Houston is the largest city in Texas, with more than 2.3 million residents and a metro area with a population that's more than 7 million.  Historically known as an oil town and major port city, today it is also a leader in aerospace technology and medical research, among other fields. Texas is now the second biggest state in the U.S., both by population (after California) and by land mass (after Alaska).  If you're thinking about relocating to Texas, going to college in Houston is a good way to start.

Here are some of the top colleges and universities in Houston, listed in alphabetical order.

Houston Baptist University. Opened in 1963 as Houston Baptist College, Houston Baptist officially became a university 10 years later. Today it has more than 3,400 students in undergraduate and graduate programs. It describes itself as, “a Christian liberal arts university dedicated to the development of moral character, the enrichment of spiritual lives and the perpetuation of growth in Christian ideals.”

Rice University.  Rice, which marked its centennial in 2012, is a highly selective university with close to 4,000 undergraduates and more than 3,000 graduate students.  In its mission statement, it says, “As a leading research university with a distinctive commitment to undergraduate education, Rice University aspires to pathbreaking research, unsurpassed teaching and contributions to the betterment of our world.”

University of Houston. Founded in 1927, the University of Houston is the city’s largest university, with more than 46,000 students, including nearly 38,000 undergraduates.  A public university, it describes its mission as “to offer nationally competitive and internationally recognized opportunities for learning, discovery and engagement to a diverse population of students in a real-world setting.”

University of St. Thomas. Founded in 1947 by the Basilian Fathers, the University of St. Thomas has a total enrollment of about 3,300 students, including more than 2,000 undergraduates. It describes itself as “a private institution committed to the liberal arts and to the religious, ethical and intellectual tradition of Catholic higher education.”

Note: This list is based on the most recent data from the College Scorecard, published by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Affordability and Transparency Center. The scorecard evaluates schools on a number of factors, including graduation rates and student-loan default rates – two measures of educational outcomes.

These institutions were judged to have medium or high graduation rates and lower default rates than the national average. Bear in mind that, depending on what you’re looking for in a college or university, other institutions that are not on this list could be worth considering. There is no one school that is “best” for everyone. Click here to find the complete College Scorecard.