5 Biggest Colleges in Rhode Island

A small state with big opportunities, Rhode Island has a number of excellent colleges at affordable prices.

Culinary arts and hospitality are JWU’s strongest suits, with numerous specializations available.

By Adam Jazairi

Rhode Island may be small, but its higher education opportunities are anything but. The state features such prestigious private institutions as Brown University, not to mention a host of excellent public schools.

If you know you want to go to college in Rhode Island, but you’re not sure where, it’s a good idea to check out the most popular destinations first. This list compiles Rhode Island’s largest colleges and universities by enrollment, so you can get a sense of where most students in the Ocean State are headed.

5. Brown University

Type: Private University

Enrollment: 8,167

Tuition: $36,342

Best Programs: Brown’s academics excel in the humanities, especially English literature.

Fun Fact: The university has a very progressive reputation; in fact, Brown was the first Ivy League university not to discriminate based on religious affiliation.

4. Rhode Island College

Type: Public College

Enrollment: 9,042

Tuition: $5,256 (in-state); $13,664 (out-of-state)

Best Programs: Most Rhode Island College students choose professionally oriented majors, such as management, education and nursing.

Fun Fact: While maintaining its emphasis on undergraduate study, Rhode Island College has recently expanded its graduate offerings, which now include 30 programs.

3. Johnson & Wales University

Type: Private University

Enrollment: 10,105

Tuition: $21,717

Best Programs: Culinary arts and hospitality are JWU’s strongest suits, with numerous specializations available.

Fun Fact: Though Brown University often garners more attention, JWU is the largest private university in the state.

2. University of Rhode Island

Type: Public University

Enrollment: 15,560

Tuition: $8,184 (in-state); $23,038 (out-of-state)

Best Programs: Students at URI choose from a variety of majors, the most popular of which are currently nursing and communications.

Fun Fact: More than 200 study abroad programs are available at URI.

1. Community College of Rhode Island

Type: Community College

Enrollment: 16,811

Tuition: $2,846 (in-state); $7,766 (out-of-state)

Best Programs: As the state’s main two-year college, the Community College of Rhode Island aims for variety in academics, from transfer programs to vocational training.

Fun Fact: In addition to being Rhode Island’s only community college, CCRI is also the largest such college in all of New England.

Quick Tips

  • Remember not to overlook Rhode Island’s smaller colleges! For example, the Rhode Island School of Art & Design is one of the most prestigious art schools in the country.
  • One of the benefits of living in Rhode Island is being right next to other New England states. Don’t forget to look into nearby out-of-state schools.

People Who Read This Article Also Read:

Rhode Island Scholarships, Grants and Student Loans
20 Top Questions to Ask a College
10 Things You Should Find Out Before Committing to a College
Choosing a College: Should I Stay Close to Home?
How to Choose a College Major

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