Guide to Colleges & Universities in New Hampshire (NH)

Education in New Hampshire

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), more than 40 colleges, universities and other institutions of higher education call the Granite State home. These include:

  • 6 public four-year universities
  • 7 public two-year community and technical colleges
  • 13 private nonprofit two- and four-year colleges
  • 2 private for-profit two- and four-year colleges
  • 14 private schools, including seminary colleges and occupational schools

Number of institutions in New Hampshire

With its population of only 1.3 million according to recent census data, New Hampshire is one of the 5 smallest and 10 least populated states in the U.S. The state’s population center is in Merrimack County, in the town of Pembroke. Most of the state’s population growth has been concentrated along the southern border, an area of the state that is a convenient commute from Boston and other major cities in Massachusetts.

According to a 2013 study by Phoenix Marketing International, New Hampshire had the eighth-highest number of millionaires per capita in the United States. The Census Bureau also determined that in 2013, New Hampshire also had the nation’s lowest poverty rate at just 8.7 percent of all residents. Furthermore, The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that New Hampshire’s median household income in 2008 was $49,467, seventh highest in the country.

New Hampshire is primarily known for outdoor recreation (skiing) and agriculture. When the above factors are taken into consideration, however, the state emerges as an excellent place to live and work. As a result, whether they are interested in traditional colleges and universities or vocational programs, individuals who want to live in New Hampshire may benefit from pursuing higher education in the state.

Of New Hampshire’s 1.3 million residents, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates 627,000 were “working age,” which is defined as adults between the ages of 25 and 64. Additionally, according to the Lumina Foundation, approximately 46.7 percent of working-age New Hampshire residents hold a two- or four-year degree, which is more than the national average of 39.4 percent. With an overall workforce so educated, a college degree or professional certificate may be required in order for an individual to be competitive in New Hampshire’s workforce. In 2011-2012, over 19,000 students completed degrees or other awards in New Hampshire at Title IX institutions. This is approximately 0.4 percent of the national total.

More specifically, according to a 2014 NCES report, federal financial aid-eligible colleges and universities in New Hampshire granted 19,571 degrees and certificates to 19,030 graduating students in 2011-12. Among those students, 80.8 percent earned their degrees at four-year institutions and 13.2 percent earned two-year degrees. The remaining six percent, a total of 1,127 graduates, earned certificates from less-than-two-year institutions.

Here are some total undergraduate student enrollment numbers collected from the major public universities in New Hampshire, current as of Fall 2014:

  • University of New Hampshire – Main campus: 12,516
  • Granite State College: 1,723
  • Plymouth State University: 4,065
  • Keene State College: 4,799

The most recent data provided by the NCES Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (NCES IPEDS) indicate the state had more than 84,000 students enrolled in active postsecondary institutions in academic year 2012. Over 68,000 were undergraduates and nearly 16,000 were graduate students.

Of postsecondary students, 76 percent were enrolled full time and the remainder was enrolled part-time.

Online Education in New Hampshire

The last ten years have seen almost exponential growth in online education. When this format was new on the educational scene, many did not believe online classes were as effective as the traditional, face-to-face model for teaching. Like any new technology, however, subsequent “generations” of the technology have improved considerably compared to the original iterations.

As the quality of the material being delivered has improved, the delivery methods themselves have also been enhanced. Innovations such as massive open online courses (MOOCs) and sophisticated course management systems have allowed colleges and universities to scale up enrollments without sacrificing quality, particularly at the introductory or general education level. As a result, students taking college coursework online has now become commonplace. Course content can be delivered online simply and cheaply. This means that an online education may be more cost-effective for students than a traditional college degree, particularly in a largely rural state like New Hampshire.

Several New Hampshire colleges and universities that offer online programs have been recognized by national ranking agencies. Here are a few New Hampshire colleges and universities that offer online programs, alongside their national rank as calculated by U.S. News and World Report:

  • Granite State College
    • Best Online Bachelor’s Programs: No. 63
    • Best Online Graduate Business Programs (Excluding MBA): No. 44
  • New England College
    • Best Online Bachelor’s Programs: No. 131
    • Best Online MBA Programs: No. 126
    • Best Online Graduate Business Programs (Excluding MBA): No. 61
    • Best Online Graduate Education Programs: No. 125
  • Plymouth State University
    • Best Online Bachelor’s Programs: No. 148
    • Best Online MBA Programs: No. 136

By 2008 nearly one quarter of all postsecondary students in the U.S. were taking online courses. That trend has gained quite a bit of momentum, and by 2012 over 7.1 million postsecondary students nationally were taking at least one online course. In colleges in New Hampshire, over 14,800 students were enrolled exclusively in distance education courses. An additional 5,200 were enrolled in at least one distance education course. That’s approximately 24 percent of all post-secondary students in the state at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Top Jobs and Careers in New Hampshire

Here’s a table of some of the top careers in New Hampshire, along with information about each and some degrees that can help job candidates in each field stand out from the crowd:

OccupationTop regionsWhy it’s hotNecessary skillsRelevant degrees
Secretaries and Administrative AssistantsSouthern parts of the stateThe Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that this occupational category pays an annual mean wage of $33,620 in New Hampshire.Writing, active listening, reading comprehension, speaking, time managementFor many such positions some coursework in basic office skills from a technical or community college and on-the-job training are required. Depending on the industry (medical, legal, etc.) then additional coursework to familiarize one with the technical terms may make one more competitive. Executive secretaries may need to complete a bachelor’s degree as well as several years of work experience.
Retail SalespersonsManchester, NashuaAccording to the BLS more than 27,000 workers are employed in this category statewide.Active listening, persuasion, speaking, service orientation, negotiationThe level of education required depends on the industry and an individual’s goals. Those selling technical or very expensive items may need postsecondary coursework to familiarize them with the product and industry terminology. Those interested in advancing into management positions may need a college degree in an industry related topic or in management.
Teacher AssistantsStatewide, particularly southern New HampshireAccording to the BLS, this occupational category had a mean annual wage of $28,280 in 2014 in New Hampshire and employed more than 8,000 individuals.Active listening, speaking, social perceptiveness, critical thinking, instructingAccording to the BLS, most school districts require teacher assistants to have two years of college and/or an associate degree. Associate degrees specifically for teacher assistant jobs may provide the best preparation, and those interested in working with special populations may be required to take additional coursework or take a certification exam.
Registered nursesOpportunities exist statewideIn New Hampshire, the mean annual wage for registered nurses is $65,790.Service orientation, active listening, social perceptiveness, coordination and monitoringIndividuals wishing to become more competitive for registered nursing positions may want to obtain a bachelor of science in nursing, although other educational paths are available. Registered nurses must also be licensed.
General and Operations ManagersStatewide, but particularly in metro areas or areas with significant tourism such as ski resorts.According to the BLS, the mean annual wage in this occupational category in New Hampshire is $119,260, higher than the state average.Active listening, reading comprehension, speaking, critical thinking and monitoringTypically, general and operations managers have a bachelor’s degree in business or a related area such as hospitality management, leisure studies, human resources, or finance. A master’s degree may be required for more advanced positions or at larger organizations.

Other job categories of note in New Hampshire include cashiers, stock clerks and order fillers and food preparation workers.

Financial Aid in New Hampshire

In 2014-2015, tuition and fees costs in New Hampshire averaged the following by institution type:

  • Public two-year in-state
    • 2004-2005: $5,887
    • 2014-2015: $6,500
  • Public four-year in-state
    • 2004-2005: $10,170
    • 2014-2015: $14,712
  • Private nonprofit four-year
    • 2004-2005: $30,866
    • 2014-2015: $34,952

Tuition and fee costs in New Hampshire

In general, tuition rates in all categories in New Hampshire are among the highest in the country. That said, the list of institutions active in New Hampshire include prestigious schools like the Ivy League Dartmouth College. Obviously, individual institution’s prices will vary, and, according to the New Hampshire Department of Education, “grants and scholarships from all sources to students have nearly doubled in the past decade with more than 335 million dollars in support to students.” While students may not be able to control their college or university’s tuition, there are a variety of factors that are within an individual’s control. Strategies for making one’s education more affordable include:

  • Applying for in-state residency
  • Living close to campus for a short commute, and potentially biking to campus (or even cross-country skiing in wintertime!)
  • Taking some or all coursework online
  • Buying books and other supplies used or in e-formats when possible
  • Having roommates while in school, or living at home
  • Working part-time or full-time while in school

