Close this search box.

8 Higher Education Opportunities in Southwest Missouri

Public and private. Big and small. Four-year, community and technical schools. With more than a dozen local colleges and universities, Springfield, Missouri, is very much a thriving city with a focus on higher education. With a variety of local options, Springfield is a hub for academic pursuit, attracting nearly 45,000 students annually. Explore diverse fields from liberal arts, business, and engineering to architecture, medicine, science, and theology, with comprehensive undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education programs – including Master’s and Master of Fine Arts. Our wide array of undergraduate, graduate and continuing education programs make it easy to access a lifelong education. Read more about our area’s major institutions, professional programs and great local campuses.

Springfield’s Public Universities

Missouri state university campus buildings

Missouri State University is the second-largest university system in a state with over 26,000 students. The university’s main campus is in Springfield, with satellite locations in West Plains and Mountain Grove, Missouri, as well as Dalian, China. The university is home to the largest business college in the four-state area, and students may choose from more than 170 majors and programs including Master’s of Science options . 

MSU is currently ranked Top Public Schools in the nation according to U.S. News Best Colleges rankings. MSU has also historically made the Forbes list of America’s Top Public Colleges and received a “Best in the Midwest” distinction from The Princeton Review.

Students walking outside on college campus

With more than 12,000 students, Ozarks Technical Community College (OTC) is the second-largest learning institution in Springfield and is Missouri’s third-largest community college. OTC offers more than 40 different degree programs, and is one of the fastest-growing community colleges in the country. The technical school and community college offers two-year degrees and certificates in a variety of fields from medical and dental assisting to culinary arts and welding.

OTC has branch campuses in Ozark, Hollister, Lebanon, Republic and Waynesville. It’s Center for Workforce Development provides employers and individuals with consulting and training services designed to boost workplace performance through development of specific professional and technical skills.

Students performing CPR on a male manequin

New to Springfield are several specialized programs from the state’s largest university system, the University of Missouri.

The number one provider of physicians in Missouri,  University of Missouri-Columbia (MU) established the MU School of Medicine Clinical Campus in 2017 collaboration with Springfield’s CoxHealth and Mercy health systems. The Springfield campus allows MU to expand its medical student class size by more than 30%, while providing more than 300 additional physicians for the state.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Pharmacy also established Springfield’s first Doctor of Pharmacy program on the campus of Missouri State University

Local Private Universities

Students riding bicycles outside a college campus brick building

Drury University continually ranks at or near the top of U.S. News & Best Value Schools list and has been previously awarded Honorable Mention as Best Liberal Arts School in the nation by Time magazine. Modeled after schools like Yale and Harvard, this small private institution focuses on academic and intellectual achievements with core values that integrate public service and global awareness. The university is a committed partner of Enactus (formerly Students in Free Enterprise), a nonprofit organization empowering people throughout the world through free enterprise.

Evangel university clock tower and academic buildings

Evangel University is a private Christian university in Springfield and the official liberal arts university of the Assemblies of God (headquartered in Springfield). With more than 100 academic programs and ten graduate degrees, Evangel prepares students for leadership roles in business, government, vocational ministry, and other fields

Evangel University is ranked #119-157 in Regional Universities Midwest and ranks #41 within the Top Performers on Social Mobility, according to U.S. News. 

Southwest Baptist University sign and academic building

Southwest Baptist University is a Christ-centered liberal arts college that equips students for lifelong success through faith-inspired academic and campus life programs. SBU offers associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in more than 100 areas of study, including pre-professional programs, business, nursing and liberal arts.

SBU’s ranks #117 in the 2022 edition of Best Regional Universities in the Midwest, according to U.S. News. Nearly 1,300 undergraduate students attend classes at the main Bolivar campus with nearly 700 more at branch campuses in Mountain View, Salem and Springfield.

Health Sciences and Nursing Programs

As two nationally recognized top 100 integrated health systems, CoxHealth and Mercy health systems have a strong commitment to healthcare education—specifically when it comes to their respective colleges in Springfield, MO.

For over a hundred years, Cox College has prepared individuals for a career in healthcare. Today, the private college offers a variety of degrees including an associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s in nursing and associate’s degrees in radiography and medical assisting.

The college offers bachelor’s degrees in diagnostic imaging with specialties in computed tomography, diagnostic medical sonography, echocardiography, interventional radiology, magnetic resonance imaging and mammography. The college also offers master’s degrees in occupational therapy and nutrition diagnostics.

External building facade for Mercy education building

Mercy College of Nursing and Health Sciences is a joint venture between Mercy Hospital and Southwest Baptist University. Here, students can earn associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing as well as a paramedic bridge and a licensed practical nurse bridge.

The school also offers associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in health sciences and an associate’s degree in radiography.

The ASN and BSN programs are accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission, and the ASN program is fully accredited by the Missouri State Board of Nursing.