Top 10 Private Universities in Nigeria (2021 Update)


Once upon a time, government owned universities in Nigeria were the only options for students seeking admission into institutions of higher learning.

But with the inability of these universities to adequately cater for the thousands of secondary school leavers being produced each year, the establishment of private universities became a viable option.

Although, many initially labelled private universities as dumping ground for rejects by government owned universities, recent achievements by many of these private universities seem to have turned the tide. For instance, many private institutions have been known to produce excellent graduates that can rival their counterparts in government universities.

In this post, we have compiled a list of the top 10 private universities based on certain parameters which include the quality of their education, their research as well as the quality of their graduates.

Top 10 Private Universities in Nigeria

Top 10 Private Universities in Nigeria ([year] Update)

#1 Covenant University

Located in Ota, Ogun State, Covenant University is arguably the best private university in the country. The school was established in 1999 and is a brainchild of the Living Faith Church Worldwide.

The university has a Nobel Laureate, Professor Eric Maskins in its department of Economics. He was the 2007 Nobel Laureate of Economics.

Other prominent faculty members include Professor Ezekiel Adebiyi, a professor of African Society for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology and Professor Emmanuel Maduagwu, a notable professor of Biochemistry.

In 2017, a collaborative study by Stutern, BudGit and Jobberman revealed that Covenant University students are the most employable.

The largest ranking agency for higher education in the world has consistently named Covenant University as one of the top 5 Universities in the country since 2014. Although the university was ranked 10th in Nigeria in 2013, it had moved up the ladder to second by 2015.

In 2012, the leadership of Covenant University unveiled the vision 10:2022 which was aimed at putting Covenant University on the world map by 2022. The goal was for the university to be among the top 10 universities in the world by 2022.

#2 Afe Babalola University

Established in 2009 by Afe Babalola, a lawyer and philanthropist, Afe Babalola University is a top notch university with state of the art facilities.

The university is located in Ado-Ekiti and currently has a student population of over 6000. This prestigious institution has 5 undergraduate colleges and 1 post graduate school.

Afe Babalola University is one of the few schools that began academic activities on its permanent site. Also, the university is one of the few private schools that established a college of Medicine within a short time frame.

The college of Medicine was accredited within four and half years of its inception. And the Federal Medical Centre in Ekiti currently serves as the teaching hospital.

Afe Babalola University is in touch with world class medical schools, some of which include John Hopkins and Howard University. This has further catapulted the university to prominence in the country as one of the top private universities. In its third year of existence, Afe Babalola university was rated the second best private university in Nigeria.

Also, Afe Babalola University has taken many giant strides, one of which was its collaboration with UNESCO in the area of Agriculture as well as peace and conflict. As a result of this, UNESCO held its retreat in Nigeria within the university’s premise.

Afe Babalola is a model university in Nigeria and it is one of the top private universities when it comes to enrolment for the law program due to the reputation of the university’s founder.

#3 Landmark University

Landmark University is another top private university that is affiliated with the Living Faith Church Worldwide.

Established in 2011, Landmark University is located in Omu-Aran in Kwara State and it is first tertiary institution in the area.

Since 2014, Landmark has consistently featured among the top 5 private universities in the country. The university has the following colleges:

  • College of Agricultural Sciences
  • College of Business and Social Science
  • College of Science and Engineering

The university has recognized the importance of agriculture in the nation’s economy and the leadership of the university is geared towards nurturing students that will lead the agrarian revolution in the country. And it seems some of their graduates are beginning to walk the talk. In 2016, one of the university’s graduands, Benneth Nwosu Chukwuma founded the Benny Fish Farm.

At least 10% of the graduating class at Landmark has been known to finish with first class grades. However the university took this a step further at the last convocation in 2017.

The percentage of graduates that finished with first class grades increased from 10% to 17%. In this particular graduating class, out of a total of 468, 66 were first class graduates.

#4 Babcock University

Babcock University is owned by the Seventh-day Adventist education system which is the world’s second largest Christian school system.

