When it comes to public universities, we can easily list around ten schools that are widely known and attended. However, there are also lesser-known schools that are gaining recognition and providing students with an exceptional education and degree. College Gazette has curated a list of ten remarkable public universities that you may not have heard of but are worth learning about.
What qualifies these schools as “you have never heard of”? While some people may have heard of these schools, they are gaining reputation beyond their regions and are becoming recognized for their excellence as academic institutions across the country.
Indiana Institute of Technology (Fort Wayne, IN)
The Indiana Institute of Technology, also known as Indiana Tech, is a small private college located in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Known for its career-focused education, Indiana Tech offers exceptional programs in engineering, computer science, and criminal justice.
Fun fact: The Indiana Tech Water Wheel, a popular spot on campus, is a nearly six-foot diameter wheel made of solid granite weighing over 3,700 pounds. While in the past, the wheel had a 23-pound ball rolling in its center track, it was removed due to students constantly taking it and capturing random photos with it around campus.
University of Central Oklahoma (Edmond, OK)
Located in Edmond, Oklahoma, the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) is the third-largest university in the state. UCO is best known for its exceptional music program, particularly the Jazz Lab, which has been recognized with multiple awards and has featured renowned artists such as Pat Metheny, Wynton Marsalis, and Kenny Werner.
The Old North Tower, the first building in higher education in Oklahoma, is an iconic structure on the UCO campus. It holds a special tradition where graduates gather and start their “final walk” around campus, touching the original bell that used to call students to class at the Territorial Normal School. This bell is believed to bring good luck.
University of West Georgia (Carrollton, GA)
The University of West Georgia, located in Carrollton, Georgia, is a public research university. One of its notable programs is in Psychology, which attracts graduates from Ivy League caliber schools. West Georgia’s Psychology program emphasizes a “humanistic and transpersonal focus,” as stated on Wikipedia.
During freshman orientation at West Georgia, students learn about various campus ghost stories. These stories include a student who tragically passed away by falling from the third floor of the Humanities Building and is believed to haunt the building. Freshmen also hear about other haunting stories in residence halls.
Middle Tennessee State University (Murfreesboro, TN)
Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) is a rising research university located in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, less than an hour from Nashville. MTSU is known for its strong partnership with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, engaging in cutting-edge research.
MTSU offers unique top-tier programs in Aviation and Audio Production, which are highly regarded in their respective industries. The university’s athletic teams, known as the Blue Raiders, gained recognition when they upset the #2 seed Michigan State in the NCAA tournament, becoming only the eighth #15 seed to win a game in the tournament.
Eastern Kentucky University (Richmond, KY)
Eastern Kentucky University (EKU), located in Richmond, Kentucky, has been gaining recognition and winning prestigious awards in recent years. Some of these accolades include being named one of the “Best Colleges to Work for” by the Chronicle of Higher Education and receiving Advancement of Teaching recognition from the Carnegie Foundation.
Legend has it that during the 1950s and 1960s, the EKU campus was frequented by a friendly dog named Mozart. This unofficial mascot attended classes, concerts, and was loved and cared for by the entire student body until his passing in 1964. Today, Mozart’s portrait and collar are displayed at EKU Special Collections and Archives.
Arkansas Tech University (Russellville, AR)
Arkansas Tech University, located in Russellville, Arkansas, is known for its exceptional agricultural and engineering programs. The school has unique athletic team nicknames: the men’s teams are called the Wonder Boys, while the women’s teams are known as the Golden Suns.
The Wonder Boys nickname originated in 1919 after a significant upset win by the football team. The Golden Suns name was chosen by female athletes through a contest held in 1975, as they preferred not to be called the Wonder Girls or Wonderettes.
Ferris State University (Big Rapids, MI)
Ferris State University, situated in Big Rapids, Michigan, is a public research university known for its excellent program offerings. The Kendall College of Art and Design, located in Grand Rapids, is one of the Midwest’s premier design schools affiliated with Ferris State.
Ferris State’s Men’s Hockey team competes in the NCAA Division I, and the Bulldogs have a strong winning tradition. In 2018, the basketball team won the NCAA Division II national championship. Furthermore, Ferris State holds the distinction of being Michigan’s only public university founded by an individual.
Idaho State University (Pocatello, ID)
Idaho State University, located in Pocatello, Idaho, offers compelling academic programs. A standout program is the Career Path Internship (CPI), where students gain professional-level experience while being paid. Idaho State offers over 1,000 paid internship opportunities, setting it apart from other schools that frequently offer unpaid internships.
Idaho State is also recognized for its exceptional nuclear training program and has been designated as a “Regional Center for Excellence.” The Division of Health Sciences at Idaho State is among the top health-related programs in the Northwest, with a majority of their alumni securing jobs in public health nationwide.
Western Washington University (Bellevue, WA)
Western Washington University (WWU), located in Bellevue, Washington, is highly regarded by its students, alumni, and the community. WWU stands out with its unique facilities, including a fully-equipped electronic music studio, a motor vehicle research lab, and a wind tunnel.
The Vehicle Research Institute at WWU is renowned, earning recognition as the best school for car design by Automobile Magazine. In 1969, WWU also established the Huxley College of Environment, becoming the first college in the country dedicated to studying environmental policy.
Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff, AZ)
Located in Flagstaff, Arizona, Northern Arizona University (NAU) is often considered a hidden gem. NAU offers premiere top-tier programs at a significantly lower cost compared to equivalent private universities.
NAU’s W.A. Franke College of Business, named after a generous benefactor, is one of the Southwest’s top Business schools. The college’s primary facility is a 110,000 LEED-certified building. NAU has been rising in prestigious ranking lists, placing in the top 10% of all higher education institutions according to The Washington Times. Additionally, it ranks in the top 2% of universities worldwide according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU).