Hidden Gems in the Northeast | 2019

Hidden Gems in the NortheastThere’s no doubt that the Northeast region is known for a plethora of famous colleges. However it’s important that these great colleges don’t get lost in the shadow of brand name schools, so we’re here to shine a light on them! These are the best hidden gem colleges in the Northeast.

The colleges on this list come from the following states: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, and even Washington DC.

At College Raptor, we help students find colleges that fit them financially, socially, and academically–which means looking at more than just big name universities. That’s why we’re drawing attention to smaller colleges across the nation which deserve consideration, but may be initially overlooked because of their size.

To qualify as a College Raptor Hidden Gem, a school must have the following requirements:

  • Receive fewer than 5,000 applications a year
  • Have fewer than 7,000 undergraduate students enrolled

Note: If there are fewer than three in a state, it means no other schools in the state met our qualifications.

Here are College Raptor’s hidden gem colleges in the Northeast!


United States Coast Guard Academy

  • Flickr user Coast Guard News

    Location: New London, CT

  • Student Enrollment: 986
  • College Type: Public

USCGA offers 8 possible majors to their cadets: Business, Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Oceanography, Political Science, Operations Research, Naval Architecture / Marine Engineering, and Electrical Engineering. They have an 84% four-year graduation rate and an impressive 97% first-year retention rate.

Albertus Magnus College

  • Wikimedia Commons user Karl Thomas Moore

    Location: New Haven, CT

  • Student Enrollment: 1,555
  • College Type: Private

Originally an all women’s college and requiring four years in Latin or Greek, the Albertus Magnus College became coeducational in 1985. A majority of students choose to major in Business Administration, but as a liberal arts college, students also study Psychology, Accounting, and Criminal Justice.

University of Saint Joseph

  • Flickr user Mark Goebel

    Location: West Hartford, CT

  • Student Enrollment: 2,467
  • College Type: Private

The University of Saint Joseph was an all-women’s college until recently. They only started allowing men to the school for fall of 2018, therefore over 97% of the undergraduate student body is comprised of women. However, the University of Saint Joseph is non-selective and accepts 90% of applicants.


Gallaudet University

  • Flickr user Mr.TinDC

    Location: Washington, DC

  • Student Enrollment: 1,566
  • College Type: Private

Gallaudet is truly a unique school as it is for the deaf and hard of hearing and all courses are taught in ASL. Originally as a grammar school for deaf, mute, and blind children in 1857, it was seven years before the school was allowed to grant college degrees. Speech Communication and Deaf Studies are the most popular majors.

Trinity Washington University

  • Flickr  user Jason Pier in DC

    Location: Washington, DC

  • Student Enrollment: 2,068
  • College Type: Private

Trinity Washington University is almost entirely an all-women’s school, with men only being allowed to enter the School of Education or the School of Professional Studies. Social Psychology and Business Administration are the most popular majors. Trinity Washington University is also home to the Trinity Tigers where they compete in the Great South Athletic Conference.


Wesley College

  • Flickr user Mike Mahaffie

    Location: Dover, DE

  • Student Enrollment: 1,473
  • College Type: Private

Located in the capital of Delaware, Wesley is the home of the Wolverines and the school colors are blue and white. The vast majority of students at Wesley (a whopping 94%) study at the undergraduate level. Wesley has an acceptance rate of 62%, and admitted over 1,730 of the applications sent in last year.


Maine Maritime Academy

  • Flickr user Kevin Deveroux

    Location: Castine, ME

  • Student Enrollment: 1,045
  • College Type: Public

One of only six maritime colleges in the country, The Maine Maritime Academy is also one of two that feature NROTC, the Navy Reserve Officers Training Corps. You do not need congressional recommendation to attend and about 80% of applicants are accepted to the school. Naval Architecture and Marine Science are two popular majors, but you are not required to join the military upon graduation.

College of the Atlantic

  • Wikimedia Commons user giggel (Note: Image is of Bar Harbor)

    Location: Bar Harbor, ME

  • Student Enrollment: 344
  • College Type: Private

Unlike other schools, College of the Atlantic only offers one area of study: human ecology. There are many focus areas however, including arts and design, environmental sciences, and more. The college boasts a 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio with a first-year retention rate of 84%. All freshman are expected to take an introductory course in Human Ecology and are later expected to come to their own ideas of human ecology through a host of other courses that include extensive writing, history, and more.

