Colleges in New Hampshire

Why go to College in New Hampshire?


If you're seeking diverse educational opportunities in an area where culture and natural beauty exist side by side, New Hampshire is the place to be. The Granite State is home to some of the most prestigious private liberal arts colleges in the country, as well as a system of highly respected public universities and community colleges. With its stunning landscapes, quaint communities, and trendy urban centers, it's no wonder so many students choose to pursue their education at New Hampshire's 43 public or private colleges or universities.

New Hampshire is a predominantly rural state. The state's population of just over 1.3 million makes it the 9th least populous state in the country. Like much of the surrounding New England region, its climate is marked by warm, humid summers and cold, wet winters. Prospective students unaccustomed to winter weather should be aware that the state receives an above average amount of snow, particularly in its northern and mountainous regions, but with a small population and pronounced seasons, recreational opportunities in New Hampshire abound. Residents and tourists alike enjoy skiing, snowmobiling, hiking, mountain-climbing, and watching the changing colors of the state's sprawling forests. Larger cities and towns like Concord and Manchester offer learners a host of restaurants, bars, museums, historical sites, and concert venues for the less outdoorsy of the state's inhabitants. Sports fans can watch a NASCAR race at the famed New Hampshire Motor Speedway, or take a short drive to watch a Red Sox game in nearby Boston, a city well known for its bustling arts and culture scene. For such a small state, New Hampshire offers an outsized array of activities and high-quality institutions of higher education.

What Options are Available for Colleges in New Hampshire?


The on-campus experience varies greatly depending on where in New Hampshire a student chooses to pursue their education. Schools like Dartmouth and Keene State College are located in small towns with relatively limited off-campus offerings. Students weighing these more rural options should factor in the unique opportunity to live and study closely with the members of their school's community. On the other hand, schools like Saint Anselm College and the University of Southern New Hampshire -- both located in Manchester -- offer learners the chance to explore a more diverse surrounding area in addition to the learning and activities taking place on campus.

Online Programs

Online schools in New Hampshire provide high-quality learning experiences without the need to relocate. Online colleges in New Hampshire can also be ideal for students who reside in the state but whose schedules or circumstances don't allow them to live on campus or study full-time. These programs are often much more flexible than their on-campus alternatives; in other words, students typically watch lectures and complete assignments when they have the time to do so, and they sometimes take longer to complete the degree requirements. This allows students attending online colleges in New Hampshire to strike a balance between their jobs and their studies. Students juggling multiple responsibilities should consider whether an online program would best work for them.

Hybrid Programs

Hybrid programs combine the richness of the on-campus experience with convenience offered by online colleges in New Hampshire. These programs allow students to learn in the classroom and directly interact with their fellow students and instructors, while also providing opportunities to study and work at a distance and on one's own schedule. Although online learning is as effective as in-person learning in many areas, some skills are still best taught face-to-face. Hybrid programs provide students with the physical space to develop these skills, dividing out material that can be effectively learned online in order to maximize flexibility.

Popular Degree Programs in New Hampshire

Given the diversity of industry across state lines, it should come as no surprise that popular degree programs reflect the job markets of the states in which they are offered. In New Hampshire, two of the most popular majors are human services and community organizations along with business management and administration.

New Hampshire faces a number of social challenges, such as one of the most severe rates of opioid dependence in the nation. Students who pursue degrees in human services and community organizations develop a broad range of skills that will help them improve social services offered in the state and address issues related to physical and mental health.

Like their peers across the country, students in New Hampshire also seek out degrees that help them navigate the 21st century labor market. The most commonly pursued degree in New Hampshire, business management and administration reflects learner desire to develop a set of skills to help boost future earnings and improve job security.

Best Online Colleges in New Hampshire for 2019

The following section ranks and provides additional information on the best online colleges in New Hampshire. Students use this resource to find programs ideally suited to their specific educational needs. Consider whether the program offers a major in which you are interested in learning more about and potentially pursuing as a career; if the timing, delivery, and scope of the online program will fit your schedule and workload; and if you can afford to enroll in this program based on your eligibility for grants, loans, and scholarships.

What are the Best Online Colleges in New Hampshire?

The following section ranks and provides additional information on the best online colleges in New Hampshire. Students use this resource to find programs ideally suited to their specific educational needs. Consider whether the program offers a major in which you are interested in learning more about and potentially pursuing as a career; if the timing, delivery, and scope of the online program will fit your schedule and workload; and if you can afford to enroll in this program based on your eligibility for grants, loans, and scholarships.


