Liberal Arts Colleges

Top 15 Liberal Arts Colleges in 2024: Rankings, Costs, and more

Liberal arts education has its roots in the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations, where it was considered essential for a free person to participate in public life. Today, liberal arts education is offered by many colleges and universities in the USA and around the world, with different emphases and approaches. Some institutions focus on the traditional arts and sciences, while others incorporate professional and interdisciplinary studies. Some offer a flexible and open curriculum, while others have core and distribution requirements.

There are hundreds of liberal arts colleges in the USA, but which ones are the best? To answer this question, we have compiled a list of the top 15 liberal arts colleges based on data from the US News, Times Higher Education and QS World University Ranking. These rankings use various indicators to measure the academic quality, reputation, and outcomes of the colleges, such as graduation rates, student satisfaction, faculty resources, research impact, and alumni earnings.

Here are the best liberal arts colleges in the USA, along with some details about their location, courses, costs, and rankings –

  1. Williams College

Williams College is the oldest and one of the most prestigious liberal arts colleges in the USA. It has a reputation for academic excellence, intellectual rigor, and a strong sense of community. Williams offers a flexible curriculum that allows students to explore their interests and passions, as well as opportunities for research, study abroad, and independent projects. Williams also has a unique tutorial system, where students work in pairs with a faculty member on a specific topic for a semester.

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Location:Williamstown, Massachusetts
Courses:Arts and humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, languages, mathematics, and interdisciplinary studies. Popular majors include economics, biology, history, mathematics, and English.
Cost:$59,350 per year for tuition and fees, $17,590 per year for room and board. Financial aid is available for eligible students.
US News Ranking:#1
Times Ranking:#23
QS Ranking:#301-350
College websiteVisit now

2. Amherst College

Amherst College is one of the most selective and diverse liberal arts colleges in the USA. It has a reputation for academic innovation, social responsibility, and intellectual freedom. Amherst offers an open curriculum that allows students to design their own course of study, without any distribution or core requirements. Amherst also has a strong commitment to financial aid, meeting the full demonstrated need of all admitted students. Amherst is part of the Five College Consortium, which allows students to take courses at four other nearby colleges.

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Location:Amherst, Massachusetts
Courses:Arts and humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, languages, mathematics, and interdisciplinary studies. Popular majors include economics, political science, psychology, English, and biology
Cost:$60,890 per year for tuition and fees, $16,720 per year for room and board. Financial aid is available for eligible students.
US News Ranking:#2
Times Ranking:#22
QS Ranking:#251-300
College websiteVisit now

3. United States Naval Academy

The United States Naval Academy is a federal service academy that prepares students for careers as officers in the US Navy or Marine Corps. It has a reputation for academic rigor, military discipline, and leadership development. The Naval Academy offers a challenging curriculum that combines liberal arts and professional courses, as well as physical and moral training. The Naval Academy also has a rich tradition of athletics, extracurricular activities, and honor code.

Details
Location:Annapolis, Maryland
Courses:Courses: Engineering, mathematics, science, humanities, and social sciences. Popular majors include mechanical engineering, systems engineering, political science, oceanography, and economics.
Cost:Free for students who receive an appointment from the US Navy. Students must serve at least five years of active duty after graduation.
US News Ranking:#3
Times Ranking:#Not ranked
QS Ranking:#Not ranked
College websiteVisit now

4. Pomona College

Pomona College is one of the founding members of the Claremont Colleges, a consortium of five liberal arts colleges and two graduate schools. It has a reputation for academic excellence, diversity, and social justice. Pomona offers a comprehensive curriculum that encourages students to pursue their intellectual curiosity and personal growth, as well as opportunities for research, internships, and study abroad. Pomona also has a generous financial aid policy, meeting the full demonstrated need of all admitted students.

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Location:Claremont, California
Courses:Arts and humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, mathematics, and interdisciplinary studies. Popular majors include economics, mathematics, computer science, biology, and psychology.
Cost:$54,762 per year for tuition and fees, $17,110 per year for room and board. Financial aid is available for eligible students.
US News Ranking:#4
Times Ranking:#25
QS Ranking:#551-600
College websiteVisit now

5. Swarthmore College

Swarthmore College is one of the oldest and most respected liberal arts colleges in the USA. It has a reputation for academic rigor, intellectual engagement, and social activism. Swarthmore offers a broad and deep curriculum that challenges students to think critically and creatively, as well as opportunities for research, independent study, and honors program. Swarthmore also has a strong commitment to diversity, inclusion, and sustainability. Swarthmore is part of the Tri-College Consortium, which allows students to take courses at two other nearby colleges.