Maine College of Art

  • Wikimedia Commons user Daderot

    Location: Portland, ME

  • Student Enrollment: 488
  • College Type: Private

Located in the Arts District of Portland, the Maine College of Art is the oldest arts school in the state. Alumni include a Walt Disney lead animator, a design director for Hasbro, and a graphic designer for the Smithsonian American Museum of Art. A smaller college, the Maine College of Art received 744 applications in 2017 and accepted 67.9% of students.


St. Mary’s College of Maryland

  • Flickr user Elvert Barnes

    Location: St Marys City, MD

  • Student Enrollment: 1,629
  • College Type: Public

St. Mary’s College of Maryland is actually located on the same land as Maryland’s first colony. The city and land has seen a number of changes, including the start of religious freedom (1640’s), the first women’s rights petitions (1648), and the founding of the college in 1840. A public liberal arts school, the most common majors at St. Mary’s College of Maryland are Psychology, Economics, and Biology.

St. John’s College (MD)

  • Flickr user Ken Lund

    Location: Annapolis, MD

  • Student Enrollment: 484
  • College Type: Private

One of two campuses for the St. John’s College, the other being in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Annapolis campus originally started as King William’s School. Founded in 1696, the college’s motto is “Facio liberos ex liberis libris libraque,” which is Latin for “I make free adults from children by means of books and a balance.” Today, St. John’s College sees an acceptance rate of just over 50% and a 7:1 student-to-faculty ratio.

Maryland Institute College of Art

  • Flickr user Elvert Barnes

    Location: Baltimore, MD

  • Student Enrollment: 2,112
  • College Type: Private

Also known as MICA, the Maryland Institute College of Art was founded in 1826 and is one of the oldest art colleges in the country. With a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio, the college has a first-year retention rate of 88%. Courses are available in several art mediums, but the most commonly chosen are Graphic Design and Illustration.


Franklin W Olin College of Engineering

  • Flickr user Sean Munson

    Location: Needham, MA

  • Student Enrollment: 378
  • College Type: Private

This college is truly unique. Known for its relatively young status (founded in 1997) and incredibly small student body, Olin has high standards for its applicants–a score of 32–35 on the ACT or a 1480–1570 on the SAT is the average. Olin has three majors available to study: Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering.

Mount Holyoke College

Founded in 1837, Mount Holyoke College is an all women’s school with a motto from Psalms: That our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace. Although it is located in Massachusetts, students come from all over the United States to attend the college, including California and Hawaii. Mount Holyoke College also has a very high first-year retention rate of 91%.

Massachusetts Maritime Academy

  • Flickr user Ian

    Location: Buzzards Bay, MA

  • Student Enrollment: 1,751
  • College Type: Public

The Massachusetts Maritime Academy is the second oldest maritime school in the country, after being founded in 1891. The first training ship was the USS Enterprise, but it is currently the USTS Kennedy. Students are not required to go to the military after graduation, but students do have the unique opportunity to go out to sea for two semesters. Some destinations include the Panama Canal and an Equator crossing.


Saint Anselm College

  • Wikimedia Commons user Ericci8996

    Location: Manchester, NH

  • Student Enrollment: 1,930
  • College Type: Private

Saint Anselm College has had a lot of influence in politics since the 1950’s. Many politicians including John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon have delivered speeches at the college. With an absolutely beautiful campus (partly thanks to its greening movement), the school has a first-year retention rate of 85% and an acceptance rate around 70%.

University of New Hampshire at Manchester

  • Flickr user UNH Manchester

    Location: Manchester, NH

  • Student Enrollment: 810
  • College Type: Public

A small urban campus, the University of New Hampshire at Manchester is a fairly new college, only being founded in 1985. Although the enrollment is less than 1,000, the university has seen more than 130,000 alumni. The campus at Manchester also puts a huge focus on STEM, both at school and within the community, with many students participating in STEM internships. It’s a fairly selective school however, only accepting about 60% of applicants.

