Best STEM Hidden Gem Colleges | 2023

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STEM fields are the fastest-growing career market out there and, because of that, there are many organizations, programs, and schools dedicated to encouraging young people to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors. 

STEM education helps individuals become more innovative, creative, and divergent thinking. The classes focus on hands-on learning where mistakes are not only welcome, they’re expected. Exploring and experience are at the core of the courses, and this education ensures that the graduating students are meeting the current labor demand in these fields. Employment in STEM fields has grown by 79% since 1990 and is expected to grow a further 8.8% between 2017 and 2029. 

The following colleges are true hidden gems for individuals who wish to pursue STEM fields. To qualify as a College Raptor Hidden Gem, a school must have the following requirements:

  • Receive fewer than 5,000 applications a year
  • OR less than 40th percentile of applications received by all schools in that state
  • Have fewer than 7,000 undergraduate students enrolled
  • At least 30% of the degrees awarded by a college must be STEM degrees.

Here are the top 25 Hidden Gem STEM Programs

Harvey Mudd College has a little under 900 students and offers programs only related to Science and Engineering. It has an 18% acceptance rate, 92% first year retention rate, and an 8:1 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 854
“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 Business Administration and Management, but Operations Research, Political Science and Government, and Oceanography are also top choices. 65% of students graduate in a STEM major.
Location New Haven, CT
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 1,056
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. In addition, the college helps teach STEM skills that can be used in other classes. Computer sciences is one of the most popular majors among students.
Location South Hadley, MA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,040
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology focuses on math, science, and engineering. It was originally founded as the Terre Haute School of Industrial Science in 1874 in an effort to teach technical training to assist with railroad construction. It would get its current name in 1971 after financial support from the Hulman family. The top major is Mechanical Engineering.
Location Terre Haute, IN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,990
Lawrence University was the second coeducation institution in the U.S., founded in 1847. A grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute allowed the university to recently start its Inclusive Excellence Initiative, which will help students from all backgrounds get involved in science. The three most popular majors are Music Performance, Economics, and Psychology. Many alumni have gone into careers in politics, music, and sports.
Location Appleton, WI
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,430
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 a 12:1 student-to-faculty ratio and an impressive 89% freshman retention rate. Biology is by far the most popular major among students.
Location Spartanburg, SC
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,764
Abraham Lincoln once called VMI the “West Point of the South.” The nickname continues to be earned as the school has resulted in more Army generals than any other ROTC program. The Institute offers a number of STEM-related majors including Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Computer Science. This military college is located on the Maury River in the Shenandoah Valley.
Location Lexington, VA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 1,698
Founded in 1840, St. Mary’s College of Maryland was originally known as St. Mary’s Female Seminary. It actually shares its campus with Historic St. Mary’s City, which is the state’s first colony and capital. A majority of students attending today are female, but the school is co-educational and has been since 1949. The college has a number of programs to promote STEM students, including the STEM Navigators scholarship program.
Location St. Mary’s City, MD
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 1,508
Often referred to as simply the Citadel, this school has a patriotic motto of “Honor, Duty, Respect.” Though a military college, the school is host to the STEM Center which offers outreach initiatives, promotes STEM participation, and develops innovative programming. The most popular majors include Business/Commerce, Mechanical Engineering, and Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement Administration.
Location Charleston, SC
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 3,740
Commonly chosen majors at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry include Conservation Biology, Natural Resources Management and Policy, and Environmental Biology. Located right next to Syracuse University, they also have research and education facilities in Adirondack Park, central New York, the Thousand Islands, and Costa Rica.
Location Syracuse, NY
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 2,127
All students who attend Ursinus College receive grant aid from the school (just under $38,000 per student on average). Sitting on a 170-acre campus, the college has several programs that promote STEM including the Supporting Inclusive Excellence program and Science in Motion. The most popular major among students is currently Biology/Biological Sciences.
Location Collegeville, PA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,493
