Best liberal arts colleges in the United States 2022

Submitted by seeta.bhardwa@… on Tue, 09/21/2021 - 12:05

Choosing a college in the United States is no easy decision, not least because there are so many types of universities, colleges and schools.

Liberal arts colleges were once a unique feature of American higher education, but the model has spread to other countries around the world.

At liberal arts colleges there is an emphasis on undergraduate study that includes a wide range of subjects, from science to humanities.

In addition to the interdisciplinary curriculum, the best liberal arts colleges tend to have smaller student populations than other institutions. Class sizes are often small and academic staff tend to focus more on teaching than research, compared with other colleges.


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Liberal arts schools are private, not-for-profit colleges and generally charge the same tuition fees for in-state and out-of-state students, unlike public universities. At the top end, annual tuition for an undergraduate degree at a liberal arts college is just under $50,000.

The best liberal arts colleges can be found across the United States, with clusters in Massachusetts, California and Pennsylvania. Find the top 100 liberal arts colleges below (ranking is calculated according to the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education US College Rankings 2022).

The ranking is designed to answer the questions that matter the most to students and their families. While previously we have used results from the US Student Survey for the ranking, we were unable to conduct a survey in 2020 and 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, we have used data from the 2019 survey to inform this year’s ranking. The full methodology can be found here.

Top 5 liberal arts colleges in the United States

1. Amherst College

Undergraduates at Amherst College study a completely open curriculum without any core modules or restrictions on the subjects or courses to be taken in certain years.

Amherst is highly selective and located in Massachusetts, which often encourages rivalry with Williams College, which is second in the liberal arts ranking. 

Classes are extremely small to provide interaction with teachers. About 90 per cent of all courses have fewer than 30 students enrolled.

2. Williams College

The small academic community at Williams College in Massachusetts is close-knit, consisting of about 2,000 undergraduate students.

An undergraduate degree in the liberal arts takes four years to complete, covering humanities, sciences and social sciences.

The college was established in 1793 and in some departments the teaching is modelled on the tutorial system at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge in the UK, where students are taught one-to-one or in small groups.

3. Pomona College

California-based Pomona College offers 48 majors for undergraduates across the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.

The small student body of about 1,640 undergraduates is diverse, with 60 countries represented.

Many students take advantage of research and work opportunities in the area, including the geographical diversity around California, and the wealth of work experience in nearby Los Angeles.


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4. Swarthmore College

Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania was one of the first co-educational colleges in the US, founded in 1864.

Alongside the liberal arts curriculum, undergraduates can enrol on an engineering track.

Graduates include five Nobel prizewinners, 11 MacArthur Foundation fellows and 30 Rhodes Scholars. 

Despite the rural setting, the city of Philadelphia is only 25 minutes away by train. 

5. Wellesley College

Despite only having about 2,400 undergraduate students, Wellesley College is home to more than 150 student clubs and organisations.

The women-only college offers more than 1,000 courses and also allows students to take courses at other world-leading institutions, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brandeis University.

The alumni network includes politician Hillary Rodham Clinton and journalist Diane Sawyer.


