While many students have strong opinions on going to small and large colleges, the medium-sized colleges can be a great fit for those students who don’t have strong feelings either way.

These schools allow students to get to know others on campus, while still allowing them the anonymity that can come with a large school. For the purposes of our list, we are considering schools with total enrollments of 2,000 to 10,000.

Here are College Raptor’s picks for the 25 Best Medium-Sized Colleges.

25. Lehigh University

  • Flickr user Lehigh Valley, PA

    Location: Bethlehem, PA

  • Student Enrollment: 7,054
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Lehigh University gets its name from its location in the Lehigh Valley and is one of the largest private universities in the U.S.  With one-third of its undergraduate students enrolled in the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the average ACT score is between 30 and 33.  It is also considered one of the twenty-four “Hidden Ivies”.  Lehigh shares the longest football rivalry in NCAA history with Lafayette College.

24. Macalester College

  • Flickr user Alan Levine

    Location: St. Paul, MN

  • Student Enrollment: 2,172
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

The average ACT score of the incoming freshman class ranges between 28 and 33, for the average SAT scores, between 1280 and 1450. Macalester has a 4-year graduation rate of 85%, and a student to faculty ratio of 10:1. Known as the Scots, Macalester students wear blue and orange to cheer on their sports teams.

23. The College of New Jersey

  • Wikimedia Commons user Tomwsulcer

    Location: Ewing Township, NJ

  • Student Enrollment: 7,406
  • College Type: Public, 4-year or above

Located in a suburban area, The College of New Jersey’s campus is in close proximity to New York City and Philadelphia.  In addition to academics, students enjoy over 200 clubs and organizations.  The new Campus Town complex provides housing and recreation complexes for students as well as local businesses.  The “Lions” compete in NCAA Division III athletics.

22. Lafayette College

  • Flickr user drewbee

    Location: Easton, PA

  • Student Enrollment: 2,533
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Overlooking the Delaware River, the campus of Lafayette College focuses on community.  Providing 37 majors, the most prominent are social science, engineering, and biology.  With an admission rate of 30%, the Lafayette community is selected to create a true belonging.  In competition with nearby Lehigh University, their 152 meetings on the gridiron make it the longest football rivalry in college football history.

21. Babson College

  • Flickr user sporst

    Location: Wellesley, MA

  • Student Enrollment: 3,057
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Babson is a school all about entrepreneurship, in fact, it’s known as the “Entrepreneur’s College.” First year students create, run, and dissolve a business of their very own, as part of their Foundations in Management course. Given that alone, it makes sense that their mascot is named Biz E. Bever.

20. Brandeis University

  • Wikimedia Commons user Kenneth C. Zirkel

    Location: Waltham, MA

  • Student Enrollment: 5,752
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Located in the suburbs of Boston, this medium sized research university was founded in 1948 by the American Jewish community.  It is home to the Heller School of Social Policy and Management which was the first program of its kind to bring attention to the gap between social welfare and social policy in the U.S.  With top majors in economics, psychology, and biology, the institution has a 34% acceptance rate.  

19. Barnard College

  • Flickr user david basulto

    Location: New York, NY

  • Student Enrollment: 2,548
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Barnard is a highly sought-after liberal arts college only for women.  Barnard is actually the most selective single-sex institutions in the U.S. with an admission rate of only 15%.  With its unique relationship with Columbia University, Barnard students get the best of both worlds – a small college setting with the extensive resources of a top research university.

18. Colgate University

  • Flickr user Mike Bash

    Location: Hamilton, NY

  • Student Enrollment: 2,861
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Through its liberal arts curriculum, Colgate has been providing its students small class sizes emphasizing student-faculty interaction since 1819.  In addition to its 55 majors, the Upstate Institute was established to give back economically and socially to the surrounding community.  Campus is also heated with biomass producing net zero carbon emissions.  With these characteristics, Colgate prepares its students to have a social and environmental conscious.  

17. Washington and Lee University

  • Location: Lexington, VA

  • Student Enrollment: 2,172
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

W&L’s school motto is Non Incautus Futuri—Not unmindful of the future—which makes sense as the school was partially named after a very forward thinking historical figure: George Washington. The second part of this school’s name comes from Robert E. Lee, who served as the university’s president until his death. The school’s Mock Conventions held during every presidential election year has shown a remarkable record of accuracy over the years.

16. Middlebury College

  • Flickr user daiji

    Location: Middlebury, VT

  • Student Enrollment: 2,558
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

This liberal arts school sees nearly 9,000 applications sent its way every year, and has a 17.4% acceptance rate. Middlebury College has a 8:1 student to faculty ratio, and a first year retention rate of 97%. Some popular sports on campus include the following: ice hockey, lacrosse, swimming and diving, soccer, track, and football.

15. Bucknell University

  • Flickr user Michael Caruso

    Location: Lewisburg, PA

  • Student Enrollment: 3,625
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

This diverse institution offers nearly 50 majors and over 60 minors, all while experiencing an impressive first year retention rate of 93%. Of its many majors, the Bucknell’s most popular are Economics, Political Science, Accounting, Finance and Biology. Bucknell’s colors are orange and blue, and its mascot is the bison.

14. Vassar College

  • Flickr user Yibo Yu

    Location: Poughkeepsie, NY

  • Student Enrollment: 2,436
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Fencing, lacrosse, soccer, squash, and track are popular sports on this campus. Fans wear burgundy and grey to cheer on the Brewers. They have 12 resident halls on campus, and students are required to live in them. Vassar has  a solid 90% four year graduation rate, and an equally impressive 94% first year retention rate.

