Best small colleges in America

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September 16, 2020
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Best small colleges in America

Small schools offer unique educational opportunities with favorable teacher-student ratios, access to research projects, and programs in the community, at home, and abroad.

The best small colleges in America run the gamut from a liberal arts school like Colby College, where students can explore the ecosystems of Belize, to the California Institute of Technology, which works closely with NASA. Some can boast small class sizes and close collaborations with professors while drawing on the resources of a much larger institution, such as Barnard College within Columbia University. Christian institutions infuse their academic offerings with a spiritual outlook, while other schools opened with a religious affiliation but have since become secular institutions. Military schools prepare young men and women for branches of the military from the U.S. Army to the U.S. Merchant Marine, while many others offer first-year seminars to give students a common grounding in critical thinking and writing skills. Students can also take advantage of opportunities to travel abroad and work independently.

The history of some schools mirrors that of the country—some were established early in New England, where Bowdoin College predates the state of Maine, or by those who moved west. Hamilton College was named after Alexander Hamilton, the country’s treasury secretary. Washington & Lee University’s name reflects the role that George Washington and Robert E. Lee played in the Virginia school.

What’s different this year is the coronavirus pandemic. Colleges and universities are responding in different ways to COVID-19, with some going entirely to remote learning and others opening their campuses with safety regulations in place.

Stacker compiled a list of the best small colleges in America using Niche's 2021 rankings. Niche ranks colleges with a variety of factors including academics, admissions, financial, and student life. Colleges with less than 5,000 students enrolled were considered.

Read on to discover the small schools that could provide the best education for you or your children.

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#100. Lipscomb University

- Location: Nashville, TN
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,738
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 13:1
- Acceptance rate: 60%
- Graduation rate: 65%
- Six-year median earnings: $43,200
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

Lipscomb University is a Christian university in Nashville that offers more than 176 undergraduate majors and minors, as well as 60 master's degree programs and three doctoral degree programs. The staff includes 279 full-time faculty members. The school’s mission is to integrate academics and Christian faith.

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#99. Allegheny College

- Location: Meadville, PA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,724
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 64%
- Graduation rate: 74%
- Six-year median earnings: $50,900
- Two-year employment rate: 95%

Allegheny College encourages students to consider concentrations beyond a single academic division so that they can explore all of their talents—medicine and journalism, for example, or studio art and app development. It is a test-optional school, so it does not require the ACT or SAT for admission, a consideration that might be more important during the coronavirus pandemic.

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#98. Taylor University

- Location: Upland, IN
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,846
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 12:1
- Acceptance rate: 78%
- Graduation rate: 82%
- Six-year median earnings: $38,000
- Two-year employment rate: 93%

Originally the Fort Wayne Female College, Taylor University is a Christian liberal arts school with a chapter of MuKappa, an organization focused on missionary and third-culture students. Its Honors Guild typically sends students on a scholarship-funded international trip and brings scholars to the school for talks on themes chosen by the students.

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#97. The Master's University

- Location: Santa Clarita, CA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 953
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 77%
- Graduation rate: 60%
- Six-year median earnings: $41,700
- Two-year employment rate: 89%

The motto of The Master’s University is “For Christ and Scripture,” and it offers undergraduate and graduate programs. In its Biblical studies program, students explore the material in the context of its historical environment so they can apply it to the theological and cultural issues of today. A one-year Bible program offers intense training for soon-to-be missionaries and others.

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#96. Concordia College

- Location: Moorhead, MN
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,041
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 12:1
- Acceptance rate: 61%
- Graduation rate: 75%
- Six-year median earnings: $44,500
- Two-year employment rate: 97%

Concordia is a four-year liberal arts college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. All Concordia students complete two of the school’s integrative learning experiences, or PEAKs, with a focus on learning outside of the traditional classroom. Students can take a non-traditional semester-long course, for example, or go on a three-week trip abroad.

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#95. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University—Prescott

- Location: Prescott, AZ
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,592
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 17:1
- Acceptance rate: 67%
- Graduation rate: 65%
- Six-year median earnings: $66,200
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

This university traces its roots to “barnstormer” John Paul Riddle and entrepreneur T. Higbee Embry, founders of the Embry-Riddle Flying School. Focused on the aeronautics industry, it boasts many firsts: the first and only undergraduate space physics program, first college of security and intelligence, first spaceflight operations program, first unmanned and autonomous systems engineering program, and the first and only undergraduate aerospace physiology degree.

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#94. Wofford College

- Location: Spartanburg, SC
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,653
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 11:1
- Acceptance rate: 64%
- Graduation rate: 81%
- Six-year median earnings: $51,500
- Two-year employment rate: 92%

Wofford College prepares students through career exploration, community learning, and study abroad. Its Rocket Fuel program is for students in the concept stage of developing a business, at the end of which they have access to seed funding of up to $500. The Terrier Startup Challenge teaches students how to pitch their ventures for substantial funding, while a summer incubator, Accelerator for New Ventures, is a paid opportunity for students with a well-developed business idea or an existing business.

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#93. College of the Ozarks

- Location: Point Lookout, MO
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,533
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 14:1
- Acceptance rate: 12%
- Graduation rate: 66%
- Six-year median earnings: $32,500
- Two-year employment rate: 93%

College of the Ozarks, a Christian liberal arts college, bills itself as “Hard Work U.” Its mission is to provide the advantages of a Christian education, especially to those without the money to pursue a degree. Through on-campus work, a scholarship from the college, and state and federal aid, all students have the opportunity to graduate debt-free (though room and board is not included).

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#92. University of Evansville

- Location: Evansville, IN
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,992
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 11:1
- Acceptance rate: 69%
- Graduation rate: 74%
- Six-year median earnings: $41,800
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

The University of Evansville is a private school related to the United Methodist Church and is ranked as a top Midwest university by U.S. News & World Report. It has one of only a few standalone archaeology departments in the country and grants a bachelor’s degree in archaeology, concentrating on the ancient Mediterranean, Near East, and Western Europe. It also has the country’s only ongoing on-campus excavation, the Tin City excavation project, which began in 2003.

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#91. University of South Carolina - Lancaster

- Location: Lancaster, SC
- Undergraduate enrollment: 700
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 14:1
- Acceptance rate: 67%
- Graduation rate: 39%
- Six-year median earnings: $44,900
- Two-year employment rate: 95%

All students at The University of South Carolina are given a common foundation: the Carolina Core, the first classes in the liberal arts and sciences. The core courses teach communication, analytical reasoning, problem-solving, scientific and information literacy, and the arts, in addition to exploring global citizenship and multicultural understanding. New core courses are added every year.

