50 Best Small Colleges and Universities 2022

Small colleges are a great option for students interested in a more intimate campus experience, more personal attention from excellent professors, and more immediate access to support services. Whether the focus is on the technical (as at Caltech) or on the liberal arts (as at Sarah Lawrence), small colleges give you the chance to pursue a well-rounded education while working closely with classmates and professors in a dynamic community atmosphere.

50 Best Small Colleges and Universities 2022

When comparing a big college campus to a small college campus, consider that the latter offers more individualized experiences, including opportunities for illuminating classroom discussions, independent research, and one-on-one relationships with your instructors.

Best Small Colleges and Universities 2022
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How do we determine the best small colleges?

Methodology

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great! 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 in their fields of study.

Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Concentrated Influence provides a ranking that is freer from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

To rank the influence of schools, we first determine the influence of scholars and professionals based on the number of citations and publications they have had over the past 10 years. In addition to publications and citations, we consider the web links to and from these sources, and the page views of those sources. We then match the influential people to their alma maters and institutions of employment, so that their influence is attributed to those schools. Our machine-learning Influence Ranking algorithm produces a numerical score of academic achievements, merits, and citations across Wikipedia, wikidata, Crossref, Semantic Scholar and an ever-growing body of data. If you are interested in exploring how and why we rank by influence, explore our methodology in more depth.

Our ranking of the best small colleges and universities is composed mainly of four-year undergraduate schools (though many offer graduate programs). We’ve identified 1,069 small colleges in the US. In order to be included in this list of best small colleges and universities, a school must be a fully accredited non-profit institution, and must have a student body of 5,000 or fewer students.

The Best Small Colleges and Universities in the US 2022

  1. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    7%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1545/35

    What is California Institute of Technology known for?

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

    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • Mathematics
    • Earth Sciences
    • Biology
    • Economics
    • Business
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #3

    Swarthmore College

    Swarthmore , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    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
    • Sociology
    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Physics
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Anthropology
    • Literature

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  3. #4

    Wesleyan University

    Middletown , CT
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    Acceptance

    21%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    4K

    What is Wesleyan University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #5

    Reed College

    Portland , OR
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $63K

    Acceptance

    42%

    Graduation

    77%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1422/32

    What is Reed College known for?

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

    • Anthropology
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science
    • Economics
    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • Sociology
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  5. #6

    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:

    • Economics
    • Literature
    • Law
    • Sociology
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Religious Studies
    • Computer Science
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #7

    Williams College

    Williamstown , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    15%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1480/33

    What is Williams College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Anthropology
    • Chemistry
    • Religious Studies
    • Physics
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $50K

    Acceptance

    61%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1295/29

    What is Illinois Institute of Technology known for?

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

    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Economics
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Chemistry
    • Law
    • Business
    • Social Work
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #9

    Wellesley College

    Wellesley , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    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:

    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Sociology
    • Economics
    • Physics
    • History
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Anthropology

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #10

    Oberlin College

    Oberlin , OH
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    35%

    Graduation

    86%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1380/31

    What is Oberlin College known for?

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

    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • Education
    • Religious Studies
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Sociology
    • Psychology
    • Economics
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. #14

    Vassar College

    Poughkeepsie , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $63K

    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
    • Anthropology
    • Communications
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Physics
    • Philosophy
    • Earth Sciences

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. #15

    Haverford College

    Haverford , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    18%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1460/33

    What is Haverford College known for?

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

    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy
    • Mathematics
    • Literature
    • Sociology
    • Anthropology
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Chemistry
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  12. #16

    Pomona College

    Claremont , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    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:

    • Chemistry
    • Literature
    • Physics
    • Biology
    • Religious Studies
    • Communications
    • Anthropology
    • Philosophy
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. #18

    Clark University

    Worcester , MA

    Tuition + fees

    $50K

    Acceptance

    47%

    Graduation

    75%

    Student body

    4K

    What is Clark University known for?

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

    • Psychology
    • Social Work
    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • Sociology
    • Physics
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. #19

    College of the Holy Cross

    Worcester , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    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:

    • Religious Studies
    • Communications
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Sociology
    • Economics
    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  15. #20

    Middlebury College

    Middlebury , VT
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    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:

    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Earth Sciences
    • Education
    • History
    • Economics
    • Anthropology
    • Philosophy
    • Physics
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. #21

    Bowdoin College

    Brunswick , ME
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Bowdoin College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  17. #22

    Mount Holyoke College

    South Hadley , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    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
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Anthropology
    • Psychology
    • Sociology
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

  18. #23

    Colgate University

    Hamilton , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    Acceptance

    27%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1415/32

    What is Colgate University known for?

