The 25 Best Medium-Sized Universities in the US 2016

A gold star badge that says "College Raptor Top 25 Medium College 2016."Somewhere between the huge classes found at large colleges and the intimate, sometimes-quaint feeling of a small college, there are the schools that offer a bit of both worlds.

Many students seek out medium-sized colleges as a way to feel like they’re moving on from high school, without feeling totally overwhelmed by a 40,000 person university.

For those students, these colleges, with enrollment between 2,000 and 10,000 students, may offer just the experience they’re looking for–small enough for personal attention, but large enough to break out of their comfort zone.

Here are the 25 best medium-sized colleges in the U.S.

25. Barnard College

Lehman Hall and Wollman Library inside Barnard College campus.

2014 Barnard College Lehman Hall” by Beyond My KenOwn work. Licensed under GFDL via Commons.

New York, NY

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,489

Barnard College is a private, women’s liberal arts college located in Manhattan. Originally founded when Columbia College of Columbia University was an all-men’s school, Barnard was established to provide women with access to a quality education equal to Columbia and the rest of the Ivy League.

Learn more about Barnard College


24. Wesleyan University

Andrus Field and Olin Memorial Libary at Wesleyan University.

Wesolin” by Original uploader was Ychennay at en.wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Middletown, CT

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,906

Wesleyan University offers 40 academic departments and 47 major concentrations, as well as the ability for undergraduates to build and complete a custom major. The private, liberal arts college enrolls just less than 3,000 undergraduate students.

Learn more about Wesleyan University


23. Middlebury College

Middlebury College campus behind the trees.

Midd wiki 2“. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikipedia.

Middlebury, VT

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,495

Drawing nearly 2,500 undergraduate students to rural Vermont, Middlebury College is a private liberal arts college that offers 44 different majors. Middlebury was founded in 1800, which makes it one of the oldest liberal arts schools in the country. It was also the first college in the U.S. to offer an environmental studies program, starting in 1965.

Learn more about Middlebury College


22. Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University Homewood campus from Levering Plaza.

View from Levering Plaza” by Iracaz – iPhone photo. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikipedia.

Baltimore, MD

Undergraduate enrollment: 6,117

Johns Hopkins University is America’s oldest research university and enrolls more than 6,100 undergraduate students each year. Although probably best known for its medical research and graduate programs, JHU offers undergraduate degrees for a wide array of engineering, science, and art majors. Biomedical engineering is one of their most popular areas of study for undergrads.

Learn more about Johns Hopkins University


21. Tufts University

The entrance to Tisch library of Tufts University.

Tufts Tisch library entrance” by HereToHelpOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Medford, MA

Undergraduate enrollment: 5,180

Tufts University is a private research university near Boston, which attracts more than 5,100 undergraduate students. Until the late 1970’s, Tufts was a small, liberal arts college. It was later transformed into what is now a world-renowned research university that is regularly regarded as one of the best in the country.

Learn more about Tufts University


20. Vassar College

Thompson Library at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie.

Thompson Library (Vassar College)” by Noteremote. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Poughkeepsie, NY

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,477

With just under 2,500 undergraduate students, Vassar College is a private liberal arts college located between Albany and New York City. The most popular majors for undergrads are English, political science, psychology, economics, and biology.

Learn more about Vassar College


19. Carleton College

Aerial view of Carleton College campus.

Carleton College Aerial” by Dogs1337Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Commons.

Northfield, MN

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,045

Carleton College is a private liberal arts college in Minnesota, which attracts just more than 2,000 undergraduate students. They are known for having some unique course requirements. All undergrads are required to take a first-year argument & inquiry seminar, as well as courses in writing, language, international studies, intercultural domestic studies, arts practice, formal or statistical reasoning, physical education, and other subjects.

Learn more about Carleton College


18. College of William and Mary

Williamsburg, VA

Undergraduate enrollment: 6,271

W&M is a public research university that enrolls more than 6,200 undergraduate students. It’s recognized as a so-called “public Ivy”, offering an education comparable to the Ivy League at a public institution. Notable alumni include Presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and John Tyler.

Learn more about the College of William and Mary


17. Georgetown University

Georgetown University's main campus.

Georgetown Riverview” by PatrickneilOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Washington, D.C.

Undergraduate enrollment: 7,636

Probably best known for its prestigious Law and Public Policy programs, Georgetown University is a private research university that enrolls over 7,500 undergraduates in the nation’s capital, just above the Potomac River. They offer 48 majors across four undergraduate schools and colleges. President Bill Clinton graduated from Georgetown.

Learn more about Georgetown University


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16. Wellesley College

Wellesley, MA

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,474

Wellesley is a private, women’s liberal arts college. It offers 32 academic department majors and 22 additional interdisciplinary majors. Wellesley is also known for its numerous cross-enrollment agreements with colleges such as Harvard, Olin, MIT, Bowdoin, Babson, and others. It’s home to nearly 2,500 undergraduate women.

Learn more about Wellesley College


15. Rice University

Lovett Hall at Rice University.

Lovett Hall” by The original uploader was AniRaptor2001 at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Houston, TX

Undergraduate enrollment: 3,965

Rice is a private research university located in downtown Houston. The school boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of just 5:1–one of the lowest in the nation–as well as a $5.5 billion endowment. Its 3,965 undergraduate students study in a range of areas, with Biochemistry, Bioengineering, and Mechanical Engineering being the most popular majors.

Learn more about Rice University


14. Vanderbilt University

Benson Hall at Vanderbilt University.

Bensontower” by Dansan4444Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Commons.

