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. #1

    Grinnell College

    Grinnell , IA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    19%

    Graduation

    87%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1450/32

    What is Grinnell College known for?

    Grinnell College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Chemistry
    • Biology
    • Economics
    • Physics
    • Political Science
    • Anthropology
    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • History
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    University of Northern Iowa

    Cedar Falls , IA

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1110/23

    What is University of Northern Iowa known for?

    University of Northern Iowa’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • History
    • Economics
    • Anthropology
    • Social Work
    • Computer Science
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    Cornell College

    Mount Vernon , IA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $48K

    Acceptance

    82%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1222/26

    What is Cornell College known for?

    Cornell College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Anthropology
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science
    • Literature
    • Engineering
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    Luther College

    Decorah , IA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $47K

    Acceptance

    64%

    Graduation

    77%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1147/25

    What is Luther College known for?

    Luther College ’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Philosophy
    • Religious Studies
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • History
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • Anthropology
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    Loras College

    Dubuque , IA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    58%

    Graduation

    70%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1055/22

    What is Loras College known for?

    Loras College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Social Work
    • Religious Studies
    • Communications
    • Psychology
    • Chemistry
    • Education
    • Philosophy
    • Medical
    • History
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #6

    Upper Iowa University

    Fayette , IA

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    65%

    Graduation

    27%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1070/21

    What is Upper Iowa University known for?

    Upper Iowa University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Nursing
    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Sociology
    • Social Work

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #7

    Coe College

    Cedar Rapids , IA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $49K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    1K

    What is Coe College known for?

    Coe College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Sociology
    • Communications
    • Physics
    • History
    • Literature
    • Economics
    • Chemistry
    • Nursing
    • Psychology
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #8

    Graceland University

    Lamoni , IA

    Tuition + fees

    $32K

    Acceptance

    68%

    Graduation

    41%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1020/21

    What is Graceland University known for?

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

    • Nursing
    • Sociology
    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Economics
    • Communications
    • Education
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #9

    Grand View University

    Des Moines , IA

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    97%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1020/19

    What is Grand View University known for?

    Grand View University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Nursing
    • Criminal Justice
    • Sociology
    • Psychology
    • Social Work
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. #10

    Iowa Wesleyan University

    Mount Pleasant , IA

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    30%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    990/21

    What is Iowa Wesleyan University known for?

    Iowa Wesleyan University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Nursing
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Education
    • Sociology
    • Psychology
    • Religious Studies

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. #11

    Wartburg College

    Waverly , IA

    Tuition + fees

    $48K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/23

    What is Wartburg College known for?

    Wartburg College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • Social Work
    • Religious Studies
    • History
    • Literature
    • Sociology
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. #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:

    • Nursing
    • Social Work
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Sociology
    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Biology
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. #13

    University of Dubuque

    Dubuque , IA

    Tuition + fees

    $36K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    960/19

    What is University of Dubuque known for?

    University of Dubuque’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Philosophy
    • Sociology
    • Medical
    • Criminal Justice
    • Mathematics
    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Business
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. #14

    St. Ambrose University

    Davenport , IA

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    74%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1170/22

    What is St. Ambrose University known for?

    St. Ambrose University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Social Work
    • Engineering
    • Sociology
    • Nursing
    • Criminal Justice
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Economics
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. #15

    Simpson College

    Indianola , IA

    Tuition + fees

    $44K

    Acceptance

    87%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1140/22

    What is Simpson College known for?

    Simpson College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Communications
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Social Work
    • Literature
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. #16

    Buena Vista University

    Storm Lake , IA

    Tuition + fees

    $38K

    Acceptance

    56%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1020/22

    What is Buena Vista University known for?

    Buena Vista University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Physics
    • Chemistry
    • Criminal Justice
    • Social Work
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Mathematics
    • Literature
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

  17. #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:

    • Criminal Justice
    • Education
    • Business
    • History
    • Sociology
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Communications
    • Biology
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  18. #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:

    • Social Work
    • Religious Studies
    • Nursing
    • Philosophy
    • Mathematics
    • Literature
    • History
    • Education
    • Sociology
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  19. 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:

    • Philosophy
    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • Communications
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  20. #20

    William Penn University

    Oskaloosa , IA

    Tuition + fees

    $27K

    Acceptance

    55%

    Graduation

    37%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    970/18

    What is William Penn University known for?

    William Penn University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Psychology
    • Engineering
    • History
    • Communications
    • Sociology
    • Mathematics
    • Social Work
    • Business
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  21. #21

    Dordt University

    Sioux Center , IA

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1185/24

    What is Dordt University known for?

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

    • Chemistry
    • Religious Studies
    • Sociology
    • Social Work
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • Philosophy
    • Engineering
    • Earth Sciences
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  22. #22

    Northwestern College

    Orange City , IA

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    74%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1140/24

    What is Northwestern College known for?

    Northwestern College ’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Psychology
    • Sociology
    • Social Work
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  23. #23

    Morningside University

    Sioux City , IA

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Morningside University known for?

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

    • Communications
    • Literature
    • Engineering
    • Mathematics
    • Religious Studies
    • Biology
    • Sociology
    • Psychology
    • Chemistry
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

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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