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

    • Philosophy
    • Religious Studies
    • Political Science
    • Anthropology
    • Literature
    • History
    • Biology
    • Earth Sciences
    • Education
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  19. #24

    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:

    • Religious Studies
    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Sociology
    • History
    • Communications
    • Literature
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

  20. #25

    Bard College

    Annandale-On-Hudson , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    57%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    3K

    What is Bard College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  21. #26

    Union College

    Schenectady , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    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:

    • Anthropology
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Sociology
    • History
    • Physics
    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  22. #28

    Denison University

    Granville , OH
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    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
    • Economics
    • Physics
    • Philosophy
    • Law
    • Anthropology
    • Earth Sciences
    • Sociology
    • Biology
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  23. #30

    Claremont McKenna College

    Claremont , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    13%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1435/32

    What is Claremont McKenna College known for?

    Claremont McKenna College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • Law
    • Philosophy
    • Sociology
    • History
    • Religious Studies
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  24. #31

    Carleton College

    Northfield , MN
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    21%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1450/32

    What is Carleton College known for?

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

    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • Earth Sciences
    • Sociology
    • Philosophy
    • Anthropology
    • Literature
    • History
    • Chemistry
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  25. #34

    University of Richmond

    University of Richmond , VA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    31%

    Graduation

    88%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1375/31

    What is University of Richmond known for?

    University of Richmond’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Law
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Anthropology
    • Education
    • Business
    • Economics
    • Psychology
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  26. #36

    University of Tulsa

    Tulsa , OK
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $46K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1225/27

    What is University of Tulsa known for?

    University of Tulsa’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Law
    • Literature
    • History
    • Engineering
    • Psychology
    • Communications
    • Economics
    • Business
    • Education
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  27. #38

    Occidental College

    Los Angeles , CA

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    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
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Economics
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Earth Sciences
    • Physics
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

  28. #39

    Willamette University

    Salem , OR
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $44K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Willamette University known for?

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

    • Economics
    • Law
    • Political Science
    • Physics
    • Anthropology
    • Chemistry
    • History
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  29. #40

    Dickinson College

    Carlisle , PA

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    52%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Dickinson College known for?

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

    • Law
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Anthropology
    • Literature
    • Earth Sciences
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  30. #41

    Hampshire College

    Amherst , MA

    Tuition + fees

    $53K

    Acceptance

    59%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    <1K

    What is Hampshire College known for?

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

    • Physics
    • Literature
    • Anthropology
    • Mathematics
    • Sociology
    • Communications
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology
    • History
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  31. #43

    Sarah Lawrence College

    Bronxville , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    55%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1331/29

    What is Sarah Lawrence College known for?

    Sarah Lawrence College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Sociology
    • Social Work
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  32. #44

    Spelman College

    Atlanta , GA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $28K

    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
    • Sociology
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Social Work
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Economics
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  33. #46

    Trinity College

    Hartford , CT
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    36%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1374/30

    What is Trinity College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • History
    • Economics
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Engineering
    • Religious Studies
    • Sociology
    • Education
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

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The Best Small Colleges and Universities Near You

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Resources for College-Bound Students

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. California Institute of Technology
  2. Swarthmore College
  3. Amherst College
  4. Sarah Lawrence College
  5. Reed College
  6. Barnard College
  7. Bates College
  8. Wesleyan University
  9. Vassar College
  10. Hampshire College
  11. Wellesley College
  12. Williams College
  13. Cooper Union
  14. Pomona College
  15. Oberlin College
  16. Bryn Mawr College
  17. Bennington College
  18. Yeshiva University
  19. Bard College
  20. Haverford College
  21. Harvey Mudd College
  22. Smith College
  23. Claremont McKenna College
  24. The Catholic University of America
  25. Morehouse College
  26. Kenyon College
  27. Naropa University
  28. Bowdoin College
  29. Mount Holyoke College
  30. Carleton College
  31. Fisk University
  32. Spelman College
  33. Clark University
  34. Colgate University
  35. Washington and Lee University
  36. Occidental College
  37. Connecticut College
  38. Pitzer College
  39. New College of Florida
  40. Wheaton College
  41. Grinnell College
  42. Middlebury College
  43. DePauw University
  44. Hamilton College
  45. Trinity College
  46. Goddard College
  47. College of the Atlantic
  48. Clarke University
  49. Scripps College
  50. Earlham College

Photo Credit: California Institute of Technology, Beckman Institute. By Canon.vs.nikon, via CC BY-SA 3.0.