Minnesota’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges 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 Minnesota offer a diverse selection of degree programs with opportunities for a highly individualized educational experience.

Minnesota’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges of 2021

Colleges and Universities in Minnesota

One of largest public higher education institutes in the country, the University of Minnesota has main campuses in both of the Twin Cities, Saint Paul and Minneapolis. This school costs about $15,000 in tuition, and provides its students with competitive programs in fields like nursing, education, economics, and psychology. And the options don’t stop there. There are more than 20 schools in the state with religious affiliations, including larger schools like the University of St. Thomas, which campuses in both Twin Cities, and smaller schools like Oak Hills Christian College in Bemidji.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

For students striving to keep costs low in a smaller school environment, Southwest Minnesota State University offers tuition below the national average and serves about 3,500 students. Additionally, those on track to become a teacher or health care provider may be eligible for one of Minnesota’s loan forgiveness programs after graduation. Minnesota also boasts a large network of private colleges, two of which, Walden University and Capella University, primarily cater to online students.

Ever heard the phrase, There’s an app for that? Well, in Minnesota they say something similar, There’s a festival for that. This fun state doesn’t hold back when it comes to celebrating. With events like the Grumpy Old Men Festival, World Festival, and the Perham Turtle Fest, students earning their degrees at one of Minnesota’s more than 70 colleges won’t miss out on a good time.

Discover some of Minnesota’s top programs and learn how you can earn your associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree while cashing in on some of this state’s unique experiences.


What are Minnesota’s Colleges & Universities?

Minnesota’s Best Overall

Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

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How do we determine Minnesota' 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 24 liberal arts colleges and universities in Minnesota, 19 of which satisfy our criteria. The list below of the 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 40%.

Best Liberal Arts Colleges & Universities in Minnesota

 
  1. #1

    Carleton College

    #440 institution's historical influence
    #78 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    21%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1450/32

    Northfield, MN

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    What is Carleton College known for?

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

    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Economics
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Physics
    • Chemistry
    • Religious Studies

    Most Influential Alumni

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  2. #2

    Macalester College

    #686 institution's historical influence
    #72 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    39%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1415/31

    Saint Paul, MN

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    What is Macalester College known for?

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

    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Economics
    • Anthropology
    • Physics
  3. #3

    University of Minnesota Morris

    #2490 institution's historical influence
    #683 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    65%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1165/24

    Morris, MN

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    What is University of Minnesota Morris known for?

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

    • Biology
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Earth Sciences
    • Literature
    • Economics
    • Computer Science
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    St. Olaf College

    #875 institution's historical influence
    #171 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $51K

    Acceptance

    51%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1310/29

    Northfield, MN

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    What is St. Olaf College known for?

    St. Olaf College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • History
    • Physics
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    North Central University

    #3873 institution's historical influence
    #1054 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $26K

    Acceptance

    93%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1077/21

    Minneapolis, MN

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    What is North Central University known for?

    North Central University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Psychology
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Sociology
    • Social Work
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #6

    Hamline University

    #1250 institution's historical influence
    #419 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $45K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/22

    Saint Paul, MN

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    What is Hamline University known for?

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

    • Law
    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Engineering
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #7

    College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University

    #1682 institution's historical influence
    #1194 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $48K

    Acceptance

    84%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1147/25

    Saint Joseph, MN

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    What is College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University known for?

    College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • History
    • Medical
    • Economics
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
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  8. #8

    Gustavus Adolphus College

    #1397 institution's historical influence
    #732 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $49K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    78%

    Student body

    2K

    Saint Peter, MN

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    What is Gustavus Adolphus College known for?

    Gustavus Adolphus College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • History
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Religious Studies
    • Economics
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #9

    Augsburg University

    #2510 institution's historical influence
    #1452 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $40K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1180/20

    Minneapolis, MN

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    What is Augsburg University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • History
    • Medical
    • Chemistry
    • Religious Studies
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. #10

    Minnesota State University Moorhead

    #1806 institution's historical influence
    #1411 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    66%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1075/21

    Moorhead, MN

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    What is Minnesota State University Moorhead known for?

