Skip to comments.The 50 Best Colleges in the United States (Exceptional schools you won’t see on any other list)
Posted on 12/13/2012 1:39:25 PM PST by SeekAndFind
Rankings of Americas best colleges exist all over the web, so why is TheBestSchools.org offering yet another? Because we have a ranking thats interesting and useful.
Most rankings of Americas best colleges list the usual suspects: Harvard, Princeton, Yale, MIT, in the East. In the West, Stanford, Berkeley, Caltech. In the Midwest, the University of Chicago and a few Big Ten schools. In the South, Duke, Vanderbilt, and Emory.
To round out such a list, most rankings also throw in a good number of small, elite, liberal arts colleges. Our list will also include some of these colleges. But it will go well beyond that. In our ranking, youll find some exceptional schools that you wont see on any other list.
In ranking the 50 best colleges in the United States, we dont include the big research universities, which tend to invest many more of their resources into graduate rather than undergraduate education. By a “college,” in this article, we mean a school that exists primarily to teach undergraduates.
Thus, in our ranking, we list schools whose main degree is a bachelors or even an associates degree (in fact, our top-ranked school offers only a two-year degree).
Subjective factors always enter into any ranking of schools. Academic rigor, prestige, and job prospects are all legitimate factors to consider. But the weight one assigns to these and other factors is a matter of subjective preference.
In our ranking, we give high weight to the prospects for personal enrichment and advancement that await students AFTER GRADUATION. College, in our view, should not be a stepping stone to living in mom and dad’s garage or basement. It should be a springboard to a full, rich, independent life.
Thus, in our ranking, youll find Harvey Mudd College ahead of many more-famous, elite, liberal arts colleges. Why? For one thing, Harvey Mudd has an exceptional undergraduate engineering program. But theres more. Of all the colleges in the U.S., Harvey Mudd’s graduates are looking at the biggest salary when they graduate.
To be sure, our ranking is not solely concerned with return on investment. For a college, as opposed to a research university, we value especially the following five factors:
(1) Record of achievement. When you graduate from any of the colleges in our ranking, youll have something to show for it. Youll have a skill-set, a credential, a springboard to new possibilities. This can translate into cash, but it can also translate in other ways.
(2) Diversity of study. We think excellence in a college education need not be confined to liberal arts and sciences. Business, engineering, architecture, seafaring, aviation, musicianship, visual arts, performing arts, filmmaking, animation, etc., are all legitimate pursuits in college, and a list of top colleges should reflect this diversity.
(3) Freedom of inquiry and expression. We believe that dogmatism and political correctness hinder true education. Youll find liberal and conservative schools in our ranking. But weve avoided schools whose main business is indoctrination and politicization.
(4) Academic Rigor. College should be fun, but also a time of intense concentration and effort. An undergraduates course of study should be thoroughgoing, empowering him or her with mastery of a subject, skill, or set of ideas. Also, more focus should be on primary sources rather than criticism.
(5) Low Cost and Minimal Debt. A college education should not load students with massive debt. Large debts drastically limit what students can do after graduation. We like schools that charge zero tuition (yes, such schools exist—read on!), or have such big endowments that students with financial need can get scholarships.
Here is our list of the 50 best colleges in the United States (note, unless stated otherwise, SAT scores include the 25th/75th percentile):
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1. Deep Springs College (Deep Springs, CA)
Deep Springs College, a unique alternative to the first half of a conventional, four-year college program, recruits students of exceptional ability. Many of its students have turned down offers from some of the nation’s most highly esteemed colleges.
Deep Springs is founded on the pillars of academics, self-governance, and labor, and prepares students for lives of service to humanity.
Admissions officers of the top schools know and respect the name of Deep Springs College. After students participate in a two-year, liberal arts honor program, most of them complete their degree at the world’s most prestigious four-year institutions.
Students learn from their responsibilities of authentic self-government and substantial physical labor, as well as from the school’s traditional arts curriculum. Students administer the labor program. They also have the dominant decision-making authority regarding curriculum, admissions, and hiring of faculty members.
Professors live about 100 yards from students. They’re readily available to provide advice on academic life and other subjects.
In the classrooms, students discuss subjects with their professors in a seminar format. Many students develop their own independent or directed studies.
Admission: The school places an emphasis on academic ability, leadership potential, and the desire to assume active and practical responsibility for the ongoing life of the Deep Springs community. The school regards the interview and essays as more important parts of the admission process than the SAT. Women can apply to enroll in the class of 2013.
2. Swarthmore College (Swarthmore, PA)
Swarthmore College, a private, liberal arts college, consistently hovers near the top of almost every ranking list of U.S. liberal arts colleges.
In 2011, Swarthmore ranked #2 among national liberal arts colleges for providing “Best Undergraduate Teaching” according to U.S. News & World Report.
The college is known for rigorous intellectual inquiry, which is shaped by its commitment to social responsibility and the legacy of its Quaker heritage. Graduates include five Nobel Prize winners (second-highest number of Nobel Prize winners per graduate in the United States).
The college provides a liberal arts and engineering curriculum. About one-third of the students pursue their degree through the school’s exceptional honors program. The college also offers community-based learning courses. Students can design their own major.
Admission: The private college is open to all students regardless of their financial need. Applicants are evaluated on factors such as:
Starting median salary: $50,700
Mid-career median salary: 104,000 (#7 in the PayScale list of Top Liberal Arts Colleges by Salary Potential, 2011–2012)
3. Curtis Institute of Music (Philadelphia, PA)
Curtis Institute of Music, one of the world’s leading conservatories, trains and educates exceptionally gifted young musicians for careers as performing artists at the highest professional level.
The Curtis Institute offers complete musical training and liberal arts courses. Students train with some of the world’s leading musical artists.
Over 60 graduates have performed at the Metropolitan Opera. The school’s trained instrumentalists comprise 16% of principal chairs of the top 25 U.S. orchestras. They have also been members of the Berlin Philharmonic and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam. Two New York Philharmonic music directors have come from the Curtis Institute.
Graduates are regularly among the winners of the most prestigious honors and awards in classical music, including prizes, competitions, and career grants. Graduates have received Pulitzer Prizes, Grammy and Tony awards, and Guggenheim Fellowships.
The institute enrolls just enough students to maintain a full symphony orchestra, an opera program, plus select departments in guitar, piano, composition, conducting, harpsichord, and organ.
The Curtis Institute offers a performance Diploma, Bachelor of Music, Master of Music in Opera, and a Professional Studies Certificate in Opera.
The students participate in a busy schedule of performances. Every year, well known stage and music directors work with the Curtis Opera Theater on fully staged productions.
Admission: The school selects students based on artistic promise. The institute has no minimum or maximum age requirements. Every applicant must audition in person.
4. Harvey Mudd College (Claremont, CA)
Harvey Mudd College—one of the nation’s leading math, science, and engineering colleges—is also a liberal arts college. Many of the engineers, scientists, and mathematicians become leaders in their fields. Harvey Mudd only offers undergraduate degrees. The college provides nine math, science, and engineering majors. All of the programs include humanities and social science courses.
