The Best Liberal Arts Colleges for Your Money
Going to college doesn’t have to mean spending four years in giant lecture halls with professors who don’t know your name. You can still have a big fish in a small pond type experience at a liberal arts college.
And before you start worrying about becoming a starving artist, take note: Studies show there are well-paying jobs for liberal arts graduates, especially since employers say they are looking for communication skills and the ability to work in a team. Liberal arts graduates also report being just as satisfied with their careers as their STEM student peers.
To help you find a college where you can immerse yourself in the humanities while having a good chance of getting a good job, Money has compiled a list of the best liberal arts colleges in the country.
To do this, we started with the institutions the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education defined be bachelor’s degree colleges with an arts and science focus in 2018. To be included, at least half of all degrees awarded at a college had to be bachelor’s degrees (and less than 50 had to be master’s degrees). At least half of bachelor’s degrees had to be in the arts and sciences.
Here are the results. Check out the top 10 liberal arts colleges in the country below, then check out our full ranking of the top 50 here.
1. Washington and Lee University
Washington and Lee University
Courtesy of Washington University and Lee
General classification of silver: 24
Washington and LeeThe 1,800 undergraduates will find plenty of liberal arts courses at Middle School, which offers 37 majors in Art History, English, Philosophy, Mathematics, and Medieval and Renaissance Studies. The College promises to create an environment where students will “hone their critical thinking skills” and “develop their abilities for clear communication and creative expression.”
2. Williams College
Roman Iwasiwka—Williams College
General classification of silver: 36
williams has no required courses for its 2,000 undergraduate students, but people are flocking to majors like economics, biology, psychology, history and political science. The student-faculty ratio is 7:1 at the Williams campus, which is about a three-hour drive from Boston and New York.
3. College of the Holy Cross (tie)
Holy Cross College
Denis Tangney Jr.—Getty Images
General classification of silver: 42
AT the holy cross, a liberal arts education includes “essential foundational skills” like critical thinking and analysis. To that end, the school’s approximately 3,000 undergraduate students can consult academic programs in Asian Studies, French, Studio Art and Drama.
3. Swarthmore College (tie)
Courtesy of Swarthmore College
General classification of silver: 42
Swarthmore said its liberal arts options are “the perfect education for curious intellectuals”. Students spend two years exploring the humanities and sciences, then focus on a major for their final two years. Can we suggest dance, Islamic studies or one of the approximately 50 other intermediate academic programs?
5. Bates College
Copyright – 2016 Portland Press Herald
General classification of silver: 52
Bates spent more than 150 years”dedicated the emancipatory potential of the liberal arts. “Freshmen begin learning liberal arts basics in residential colleges and end as seniors completing a capstone project. Majors and minors include Neuroscience, Japanese, and Gender and Sexuality Studies – make your choice.
6. College of Trade Unions
Jamie Schwaberow—NCAA Photos/Getty Images
General classification of silver: 53
union like to say it has been “defining — and redefining — the meaning of a liberal arts education” since the 1700s. Explore programs in astrophysics, nanotechnology, Russian economics, and management. With a student-faculty ratio of 10:1, the college takes particular pride in the individual attention it gives to each student.
7. Barnard College
Courtesy of Barnard College
General classification of silver: 54
barnard offers its students take more than 2,000 courses in subjects such as the politics of crime and policing in the United States, Shakespeare, and quantum physics. A liberal arts education here is meant to empower women to “connect and take risks,” and they’re in a great place for that: New York City.
8. Colgate University
General classification of silver: 55
Colgate’s 3,000 students “learn to think critically, communicate powerfully, analyze other perspectives, and solve complex problems.” They have their choice of 56 majors, which include Anthropology, Greek, and Peace and Conflict Studies. Additionally, when not in class, people can walk around the school’s beautiful hillside campus.
9. Virginia Military Institute
Virginia Military Institute
General classification of silver: 63
Although it may not look like one, VMI is recognized as a liberal arts college because its curriculum is designed to give its 1,700 cadets broad exposure to the liberal arts. Cadets take courses in subjects such as modern languages, international studies and computer science alongside ROTC. There is a tight-knit community on campus – some classes are as small as 11 people – and the student body is predominantly male.
10. Amherst College
General classification of silver: 70
Amherst favors her liberal arts education as a chance to develop “a potential to understand possibility, perceive consequence, make new connections, and make life-changing choices.” Most classes have fewer than 30 students, but everyone can choose from a wide variety of courses in subjects like classics, religion, and Spanish.