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#90. Hobart and William Smith Colleges

- Location: Geneva, NY
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,208
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 57%
- Graduation rate: 78%
- Six-year median earnings: $53,500
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

Hobart and William Smith Colleges, located on 320 acres in New York State's Finger Lakes region, have been ranked among the schools producing the most Fulbright scholars for four of the past five years. The Fulbright program is the U.S. government’s premier international educational exchange. Twenty-five Hobart and William Smith students have won full research grants and English Teaching Assistantships for graduate study and research or for teaching.

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#89. Southwestern University

- Location: Georgetown, TX
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,416
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 12:1
- Acceptance rate: 45%
- Graduation rate: 74%
- Six-year median earnings: $54,000
- Two-year employment rate: 90%

Southwestern University calls its interdisciplinary learning Paideia, a Greek reference to education. Students are encouraged to think critically, to make connections between disciplines, and to draw on knowledge they have gained in and outside of the classroom, whether from community engagement, internships, research, languages, or creative projects they have directed.

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#88. Rockhurst University

- Location: Kansas City, MO
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,456
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 14:1
- Acceptance rate: 66%
- Graduation rate: 75%
- Six-year median earnings: $50,800
- Two-year employment rate: 93%

Rockhurst University is a top regional university in Kansas City offering bachelor’s and graduate programs based on Jesuit philosophy and the liberal arts. A key component of the school is service learning, in which lessons learned in the classroom are extended to the community, and its Center for Service Learning organizes community service projects to help students engage in social action. Its Catholic Studies minor is an interdisciplinary program exploring issues in Catholic beliefs.

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#87. SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry

- Location: Syracuse, NY
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,776
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 14:1
- Acceptance rate: 61%
- Graduation rate: 77%
- Six-year median earnings: $45,600
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry, part of the New York state university system, is ranked No. 2 on Princeton Review’s list of “green colleges” and No. 3 on Sierra Magazine’s “Cool Schools” list. Earth Day at this school stretches to fill an entire week. It offers undergraduate and graduate courses focusing on the environment, from fisheries science and forest health to sustainable energy management, but its students also can take classes, join clubs, and use facilities at Syracuse University.

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#86. Albany College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences

- Location: Albany, NY
- Undergraduate enrollment: 854
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 72%
- Graduation rate: 66%
- Six-year median earnings: $124,700
- Two-year employment rate: 98%

The Albany College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences, with campuses in Albany, New York, and Colchester, Vermont, was named the No. 1 value-added college in the country by the Wall Street Journal and the Brookings Institution. It offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate programs, and students may enroll in a dual-degree program to obtain a bachelor’s and master’s degree in pharmaceutical science in five years. The school is using its expertise to conduct COVID-19 testing for its students and employees and those at nearby colleges.

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#85. Maine Maritime Academy

- Location: Castine, ME
- Undergraduate enrollment: 958
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 11:1
- Acceptance rate: 55%
- Graduation rate: 76%
- Six-year median earnings: $95,600
- Two-year employment rate: 96%

Students at the Maine Maritime Academy receive a hands-on education with at-sea engineering and deck officer experience aboard the Training Ship State of Maine or the Schooner Bowdoin, as well as work aboard commercial ships and training aboard the tug Pentagoet. Students become mariners, engineers, supply chain managers, and scientists. The Maine Maritime Academy was ranked the No. 1 Best Public College on Money magazine’s Best Colleges list in 2014 and 2015.

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#84. Muhlenberg College

- Location: Allentown, PA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,248
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 62%
- Graduation rate: 82%
- Six-year median earnings: $59,400
- Two-year employment rate: 96%

Muhlenberg College honors the founder of the Lutheran Church in America, Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, and continues to have a connection with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It offers more than 50 undergraduate and continuing studies programs, and it partners with larger institutions for advanced studies, for example in dentistry at the University of Pennsylvania, medicine at Temple University, business at American University or Boston University, or engineering at Columbia University.

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#83. Ouachita Baptist University

- Location: Arkadelphia, AR
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,529
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 12:1
- Acceptance rate: 64%
- Graduation rate: 64%
- Six-year median earnings: $41,200
- Two-year employment rate: 93%

Ouachita Baptist University is a liberal arts school that celebrates its students’ academic achievements on an annual Scholars Day. One unique major is Biblical Languages, which includes Biblical Hebrew and New Testament Greek. And if students are unsure of a major, the DISCOVER program offers an assessment to identify careers they might enjoy based on their personality, interests, and values, at which point staff help them match the results with appropriate academic majors.

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#82. Ohio Northern University

- Location: Ada, OH
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,118
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 11:1
- Acceptance rate: 68%
- Graduation rate: 72%
- Six-year median earnings: $63,500
- Two-year employment rate: 97%

Ohio Northern University is an “independent, comprehensive university” offering 60 programs over five colleges: arts and sciences, business, engineering, pharmacy, and law. Course offerings range from applied robotics and aerospace engineering to forensic biology and construction management. Its honors program brings together students from its undergraduate colleges for small seminars on custom-designed topics.

 

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#81. Illinois Wesleyan University

- Location: Bloomington, IL
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,689
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 11:1
- Acceptance rate: 59%
- Graduation rate: 79%
- Six-year median earnings: $59,100
- Two-year employment rate: 96%

At Illinois Wesleyan University, all courses are taught by professors, and the average class size is 16 students. Two-thirds of the students conduct research, while 71% have at least one internship. During the May term, students can focus on a single course or topic. Some examples of recent May term classes: Islam from Mecca to Malcolm X, Special Effects Makeup in the Theater, and The Great Vampire Squid that Ate Wall Street. The school is midway between Chicago, Illinois, and St. Louis, Missouri.

 

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#80. New Mexico Military Institute

- Location: Roswell, NM
- Undergraduate enrollment: 412
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 16:1
- Acceptance rate: 37%
- Graduation rate: 68%
- Six-year median earnings: $39,700
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

The New Mexico Military Institute calls itself the West Point of the West and is a state-supported coeducational high school and junior college. It grants high school diplomas and associate degrees in the arts and sciences. The Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) offers cadets a chance at a commission in the U.S. Army through the 2-Year Early Commissioning Program. Cadets can also pursue commissions in all branches of the military through the Service Academy Preparatory Program.

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#79. Connecticut College

- Location: New London, CT
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,798
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 38%
- Graduation rate: 81%
- Six-year median earnings: $54,900
- Two-year employment rate: 93%

Connecticut College takes a unique approach to a liberal arts education with Connections, a program encompassing a major, interdisciplinary study, a relevant internship, a world language, and an overall interconnected outlook. For example, a focus on public health could explore global health issues from vaccines to climate change through science, social science, economics, and the arts. A cornerstone of Connections, the Integrative Pathway, is a set of courses on a central theme.