Most students who enroll at colleges and universities in New Hampshire will fill out the Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA), each year. The information recorded on the FAFSA is used by many different potential sources of state and federal student aid as well as to determine an individual student’s financial need and eligibility for programs of interests. In addition to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, New Hampshire has state and private financial aid programs. More information is available at the NHHEAF and New Hampshire Charitable Foundation website, but options include:

  • Scholarships for Orphans of Veterans
  • Career Aid for Technical Students
  • Dunkin’ Donuts Scholarship Program
  • New Hampshire High Tech Council – Kocher Technology Scholarships
  • Seacoast Scholars Program
  • Statewide Student Aid Program
  • Adult Student Aid Program
  • The Medallion Fund Scholarship Program

Proof of state residency and other requirements may have to be met to verify eligibility for state and private financial aid programs. In 2013-2014, Federal Direct subsidized and un-subsidized loans were being offered at an interest rate of 3.86 percent. Private student loans may also be available at a variety of interest rates, depending on an individual’s credit report and score. Currently, private loans may offer lower interest rates than federal loans do, but this may not always be the case. Additionally, federal student loans typically have a wider variety of repayment options and other generous repayment benefits that may be better than those offered by private lenders.

Regardless of their ultimate career goals, prospective students should be careful to seek a regionally accredited institution if seeking a traditional academic major. Accreditation is one of the primary ways the quality of an institution is judged. There are six regional accreditors in the United States. In New Hampshire, the accreditation body is the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), though some New Hampshire colleges and universities are accredited by the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges and the Higher Learning Commission.

Rather than the regional accrediting bodies, some vocational and technical schools are nationally accredited instead. Some programs, whether technical, vocational, or academic, are endorsed by the professional organization associated with the topic or content area being taught. Students should do the research to discover the types of accreditation that are expected by their chosen industry. Then, they should seek a program that not only teaches the skills they want to gain, but has the accreditation that will make them competitive in the eyes of potential employers.

In addition to private, state and federal forms of financial aid, prospective students should remember that colleges and universities may offer their own unique financial aid opportunities. Eligibility will vary for each person and each institution, but investigating any and all opportunities will yield the most results. Rarely will sources of aid approach eligible individuals directly, so students should expect to be proactive when seeking aid. Usually, students receive multiple small awards from numerous sources, rather than one large award covering all their costs.

To find out more about some of the schools and programs available in New Hampshire, be sure to check out the ones featured in our school listings below.

Article Sources


  1. New Hampshire, College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics,
  2. May 2013 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Utah,
  3. “Top states for millionaires per capita,”,
  4. “The 10 states with the best quality of life,” Yahoo Finance,
  5. “A Stronger Nation through Higher Education, An Annual Report from Lumina Foundation,” Lumina Foundation,
  6. “Postsecondary Completers and Completions: 2011-12, Web Tables,” U.S. Department of Education, March 2014,
  7. “Enrollment in Distance Education Courses, by State: Fall 2012, Web Tables,” U.S. Department of Education, June 2014,
  8. “Table 304.10: Total fall enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions, by state or jurisdiction: Selected years, 1970 through 2012,” NCES IPEDS,
  9. Status of higher education in New Hampshire,” New Hampshire Department of Education, Division of Higher Education, Higher Education Commission,
  10. “Online Education,” U.S. News & World Report,
  11. U.S. News & World Report, Online Programs: “Granite State College,”, “New England College,”, “Plymouth State University,”
  12. O*NET OnLine Occupational Information Network: “Secretaries and Administrative Assistants, Except Legal, Medical, and Executive,”, “Retail Salespersons,”, “Teacher Assistants,”, “Registered Nurses,”, “General and Operations Managers,”
  13. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014: “Secretaries and administrative assistants,”, “Teacher Assistants,”, “Registered Nurses,”, “Management Occupations,”,
  14. “Trends in Higher Education, Tuition and Fees by Sector and State over Time,” CollegeBoard,
  15. “Financial Aid and Money Matters,” NH Higher Education Assistance Foundation,
  16. “Scholarships,” New Hampshire Charitable Foundation,

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