In 2012, Harvey Mudd College was rated as having #2 best undergraduate engineering program for schools whose highest degree is a bachelor’s or master’s by U.S. News & World Report. The college has the highest rate of science and engineering Ph.D production among all undergraduate colleges and second-highest compared to all colleges and universities. Graduates have produced great advances in technology such as MIME Standard, SQL, Flash, and Remote Procedure Calls.
Students gain hands-on experience in high-level research projects and through the college’s world-renowned Clinic Program. They must complete at least one year of in-depth research or a challenging clinic project. They also work with notable companies in the clinics.
The school has a wide variety of clubs to keep students entertained and connected. The student population governs itself via a student-run Honor Code.
Admission: Harvey Mudd College seeks students who excelled in challenging courses, show a passion for math and science, appreciate the social sciences and humanities, and participate in activities outside of the classroom. The admission procedure includes recommendations from a mathematics or science recommender and a recommendation from an English, foreign language, or social studies recommender. Applicants should have four years of English.
Starting median salary: $64,400
Mid-career median salary: $121,000 (#1 in the PayScale list of Top Liberal Arts Colleges by Salary Potential, 2011–2012)
5. Williams College (Williamstown, MA)
Williams College, a private, liberal arts college, consistently ranks among the nation’s top liberal arts colleges.
In 2010, 2011, and 2012, Forbes ranked Williams College as the best undergraduate institution in the United States. Williams was #6 on Newsweek‘s ranking of “Brainiac” colleges, which measured the success of alumni winning Marshall, Rhodes, and Truman scholarships.
The college ranked #1 among all colleges in the Wall Street Journal‘s list of colleges and universities whose graduates attend elite medical, business, and law schools. In 2011, Williams College was ranked #3 among national liberal arts colleges providing the Best Undergraduate Teaching by U.S. News & World Report.
Williams College ranked #1 among National U.S. colleges and universities in percentage of undergraduates participating in paid summer science research.
The faculty has received recognition for scholarship and professional achievements. Williams College ranks third among national liberal arts colleges in the number of National Science Foundation Grants held by faculty.
The school has three academic divisions: Social Studies; Language and the Arts; and Science and Mathematics. The college uses Oxford-style tutorials. Experiential programs and courses challenge students to become more personally engaged in their learning via fieldwork from research, special projects, or placement in community organizations.
Williams College encourages students to connect their community interests to their academic learning via a broad range of curricular and extracurricular programming. Its students are enrolled in over 150 off-campus program worldwide.
Admission: The college enrolls students without regard to their ability to pay.
Starting median salary: $51,800
Mid-career median salary: $105,000 (#6 in the PayScale list of Top Liberal Arts Colleges by Salary Potential, 2011–2012)
6. Pomona College (Claremont, CA)
Pomona College, one of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges, provides an environment for intellectual development and personal growth.
The college offers a comprehensive curriculum in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Professors teach all the courses.
Pomona College was included among the Best College Value by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine in 2009 and 2011–2012. It was also ranked #9 in Forbes‘s list of America’s Top Colleges and Universities in 2012, and #4 in the National Liberal Arts Colleges list by U.S. News & World Report.
Pomona College was ranked #3 among colleges by number of Fulbright Fellowships for the class of 2011, and #3 college for most accessible professors, by Daily Beast/Newsweek in 2011.
As a member of The Claremont Colleges, a consortium of seven independent institutions with contiguous campuses, Pomona College provides students with the personal experience of a small, high-level, liberal arts college, along with the extensive resources typically associated with major universities.
Admission: Academic excellence is the school’s main consideration. The school reports that it is interested in the best students; their ability to pay doesn’t matter.
Starting median salary: $47,000
Mid-career median salary: $91,000 (#22 in the PayScale list of Top Liberal Arts Colleges by Salary Potential, 2011–2012)
7–9. United States Naval Academy (Annapolis, MD)
United States Naval Academy, a four-year, coeducational, public, liberal arts college, is one of the nation’s most selective colleges.
The academy provides a demanding four-year program leading to a Bachelor of Science degree and a commission as an Ensign in the United States Navy, or as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps.
Moral development is a fundamental element of all aspects of the Naval Academy experience. The four-year program focuses on integrity, honor, and mutual respect. The academic program of every midshipman includes a core curriculum providing courses in science, engineering, mathematics, social sciences, and humanities. The objective is a wide-based education to qualify students for nearly any career field in the Navy or Marine Corps. Students also have the opportunity to develop a specific area of academic interest.
In 2012, U.S. News & World Report ranked the U.S Naval Academy as the #1 Public Liberal Arts College in the nation, tied for first with the U.S. Military Academy. In a U.S. News & World Report 2011 survey of high school guidance counselors, regarding national universities and national liberal arts colleges providing the best undergraduate education the United States, the Naval Academy was tied for #1, along with the United States Military Academy and the United States Air Force Academy.
In 2011, the United States Naval Academy was ranked the #17 best undergraduate institutions by Forbes magazine. In the 2012 U.S. News & World Report college rankings, the academy tied for 4th Best Undergraduate Engineering among non-doctorate-granting institutions.
Admission: Applicants are required to apply directly to the academy. They are also required to receive a nomination, typically from a congressional representative.
Bachelor’s degree: $55,577–$165,646
7–9. United States Air Force Academy (El Paso County, CO)
United States Air Force Academy, a public, liberal arts college, provides intellectual, physical, moral, and leadership development.
Graduates receive a Bachelor of Science degree.
The academy is a military school for officer candidates for the United States Air Force. Most graduates are commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Air Force.
In a U.S. News & World Report 2011 survey of high school guidance counselors, regarding national universities and national liberal arts colleges providing the best undergraduate education, the United States Air Force Academy tied for #1 along with the United States Naval Academy and the United States Military Academy.
In the 2012 U.S. News & World Report college rankings, the academy tied for 4th Best Undergraduate Engineering among non-doctorate-granting institutions.
Admission: The academy evaluates the academic, athletic, character, and leadership potential of every applicant, as shown by their achievements and life experiences. Leadership activities are important. Applicants must also pass a fitness test and obtain a nomination, typically from the member of Congress in the applicant’s home district.
Bachelor’s degree: $50,317–$148,638
7–9. United States Military Academy (West Point, NY)
The United States Military Academy, a four-year, public, liberal arts college, is one of the most selective colleges in the nation.
The United States Military academy develops cadets in four vital areas: intellectual, physical, military, and moral-ethical.
Cadets participate in Individual Advanced Development (IAD) activities. Some cadets participate in academic IADs, including at the Supreme Court, NASA, Crossroads to Africa, and the National Laboratories.
The academy provides a Bachelor of Science degree. After students graduate, they earn a commission in the United States Army as a 2nd Lieutenant. They have a five-year service requirement after graduation.
In 2012, U.S. News & World Report ranked the U.S. Military Academy as the #1 Public Liberal Arts College in the nation, tied for first with the U.S Naval Academy. In a U.S. News & World Report 2011 survey of high school guidance counselors, regarding national universities and national liberal arts colleges providing the best undergraduate education in the United States, the academy was tied for #1, along with the United States Naval Academy and the United States Air Force Academy.
In the 2012 U.S. News & World Report college rankings, the academy was ranked #3 for Best Undergraduate Engineering among non-doctorate-granting institutions.
Admission: Applicants are required to apply directly to the academy and receive a nomination from a congressional representative.
