2017 Best Liberal Arts Colleges in America

The Best Liberal Arts Colleges ranking is based on rigorous analysis of academic, admissions, financial, and student life data from the U.S. Department of Education along with millions of reviews from students and alumni. The ranking compares more than 200 top liberal arts colleges in the U.S.
See how this ranking was calculated
Viewing 1-25 of 100
  1. 1

    Bowdoin College

    • Brunswick, ME
    • 640 reviews
    College Sophomore:I feel like my school has even more to offer than I thought it did and while there are definitely issues, I can't imagine myself being anywhere else.

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  2. 2

    Pomona College

    • Claremont, CA
    • 343 reviews
    College Junior:Pomona College is extremely special. It's honestly the people here that make the school, but the good weather doesn't hurt. :) A large majority of the students here are open-minded, extremely intelligent, fun, laid-back, and passionate. There are tons of opportunities to get active on campus and it's really hard to be bored here. One of my favorite parts about Pomona is that there's pretty much a community for everyone here.. and if there isn't, you can start one. When I say "community" I mean the various mentor groups on campus, sports groups, music groups, art groups... and its really easy to be fluid in them, too. The food is pretty good too. And the dorms are huge. I'm going into my junior year and I have yet to have a roommate. :)

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  3. 3

    Washington & Lee University

    • Lexington, VA
    • 387 reviews
    College Senior:I love this place. If I had to make this decision again 1000 times over, I would make the same choice every time. W&L has given me so many opportunities for personal and intellectual growth. I've had many firsts here, and some lasts as well. The professors are amazing and really care about the students and their success. I've house/pet sat and had dinner at my professors' homes, and I see them all the time at Kroger and at restaurants in town. I have close relationships with my academic advisors and can talk to them about anything. Residence life freshman year was awesome and everyone got the shared experience. By the time recruitment rolled around in January, we were all on even footing and more comfortable with the upperclass women, which made the experience more enjoyable. I pledged a sorority and never looked back. I love my sisters and the way the Greek Life and campus life fit together like two puzzle pieces; it's like no other college I've seen or heard of, in that respect. Because 85% of students participate, greek life at W&L is open and inclusive with minimal infighting. (That said, the rumor mill is unreal here. Everyone knows everything.) As an athlete I've gotten close with my team, but widespread student body support of athletics is nonexistent. For instance, it's school tradition to leave football games at halftime. I love living off campus and having my friends live off campus where we can hang out together in a more comfortable, relaxed environment. Some of my best memories are in off campus houses either partying or just having a quiet night with friends. The honor system is REAL. Yes, some do cheat, but as a school, we don't condone it at all. The professors trust us implicitly and I've enjoyed the freedom to take tests whenever I want (within a certain period) and have keys to all the classrooms in my department. I know this is really long, so some highlights to finish it off: House mountain hikes, Fancy Dress, and the greatest people ever.

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  4. 4

    Carleton College

    • Northfield, MN
    • 464 reviews
    College Sophomore:Carleton is an incredible place to go to school--the people really care about academics, real issues, and each other. There are also literally hundreds of activities to get involved with, so there is pretty much something for everyone.

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  5. 5

    Colgate University

    • Hamilton, NY
    • 957 reviews
    College Junior:I'd be lying if I said I 100% loved everything about Colgate. It definitely has its downsides and I felt very uncomfortable during orientation when stuck with a bunch of rich kids talking about their summers on "the vineyard." HOWEVER, I eventually got used to this, found my own group of friends, and learned to accept that there are a ton of rich, wealthy kids here-- and that most of them are very nice.


    The opportunities are amazing, and that's what I came here for. I go to classes with ton of smart, beautiful, interesting people. I learn from great professors and read challenging but thought-provoking books. I live on a beautiful campus, and even though there's not much to do in the surrounding area, that means that we're forced to appreciate each other and our time on campus :)

    I especially love the great offerings and opportunity to make friends within the hundreds of clubs, organizations, club sports, intramural sports, and a capella groups on campus. (Join something! Right away! Don't hesitate!) There are so many great opportunities through these clubs for fun outings (like Ski Club!) and interesting lectures (like International Relations Council!).

    I also think Colgate is the perfect size. I'm always meeting new, interesting people, but I see friends everywhere I go!

    Career Services is really helpful, and this is great considering a lot of people worry that going to a liberal arts school makes it harder to get hired. I really recommend the SophoMORE Connections event available sophomore year. It's a great way to practice networking, meet alumni, and learn about different career options. Students who are interested in an unpaid summer internship also apply for grant money-- about half of people who apply receive it and you can get over $4,000 if you need it!