Colby-Sawyer College

  • Flickr user rick kloeppel

    Location: New London, NH

  • Student Enrollment: 1,111
  • College Type: Private

With a gorgeous 200 acre campus, Colby-Sawyer College was founded in 1837 as the New London Academy. All students participate in internships in their field of study and take part in a Capstone project their senior year. The school concentrates on the success of each student with small class sizes and technology. Colby-Sawyer accepts a majority of students who apply (87%), with many going on to major in Business, Nursing, Biology, and Child Development.


Drew University

  • Wikimedia Commons user Jim.henderson

    Location: Madison, NJ

  • Student Enrollment: 2,129
  • College Type: Private

Known as the “University of the Forest”, Drew University is located in a serene wooded campus that is over 180 acres. About an hour away from the city, the school offers a unique mix of relaxing and urban experiences. It’s a liberal arts school and the top majors are currently Psychology, English, and Business.

Centenary University

  • Wikimedia Commons user KLOTZ

    Location: Hackettstown, NJ

  • Student Enrollment: 2,203
  • College Type: Private

Located in a historic area of New Jersey, Centenary University offers students the ability to earn their degree on a flexible schedule with online and accelerated courses available. Students who attend are known as the Centenary Cyclones, and with nearly 200 athletes participating, popular sports include basketball, baseball, and track. The Equestrian Center is also located only 15 minutes away with three arenas and an evening course available.

Fairleigh-Dickinson University – Florham Campus

  • Flickr user Valary

    Location: Madison, NJ

  • Student Enrollment: 3,333
  • College Type: Private

Located on a former estate, the Florham Campus is one of the four current campuses of Fairleigh-Dickenson University. There are over 400 students participating in varsity sports, including football, basketball, and lacrosse. Although they are known as the Knights, their mascot is a dragon called Nitro the Knight.


Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

  • Flickr user Dan DeLuca

    Location: New York, NY

  • Student Enrollment: 964
  • College Type: Private

With its small student body and prestigious art program, it’s no surprise that Cooper Union’s acceptance rate is quite selective–13%. The most popular majors are Fine / Studio Arts, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Architecture. For every 9 students, there’s 1 faculty member.

The Juilliard School

  • Flickr user Shinya Suzuki

    Location: New York, NY

  • Student Enrollment: 939
  • College Type: Private

Located in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Juilliard is world-renowned for its drama, dance, and music programs. Given its prestigious reputation, it’s no surprise that Juilliard’s acceptance rate is just 6%. The most popular major the school offers is Stringed Instruments, followed by Dance and Keyboard Instruments.

United States Merchant Marine Academy

  • Wikimedia Commons user USMMA

    Location: Kings Point, NY

  • Student Enrollment: 927
  • College Type: Public

Also known as Kings Point (for the city it’s located in), the United States Marine Academy requires students receive a Congressional nomination in order to be accepted to the school. Graduates of the academy do not necessarily have to serve in active duty, but they do have to provide proof of employment and maintain in the Reserves for eight years. With only a 22% acceptance rate, applicants must be prepared to meet physical and character requirements as well as qualify academically.


Haverford College

  • Flickr user Roger W

    Location: Haverford, PA

  • Student Enrollment: 1,268
  • College Type: Private

“Non doctior, sed meliore doctrina imbutus” is the official school motto of Haverford, meaning “Not more learned, but steeped in a higher learning.” The average ACT score of incoming freshmen is between 30 and 34; for the SAT between 1410 and 1540. Haverford has a six-year graduation rate of 90%.

Grove City College

  • Wikimedia Commons user Mark Schellhase

    Location: Grove City, PA

  • Student Enrollment: 2,336
  • College Type: Private

Graduates of Grove City College have included CEOs, NFL players, and U.S. Deputy Attorney Generals. With a 94% first-year retention rate, 80% of students go on to graduate within four years at the school. The three most popular majors include Biology, Speech Communication, and Mechanical Engineering.

Bryn Mawr College

  • Flickr user Meagan

    Location: Bryn Mawr, PA

  • Student Enrollment: 1,708
  • College Type: Private

A liberal art college, Bryn Mawr was the first women’s school to offer Ph.D’s. Even though the undergraduate college is all women, the school is actually one of the most diverse in the state. Students come from all over the country and the world to attend. Bryn Mawr college also has an amazing 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio.