Bachelor’s degree: $48,350–$155,096
10. College of William and Mary (Williamsburg, VA)
College of William and Mary is a “Public Ivy”—one of eight in the nation.
It is well known for its rigorous liberal arts curriculum and its engaged, dedicated professors. The college has a historic dedication to community service. Seventy-five percent of the students participate in community service projects.
The College of William and Mary believes in original hands-on research. Undergrads, beginning with their first class, have opportunities to work with peers and faculty mentors on inspiring projects.
The College of William and Mary was ranked the #4 Best Value Among Colleges and Universities by Kiplinger in 2012. It was also ranked #6 in 2012 among Best Colleges: Top Public Schools, and #8 among Best Colleges: Best Undergraduate Teaching, by U.S. News & World Report, as well as #6 that same year among the Top 10 Best Value Public Colleges by Princeton Review. The college was also ranked #2 among Highest Graduation Rates: Public Research Institutions by the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2010.
Admission: School representatives use a combination of GPA, choice of curriculum, and curriculum vigor to evaluate academic potential.
Starting median salary: $45,000
Mid-career median salary: $96,500
11. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (Terre Haute, IN)
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology is one of the leading undergraduate engineering, mathematics, and science colleges in the nation. It’s one of the rare engineering schools in the U.S. focusing nearly entirely on undergraduate education.
For years, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology has been ranked #1 among engineering schools whose highest degree is a bachelor’s or master’s degree by U.S. News & World Report. The following engineering programs have also received U.S. News & World Report‘s #1 ranking: Chemical, civil, computer, electrical, and mechanical engineering.
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology reports that its seniors are highly sought-after by Fortune 500 firms, the nation’s best graduate schools, and emerging hi-tech companies. Rose-Hulman Ventures, situated on campus, provides students with the opportunity to work on real-world projects from an array of technology-based companies.
Admission: Regarding schools that rank students, the college expects applicants to be in the top 25% of their graduating class. For schools that don’t rank students, the college gives special attention to the quality and rigor of the curriculum students pursued.
Starting median salary: $60,700
Mid-career median salary: $95,800
12. Bowdoin College (Brunswick, ME)
Bowdoin College, a ”New Ivy” private liberal arts college, is one of the elite colleges and universities outside of the Ivy League.
The college is consistently ranked among the top 10 liberal arts colleges in the United States by U.S. News & World Report. Due to its strengths in liberal arts and sciences, the college received a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa honor society.
The college reports that a liberal arts education at Bowdoin College is not about being small and safe. Rather, it is about having the support to take surprising risks.
According to the college, its curriculum provides a bold blueprint for liberal education designed to inspire students to become world citizens with acute sensitivity to the social and natural world.
Admission: A student’s overall academic record is by far the most important credential. Bowdoin College uses a holistic selection process based on individual review. Successful applicants are bright and engaged community members who show curiosity and a willingness to take intellectual risks.
Starting median salary: $44,900
Mid-career median salary: $94,500 (tied for #14 in the PayScale list of Top Liberal Arts Colleges by Salary Potential, 2011–2012)
13. Rhode Island School of Design (Providence, RI)
Rhode Island School of Design (RISD, pronounced “Rizdy”), one of the nation’s oldest and best-known colleges of art and design. It is ranked #2 among fine arts programs by U.S. News & World Report.
The school offers bachelor’s degrees, including a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, as well as master’s degrees.
RISD students can take classes at Brown University. Students can earn a dual degree from RISD and Brown University consisting of a Bachelor of Fine Arts from RISD and a Bachelor of Arts from Brown University.
Undergraduate students participate in an intensive Foundation Studies program and also work in their studio major. Students earn a third of their credits in liberal arts subjects.
Students have access to the RISD Museum, which includes more than 80,000 works of art.
Admission: Prospective applicants are encouraged to follow a college-preparatory program in secondary school and take courses in art history and studio art. Letters of recommendation from teachers or professionals who have first-hand knowledge of an applicant’s art or academic achievements are not required; however, recommendations can be very helpful in the consideration of an application.
Starting median salary: $41,900
Mid-career median salary: $84,900
14. Haverford College (Haverford, PA)
Haverford College, strong in all liberal arts and science areas, offers a personalized educational experience due to its small size.
The college earned a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society due to its academic strengths. Many of the students continue their studies at top national universities.
In 2012, Haverford College was ranked #10 among the Best Colleges in the National Liberal Arts Colleges list by U.S. News & World Report and was listed #7 among all colleges and universities in the 2011 edition of Forbes “Top Colleges.”
The college was ranked #7 among liberal arts colleges by the National Science Foundation for producing the largest number of science and engineering students pursuing a Ph.D per capita. In 2011, Haverford College was ranked as tied for #8 among national liberal arts colleges providing the Best Undergraduate Teaching by U.S. News & World Report.
Although all the students are undergraduates, they are involved in faculty research. Also, students can take classes at Swarthmore College, Bryn Mawr College, and the University of Pennsylvania.
The connection of academics to social justice issues is extended by three interdisciplinary centers: The Center for Peace and Global Citizenship, the Hurford Humanities Center, and the Koshland Integrated Natural Science Center.
Admission: The academic transcript receives the greatest weight. Due to its holistic and personal application evaluation process, the college recommends all applicants have an interview, if possible. The school reports that it is interested in students who show an ability and interest in achieving at the highest levels of scholarship and service, in engaging deeply and substantially with the community, and in growing intellectually and personally.
Starting median salary: $39,500
Mid-career median salary: 103,000 (#8 in the PayScale list of Top Liberal Arts Colleges by Salary Potential, 2011–2012)
15. Juilliard School (New York, NY)
Juilliard School, one of the world’s most prestigious performing arts schools, provides a superb performing arts education.
The school offers pre-professional training in music, dance, and drama. Graduates of the Juilliard School have won over 105 Grammy Awards, 62 Tony Awards, 47 Emmy Awards, 24 Academy Awards, and 16 Pulitzer Prizes.
Besides taking courses specific to their major, students also take liberal arts courses.
The pre-college division teaches students enrolled in elementary school, junior high, and high school.
Admission: The admissions process varies by department, but often applicants are required to audition. Juilliard School evaluates the transcripts and diplomas earned by applicants. The school does not require a GPA, specific courses, standardized test scores such as SAT or ACT, or a class rank for admission.
16. Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art (New York, NY)
Cooper Union is known for its excellent engineering, architecture, and art programs.
The college is ranked #3 in the nation among undergraduate engineering colleges, and the #1 regional college in the North in 2013, by U.S. News & World Report. It has also been included among the Best Design Schools for creative Talent by Businessweek and it has been listed among the selective colleges by the New York Times.
Graduates have received at least 18 Guggenheim fellowships, three MacArthur fellowships, three American Institute of Architects Thomas Jefferson Awards for Public Architecture, and one Nobel Prize.
Copper Union focuses on preparing students for the architecture, art, and engineering professions. It consists of three schools: Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture; the Albert Nerken School of Engineering; and the School of Art.
Admission: Cooper Union admits undergraduates only on merit and all undergraduates receive full-scholarships.
Starting median salary: $56,700
Mid-career median salary: $94,300
17. Claremont McKenna College (Claremont, CA)
Claremont McKenna College (CMC), a member of the Claremont Colleges, is one of the nation’s leading private liberal arts colleges.
