Hidden Gem Colleges That Don’t Require Test Scores | 2022 Rankings

There is an ongoing trend of more colleges dropping their ACT / SAT requirements. Though the decline started before the pandemic, the COVID-19 challenges have caused more schools to go test-optional. These colleges prefer a more holistic approach to reviewing the college applications of potential students.

All that said, we wanted to highlight some colleges that don’t require test scores anymore.

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

  • Receive fewer than 5,000 applications per year
  • Have fewer than 7,000 undergraduate students
  • Offer 5 or more unique majors
  • Have a 10% acceptance rate or higher

Hidden Gem Colleges That Don’t Require Test Scores

Harvey Mudd College has under 1,000 students and offers programs only in science and engineering. It has a 14% acceptance rate, 97% first year graduation rate, and an 8 to 1 student to faculty ratio. Part of the Claremont Colleges, their colors are black and gold. The men’s teams are known as the Stags and the women are known as the Athenas.
Location Claremont, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 904
Scientiæ Cedit Mare, or “the sea yields to knowledge,” is the motto of the United States Coast Guard Academy. It was founded in 1876 and is the smallest of the five academies for service in the United States. The most popular major is political science and government, but business management, civil engineering, and oceanography are also top choices.
Location New London, CT
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 1,069
Hillsdale’s motto is “Virtus Tentamine Gaudet” or “Strength Rejoices in the Challenge.” The school has a 96% first year retention rate and a 9 to 1 student to faculty ratio. All students who attend are required to take courses on the “Great Books,” the United States Constitution, and science courses. 88% of students will graduate within 6 years.
Location Hillsdale, MI
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,526
Haverford College is a liberal arts school founded in 1833 by the Religious Society of Friends, also known as Quakers. It’s part of the Tri-College Consortium which means students can attend classes at nearby schools Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore. “Non doctior, sed meliore doctrina imbutus,” or "Not more learned, but steeped in a higher learning" is the school’s motto.
Location Haverford, PA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,317
A member of the Claremont Colleges, Scripps College is a private liberal arts women’s school. It’s known for its historic campus as well as its extensive curriculum. The campus is currently listed in the National Register of Historic Places and often gets mentioned for its beautiful grounds. Biology, Psychology, and Political Science and Government are common majors.
Location Claremont, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,109
Mount Holyoke College is the oldest member of the Seven Sisters colleges. Their motto is Psalms 144:12 – “That our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace.” The campus features a botanic garden, the art museum, and John Payson Williston Observatory. Computer Science, Biology, and Econometrics are popular majors.
Location South Hadley, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,300
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, also known as Cooper Union, has under 1,000 students and only a 15.5% acceptance rate. Cooper Union only offers a few majors including Fine/Studio Arts, Engineering Studies, and Architecture. The school also boasts a high first year retention rate of 91% and has an 8 to 1 student to faculty ratio.
Location New York City, NY
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 952
Often abbreviated to RISD, this school was founded to expand access to design education to women. Nowadays, 68% of the undergraduate class consist of female students. The campus is located on the Providence River. Systems Science and Theory is the most popular major, followed by Illustration and Graphic Design.
Location Providence, RI
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,501
Wheaton College was founded by evangelical abolitionists in 1860 and would become a stop on the Underground Railroad. Business is by far the most popular major at the school. Athletic teams are known as The Thunder. They wear blue and orange and compete in the NCAA Division III in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin.
Location Wheaton, IL
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 3,004
Willie the Wolverine is Grove City College’s mascot. Speech Communication, Biology, Mechanical Engineering, Business, and Accounting are the top five most popular majors. Grove City College has an impressive 90% first-year retention rate and a 4-year graduation rate of 80%. Believe it or not, only 53% of the incoming students are from Pennsylvania.
Location Grove City, PA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,272
Some who have attended Whitman College in the past include Adam West, Shane Johnson, Nate Cohn, and NASA astronaut Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger. Biology, Experimental Psychology, and Political Science are popular majors among students. The school has a cozy 9:1 student to faculty ratio and a 4 year graduation rate of 79%.
Location Walla Walla, WA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,579
Centre College’s motto is “Doctrina Lux Mentis,” or “Learning is the Light of the Mind.” The college accepts over 75% of applicants and 80% will graduate within 4 years. The highest degree offered is the bachelor’s, so you’ll only find undergraduate students on campus. Centre College does not charge an application fee for any students interested in attending.