Rivier University Nashua, NH


Located in Nashua, Rivier University is a private, Catholic school founded in 1933. Guided by its Roman Catholic traditions, Rivier emphasizes intellectual and spiritual growth, critical thinking, and respect for all. A top choice for students considering online colleges in New Hampshire, Rivier offers five fully-online undergraduate degrees with rolling admissions, allowing students to begin their studies throughout the year. Rivier’s distance education programs focus on the individual needs of online learners, and students engage in an online curriculum that provides a liberal arts foundation and the practical knowledge needed for entry-level positions in a variety of fields, including psychology and nursing. Transfer students can apply up to 90 credits toward their program, and most online students earn their bachelor’s degree in two to four years. Courses run seven to 14 weeks in length.


Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH


With more than 80,000 online students and 100 online bachelor’s degree programs, Southern New Hampshire University sets the bar for affordable and convenient distance education among online schools in New Hampshire. Transfer students can apply up to 90 credits toward their undergraduate degree, and SNHU’s partnership with community colleges around the nation allows students who have already earned an associate degree to seamlessly transfer credits to one of the school's many bachelor’s programs. Distance learners have the opportunity to pursue an online degree in a variety of areas, including anthropology, business studies, and geosciences. SNHU’s business administration program offers five concentrations, such as management or healthcare administration. The school’s accounting program features an accelerated option, allowing students to simultaneously earn credit towards a bachelor’s and master’s in accounting. There are six term start dates and students complete eight-week courses throughout the year.


Franklin Pierce University Rindge, NH


Franklin Pierce University is a private, nonprofit school located in the town of Rindge. It offers several online undergraduate degrees in areas such as accounting, emergency medical services, and marketing. Founded in 1962 as a small liberal arts college, Franklin Pierce continues to provide a liberal arts education in an intimate setting, both on-campus and remotely. One of the top online schools in New Hampshire for students interested in human services, Franklin Pierce offers associate and bachelor’s degrees in human services. This multidisciplinary degree integrates theories from the fields of psychology, sociology, and criminology. Franklin Pierce also has an RN to BS nursing program that is open to registered nurses with an associate degree or diploma in nursing. Students can complete this degree entirely online or in a blended format. Nursing students also receive credit based on previous work experience, job training, and professional licenses.


Colby-Sawyer College New London, NH


One of the top online colleges in New Hampshire for nursing majors, Colby-Sawyer College features an online RN to BS in nursing program that can be completed in as few as 16 months. The school’s focus on liberal arts and sciences provides nursing students with a well-rounded education, preparing graduates for administrative and clinical careers in the field of nursing. Courses are taught over 15-week semesters, and students may enroll part- or full-time. Online courses are delivered through the Moodle learning management system, and students complete coursework in areas such as community and public health nursing, evidence-based practice, and leadership in healthcare systems. Eligible students should have an associate degree in nursing or a nursing diploma and active RN licensure for the state of New Hampshire. This program is delivered asynchronously, allowing students to complete weekly assignments at their convenience.


New England College Henniker, NH


Almost 1,000 students currently take advantage of New England College’s numerous online degrees, which are offered in a variety of areas, including criminal justice, liberal studies, and sociology. Additionally, its online business administration degree offers more than 10 concentrations, making it a popular choice among online colleges in New Hampshire for business students. Distance learners in this program gain skills related to accounting, marketing, and management, in addition to a broad liberal arts foundation. New England College also has an online psychology program that prepares students for a variety of careers; psychology majors choose from eight concentrations, such as addiction and substance abuse, forensic psychology, or marriage therapy.


Granite State College Concord, NH


Established in 1970 to provide busy professionals with an alternative approach to higher education, Granite State College has offered flexible degree programs for more than 45 years. Students enrolled in one of Granite State’s online undergraduate degree programs acquire professional skills and a solid academic foundation. One the most diverse online schools in New Hampshire, Granite State features more than 15 fully-online bachelor’s degrees, four teacher certification options, and nine degree-completion programs. Bachelor’s degrees range from communication studies to early childhood education. Students can also choose to pursue interdisciplinary studies in humanities or the sciences or opt to specialize in one of several areas, including business and finance, health and human services, or public safety.

What are the Best Online Community Colleges in New Hampshire?

This section details the best options for online community colleges in New Hampshire and serves as a resource for students looking to find the right fit for continuing their education. Community colleges typically offer two-year programs, as opposed to the four-year programs offered by universities. Students who attend community colleges earn certificates or associate degrees, and learners looking to continue their education can transfer their hard-earned credits to a four-year institution. Whether they decide on continuing to a four-year school or not, students choose community colleges because they offer flexible learning options, a low price point, and convenient locations.