CMC focuses mainly on undergraduate education. Almost half of its students study abroad.
The college was ranked #9 among National Liberal Arts Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, and #9 in Forbes‘s America’s Best Colleges list.
CMC was also ranked the #8 best liberal arts feeder school into elite graduate law, medicine, and business programs by the Wall Street Journal, as well as #5 in “Top Value” among private liberal arts colleges by Consumer’s Digest.
In 2011, the college was ranked the #20 “Most Desirable School” by Newsweek.
Admission: The college weighs the following factors: Academic performance and promise; achievements and goals; personal characteristics; participation in activities and organizations; and interests, talents, and leadership potential.Salary information:
Starting median salary: $54,400
Mid-career median salary: $98,000 (#13 in the PayScale list of Top Liberal Arts Colleges by Salary Potential, 2011–2012)
18. Grove City College (Grove City, PA)
Grove City College, a non-denominational, Christian college, emphasizes faith and freedom. The college provides a liberal and professional education.
To maintain its independence of thought and expression, it does not accept government funds such as federal student loans. And yet, as of June 2012, its per-year cost has been around $22,000 total (not just tuition!). This is comparable to in-state costs for many public universities.
Grove City is renowned as a college uniquely qualified in the teaching of Austrian economics and other aspects of conservative economic and political thought at the undergraduate level.
For this reason, it has been ranked as one of the cream of the crop of America’s conservative colleges by Human Events magazine.
Grove City has also been ranked the #2 most politically conservative college in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, and the Young America’s Foundation has consistently named it as a Top Conservative College.
The college was also included in the 2011 list of Most Popular Liberal Arts Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, and named a Best Value College by Princeton Review.
Admission: Grove City College uses a holistic admissions process. An interview is highly recommended; interviews plays a significant role in the selection of the freshman class.
Starting median salary: $43,400
Mid-career median salary: $82,100 (#51 in the PayScale list of Top Liberal Arts Colleges by Salary Potential, 2011–2012)
19. Colorado School of Mines (Golden, CO)
Colorado School of Mines, a public research institution, provides all the advantages of a world-class research institution with a size allowing for personal attention. The college is known for its excellent academic programs in engineering and applied sciences.
In 2012, the school was ranked #31 among the Top Public Schools by U.S. News & World Report. Graduates are in demand by companies and government agencies throughout the world.
Colorado School of Mines, which is devoted to engineering and applied science, provides a curriculum and research program emphasizing responsible stewardship of the earth and its resources. The Colorado School of Mines has broad expertise in resource exploration, extraction, production, and utilization.
Research funding, provided by government agencies and corporations, supports cutting-edge work in alternative and traditional energy sources, earth sciences, mineral economics, environmental science, and engineering, as well as materials.
Partnerships with government laboratories, including the Bureau of Land Reclamation and the U.S. Geological Survey, offer students great opportunities to participate in world-class research.
Faculty members and student research new frontiers in resource exploration, extraction and processing; renewable energy production and distribution; and advanced materials; as well as in environmental impact, mitigation, and remediation. The college’s renowned faculty provides a challenging and supportive learning environment for students.
Admission: Trigonometry is the minimum math requirement for freshman; however, applicants should complete pre-calculus or calculus, if they have the opportunity. Freshmen should also rank among the upper one-third of their high school class and have strong SAT or ACT scores.
Starting median salary: $63,400
Mid-career median salary: $106,000
20. Reed College (Portland, OR)
Reed College, a liberal arts and sciences college, reports that a higher percentage of its graduates earn PhDs across fields than do graduates of all but three other United States colleges and universities.
Reed ranks #2 among liberal arts colleges in producing Rhodes scholars. Students regularly win Fulbright, National Science Foundation, Watson, and other fellowships.
In 2009, Princeton Review ranked Reed College #2 in “Best Classroom Experience” and #3 for “Students Study the Most.”
The college requires all first-year students to take humanities courses. It emphasizes a conference-style classroom, where the instructor acts as a mediator for discussion instead of as a lecturer.
Reed College has a research reactor—the college is the nation’s only school which has a nuclear reactor run entirely by undergraduates.
Admission: Academic accomplishments have the greatest weight in the selection process. Reed College reports a strong secondary school preparation, including honors and advanced courses, improves students’ chances for admission. The college reports that it looks for applicants excited about ideas, passionate about learning, and oriented towards independent thought, as well as eager to be part of an intellectual community that emphasizes student-faculty collaboration.
Starting median salary: $41,000
Mid-career median salary: $83,100 (#48 in the PayScale list of Top Liberal Arts Colleges by Salary Potential, 2011–2012)
21. Hillsdale College (Hillsdale, MI)
Hillsdale College, a liberal arts college, is one of the few non-military colleges in the United States requiring all students to study the U.S. Constitution as a core requirement.
Most of the curriculum is based on the teachings of the Western heritage as a product of Greco-Roman culture and the Judeo-Christian religion.
Hillsdale College is ranked #82 out of 650 schools in the 2012 Forbes report of America’s Best Colleges, and #2 in Princeton Review‘s Best 377 Colleges 2012 list of colleges where students are “most conservative.”
Admission: Important factors include official academic transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a résumé of extra-curricular activities. The school strongly encourages applicants to have an interview with an admissions officer.
Starting median salary: $40,000
Mid-career salary: $80,100 (#56 in the PayScale list of Top Liberal Arts Colleges by Salary Potential, 2011–2012)
22. School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), a leader in educating artists, designers, and scholars, fosters a conceptual and technical education.
SAIC has been recognized by Columbia University’s National Arts Journalism survey as “the most influential art college in the United States.” The school provides an education in the liberal arts and in the arts and design. SAIC offers seven bachelor’s degrees.
The school’s resources include the Art Institute of Chicago.
Admission: Applicants at the freshman level are required to submit their official high school transcript, one letter of reference, a portfolio, and a statement of purpose. The school strongly recommends an interview.
Starting median salary: $39,200
Mid-career median salary: $59,800
23. Smith College (Northampton, MA)
Smith College, among the largest women’s colleges in the United States, focuses on educating women at the undergraduate level.
Talented young women from all over the world enroll at Smith College to be part of its intellectual life and participate in its vibrant academic environment. The college reports that students are free to pursue their intellectual passions and receive support on their own terms. The learning experience includes mentors, faculty advisers, and independent study opportunities.
Smith College consistently ranks among the nation’s top women’s colleges. In 2012, Smith College was ranked #19 among the Best Colleges in National Liberal Arts Colleges by U.S. News & World Report.
Every year, almost half of the college’s juniors study abroad in the college’s programs in Geneva, Florence, Paris, Hamburg, and many other cities in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Smith College is part of a five-college cooperation along with Mount Holyoke, Amherst, Hampshire College, and the University of Massachusetts.
Smith College is also one of the “Seven Sisters.”
Admission: Smith College strongly recommends that applicants prepare for the college by taking the strongest courses provided by their high school. Admission staff members look for evidence of success in a rigorous curriculum. The school reports that it takes a holistic and individual approach to each application. Besides meeting the normal requirements, the college expects each applicant to pursue in greater depth academic interests important to the applicant. A personal interview is highly recommended.
