Hidden Gems for Teaching | 2020 Rankings

Hidden gems for teaching - colleges with teaching programs

Education activist Malala Yousafzai said, “Let us remember: One book, one pen, and one teacher can change the world.” If that’s the case, what can over 1.5 million teachers change? That’s how many elementary school teachers are expected to be employed in 2026. Not to mention the 1.1 million secondary, or 259,000 post-secondary school teachers.

There is always a high demand for more teachers of all kinds. As such, Education is a wildly popular major. With a wealth of great teaching programs in colleges across the nation, it makes sense that some schools don’t get quite as much attention as they should. That’s why we wanted to create a list highlighting smaller schools that have a lot to offer when it comes to educating future educators. 

To make this list, we created a calculated score consisting of undergraduate teaching programs and education majors at Hidden Gem-qualified colleges and their College Raptor ranking. Then, we limited the results to our top 300 overall College Raptor rankings. Schools with a higher concentration of students majoring in teaching programs are higher up on the list!

To qualify as a Hidden Gem a school must meet the following requirements:

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

Grab some pencils, apples, and books and check out these educational gems.

Hidden Gems for Teaching

As the bachelor’s is the highest degree offered, only undergraduates populate Grove City College’s campus. Willie the Wolverine is the mascot of GCC, and you’ll find him cheering on students competing in NCAA Division III sports. The GCC coat of arms features their official motto---Lux Mea---which means “My Light.”
Location Grove City, PA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,338
Messiah College is home to the Falcons, whose official school colors are navy and white. The school has a 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio and a first year retention rate of 87%. Engineering, Health Services, Business, Registered Nursing, and Family & Community Services are the 5 most popular majors on campus.
Location Mechanicsburg, PA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 3,375
Maroon and gold are the official school colors of Calvin. On the athletic fields, students compete as the Knights. Popular sports include track, lacrosse, soccer, and swimming, among others. Engineering is the most popular major, followed by Business and Registered Nursing.
Location Grand Rapids, MI
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 3,732
Principia College’s motto is “As the Sowing, The Reaping.” The school’s colors are blue and gold. Principia College is nonselective, with a 92% acceptance rate. The college offers a range of majors and programs. The most popular ones include Education, Business Administration and Management, and Mass Communication/Media Studies.
Location Elsah, IL
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 447
Bethel University is a private religious institution that asks students to sign and live by the Covenant for Life Together. While students don’t have to live on campus, there are multiple residence halls, including ones specifically for freshmen students. Interestingly, the official school colors are navy blue and Vegas gold.
Location Saint Paul, MN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 3,692
Hope College is fairly nonselective, accepting 76% of applicants. Class sizes are approximately 11 students for every 1 faculty member. Approximately 89% of first year students return to the school the following year. While students are not required to live on campus, 21 residence facilities are provided by the university at various locations throughout Hope’s campus.
Location Holland, MI
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 3,149
Popular majors at Taylor include Psychology, Kinesiology, and Biology. While students are not required to live on campus, 20 residence halls are available on campus. Taylor also possesses special programs for service members and veterans, including credit for military training.
Location Upland, IN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,195
The College of Saint Benedict is a women’s college that has a partnership with Saint John’s University---a men’s college. Students at CSB compete as the Bennies and wear red and white to represent their school. CSB offers up to a bachelor’s degree level, therefore, you’ll only find undergraduate students on campus.
Location Saint Joseph, MN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,782
Wheaton has a high acceptance rate of 83%, accepting a relatively equal percentage of men and women. Popular majors at the university include Business / Managerial Economics, English and Health Sciences. The school has a four year graduation rate of 77% and relatively smaller class sizes with 10 students for every one faculty member.
Location Wheaton, IL
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,944
Originally named the College of Steubenville, the school received its university status in 1980, and changed its name to Franciscan University of Steubenville in 1986. The most popular majors and programs offered at the university include Theology, Registered Nursing, Psychology, and Education.
Location Steubenville, OH
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 3,028
Most incoming students at Samford University come from either Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, or Florida. Graduates of Samford include Emmy and Grammy award-winning artists, Nobel Peace Prize winners, sports legends, and notable politicians, among many other successful careers.
Location Birmingham, AL
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 5,619
Named for the river near where its campus is located, Juniata College has graduated a number of successful alumni, including CEOs, college presidents, scientists, and professors, among others. Juniata’s school motto---Veritas Liberat---means “Truth Sets Free.” Their official colors are old gold and Yale blue.
Location Huntingdon, PA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,433
Though a women’s college at the undergraduate level, Saint Mary’s College is coeducational when it comes to graduate studies. The campus sits next to a river also bearing the title of a saint---St. Joseph River. Though 28% of the incoming class calls Indiana home, many students come from all across the country.
Location Notre Dame, IN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,611
Registered Nursing, Organizational Leadership, Social Work, Psychology, and Business Administration are the five most popular majors at Union University. Union has an 88% first year retention rate. Known as the Bulldogs, Union athletes compete in NCAA Division II sports---including baseball, basketball, and soccer among others.
Location Jackson, TN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 3,247
This college does not have students pay an application fee. Average class sizes are 12 students for every one faculty member. Additionally, 82% of freshmen students return to Cornell to continue their college education the following year. Interestingly, the majority of first years at Cornell are from Illinois, not Iowa.
Location Mt. Vernon, IA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,028

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


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.