    Minnesota State University Moorhead’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Business
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Nursing
    • Sociology
    • History
    • Communications
    • Biology
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  11. #11

    Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

    #2635 institution's historical influence
    #405 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $38K

    Acceptance

    84%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1113/23

    Winona, MN

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    What is Saint Mary's University of Minnesota known for?

    Saint Mary's University of Minnesota’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • History
    • Communications
    • Computer Science
    • Philosophy
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. #12

    Concordia College

    #2576 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $43K

    Acceptance

    58%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1149/24

    Moorhead, MN

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    What is Concordia College known for?

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

    • Religious Studies
    • Literature
    • Education
    • Physics
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  13. #13

    University of Minnesota Duluth

    #1270 institution's historical influence
    #1158 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    61%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1235/23

    Duluth, MN

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    What is University of Minnesota Duluth known for?

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

    • Medical
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Biology
    • Business
    • History
    • Computer Science
    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  14. #14

    Southwest Minnesota State University

    #3531 institution's historical influence
    #1240 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    81%

    Graduation

    48%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    997/21

    Marshall, MN

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    What is Southwest Minnesota State University known for?

    Southwest Minnesota State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Biology
    • Social Work
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Medical
    • Sociology
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. #15

    St. Cloud State University

    #1939 institution's historical influence
    #480 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    45%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1064/21

    Saint Cloud, MN

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    What is St. Cloud State University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Engineering
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Communications
    • Biology
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. #16

    Bemidji State University

    #2812 institution's historical influence
    #906 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    4K

    Bemidji, MN

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    What is Bemidji State University known for?

    Bemidji State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Business
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Social Work
    • Engineering
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  17. #17

    Concordia University, St. Paul

    #8780 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $23K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    48%

    Student body

    4K

    Saint Paul, MN

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    What is Concordia University, St. Paul known for?

    Concordia University, St. Paul’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • Business
    • History
    • Nursing
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  18. #18

    University of Northwestern – St. Paul

    #7346 institution's historical influence
    #1120 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1220/24

    Saint Paul, MN

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    What is University of Northwestern – St. Paul known for?

    University of Northwestern – St. Paul’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • History
    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • Religious Studies
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Communications
    • Engineering
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  19. #19

    Crown College

    #12340 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $28K

    Acceptance

    47%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1090/20

    Saint Bonifacius, MN

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    What is Crown College known for?

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

    • Business
    • Education
    • Religious Studies
    • Nursing
    • Literature
    • History
    • Social Work
    • Biology
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  20. #20

    Minnesota State University, Mankato

    #1861 institution's historical influence
    #1413 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    67%

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    13K

    Mankato, MN

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    What is Minnesota State University, Mankato known for?

    Minnesota State University, Mankato’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Literature
    • Engineering
    • Biology
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  21. #21

    Dunwoody College of Technology

    #8251 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $23K

    Acceptance

    97%

    Graduation

    49%

    Student body

    1K

    Minneapolis, MN

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    What is Dunwoody College of Technology known for?

    Dunwoody College of Technology’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Medical
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  22. #22

    Winona State University

    #2656 institution's historical influence
    #1416 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    61%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1105/21

    Winona, MN

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    What is Winona State University known for?

    Winona State University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • History
    • Engineering
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Earth Sciences
    • Computer Science
  23. #23

    University of Minnesota Crookston

    #3584 institution's historical influence
    #636 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    2K

    Crookston, MN

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    What is University of Minnesota Crookston known for?

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

    • Education
    • Biology
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Communications
    • Engineering
    • Literature
    • Criminal Justice
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  24. #24

    Bethany Lutheran College

    #6831 institution's historical influence
    #1073 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $28K

    Acceptance

    65%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1050/23

    Mankato, MN

    View profile

    What is Bethany Lutheran College known for?

    Bethany Lutheran College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • Psychology
    • Religious Studies
    • History
    • Biology
    • Law
    • Literature
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

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