Starting median salary: $41,000
Mid-career salary: $75,500 (#75 in the PayScale list of Top Liberal Arts Colleges by Salary Potential, 2011–2012)
24. Carleton College (Northfield, MN)
Carleton College is an independent, non-sectarian, private liberal arts college.
Carleton has been ranked the #6 best liberal arts college in the United States in 2012, and #1 among national liberal arts colleges providing the Best Undergraduate Teaching in 2011, by U.S. News & World Report.
In 2012, Carleton College was also named the #31 best college or university in the United States by Forbes magazine.
The college has enrolled more students who are part of the National Merit Scholarship Program than any other liberal arts college in the United States.
Carleton reports that the most important thing its students learn is how to learn for a lifetime. Every course is taught by a professor, not a teaching assistant.
Community service is another integral part of the Carleton College experience.
Admission: The admissions committee is typically attracted to applicants who take advantage of the opportunity to do honors or advanced placement work. Normally students are expected to take two or more years of a foreign or classical language, unless it’s not provided at their school. Carleton College recognizes achievements in the arts and encourages applicants to submit tapes, slides, or other evidence of their work with their application.
Starting median salary: $42,800
Mid-career median salary: $98,300 (#12 in the PayScale list of Top Liberal Arts Colleges by Salary Potential, 2011–2012)
25. Davidson College (Davidson, NC)
Davidson College, consistently regarded as one of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges, provides a vigorous undergraduate education. The college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars.
In 2012, Davidson was ranked #11 in the list of the Best Colleges in National Liberal Arts Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, and #5 in 2011 among the best liberal arts colleges in the United States by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.
Newsweek has named Davidson College as one of 25 “New Ivies.” In 2011, the college was ranked as tied for #8 among national liberal arts colleges providing the Best Undergraduate Teaching by U.S. News & World Report.
Princeton Review reports that Davidson ranks among the top 20 colleges in the nation in several categories, including “Best Overall Academic Experience For Undergraduates,” “Professors Get High Marks” (#1), “Professors Make themselves Accessible” (#16), “Students Study the Most” (#10), and “Best Quality of Life” (#16).
The Honor Code is central to student life at Davidson College. The college also has a commitment to community service.
Admission: Davidson College seeks evidence of academic success and well-developed interests and/or talents in the arts, leadership, athletics, and service. In descending order, Davidson College emphasizes the following factors:
Starting median salary: $41,600
Mid-career median salary: $94,500 (Tied for #14 in the PayScale list of Top Liberal Arts Colleges by Salary Potential, 2011–2012)
26. Wheaton College (Wheaton, IL)
Wheaton College is a private and interdenominational Christian liberal arts college, which takes the pursuit of faith and learning seriously.
According to Princeton Review, Wheaton College is among the best institutions for undergraduate education. It has been ranked #17 for Best Value Colleges in Liberal Arts Colleges, and #25 among the Best Value in Private Colleges, by Kiplinger, both for 2011–2012.
In 2012, the college ranked #57 from over 260 National Liberal Arts Colleges by U.S. News & World Report. It is also ranked #20 among all national liberal arts colleges in the number of alumni who obtain a PhD.
The popular guidebook Colleges That Change Lives has included Wheaton on its select list of 40 schools.
Admission: The college reports that it continues to enroll strong, distinctively Christian students. It evaluates the following factors: quality of course selection; class rank; performance in high school/college; essays; ACT and/ or SAT scores; extracurricular activities; recommendations; and Christian commitment (necessary for admission).
Starting median salary: $38,300
Mid-career median salary: $87,200 (#24 in the PayScale list of Top Liberal Arts Colleges by Salary Potential, 2011–2012)
27. Lafayette College (Easton, PA)
Lafayette College, dedicated to undergraduates, earned a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society due to its strengths in the liberal arts.
Lafayette was ranked #40 in the 2012 list of Best Colleges in National Liberal Arts Colleges by U.S. News & World Report.
The college provides education in the arts and humanities, social and natural sciences, and engineering.
It also provides intellectual cross-training, mentoring from a notable faculty, global study, top internships, and research.
Admission: The selection process includes the following factors:
Starting median salary: $51,800
Mid-career median salary: $100,000 (#10 in the PayScale list of Top Liberal Arts Colleges by Salary Potential, 2011–2012)
28. Gettysburg College (Gettysburg, PA)
Gettysburg College, a national college of liberal arts and sciences, has earned a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa honor society due to its strengths in the liberal arts and sciences.
Gettysburg College was ranked #47 in the 2012 list of the Best Colleges in National Liberal Arts Colleges by U.S. News & World Report.
Students prepare for leadership via experimental learning opportunities, a career network, co-curricular service, and off-campus study activities. Almost half of the students have spent a semester abroad.
Undergraduates get an idea about career life via the college’s program, named “Bright Lights! Big City!,” consisting of a three-day trip to Washington, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia to attend company presentations, meet prominent alumni ,and work together on case studies.
Admission: The college expects applicants to participate in a solid college-preparatory program with accelerated, enriched, and advanced placement courses. Significant factors include grades in academic courses, quality and distribution of subjects, and class rank.
Starting median salary: $44,600
Mid-career median salary: $86,000 (#38 in the PayScale list of Top Liberal Arts Colleges by Salary Potential, 2011–2012)
29. United States Coast Guard Academy (New London, CT)
The United States Coast Guard Academy (USCGA), the military academy of the United States Coast Guard, has one of the lowest acceptance rates of any college in the nation, private or public.
USCGA was ranked #1 in the Best Colleges in Regional Colleges (North), and as tied for 10th Best Undergraduate Engineering among non-doctorate granting institutions in 2012, by U.S. News & World Report.
The academy, which provides a Bachelor of Science degree program, offers a holistic education, including academics, physical fitness, character, and leadership. Every cadet completes core studies in liberal arts and sciences. Each student also receives a full-scholarship.
Graduates of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy have an obligation to serve five years in U.S. Coast Guard.
USCGA provides academics through five departments: humanities, engineering, mathematics, management, and science. The academy also provides unique courses via its Strategic Intelligence and Homeland Security department.
Admission: Accepted applicants typically have proven academic accomplishments, especially in math and the sciences, a record of service to the community, skills as an athlete, motivation to embrace leadership development, and an unwavering desire to serve their country and humanity.
30. University of Dallas (Irving, TX)
University of Dallas, a Catholic University, earned a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society due to its strengths in the liberal arts and sciences.
University of Dallas was ranked #14 in the 2012 list of the Best Colleges in Regional Universities (West), and #10 Best Value School Regional Universities (West), by U.S. News & World Report.
The university was also included in PARADE magazine’s 2011 College A-List, as well as the 2012 Princeton Review Best of the West list.
The latter magazine also ranked the university #5 in the Most Religious Students category and #9 in the Most Popular Study Abroad Program.
Admission: The University of Dallas recommends the following curriculum for preparing for its academic program:
Bachelor’s degree: $31,249–$89,873
31. Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University (La Mirada, CA)
The Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University, a liberal arts and biblical studies institute, emphasizes academic excellence, but also values students who show abilities in an array of fields.
The institute exposes students to the great works of the Western and Christian traditions. Torrey Honors Institute incorporates rigorous reading, discussion, and writing guided by faculty members. Discussion is the main mode of instruction.
