Missouri’s Best Small Colleges & Universities 2021

Small colleges in Missouri are a great option for students interested in a more intimate campus experience, more personal attention from excellent professors, and more immediate access to support services. Whether the focus is on the technical or on the liberal arts, small colleges give you the chance to pursue a well-rounded education while working closely with classmates and professors in a dynamic community atmosphere.

Missouri’s Best Small Colleges & Universities 2021

Colleges and Universities in Missouri

Tuition costs in Missouri fall below the national average, allowing students access to many affordable options. For example, at Missouri State University, the second largest public school, tuition fees are around $7,000. Students of actor John Goodman’s alma mater can major in fields like religious studies, history, and business, and even have the option of earning an associate degree in arts or a bachelor’s in business at the university’s sister school in China. Missouri also offers more than 40 private schools.

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Tuition and student populations vary greatly among these schools, but students who attend these higher education institutes also have the option to attend classes at other campuses. For example, Saint Louis University, a college with Jesuit roots, has campuses in both St. Louis and Madrid, Spain. Additionally, Missouri offers special loan forgiveness programs for nurses and other health professionals, including dentists, psychiatrists, and primary care physicians, who work in designated, high-need areas.

When you aren’t exploring one of its 6,000 caves, chowing down on some barbecue, or taking in a live jazz performance, Missouri can serve as the perfect place to begin a road trip. The Show Me State is bordered by eight other U.S. states, making it ideal for students love travelling and planning weekend getaways. During the week days, students can continue on their road to success by pursuing their degree at one of Missouri’s 72 higher education institutes.

See where Missouri’s many roads can take you while earning your degree at one this state’s top learning institutions.


What are Missouri’s Colleges & Universities?

Missouri’s Best Overall


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How do we determine Missouri's best small 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 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.

Find out more about our ranking methodology here.

The following list of the best small colleges and universities in Missouri is composed mainly of four-year undergraduate schools (though a handful also offer graduate programs). We’ve identified 22 small colleges in Missouri, 16 of which satisfy our criteria. The list below of the best small colleges 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 have a student body of 5,000 or fewer students.
  4. It must have a graduation rate greater than 40%.

Best Small Colleges & Universities in Missouri

  1. #1

    Westminster College

    #1982 institution's historical influence
    #471 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    97%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1110/22

    Fulton, MO

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    What is Westminster College known for?

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

    • Medical
    • Business
    • Education
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Chemistry
    • Biology
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    Stephens College

    #2071 institution's historical influence
    #763 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $23K

    Acceptance

    64%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1120/22

    Columbia, MO

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    What is Stephens College known for?

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

    • Education
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    William Woods University

    #3163 institution's historical influence
    #1166 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $26K

    Acceptance

    63%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    2K

    Fulton, MO

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    What is William Woods University known for?

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

    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Criminal Justice
    • Mathematics
    • Communications
    • Engineering
    • Social Work
  4. #4

    Drury University

    #3297 institution's historical influence
    #1457 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1135/25

    Springfield, MO

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    What is Drury University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    William Jewell College

    #2086 institution's historical influence
    #1125 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    36%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1190/24

    Liberty, MO

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    What is William Jewell College known for?

    William Jewell College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Philosophy
    • Physics
    • Education
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Religious Studies
    • Engineering
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #6

    Evangel University

    #2841 institution's historical influence
    #1339 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $25K

    Acceptance

    95%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    2K

    Springfield, MO

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    What is Evangel University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

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  7. #7

    Rockhurst University

    #2389 institution's historical influence
    #403 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $40K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1169/24

    Kansas City, MO

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    What is Rockhurst University known for?

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

    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Education
    • Philosophy
    • Business
    • Religious Studies
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Biology
  8. #8

    Fontbonne University

    #4722 institution's historical influence
    #866 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $28K

    Acceptance

    85%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1045/20

    Saint Louis, MO

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    What is Fontbonne University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #9

    Central Methodist University

    #2987 institution's historical influence
    #992 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $26K

    Acceptance

    95%

    Graduation

    44%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1015/22

    Fayette, MO

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    What is Central Methodist University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Religious Studies
    • History
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Business
    • Philosophy
    • Nursing
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  10. #10

    Southwest Baptist University

    #3557 institution's historical influence
    #673 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $25K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    48%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1027/22

    Bolivar, MO

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    What is Southwest Baptist University known for?

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

    • Medical
    • Education
    • Nursing
    • Business
    • Religious Studies
    • History
    • Computer Science
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  11. #11

    College of the Ozarks

    #4938 institution's historical influence
    #60 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $20K

    Acceptance

    14%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1084/23

    Point Lookout, MO

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    What is College of the Ozarks known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. #12

    Avila University

    #6697 institution's historical influence
    #831 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $21K

    Acceptance

    42%

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1082/21

    Kansas City, MO

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    What is Avila University known for?

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

    • Nursing
    • Education
    • History
    • Social Work
    • Psychology
    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • Medical
    • Religious Studies
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. #13

    Cottey College

    #5108 institution's historical influence
    #505 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $23K

    Acceptance

    61%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1075/21

    Nevada, MO

    View profile

    What is Cottey College known for?

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

    • Education
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Sociology
    • Biology
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  14. #14

    Hannibal–LaGrange University

    #13553 institution's historical influence
    #1206 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $24K

    Acceptance

    65%

    Graduation

    43%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1020/21

    Hannibal, MO

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    What is Hannibal–LaGrange University known for?

    Hannibal–LaGrange University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Education
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Communications
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  15. #15

    Culver–Stockton College

    #5881 institution's historical influence
    #414 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $28K

    Acceptance

    98%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    995/20

    Canton, MO

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    What is Culver–Stockton College known for?

    Culver–Stockton College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Law
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Nursing
    • Communications
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. #16

    Ranken Technical College

    #7652 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $16K

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    2K

    Saint Louis, MO

    View profile

    What is Ranken Technical College known for?

    Ranken Technical College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

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Photo By: Westminster College - The Photo Database, CC BY-SA 3.0