13. United States Military Academy

  • Flickr user mikek7890

    Location: West Point, VA

  • Student Enrollment: 4,348
  • College Type: Public, 4-year or above

The United States Military Academy (or USMA) attracts students from all around the country, though most come from California, Texas, Florida, New York, and of course, Virginia. Here the students follow a code: “a cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.” There is a 7:1 student to faculty ratio and a 93% first-year retention rate.

12. Wellesley College

One of the original Seven Sisters Colleges, Wellesley is perhaps one of the most famous women’s colleges in the world. Notable alumni include: screenwriter Nora Ephron, professor/songwriter Katharine Lee Bates, journalist Diane Sawyer, and politician Hillary Clinton. The most popular major on campus is Economics.

11. Santa Clara University

  • Flickr user Ed Bierman

    Location: Santa Clara, CA

  • Student Enrollment: 8,680
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Santa Clara University is the oldest still-operating institution of higher education in California, and has remained in its original location for 166 years. The university’s 17 varsity sports teams play in NCAA Division I, and its mascot is Bucky Bronco. Students at the highly selective school tend to have ACT scores between 27–32 and SAT scores between 1,220–1,410.

10. Carleton College

  • Flickr user Willy Lee

    Location: Northfield, MN

  • Student Enrollment: 2,014
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Average ACT and SAT scores for this college are between 29–34 and 1,310–1,490 respectively. Nearly 7,000 applications come in each year, and of that almost 1,400 are accepted. They wear an eye-catching blue and gold (or maize) colors to cheer on the Knights at their sporting events.

9. United States Air Force Academy

  • Flickr user Wally Gobetz

    Location: USAFA, CO

  • Student Enrollment: 4,111
  • College Type: Public, 4-year or above

In addition to rigorous military training, all cadets at the Academy participate in intercollegiate or intramural athletics as well as a specialized leadership curriculum. The Academy’s mission is “to educate, train, and inspire men and women to become leaders of character, motivated to lead the United States Air Force in service to our nation.”

8. College of William and Mary

  • Flickr user benuski

    Location: Williamsburg, VA

  • Student Enrollment: 8,484
  • College Type: Public, 4-year or above

This historic school was royally founded. King William III and Queen Mary II sent letters in 1693 to establish the school, making W&M the second oldest institute of higher learning in the United States after Harvard. Their mascot is the griffin, and they play in the NCAA I-FCS division. Track, football, soccer, and swimming are popular sports on campus.

7. Rice University

  • Flickr user Jill Ellwanger

    Location: Houston, TX

  • Student Enrollment: 6,719
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Of the 18,000 applications Rice receives each year, the selective university only accepts 2,900 on average. With this competitive acceptance rate and its 6:1 student-faculty ratio, Rice takes academics very seriously. Outside of the classroom, Rice participates in 14 NCAA Division I sports and offers a wide variety of club and intramural sports.

6. Dartmouth College

  • Flickr user Dennis Yang

    Location: Hanover, NH

  • Student Enrollment: 6,350
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or more

Founded as a Congregationalist school to educate Native Americans in Christian theology and the English way of life, Dartmouth now provides 57 majors in 40 academic departments. The most popular of these are Economics, Political Science, and History. Students also follow the D Plan, a unique quarter plan that provides greater opportunities for internships and research.

5. Brown University

  • Flickr user thurdl01

    Location: Providence, RI

  • Student Enrollment: 9,458
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4 year or above

This well-known university was the first school in the Ivy League. It is the 7th oldest college in the country, and the first to admit students regardless of their religious affiliation. Economics, Biology, Computer Science, Neuroscience, and Applied Mathematics are the most common majors on this campus.

4. Williams College

  • Flickr user Peter Rintels

    Location: Williamstown, MA

  • Student Enrollment: 2,171
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

As one of the oldest colleges in the U.S., founded in 1793, Williams College offers forty-four undergraduate and two graduate majors.  It is consistently ranked as one of the top colleges in the country and meets 100% of admitted students’ financial need.  Their Purple Cow mascot supports their athletic teams which are called the Ephs.

3. United States Naval Academy

  • Flickr user Butch Dalisay

    Location: Annapolis, MD

  • Student Enrollment: 4,525
  • College Type: Public, 4-year or above

Built atop the former Fort Severn, the United States Naval Academy is 33 miles away from Washington D.C. They have an impressive 98% first-year retention rate, and an 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio. “Anchors Aweigh” is their well-known fight song played at sporting events, where they show off the colors navy blue and gold.

2. California Institute of Technology

  • Flickr user Eric Chan

    Location: Pasadena, CA

  • Student Enrollment: 2,255
  • College Type: Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above

In addition to their reputation as academic brainiacs, the students at this institute are notorious pranksters. They once even changed the Hollywood sign to read “CalTech.” Orange and white are the school colors, and their mascot is a beaver—an homage to nature’s best engineer. 34 Nobel prize winners have graduated from CalTech.

1. Princeton University

  • Flickr user Kah-Wai Lin

    Location: Princeton, NJ

  • Student Enrollment: 8,143
  • College Type: Private, not-for-profit, 4-year or above

Founded in 1746, this prestigious university didn’t earn the name Princeton until 1896—originally called the College of New Jersey. Of the nearly 30,000 applications that were sent in last year, only 1,948 were selected, giving Princeton an acceptance rate of 7.1%. Due to its excellent financial aid program, 83% of recent students graduated without any debt.

About our methodology

Colleges are ranked based on a combination of factors, including graduation rates, campus diversity, endowment per student, and other data as reported via the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for the most recently-available enrollment year. Some colleges may have been excluded from rankings based on certain criteria, including specialization and classification. Learn about our full methodology.

Interested in any of these schools? Check out College Raptor’s free match tool to see if they’re a good fit for you!


9/22/17 Note: Due to an error in the US Government’s IPEDS database, some data for Williams College was reported incorrectly. Our rankings have been updated accordingly.