Spread out over an area larger than the state of New Jersey, Houston offers such an incredibly diverse range of residential neighborhoods and entertainment districts that there is something to please everyone. Houston is a global city that owes almost everything—including its wealth, diversity, and cultural strength—to the energy industry.
Founded by real estate entrepreneurs along Buffalo Bayou in 1837, the city emerged as a commercial and railroad hub for the export of cotton due to the ease of shipping and waterborne transport along the Bayou and out to the Gulf of Mexico. As oil was discovered in the nearby Spindletop oil field and Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson helped bring the Houston Ship Channel and deepwater Port of Houston to fruition in the early 20th century, the city’s identity as a capital for energy and transportation had been solidified.
Despite having a reputation for laid-back attitudes and unpretentiousness, Houston is afforded abundant cultural resources by its energy earnings. Its culinary scene is nationally renowned as is its theater district. The Museum District is the city’s leafy cultural capital—attracting 7 million visitors per year. The 17-acre Theater District hosts all major performing arts disciplines as well as 12,948 seats for live performances.
Outdoor life too is prime in Houston. The city has the most green spaces out of any of the top 10 most populous cities in the country with over 56,405 acres of parks. Additionally, the city is home to teams in every major league sport except the NHL.
Of greatest interest to students considering studying in Houston are the city’s employment outcomes. It is consistently rated one of the best places to start a career by a number of publications including Forbes and Kiplinger’s. It has also been ranked first for paycheck worth by Forbes and the best city for job creation by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Indeed, the city was the first to bounce back from the Great Recession. Regaining not only every job lost, but creating more than two for every which disappeared.
With such great employment outcomes, the city is an equally great place to study. Education is dominated by the public University of Houston System, which consists of four institutions each with its own campus and admissions criteria (the primary institution therein is known simply as the University of Houston). There are also a number of community colleges and private universities of which Rice University is the best.
Top Universities in Houston TX
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Known officially as Williams Marsh Rice University, Rice is located on a bucolic and arboreal 295-acre campus in Houston’s Museum District. Rice founded in 1912 with funds donated by a late Massachusetts industrialist Williams Marsh Rice. Rice is consistently ranked as one of the top 20 universities within the US by US News and World Report as well as one of the top 100 universities in the world by Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings.
Its impressive academics and beautiful campus mean it has some of the country’s happiest students, divided across 11 residential colleges each with its own distinct architecture, traditions, and identity. Indeed, identity is important to students at Rice who are often described as being quirky, unique, and defined by their interests rather than a specific socioeconomic group or political leaning. This innate interest in learning is no doubt fundamental to the extremely high level of research activity for its size (with over $115 million of sponsored activity in 2011). Furthermore, the university has an impressive pedigree of scholars of distinction including 101 Fulbright Scholars, 12 Rhodes Scholars, and many more.
University of Houston
Having toughened up recently on admissions standards and offering more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors, the University of Houston is a world-class institution. Educating more than 39,000 students, the university is an ethnically and culturally diverse school that is both affordable and has a serious focus on connecting students with local industry. It has been on an upward tear in recent years as it continues to attract more bright students.