    The Study Abroad offerings are amazing too! --and students on financial aid get extra grant money for that semester to help them out! (Thank god!)

    We're #1

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  6. 6

    Williams College

    • Williamstown, MA
    • 250 reviews
    College Junior:Williams has been the perfect place for me. My professors have been incredible mentors--I've gone to three professors' houses for dinner. The location is beautiful, and perfect for focusing on academics. I've been able to get very involved in all my clubs and really find what makes me passionate. But best of all is the people. They're all smart and talented and wonderful. I am so lucky.

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  7. 7

    Amherst College

    • Amherst, MA
    • 247 reviews
    College Junior:I was accepted at my school as a transfer student from a community college, and it has been a super smooth and easy transition. The faculty at my school are so educated and welcoming. All of the students there have also been very welcoming to the other new transfers and myself. It is an amazing school academically, and it's also so small and beautiful. I love it there and I would definitely choose it again.

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  8. 8

    Barnard College

    • New York, NY
    • 395 reviews
    College Senior:Barnard is the best school in the world. I have grown so much as a person and I attribute this to the empowering all female environment that Barnard offers. I love my friends and I love New York City. I cannot have imagined a better college experience.

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  9. 9

    Haverford College

    • Haverford, PA
    • 193 reviews
    College Freshman:I love going to college at Haverford. It's almost everything I want in a college. The social life isn't overwhelming but it's always fun and exciting. I'm learning a ton in my classes and I've gotten to know a lot of my professors. I've joined various activities that I wouldn't have been able to join at a larger school. I feel a sense of intimacy with the campus due to its small size. The honor code also makes Haverford a great place to be. I do wish Haverford students were more politically involved and talked about topics such as class, race, etc. more, but I think that aspect of the college can improve.

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  10. 10

    Harvey Mudd College

    • Claremont, CA
    • 122 reviews
    College Junior:Great academics. Very tough load. It is possible to do the work, but the reason why it is so hard is that it is hard to consistently keep up the studying for the entire semester when u will likely be sleeping late every week.

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  11. 11

    Claremont McKenna College

    • Claremont, CA
    • 402 reviews
    College Sophomore:People call it Camp Claremont because it literally is like a camp. You will have the best time of your life here. You get the state school party scene (seriously, we love to party :D) with the prestige and academics of one of the best liberal arts schools in the nation.

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  12. 12

    Middlebury College

    • Middlebury, VT
    • 462 reviews
    College Sophomore:Professors here are great, I have had very few professors that I did not like. Most are extremely engaging and very invested in their students' learning. Registration can be stressful, especially freshman year, but it typically works itself out during the add/drop period. Workload at times can be overwhelming, but not more than to be expected from any top college. Lots of great study spaces around campus with a variety of atmospheres.

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  13. 13

    Swarthmore College

    • Swarthmore, PA
    • 380 reviews
    College Sophomore:Swarthmore was the best decision of my life. I've met people and had experiences here that changed my life, and for that I'm incredibly grateful. I love that students and faculty are refreshingly genuine and passionate. However, be warned, the academics are overwhelming. Swarthmore is consistently ranked as one of the most academically rigorous undergraduate institutions in the country and this is mentally demanding on students. One thing is for sure, Swarthmore is not easy.

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  14. 14

    Bates College

    • Lewiston, ME
    • 317 reviews
    College Freshman:I love going to class at Bates. Coming from a highly challenging high school, the classes (I was in all arts/English/humanities my first semester) the workload was sometimes difficult but overall extremely manageable. I adored every one of my teachers and felt like I got a lot of personal attention from each one of them.

    I have a lot of friends that are neuroscience majors, however, and that path of study is much more challenging.

    Pros of curriculum: study abroad highly encouraged, almost everyone does it. Also everyone gets to do a senior thesis (alas, some hate this and some love it).

    Cons of curriculum: can be an education minor and get your teaching certificate, but only for grades 6-12- no early ed. Certification!

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  15. 15

    Davidson College

    • Davidson, NC
    • 266 reviews
    College Junior:Professors at Davidson really take the time to get to know their students. They offer office hours and are always available by appointment. Additionally, our small class sizes foster an intimate learning environment.

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  16. 16

    Colby College

    • Waterville, ME
    • 487 reviews
    College Junior:If you're into strong academics, Colby is the place to be. Apart from all the majors, smart and supportive professors and study abroad options, It offers a unique environment for students to participate in research. As a liberal arts college with professors committed only on undergraduates, Colby offers incredible scholarship opportunities for those into basic research. This point, I believe, is what makes Colby even more desirable than big research universities. Professors have no PhD students, postdocs etc. to distract them so undergraduates can be much more involved in all aspects of research. I would definitely choose Colby again if I could do it all over again.

