adult learners colleges

America’s 20 most innovative colleges for adult learners


For the second year in a row, the Washington Monthly ranked the best two- and four-year colleges for adult learners.

The Washington Monthly recently released its annual College Guide and Rankings, an increasingly influential alternative to U.S. News & World Report‘s much-criticized rankings. The Guide also features America’s 12 most innovative colleges for adult learners.

According to Washington Monthly’s Editor-in-Chief, Paul Glastris, the Washington Monthly “measures colleges and universities based on what they are doing for the country–by improving social mobility, producing research, and promoting public service.”

For the second year in a row, the publication ranked the best two- and four-year colleges for adult learners. “The share of college students who are 25 years old or older is around 40 percent,” says Paul Glastris in a statement. “But most colleges haven’t adapted. For example, they still schedule most classes around midday, which is convenient for late-night-partying undergrads, rather than at nights and on weekends, when adults with jobs and families can actually attend them.”

To put together its ranking of the best four- and two-year colleges for adult learners, the magazine compiled data into seven general measures of colleges’ openness and responsiveness to adult students, such as the availability of weekend, evening, and online classes that fit busy work schedules.

The Top 10 Two-Year Colleges

1. Weber State University (UT)

2. Utah Valley University (UT)

3. Foothill College (CA)

4. Central Texas College (TX)

5. Raritan Valley Community College (NJ)

6. Columbia College (MO)

7. Howard Community College (MD)

8. Renton Technical College (WA)

9. Montgomery College (MD)

10. Capital Community College (CT)

(Next page: The top 10 four-year colleges for adult learners; more rankings from Washington Monthly)

The Top 10 Four-Year Colleges

1. Golden Gate University-San Francisco (CA)

2. University of Utah

3. Concordia University-St. Paul (MN)

4. Park University (MO)

5. George Mason University (VA)

6. Bellevue University (NE)

7. Indiana Wesleyan University

8. University of Oklahoma-Norman

9. Marylhurst University (OR)

10. University of North Dakota

Of interest in these findings, Bellevue University in Nebraska falls into the “unranked” category on the U.S. News rankings but is No. 6 on the Washington Monthly adult learners list. The university does well on a host of metrics, notes the publication, including how much its students earn annually 10 years after entering ($61,406) and the share of students-82 percent-who are adults.

More Findings

Per this year’s report, the Washington Monthly‘s methodology also revealed that:

  • The majority of Washington Monthly‘s top 20 are public institutions, including University of California-San Diego, Texas A&M University, and University of Washington-Seattle.
  • Although a few elite schools, such as Stanford University, top the Washington Monthly list, others underperform. Columbia University, California Institute of Technology, and Washington University in St. Louis come in 16th, 92th, and 107th in the Washington Monthly rankings.
  • Berea College, ranked 60th on U.S. News‘ list of liberal arts colleges, comes in 1st in the Washington Monthly.

The 2017 College Guide also includes an updated “Best Bang for the Buck” ranking of institutions that are doing the best job of helping non-wealthy students attain marketable degrees at affordable prices.

For a snapshot of all the Washington Monthly’s 2017 rankings, click here.

For full rankings information, including methodologies, click here.

Material from a release was used in this report.