Location Danville, KY
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,411
Pitzer College accepts only 17% of applicants, making it a highly selective school. A majority of these students come from California, Washington, and Oregon. It is one of the Claremont Colleges and focuses on media studies, behavioral studies, social sciences, and international programs. Environmental Science, Psychology, and Economics are popular majors.
Location Claremont, CA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,086
Muhlenberg College’s mascot is Marti the Mule. Nearly 480 student-athletes compete wearing red and gray while playing sports such as track, basketball, field hockey, lacrosse, and football as the Mules. Business Administration, Theatre Arts, and Psychology are the three most popular majors at Muhlenberg.
Location Allentown, PA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,251
Founded in 1854, Wofford College is one of the few southeastern schools that was founded prior to the American Civil War that still exists today. The school has an 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio and an impressive 92% freshman retention rate. Wofford has a rather unique mascot - a terrier. Old gold and black are the school colors.
Location Spartanburg, SC
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,720
More commonly known as Sewanee, The University of the South sits on 13,000 acres. These grounds are more commonly known as “The Domain” or “The Mountain.” They accept 56% of applications and have a 10 to 1 student to faculty ratio. Economics is the most popular major among students, followed by English, International Studies, and Psychology.
Location Sewanee, TN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,768
Saint Anselm College is the third oldest Catholic college in New England, having been founded in 1889. The school has been the site of presidential policy speeches from John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon as well as several national presidential debates. 100% of students receive institutional aid from the school.
Location Manchester, NH
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,033
Hobart William Smith Colleges accepts only 62% of students who apply. Hobart College is for men and William Smith College is for women. The two schools share a campus and are officially known as HWS. Economics is the most popular major. Hobart’s colors are royal purple and orange while William Smith’s colors are emerald green and white.
Location Geneva, NY
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,070
Wabash College is a small undergraduate men’s school. They accept just under 63% of applicants and have a 10 to 1 student to faculty ratio. The student paper, The Bachelor has been in publication since the early 1900’s. Economics, Rhetoric and Composition, History, and Political Science and Government are among the popular majors.
Location Crawfordsville, IN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 867
Also known as K College, Kalamazoo College is the leading producer of Peace Corps out of small liberal arts colleges. Their motto is “Lux Esto”, which is Latin for “Be Light.” The most popular major is Biology, followed by Psychology and Business. Kalamazoo College has an 88% first year retention rate.
Location Kalamazoo, MI
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,286
Lawrence University was the second coeducation institution (founded in 1847) in the US. The three most popular majors are Music Performance, Economics, and Biology. Many alumni went into careers in politics, music, and sports. The campus sits along the winding Fox River. The bachelor’s degree is the highest level of education offered.
Location Appleton, WI
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,442
Also known as MassArt, Massachusetts College of Art and Design is the only public funded free-standing art school in the country. Majors offered include Illustration, Graphic Design, Film/Video and Photographic Arts, Painting, and others. The school has a 10 to 1 student to faculty ratio and an 85% first year retention rate.
Location Boston, MA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 2,095
Partnered with Saint John’s University for men, the College of Saint Benedict is exclusively for women. Resources are shared between the two campuses, a partnership that began in 1955. The College of Saint Benedict got its start in 1913 with only six students. They have an 11 to 1 student to faculty ratio, 85% first year retention rate, and 76% four year graduation rate.
Location St. Joseph, MN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,748
Given the name, it’s no surprise the Ursinus College mascot is a bear. Red, gold, and black are the official colors. The campus is located alongside the Perkiomen Creek. Ursinus has an even split between male and female students on campus, all undergraduates. The school does not charge application fees.
Location Collegeville, PA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,472
Though founded as a women’s school back in 1834, Wheaton College became coeducational in 1988. Wheaton is a liberal arts school that offers over 100 majors and minors. 99% of students receive financial aid from the college to help cover costs. 78% of Wheaton College students are expected to graduate within 6 years.
Location Norton, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,774

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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