Massachusetts’ Best Liberal Arts Colleges and Universities of 2021

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 Massachusetts offer a diverse selection of degree programs with opportunities for a highly individualized educational experience.

Massachusetts’ Best Liberal Arts Colleges and Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts

Some of the most talked about universities in Massachusetts are its private schools, including Boston University, Harvard University, Northeastern University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which also happen to be the largest. Tuition for these prestigious schools runs between $50,000 and $54,000. Students here have access to some of the top programs in the country in fields such as biology, literature, law, education, engineering, and religious studies. The alumni from New England schools are equally as impressive, including Martin Luther King Jr., Bill Gates, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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The public higher education institutes also boast top-notch programs, allowing students to pursue associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in fields like mathematics, social work, medicine, and economics. The University of Massachusetts Amherst, the state’s largest public university, offers tuition around $16,000 and serves over 28,000 students. Additionally, students who are interested in attending a religiously affiliated school have 17 options to choose from, most of which feature high graduation rates for their students. For future dental, medical, or mental health professionals, Massachusetts also offers loan forgiveness programs for those working in underserved communities.

As the port of destination for the Mayflower, home to the Plymouth colony, and site of the Salem Witch Trials, Massachusetts looms large in United States history, but this most populous New England state isn’t just for history buffs. The Bay State is also known for its delicious cuisine, beautiful coastlines, and devout sports fans. Not to mention, it has over 100 colleges for students to choose from.

Find a program that’s right for you and explore the best schools Massachusetts has to offer.

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What are Massachusetts’ Colleges & Universities?

Massachusetts’ Best Overall

Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

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How do we determine Massachusetts' best colleges and universities?

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why, at the undergraduate level, we rank the best colleges and universities based on what we “Concentrated Influence”. Concentrated Influence takes the combined influence score of a college or university’s top academic influencers (including faculty and alums) and divides it by the school’s total number of undergraduates.

Using concentrated influence gives small and mid-sized schools an opportunity to shine by taking away the size advantage of larger universities. A small school with proportionately more influential faculty than a large school, whose influence in absolute terms may be bigger, will nonetheless score higher in a concentrated influence ranking. Our approach highlights undergraduate schools that truly rank for excellence, regardless of size.

If you are serious about finding the best colleges and universities for a bachelor’s degree, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching and whether their graduates are themselves advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence.

Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Concentrated Influence provides a ranking that is free from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

Find out more about our ranking methodology here.

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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 a total of 43 liberal arts colleges and universities in Massachusetts, 32 of which satisfy our criteria. The list below of the 20 best liberal arts schools in the state satisfies the following four conditions:

  1. It must be a non-profit institution.
  2. It must be fully accredited.
  3. It must offer a broad range of bachelor’s degrees.
  4. It must have a graduation rate of greater than 50%. The top 20 have a graduation rate of greater than 60%.

20 Best Liberal Arts Colleges & Universities in Massachusetts

  1. #1

    Amherst College

    #112 institution's historical influence
    #26 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    12%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1415/32

    Amherst, MA

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    What is Amherst College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Law
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    Hampshire College

    #623 institution's historical influence
    #955 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $52K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    1K

    Amherst, MA

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    What is Hampshire College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Physics
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    Wellesley College

    #187 institution's historical influence
    #33 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    20%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/32

    Wellesley, MA

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    What is Wellesley College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • History
    • Physics
    • Psychology
    • Economics
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    Williams College

    #164 institution's historical influence
    #27 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    15%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1480/33

    Williamstown, MA

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    What is Williams College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Economics
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Psychology
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    Smith College

    #154 institution's historical influence
    #111 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    37%

    Graduation

    87%

    Student body

    3K

    Northampton, MA

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    What is Smith College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Engineering
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #6

    Mount Holyoke College

    #278 institution's historical influence
    #228 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $52K

    Acceptance

    52%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    3K

    South Hadley, MA

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    What is Mount Holyoke College known for?

    Mount Holyoke College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #7

    Emerson College

    #708 institution's historical influence
    #1246 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $49K

    Acceptance

    41%

    Graduation

    79%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1305/29

    Boston, MA

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    What is Emerson College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Business
    • Education
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #8

    College of the Holy Cross

    #418 institution's historical influence
    #134 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    38%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1345/30

    Worcester, MA

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    What is College of the Holy Cross known for?

    College of the Holy Cross’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #9

    Stonehill College

    #1607 institution's historical influence
    #367 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $44K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    3K

    Easton, MA

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    What is Stonehill College known for?

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

    • Business
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Communications
    • Literature
    • Religious Studies
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. #10

    Wheaton College

    #1304 institution's historical influence
    #822 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    78%

    Student body

    2K

    Norton, MA

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    What is Wheaton College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Computer Science
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

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  11. #11

    Bentley University

    #1770 institution's historical influence
    #217 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $52K

    Acceptance

    58%

    Graduation

    90%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1320/29

    Waltham, MA

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    What is Bentley University known for?

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

    • Business
    • Communications
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Medical
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. #12

    Gordon College

    #1670 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $39K

    Acceptance

    68%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1185/25

    Wenham, MA

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    What is Gordon College known for?

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

    • Religious Studies
    • Communications
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Sociology
    • Education
    • History
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  13. #13

    Massachusetts Maritime Academy

    #3293 institution's historical influence
    #186 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1100/21

    Buzzards Bay, MA

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    What is Massachusetts Maritime Academy known for?

    Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Criminal Justice

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. #14

    Springfield College

    #1862 institution's historical influence
    #1057 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $39K

    Acceptance

    63%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1120/23

    Springfield, MA

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    What is Springfield College known for?

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

    • Education
    • Medical
    • History
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Social Work
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. #15

    Emmanuel College

    #2677 institution's historical influence
    #799 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $41K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1170/24

    Boston, MA

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    What is Emmanuel College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Education
    • Chemistry
    • History
    • Communications
    • Business
    • Nursing
    • Political Science
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. #16

    Wentworth Institute of Technology

    #2320 institution's historical influence
    #324 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1165/25

    Boston, MA

    View profile

    What is Wentworth Institute of Technology known for?

    Wentworth Institute of Technology’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  17. #17

    Merrimack College

    #2991 institution's historical influence
    #668 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $43K

    Acceptance

    82%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    5K

    North Andover, MA

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    What is Merrimack College known for?

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

    • Political Science
    • Business
    • History
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Mathematics
    • Communications
    • Literature
    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  18. #18

    Endicott College

    #3374 institution's historical influence
    #910 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    79%

    Student body

    5K

    Beverly, MA

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    What is Endicott College known for?

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

    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • Nursing
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Engineering
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Communications
    REQUEST INFO
  19. #19

    Elms College

    #6400 institution's historical influence
    #907 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $37K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1050/21

    Chicopee, MA

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    What is Elms College known for?

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

    • Business
    • Education
    • Nursing
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Religious Studies
    • Law
    • Literature
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  20. #20

    Bay Path University

    #3431 institution's historical influence
    #264 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1065/22

    Longmeadow, MA

    View profile

    What is Bay Path University known for?

    Bay Path University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Social Work
    • Nursing
    • Computer Science
    • Law
    • Criminal Justice

    Most Influential Alumni

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