From Georgia Guide 2021

Aiming Higher

Georgia’s highly ranked higher education systems keep the state’s talent pool primed and flowing.

Higher Education
Graduation photos from University of Georgia, Georgia State University and Georgia Tech
Photos courtesy of UGA, GSU, GT


Georgia’s robust networks of higher learning are keeping the state’s talent pool flowing. With a labor force of 5.2 million, businesses in Georgia have access to highly skilled and educated employees. The state’s 85 accredited public and private universities award more than 132,000 degrees and certificates each year, while its 22 technical and community colleges enroll more than 143,000 students each year.

The University System of Georgia is composed of 26 higher education institutions including four research universities. The system awarded 70,879 degrees in FY2020, including 42,500 bachelor’s, 14,000 masters and 1,759 doctorate degrees. Across the system, more than 341,400 students enrolled in Fall 2020. 

Georgia remains one of only three states with at least two institutions in the top 16 public institutions in the nation, with a number of University System of Georgia (USG) institutions appearing in significant categories for the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings.
Georgia Institute of Technology ranked 10th in the nation and the University of Georgia ranked 16th in the best public universities category while Georgia State University ranked as the nation’s No. 2 most innovative university in the nation, as well as No. 2 for best undergraduate teaching.

Several USG institutions also scored among the best in the South, and overall USG institutions performed well in the regional rankings. (See box.)

“Our mission to provide a world-class education to our students and support them toward graduation and degree attainment starts with the amazing work done by our institutions to maintain quality academic programs,” Acting Chancellor Teresa MacCartney said.

“Those programs are recognized as not just the best across the South but in the nation, and the result is a strong educational foundation that helps both our students and Georgia succeed,” she said.

HOPE for Students 

In September, Governor Brian Kemp announced the HOPE (Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally) Scholarship Program has helped more than 2 million Georgia students pursue postsecondary education in the state.

Funded by the Georgia Lottery Corporation, the HOPE Scholarship Program was created in 1993 by former Governor Zell Miller. HOPE continues to be one of the most generous scholarship programs in the country and has served as a model for state financial aid programs around the country.

A high school graduate must have a minimum 3.0 GPA to qualify for the HOPE Scholarship which pays 90% of all tuition costs at a Georgia state college or university. To receive the Zell Miller Scholarship, which covers 100% of tuition costs, a student must graduate from a Georgia high school with a 3.70 GPA or higher.

“The HOPE Scholarship Program has been a game-changer for our state and helped over 2 million Georgia students achieve greater opportunity,” said Governor Kemp. “With more than $12.6 billion awarded, HOPE has allowed Georgia students to pursue education beyond high school and laid the foundation for Georgia’s recognition as the number one state for business for eight years in a row.”

The HOPE Program offers financial support to Georgia students, regardless of their field of study, through six subprograms: the HOPE Scholarship, the Zell Miller Scholarship, the HOPE Grant, the Zell Miller Grant, the HOPE Career Grant, and the HOPE GED Grant. The HOPE Career Grant provides free-tuition training in 17 “high-demand” occupations through the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) including automotive technology, aviation, commercial truck driving, electrical lineman technology, industrial maintenance, logistics, and more. TCSG’s 22 colleges offer world-class training in more than 600 associate degree, diploma and certificate programs. 

USG Institutions Rankings and Accolades

Columbus State University ranked No. 35 among top public regional universities in the South and No. 74 overall, including private institutions. CSU also ranked No. 46 in social mobility.

Dalton State College, Georgia’s first and only federally designated Hispanic-Serving Institution, ranked No. 21 in social mobility and made the list for best regional colleges in the South.

Fort Valley State University is Georgia’s No. 1 ranked HBCU for the fourth year in a row. It is ranked No. 38 among HBCUs in the nation, and in the top 10 in social mobility.

Georgia College and State University ranked No. 9 among top public regional universities in the South and No. 21 overall, including private colleges.

Georgia Gwinnett College ranked as the South’s most ethnically diverse regional college and No. 3 among regional colleges in the South for innovation.

Georgia Institute of Technology ranked No.10 among best public universities and No. 38 overall, including private institutions. In other national rankings, the institution as a whole ranked No. 4 in the most innovative category, its undergraduate engineering programs ranked No. 4, and undergraduate computer science programs ranked No. 5. The H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering ranked No. 1 and other engineer specialties all ranked in the top five in their categories.

Georgia Southern University made the list of Top Public Schools and the list of National Universities. Its specialty rankings include No. 75 in Best Undergraduate Engineering – No Doctorate, No. 127 in social mobility for national universities, No. 148 in Best Undergraduate Nursing, No. 212 in Best Undergraduate Business and No. 304 in Best Undergraduate Computer Science.

Georgia State University ranked No. 2 in both the most innovative and best undergraduate teaching categories. GSU ranked No. 6 for first-year student programs, No. 5 for learning communities, No. 11 in social mobility and No. 13 in diversity. The J. Mack Robinson College of Business ranked No. 49 in the nation in the undergraduate business programs category, with its Risk Management and Insurance program No. 4 and Computer Information Systems program No. 8.

Gordon State College ranked in the No. 21 – No. 27 tier in the Top Public Colleges Category and No. 71 – No. 93 in the Regional Colleges – South Category.

Kennesaw State University ranked No. 37 nationally for undergraduate teaching, and its first-year experience program was in the top 55. KSU’s undergraduate engineering program ranked No. 75 and its nursing program earned a spot on the inaugural ranking of top nursing programs. The university’s undergraduate business and computer science programs also made their respective lists.

Middle Georgia State University ranked No. 10 among the best public regional institutions in the South and No. 8 for veterans.

The University of Georgia ranked No. 16 among the nation’s public universities. The Terry College of Business ranked among the nation’s top 25 undergraduate business programs, and its insurance/risk management program once again secured the top spot in the country. UGA is also ranked as one of the top 25 best colleges for veterans.

The University of North Georgia tied for No. 16 among regional public universities in the South and is No. 1 among public universities in Georgia in the category of best colleges for veterans. UNG ranked No. 2 among public regional universities in Georgia on the best undergraduate teaching program list, tied for No. 5 in undergraduate computer science programs, tied for No. 7 for undergraduate business programs and No. 9 for nursing programs.

The University of West Georgia ranked No. 41 for social mobility and had four programs ranked in the best in online program rankings: best online bachelor’s programs, best online MBA, best online education graduate degree and best online graduate degree.

Valdosta State University ranked No. 113 in social mobility, No. 221 in undergraduate nursing programs and No. 363 in undergraduate business programs. VSU is listed in the categories of Best National Universities, Top Public Schools and Undergraduate Computer Science.

Source: University System of Georgia/ U.S. News & World Report

Savannah King
Managing Editor of Custom Content

Savannah King

Savannah King is managing editor of custom content for Conway Inc. She is an award-winning journalist and previously wrote for The Times in Gainesville, Ga. She graduated from the University of West Florida with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and lives near Atlanta.


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