White Mountains Community College Berlin, NH


White Mountains considers itself among the top online community colleges in New Hampshire and offers distance education associate degrees in accounting, business administration, criminal justice, and health and wellness facilitation. The school also delivers six certificate programs completely online.

The college's membership in NH Transfer enables students to easily transfer credits to other community colleges and four-year institutions throughout the state. Many students complete an associate degree before transferring into a bachelor's program, saving them considerable costs. New Hampshire residents pay a lower tuition rate at White Mountains than those living out of state. The school makes a variety of resources available to online students, including a full digital library, 24/7 technical support, and transfer assistance.


NHTI-Concord's Community College Concord, NH


Offering six associate programs and four certificates completely online, many count NHTI among the most popular online community colleges in New Hampshire. The school, located in Concord, allows students to complete their coursework at their own pace and offers affordable tuition. New Hampshire residents enjoy access to lower in-state tuition rates.

The college also boasts articulation agreements with dozens of colleges and universities, enabling students to transfer their credits toward a bachelor's degree. Students can either start their careers immediately or move into a four-year program after graduating from NHTI. Applicants need a high school diploma or GED. In some cases, students may need to complete a placement exam before starting their coursework.

How We Ranked the Schools

To determine the best programs, we looked at the most important factors prospective students, mainly common predictors of future success and a school's commitment to online programs. This boils down to admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points are taken from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the best online master's in management information systems programs. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school's ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category's ranking to find an overall score: Admissions Rate (20%) + Default Rate (20%) + Retention Rate (20%) + Graduation Rate (20%) + Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes (20%) = Final score.

Education Trends in New Hampshire

Generally, New Hampshire ranks average when it comes to educational attainment, with a higher percentage of the state's adults having earned associate, bachelor's, and graduate degrees than the United States average. However, New Hampshire invests a significantly smaller percentage of its state tax revenue in higher education than the national average. This is particularly worth noting for prospective students as they consider how to pay for their education in New Hampshire.

  New Hampshire United States
Source: SHEEO and U.S. Census
Postsecondary Education Spending per Full-Time Student $3,064 $6,954
Percent of Tax Revenue Allocated to Higher Education 1.5% 5.8%
Percentage of adults over 25 with associate degree 9.6% 8.1%
Percentage of adults over 25 with bachelor's degree 21.8% 18.5%
Percentage of adults over 25 with graduate degree or higher 13% 11.2%

Paying for College in New Hampshire

In addition to learning more about the state and weighing the question of whether to attend an online school in New Hampshire or to pursue the on-campus college experience, prospective students should carefully consider the cost of their education and consider how -- whether through scholarships, grants, or private loans -- they plan to pay for it. A variety of factors combine to make attending college in New Hampshire more expensive than the national average.

Tuition Prices

As illustrated in the table below, in-state tuition for public two-year and four-year colleges in New Hampshire can be notably higher than the U.S. average. It's also important to note that these estimates do not include other related costs, such as purchasing books and paying for rent, food, and transportation.

Financial Aid

Prospective students can finance their education through a number of ways but their first step should always be filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Completing the FAFSA allows eligible students to access Pell Grants, Stafford Loans, and Federal Perkins Loans. Federal grants and private scholarships do not need to be paid back, making them a no-strings-attached boon to anyone seeking to fund their education. Federal loans are the second best option, as the government typically offers better interest rates than private student loan providers. Private student loans should always be the final option students pursue.

Cost of Living by Region

New Hampshire cost of living is highly dependent on where you choose to live and go to college. Renting or buying a home in a more rural town will, of course, be less expensive than doing so in a larger city. However, almost all areas of New Hampshire are more affordable than nearby options in New England. Students attending online schools in New Hampshire have even more flexibility in where they choose to live.

Cost for Online Programs in New Hampshire

For learners interested in attending online colleges in New Hampshire, financial aid works in much the same way. As elsewhere, learners first complete the FAFSA and students are wise to prioritize grants and scholarships over federal loans (and federal loans over private loans). Programs at online schools in New Hampshire tend to cost roughly the same amount as their on-campus counterparts, but by pursuing their degrees online, students can save money in other areas, such as the cost of transportation, room and board, and by not needing to secure child care.

Scholarships for New Hampshire College Students

Medallion Fund Scholarship
Variable based on need; for students of any age pursuing short-term vocational or technical studies in fields such as automotive technology, plumbing, heating, construction, nursing, etc.

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Career Aid for Technical Students
From $100 to $3,500 depending on need; academic success not a factor in selecting candidates for awards, but preference given to students entering "high-demand" professions.