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#78. John Carroll University

- Location: University Heights, OH
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,996
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 13:1
- Acceptance rate: 83%
- Graduation rate: 78%
- Six-year median earnings: $53,800
- Two-year employment rate: 95%

John Carroll University, a Jesuit school that encourages students to excel in learning, leadership and “service to the common good,” is a liberal arts university that offers numerous programs in the arts, sciences, and business. Plus One programs—five years to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree—are offered in business administration, English, education, nonprofit administration, and theology.

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#77. Clark University

- Location: Worcester, MA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,263
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 59%
- Graduation rate: 77%
- Six-year median earnings: $49,100
- Two-year employment rate: 90%

Clark University is a liberal arts research university. Its undergraduates work side by side with faculty researchers, collaborating in a process the university calls “elbow teaching” to discover new knowledge themselves and make scholarly contributions. The university hopes to develop among its students both independence and an appreciation of a range of perspectives.

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#76. University of Dallas

- Location: Irving, TX
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,447
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 11:1
- Acceptance rate: 39%
- Graduation rate: 66%
- Six-year median earnings: $47,400
- Two-year employment rate: 90%

The University of Dallas is a Jesuit university whose students read the works that have shaped Western civilization, and discuss them in small classes with an average size of 16 students. It is sponsoring a twice-a-quarter, yearlong lecture series with the American Enterprise Institute called “E Pluribus Unum: Sources of our Unity,” which will explore unity between left and right, religious and secular, and other opposites.

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#75. Illinois Institute of Technology

- Location: Chicago, IL
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,792
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 12:1
- Acceptance rate: 58%
- Graduation rate: 72%
- Six-year median earnings: $69,100
- Two-year employment rate: 92%

Illinois Institute of Technology is Chicago’s only tech university, and its Interprofessional Projects Program (IPRO) has offered an alternative to a traditional education since 1995. Students from different majors come together to solve problems, sometimes for companies and nonprofits.

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#74. Rollins College

- Location: Winter Park, FL
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,433
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 67%
- Graduation rate: 74%
- Six-year median earnings: $45,700
- Two-year employment rate: 91%

The first recognized college in Florida, Rollins was founded in 1885 by New England Congregationalists. Its signature program, Rollins Gateway, combines an interdisciplinary curriculum with experiences outside of the classroom and a mentorship. The Hamilton Holt School offers bachelor's and master's degree programs designed for working adults, with weekday and weekend evening classes averaging 17 students of all ages and backgrounds.

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#73. St. Lawrence University

- Location: Canton, NY
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,407
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 11:1
- Acceptance rate: 46%
- Graduation rate: 82%
- Six-year median earnings: $50,100
- Two-year employment rate: 95%

St. Lawrence University’s most popular majors among the class of 2019 were business in the liberal arts, economics, psychology, biology, and government, but students can design their own multi-field majors. They also can live on an organic farm as part of a sustainability program in which they learn to grow their own food sustainably: how to plan and plant a garden, raise livestock, preserve food for the winter, and cook what they have produced.

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#72. Luther College

- Location: Decorah, IA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,977
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 11:1
- Acceptance rate: 63%
- Graduation rate: 79%
- Six-year median earnings: $47,400
- Two-year employment rate: 96%

Luther College has a Paideia program—a Greek term referring to education—that was developed in 1977. It is made up of three interdisciplinary courses and incorporates performances, an annual lecture series, student writing services, sabbatical grants and summer workshops for faculty, and a faculty journal called Agora: The Liberal Arts at Luther College.

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#71. South Dakota School of Mines & Technology

- Location: Rapid City, SD
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,873
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 15:1
- Acceptance rate: 83%
- Graduation rate: 50%
- Six-year median earnings: $56,500
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

Founded in 1885 to capitalize on the region’s major industry, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is known for its STEM offerings, small classes taught by professors (not graduate students), internships, and location in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Among the prestigious awards its students have won since 2014: two Fulbright Scholars, three Goldwater Scholars, three Udall Scholars, and one Truman Scholar, all named after famous politicians. It promises challenging undergraduate and graduate programs in science and engineering, as well as real-world projects.

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#70. Kalamazoo College

- Location: Kalamazoo, MI
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,457
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 13:1
- Acceptance rate: 73%
- Graduation rate: 79%
- Six-year median earnings: $48,700
- Two-year employment rate: 89%

Kalamazoo College offers the K-Plan: an approach that integrates liberal arts and sciences and gives students a personalized study path. Students design their own majors rather than taking a fixed set of courses, and can complete a career development internship or get involved in social justice leadership. Those wanting to study abroad can pick from 56 programs in 29 countries across six continents. All students are considered honor students and do a thesis, performance, or creative work.

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#69. College of Wooster

- Location: Wooster, OH
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,996
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 11:1
- Acceptance rate: 54%
- Graduation rate: 75%
- Six-year median earnings: $46,300
- Two-year employment rate: 93%

At the College of Wooster, students take the first-year seminar, a writing-intensive course of no more than 15 students taught by an academic advisor, in which they analyze a wide range of texts. All students work one-on-one with a faculty mentor on a research project and build a personalized education that enables them to be independent and creative.

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#68. Union University

- Location: Jackson, TN
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,778
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 57%
- Graduation rate: 71%
- Six-year median earnings: $43,200
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

Union University is a Christian liberal arts school offering bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. It was founded in 1823 and is the oldest institution affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. More than 100 programs integrate academics with Christian faith. U.S. News & World Report ranks Union in the top tier of national universities, one of only a handful of Christ-centered universities on the list.

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#67. Point Loma Nazarene University

- Location: San Diego, CA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,595
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 14:1
- Acceptance rate: 69%
- Graduation rate: 77%
- Six-year median earnings: $50,900
- Two-year employment rate: 91%

Point Loma Nazarene University offers undergraduate and graduate programs and degree completion programs for adults who have some college credits. It stresses convenience so that courses can be taken online, either in one of its classrooms or at the community college a student attends. The Community Classroom brings students to the community of City Heights, where they can take such courses as Christian Formation & Ministry, Christian Tradition, Elementary Spanish, Ethics, Life of Holiness, and Race & Ethnicity.

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#66. Dickinson College

- Location: Carlisle, PA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,361
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 49%
- Graduation rate: 84%
- Six-year median earnings: $57,400
- Two-year employment rate: 92%

Dickinson College dates to 1783 and was founded by American revolutionary Benjamin Rush. Its students, Dickinsonians, are encouraged to be decisive, useful, curious, and unafraid to take risks. The school provides an interdisciplinary education in the liberal arts and sciences in which each student is paired with a professor-advisor for the first year and participates in the first-year seminar, which focuses on critical thinking and analysis, writing, and library research.

