The 25 Best Rural Colleges – 2016 University Rankings

College Raptor Rankings star badge that says "Top 25 Rural College 2016".

For many students, their ideal college campus is away from the city. Whether they feel at home in a more rural setting, or they’re looking to escape the hustle-and-bustle, there’s a certain serenity that comes with attending a college isolated from the major metropolitan areas.

In this ranking, we looked at the best colleges which are located in rural campuses. By definition, these colleges will be outside of major city limits and may even be surrounded by undeveloped land.

If you’re a student looking for this kind of college experience, then one of these colleges may just offer you the best there is.

Here are the 25 best rural colleges in the U.S.:


25. North Greenville University

College Raptor Rankings grey star badge that says "Top 25 Rural College 2016".

No image available.

Tigerville, SC

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,257

Learn more about North Greenville University


24. Toccoa Falls College

Toccoa Falls College entrance sign surrounded with manicured bushes and trees.

By FloNight (Sydney Poore) and Russell Poore (self-made by Russell and Sydney Poore) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Toccoa Falls, GA

Undergraduate enrollment: 870

Learn more about Toccoa Falls College


23. Unity College

College Raptor Rankings grey star badge that says "Top 25 Rural College 2016".

No image available.

Unity Falls, ME

Undergraduate enrollment: 553

Learn more about Unity College


22. Hampden-Sydney College

Cushing Hall at Hampden–Sydney College.

By MorrisS (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Hampden-Sydney, VA

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,070

Learn more about Hampden-Sydney College


21. Colby-Sawyer College

Colby-Sawyer College campus field and an entrance sign on the foreground.

By Josephbrophy at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

New London, NH

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,409

Learn more about Colby-Sawyer College


20. Saint Joseph’s College of Maine

College Raptor Rankings grey star badge that says "Top 25 Rural College 2016".

No image available.

Standish, ME

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,276

Learn more about Saint Joseph’s College of Maine


19. University of Idaho

University of Idaho college campus field.

Source: Flickr user jbyoder.

Moscow, ID

Undergraduate enrollment: 9,540

Learn more about the University of Idaho


18. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College building with a cloudy sky on the background.

Source: Flickr user _lisamarie_.

Saint Mary of the Woods, IN

Undergraduate enrollment: 649

Learn more about Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College


17. Western Carolina University

Western Carolina University campus from afar. Surrounded with trees and mountains on the background.

By RichardKenni (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Cullowhee, NC

Undergraduate enrollment: 8,448

Learn more about Western Carolina University


16. Wells College

Wells College building and campus field surrounded with green trees.

Source: Flickr user dougtone.

Aurora, NY

Undergraduate enrollment: 534

Learn more about Wells College


15. Wilmington College

Wilmington College Hall surrounded by trees.

By Nyttend (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Wilmington, OH

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,169

Learn more about Wilmington College


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14. Stevenson UniversityCollege Raptor Rankings grey star badge that says "Top 25 Rural College 2016".

Stevenson, MD

Undergraduate enrollment: 3,965

Learn more about Stevenson University


13. Emory & Henry College

A Emory & Henry College building with a big tree on the right.

Source: Flickr user blueathena7.

Emory, VA

Undergraduate enrollment: 936

Learn more about Emory & Henry College


12. Erskine College

A Erskine College building surrounded by trees.

Source: Erskine College. Used with permission, all rights reserved.

Due West, SC

Undergraduate enrollment: 605

Learn more about Erskine College


11. St John’s College

St. John's College Santa Fe Campus from the slopes of Monte Luna.

By Capt Swing (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Santa Fe, NM

Undergraduate enrollment: 339

Learn more about St John’s College


10. Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College

A Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College buliding with pink flowers in the foreground.

Source: Flickr user darrellrhodesmiller.

Baton Rouge, LA

Undergraduate enrollment: 24,923

Learn more about Louisiana State University


9. Principia College

Bell tower at Chapel in the Principia College, surrounded by autumn trees.

By stannate from St. Louis, MO, US (Principia College) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Elsah, IL

Undergraduate enrollment: 508

Learn more about Principia College


8. Marlboro College

Marlboro College campus covered in snow.

Source: Flickr user redjar.

Marlboro, VT

Undergraduate enrollment: 260

Learn more about Marlboro College


7. Houghton College

Houghton College campus surrounded by autumn trees.

Source: Houghton College

Houghton, NY

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,081

Learn more about Houghton College


6. Saint Mary’s College of California

Saint Mary's College chapel.

By Smcj0001 (w:File:SMC Pictures 026.jpg) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Moraga, CA

Undergraduate enrollment: 3,055

Learn more about Saint Mary’s College of California


5. DeSales UniversityCollege Raptor Rankings grey star badge that says "Top 25 Rural College 2016".

Center Valley, PA

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,482

Learn more about DeSales University


4. Saint Johns University

A Saint Johns University building and a student walking outside.

Source: Flickr user biotour.

Collegeville, MN

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,871

Learn more about Saint Johns University


3. Thomas Aquinas College

Thomas Aquinas College from afar, surrounded by green trees.

Source: Flickr user zeroy.

Santa Paula, CA

Undergraduate enrollment: 366

Learn more about Thomas Aquinas College


2. Sewanee-The University of the South

Sewanee College's stone chapel covered in green ivy.

Source: Flickr user auvet.

Sewanee, TN

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,620

Learn more about Sewanee


1. Hamilton College

A chapel building on the Hamilton College campus.

Source: Flickr user chuckthewriter.

Clinton, NY

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,620

Learn more about Hamilton College

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

6 thoughts on “The 25 Best Rural Colleges – 2016 University Rankings”

  1. Joe Blow says:

    Many of these schools are evangelistic fundamentalist church run schools. Check them out carefully before you attend.

    1. matt tedeschi says:

      Yes everyone should do there research into the background of a college. However there is no thing as the “evangelistic fundamentalist church” and all these evangelistic fundamentalist churches that run these college are accredited in the same way any non evangelistic fundamentalist church is.

    2. Carol says:

      Yes, Mr. Blow, what more could you want for your child!?

  2. Rev. Ralph Nichols says:

    I and my wife are both Graduates of Toccoa Falls College and can tell you it is a “Great School” for anyone to attend. They have about 24 more different major degrees when I attend- ed. Great environment and Wonderful Professors and staff. Check them for a Great School.

    1. james Lewis says:

      I also an am alumni of TFC loved it. would encourage anyone to go if they feel so led.

  3. Denise says:

    why didn’t you include Sweet Briar College and The University of Connecticut? I have attended both and they are definitely rural!

Comments are closed.