Top 25 Best Liberal Arts Colleges in the US | 2022 Rankings

The epitome of the term “well-rounded” is a liberal arts education. The Liberal Arts encompass a wide array of disciplines — from English to Business to Psychology. Lib arts colleges encourage students to explore subjects outside of their major and have a truly holistic education. Liberal arts colleges also typically have smaller student bodies, which means students will find a tight-knit community and unique campus culture.

We put together the top 25 best liberal arts colleges in the US after combing through thousands of schools. So check out the list below if you’re interested in a liberal arts education!

Top 25 Best Liberal Arts Colleges

With just under 1,600 undergraduate students, Swarthmore College is a smaller school. It was one of the first coeducational colleges in the country. The college is associated with the University of Pennsylvania through the Quaker Consortium, which means students can take classes at the four schools within the arrangement.
Location Swarthmore, PA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,594
Although it was originally founded as a men’s college in 1793, the school now has 2,150 students with about half men and half women. It was created out of the funds of Ephraim Williams, who died in the French and Indian War. The college gets just under 10,000 applications each year and accepts 13% of students.
Location Williamstown, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,150
A smaller school, Pomona College has about 1,640 students. The school receives around 10,400 applications and accepts 7.4% of them. The four commonly chosen majors are Econometrics, Computer Science, Mathematics, and Neuroscience. The school was created when the founders wanted to recreate a “college of the New England type.” Their mascot is Cecil the Sagehen.
Location Claremont, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,637
With an acceptance rate of 11%, Amherst College is a fairly selective school. A majority of their first-year students come from Massachusetts, New York, and California. The third oldest institution of higher education in the state, it was originally a men’s college. It became coeducational in 1975. Amherst College’s motto is “Terras Irradient,” which means “Let them enlighten the lands.”
Location Amherst, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,839
Originally known as the Augusta Academy and established in 1749, it would later be named after George Washington and Robert E. Lee, the latter of which was the president of the school for five years. With blue and white colors, students and athletes go by the nickname The Generals.
Location Lexington, VA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,264
Harvey Mudd College has under 1,000 students and offers programs only in science and engineering. It has a 14% acceptance rate, 97% first year graduation rate, and an 8 to 1 student to faculty ratio. Part of the Claremont Colleges, their colors are black and gold. The men’s teams are known as the Stags and the women are known as the Athenas.
Location Claremont, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 904
Wellesley College is a private women’s liberal arts college going back to 1870. It is the largest out of all women’s colleges and has seen famous alumni including Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, and Katharine Lee Bates. Economics is the most commonly chosen major, but other popular choices include Biology, Computer and Information Sciences, and Political Science.
Location Wellesley, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,519
Around 1,350 students attend Claremont McKenna College, which has a 10% acceptance rate and 84% four-year graduation rate. The most commonly chosen major is econometrics and quantitative economics. With an 8 to 1 student to faculty ratio, 96% of students will stay after their freshman year.
Location Claremont, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,346
Bowdoin College is a very selective school with an acceptance rate of 9%. 91% of students will graduate within four years, and 95% within six. With a 9 to 1 student to faculty ratio, the college also has a 98% first year retention rate. Bowdoin College offers 34 different majors, including joint engineering programs with Columbia, Dartmouth, Caltech, and the University of Maine.
Location Brunswick, ME
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,835
A small school, Colby College is very selective with only a 9.7% acceptance rate. Due to their small size though, they have a high student to faculty ratio of 9 to 1 and a 94% first year retention rate. 89% of students will go on to graduate within 4 years, and 92% within six. Economics is the most popular major with Political Science and Government not far behind.
Location Waterville, ME
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,003
With 57 areas of study, a majority of Hamilton students opt for economics as their major, but mathematics, political science, and general literature are also popular choices. Their motto is in Ancient Greek: Γνῶθι Σεαυτόν, which is “Know thyself.” The school has been coeducational since 1978 after merging with its sister school, Kirkland College.
Location Clinton, NY
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,012
Davidson College was founded in 1837 and already started trying to reduce the cost of college for students by the 1850’s. Today, the school meets the financial needs of students through grants, student employment, and more, and doesn’t require their students to take out loans. 18% of applicants are accepted. Davidson has a 95% first year retention rate.
Location Davidson, NC
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,837
