Last Updated on August 28, 2023
Want to study in Texas? Part of the Deep South region, Texas is more than just rodeos, barbecues, country music and cowboys, with plenty to explore while you live and study here. Due to its large scale (it’s the second-biggest US state, after Alaska), Texas is a state of multitudes, from the liberal, eclectic state capital Austin to the socially conservative “Bible Belt” territory in the state’s east. It also differs significantly in climate and geography depending on where you are. The east is swampy and forested, while the south-eastern Gulf Coast is tropical and often uncomfortably humid. There are mountainous deserts in the west and the snowy plains of Panhandle in the north.
In short, your experience of Texas will vary wildly depending on which of the top universities in Texas you study at. The area is likely to be of particular interest to anyone interested in working in the state’s thriving energy industry after graduation. Largely due to Texas’s petroleum reserves which were discovered in the early 1900s, the energy industry has underpinned the economic growth of the state, helping other industries and the state’s higher education system to develop in turn. Texas also has a strong standing in the technology, biomedical sciences and aerospace sectors.
Keep reading to find out more about the top universities in Texas, and the Texan cities where you could be spending your student years.
Top universities in Texas
University of Texas at Austin
If you’re interested in studying in Texas you’ll find plenty of choice, including seven universities in Texas which feature in the QS World University Rankings® 2018. The highest-ranked is the University of Texas at Austin, placed 67th in the world, and it’s the flagship institution of the state’s public university system. Boasting 17 libraries and seven museums, the university holds one of the country’s largest research budgets, and is also the home of several renowned sports teams, known as the Texas Longhorns.
Another of the state’s leading institutions is Rice University, ranked 89th in the world. A private research university, Rice University has an enrolment of just over 6,600 students. It’s best known for its applied science programs and is situated on a 295-acre campus near the Houston Museum District.
Top universities in Texas, based on the QS World University Rankings® 2018:
University of Texas at Austin (ranked 67th in the world)
Rice University (89th)
Texas A&M University (joint 195th)
University of Texas at Dallas (421-430*)
University of Houston (601-650)
Southern Methodist University (701-750)
Texas Tech University (701-750)
Baylor University (801-1000)
*For information about ranking categories, and answers to other frequently asked questions, click here.
Top student cities in Texas
Once a global symbol of the entire US, thanks to the hit TV series with the city’s name, Dallas is mostly known as the city of cowboys and cheerleaders. It can’t be summed up just by its stereotypes, however; Dallas also boasts the largest arts district in the US and some brilliant museums, as well as tourist-attracting memorials for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Home to the University of Texas at Dallas, as well as the Southern Methodist University, Dallas has a sizeable student population and has plenty to offer.
Home to another two of the top universities in Texas (Rice University and the University of Houston), Houston is the state’s largest city and the fourth largest in the US. Simultaneously laid-back and high-powered, Houston offers a cultured city scene combined with popular celebrations such as week-long rodeos and barbeque cook-offs. Among our top Texan cities for students, Houston is the closest to the coast, and the famous Bay Area Houston is just a half-hour drive outside of the center. Houston was a new entry in the QS Best Student Cities in 2017 at 92nd.
State capital Austin is renowned for its eclectic community, with tattooed creatives and suited millionaires living in close proximity to each other. The locals revel in Austin’s so called weirdness – you’ll even see bumper stickers, t-shirts and other merchandise bearing the slogan “Keep Austin Weird”.
Local watering holes have a long-held performance culture, famous for launching the careers of the likes of Janis Joplin and Willie Nelson. Today, Austin’s lively music scene means that almost any night of the week you can go to a gig featuring music of almost any genre. The University of Texas at Austin, established just 44 years after the city itself was founded in 1839, continues to play a central role in the city’s life and development.
Facts about Texas
Texas was the fifth most affordable US state for international students according to a 2017 report published by Finder.com. The average spend by Texas’ 82,184 international students was US$23,119 a year.
Population of 28.3 million, only beaten by California as the most populous state
Almost a third of Texas’s population is Spanish-speaking
The state has no official language, due to the variety of different tongues found here
The name Texas derives from a Caddo Indian word meaning allies, which is why the state motto is “friendship”
The term “six flags over Texas” refers to the several nations that have ruled over the region
Texas has the second greatest GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in the US, after California
The list of famous Texans is very impressive – a few examples are former president George W. Bush, singers from Janice Joplin to Beyoncé, actors Woody Harrelson and Renée Zellweger, and comedian Steve Martin.
The state’s Waggoner Ranch is the largest ranch in the United States (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) and, at 520,000 acres, is bigger than the entire country of Mauritius
There are nearly 250 cities in Texas with a population over 10,000, and 28 with populations over 100,000
Texan cattle, although in decline in the last few years, still number around 11 million