Top 25 Best Colleges in New England | 2021 Rankings

Best New England Colleges badgeNew England is known for its beautiful scenery, early American history, and, of course, for prestigious colleges. In fact, some of the schools in New England are older than the country itself!

For this list, we’re considering the following states to be part of New England: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Whether you’re from the area or considering a college in the area, here are the top 25 best colleges in New England!

Top 25 Best Colleges in New England

Almost everyone has heard about Harvard University, and for good reason. Not only is Harvard University the oldest college in the United States, it also holds the largest academic library system in the world. Over 42,000 students apply to Harvard every year, but only under 5% of those applicants are accepted into this renowned Ivy League.
Location Cambridge, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 31,566
Originally named the Collegiate School, Yale University renamed itself in 1716. From there, Yale University continued to grow, even awarding the first PhD in the United States. The school also has the second-largest endowment -- over half the students attending Yale receive over $52,000 in grant and over $50,000 in institutional aid.
Location New Haven, CT
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 13,433
MIT is widely known for its innovation and contributions in the advancements in technology and modern sciences, including the development of digital circuits, creating its own unit of length, and discovering the genetic basis of human cancer, to name a few. MIT is also highly selective -- over 21,000 students apply to MIT annually, but only 7% of them are accepted.
Location Cambridge, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 11,574
As a liberal arts college, Williams College focuses on interdisciplinary studies and runs on a 4-1-4 schedule. Students can use the winter semester to take an interesting class, focus on their research, or study abroad. Along with their unique academic calendar, students can expect an average class size of six students to every faculty member.
Location Williamstown, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,149
Dartmouth College is highly selective and for good reason. Not only does the college offer the Dartmouth Plan, which allows more freedom to students building their schedules, Dartmouth also covers the tuition of students with families that make less than $100,000 a year. The school receives 22,000 applications, but only accepts 9% of them.
Location Hanover, NH
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 6,572
As the seventh-oldest university in America and as the first school to accept any student regardless of their religion, Brown University has been paving the way for a different way of seeing education ever since. Because of their unique and flexible take on classes, they see about 35,000 applications every year, but only accept 8% of those students.
Location Providence, RI
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 10,257
Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering is unique in that it has an extremely small student body and only three majors: Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Electrical Engineering. Additionally, students who attend have half of their tuition covered by the Olin Scholarship. Olin College receives almost 900 applicants per year, only accepting less than 140 of them.
Location Needham, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 390
As a liberal arts school, Amherst College has adopted an open curriculum, where students aren’t required to take any core classes. Many students at Amherst major in fields such as Economics, Mathematics, and English, just to name a few. The college is also part of the Five College Consortium, which means that students can take classes at the other four schools.
Location Amherst, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,855
The United States Coast Guard Academy is the smallest service academy and the only one that doesn’t require a student to have a congressman’s nomination. However, like the others, this academy is highly selective, only accepting 19% of their applicants. Though students only have a few majors to choose from, majors have their own tracks.
Location New London, CT
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 1,071
Tufts University began as a small, liberal arts school before transitioning into the large, research university it is today. The university also houses the country’s oldest international relations graduate school, which isn’t surprising -- Tufts University places a heavy emphasis on internationalism and is known for its study abroad programs.
Location Medford, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 11,586
Wellesley College is a women-only college. Wellesley is also part of the Seven Sisters Colleges. The college is highly selective, only accepting 19 of all applicants. Students who attend the college can expect a typical class size to be around eight students for every one faculty member, and Wellesley boasts a 96% first-year retention rate.
Location Wellesley, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,534
Students at Bowdoin have few core curriculum requirements and can even participate in joint engineering programs with three other universities. Some of the more popular majors students choose at Bowdoin include Political Science and Government, Econometrics and Quantitative Economics, and Biology.
Location Brunswick, ME
