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

Texas’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges & Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in Texas

Texas offers more than 30 colleges and universities that serve communities of 10,000 students or more. The largest school in the bunch (and in the nation), Texas A&M University in College Station serves more than 65,000 students. The University of Texas at Austin is the next largest, serving about 45,000 students — but it too has a big claim to fame, as the wealthiest public university in the United States. Texas’s private colleges and universities, including Baylor University and Southern Methodist University, are also impressive in size and scope. The majority of these schools have religious affiliations and offer degrees in a variety fields, such as nursing, religious studies, criminal justice, business, and education.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

For students who prefer a more intimate educational environment, Texas offers a long list of smaller public and private colleges and universities, such as Abilene Christian University and University of Texas of the Permian Basin. Additionally, Texas has generous loan forgiveness programs for qualifying nurses, physicians, teachers, legal aid attorneys, and lawyers who work in the Texas Attorney General’s office.

Texas is known for doing things big. Big cities, big open spaces and, of course, big fun. Whether you’re hitting up the live music scene in Austin, catching a Cowboys game in Dallas, or strolling down the River Walk in San Antonio, you’re sure to have a good time. And, with more than 150 higher education institutes, it’s safe to say The Lone Star State is big on education too.

If you’re looking to earn your degree in the state of Texas, you’ll have plenty of higher learning institutes to choose from.

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Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

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How do we determine Texas's best colleges and universities?

The best colleges pound for pound!

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.

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Texas’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges & Universities

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 46 liberal arts colleges and universities in Texas, 28 of which meet 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 40%

20 Best Liberal Arts Colleges in Texas

  1. University of Dallas
    #1

    University of Dallas

    #1264 institution's overall influence
    #1419 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $43K

    Acceptance

    54%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1245/27

    Irving, TX

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  2. Houston Baptist University
    #2

    Houston Baptist University

    #1756 institution's overall influence
    #270 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    48%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1100/21

    Houston, TX

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    What is Houston Baptist University known for?

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. St. Mary's University, Texas
    #3

    St. Mary's University, Texas

    #1256 institution's overall influence
    #282 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $32K

    Acceptance

    85%

    Graduation

    63%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/23

    San Antonio, TX

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    What is St. Mary's University, Texas known for?

    St. Mary's University, Texas's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Law
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Communications
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Engineering
    • Criminal Justice
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. Trinity University
    #4

    Trinity University

    #1009 institution's overall influence
    #236 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $45K

    Acceptance

    34%

    Graduation

    80%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1370/30

    San Antonio, TX

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    What is Trinity University known for?

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. University of St. Thomas
    #5

    University of St. Thomas

    #2928 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    96%

    Graduation

    57%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1150/23

    Houston, TX

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    What is University of St. Thomas known for?

    University of St. Thomas 's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Religious Studies
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Medical
    • Philosophy
    • Communications
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. Southwestern University
    #6

    Southwestern University

    #1444 institution's overall influence
    #1188 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $44K

    Acceptance

    49%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1230/26

    Georgetown, TX

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    What is Southwestern University known for?

    Southwestern University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. Hardin–Simmons University
    #7

    Hardin–Simmons University

    #2069 institution's overall influence
    #1182 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $30K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1056/20

    Abilene, TX

    View profile

    What is Hardin–Simmons University known for?

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. LeTourneau University
    #8

    LeTourneau University

    #3506 institution's overall influence
    #202 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    56%

    Graduation

    59%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1200/25

    Longview, TX

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  9. Howard Payne University
    #9

    Howard Payne University

    #1452 institution's overall influence
    #939 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $29K

    Acceptance

    49%

    Graduation

    41%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1025/21

    Brownwood, TX

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    What is Howard Payne University known for?

    Howard Payne University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Medical
    • History
    • Business
    • Religious Studies
    • Law
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. Abilene Christian University
    #10

    Abilene Christian University

    #1188 institution's overall influence
    #771 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $36K

    Acceptance

    63%

    Graduation

    61%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1122/24

    Abilene, TX

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    What is Abilene Christian University known for?

    Abilene Christian University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • History
    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Chemistry
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. St. Edward's University
    #11

    St. Edward's University

    #2296 institution's overall influence
    #364 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $47K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1152/25

    Austin, TX

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    What is St. Edward's University known for?

    St. Edward's University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. Austin College
    #12

    Austin College

    #1861 institution's overall influence
    #1129 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $41K

    Acceptance

    49%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1210/26

    Sherman, TX

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  13. Texas A&M International University
    #13

    Texas A&M International University

    #3363 institution's overall influence
    #896 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    44%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1005/18

    Laredo, TX

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  14. Midwestern State University
    #14

    Midwestern State University

    #3771 institution's overall influence
    #899 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    45%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1025/19

    Wichita Falls, TX

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    What is Midwestern State University known for?

    Midwestern State University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
  15. Southwestern Adventist University
    #15

    Southwestern Adventist University

    #5873 institution's overall influence
    #656 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $22K

    Acceptance

    62%

    Graduation

    37%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    985/19

    Keene, TX

    View profile

  16. Southwestern Assemblies of God University
    #16

    Southwestern Assemblies of God University

    #4803 institution's overall influence
    #92 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $21K

    Acceptance

    89%

    Graduation

    43%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1010/19

    Waxahachie, TX

    View profile

    What is Southwestern Assemblies of God University known for?

    Southwestern Assemblies of God University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Religious Studies
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Business
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Criminal Justice
    • Social Work
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  17. West Texas A&M University
    #17

    West Texas A&M University

    #2413 institution's overall influence
    #1327 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    58%

    Graduation

    41%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1040/20

    Canyon, TX

    View profile

    What is West Texas A&M University known for?

    West Texas A&M University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Education
    • History
    • Biology
    • Law
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science
    • Communications
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  18. Tarleton State University
    #18

    Tarleton State University

    #3054 institution's overall influence
    #762 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    58%

    Graduation

    46%

    Student body

    11K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1045/20

    Stephenville, TX

    View profile

    What is Tarleton State University known for?

    Tarleton State University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • History
    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Communications
    • Literature
    • Earth Sciences

    Most Influential Alumni

  19. Texas Lutheran University
    #19

    Texas Lutheran University

    #4789 institution's overall influence
    #205 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1075/22

    Seguin, TX

    View profile

    What is Texas Lutheran University known for?

    Most Influential Alumni

  20. Schreiner University
    #20

    Schreiner University

    #4112 institution's overall influence
    #685 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $30K

    Acceptance

    96%

    Graduation

    48%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1015/20

    Kerrville, TX

    View profile

    What is Schreiner University known for?

    Schreiner University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Chemistry
    • Business
    • Nursing
    • Medical
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Religious Studies

    Most Influential Alumni

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