Top 100 liberal arts colleges in the United States

Liberal Arts Rank 2022 US College Rank 2022 University City State
1 22 Amherst College Amherst Massachusetts
2 23 Williams College Williamstown Massachusetts
3 25 Pomona College Claremont California
4 29 Swarthmore College Swarthmore Pennsylvania
5 31 Wellesley College Wellesley Massachusetts
6 34 Claremont McKenna College Claremont California
7 35 Carleton College Northfield Minnesota
8 =36 Haverford College Haverford Pennsylvania
9 38 Bowdoin College Brunswick Maine
10 39 Smith College Northampton Massachusetts
11 =40 Middlebury College Middlebury Vermont
12 =43 Wesleyan University Middletown Connecticut
13 47 United States Military Academy West Point New York
14 50 Barnard College New York New York
15 =52 Colgate University Hamilton New York
16 =55 Mount Holyoke College South Hadley Massachusetts
17 =58 Hamilton College Clinton New York
18 =61 Wake Forest University Winston-Salem North Carolina
19 64 Bates College Lewiston Maine
20 65 Vassar College Poughkeepsie New York
21 66 Davidson College Davidson North Carolina
22 67 Scripps College Claremont California
23 68 Bryn Mawr College Bryn Mawr Pennsylvania
24 =69 Grinnell College Grinnell Iowa
25 73 Washington and Lee University Lexington Virginia
26 77 Lafayette College Easton Pennsylvania
27 =81 Bucknell University Lewisburg Pennsylvania
28 84 Franklin & Marshall College Lancaster Pennsylvania
29 88 Pitzer College Claremont California
30 89 Macalester College Saint Paul Minnesota
31 92 Reed College Portland Oregon
32 93 Kenyon College Gambier Ohio
33 95 Occidental College Los Angeles California
34 98 Whitman College Walla Walla Washington
35 =99 Dickinson College Carlisle Pennsylvania
36 102 Skidmore College Saratoga Springs New York
37 =104 Trinity College Hartford Connecticut
38 106 Trinity University San Antonio Texas
39 108 Rhodes College Memphis Tennessee
40 =109 Connecticut College New London Connecticut
41 112 Oberlin College Oberlin Ohio
42 114 Denison University Granville Ohio
43 =115 Colorado College Colorado Springs Colorado
44 =117 College of the Holy Cross Worcester Massachusetts
45 120 DePauw University Greencastle Indiana
=46 =122 Seattle University Seattle Washington
=46 =122 Gettysburg College Gettysburg Pennsylvania
48 =126 Spelman College Atlanta Georgia
49 =128 Simmons University Boston Massachusetts
50 134 Union College Schenectady New York
51 =143 Elon University Elon North Carolina
52 147 Willamette University Salem Oregon
53 148 Berea College Berea Kentucky
54 149 Furman University Greenville South Carolina
=55 =150 St Olaf College Northfield Minnesota
=55 =150 The College of Wooster Wooster Ohio
=57 =160 Hobart and William Smith Colleges Geneva New York
=57 =160 Wheaton College (Massachusetts) Norton Massachusetts
=57 =160 Linfield College - McMinnville campus McMinnville Oregon
60 =164 Allegheny College Meadville Pennsylvania
61 =166 Muhlenberg College Allentown Pennsylvania
62 168 Lawrence University Appleton Wisconsin
63 172 Kalamazoo College Kalamazoo Michigan
64 =173 Wheaton College (Illinois) Wheaton Illinois
65 =190 Sewanee-The University of the South Sewanee Tennessee
=66 =192 Lake Forest College Lake Forest Illinois
=66 =192 Gonzaga University Spokane Washington
=66 =192 Beloit College Beloit Wisconsin
=66 =192 St Lawrence University Canton New York
=70 =197 Saint Mary's College of California Moraga California
=70 =197 Westmont College Santa Barbara California
72 =200 Sarah Lawrence College Bronxville New York
=73 =204 Ohio Wesleyan University Delaware Ohio
=73 =204 Washington College Chestertown Maryland
75 206 Gustavus Adolphus College Saint Peter Minnesota
=76 =207 Susquehanna University Selinsgrove Pennsylvania
=76 =207 Earlham College Richmond Indiana
78 =210 Wofford College Spartanburg South Carolina
79 =217 Westminster College (Utah) Salt Lake City Utah
=80 =219 Providence College Providence Rhode Island
=80 =219 Stonehill College Easton Massachusetts
=82 =223 College of Saint Benedict Saint Joseph Minnesota
=82 =223 Centre College Danville Kentucky
84 =227 Miami University Oxford Ohio
85 =229 Knox College Galesburg Illinois
86 =231 Ithaca College Ithaca New York
87 =234 Lewis & Clark College Portland Oregon
88 =236 Mount Saint Mary's University Los Angeles California
89 =238 Southwestern University Georgetown Texas
90 =238 Adelphi University Garden City New York
=91 =244 Mercer University Macon Georgia
=91 =244 Albion College Albion Michigan
=93 =256 Manhattan College Riverdale New York
=93 =256 Saint Anselm College Manchester New Hampshire
95 =261 Austin College Sherman Texas
=96 =264 Rollins College Winter Park Florida
=96 =264 Hope College Holland Michigan
98 =269 Luther College Decorah Iowa
99 =271 Augustana College (Illinois) Rock Island Illinois
100 =273 Bard College Annandale-On-Hudson New York
Standfirst

Explore the top 100 liberal arts colleges in the United States using data from the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education US College Rankings

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