Hidden Gems in the Northeast | 2020 Rankings

Hidden gems - top colleges in the northeast

The Northeast region of the United States is known as a powerhouse for amazing colleges. But under the shadow of so many historic and big name schools, some fall by the wayside. So we wanted to highlight some incredible Hidden Gem colleges located in the Northeast.

For the purposes of this list, we’ve included the following states as part of the Northeastern US: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia–we’ve also included DC. 

We’ve included the top three highest ranking gem schools for each state; but if you see only one or two, it just means those were the only schools to meet our criteria. 

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

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

If you call the region your home, or are looking at the area for colleges, be sure to peruse these potential schools!

Hidden Gems in the Northeast

Connecticut

Like the other US military academies, the US Coast Guard Academy does not have an application fee. USCGA has an acceptance rate of 19% and a four year graduation rate of 81%. Many of the first year students come from Virginia, California, and Florida. Their mascot is Objee the Bear, named after a famous Coast Guard ship.
Location New Haven, CT
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 1,071
Established in 1996, the University of Saint Joseph’s school colors are purple and orange. Popular majors include Nursing, Social Work, Biology and Child Development. Class sizes are relatively smaller, with 8 students for every 1 faculty member. While coeducational, 88% of the undergrad class is comprised of women.
Location West Hartford, CT
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,465
Albertus Magnus College was founded in 1925 as a women’s college, until it became coeducational in 1985. While not all students have to live on-campus, students who choose to may find themselves in 19th century houses that now service as residence halls. The school’s official colors are blue and white.
Location New Haven, CT
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,456

DC

Gallaudet is a university established for the deaf and hard of hearing. As such, classes are taught in both English and ASL. Popular majors include Speech Communication and Deaf Studies. Their school motto---Ephphatha---means “Be opened” and is a reference to a Bible passage where Jesus cures a man’s deafness.
Location NE Washington, DC
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,557
While originally a women’s college for Catholic women, Trinity Washington University opened its doors to women of all backgrounds. Today, both men and women can attend this university. Additionally, there’s no application fee. The most popular majors at Trinity Washington include Social Psychology, Business Administration, and Speech Communication and Rhetoric.
Location Washington, DC
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,782

Delaware

All of the first-year students attending this college are originally from the Northeast, the majority being from Delaware. Class sizes are relatively large, with approximately 20 students for every 1 faculty member. Business Administration is the most popular major, followed by Accounting and Finance.
Location Wilmington, DE
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,493

Maine

Located on a peninsula between Wadsworth Bay and the Bagaduce River, the Maine Maritime Academy offers 6 majors. These include: Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, Marine Science / Merchant Marine Officer, International Business, Engineering Technologies, Systems Engineering, and Biological / Biomedical Science.
Location Castine, ME
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 997
The College of the Atlantic is unique in that it only awards Human Ecology degrees. However, the college also takes an interdisciplinary approach to education, combining Ecology with subjects such as art, economics, and more. Students can also expect small class sizes; on average, a class has 9 students to every 1 faculty member.
Location Bar Harbor, ME
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 337
The University of New England is known for its science and health-related programs, though it offers around 70 total programs. UNE is also the only med school in Maine, and the only dental school in the northern New England area. Unsurprisingly, the most popular majors and programs at the school include Registered Nursing and Health Sciences.
Location Biddeford, ME
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 8,010

Maryland

St. John’s College offers a unique education through the Program. Students are expected to read and discuss Western literature of all subjects, and the majority of their other classes are discussion-based, including labs. St. John’s College deemphasizes the traditional grading scale.
Location Annapolis, MD
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 527
Though it began as a women’s seminary, St. Mary’s College of Maryland is now a coeducational secular college. After their first year, 82% of students decide to stay at the college. It’s waterfront campus is located right on St. Mary’s River. Navy and white are the official school colors, and their mascot is the Seahawk.
Location St. Mary’s City, MD
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 1,582
Maryland Institute College of Art is one of the first art colleges founded in the U.S. The college offers up to a Master’s degree. It’s a somewhat selective school, with 64% of applicants accepted. The most popular majors and programs offered are Graphic Design, Illustration, and Painting.
Location Baltimore, MD
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,178

Massachusetts

Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering is a small but impressive school. It is known for its focus on STEM-based academics and project-based curriculum. Olin only offers Bachelor’s degrees, and does not possess any graduate programs. The school’s mascot is a Phoenix named Frank. The original school colors, before changing to a gradient of bright tones, were blue and silver.
Location Needham, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 390
Mount Holyoke is the oldest of the Seven Sisters schools, initially formed to offer women an Ivy League education. Today, Mount Holyoke is one of the five Seven Sister schools who are still women-only schools, and the first to offer admission to transgender women and non-binary students.
Location Hadley, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,335
The New England Conservatory of Music is renowned for its music programs, and it’s also a National Historic Landmark. Students at the conservatory can get up to a doctoral degree. The school is very selective, as only 36% of applicants are accepted. A large part of the acceptance process is a live audition.
Location Boston, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 838

New Hampshire

Saint Anselm College was founded in 1889, and still has a fully running Benedictine abbey today. Students attending the college are required to take three philosophy and theology courses to graduate. Not only that, the vast majority of students take on an internship at some point.
Location Manchester, NH
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,024
The University of New Hampshire at Manchester is located in the heart of downtown Manchester. They offer a large range of majors and programs to both undergraduates and graduate students, and many local businesses are involved in these programs. The most popular major at UNH Manchester is Business / Commerce.
Location Manchester, NH
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 750
Keene State College’s motto is “Enter to learn; go forth to serve.” The college was originally focused on Teacher Education, but is now a Liberal Arts college with many more programs and majors. The school’s official colors are red and white, and their mascot is Hootie the Owl.
Location Keene, NH
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 3,543

