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.


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?

Methodology

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 call “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.

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

    Amherst , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    12%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1415/32

    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
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  2. #2

    Hampshire College

    Amherst , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $52K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    <1K

    What is Hampshire College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  3. #3

    Wellesley College

    Wellesley , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    20%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/32

    What is Wellesley College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  4. #6

    Mount Holyoke College

    South Hadley , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    52%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Mount Holyoke College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science
    • Physics
    REQUEST INFO
  5. #7

    Emerson College

    Boston , MA

    Tuition + fees

    $50K

    Acceptance

    41%

    Graduation

    79%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1305/29

    What is Emerson College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Business
    • Education
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  6. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    38%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1345/30

    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
    • Philosophy
    • Religious Studies
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    REQUEST INFO
  7. #9

    Stonehill College

    Easton , MA

    Tuition + fees

    $47K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    3K

    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
    REQUEST INFO
  8. #10

    Wheaton College

    Norton , MA

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    78%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Wheaton College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  9. #11

    Bentley University

    Waltham , MA

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    58%

    Graduation

    90%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1320/29

    What is Bentley University known for?

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

    • Business
    • Communications
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Criminal Justice
    REQUEST INFO
  10. #12

    Gordon College

    Wenham , MA

    Tuition + fees

    $39K

    Acceptance

    68%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1185/25

    What is Gordon College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  11. #13

    Massachusetts Maritime Academy

    Buzzards Bay , MA

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1100/21

    What is Massachusetts Maritime Academy known for?

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

    • Engineering
    • Criminal Justice

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  12. #14

    Springfield College

    Springfield , MA

    Tuition + fees

    $40K

    Acceptance

    63%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1120/23

    What is Springfield College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  13. #15

    Emmanuel College

    Boston , MA

    Tuition + fees

    $43K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1170/24

    What is Emmanuel College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  14. Tuition + fees

    $36K

    Acceptance

    94%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1165/25

    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
    REQUEST INFO
  15. #17

    Merrimack College

    North Andover , MA

    Tuition + fees

    $45K

    Acceptance

    82%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    5K

    What is Merrimack College known for?

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

    • Education
    • Business
    • History
    • Communications
    • Engineering
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Religious Studies
    REQUEST INFO
  16. #18

    Endicott College

    Beverly , MA

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    79%

    Student body

    5K

    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
  17. #19

    Elms College

    Chicopee , MA

    Tuition + fees

    $38K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1050/21

    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
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  18. #20

    Bay Path University

    Longmeadow , MA

    Tuition + fees

    $36K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1065/22

    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

    REQUEST INFO

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