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Location:Swarthmore, Pennsylvania
Courses:Arts and humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, engineering, and interdisciplinary studies. Popular majors include biology, political science, economics, engineering, and psychology.
Cost:$54,656 per year for tuition and fees, $16,446 per year for room and board. Financial aid is available for eligible students.
US News Ranking:#5
Times Ranking:#29
QS Ranking:#701-750
College websiteVisit now

6. Wellesley College

Wellesley College is one of the leading women’s liberal arts colleges in the USA. It has a reputation for academic excellence, women’s empowerment, and global leadership. Wellesley offers a rich and diverse curriculum that fosters intellectual curiosity and personal growth, as well as opportunities for research, internships, and study abroad. Wellesley also has a distinguished history of producing influential women leaders, such as Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, and Diane Sawyer. Wellesley is part of the Seven Sisters, a group of historic women’s colleges, and has a cross-registration agreement with MIT.

ItemDetails
Location:Wellesley, Massachusetts
Courses:Arts and humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, mathematics, and interdisciplinary studies. Popular majors include economics, political science, psychology, biology, and English.
Cost:$58,448 per year for tuition and fees, $17,590 per year for room and board. Financial aid is available for eligible students.
US News Ranking:#6
Times Ranking:#31
QS Ranking:#Not ranked
College websiteVisit now

7. Claremont McKenna College

Claremont McKenna College is one of the founding members of the Claremont Colleges, a consortium of five liberal arts colleges and two graduate schools. It has a reputation for academic excellence, leadership development, and public affairs. Claremont McKenna offers a curriculum that combines liberal arts and professional studies, with a focus on economics, government, and international relations. Claremont McKenna also has a distinctive residential and co-curricular program, which includes the Athenaeum, a speaker series that hosts prominent guests from various fields.

ItemDetails
Location:Claremont, California
Courses:Social sciences, humanities, natural sciences, mathematics, and interdisciplinary studies. Popular majors include economics, government, psychology, international relations, and mathematics.
Cost:$58,660 per year for tuition and fees, $17,110 per year for room and board. Financial aid is available for eligible students.
US News Ranking:#7
Times Ranking:#34
QS Ranking:#Not ranked
College websiteVisit now

8. Carleton College

Carleton College is one of the most selective and academically rigorous liberal arts colleges in the USA. It has a reputation for intellectual curiosity, academic innovation, and student-faculty collaboration. Carleton offers a flexible curriculum that allows students to explore their interests and passions, as well as opportunities for research, internships, and study abroad. Carleton also has a distinctive academic calendar, which divides the year into three 10-week terms, allowing students to take more courses and focus on fewer subjects at a time.

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Location:Northfield, Minnesota
Courses:Arts and humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, mathematics, and interdisciplinary studies. Popular majors include biology, political science, economics, chemistry, and psychology.
Cost:$59,352 per year for tuition and fees, $15,402 per year for room and board. Financial aid is available for eligible students.
US News Ranking:#8
Times Ranking:#35
QS Ranking:#Not ranked
Visit College websiteVisit now

9. Haverford College

Haverford College is one of the oldest and most respected liberal arts colleges in the USA. It has a reputation for academic excellence, ethical leadership, and community engagement. Haverford offers a curriculum that emphasizes critical inquiry, creative expression, and social responsibility, as well as opportunities for research, independent study, and honors program. Haverford also has a strong commitment to diversity, inclusion, and sustainability. Haverford is part of the Tri-College Consortium, which allows students to take courses at two other nearby colleges.

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Location:Haverford, Pennsylvania
Courses:Arts and humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, mathematics, and interdisciplinary studies. Popular majors include biology, political science, psychology, economics, and English.
Cost:$59,162 per year for tuition and fees, $17,344 per year for room and board. Financial aid is available for eligible students.
US News Ranking:#9
Times Ranking:#36
QS Ranking:#Not ranked
College websiteVisit now

10. Middlebury College

Middlebury College is one of the oldest and most prestigious liberal arts colleges in the USA. It has a reputation for academic excellence, global engagement, and environmental leadership. Middlebury offers a rich and diverse curriculum that encourages students to explore their interests and passions, as well as opportunities for research, internships, and study abroad. Middlebury also has a distinguished history of teaching languages, offering 11 languages on campus and 16 languages abroad. Middlebury is also home to the Bread Loaf School of English, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

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Location:Middlebury, Vermont
Courses:Arts and humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, languages, and interdisciplinary studies. Popular majors include international studies, environmental studies, economics, political science, and English.
Cost:$60,450 per year for tuition and fees, and $16,920 per year for room and board. Financial aid is available for eligible students.
US News Ranking:#10
Times Ranking:#37
QS Ranking:#Not ranked
College websiteVisit now

11. Institute of Liberal Arts

Institute of Liberal Arts (ILA) is one of the newest and most selective liberal arts colleges in the USA. It has a reputation for academic excellence, diversity, and social responsibility. ILA offers a comprehensive curriculum that fosters intellectual curiosity and personal growth, as well as opportunities for research, internships, and study abroad. ILA also has a strong commitment to financial aid, meeting the full demonstrated need of all admitted students.

