The 25 Best Small Town Colleges – 2016 University Rankings

Top 25 Small Town CollegesIf you’re looking for the classic feel of a small town college, then this list is for you.

Each of the colleges in these rankings are found in towns around the country, meaning they’re not in major metropolitan areas, but also not entirely isolated from society.

Many are situated inside traditional college towns, which have a small population of permanent residents but are largely populated by the students attending the college. Others are simply headquartered in or adjacent to an existing town.

Either way, these small town colleges offer their students a cozier feel, without complete separation from outside life. Many still have access to local restaurants and shops in the area, outside of the main campus.

Note: These colleges are ranked on academic quality, and segmented as being based in a small town. These rankings are not based on the town itself.

Here are the 25 best small town colleges:

25. Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Hobart and William Smith Colleges - Best Small-town Colleges

By Circuitloss [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons

Geneva, NY

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,368

Learn more about Hobart William Smith Colleges


24. The College of Wooster

The College of Wooster - Best Small-town Colleges

By Alan Levine from Strawberry, United States ( [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Wooster, OH

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,116

Learn more about The College of Wooster


23. Taylor University

Taylor University - Best Small-town Colleges

By Cazel91 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Upland, IN

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,146

Learn more about Taylor University


22. Allegheny College

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

Meadville, PA

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,161

Learn more about Allegheny College


21. St Lawrence University

St Lawrence University - Best Small-town Colleges

By Ross P. Robinson (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Canton, NY

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,414

Learn more about St Lawrence University


20. Wabash College

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

Crawfordsville, IN

Undergraduate enrollment: 902

Learn more about Wabash College


19. Gustavus Adolphus College

Saint Peter, MN

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,449

Learn more about Gustavus Adolphus College


18. Centre College

Centre College - Best Small-town Colleges

By Dfritter4 (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Danville, KY

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,381

Learn more about Centre College


17. Miami University-Oxford

Muohioharrison“. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.


Oxford, OH

Undergraduate enrollment: 15,462

Learn more about Miami University – Oxford


College Raptor’s match tool is free and takes just minutes.



16. SUNY College at Geneseo

SUNY College of Geneseo - Best Small-town Colleges

Benjamin D. Esham / Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 3.0 us], via Wikimedia Commons

Geneseo, NY

Undergraduate enrollment: 5,504

Learn more about SUNY College at Geneseo


15. Grove City College

By The enlightenment at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Grove City, PA

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,491

Learn more about Grove City College


14. DePauw University

DePauw University - Best Small-town Colleges

By Rovergirl88 at English Wikipedia(Original text: Rovergirl88 (talk)) (Own work (Original text: self-made)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Greencastle, IN

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,304

Learn more about DePauw University


13. St. Olaf College

St Olaf College - Best Small-town Colleges

By Daniel Edwins a.k.a. Webmoof of English Wikipedia (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Northfield, MN

Undergraduate enrollment: 3,125

Learn more about St Olaf


12. Oberlin College

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

Oberlin, OH

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,894

Learn more about Oberlin College


11. Kenyon College

Kenyon College - Best Small-town Colleges

Source: Flickr user curtsm.


Gambier, OH

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,705

Learn more about Kenyon College


10. Bucknell University

Bucknell University - Best Small-town Colleges

Source: Flickr user mason13a.


Lewisburg, PA

Undergraduate enrollment: 3,532

Learn more about Bucknell College


9. Colby College

Colby College - Best Small-town Colleges

Source: Flickr user metimbers2009.


Waterville, ME

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,820

Learn more about Colby College


8. Grinnell College

Source: Flickr user silversprite.

Source: Flickr user silversprite.


Grinnell, IA

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,721

Learn more about Grinnell


7. Colgate University

Colgate University - Best Small-town Colleges

Colgate University Across Taylor Lake” by Balon GreyjoyOwn work. Licensed under CC0 via Commons.


Hamilton, NY

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,890

Learn more about Colgate University


6. Middlebury College

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


Middlebury, VT

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,495

Learn more about Middlebury College


5. Carleton College

By Dogs1337 (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Northfield, MN

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,045

Learn more about Carleton


4. Washington and Lee University


Lexington, VA

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,855

Learn more about Washington and Lee


3. Bowdoin College


Brunswick, ME

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,795

Learn more about Bowdoin College


2. Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College - Best Small-town Colleges

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


Hanover, NH

Undergraduate enrollment: 4,276

Learn more about Dartmouth


1. Williams College

Williams College - Best Small-town Colleges

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


Williamstown, MA

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,096

Learn more about Williams 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

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Join thousands of students and parents learning about finding the right college, admissions secrets, scholarships, financial aid, and more.