Rhode Island School of Design

  • Wikimedia Commons user DanielPenfield

    Location: Providence, RI

  • Student Enrollment: 2,477
  • College Type: Private

The Rhode Island School of Design’s campus is right next to Brown University, who they share resources and courses with. To apply, students must complete the “hometest” which requires you to create two responses with any medium you can think of to any of the prompts the school provides. The Rhode Island School of Design is looking for experimentation, especially in the portfolio, and only 32% of 3,420 applicants were accepted last year.

Salve Regina University

  • Flickr user Wally Gobetz

    Location: Newport, RI

  • Student Enrollment: 2,746
  • College Type: Private

Located on historic ground, Salve Regina University’s name is from Latin for “Hail Queen” or “Hello Queen” and they are affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Described as “picturesque,” the school concentrates on each student’s talents and offers community service programs to compliment studies. Nursing is the most popular choice of study, but Psychology, Biology, and Criminal Justice are other commonly chosen majors.

Rhode Island College

  • Wikimedia Commons user Kenneth C. Zirkel

    Location: Providence, RI

  • Student Enrollment: 8,446
  • College Type: Public

The second oldest college in Rhode Island, Rhode Island College dates back to 1854. About 74% of students were accepted in 2017, with just under 33% of those accepted going on to attend. With the campus newspaper being known as The Anchor, the sports teams and their athletes at the college are known as the Anchormen.  


Saint Michael’s College

  • Wikimedia Commons user Jordan Wyatt

    Location: Colchester, VT

  • Student Enrollment: 2,226
  • College Type: Private

Unlike many other colleges, Saint Michael’s College offers students guaranteed housing for all four years of their education. While students are not required to live on campus, the housing is there if they need it. The school is somewhat selective, with 85% of applicants accepted in 2017, and just under 90% of freshman decide to stay at the college after they complete their first year.

Bennington College

  • Flickr user garden beth

    Location: Bennington, VT

  • Student Enrollment: 805
  • College Type: Private

Bennington College offers students a unique approach on their education, allowing each to pursue their own interest instead of pre-designed majors. With the assistance of a faculty member, each accepted student crafts their own schedule, but they are expected to participate in Field Work Term, a mandatory internship. Common areas of study include Literature, Performing Arts, and Drama.

Marlboro College

  • Flickr user designmilk

    Location: Marlboro, VT

  • Student Enrollment: 198
  • College Type: Private

An extremely small college located in a rural but beautiful town in Vermont, each student at Marlboro College creates their own path for study known as the Plan of Concentration. Although less than 200 attend, almost all students who apply to the school are accepted (96.7% in 2017). A truly unique experience, an organic farm, forestland, an aviary, and a greenhouse are all found on campus.


Wheeling Jesuit University

  • Flickr user Joanne C Sullivan

    Location: Wheeling, WV

  • Student Enrollment: 1,289
  • College Type: Private

“Luceat Lux Vestra” is Wheeling Jesuit University’s motto, which is Latin for “Let your light shine.” The school focuses on “life, leadership, and service” as well as the community. About 50% of applications are accepted with many students going on to major in Business or Nursing. Leadership, Psychology, Athletic Training, and Criminal Justice are other popular courses of study.

West Virginia Wesleyan College

  • Flickr user L.H.

    Location: Buckhannon, WV

  • Student Enrollment: 1,542
  • College Type: Private

West Virginia Wesleyan is a liberal arts college, with top majors being Kinesiology, Psychology, Business, Chemistry, and Biology. The school also has a very popular athletic program with nearly 600 athletes known as the Bobcats and Lady Bobcats. Part of the Mountain East Conference, track, football, baseball, and more are offered.

West Liberty University

  • Wikimedia Commons user Fae

    Location: West Liberty, WV

  • Student Enrollment: 2,317
  • College Type: Public

As West Virginia’s oldest college, West Liberty University offers over 70 majors to undergraduates. Business Administration and General Studies are the most popular, but Kinesiology, Biology, and Elementary Education are other examples that are offered and commonly chosen. Dental Hygiene is also an extremely popular major and West Liberty University was one of the first in the country to offer this type of program.

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.

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

College Raptor Staff

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