the Gathering. The Snow College Horne Activity Center is open to both Snow students and the public and offers a variety of activities for the family, including a fitness center, indoor soccer, indoor track, basketball, wallyball, volleyball, racquetball, and an indoor swimming pool.
In-State Tuition: $3,742
Out-of-State Tuition: $12,562
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 20:1
Graduation Rate: 45 percent
3. Westminster College
Salt Lake City, Utah
Westminster College, an accredited college in Utah, is a private liberal arts college located in the Sugar House neighborhood of Salt Lake City. Westminster is comprised of an Honors College and four academic schools: the School of Education, School of Nursing and Health Sciences, School of Arts and Sciences, and the Bill and Vieve Gore School of Business. Students seeking an affordable four-year degree in Utah can choose from nearly 60 top-value degree programs at the undergraduate level in interest areas such as technology, science, the performing arts, outdoor recreation and wellness, and nursing. More than 2,500 undergraduates benefit from personalized attention from their professors with a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and 95 percent of full-time faculty hold terminal degrees in their respective fields. The Westminster campus offers many highlights, including a lively student center, an amphitheater, and an athletic facility complete with an indoor track. Students may wander a little farther and find 10 ski resorts within an hour’s drive. Students may get involved in more than 50 clubs and organizations and NCAA Division II athletics as well as non-NCAA and intramural sports.
In-State Tuition: $34,000
Out-of-State Tuition: $34,000
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 9:1
Graduation Rate: 61 percent
2. Eagle Gate College
Ranked among the top affordable colleges in Utah, Eagle Gate College specializes in health career education. Established in 1979, the school operates a main campus in Murray and a second campus in Layton as well as a location in Provo in conjunction with Provo College. Students may pursue a diploma in medical assisting, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, or a Master of Science in Nursing Administration and Leadership. Best-value degree programs are offered in a hybrid format with the majority of coursework provided online, and Eagle Gate has teamed up with industry professionals to ensure graduates have the knowledge and skills needed in today’s healthcare marketplace. Through clinical experience, simulation work, laboratories, and classrooms, Eagle Gate students benefit from hands-on learning to prepare them to succeed in a dynamic industry.
In-State Tuition: $13,605
Out-of-State Tuition: $13,605
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 11:1
Graduation Rate: 75 percent
1. Brigham Young University-Provo
Brigham Young University-Provo tops our list of affordable colleges in Utah. Established in 1875 as Brigham Young Academy, this private research university is located in Provo, and is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. BYU offers some of the cheapest undergraduate and graduate degrees, including an array of majors such as linguistics, nutritional science, Arabic language, exercise science, neuroscience, philosophy, physics, and wildlands and wildlife conservation. BYU students are encouraged to integrate faith with education, taking one religion-focused course per semester for a total of 14 semester hours. BYU also focuses on community and service-learning through “Y Serve,” with more than 23,000 students participating each year. Notable on-campus attractions include a science museum that houses more than three million biological specimens, a museum of art that spans 100,000 square feet, and an ethnographic and archaeological museum that specializes in the American Southwest and prehistoric Utah.
In-State Tuition: $5,620
Out-of-State Tuition: $5,620
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 20:1
Graduation Rate: 86 percent
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Most In-Demand Careers in Utah for Graduates with a Bachelor’s Degree?
Whether you are just beginning your college education immediately after graduating high school or you are looking to go back to school and make a career change after years in the workforce, it is important to get a sense of the fastest-growing occupations in Utah. Ultimately, the goal is to aim your skills toward a future career that not only meets your interests but that also shows flexibility, stability, and upward mobility. According to the Department of Workforce Services, job growth is expected to increase 27.4 percent between 2014 and 2024. The following are the top 10 fastest-growing occupations listed in order from the highest to the lowest projected growth rate. All but two — postsecondary health specialties teachers and nurse practitioners — can be pursued with only a bachelor’s degree:
- Mobile App Developers
- Postsecondary Health Specialties Teachers
- Web Developers
- Personal Financial Advisors
- Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists
- Computer Systems Analysts
- Nurse Practitioners
- Computer and Information Systems Managers
- Personal Care Aides
- Home Health Aides
What are the Highest-Paying Jobs in Utah?