Nashville, TN

Undergraduate enrollment: 6,835

Vanderbilt University enrolls nearly 7,000 undergraduate students. Its undergraduate programs comprise 70+ academic majors, including the option for students to create their own, offered by one of 4 schools: the College of Arts and Science, the School of Engineering, Peabody College of Education and Human Development, and Blair School of Music. It’s a private research university.

Learn more about Vanderbilt University


13. Washington University in St. Louis

Brookings Hall at Washington University in St. Louis.

Brookings“. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

St. Louis, MO

Undergraduate enrollment: 7,336

Psychology, Finance, and Biology are the three most popular majors among the more than 7,300 undergraduate students attending Washington University in St. Louis. Wash U is heavily involved in research, with more than 60% of undergrads participating in research across all areas.

Learn more about Washington University in St. Louis


12. Brown University

Brown University Robinson Hall.

Brown university robinson hall 2009a” by chensiyuan – chensiyuan. Licensed under GFDL via Commons.

Providence, RI

Undergraduate enrollment: 6,455

Brown University is a private research university, and one of the eight Ivy League schools. Brown’s “New Curriculum”, established in 1965, eliminated the requirement of general education courses, instead allowing students to take any classes they choose and receive a grade of either “satisfactory” or “unrecorded no-credit”.

Learn more about Brown University


11. University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, IN

Undergraduate enrollment: 8,477

ND is a private research university located in northern Indiana. Of its nearly 8,500 undergraduate students, approximately 8,000 live on campus in one of 29 residence halls. The three most popular undergrad majors at Notre Dame: Finance, Accounting, Political Science.

Learn more about the University of Notre Dame


10. Duke University

Duke University Chapel building.

Source: Flickr user OHinOZ.

Durham, NC

Undergraduate enrollment: 6,646

Duke University’s sprawling campus in Durham, NC is home to over 6,600 undergraduate students, contains more than 250 campus buildings, and spans over 8,500 acres of land. Duke offers 46 arts and sciences majors, 4 engineering majors, and the IDEAS program, which allows students to create their own major within the engineering field.

Learn more about Duke University


9. Northwestern University

Northwestern University library building.

University Library at Northwestern” by Madcoverboy (talk) – self-made. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikipedia.

Evanston,  IL

Undergraduate enrollment: 9,283

Touted for their Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern offers a whopping 124 undergraduate majors. Their campus attracts just over 9,000 undergrads.

Learn more about Northwestern University


8. Dartmouth College

Sherman Fairchild Sciences complex at Dartmouth College.

Dartmouth College campus 2007-10-20 09” by Kane5187Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Hanover, NH

Undergraduate enrollment: 4,267

Dartmouth is the smallest college in the Ivy League, enrolling just under 4,300 undergraduate students. Its academic schedule operates on the “D-Plan”, which is made up of four, 10-week terms that run the course of the year.

Learn more about Dartmouth College


7. Williams College

Lasell Bell Tower and Thompson Chapel at Williams College.

Ephtowers” by SERSeanCrane – Flickr. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons.

Williamstown, MA

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,046

With just over 2,000 undergraduate students, Williams College is a private liberal arts school with an endowment of more than $2 billion. Undergrads living on campus are organized into four geographically separate “Neighborhoods”, where they live among a mix of lower- and upperclassmen.

Learn more about Williams College


6. Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY

Undergraduate enrollment: 7,970

Just under 8,000 undergraduate students attend Columbia located in Upper Manhattan. As one of the nation’s oldest colleges, Columbia was originally founded as King’s College in 1754 but was renamed after the end of the Revolutionary War.

Learn more about Columbia University in the City of New York


5. University of Chicago

Chicago, IL

Undergraduate enrollment: 5,703

More than 5,700 undergrads attend the University of Chicago campus just north of downtown. This private research university is known for many breakthroughs and awards, including Fermi’s creating of the first man-made, self-sustained nuclear reaction and the creation of radiocarbon dating.

Learn more about the University of Chicago


4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology's main campus aerial view.

MIT Main Campus Aerial” by DrKennethOwn work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons.

Cambridge, MA

Undergraduate enrollment: 4,357

As one of the most highly-regarding scientific and engineering research universities in the world, MIT enrolls approximately 4,300 undergrads each year on its campus just outside of Boston. Although their sports mascot is a beaver, MIT’s sports teams are even named The Engineers.

Learn more about Massachusetts Institute of Technology


3. Stanford University

Stanford University main quad side architecture.

Source: Flickr user naotakem.

Stanford, CA

Undergraduate enrollment: 7,274

One of the world’s foremost private research universities, Stanford has a long history of alumni entrepreneurs and technology tycoons. Among their ranks, 30 living billionaires call Stanford their alma mater and businesses founded by Cardinal alum generate $2.7 trillion in annual revenue.

Learn more about Stanford University


2. Yale University

The Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University.

Yale Peabody Museum 2“. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

New Haven, CT

Undergraduate enrollment: 5,430

An iconic college known all over the world, Yale’s undergraduate population is just more than 5,400 students. Although lauded in all academic pursuits, Yale is especially notable for having graduated five U.S. Presidents and hundreds of members of the U.S. Congress. Its endowment is more than $25 billion.

Learn more about Yale University


1. Princeton University

Holder Hall and tower of Rockefeller College of Princeton University.

Princeton (6035183309)” by popejon2 from Paddington, Australia – PrincetonUploaded by russavia. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons.

Princeton, NJ

Undergraduate population: 5,323

Our #1 overall ranked college, Princeton University is one of the oldest and most ubiquitous institutions in the U.S. Nassau Hall, the college’s oldest building, served as the nation’s capital in the summer of 1793. Economics, Political Science, and Public Policy are the three most popular majors for undergraduates.

Learn more about Princeton University

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

View all of the 2016 Best Colleges rankings from College Raptor

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