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Statewide Student Aid Program
$4,600 (average award); awardees selected based on financial need, academic merit, and extracurricular activities.

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Lakes Region Scholarship Foundation
Variable based on need; students in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire eligible and awards made on the basis of financial need, extracurricular activities, scholastic rating, and student career goals and plans for college.

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Scholarships for Orphans of Veterans
$1,500 to $2,500; for New Hampshire students whose mother or father served in the U.S. Armed Forces and died while on active duty or in connection with a service-connected disability.

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Can all Scholarships be Used for Online Programs?

Most scholarships can be used for any type of program and thus can also be used to defer the cost of attending online colleges in New Hampshire, in addition to paying for on-campus learning experiences. However, because from time to time there may be restrictions on how and where students can apply a scholarship award, students should confirm details with their scholarship provider or providers before making any decisions.

Employment Outlook in New Hampshire

The higher cost of college and university in New Hampshire is, to an extent, offset by the favorable labor market that can be found in the state. As can be seen in the table below, New Hampshire's unemployment rate is almost 2% lower than the national average, and the state's annual mean wage is slightly higher in New Hampshire than it is elsewhere in the country. However, keep in mind that these numbers are averages -- carefully consider whether the program and school you choose will best prepare you for career success upon graduation.

  New Hampshire United States
Source: BLS and BLS
Unemployment Rate, May 2017 2.7% 4.3%
Annual Mean Wage, May 2016 $50,180 $49,630

Top Employers and Industries in New Hampshire

Top Industries in New Hampshire
  • Smart Manufacturing/High Technology: The largest component of New Hampshire's economy, smart manufacturing accounted for 19% of wages in the state in 2009, according to the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies.
  • Tourism: From the beaches along New Hampshire's Seacoast region to the state's White Mountain range, tourism is a major economic driver in the state and the source of many jobs.
  • Health Care: Ten major hospitals (including the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center) and a number of smaller community health centers make the healthcare industry a major employer in the state.

Top Employers in New Hampshire

  • Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center: 6,014 employees
  • University System of New Hampshire: 4,743 employees
  • Trustees of Dartmouth College: 3,500 employees

State Exchange Programs for New Hampshire College Students

State-to-state exchange programs offer students the opportunity to enroll at out-of-state public colleges and universities while paying in-state tuition or an otherwise discounted tuition rate. As opposed to more well-known exchange programs (which arrange for students to study internationally), state-to-state exchange programs focus on regional and domestic needs, and serve students who have few options for higher education in their home state.

New England Regional Student Program

With this program, New England students may be eligible for discounted tuition if they enroll in an approved major not offered by the public colleges and universities in the state in which they reside.

Eligible States: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

National Student Exchange

The NSE is a network of colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada at which University of New Hampshire (UNH) students can study and continue to make progress towards their UNH degree.

Eligible States: Over 170 colleges and universities in the U.S., U.S. territories, and Canada are members. NSE restricts eligibility to UNH students.

Accreditation for Colleges in New Hampshire

To ensure that employers and schools recognize your degree upon graduate, consider only accreditation educational institutions. Accreditation assures that schools are meeting minimum standards and that students adequately prepared for careers in the field of their choice. There are major types of accreditation, regional and national. Seven agencies across the country award regional accreditation. These agencies serve the majority of nonprofit colleges and universities in the United States. Ten agencies authorized by the United States Department of Education award national accreditation. These schools include for-profit or more career-focused institutions. Between the two types, regional accreditation is generally recognized as the more prestigious option.

The regional accreditation body that oversees online schools in New Hampshire is the the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. If an online school is nationally accredited, students should ensure that the accrediting body is affiliated with either the United States Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Resources for Students in New Hampshire

  • New Hampshire Department of Education: The New Hampshire Department of Education is responsible for regulating colleges and universities with a physical presence in the state. The department offers a number of resources for students, teachers, educators, administrators, families, and community members.
  • New Hampshire Higher Education Assistance Foundation: This network of agencies is the definitive source on planning for, applying to, paying for, and attending college in New Hampshire.
  • The University System of New Hampshire: The University System of New Hampshire is the largest provider of post-secondary education in the state, operating seven public colleges and universities and serving approximately 33,000 enrolled students and 90,000 alumni living in New Hampshire.
  • The Community College System of New Hampshire: This system administers seven community colleges throughout the state, offering more than 80 associate degree programs and serving roughly 25,000 New Hampshire residents annually.
  • The New Hampshire College & University Council: A non-profit consortium of 21 higher education institutions in New Hampshire, the New Hampshire College & University Council supports the work of its members through trainings and professional development and provides resources to students on finding, preparing for, and paying for college.