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#65. Lewis & Clark College

- Location: Portland, OR
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,058
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 12:1
- Acceptance rate: 74%
- Graduation rate: 75%
- Six-year median earnings: $46,200
- Two-year employment rate: 92%

Lewis & Clark College has three schools: College of Arts and Sciences, Graduate School of Education and Counseling, and the School of Law. It is committed to interdisciplinary learning and community engagement in Portland and around the world. Its undergraduate program is designed to be completed in four years—and if it takes longer, the college will cover an extra semester of tuition.

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#64. Lawrence University

- Location: Appleton, WI
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,420
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 8:1
- Acceptance rate: 62%
- Graduation rate: 80%
- Six-year median earnings: $44,100
- Two-year employment rate: 92%

Lawrence University is a conservatory of music and liberal arts college, both focused exclusively on an undergraduate education. It offers a bachelor of arts, a bachelor of music, and a combined five-year double degree of both a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of music—50% of incoming conservatory students enroll in the double degree. Besides western classical music, the conservatory offers five world music ensembles: Balinese Gamelan, Ghanaian Ewe Drumming and Dancing, Cuban Drumming and Singing, Brazilian Samba Drumming, and Australian Aboriginal Didjeridu.

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#63. Trinity College—Connecticut

- Location: Hartford, CT
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,112
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 34%
- Graduation rate: 84%
- Six-year median earnings: $66,100
- Two-year employment rate: 93%

Trinity College is a nearly 200-year-old liberal arts school that was founded in the Episcopal tradition and emphasizes religious and academic freedom. It offers internships, research opportunities, community-based learning, and study-away programs. Trinity has three graduate programs in American Studies, English, and Public Policy, plus students can earn both a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in American Studies or Neuroscience in five years.

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#62. LeTourneau University

- Location: Longview, TX
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,315
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 11:1
- Acceptance rate: 46%
- Graduation rate: 61%
- Six-year median earnings: $48,200
- Two-year employment rate: 93%

LeTourneau University is a Christian polytechnic university that describes itself as a place where its students learn by doing. It is small enough that every student can have a hands-on professional experience. Among its areas of concentration are arts and science, aviation and aeronautical science, business, education, engineering, nursing, and psychology and counseling.

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#61. DePauw University

- Location: Greencastle, IN
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,139
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 63%
- Graduation rate: 85%
- Six-year median earnings: $54,000
- Two-year employment rate: 93%

DePauw University promises small classes, innovative teaching, and an emphasis on free thinking and dialogue, and 30% of its students do real-world research with faculty. Students are encouraged to hold two or more internships, while its interdisciplinary approach brings together departments for shared learning, study groups, and off-campus service.

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#60. Augustana University

- Location: Sioux Falls, SD
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,717
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 12:1
- Acceptance rate: 65%
- Graduation rate: 70%
- Six-year median earnings: $43,700
- Two-year employment rate: 96%

Augustana University is affiliated with the Lutheran Church and offers more than 100 majors, minors, and pre-professional specializations. In the Civitas Honors Program—”civitas” is Latin for “citizenship”—students examine issues as they relate to citizenship on campus, in the United States, and across the world in small, innovative classes.

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#59. Oberlin College

- Location: Oberlin, OH
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,758
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 36%
- Graduation rate: 86%
- Six-year median earnings: $40,800
- Two-year employment rate: 90%

Oberlin College offers both a College of Arts and Sciences and a Conservatory of Music and focuses almost exclusively on undergraduate education. Students learn to become disciplined musicians through classes and opportunities for performances, with majors ranging from historical performance to electronic music. In the College of Arts and Sciences, a first-year seminar encourages critical thinking, writing skills, and discussions with faculty and other students.

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#58. Drake University

- Location: Des Moines, IA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,834
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 68%
- Graduation rate: 78%
- Six-year median earnings: $58,300
- Two-year employment rate: 95%

A Drake University education features an honors program, first-year seminars, and programs in world languages and cultures, as well as opportunities to study abroad and take part in internships and independent research. The school has a Constitutional Law Center and a National Rehabilitation Institute. U.S. News & World Report ranks Drake as one of the top five master’s institutions in the Midwest.

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#57. United States Merchant Marine Academy

- Location: Kings Point, NY
- Undergraduate enrollment: 996
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 13:1
- Acceptance rate: 22%
- Graduation rate: 84%
- Six-year median earnings: $88,100
- Two-year employment rate: 97%

United States Merchant Marine Academy is a federal service academy that produces licensed Merchant Marine officers and commissioned officers in the armed forces. Midshipmen choose from among programs focused on marine engineering, shipyard management, marine transportation, and maritime security and logistics. Every graduate has completed more than 300 days at sea aboard commercial, passenger, or military vessels ships.

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#56. New Mexico Tech

- Location: Socorro, NM
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,269
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 8:1
- Acceptance rate: 23%
- Graduation rate: 56%
- Six-year median earnings: $50,000
- Two-year employment rate: 90%

New Mexico Tech was ranked the No. 21 public university in the country in a CNBC article, “The top 50 U.S. colleges that pay off the most in 2020.” A science, engineering, and research university, it was founded in 1893 as the New Mexico School of Mines. Every student is required to take six basic science courses. Students in engineering disciplines must complete the Senior Design Clinic, focused on real-world projects that match them with companies, government agencies, or branches of the military.

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#55. Wabash College

- Location: Crawfordsville, IN
- Undergraduate enrollment: 881
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 65%
- Graduation rate: 71%
- Six-year median earnings: $56,300
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

Wabash College is a liberal arts school for men which the Princeton Review has ranked No. 1 for both Best Alumni Network and Best Internship Opportunities. The liberal arts school was founded in 1832 by a group of Dartmouth-educated ministers on what was then the western frontier. Among the courses students complete to graduate are the Freshman Tutorial and Enduring Questions.

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#54. Gustavus Adolphus College

- Location: Saint Peter, MN
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,213
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 11:1
- Acceptance rate: 66%
- Graduation rate: 78%
- Six-year median earnings: $51,700
- Two-year employment rate: 96%

Gustavus Adolphus College is a liberal arts college founded in 1862 that has a Swedish heritage and is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Its Three Crowns Curriculum consists of a sequence of interdisciplinary, discussion-oriented courses that students take together in a group, that emphasizes connections between disciplines as well as between ideas and values, and the past and present.

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#53. Milwaukee School of Engineering

- Location: Milwaukee, WI
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,491
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 15:1
- Acceptance rate: 63%
- Graduation rate: 74%
- Six-year median earnings: $71,300
- Two-year employment rate: 97%

Milwaukee School of Engineering has more labs than classrooms. Its students learn in industry-standard labs taught by professors with industry experience. There is an average of 21 students per class and only 11 per lab. The school works closely with such Wisconsin companies as Harley-Davidson, Snap-on, and Kohler on industry research and innovations.

