Rhode Island’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 Rhode Island offer a diverse selection of degree programs with opportunities for a highly individualized educational experience.

Rhode Island’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges and Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in Rhode Island

Of the three public schools, the University of Rhode Island is the largest, having more than 15,000 students in attendance. The main campus is located in Kingston, and the tuition rate is $14,000. The most prestigious school in the state is Brown University, a private Ivy League institution located in Providence. Over 9,000 students study on this campus in fields like biophysics, ethnic studies, and public health. Tuition is more expensive at about $55,000, but the school boasts a 96% graduation rate.

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Of the eight private schools, two are religiously affiliated. Both Salve Regina University and Providence College have under 5,000 students, though the tuition fees are more expensive at $40,000 and $51,000, respectively. Whether you seek an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree, Rhode Island also offers a unique opportunity for graduates. As a financial incentive to pursue a career or start a business in Rhode Island in the technology, engineering, design, or other sectors, the Wavemaker Fellowship program defrays student loan payments for up to four years.

Rhode Island is the smallest U.S. state, but it has more than 400 miles of coastline, giving it the nickname The Ocean State. With sandy beaches and colonial towns, this state offers relaxation and history. Rhode Island also has 11 public and private higher education institutions with an average tuition of just over $12,000.

Meet your academic goals at one of the higher learning centers in Rhode Island. Check out the top programs to see which school fits your needs.


What are Rhode Island’s Colleges & Universities?

Rhode Island’s Best Overall

Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

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How do we determine Rhode Island's 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 5 liberal arts colleges and universities in Rhode Island; 4 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 50%.

The Best Colleges & Universities in Rhode Island

  1. #1

    Providence College

    Providence , RI
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    54%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1280/29

    What is Providence College known for?

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

    • Business
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Education
    • Medical
    • Religious Studies
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
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  2. Tuition + fees

    $37K

    Acceptance

    86%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    5K

    What is Roger Williams University known for?

    Roger Williams University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Biology
    • Law
    • Criminal Justice
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Education
    • History
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  3. #3

    Bryant University

    Smithfield , RI

    Tuition + fees

    $47K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    4K

    What is Bryant University known for?

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

    • Business
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Medical
    • Economics
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Sociology
    REQUEST INFO
  4. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $43K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    76%

    Student body

    3K

    What is Salve Regina University known for?

    Salve Regina University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • History
    • Education
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Nursing
    • Religious Studies

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  5. #5

    Rhode Island College

    Providence , RI

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    81%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    980/17

    What is Rhode Island College known for?

    Rhode Island College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Social Work
    • History
    • Computer Science
    • Medical
    • Literature
    REQUEST INFO

Find the Best Schools in Rhode Island for your Major


Photo By: Kenneth C. Zirkel - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0