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.

Key Takeaways

  • The best liberal arts colleges offer a great education that will result in a well-rounded, educated person.
  • The best liberal arts colleges offer smaller class sizes and more opportunities for interaction with professors.
  • The smaller, intimate environment present in the best liberal arts colleges help students to mature and go into their careers confident in the skills they’ve acquired.

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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
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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

    8%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1467/32

  2. #2

    Wesleyan University

    Middletown , CT
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    Acceptance

    19%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    3K

  3. #3

    Reed College

    Portland , OR
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $63K

    Acceptance

    44%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    1K

  4. #4

    Amherst College

    Amherst , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1495/33

  5. #5

    Williams College

    Williamstown , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    2K

  6. Other Rankings

    Acceptance

    11%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1325/30

  7. #8

    Wellesley College

    Wellesley , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    16%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1435/32

  8. #9

    Oberlin College

    Oberlin , OH
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    34%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1315/30

  9. #15

    Vassar College

    Poughkeepsie , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $63K

    Acceptance

    20%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1440/33

  10. #16

    Haverford College

    Haverford , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    18%

    Graduation

    90%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1440/33

  11. #18

    Pomona College

    Claremont , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    7%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    2K

  12. #23

    Middlebury College

    Middlebury , VT
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    13%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1430/32

  13. #24

    Bowdoin College

    Brunswick , ME
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    2K

  14. #27

    Colgate University

    Hamilton , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    Acceptance

    17%

    Graduation

    90%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1385/31

  15. #34

    Claremont McKenna College

    Claremont , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    11%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1415/32

  16. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    88%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    34K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1005/19

    California State University, Northridge’s Online Degrees

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

    $7K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    36K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1090/20

    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
  18. Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    91%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    23K

    Median SAT/ACT

    965/17

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Find the Best Liberal Arts Colleges and Universities in Your Area of Interest

The best liberal arts colleges by discipline

Earn a Degree from a Liberal Arts College That is Close to Home

The best liberal arts colleges offer an intimate, but supportive learning environment. Upon graduation, successful students will go into their careers confident in the well-rounded education they’ve received.

If attending a liberal arts school that is close to home is also important to you, check out our Complete List of Colleges and Universities by State.

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