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#52. Hendrix College

- Location: Conway, AR
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,194
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 72%
- Graduation rate: 71%
- Six-year median earnings: $39,700
- Two-year employment rate: 91%

Hendrix College is a liberal arts school that begins its first-year curriculum with The Engaged Citizen (TEC) and Explorations: Liberal Arts for Life. The Odyssey Program provides students with hands-on learning experiences in such categories as global awareness, service to the world, artistic creativity, undergraduate research, and professional and leadership development. For instance, one student studied the Somali refugee community in Minneapolis, while another used music to spark memories in people with dementia.

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#51. Sewanee—The University of the South

- Location: Sewanee, TN
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,678
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 65%
- Graduation rate: 84%
- Six-year median earnings: $45,500
- Two-year employment rate: 93%

Sewanee—The University of the South consists of the College of Arts & Science; the School of Letters; summers-only MA and MFA programs in English and creative writing; and the School of Theology. It has produced 26 Rhodes Scholars, 49 Watson Fellows, 34 National Collegiate Athletic Association Postgraduate Scholars, and dozens of Fulbright Scholars.

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#50. Rhodes College

- Location: Memphis, TN
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,992
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 45%
- Graduation rate: 85%
- Six-year median earnings: $53,600
- Two-year employment rate: 92%

Rhodes College is a liberal arts and sciences college, and predominantly an undergraduate school. It does offer a master of science in accounting, a master of arts in urban education, and dual-degree programs in which students may earn a master’s degree from another institution, such as an engineering degree from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

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#49. Denison University

- Location: Granville, OH
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,365
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 34%
- Graduation rate: 85%
- Six-year median earnings: $48,800
- Two-year employment rate: 95%

Denison University aims to graduate well-rounded students who have been exposed to the broad curriculum of liberal arts and have studied across disciplines. Denison Seminars are taught by teams off campus, and in the past students have traveled to Cuba, Berlin, the Netherlands, and Canada. Students also can pursue individually-designed majors in commerce, media, and the arts or in comparative literature.

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#48. Virginia Military Institute

- Location: Lexington, VA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,685
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 51%
- Graduation rate: 78%
- Six-year median earnings: $65,700
- Two-year employment rate: 97%

Virginia Military Institute, founded in 1838, is the country’s oldest state-supported military college. Its graduates have won a Nobel Prize, 11 Rhodes Scholarships, seven Medals of Honor, and a Pulitzer Prize. It offers majors in the sciences, engineering, and the humanities and features an honors program that provides access to mini-grants for special projects and a writing program.

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#47. Rhode Island School of Design

- Location: Providence, RI
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,994
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 24%
- Graduation rate: 89%
- Six-year median earnings: $51,100
- Two-year employment rate: 89%

Rhode Island School of Design, or RISD, was founded in 1877, one of the first art and design schools in the United States. It was created by a group of women to support the state’s textile and jewelry industries. Students take liberal arts and studio-based classes, and all first-year students follow the same studio curricula, Experimental and Foundation Studies.

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#46. Furman University

- Location: Greenville, SC
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,665
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 61%
- Graduation rate: 80%
- Six-year median earnings: $51,200
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

Furman University is a liberal arts and sciences school that was founded in 1826 with classes in fine arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences, and mathematics. It also offers research opportunities and a visual and performing arts program. Its 50-acre campus has a replica of Henry David Thoreau’s cabin plus the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability and a Florentine bell tower.

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#45. Union College - New York

- Location: Schenectady, NY
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,195
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 39%
- Graduation rate: 88%
- Six-year median earnings: $65,400
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

In 1795, Union College was the first college chartered in New York and the first liberal arts college in the country to offer engineering. In 2004, the college introduced Minerva Houses to bring the campus community together. All students and faculty belong to one of seven houses, and the school offers first-year preceptorials focusing on critical reading, thinking, and writing skills.

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#44. Wheaton College - Illinois

- Location: Wheaton, IL
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,326
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 83%
- Graduation rate: 87%
- Six-year median earnings: $48,400
- Two-year employment rate: 91%

Wheaton College is a Christian liberal arts and graduate school that was established in 1860. Among the school’s academic centers are The Center for Applied Christian Ethics, the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center, the Humanitarian Disaster Institute, and the Wheaton Center for Early Christian Studies. In 2016, Wheaton began offering a new curriculum, Christ at the Core, which provides a Christian view of the liberal arts.

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#43. Yeshiva University

- Location: New York, NY
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,633
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 7:1
- Acceptance rate: 60%
- Graduation rate: 83%
- Six-year median earnings: $58,500
- Two-year employment rate: 82%

Based in Jewish thought and tradition, Yeshiva University is one of the top Jewish institutions for higher education. It offers undergraduate and graduate programs at Yeshiva College, Stern College for Women, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, among others. A featured program is the Graduate Program in Advanced Talmudic Studies.

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#42. Gettysburg College

- Location: Gettysburg, PA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,433
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 45%
- Graduation rate: 82%
- Six-year median earnings: $56,100
- Two-year employment rate: 95%

Gettysburg College offers a liberal arts and sciences degree. In first-year seminars, a faculty member and a small group of students come together to explore a topic and develop their writing, speaking, critical thinking, and quantitative reasoning. All of the students live in the same residence hall, and the seminars may include field trips and guest speakers. More than half of the students engage in research while at the college.

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#41. Franklin & Marshall College

- Location: Lancaster, PA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,290
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 35%
- Graduation rate: 83%
- Six-year median earnings: $58,900
- Two-year employment rate: 95%

Founded in 1787, Franklin & Marshall College is a liberal arts college. Academic centers provide resources for the arts, environmental conservation, writing and problem-solving, and survey research. It has a campus in Bath, England, for its Advanced Study in England program, as well as a partnership with the 85-acre Millport Conservancy in Pennsylvania for research, teaching, and field study.

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#40. Whitman College

- Location: Walla Walla, WA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,436
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 50%
- Graduation rate: 87%
- Six-year median earnings: $51,300
- Two-year employment rate: 86%

Whitman College draws on traditional liberal arts values such as critical thought, but also on the value of community. Founded in 1859 as Whitman Seminary, it became a nonsectarian college in 1883. Each year, the college president chooses a book for the summer reading program, a tradition for all incoming students. The school also sponsors a one-act play contest, and student achievements are celebrated at the Whitman Undergraduate Conference, an annual daylong event.