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  17. 17

    Hamilton College

    • Clinton, NY
    • 422 reviews
    College Freshman:I have no regrets about Hamilton. I love the small classes and sense of community on campus. The professors are great and so are the classes. As a freshman, I have had a much easier time adjusting to this school than many of my other friends at other colleges. The people are just very welcoming and friendly.

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  18. 18

    University of Richmond

    • University of Richmond, VA
    • 665 reviews
    College Sophomore:There are so many course options and major options. You can study anything that interests you at this school. All of the professors are extremely dedicated and always helpful. Class sizes are always kept small.

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  19. 19

    Grinnell College

    • Grinnell, IA
    • 376 reviews
    College Junior:The student body is very inclusive and open as every event is free and open to everyone on campus. What's great is that the entire student body chooses to be in Grinnell, which is truly what makes our community special. We don't have a Greek system, but we have over 500 events each year, including speakers, parties, performances, and bands, and over 200+ clubs and organizations. You only need one other person who is interested to start your own club or group, if we don't have it and you can get funding from our Student Government Association.

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  20. 20

    Reed College

    • Portland, OR
    • 241 reviews
    College Freshman:Reed has a great reputation with great grad schools, so if you're into that, Reed will help you get into a fantastic graduate program after you leave Reed. Freshman year isn't difficult, but gives you the building blocks to deal with the upcoming storm that is compromised of your later years at Reed. Class get harder and more interesting. Truly, only come here if you are interested in learning and can work hard, otherwise you will have a terrible time. The science, history (including art history) and english departments are particularly respected.

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  21. 21

    Bucknell University

    • Lewisburg, PA
    • 694 reviews
    College Junior:Bucknell is absolutely a top tier school and deserves to be there. Unlike many top schools though, it is difficult to get into and it remains difficult throughout the years. You truly have to earn your grades in the vast majority of majors. You will learn a lot at Bucknell, and that includes learning how to fail.

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  22. 22

    Lafayette College

    • Easton, PA
    • 571 reviews
    College Junior:Overall, Lafayette has been the best experience so far in my life. I knew I wanted to major in Biology and I have always been interested on the medical field when I was applying to colleges. However, everything has changed after the first winter term I spent on campus. I conducted biological research for my very first time, and more specifically, cancer research. From pipetting to centrifuging, from splitting tumor cells to performing qPCR, my perspective on biology has altered in those three weeks. I realized that I didn't want to go to medical school; I enjoy hands-on experiments to solve the bigger questions and mysteries in human bodies. And from then onward, I have been conducted research every semester, summer, and winter. I want to be a scientist. It's no longer a dream; it's turned into a practical goal.

    Growing up from an immigrant family where my parents work twelve hours a day, six days a week, going to college was hard; however, Lafayette was able to provide nearly full funded scholarships and grants to make my dreams come true. I didn't want to be a waitress or a chief like my parents, I wanted to have a career that could pay enough money to support my future family as well as my parents, without getting back pain, arm pain, and leg numbness everyday. And Lafayette made my dream more realistic and practical.

    After being here at Lafayette for two years now, I never regret my decision and am grateful to my scholarship donors. I am positive that after enriching my education at Lafayette, I will be able to become a scientist one day and work in the pharmaceutical industry.

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  23. 23

    Smith College

    • Northampton, MA
    • 826 reviews
    College Sophomore:Smith is just a great place. The administration just passed a policy that will allow for transgender women to apply and get accepted, which goes to show how open-minded the school is. However, I definitely agree that views that oppose the campus norm are not well-accepted. At the end of the day, those students who are able to engage with point-of-views different from their own are going to be much better off going into the real world. The sense of community here is indeed very strong. Everyone feels the need to support a fellow Smithie. And the academics will for sure prepare you for the road up ahead. Smithies are very smart people, and employers know that. It's a great place for a female identifying individual to develop the confidence they need to really succeed in the world.

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  24. 24

    Wellesley College

    • Wellesley, MA
    • 518 reviews
    College Sophomore:I didn't choose Wellesley because it was an all girls school, but that aspect of it has made my experience so much better. It is wonderfully refreshing to live and learn in an atmosphere where women are consistently empowered and respected and not overshadowed by immature college guys.

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  25. 25

    Scripps College

    • Claremont, CA
    • 425 reviews
    College Sophomore:The academics are challenging, thought-provoking, and high-quality. Small class sizes, dedicated professors. It's a good set-up. We can also take classes at the other 5Cs (Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, Claremont McKenna, Pomona).

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