50 Best Liberal Arts Colleges and Universities Ranked for Students

50 Best Liberal Arts Colleges and Universities Ranked for Students

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.

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 liberal arts college 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. Liberal arts colleges are often referred to as “teaching colleges”, because of their focus on the students’ needs.

The value of liberal arts colleges is difficult to describe. Smaller campuses, smaller student bodies, more personal attention from professors, and more tightly knit cohorts are a few of the commonly mentioned benefits of liberal arts colleges. What is hard to articulate is that liberal arts students feel known by their professors and school administrators. This “being known” feeling is what keeps alumni feeling a part of their school decades after graduating, and for many alumni, the relationships formed with professors means they could comfortably call a former professor years after graduating.

Liberal arts colleges are not smaller colleges because they’ve been less successful at growing into large universities. Liberal arts colleges do not have second-rate professors who couldn’t get jobs at larger schools. The intentions of liberal arts colleges are to hire faculty who care for students over their own research, and to create an environment that allows them to continue investing in students, helping them mature and go confidently into the workforce.

Best Liberal Arts Colleges and Universities 2022
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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 1,240 liberal arts colleges in the US. In order to be included in this list of the best liberal arts colleges and universities, a school must be fully accredited non-profit institution.

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50 Best Liberal Arts Colleges and Universities in the US

  1. #1

    Swarthmore College

    Swarthmore , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    97%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1460/33

  2. #2

    Wesleyan University

    Middletown , CT
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    Acceptance

    21%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    4K

  3. #3

    Reed College

    Portland , OR
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $63K

    Acceptance

    42%

    Graduation

    77%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1422/32

  4. #4

    Amherst College

    Amherst , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    12%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1415/32

  5. #5

    Williams College

    Williamstown , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    15%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1480/33

  6. Other Rankings

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1270/27

  7. #8

    Wellesley College

    Wellesley , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    20%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/32

  8. #9

    Oberlin College

    Oberlin , OH
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    35%

    Graduation

    86%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1380/31

  9. #12

    San Francisco State University

    San Francisco , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    84%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1045/20

  10. #15

    Vassar College

    Poughkeepsie , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $63K

    Acceptance

    25%

    Graduation

    88%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/32

  11. #16

    Haverford College

    Haverford , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    18%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1460/33

  12. #18

    Pomona College

    Claremont , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1465/33

  13. #23

    Middlebury College

    Middlebury , VT
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    22%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/33

  14. #24

    Bowdoin College

    Brunswick , ME
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    2K

  15. #27

    Colgate University

    Hamilton , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    Acceptance

    27%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1415/32

  16. #34

    Claremont McKenna College

    Claremont , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    13%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1435/32

  17. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    66%

    Graduation

    55%

    Student body

    33K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1020/19

    California State University, Northridge’s Online Degrees

    BA in Public Sector Management
    • Required Credits: 60
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  18. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    68%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    34K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1115/21

    California State University, Fullerton’s Online Degrees

    BA in Business Administration
    • Required Credits: 54
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Humanities and Social Sciences
    • Required Credits: 51
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
    BA in Sociology
    • Required Credits: 51
    • Completion Time: None Reported
    • Format: Online
  19. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    23K

    Median SAT/ACT

    985/17

  20. #39

    Carleton College

    Northfield , MN
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    21%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1450/32

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Find the Best Liberal Arts Colleges and Universities Near You

The best liberal arts colleges in your state
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Find the Best Liberal Arts Colleges and Universities in Your Area of Interest

The best liberal arts colleges by discipline
2021 Ranking Archive

Many of our 2022 undergraduate focused rankings look considerably different than 2021. That’s because we took a fundamentally different apporach. For 2021 we utiulized our Concentrated Influence algorithm, designed to take away the size advantage larger schools have when we rank their faculty and alumni’s academic influence. Concentrated influence highlights smaller schools that are proportionally as successful as larger universities at cultivating influential alumni and faculty.

  1. Swarthmore College
  2. Amherst College
  3. Sarah Lawrence College
  4. Reed College
  5. Barnard College
  6. Wesleyan University
  7. Vassar College
  8. Hampshire College
  9. Wellesley College
  10. Williams College
  11. Cooper Union
  12. Pomona College
  13. Oberlin College
  14. Bryn Mawr College
  15. Bard College
  16. Haverford College
  17. Smith College
  18. Claremont McKenna College
  19. Morehouse College
  20. Kenyon College
  21. Bowdoin College
  22. Mount Holyoke College
  23. United States Military Academy
  24. United States Naval Academy
  25. Carleton College
  26. Spelman College
  27. Colgate University
  28. Washington and Lee University
  29. Occidental College
  30. Connecticut College
  31. Pitzer College
  32. Wheaton College
  33. Grinnell College
  34. Middlebury College
  35. DePauw University
  36. Hamilton College
  37. Trinity College
  38. New York Institute of Technology
  39. Scripps College
  40. Earlham College
  41. Emerson College
  42. Colby College
  43. Brooklyn College
  44. Colorado College
  45. Kalamazoo College
  46. Goucher College
  47. Drew University
  48. College of the Holy Cross
  49. Denison University
  50. Union College, New York

Photo Credit: Swarthmore College, by Ugen64 at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.