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#39. Occidental College

- Location: Los Angeles, CA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,907
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 37%
- Graduation rate: 85%
- Six-year median earnings: $50,600
- Two-year employment rate: 89%

Occidental College works to integrate the liberal arts and sciences with the cultural resources of Los Angeles. It has unique offerings such as the Kahane United Nations Program and Campaign Semester, when students immerse themselves in political campaigns (this year remotely). There is an emphasis on research and senior comprehensives—theses, exhibits, and other presentations.

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#38. Skidmore College

- Location: Saratoga Springs, NY
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,585
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 8:1
- Acceptance rate: 27%
- Graduation rate: 86%
- Six-year median earnings: $49,700
- Two-year employment rate: 95%

Skidmore College is a liberal arts college with an emphasis on creativity, civic responsibility, and interdisciplinary thinking. It offers bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees, and each year, 36 students from the incoming first-year class have the chance to spend their first semester of college in London. The school’s most popular majors include business, psychology, political science, English, economics, theater, and environmental sciences/studies.

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#37. Colorado College

- Location: Colorado Springs, CO
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,098
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 15%
- Graduation rate: 89%
- Six-year median earnings: $45,400
- Two-year employment rate: 91%

Colorado College functions on the Block Plan, with a block lasting for three-and-a-half weeks, during which students take one class at a time, usually from 9 a.m. to noon each day. The blocks are followed by breaks of four days when students are free to relax, to climb one of Colorado’s peaks, or explore the sand dunes of the Southwest.

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#36. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

- Location: Terre Haute, IN
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,063
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 11:1
- Acceptance rate: 68%
- Graduation rate: 81%
- Six-year median earnings: $80,900
- Two-year employment rate: 97%

Founded in 1874, Rose‑Hulman Institute of Technology is a top-ranked undergraduate college. It offers science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in state-of-the-art labs, project spaces, and classrooms. A clean room for nanotechnology is open to all students, and the Branam Innovation Center is an open workspace for multidisciplinary collaboration.

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#35. Trinity University - Texas

- Location: San Antonio, TX
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,433
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 34%
- Graduation rate: 76%
- Six-year median earnings: $54,900
- Two-year employment rate: 93%

Trinity University was founded in 1869 by Cumberland Presbyterians in Tehuacana, Texas, and has moved four times through three cities. Today it offers more than 100 majors and minors and several interdisciplinary programs. Its Pathways program features six curricular requirements for a foundation in the liberal arts and sciences.

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#34. Pitzer College

- Location: Claremont, CA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,050
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 13%
- Graduation rate: 84%
- Six-year median earnings: $48,700
- Two-year employment rate: 86%

Pitzer College is a liberal arts and sciences college that emphasizes environmental and interdisciplinary studies, the arts, humanities, and the sciences. It is part of The Claremont Colleges, five undergraduate colleges and two graduate schools that share programs and faculty. Students can create their own majors, working with faculty.

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#33. College of the Holy Cross

- Location: Worcester, MA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,913
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 38%
- Graduation rate: 92%
- Six-year median earnings: $71,000
- Two-year employment rate: 95%

Founded by the Catholic Jesuit order in 1843, the College of the Holy Cross is a liberal arts school that continues to engage in questions of faith and meaning. Through activities such as “alternative spring break,” its students honor the Jesuit belief of living in solidarity with the poor. The Holy Cross approach to learning is to view problems from multiple perspectives, take risks in seeking solutions, and make connections between separate ideas and fields of study.

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#32. Mount Holyoke College

- Location: South Hadley, MA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,177
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 51%
- Graduation rate: 83%
- Six-year median earnings: $48,600
- Two-year employment rate: 87%

One of the Seven Sisters—East Coast liberal arts colleges for women—Mount Holyoke College remains a women’s college. It was founded by chemist and educator Mary Lyon in 1837. Among its notable graduates are poet Emily Dickinson, playwright Wendy Wasserstein, and Florence Schorske Wald, a nurse and founder of the American hospice movement. It is a member of a consortium of five colleges that also includes Amherst College, Hampshire College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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#31. Bryn Mawr College

- Location: Bryn Mawr, PA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,350
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 34%
- Graduation rate: 87%
- Six-year median earnings: $54,600
- Two-year employment rate: 88%

Bryn Mawr College is another of the Seven Sisters that is still a women’s college, though it has longstanding partnerships with Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges and the University of Pennsylvania. It was established in 1885 to provide a more-rigorous education for women, offered bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the beginning, and was the first women’s school to offer a Ph.D.

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#30. Babson College

- Location: Babson Park, MA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,361
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 14:1
- Acceptance rate: 24%
- Graduation rate: 91%
- Six-year median earnings: $96,100
- Two-year employment rate: 91%

A business school with a focus on entrepreneurship, Babson College offers undergraduate and graduate programs. It has master’s degree programs focused on entrepreneurship, finance, business analytics, and management, as well as an MBA. It offers programs for executives that can be custom-designed for corporations, nonprofits, government agencies, or startups.

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#29. Scripps College

- Location: Claremont, CA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,046
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 24%
- Graduation rate: 88%
- Six-year median earnings: $54,100
- Two-year employment rate: 90%

Scripps College, the women’s college of The Claremont Colleges, is a liberal arts school founded in 1926 by the newspaper publisher and philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps. Its top majors are English, computer science, media studies, psychology, politics, and biology/life sciences. All of its students complete a senior thesis or project to graduate.

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#28. Reed College

- Location: Portland, OR
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,453
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 35%
- Graduation rate: 81%
- Six-year median earnings: $42,200
- Two-year employment rate: 88%

Reed College is a liberal arts and sciences college that was founded in 1908. Undergraduate students can earn a bachelor of arts in more than 40 majors, and in addition to taking a yearlong humanities course, there are broad distribution requirements and a senior thesis. Reed also offers a master of arts degree in liberal studies.

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#27. The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

- Location: New York, NY
- Undergraduate enrollment: 856
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 6:1
- Acceptance rate: 16%
- Graduation rate: 88%
- Six-year median earnings: $64,900
- Two-year employment rate: 93%

The Cooper Union was founded in 1859 by inventor and philanthropist Peter Cooper, who made the school free for working classes and admitted women as well as men. The school offers an education in art, architecture, engineering, humanities, and social sciences. There are centers for sustainable engineering, biomedical engineering, signal processing, and computer engineering.

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#26. Kenyon College

- Location: Gambier, OH
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,721
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 36%
- Graduation rate: 87%
- Six-year median earnings: $48,700
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

Kenyon College was founded in 1824 to educate clergymen for the American frontier, but broadened its student roster with its classical offerings. U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes signed its Matriculation Book, as did novelist E.L. Doctorow and film star Paul Newman, and every October, after the Founders' Day Convocation, new first-year students at this liberal arts college do the same. Besides its majors, Kenyon has programs in Rome and at University of Exeter in England.