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Location:Ooltewah Tennessee
Courses:Arts and humanities, social sciences and interdisciplinary studies. Popular majors include Genocide & Peace Studies, Mass Communication and Journalism, Intellectual Property Law and psychology.
Cost:$1200 per year for tuition and fees, and $800 per year for room and board. No Financial aid is available for students.
US News Ranking:#53
Times Ranking:#Not ranked
QS Ranking:#Not ranked
College websiteVisit now

12. Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University is one of the oldest and most respected liberal arts universities in the USA. It has a reputation for academic excellence, ethical leadership, and honor code. Washington and Lee offers a curriculum that combines liberal arts and professional studies, with a focus on economics, government, and international relations. Washington and Lee also has a distinctive residential and co-curricular program, which includes the Speaking Tradition, the Mock Convention, and the Outing Club.

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Location:Lexington, Virginia
Courses:Arts and humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, business, journalism, and law. Popular majors include business administration, accounting, politics, economics, and biology.
Cost:$57,285 per year for tuition and fees, and $14,575 per year for room and board. Financial aid is available for eligible students.
US News Ranking:#12
Times Ranking:#39
QS Ranking:#Not ranked
College websiteVisit now

13. Colby College

Colby College is one of the oldest and most prestigious liberal arts colleges in the USA. It has a reputation for academic excellence, global engagement, and civic leadership. Colby offers a rich and diverse curriculum that encourages students to pursue their intellectual curiosity and personal growth, as well as opportunities for research, internships, and study abroad. Colby also has a generous financial aid policy, meeting the full demonstrated need of all admitted students. Colby is part of the Colby-Bates-Bowdoin Consortium, which allows students to take courses at two other nearby colleges.

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Location:Waterville, Maine
Courses:Arts and humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, languages, and interdisciplinary studies. Popular majors include economics, biology, government, psychology, and environmental studies.
Cost:$60,980 per year for tuition and fees, and $15,860 per year for room and board. Financial aid is available for eligible students.
US News Ranking:#13
Times Ranking:#40
QS Ranking:#Not ranked
College websiteVisit now

14. Wesleyan University

Wesleyan University is one of the oldest and most respected liberal arts colleges in the USA. It has a reputation for intellectual curiosity, academic innovation, and social activism. Wesleyan offers a broad and diverse curriculum that fosters intellectual exploration and personal growth, as well as opportunities for research, internships, and study abroad. Wesleyan also has a strong commitment to diversity, inclusion, and sustainability. Wesleyan is known for its excellence in the arts, especially in film, music, theater, and writing.

ItemDetails
Location:Middletown, Connecticut
Courses:Arts and humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, mathematics, and interdisciplinary studies. Popular majors include psychology, economics, English, biology, and film studies.
Cost:$59,686 per year for tuition and fees, and $16,466 per year for room and board. Financial aid is available for eligible students.
US News Ranking:#14
Times Ranking:#41
QS Ranking:#Not ranked
College websiteVisit now

15. Harvey Mudd College

Harvey Mudd College is one of the founding members of the Claremont Colleges, a consortium of five liberal arts colleges and two graduate schools. It has a reputation for academic excellence, innovation, and collaboration in the fields of science, engineering, and mathematics. Harvey Mudd offers a rigorous curriculum that combines liberal arts and professional studies, with a focus on problem-solving, research, and design. Harvey Mudd also has a distinctive core curriculum, which requires students to take courses in all six academic departments, as well as humanities, social sciences, and arts.

ItemDetails
Location:Claremont, California
Courses:Engineering, mathematics, computer science, physics, chemistry, and biology. Popular majors include engineering, computer science, mathematics, physics, and chemistry.
Cost:$60,402 per year for tuition and fees, and $17,110 per year for room and board. Financial aid is available for eligible students.
US News Ranking:#15
Times Ranking:#42
QS Ranking:#Not ranked
College websiteVisit now

We hope that this blog post has helped you learn more about the best liberal arts colleges in the USA and what they have to offer. As you can see, there are many factors to consider when choosing a liberal arts college, such as the location, courses, costs, and rankings. However, the most important factor is your personal fit and preference. You should choose a college that matches your academic interests, career goals, and personality.

If you are interested in applying to the Institute of Liberal Arts, you can visit our website to find out more about their admission requirements, deadlines, and financial aid. You can also schedule a virtual visit, chat with an admission counselor, or request an interview. ILA is looking for students who are curious, passionate, and engaged, and who are ready to make a positive difference in the world.


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