The Institute fulfills most of the Biola University undergraduate general education requirements. Freshmen take their classes at the institute with their group for all four years.
The institute evaluates students on their individual progress. Students have opportunities such as community service, studying abroad, and extracurricular opportunities.
Admission: All potential Biola University students with one or more of the following can apply to the Torrey Honors Institute: GPA of 3.8 or higher; combined SAT of 1800; or composite ACT of at least 25. Applicants should have completed some honors or Advanced Placement work, if available at their high school.
32. Berea College (Berea, KY)
Berea College, ranked the #1 Liberal Arts College in 2011 by Washington Monthly magazine, has an inclusive Christian character.
The college charges no tuition and only admits academically promising students with limited resources, primarily from Appalachia.
Seventy percent of the students are from Kentucky or the wider Appalachian region; however, students come from all 50 states and over 60 foreign countries. Every student works at least 10 hours per week in campus and services jobs.
Berea College provides rigorous Bachelor of Arts of Science degree programs.
The college also provides student/faculty undergraduate research opportunities in numerous fields.
Admission: Berea College seeks applicants with strong academic potential and financial need. The college also considers factors such as leadership qualities, community service, and levels of motivation. The personal statement is optional for every applicant; however, the school strongly encourages applicants who have experienced obstacles or adversity to submit a personal statement.
Bachelor’s degree: $24,468–$137,439
33. Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA)
Dickinson College, an independent, highly ranked liberal arts college, offers Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degree programs. Due to its strengths in the liberal arts and sciences, the college received a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society.
The college was ranked #47 in the 2012 list of the Best Colleges in National Liberal Arts Colleges by U.S. News & World Report.
Over half of the courses at Dickinson College have a global focus. The majority of the students study or research abroad.
Dickinson College also sponsors over 40 programs in 24 countries on six continents.
Admission: The school expects applicants to have pursued a college-preparatory course of study, which includes substantial sequences in math, physical sciences, and foreign languages. The college reports that SAT and ACT scores are optional, but may prove helpful. The college strongly recommends interviews and campus visits.
Starting median salary: $43,000
Mid-career median salary: $92,400 (#19 in the PayScale list of Top Liberal Arts Colleges by Salary Potential, 2011–2012)
34. Babson College (Wellesley, MA)
Babson College, an independent business school, offers top-flight undergraduate business education combining integrated and applied business and liberal arts programs with curricular and non-curricular learning experiences.
Babson has been ranked #1 in entrepreneurship education for more than 19 years by U.S. News & World Report. The college’s “Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship” undergraduate program has been recognized as the most innovative entrepreneurship education course in the nation by the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
The TIAA-CREF gave Babson College the Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for its “Reinvention of Undergraduate Business Education.” In 2009, the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards ranked Babson College as home to the most student entrepreneurs among universities worldwide. In 2012, the college was ranked #11 among schools in the United states based on return-on-investment by Bloomberg Businessweek.
All students study business and work to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree. The program emphasizes leadership and entrepreneurial skills. Every student receives extensive hands-on training. First-year students take a year-long course in which they develop student teams and launch and liquidate a for-profit business they design.
Admission: The college uses an extensive and holistic evaluation of applicants. The college reports that its greatest focus is on students’ four-year performance at the secondary level. Factors carefully considered include academic performance, rigor of coursework, academic motivation, performance on standardized tests, writing ability, involvement in activities and/or work experience and leadership, creativity, and enthusiasm.
Starting median salary: $56,200
Mid-career median salary: $106,000
35. California Institute of the Arts (Valencia, CA)
California Institute of the Arts, also known as CalArts, is an internationally recognized school for the performing and visual arts, emphasizing the exploration of new paths beyond conventional boundaries.
The school emphasizes close collegial interaction between students and instructors in class and in one-on-one mentoring. All the faculty members are working artists.
CalArts has three entities: an on-campus educational and artistic program; the REDCAT theater and gallery; and the CalArts’ Community Arts Partnership.
Admission: The school accepts students primarily on the basis of their demonstrated talent, creativity, and commitment.
36. New England Conservatory of Music (Boston, MA)
New England Conservatory of Music, recognized nationally and internationally as a leading music school, provides rigorous training to music students from all over the world. The school’s faculty includes internationally esteemed musicians, performing artists, and scholars.
The conservatory serves as a training ground for orchestral players for the Boston Symphony Orchestra; however, its graduates have filled orchestra chairs, concert hall stages, recording studios, and jazz clubs, as well as arts management positions worldwide.
The New England Conservatory of Music offers degree and diploma programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The courses focus in the areas of performance and composition. The programs emphasize one-on-one studio instruction.
Admission: Applicants are considered for admission based on a competitive review of their audition results, artistic preparation, overall academic history, and letters of recommendation.
Bachelor’s degree: $29,000–$101,000
37. Calvin College (Grand Rapids, MI)
Calvin College, a Christian liberal arts college in the Reformed tradition, is internationally recognized as a center of faith-anchored liberal arts teaching and scholarship.
The college reports that it offers education shaped by Christian faith, thought, and practice. The college emphasizes experiential learning for students in all majors.
The college reports that it is one of the top producers in the nation, among liberal arts colleges, of graduates who go on to earn a doctoral degree. During 2011–2012, Calvin College students from a broad range of disciplines received national awards. That same academic year, four Calvin College professors were included in Princeton Review‘s publication of the Best 300 Professors.
The college, which is recognized as a leader in service-learning, has been honored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and by the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement.
Admission: The college looks for evidence of Christian commitment and of students’ capacity and desire to learn.
Starting median salary: $40,000
Mid-career median salary: $76,600 (#71 in the PayScale list of Top Liberal Arts Colleges by Salary Potential, 2011–2012)
38. United States Merchant Marine Academy (Kings Point, NY)
The United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA), one of the five undergraduate service academies in the nation, is ranked #3 in the 2013 list of Best Colleges in Regional Colleges (North) by U.S. News & World Report.
USMMA reports that its graduates have careers in the maritime industry and the armed services, and that many of its graduates become leaders in business and government. Many graduates continue their studies in graduate or professional schools.
Every student at the academy trains in subject areas related to shipping and transportation. The United States Merchant Marine Academy offers academic programs through the following departments: Humanities, Marine Engineering, Marine Transportation, Mathematics and Science, Naval Science, and Physical Education and Athletics.
The academy’s Sea Year program places students on a U.S. flag–bearing merchant ship for portions of their sophomore and junior years.
Admission: Admission office representatives evaluate applicants’ high school record, class rank, SAT or ACT standardized test scores, history of extracurricular activities, recommendations from school officials, ability to pass a Candidate Fitness Assessment, and evidence of character, leadership, and potential for academic achievement. Applicants are required to obtain a letter of nomination from a member of the U.S. Congress.
Bachelor’s degree: $53,738 –$139,962
39. St. John’s College (Annapolis, MD, and Santa Fe, NM)
St. John’s College, a co-educational, four-year liberal arts college, is known for its distinctive “great books” curriculum.