Also known as K College, Kalamazoo College is the leading producer of Peace Corps members 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 Business and Chemistry. K College also has scholarships and grants that STEM students can be eligible for.
Location Kalamazoo, MI
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,451
Located on a peninsula in the Bagaduce River and Penobscot Bay, the Maine Maritime Academy is a non-federal maritime training school. Students are not required to join the military after graduation, however the most popular major is Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. The school admits just over 50% of applicants, has a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and a first-year retention rate of 77%.
Location Castine, ME
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 941
The second oldest state maritime academy in the country, the Massachusetts Maritime Academy was founded in 1891. Their motto is “Discipline, Knowledge, Leadership.” The training ship used by students is known as the USTS Kennedy. There are only 7 undergraduate programs available, with many choosing Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering.
Location Buzzards Bay, MA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 1,637
Allegheny College was founded in 1815 making it one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the country. 100% of students who attend receive financial aid in the way of grants from the school. The college has a few STEM programs, such as the S-STEM program which helps the school provide support to talented low-income students.
Location Meadville, PA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,667
Biology/Biological Sciences is, by far, the most popular major at Juniata College, but many students actually design their own majors. With a 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio and an 85% first year retention rate, the school is in a rural area on 800 acres. Juniata College also has an extensive study abroad program.
Location Huntingdon, PA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,356
A majority of students attending SUNY Maritime College study Marine Science/Merchant Marine Officer, followed by Mechanical Engineering. The school offers a week-long, hands-on summer camp for STEM which includes 3-D printing, chemistry, coding, waterfront activities, engineering design, and more.
Location Throggs Neck, NY
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 1,671
Sharing a campus with Cascadia College, University of Washington's Bothell Campus is actually the largest campus branch in the state. Over 97% of students are from Washington. UW Bothell has over 30 undergraduate degrees and their School of Stem is the fastest-growing school on campus. Computer Science is one of the most popular majors among students.
Location Bothell, WA
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 6,304
Earlham College has a 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio and an 83% first year retention rate. They also help every student with institutional grant aid ($31,465 on average per student). The college offers a number of STEM related resources on professional development, networking, internships, scholarships, and more.
Location West Richmond, IN
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 815
Computer and Information Sciences is the most popular major among students at SUNY Polytechnic Institute, but the college offers a number of programs in engineering, engineering technology, nanoscale engineering, and other related STEM areas. Currently, this school has a 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio and an 82% first year retention rate.
Location Utica, NY & Albany, NY
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 3,044
The University of New Hampshire at Manchester, also known as UNH Manchester, is part of the state’s public university system. The school has a focus on programs related to urban issues and offers the STEM Discovery Lab to local K-12 students and adults to promote hands-on learning in the related fields.
Location Manchester, NH
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 717
Originally simply called the School of Engineering, MSOE was founded in 1903 in an effort to help the growing engineering field. All students who attend today receive institutional grant aid, about $27,000 per student on average. Popular majors include Mechanical Engineering, Electrical and Electronics Engineering, and Registered Nursing.
Location Milwaukee, WI
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 2,673
The DigiPen Institute of Technology has 7 majors available to students with a focus on computer science, music, animation, and similar fields. In addition to its campus in Washington, there are campuses in Singapore and Spain. Their DigiPen Academy is designed as a fun youth and adult program dedicated to STEM fields.
Location Redmond, WA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,120
UMN Morris’s motto is “A renewable, sustainable education.” The school helps 95% of their students make education more affordable through institutional grants. A majority of students choose to major in Biology/Biological Sciences and the school hosts the North Star Scholars Program for those interested in STEM.
Location Morris, MN
Institution Type Public
Student Enrollment 1,339
Central College, a private liberal arts and sciences school is located just minutes from the state's largest lake, Red Rocks Lake. The school accepts 75% of applicants and all students receive grant aid. The most popular majors are Biology, Exercise Physiology, and Business administration. Half of the student body participates intercollegiate athletics and notable alumni just competed in the 2020 Olympics.
Location Pella, IA
Institution Type Private
Student Enrollment 1,120

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.

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