Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Iowa 2022

Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Iowa 2022

Liberal arts colleges are a great option for students seeking a well-rounded education in an intimate campus setting. The best liberal arts colleges in Iowa offer a diverse selection of degree programs with opportunities for a highly individualized educational experience.

Colleges and Universities in Iowa

Iowa’s largest public university, Iowa State University, serves over 30,000 students and offers extra flexibility for those pursuing a graduate-level degree or certificate through online and distance learning opportunities in more than 50 academic fields. Additionally, the home of the Hawkeyes, the University of Iowa, is also home to some of the nation’s top programs in literature, philosophy, and law. This school has also been at the forefront of higher education, starting the nation’s first co-educational medical school, as well as being the first public school to grant a law degree to a woman, Mary B. Hickey Wilkinson, in 1873.

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For students hoping to obtain their degrees at a smaller school, Iowa offers over 40 options to choose from, with tuition ranging from $4,000 at Indian Hills Community College up to $52,000 for an academic year at Grinnell College. Furthermore, nearly half of the schools in Iowa are religiously affiliated.

Iowa is often recognized for its agriculture as it produces the most pork and corn in the nation. Equally noteworthy is Iowa’s wealth of one-of-a-kind roadside attractions. From the largest wooden nickel, to the crookedest street, to the Grotto of Redemption, The Hawkeye State is full of wonders. Students in search of curiosities and oddities while earning a degree can attend one of Iowa’s public or private colleges.

Whether you’re looking to earn your associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree, Iowa offers many higher education institutes to choose from. Discover more about Iowa’s top programs and career paths.


What are Iowa’s Colleges & Universities?

Iowa’s Best Overall

Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

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A liberal arts college is a school that puts a premium on undergraduate studies and offers a broad range of subjects for students to study. A college of liberal arts typically provides smaller class sizes, more direct engagement with professors, and, most importantly, the opportunity to sample a wide range of subject areas on the way to a bachelor’s degree. We’ve identified 23 liberal arts colleges in Iowa. To be ranked among the best liberal arts colleges in Iowa, schools must fully accredited institutions.

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Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Iowa 2022

  1. #11

    Wartburg College

    Waverly , IA

    Tuition + fees

    $48K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/23

  2. #12

    Briar Cliff University

    Sioux City , IA

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    <1K

    What is Briar Cliff University known for?

    Briar Cliff University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #13

    University of Dubuque

    Dubuque , IA

    Tuition + fees

    $36K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    960/19

  4. #14

    St. Ambrose University

    Davenport , IA

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    74%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1170/22

  5. #15

    Simpson College

    Indianola , IA

    Tuition + fees

    $44K

    Acceptance

    87%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1140/22

  6. #16

    Buena Vista University

    Storm Lake , IA

    Tuition + fees

    $38K

    Acceptance

    56%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1020/22

  7. #17

    Waldorf University

    Forest City , IA

    Tuition + fees

    $24K

    Acceptance

    61%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1015/19

    What is Waldorf University known for?

    Waldorf University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #18

    Mount Mercy University

    Cedar Rapids , IA

    Tuition + fees

    $37K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    57%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Mount Mercy University known for?

    Mount Mercy University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Acceptance

    100%

    Graduation

    43%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Maharishi International University known for?

    Maharishi International University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. #20

    William Penn University

    Oskaloosa , IA

    Tuition + fees

    $27K

    Acceptance

    55%

    Graduation

    37%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    970/18

  11. #21

    Dordt University

    Sioux Center , IA

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1185/24

  12. #22

    Northwestern College

    Orange City , IA

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    74%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1140/24

  13. #23

    Morningside University

    Sioux City , IA

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    2K

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Iowa’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Your Area of Interest

2021 Ranking Archive

Many of our 2022 undergraduate focused rankings look considerably different than 2021. That’s because we took a fundamentally different apporach. For 2021 we utiulized our Concentrated Influence algorithm, designed to take away the size advantage larger schools have when we rank their faculty and alumni’s academic influence. Concentrated influence highlights smaller schools that are proportionally as successful as larger universities at cultivating influential alumni and faculty.

  1. Grinnell College
  2. Cornell College
  3. Graceland University
  4. Wartburg College
  5. Coe College
  6. Maharishi International University
  7. Loras College
  8. Morningside University
  9. Luther College
  10. University of Northern Iowa
  11. Dordt University
  12. Northwestern College
  13. Mount Mercy University
  14. University of Dubuque
  15. Simpson College
  16. Buena Vista University
  17. Grand View University
  18. St. Ambrose University
  19. Upper Iowa University
  20. Briar Cliff University