The college bases all required course of study on the reading, study, and discussion of the most important books of the Western tradition. St. John’s College has no majors and no departments; every student follows the same program. The school provides a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Students study from the classics in literature, theology, philosophy, political science, psychology, history, economics, laboratory sciences, mathematics, and music. The courses don’t use textbooks. Students read the books roughly in chronological order beginning with ancient Greece and continuing to modern times.
Although the college does not train students for specific careers, students gain valuable and marketable skills. Before they graduate, many students participate in internships from medical research to teaching to the arts. Many of its graduates go to law school, medical school, or graduate school.
Both the original Annapolis campus and the new Santa Fe campus have been included in Princeton Review‘s list of the twenty colleges with the “happiest students.” St. John’s College is listed in the book Colleges That Change Lives.
Admission: The school expects applicants to have pursued a college-preparatory course of study, including substantial sequences in foreign languages, mathematics, and the physical sciences. SAT and ACT scores are optional, but they provide helpful information.
Bachelor’s degree: $28,408–$88,590
40. Franklin & Marshall College (Lancaster, PA)
Franklin & Marshall College (F&M), a private liberal arts college, has been described by school representatives as a “Liberal arts college with a graduate school mentality.”
Two-thirds of students are involved in research under faculty guidance. Business administration is the college’s most popular major; however, due to its strengths in the liberal arts and sciences, F&M earned a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society.
The college is ranked #46 in the 2013 list of the Best Colleges in National Liberal Arts Colleges by U.S. News & World Report.
F&M promotes an active, hands-on approach to the liberal arts. Students have opportunities to study abroad in 200 locations all over the world.
Admission: Applicants who don’t believe their standardized test scores reflect their academic ability can submit two graded writing samples to the college instead of standardized test scores. Applicants are encouraged to submit additional materials to supplement their application, such as CDs/tapes of musical performances, copies/slides of artwork, or writing samples.
Starting salary: $44,700
Mid-career salary: $86,400 (#36 in the PayScale list of Top Liberal Arts Colleges by Salary Potential, 2011–2012)
41. Wabash College (Crawfordsville, IN)
Wabash College, a four-year liberal arts college for men, is ranked in the top tier of national liberal arts colleges by U.S. News & World Report.
In Princeton Review‘s yearly rankings of colleges, Wabash was ranked #7 in the Most Accessible Professors category and #18 in the category of Professors Get High Marks.
Wabash is also included in the influential guidebook, Colleges That Change Lives.
Wabash College provides Bachelor of Arts degrees.
The college’s strengths in the liberal arts and sciences earned it a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society.
Admission: The following items in an application file are shown in their order of importance:
Bachelor’s degree: $31,215–$88,000
42. Hampden-Sydney College (Hampden Sydney, VA)
Hampden-Sydney College, a private, liberal arts college for men, has been named one of the best private colleges in America by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes Magazine, and Princeton Review. The college was ranks #6 among the Best Colleges in the South by Forbes.
Hampden-Sydney College is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. Due to its strengths in liberal arts and sciences, the college earned a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society. Its general education objectives include civic, moral, and academic components.
The students subscribe to the following two statements of honorable behavior: “The Hampden-Sydney student will behave as a gentleman at all times and in all places” and “The Hampden-Sydney student will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do.”
Admission: The admissions office seeks applicants who have demonstrated aptitude in the classroom through a series of rigorous courses. The admission office is also interested in applicants who excelled outside their studies. Applicants should have mastered a college-preparatory program. Applicants are strongly encouraged to have an interview and in some cases may be required to have a personal interview.
Starting median salary: $46,300
Mid-career median salary: $85,800 (#39 in the PayScale list of Top Liberal Arts Colleges by Salary Potential, 2011–2012)
43. Massachusetts Maritime Academy (Buzzards Bay, MA)
The Massachusetts Maritime Academy is ranked #8 in the 2013 list of the Best Colleges in Regional Colleges (North) by U.S.News & World Report.
The academy offers Bachelor of Science degrees, Merchant Marine Officer’s Licenses, and Naval Officer’s Commissions, as well as programs in maritime-related fields, including marine transportation, marine engineering, facilities engineering, energy systems engineering, international maritime business, and other subjects.
Although not required, some of graduates serve in active and reserve components of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Admission: The academy bases admission on an evaluation of applicants’ academic record, testing information, including SAT or ACT, extracurricular and community activities, letters of recommendation, and leadership potential. An interview is highly recommended.
Starting median salary: $54,300
Mid-career median salary: $98,000
44. The King’s College (New York, NY)
The King’s College, a Christian liberal arts college, seeks students who want to make a difference in the world.
The college reports that it prepares students for principled leadership.
The King’s College teaches a worldview rooted in the Bible and informed by close study of great works of political theory, philosophy, and economics. The college provides an education which incorporates classroom instruction, extra-curricular commitments, and service to the larger community.
The college is open to all students regardless of their religious affiliations.
Admission: Applicants are required to submit their high school transcripts and SAT or ACT scores.
Bachelor’s degree: $43,747–$74,680
45. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering (Needham, MA)
Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, an independent, nonprofit, undergraduate engineering college, strives to prepare students to become engineering innovators who recognize needs, design solutions, and engage in creative enterprises for the good of the world.
The school reports that it seeks to redefine engineering as a profession of innovation encompassing the consideration of societal needs, the creative design of engineering systems, and the creation of value via entrepreneurial philanthropy and effort.
The college is ranked #19 in the category of Professors Get High Marks, and #10 in Best Classroom Experience in 2013, by Princeton Review. In the 2012 U.S. News & World Report college rankings, the college was ranked #6 for Best Undergraduate Engineering among non-doctorate granting institutions.
Graduates of the Senior Consulting Program for Engineering Teams are hired by corporations, entrepreneurial ventures, or nonprofits for real-world engineering projects.
The programs have an interdisciplinary, project-based approach emphasizing liberal arts and entrepreneurship, as well as rigorous science and engineering fundamentals.
Project-based teaching begins in the first year and culminates in two capstone projects in the senior year.
Admission: The college seeks applicants with outstanding achievement in coursework and testing. The college gives special attention to creativity, passion, and enterprise.
46. Thomas Aquinas College (Santa Paula, CA)
Thomas Aquinas College provides a Catholic liberal education.
The college is ranked among Princeton Review‘s Top 50 for Academics and for Best Value, as well as among U.S. News & World Report‘s Top Tier and Best Value. It is also ranked among the 100 Best Values in Private Colleges by Kiplinger’s. The college has been included in the Young America’s Foundation list of the Top Ten Conservative Colleges.
Graduates have received notable awards, including Fulbright, Ford Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities Younger Scholars, National Science Foundation, Pontifical Academies Prize, and numerous graduate fellowships.
The college does not offer majors, minors, electives, or specializations. The four-year interdisciplinary course of study makes use of the original writings of great historians, philosophers, poets, mathematicians, theologians, and scientists. The programs do not include textbooks or lectures in the classroom.
The curriculum is basically a sustained conversation in the form of seminars, tutorials, and laboratories guided by tutors who assist students in their work of reading, analyzing, and evaluating great books.
Typical starting salary after graduation: $37,600
47. Morehouse College (Atlanta, GA)
Morehouse College, a private, liberal arts college for African-American men, is often thought of as the preeminent, historically black college in the country.