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,828
Middlebury was the first college to grant a degree to an African-American student, was the first college in New England to become co-ed, and hosts the oldest writers’ conference in America, the prestigious Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Middlebury College’s academic reputation means that the school sees over 9,000 applications every year, though only 1,500 are accepted.
Location Brunswick, ME
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,828
Founded in 1863, Boston College’s Greek motto--”Αἰὲν ἀριστεύειν” translates to mean, “Ever to Excel.” First year applicants certainly do excel, as their average ACT scores range between 30 and 34 and their SAT scores range from 1380 and 1520. The school has an acceptance rate of about 28%. BC also boasts an impressive 90% 4 year graduation rate.
Location Chestnut Hill, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 14,720
Students at Colby College will find themselves in a unique and rich academic environment. The college operates on a 4-1-4 semester schedule. Studying abroad is also popular with students, as the college accepts credits from over 200 programs. Some popular majors at Colby College include Economics, Political Science and Government, and Biology.
Location Chestnut Hill, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 14,720
Babson College began as an all-men’s school, before becoming coeducational 50 years later, though its focus on entrepreneurial education hasn’t changed. Today, there’s an almost even split of men and women attending. Incoming students typically have an ACT score between 27 to 32 and an SAT score between 1,290 to 1,460.
Location Wellesley, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 3,357
Boston University has a near even split between undergraduate and graduate students -- at 53% and 47% respectively. The campus is located on the Charles River. One of Boston University’s claims to fame is that it was the first American university to award a PhD to a woman, Helen Magill White in 1877.
Location Boston, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 34,657
Since the bachelor’s degree is the highest level of education offered, you’ll only find undergraduate students on campus. On average, first-year students score between 27 -- 32 on the ACT and 1280 -- 1450 on the SAT. The College of the Holy Cross has an acceptance rate of 34%. The student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1.
Location Worcester, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,939
Brandeis boasts an impressive number of student organizations, including a student-run farmer’s market and a competitive debate and speech club. Organizations are open to any student interested in joining. Incoming students have an average ACT score between 28 to 33 and an SAT score between 1,310 to 1,500.
Location Waltham, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 5,800
As a Public Ivy, the University of Connecticut has the largest public library system in the state. With its prestige, it’s no wonder that the university receives almost 35,000 applications every year. The incoming class had an average ACT score between 25 to 32 and an average SAT score between 1,230 to 1,430.
Location Storrs, CT
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 27,412
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Joss Whedon, and Michael Bay are just a few of the notable alumni of Wesleyan University. Located near the Connecticut River, Wesleyan has an acceptance rate of 16%. Of the 13,260 some applications sent in every year, WU will accept about 2,160 of them. The school has a 96% first-year retention rate and a 4-year graduation rate of 88%.
Location Middletown, CT
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 3,217
On average, the first-year class of Bentley University score between 26 -- 31 on the ACT and between 1250 -- 1420 on the SAT. The school has an acceptance rate of 47% and a 4-year graduation rate of 85%. Student-athletes wear blue and white while they compete as the Falcons in NCAA Division II sports.
Location Waltham, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 5,460
Bates College is considered both a Little Ivy and a Hidden Ivy, so it’s not surprising that over 7,600 students apply to the college annually. Students at Bates College can participate in joint undergraduate programs at three other schools. Some of the most popular majors at Bates include Political Science and Government, Economics, and Psychology.
Location Lewiston, ME
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,832
As the largest member of the Seven Sisters, Smith College only accepts women for undergraduate studies, though men can apply to their graduate school. Smith College is also part of the Five Colleges Consortium. One of the most popular majors offered at Smith College is Engineering. Smith was the first women’s college to offer engineering as a major.
Location Northampton, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,903
Psychology, Interdisciplinary Studies, Biology, Computer Science, and Public Health are the 5 most popular majors on campus. UMass Amherst, as it’s commonly called, has a 91% first-year retention rate. 70% of the incoming class does come from the state of Massachusetts, though many others come from around the country.
Location Amherst, MA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 30,593

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

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.

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