Best Liberal Arts Colleges Rankings

The Official Rankings of US Liberal Arts Colleges

Want to know which small, liberal arts schools are the best of the best?

Our ranking of Liberal Arts Colleges includes hundreds of schools, using metrics like class size, retention rate, earnings potential, and variety of majors available, as well as relative academic rigor to determine which schools shine. Check out the rankings below and see how they are measured both objectively and subjectively.  Our experts rank these colleges also based on peer reviews and statistics that measure other unique items like post-graduation employment data.


Ranking of Liberal Arts Schools

1. Williams College (17.28%)

With some of the smallest class sizes, and one of the largest endowments, Williams is able to offer incredible resources to its students, both inside and outside the classroom.
2. Pomona College (14%)

Rigorous academics, strong all-around programs with a variety of majors, and exemplary student retention make Pomona one of the few exceptions to a field that is typically dominated by the Northeast. The weather is a plus.
3. Swarthmore College (15.08%)

A highly intellectual student body, with rigorous and varied academics. Swarthmore prides itself on fostering a “life of the mind”. On paper, the smartest of the small liberal arts crowd.
4. Amherst College (13.3%)

Typically vies with Williams for the top spot in the Northeast, combining strong athletics with an academically superior environment, Amherst is a perennial contender and the most selective of the “Little Ivies”
5. Middlebury College (18.32%) Traditionally known for its powerhouse language programs, Middlebury has also made itself a leader in the fields of environmental science and activism. Middlebury’s academics are highly rigorous, and their schools abroad are unmatched.
6. Wellesley College (30.9%) One of the original Seven Sisters, Wellesley is traditionally an all-female school. Wellesley truly excels in the breadth of programs offered as majors, which, combined with a very large endowment, allows them to focus huge resources on every student.
7. Bowdoin College (16.1%)

Bowdoin offers a secluded experience in coastal Maine, with a tight-knit campus experience. Bowdoin prides itself on creating well-rounded students who are at home in any setting.
8. Haverford College (25.1%)

One of the smaller colleges on a list of small colleges, Haverford is known for the beauty of its campus, and its emphasis on writing. Every student at Haverford is required to complete a senior thesis in order to graduate.

9. Claremont McKenna College (14.1%) One of “the” Claremont Colleges, three of which made this list, Claremont-McKenna College has a high focus on academics, and on providing a true liberal arts experience, with a wide variety of majors available both within the college and through the Consortium.
10. Vassar College (22.5%) The first of the Seven Sisters to admit men, Vassar is located on an incredibly scenic campus in the Hudson Valley. The emphasis at Vassar is on intellectual freedom, with no core curriculum and encouraged access to multidisciplinary programs and independent study.
11. Washington & Lee University (18.2%) Washington and Lee, otherwise known as WNL, is located in beautiful Lexington, Virginia. Along with Davidson, WNL is the South’s take on a liberal arts college. Rigorous academics, an active Greek community, and powerful sports teams make WNL one of the best liberal arts colleges in the nation for those desiring a well-rounded experience.
12. Wesleyan University (24.2%) 


Strong academics combined with a healthy Greek and social sphere, Wesleyan is an excellent option for students looking to blur the lines between a traditional liberal arts college and a competitive research institution.
13. Harvey Mudd College (22.3%) Another of the Claremont Colleges, Harvey Mudd is unique as a liberal arts college in offering only science majors. The Harvey Mudd recipe is an interesting and powerful combination of top-tier science programs and required studies in the humanities.
14. Hamilton College (27.4%)

Hamilton College has strong academics, and a vibrant social atmosphere, but really shines in the degree of freedom it provides students in planning their course of study. Students are expected to make intelligent, informed, and responsible decisions with the aid of faculty advisors.
15. Davidson College (28.0%) Davidson, located out outside of Charlotte, NC, offers a combination of traditional, big-school social atmosphere and small-school, top-notch focus on athletics and academics.
16. Colgate University (29.4%)

Colgate offers a rare opportunity for the liberal arts student, that is, the chance to attend an institution that provides competitive, accessible graduate research programs without taking the focus off of the undergraduate experience. With a campus equal in size and population to the town it borders, Colgate is an interesting mix of university and college.
17. Colby College (29.4%) At 50 majors, Colby has one of the most diverse offerings for undergraduate education. Academically rigorous and strongly encouraging study abroad, Colby College provides excellent opportunities to engage as a connected, global student.
18. Grinnell College (50.9%) Located in rural Iowa, Grinnell is a model small liberal arts college. A variety of programs, close-knit campus, and strong involvement from the student body in social activism and academics makes Grinnell an attractive option.
19. Kenyon College (33.5%) One of the hidden gems of the Midwest, Kenyon College in Ohio offers academically rigorous programs, including a robust family of foreign language programs, all on a beautiful campus where the focus is completely on the undergraduate students.
20.  Carleton College (31.0%) With rigorous academics, and a truly formidable commitment to social education and activism, Carleton is one of the best options for any student interested in applying their studies to the world around them.


These Liberal Arts College Rankings were assigned using a combination of statistics, including acceptance rates, size of endowment, majors offered, freshman retention rate, median SAT / ACT score, class size, peer reviews, and subjective knowledge of program strength and rigor.

This video on the best liberal arts college rankings will also elucidate and clarify our rankings:

For information on the rankings and college admissions counseling, contact our rankings and admissions experts directly at (800) 501-7737.