New Jersey’s 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 New Jersey offer a diverse selection of degree programs with opportunities for a highly individualized educational experience.

New Jersey’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges and Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in New Jersey

Nearly half of the colleges and universities in this state are private, and tuition rates range from $6,000 to $52,000. With a graduation rate of 97% and a student population of just over 7,000, Princeton University is the state’s most esteemed institution. Narrowing in on the sciences and arts, this Ivy League school offers unique areas of study, including robotics, intelligent systems, and public life. The remaining 31 public colleges and universities range in tuition from $4,000 to $17,000.

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The state’s largest and top-ranked public research institution is Rutgers University. With campuses in New Brunswick, Newark, and Camden as well as smaller locations across the state, Rutgers awards degrees in physics, economics, criminal justice, and psychology. New Jersey also has 11 religiously affiliated colleges and universities, including the oldest diocesan university in the United States, Seton Hall University. This Roman Catholic university has a tuition rate of $42,000 and a student population of over 8,000.

New Jersey, known for its sandy shores and busy expressways, also has more diners than any other state in the U.S., as well as the world’s longest boardwalk, located in Atlantic City. Many influential people, including Buzz Aldrin, Frank Sinatra, and Thomas Edison, have called The Garden State home. Visitors can even peek at some of Edison’s early light bulbs at the Menlo Park Museum. And with 50 higher learning institutions to choose from, students can find a school that suits their career path and budget.

Learn more about earning your degree from one of New Jersey’s highly regarded colleges and universities.


What are New Jersey’s Colleges & Universities?

New Jersey’s Best Overall

Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

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 19 liberal arts colleges and universities in New Jersey, 11 of which meet 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 50%.

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How do we determine New Jersey's 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 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.

Best Liberal Arts Colleges & Universities in New Jersey

  1. #1

    Drew University

    #870 institution's historical influence
    #589 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $41K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    2K

    Madison, NJ

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    What is Drew University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

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  2. #2

    Saint Peter's University

    #1695 institution's historical influence
    #345 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $39K

    Acceptance

    85%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1015/20

    Jersey City, NJ

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    What is Saint Peter's University known for?

    Saint Peter's University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • History
    • Education
    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Communications
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  3. #3

    Monmouth University

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

    Tuition + fees

    $41K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1145/24

    West Long Branch, NJ

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    What is Monmouth University known for?

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

    • Business
    • Medical
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Computer Science
  4. #4

    Caldwell University

    #5903 institution's historical influence
    #311 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $37K

    Acceptance

    92%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1045/20

    Caldwell, NJ

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    What is Caldwell University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Nursing
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Mathematics
    • Chemistry
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  5. #5

    The College of New Jersey

    #1334 institution's historical influence
    #979 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $16K

    Acceptance

    51%

    Graduation

    86%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1260/27

    Ewing, NJ

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    What is The College of New Jersey known for?

    The College of New Jersey’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Engineering
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #6

    Rider University

    #1750 institution's historical influence
    #515 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $46K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1115/22

    Lawrenceville, NJ

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    What is Rider University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  7. #7

    Ramapo College

    #2254 institution's historical influence
    #1306 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $15K

    Acceptance

    67%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/23

    Mahwah, NJ

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    What is Ramapo College known for?

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

    • Education
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Nursing
    • Political Science
    • Social Work
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #8

    Stockton University

    #2346 institution's historical influence
    #1201 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    11K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1115/23

    Galloway, NJ

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    What is Stockton University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Business
    • History
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Criminal Justice
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
  9. #9

    William Paterson University

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

    Tuition + fees

    $14K

    Acceptance

    81%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    9K

    Wayne, NJ

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    What is William Paterson University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Business
    • Communications
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Law
    • Nursing
    • Political Science
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. #10

    Centenary University

    #7638 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    93%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1043/20

    Hackettstown, NJ

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    What is Centenary University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Medical
    • History
    • Communications
    • Social Work
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Literature
  11. #11

    Kean University

    #1477 institution's historical influence
    #393 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    12K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1010/20

    Union, NJ

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    What is Kean University known for?

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

    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • History
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Criminal Justice
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