The college reports that it is committed to training the leaders who will change their communities, the nation, and the world. It also reports its mission is to develop men with disciplined minds who lead lives of leadership and service.
Morehouse College was named the nation’s #1 Liberal Arts College in 2010 by the Washington Monthly. The college was ranked in the top tier among the nation’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges in 2011 by U.S. News & World Report.
Through the Corporate Connection program, corporate sponsors partner with the college to help produce outstanding business and civic leaders. The program includes:
Morehouse College provides Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. Academic divisions include Business Administration & Economics; Humanities & Social Sciences; and Science & Mathematics.
The college emphasizes leadership and volunteerism. Almost three-quarters of students volunteer within the community.
Admission: Academic competence is a major consideration in selecting students. An applicant’s personal qualities, which may add to the diversity of the student body, are also important.
Bachelor’s degree: $34,567–$98,531
48. Patrick Henry College (Purcellville, VA)
Patrick Henry College offers a rigorous, classical, Christian liberal arts curriculum.
The college provides classroom instruction in the areas of government, literature, journalism, classical liberal arts, and history. The programs include hands-on apprenticeships.
Students can specialize in government or classical liberal arts. The college has been included in the 2010 list of Top Conservative Colleges by the Young America’s Foundation.
Patrick Henry College offers baccalaureate-level higher education with a biblical worldview. The college reports that it is centered on Jesus Christ, and that its mission is to prepare Christian men and women who will lead the nation and shape its culture with timeless biblical values and fidelity to the spirit of the American founding.
The college educates students according to a classical liberal arts curriculum and trains students with an apprenticeship methodology.
Admission: The college welcomes applicants who have prepared themselves for the college’s rigorous academic programs and also have a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
49. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Daytona Beach, FL, and Prescott, AZ)
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the world’s only fully accredited, aviation-oriented university, teaches the practice, science, and business of the world of aviation and aerospace.
The university’s aerospace engineering program is consistently ranked #1 in the country among schools without a doctoral program by U.S. News & World Report.
The university provides the nation’s largest aerospace program. Its two Air Force ROTC detachments form the nation’s largest university-based Air Force commissioning source. The university’s contract with the U.S. Department of Defense maintains the school’s long-time status as the sole provider of aviation-related degree programs to the U.S. military in Europe.
The university’s curriculum covers the engineering, operation, research, manufacturing, marketing, and management of modern aircraft and the systems which support them. The university’s research and consulting addresses the needs of the aerospace and aviation sectors and related industries.
Two residential campuses—in Daytona Beach, Florida, and Prescott, Arizona—offer education in a traditional environment.
Embry-Riddle Worldwide offers instruction in over 150 locations in the United States, Canada, Europe, and the Middle East, as well as via online learning.
The major airlines hire more alumni from Embry-Riddle than from any other collegiate aviation program. The university is the country’s largest supplier of air traffic controllers with bachelor degrees to the FAA.
Admission: High school students must have four years of English, three or four years of math, and two or more years of lab science.
Bachelor’s Degree: $41,082–124,752
50. College of the Ozarks (Point Lookout, MO)
College of the Ozarks has a mission to provide the advantages of a Christian education for the youth of both sexes, particularly for those found worthy but who don’t have sufficient means to pay for their education.
The curriculum has a liberal arts core. The college has a cultural goal to cultivate an appreciation of the fine arts, an adherence to high personal standards, and an understanding of the world. It also strives to foster the Christian faith via the integration of faith with living, learning, and service.
College of the Ozarks is ranked #9 in the 2013 list of Best Colleges in Regional Colleges (Midwest) by U.S. News & World Report. It has also been included in the Templeton Honor Roll Character Building College list, as well as Money Magazine’s Best College Buys and Barron’s 300 Best Buys in Higher Education.
Full-time students do not pay tuition. College of the Ozarks does not participate in any federal loan programs. Students work to pay for many of their educational costs.
Admission: College of the Ozarks seeks students who demonstrate financial need, academic ability, sound character, and willingness to work.
Bachelor’s degree: $23,489–$102,129
Swarthmore, Smith and Williams may be somewhat rigorous academically, but they are standard-issue, far-leftist campuses. Hillsdale, they ain’t.
Add to the list South Dakota School of Mines in Rapid City, SD. This is a top engineering school closely affiliated with a new Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL), the deepest underground lab in the world located 5,000 feet below ground in a former gold mine. The lab will be doing experiments to detect "dark matter".
Where did he go?
Claremont (#17) was Conservative when I went there. Now the horrible President Gann has made it just another lousy Liberal cesspool.
It used to be particularly different and interesting. Now, it’s just a Me-Too school.
“Deep Springs is founded on the pillars of academics, self-governance, and labor, and prepares students for lives of service to humanity.”
IF that is the best college in the US we are all doomed. They picked a whole lot of private colleges with very costly prices.
I would take a good state four year college over MOST of these so called good colleges.
My father twice gave the commencement address at Western and once warned students to avoid the “cult of mediocrity”. But I was a very lazy student as an undergrad and wasted vast amounts of time. I would have benefited from something like the College of the Ozarks.
‘twas nice to see the College of the Ozarks on the top 50 list.
It’s a nice list. In my family, which is fairly well-educated, few have heard of any of these schools, and none of them were on my radar when I was applying for college. We know about UC if you have excellent grades, Cal State if you’re mediocre, community college if you barely graduated high school and Stanford if you were valedictorian, school president, and captain of the football team.
But you have to WORK for that $50,000 tuition they provide to you. At the ranch wherein sits this remote college.
I know this because my wife and I discovered this remote tiny college on a road trip over the eastern Sierra into Nevada. Out in the middle of the high-desert nowhere -- I repeat, nowhere! -- we stumbled upon a little paved road that veered off the main one into what looked like a ranch. But the sign said "Deep Springs College." So we took the road less traveled and checked it out. I stopped at the center of the ranch and this teenage kid came by and I questioned him. That's how I learned all this. I thought it was an interesting concept, but I had no idea that it was known across the nation.
Just one negative for the young male wishing to attend: There are NO GIRLS here. The nearest city is Bishop, California, and that's probably an hour and a half drive away over the windy roads of the White Mountains.
This is a very lonely place, but I suppose that may make it conducive to study. Interesting choice for Number One.
I'll bet you know of Deep Springs College. Odd choice for Number One, though.
Lafayette at 27 is listed as a liberal arts college but also has a very strong and rigorous engineering program. It isquite unique for a school with only 2000 students to offer liberal arts and engineering and also participate in athletics at the Division I level.
Nice to see Harvey Mudd still up there. With their recent push for more women and minority applicants, we’ve been concerned they were going to fall into the trap of lowering their rigorous academic standards.
The Occidental-Pomona rivalry, which dates back to the nineteenth century, is the oldest football rivalry in the Southland.
Is that the Montessori college?
The trustees of Deep Springs voted last year to take it coed. That decision, I think, is now in court with the trustees on the losing end of the vote and some alumni suing to block it. They say school’s founding documents require it to be single sex and the trustees have no legal power to change that.
I don't believe it's affiliated with anything.
What a shame. There seems to be no regard anymore for a founder's wishes. I guess you could call this a microcosm of America today.
And my nephew, the other lawyer in the family, graduated from Hampden-Sydney college, and went on to Ole Miss Law School.
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