New Jersey

Known as the “University in the Forest,” Drew University is indeed located near a 186 acre forest reserve. Fittingly, their sports teams are known as the Rangers, and their colors are blue and green. About 60% of Drew’s incoming students hail from New Jersey, though many other students come from neighboring states.
Location Madison, NJ
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,263
Fairleigh Dickinson University was the first U.S. school to have its own international campus. The Florham campus opened in 2013. The top three majors at the Florham campus include Psychology, Speech Communication and Rhetoric, and Business Administration and Management.
Location Madison, NJ
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 3,483
Though located closer to New York than the Florham Campus, the vast majority of students at Fairleigh Dickinson University -- Metropolitan Campus are still from New Jersey. Most students at the Metropolitan Campus opt for General Studies, though Registered Nursing and Psychology are also popular majors.
Location Teaneck, NJ
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 7,871

New York

The United States Merchant Marine Academy is one of the five service academies in the US. Its motto is “Deeds not Words” and the official school colors are blue and gray. There is no undergraduate application fee and the academy is on a trimester calendar. The US Merchant Marine Academy offers six residence halls, and students are required to live on campus.
Location Kings Point, NY
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 1,015
The renowned music school is highly competitive when it comes to admissions---with an 8% acceptance rate. Along with test scores and recommendations, an audition required component when applying to Juilliard. The school has extremely small class sizes, with 5 students for every 1 faculty member.
Location New York, NY
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 942
Students at Webb Institute all graduate with the same degree---Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. The marine-focused institute is located right on the Hempstead Bay. Students are known as the Webbies. Webb’s Stevenson Taylor Hall has been used as the Wayne Manor exterior in a number of Batman films and shows.
Location Glen Cove, NY
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 104

Pennsylvania

On average, Haverford College has 8 students to 1 faculty member on campus. Incoming freshmen score, on average, between 32 and 34 on the ACT, and for the SAT between 1370 and 1530. Biology, Economics, English, Political Science, and Psychology are the top five most popular majors. The college has an acceptance rate of 19%.
Location Haverford, PA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,310
Bryn Mawr is historically known to be the first women's college to offer graduate level education, including a PhD. The college is affiliated with multiple other organizations and colleges, including Oberlin College and the Seven Sisters, a group of elite women’s colleges. The school’s colors are yellow and white.
Location Bryn Mawr, PA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,690
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

Rhode Island

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is well known for their artistic programs. They’ve graduated many notable alumni, including actor James Franco, animator Michael Dante DiMartino, writer/illustrator Bryan Konietzko, and comedian Seth McFarlane. Illustration is the most popular major on campus.
Location Providence, RI
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,467
If you’re looking for a historical campus, Salve Regina University may be for you. The university is made of Gilded Age buildings and plan on preserving as much of the history as possible. Students don’t have to live on campus, but if they choose to, there are multiple beautiful residence halls to choose from.
Location Newport, RI
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,647
Rhode Island College has an uplifting motto: “Reach. Inspire. Connect.” The students of the college seem to be living by this mantra, with popular majors including Nursing, Psychology, and Criminal Justice. Rhode Island College also has an athletic side, with 19 varsity sports teams. At competitions, students from this college sport school colors of burgundy, gold, and white.
Location Providence, RI
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 7,766

Vermont

Saint Michael’s team, the Purple Knights, is partially named after the school’s colors---purple and gold. Their campus is located not far from Lake Champlain. The college offers over 30 majors, the most popular of which are Business Administration, Biology, and Psychology.
Location Colchester, VT
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,950
Students at Bennington College don’t choose traditional majors. Rather, Bennington lets students choose their own academic path. Students are expected to produce some work their senior year that fits within Bennington College’s disciplines. Bennington College has a 57% acceptance rate.
Location Bennington, VT
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 811
Every year, Champlain College receives almost 5,000 applications. The average ACT score for incoming students ranges between 22 to 27, and the average SAT score is between 1,100 to 1,290. The three most popular majors offered include Business Administration and Management, Computer Forensics and Counterterrorism, and Liberal Arts. Almost 16% of the student body is from Vermont.
Location Burlington, VT
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 4,531

West Virginia

Shepherd University’s campus sits near the historic Potomac River, which acts as a natural border between West Virginia and Maryland. The school is home to the Rams, whose official colors are blue and gold. Though 69% of the first-year class comes from West Virginia, many other students are from around the East Coast.
Location Shepherdstown, WV
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 3,648
West Liberty University is one of the oldest universities in West Virginia. The school offers up to a master’s degree. Around 69% of applicants are accepted into the university. Students are allowed to live off-campus; otherwise, they have multiple residence halls and Greek houses to choose from on-campus.
Location West Liberty, WV
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 2,526
Orange and black are the colors of this college, where students compete athletically as the Bobcats (or Lady Bobcats for the women’s teams). WVWC has an acceptance rate of 70%, taking in over 1,500 of the nearly 2,160 applications they receive. Students at WVWC come from all over the country, but most first-years are from West Virginia itself.
Location Buckhannon, WV
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,294

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

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.

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