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#25. Lafayette College

- Location: Easton, PA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,603
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 29%
- Graduation rate: 87%
- Six-year median earnings: $68,600
- Two-year employment rate: 93%

Founded in 1826, Lafayette College offers bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees. Its four academic divisions are the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering, but students can also work with professors to create their own majors. Some examples of those majors include Cultures of Global Ecology, Classical Civilization, and Global Health Studies.

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#24. Smith College

- Location: Northampton, MA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,490
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 31%
- Graduation rate: 89%
- Six-year median earnings: $46,200
- Two-year employment rate: 88%

Smith College is one of the Seven Sisters women’s colleges and part of the consortium of colleges that also includes Mount Holyoke College, Amherst College, Hampshire College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Its students are encouraged to take courses in each of these fields: literature, historical studies, social and natural science, the arts, mathematics and analytic philosophy, and a foreign language. Its Presidential Colloquium series is drawing such speakers as New York Times columnists Gail Collins and Bret L. Stephens.

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#23. Bates College

- Location: Lewiston, ME
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,832
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 18%
- Graduation rate: 89%
- Six-year median earnings: $59,200
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

Bates College was founded in 1855, rooted in freedom and civil rights, and was the first coeducational college in New England. Almost all 36 of its majors require a one- or two-semester senior thesis or capstone project. During the school’s Short Term (late April through May), students focus on only one class, often off campus. For example, students and faculty traveled to the Northern Rockies of Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana, mapping territory and investigating Yellowstone and other sites.

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#22. Grinnell College

- Location: Grinnell, IA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,679
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 24%
- Graduation rate: 84%
- Six-year median earnings: $49,100
- Two-year employment rate: 92%

Grinnell College is a liberal arts and sciences school that was founded in 1846. Only one class is required of all students, the First-Year Tutorial, and 40% of students complete a Mentored Advanced Project. The Grinnell College Innovator for Social Justice Prize (aka the Grinnell Prize) honors leaders who show “creativity, commitment, and extraordinary accomplishment” in bringing about social change.

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#21. Vassar College

- Location: Poughkeepsie, NY
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,442
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 8:1
- Acceptance rate: 25%
- Graduation rate: 92%
- Six-year median earnings: $54,600
- Two-year employment rate: 93%

Vassar was one of the Seven Sisters colleges but has been coeducational since 1969. Founded in 1861, the liberal arts school uses original source materials in several departments, a tradition at Vassar since the 1880s. Its rare book collection includes key books in women’s history, as well as first editions of English and American literary and historical works.

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#20. Macalester College

- Location: Saint Paul, MN
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,140
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 41%
- Graduation rate: 90%
- Six-year median earnings: $47,600
- Two-year employment rate: 91%

Macalester College is a liberal arts school emphasizing internationalism, multiculturalism, and service to society, in order to prepare students for a globally-connected world. Students get real-world experiences through opportunities in the Twin Cities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Its International Development concentration looks at how wealth and resources are distributed worldwide, while International Studies looks at human rights, global health, migration, and other topics.

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#19. Hamilton College

- Location: Clinton, NY
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,991
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 21%
- Graduation rate: 93%
- Six-year median earnings: $60,200
- Two-year employment rate: 91%

Hamilton College, named after treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton, is one of the three-dozen oldest colleges in the country—it was founded in 1793 as the Hamilton-Oneida Academy and chartered as a college in 1812. One unique look into the history of the school: Almost every year since 1865, a member of the 50th reunion class has reminisced about life on College Hill. Hamilton’s open curriculum allows students to create their own course of study.

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#18. Wesleyan University

- Location: Middletown, CT
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,928
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 8:1
- Acceptance rate: 17%
- Graduation rate: 89%
- Six-year median earnings: $54,700
- Two-year employment rate: 90%

Wesleyan University, which was founded in 1831, bills itself as a liberal arts and sciences school where critical thinking is matched with practical idealism. It is committed to interdisciplinary learning and an open curriculum, offers unique research opportunities, and has worked to develop internships and link sustainability to its academic programs.

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#17. Davidson College

- Location: Davidson, NC
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,843
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 19%
- Graduation rate: 90%
- Six-year median earnings: $58,900
- Two-year employment rate: 88%

Davidson College, a liberal arts college, was founded in 1837 by Presbyterians. Its Honor Code is central to the school’s environment and is marked by the Honor Code signing ceremony for first-year students. The college created a Commission on Race and Slavery to examine how its history is tied to slavery’s institution and legacy.

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#16. Colgate University

- Location: Hamilton, NY
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,936
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 25%
- Graduation rate: 89%
- Six-year median earnings: $63,600
- Two-year employment rate: 93%

Colgate University's foundational core curriculum connects to all of its majors and provides a shared experience for its students. Some of the core classes include Legacies of the Ancient World, Challenges of Modernity, and Communities and Identities. 13 is considered a lucky number at Colgate because in 1817, the 13 founders of what was then the Baptist Education Society backed it with $13 and 13 prayers.

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#15. Wellesley College

- Location: Wellesley, MA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,391
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 8:1
- Acceptance rate: 20%
- Graduation rate: 92%
- Six-year median earnings: $60,800
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

Wellesley College’s motto is “Non Ministrari sed Ministrare,” or “Not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” As one of the Seven Sisters, the liberal arts women’s college requires students to gain broad knowledge through the core curriculum, at which point they can then follow their own interests and choose interdisciplinary majors. About half of the students study abroad, and can also enroll in cross-registration programs with Babson College, Brandeis University, MIT, and Olin College of Engineering. They can also apply to earn a double degree with MIT or a combined five-year bachelor’s and master’s degree in international economics and finance with Brandeis.

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#14. Swarthmore College

- Location: Swarthmore, PA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,554
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 8:1
- Acceptance rate: 9%
- Graduation rate: 94%
- Six-year median earnings: $56,700
- Two-year employment rate: 85%

At Swarthmore College, the first semester is pass-fail, the liberal arts curriculum is paired with an accredited engineering program, and the honors program features examinations given by outside experts. The college was founded by the Society of Friends (or Quakers). The Tri-Co Consortium connects the school with Bryn Mawr and Haverford colleges.

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#13. Barnard College

- Location: New York, NY
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,519
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 14%
- Graduation rate: 91%
- Six-year median earnings: $58,200
- Two-year employment rate: 87%

Because of its connection with Columbia University, Barnard College combines the advantages of a small, selective women's college with those of an “elite research university.” Columbia classes are open to all Barnard students, and Barnard students can pick a major at Columbia. The undergraduate college, one of the Seven Sisters, has access to more than 30 libraries and collections, as well as top-notch scientific and research facilities.