Haverford College is a liberal arts school founded in 1833 by the Religious Society of Friends, also known as Quakers. It’s part of the Tri-College Consortium which means students can attend classes at nearby schools Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore. “Non doctior, sed meliore doctrina imbutus,” or "Not more learned, but steeped in a higher learning" is the school’s motto.
Location Haverford, PA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,317
Part of the Midwest Conference, the most popular sports at Carleton College include football, basketball, baseball, and cross country/track, soccer, and swimming and diving. They’re known as the Knights and wear blue and maize for school colors. International relations and affairs is a top major, with computer science, biology, and research and experimental psychology also being popular choices.
Location Northfield, MN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,115
The first operating college or university in Vermont was Middlebury College, founded in 1800. It was also the first American institution of higher education that gave a bachelor’s degree to an African-American (in 1823). Although it was originally all-male, the school would begin to admit women in 1883. It has an acceptance rate of 15%.
Location Middlebury, VT
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,657
Barnard College is a private women’s liberal arts college located on the banks of the Hudson River. The school was actually founded in response to Columbia University not admitting women. Today, it’s part of the Seven Sisters, an association of women’s liberal arts colleges in the country. Their motto is “Hepomene toi logismoi” (Greek) or “Following the Way of Reason.”
Location New York City, NY
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,631
Vassar offers 50 majors with the most popular being Economics, Research and Experimental Psychology, Biology/Biological Sciences, and Political Science and Government. They have an acceptance rate of just under 24%. A few people who have graduated or attended Vassar include Anne Hathaway, Jane Fonda, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and Anthony Bourdain.
Location Poughkeepsie, NY
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,439
The two most popular majors at Grinnell College are Computer Science or Biology/Biological Sciences. Part of the Midwest Conference and NCAA Division III, the Pioneers, wearing scarlet and black, have a wide variety of sports to choose from including football, swimming, diving, golf, and soccer. They currently have just under 400 athletes and their unofficial mascot is a squirrel.
Location Grinnell, IA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,733
Colgate University is known as a “Hidden Ivy” and a “Little Ivy.” The school regularly makes lists naming the most beautiful campuses in the United States. 99% of the students at Colgate study at the undergraduate level. However, the school offers up to the master’s degree level of education. Maroon and white are the official school colors.
Location Hamilton, NY
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,992
“Verbum Vitae et Lumen Scientiae” or “Word of Life and the Light of Knowledge” is the motto of the University of Richmond. About 28% of applying students are accepted. 82% of the student body are graduates, meaning the remaining 18% are graduate students. The school has an interesting mascot - WebstUR the Spider.
Location Richmond, VA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 3,914
Exclusively for undergraduates, Macalester College has an acceptance rate of around 32%. They have a relatively low student to faculty ratio (10 to 1) and a 93% first year retention rate. Although the school is located in Minnesota, many students also come from California, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Macalester’s campus is located near the mighty Mississippi River.
Location St. Paul, MN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,098
The College of the Holy Cross has a 34% acceptance rate, 93% first year retention rate, and an impressive 91% four year graduation rate. It is the oldest Catholic college in New England. Today, it’s a part of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. Athletes are known as the Crusaders (who are also their mascot) and they wear Royal purple and white.
Location Worcester, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,963
Lafayette College is known as a Hidden Ivy and a Little Ivy. Although the college is based in Pennsylvania, there is a small satellite campus in New York City. The school is named after General Lafayette, a hero of the American Revolution. Lafayette’s campus is located on the historic Delaware River.
Location Easton, PA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,662
A member of the Claremont Colleges, Scripps College is a private liberal arts women’s school. It’s known for its historic campus as well as its extensive curriculum. The campus is currently listed in the National Register of Historic Places and often gets mentioned for its beautiful grounds. Biology, Psychology, and Political Science and Government are common majors.
Location Claremont, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,109
Wesleyan University’s top majors include Econometrics and Quantitative Economics, Psychology, English, and Political Science and Government. The school was founded as a men’s college and became fully co-educational in 1970. The campus is located on the bends of the Connecticut River. Cardinal and black are the official school colors of Wesleyan’s sports teams.
Location Middletown, CT
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 3,230

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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