The university is located between Lagos and Ibadan. Babcock has its origin from the Adventist College of West Africa which was established in 1959. This college would later become the Adventist Seminary of West Africa.

The university was officially launched in 1999. Babcock has 9 schools and 1 college which include:

  • The School of Agriculture and Industrial Technology
  • Babcock Business School
  • College of Health & Medical Sciences
  • School of Basic & Applied Science
  • School of Computing & Engineering Sciences
  • School of Education & Humanities
  • School of Law & Security Studies
  • School of Nursing
  • School of Public & Applied Health
  • School of Post Graduate Studies

The university has a state of the art school of medicine which is named after the legendary neurosurgeon Ben Carson. The school graduated it first set of medical doctors in 2017

#5 American University of Nigeria (AUN)

American University of Nigeria is a private university located in Yola in Adamawa state. The university is the first and only university in the country with an academic program that is built on the American model and these programs are consistent with the U.S accreditation standards.

The university was founded by the former vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar. He had a desire to establish a world class university in the country and this led to collaborations with the American University in Washington D.C which eventually led to an agreement between both universities. The university at Washington was expected to serve as a management consultant to AUN for a period of 5 years.

The university officially began in September 2005 is located in Adamawa. Generally, the class sizes at the university are small which enables optimal interaction between the faculty and the students.

The graduates of AUN have proceeded to attend some of the best schools in the world and have gone on to top their classes. Also, some AUN graduates have attended graduate school at the American University at Washington D.C

Recently, 8 of the released Chibok girls were enrolled in AUN under the New Foundation School (NFS) Initiative

#6 Redeemers University

Located in Ede in Osun State, the Redeemer’s University is an offshoot of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. The school began operation in 2005 when it received its full operating license from the Federal Government.

The university has grown over the years to become not just a top private university but one of the top private universities in the country.

In 2015, RUN beat 15 other prestigious universities in West Africa and Central Africa to emerge as the best rated university and win a World Bank grant. This grant enabled the university to fund the establishment of the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics and Infectious Diseases (ACEGID).

In a country where unemployment has become the order of the day, Redeemer’s University has a mission of producing innovative, inventive and creative graduates that can create jobs for themselves irrespective of the country’s situation

The university has taken big steps since its early days and has consistently produced top class graduates. In the last convocation in September 2017, the university graduated 465 and 22 of these bagged first class degrees.

#7 Al Hikmah University

Located in Ilorin, Kwara, Al Hikmah University was founded in 2005 as a private university.

The university initially took off with 70 students and started with the College of Humanities, College of Management Science and the College of Natural Sciences

However, 2 other colleges have since been added which include the College of Law and the College of Education.

Al Hikmah University has been involved in some collaborative activities, one of which was their collaboration with the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) on the abuse of drugs by youths.

This prestigious institution is also in collaboration with Jaiz Bank which has been involved in financing the projects.

In the last convocation, the University graduated over 900 students with 874 students bagging first degrees and 50 with post graduate degrees.

#8 Veritas University

Founded in 2002, Veritas University is located in Abuja. The university is affiliated with the Catholic Church of Nigeria.

Currently, Veritas University offers the following programmes;

  • Sc Industrial Chemistry
  • Sc Physics with Electronics
  • Sc Applied Microbiology
  • A. English and Literary Studies
  • A. History and International Relations
  • Sc. Accounting
  • Sc. Marketing and Advertising
  • Sc. Economics
  • Sc. Political Science and Diplomacy
  • Sc. Microbiology

Veritas University is accredited by the National University Commission. The university received its full accreditation in 2012

The university places a strong emphasis on moral values, self-reliance and the development of the students’ entrepreneurial capabilities which is expected to benefit both the graduate as well as the society at large.

As it is expected of a university of Catholic origin, Veritas University is a model of excellence and the university has been built with state of the art facilities while providing an excellent faculty to nurture its students.

#9 Bowen University

Bowen University was established in 2001 in Osun State. The university is named after the prominent Baptist missionary, Rev, Thomas Jefferson Bowen who pioneered the Baptist mission work in the country.