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#12. Claremont McKenna College

- Location: Claremont, CA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,321
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 8:1
- Acceptance rate: 9%
- Graduation rate: 91%
- Six-year median earnings: $58,200
- Two-year employment rate: 87%

Claremont McKenna College, a liberal arts school, is one of the Claremont Colleges, a “seven-college consortium” modeled on Oxford University. Students benefit from small classes and a nine-to-one student-faculty ratio but also have access to a larger research university. More than 90% of the students complete internships, and nearly half study off campus. The Center for Global Education helps students receive a global education.

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#11. Middlebury College

- Location: Middlebury, VT
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,551
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 8:1
- Acceptance rate: 17%
- Graduation rate: 91%
- Six-year median earnings: $58,200
- Two-year employment rate: 87%

Middlebury College is a classic liberal arts college with graduate and specialized undergraduate programs that operate around the world. It emphasizes “reflection, discussion, and intensive interactions between students and faculty members” not only for the humanities, social sciences, arts, and languages but also for scientific and mathematics majors. It is also known for the Middlebury Language Schools, the Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English, and its Writers’ Conference.

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#10. Amherst College

- Location: Amherst, MA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,855
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 7:1
- Acceptance rate: 13%
- Graduation rate: 93%
- Six-year median earnings: $65,000
- Two-year employment rate: 90%

Amherst College was founded in 1821 and emphasizes liberal arts and critical thinking. It's defined by its small classes, open curriculum, and emphasis on undergraduate education. It is part of the Five College Consortium including Mount Holyoke College, Hampshire College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The consortium has four centers for specialized study of the Americas, East Asia, world languages, and women’s studies.

 

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#9. Washington & Lee University

- Location: Lexington, VA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,825
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 8:1
- Acceptance rate: 21%
- Graduation rate: 95%
- Six-year median earnings: $76,100
- Two-year employment rate: 94%

Washington & Lee University combines liberal arts with undergraduate programs in business and journalism, as well as a graduate law school. It is the ninth-oldest institution of higher education in the country, and its motto is “not unmindful of the future.” A gift of 100 shares of James River Canal Company stock from George Washington helped the school when it was struggling in the 18th century, while Robert E. Lee served as its president in the mid-1800s.

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#8. Colby College

- Location: Waterville, ME
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,000
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 10:1
- Acceptance rate: 13%
- Graduation rate: 90%
- Six-year median earnings: $58,100
- Two-year employment rate: 92%

Colby College was founded in 1813 and is the 12th-oldest private liberal arts college in the country. Its “Jan Plan” allows for all manner of exploration, from ecosystems in Belize to studying Italian literature in Italy. Other innovations the school is known for include its graduate-level research opportunities and its tradition of close collaboration with professors.

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#7. Haverford College

- Location: Haverford, PA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,308
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 8:1
- Acceptance rate: 19%
- Graduation rate: 92%
- Six-year median earnings: $60,700
- Two-year employment rate: 92%

Haverford College expects all of its students to be involved in research and to learn from their professors’ scholarship. Its academic centers support research and the arts on campus and helps students travel across the world. Its Honor Code is written and governed entirely by its students, and most classes are seminars with an emphasis on discussion and debate.

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#6. Williams College

- Location: Williamstown, MA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,042
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 6:1
- Acceptance rate: 13%
- Graduation rate: 95%
- Six-year median earnings: $59,000
- Two-year employment rate: 90%

Students at Williams College can major in core areas of study and can choose concentrations, or courses grouped around certain topics. There are no required courses, but all students take at least three in arts and humanities, three in social sciences, three in science and mathematics, and at least two that are writing-intensive. The Williams tutorials are adapted from the Oxford University system.

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#5. Carleton College

- Location: Northfield, MN
- Undergraduate enrollment: 2,077
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 20%
- Graduation rate: 93%
- Six-year median earnings: $54,200
- Two-year employment rate: 91%

Carleton College was founded in 1866 by the General Conference of the Congregational Churches of Minnesota, led by Northfield businessman Charles M. Goodsell: Today it has no formal religious affiliation. Every course at Carleton is taught by a professor, not a teaching assistant. Its academic centers include ones for global and regional studies, community and civic engagement, and "writing across the curriculum."

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#4. Harvey Mudd College

- Location: Claremont, CA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 887
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 8:1
- Acceptance rate: 14%
- Graduation rate: 92%
- Six-year median earnings: $88,800
- Two-year employment rate: 89%

The humanist goal of Harvey Mudd College—another member of the Claremont Colleges—is “to educate engineers, scientists, and mathematicians well versed in all of these areas and in the humanities and the social sciences so that they may assume leadership in their fields with a clear understanding of the impact of their work on society.” The school was chartered in 1955 and opened just as the Space Race was getting underway, with an emphasis on technical training. It offers bachelor of science degrees in biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, mathematics, physics, and independent study.

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#3. Bowdoin College

- Location: Brunswick, ME
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,825
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 9:1
- Acceptance rate: 10%
- Graduation rate: 95%
- Six-year median earnings: $65,500
- Two-year employment rate: 93%

Bowdoin College was founded in 1794, making it older than the state of Maine itself. It is a liberal arts school that requires each student to complete one first-year seminar and one course in one of the following areas: mathematical, computational, or statistical reasoning; the natural sciences; social difference; international perspectives; or visual and performing arts. One other fact: 761 Snickers bars were eaten on 2018 orientation trips, or about 1.5 bars for each first-year student.

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#2. Pomona College

- Location: Claremont, CA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 1,559
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 7:1
- Acceptance rate: 8%
- Graduation rate: 94%
- Six-year median earnings: $58,100
- Two-year employment rate: 90%

All Pomona College students take critical-inquiry seminars as they start their studies. Offerings include Molecules and the Mind, on the use of psychoactive medication, and I Disagree, about the importance of disagreement. One that typically focuses on vaccines, Science and the Public’s Health, will be reshaped to address the coronavirus pandemic. A liberal arts school, and one of the Claremont Colleges, Pomona offers courses in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.

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#1. California Institute of Technology

- Location: Pasadena, CA
- Undergraduate enrollment: 948
- Student-to-faculty ratio: 3:1
- Acceptance rate: 7%
- Graduation rate: 92%
- Six-year median earnings: $85,900
- Two-year employment rate: 89%

California Institute of Technology is a science and engineering institute that delves into fundamental scientific questions, and its students work closely with faculty in small classes toward undergraduate and graduate degrees. The institute manages NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which explores the planets of our solar system, and owns and operates research facilities such as the Seismological Laboratory and the Palomar Observatory. It also cofounded and comanages the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO).

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