Whether you know the specific industry in which you would like to work or you are narrowing down possible career paths and you would like to learn more about salaries for each, understanding the highest-paying jobs in Utah can be helpful. To provide you with the most accurate information possible, we consulted the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), who calculated data collected from employers in all industries across all regions throughout the state. According to the BLS, the annual mean wage for all occupations was $47,920 as of May 2018. The top five highest-paying jobs include:
- Obstetricians and Gynecologists: $256,950
- Pediatricians, General: $240,060
- Internists, General: $229,850
- Physicians and Surgeons, All Other: $218,210
- Anesthesiologists: $214,730
In addition, we also looked at occupations that could be obtained with only a bachelor’s degree as the minimum education requirement. According to the BLS, the following are 10 jobs that undergraduates may pursue either with a bachelor’s alone or with a bachelor’s and additional on-the-job training, experience, licensure, or certification.
- Chief Executives: $165,020
- Architectural and Engineering Managers: $128,980
- Sales Engineers: $124,860
- Sales Managers: $122,190
- Computer and Information Systems Managers: $121,570
- Air Traffic Controllers: $118,410
- Marketing Managers: $115,230
- Computer Network Architects: $114,900
- Financial Managers: $110,750
- Software Developers, Systems Software: $106,040
What are the Best Schools in Utah for Bachelor’s Recipients?
As you narrow down colleges and universities in the Beehive State, it is important to think about how your financial investment will pay off in the future. After all, college is one of the biggest purchases you will make in your lifetime, so you will want to ensure you are getting the most bang for your educational buck. Not only does Utah’s natural beauty attract students from around the country, but it is also the state’s attractive 20-year net returns on investment (ROI) that make this state a smart place to earn a degree. Below, we have ranked the five highest-paying schools in terms of ROI, as reported be PayScale, as well as early- and mid-career salaries that in-state students can expect to earn after graduating with a bachelor’s degree without financial assistance. We have ranked these schools in order from the highest ROI to the lowest ROI.
- 1. Brigham Young University-Provo
– 20-Year Net ROI: $595,000
– Early Career Pay: $57,400
– Mid-Career Pay: $109,200
- 2. Weber State University
– 20-Year Net ROI: $444,000
– Early Career Pay: $53,300
– Mid-Career Pay: $90,000
- 3. University of Utah
– 20-Year Net ROI: $435,000
– Early Career Pay: $53,400
– Mid-Career Pay: $101,600
- 4. Utah State University
– 20-Year Net ROI: $410,000
– Early Career Pay: $50,800
– Mid-Career Pay: $92,900
- 5. Westminster College
– 20-Year Net ROI: $291,000
– Early Career Pay: $50,700
– Mid-Career Pay: $91,900
Brigham Young University tops not only our list of the most affordable colleges in Utah but also our list of the smartest financial investments a student can make when considering colleges and universities in this state. Founded in 1875, it is the largest religious university in the U.S., and popular areas of study include law, management, engineering, and the liberal arts. Outside of the classroom, students enjoy an impeccably maintained campus and spectacular views of the Wasatch Mountains.
The University of Utah, or the U of U, enrolls more than 33,000 students and offers more than 100 undergraduate majors. The school distinguishes itself not only for its attractive ROI but also the fact that offers Utah’s only accredited degree in architecture. It is also well-known for its academic options in genetics, largely due to the school’s affiliation with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as its tradition of genealogy.
Finally, Utah State University is another solid option for students looking for affordable colleges in Utah. Founded in 1888, the school is known for its programs in the liberal arts, economics, and business as well as its College of Engineering, with ties to the U.S. Department of Defense and NASA. Its proximity to downtown Logan offers an eclectic mix of small-city excitement and intimate campus life.
Students seeking an inexpensive Utah university will have no shortage of options, including large state universities, small private colleges, and religious-focused institutions. We hope that our above list of the top-ranked best affordable colleges in Utah for bachelor’s degrees serves as a helpful resource for prospective students considering an education in this beautiful state.
This concludes our ranking of the top 15 best affordable colleges in Utah for bachelor’s degrees for 2020.
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