The university is one of the few private institutions that include a medical program. Additionally, the university scores a first as being the only private university that runs a physiotherapy programme in the country.

Bowen University received a full accreditation of its medicine programme in 2016 which led to the induction of the first set of medical doctors that same year.

The university currently collaborates with several universities and institutions both within and outside the country. These include Liverpool-Hope University, UK; University of York, UK; Alabama A & M University; Mary Hardinsimmons University, Taxas, USA; Baylor University, Taxas, USA; Southern Hemisphere GIS Training School, USA; Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria; Faculty of Agriculture, University of Ibadan, Ibadan Nigeria; IITA and the Nigerian Institute for Social and Economic Research, Ibadan, Nigeria.

Bowen University has 6 colleges which include:

  • Faculty of Agriculture
  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Faculty of Social and Management Sciences
  • Faculty of Law
  • College of Health Sciences
  • Faculty of Science and Science Education

#10 Ajayi Crowther University

Located in Oyo State, Ajayi Crowther University is one of the best private institutions in the country.

The vision of the University is to be a top-class institution in the pursuit of knowledge and scholarship through teaching, learning, research and exemplary service to humanity.

The origin of this university can be traced back to the CMS Training Institute in Abeokuta and the defunct St Andrews College in Oyo.

Ajayi Crowther University began when the St Andrew’s College Old Boys Association (SACOBA) wrote to the Church of Nigeria concerning building a university at the old site of the college.

The Church of Nigeria granted the request of SACOBA in 1999. The university was named after the prominent African Bishop, Samuel Ajayi Crowther and was granted full accreditation by the NUC in 2005.

The university upholds high moral and religious standards due to its affiliations to the church. And over the years, Ajayi Crowther has never hesitated to punish deliquent students. In April 2017, 29 students were expelled as a result of their unruly behaviour within the school premise.

Top 10 Private Universities in Nigeria: Old Ranking

Between 1948 and 1999, universities in Nigeria were owned and managed by only the government (Federal and States).  But in 1999, Chief (Dr.) Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion, an Edo philanthropist and influential businessman, took a bold step to establish the first private university known as Igbinedion University at Okada in Edo State.

I was one of those who wondered back then, whether the management of private universities could be sustained in Nigeria.  But commendably, this bold step of Chief Igbinedion has opened an avalanche for more private universities since then; and we now have up to 50 of such operating in different parts of the country.

Let us now discuss the top 10 or best 10 of the private universities in Nigeria, which have been ranked on academic standards, facilities, locations, cost etc, by Webometrics, ThatScholar and other sources.

1. Covenant University

Covenant University which is located at Ota in Ogun State, and which was licensed by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 2002, is ranked to be the best private University in Nigeria.  It is said to be built on solid moral foundation as set by its Founder/Chancellor, Dr. David O. Oyedepo.  This university’s fees per session is N432,000.00.

2. Babcock University

Next in ranking is Babcock University in Ilisan Remo in Ogun State.  This university which charges N620,000.00 as fees per session, is very innovative, and has continued to introduce effective policies which have constantly improved the standards of the institution and its students.

3. Joseph Ayo Babalola University

Joseph Ayo Babalola University was established by the Christ Apostolic Church Worldwide in 2004 in Ikeji-Arakeji. This university is reputed to have pioneered the trend for entrepreneurship education in Nigeria, and as a result of its success in doing so, the National Universities Commission has made it mandatory for entrepreneurship to be included in general studies  in the various degree programmes of all universities in Nigeria.  Its fee is about N436,000.00 per session.

4. Bowen University

The church-owned Bowen University in Iwo, is the fourth best private university in Nigeria.  Equipped with many qualified lecturers, this university runs many under-graduate programmes and a post-graduate school.  Its school fees is about N750,000.00 per session.

5. Redeemers’ University

Fifth in the ranking of private universities in Nigeria, is Redeemer’s University which is temporarily located at the Redemption Camp, Km. 46 Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Ogun State.  This university is built by the Redeemed Christian Church of God, and its current temporary location makes it attractive.

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