50 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 offer a diverse selection of degree programs with opportunities for a highly individualized educational experience.

50 Best Liberal Arts Colleges and Universities of 2021

What Is a Liberal Arts College?

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. Top liberal arts colleges typically require students to select a major while simultaneously completing a wide array of courses in both the humanities and the sciences. The point of a liberal arts education is not just to learn deeply about some specialized area, but to emerge as a well rounded, broadly educated person with a fuller appreciation of life and the world.

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.

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The following list of the best arts liberal colleges and universities is composed entirely of four-year undergraduate schools. We’ve identified a total of 1,240 liberal arts colleges in the US, 998 of which have student body populations greater than 1,000 students. In order to be included in this list of the best liberal arts colleges and universities, a school needs to satisfy the following three conditions:

  1. It must be a non-profit institution.
  2. It must be fully accredited.
  3. It must have a student body of at least 1,000 students.

How do we determine the best liberal arts 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.

The best liberal arts colleges and universities in the US!” – @AcademicInflux
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50 Best Liberal Arts Colleges & Universities in the US

  1. #1

    Swarthmore College

    Swarthmore , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    97%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1460/33

    What is Swarthmore College known for?

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

    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Education
    REQUEST INFO
  2. #2

    Amherst College

    Amherst , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    12%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1415/32

    What is Amherst College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Law
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #6

    Wesleyan University

    Middletown , CT
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    21%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    4K

    What is Wesleyan University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #7

    Vassar College

    Poughkeepsie , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    25%

    Graduation

    88%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/32

    What is Vassar College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Physics
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #8

    Hampshire College

    Amherst , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $52K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    <1K

    What is Hampshire College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Physics
    • Psychology
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Communications
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #9

    Wellesley College

    Wellesley , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    20%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/32

    What is Wellesley College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Economics
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #12

    Pomona College

    Claremont , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1465/33

    What is Pomona College known for?

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

    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Chemistry
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Physics
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #15

    Bard College

    Annandale-On-Hudson , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    57%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    3K

    What is Bard College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Economics
    • History
    • Biology
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #19

    Morehouse College

    Atlanta , GA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $29K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1081/20

    What is Morehouse College known for?

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

    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Religious Studies
    • Literature
    • History
    • Engineering
    • Communications
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science
  10. #22

    Mount Holyoke College

    South Hadley , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    52%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Mount Holyoke College known for?

    Mount Holyoke College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science
    • Physics
  11. #26

    Spelman College

    Atlanta , GA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $30K

    Acceptance

    53%

    Graduation

    75%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1155/24

    What is Spelman College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. #29

    Occidental College

    Los Angeles , CA

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    41%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1390/30

    What is Occidental College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • History
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Economics
    • Philosophy
    • Chemistry
    • Religious Studies
    • Psychology
  13. #30

    Connecticut College

    New London , CT
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    38%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1380/31

    What is Connecticut College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • Engineering
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. #33

    Grinnell College

    Grinnell , IA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    19%

    Graduation

    87%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1450/32

    What is Grinnell College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • History
    • Economics
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. #34

    Middlebury College

    Middlebury , VT
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    22%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/33

    What is Middlebury College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. #35

    DePauw University

    Greencastle , IN
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $53K

    Acceptance

    68%

    Graduation

    87%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1245/26

    What is DePauw University known for?

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

    • Business
    • Literature
    • Communications
    • History
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Anthropology
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    REQUEST INFO
  17. #36

    Hamilton College

    Clinton , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    18%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/33

    What is Hamilton College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Economics
    • Religious Studies
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Earth Sciences

    Most Influential Alumni

  18. Tuition + fees

    $40K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1182/25

    What is New York Institute of Technology known for?

    New York Institute of Technology’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Communications
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Criminal Justice
    • Psychology
  19. #39

    Scripps College

    Claremont , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    35%

    Graduation

    88%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1411/31

    What is Scripps College known for?

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

    • Business
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Engineering
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Law
    • Sociology
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

  20. #40

    Earlham College

    Richmond , IN
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $48K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1235/26

    What is Earlham College known for?

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

    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science
    • Religious Studies
    • History
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    REQUEST INFO
  21. #41

    Emerson College

    Boston , MA

    Tuition + fees

    $50K

    Acceptance

    41%

    Graduation

    79%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1305/29

    What is Emerson College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Business
    • Education
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  22. #42

    Colby College

    Waterville , ME
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    10%

    Graduation

    90%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1450/32

    What is Colby College known for?

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

    • Mathematics
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Biology
    • Economics
    • Philosophy
    • Sociology
    • Physics
  23. #43

    Brooklyn College

    Brooklyn , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    50%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    15K

    What is Brooklyn College known for?

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

    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • Business
    • History
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Political Science
  24. #45

    Kalamazoo College

    Kalamazoo , MI

    Tuition + fees

    $52K

    Acceptance

    74%

    Graduation

    79%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1270/28

    What is Kalamazoo College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  25. #46

    Goucher College

    Baltimore , MD
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $47K

    Acceptance

    79%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1145/25

    What is Goucher College known for?

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

    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Business
    • Law
    • Political Science
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  26. #48

    College of the Holy Cross

    Worcester , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    38%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1345/30

    What is College of the Holy Cross known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Communications
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Religious Studies
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
  27. #49

    Denison University

    Granville , OH
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    28%

    Graduation

    80%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1305/29

    What is Denison University known for?

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

    • Business
    • Law
    • Economics
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • Biology
    • History
    • Computer Science
    • Physics
  28. #50

    Union College

    Schenectady , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    41%

    Graduation

    86%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1320/29

    What is Union College known for?

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

    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Literature
    • History
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science
    • Anthropology
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

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