Here Are the Top 10 Liberal Arts Colleges in the US

5. Bowdoin College (Bowdoin, ME)

photo by Daderot via Wikimedia Commons

With an acceptance rate of approximately 1 in 10 applicants (class of 2022), Bowdoin College is widely regarded as one of the elite colleges in the US. In fact, this year Bowdoin is ranked #5 liberal arts college by US News and World Report.

Known for its rich, centuries-old history of producing prominent alumni, including the 14th president of the United States Franklin Pierce, Bowdoin is an academic experience unparalleled by any other major institution of higher education.

Dubbed by many publications as a “Hidden Ivy,” Bowdoin stands out from many of the large Ivy League institutions is its intense focus on supporting nature.

Indeed, the largest student group on campus is known as the “Outing Club,” a club embracing kayaking, canoeing, camping, and other nature-based activities to encourage student bonding and compassion for nature.

Bowdoin is on a massively northern trajectory – in just October, the school announced its endowment had reached a generous $1.6 billion dollars, among the highest endowments of any liberal arts college in the United States.

4. Claremont Colleges (Claremont, CA)

Harvey Mudd, one of the Claremont Colleges – photo by Bovineone via Wikimedia Commons

Technically, this is more than one college, however as they exist in a consortium, it feels okay to rank them all together.

All of the Claremont Colleges are typically rated among the best in the country. They include Pomona, Scripps, Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, and Pitzer.

Pomona, Pitzer, Claremont McKenna, and Harvey Mudd all have acceptance rates of less than 15%. Scripps is closer to 30%. Pomona is the most selective of all US based liberal arts colleges.

So why are these schools so selective? Quite simply, they represent some of the most elite institutions in the country.

Pomona is widely regarded as a “New England style college” but in Southern California, making it highly desirable for the academically-oriented undergraduate desiring live in a coastal paradise.

Pitzer is the school most frequently associated with social sciences as well as media studies.

Scripps, Harvey Mudd, and Claremont McKenna students combine to form an athletic team; one of their biggest rivals is the athletic team combining students from Pomona and Pitzer.

Moreso than many east coast liberal arts colleges, the Claremont Colleges are characterized by varying levels of conservative political leanings.

3. Amherst College (Amherst, MA)

photo by Steven Brewer via Wikimedia Commons

With an acceptance rate of just 13.8% for the Class of 2021, Amherst College’s appeal does not lie only in its admissions exclusivity; for all qualified financial aid recipients of the school, the school adheres to an attractive no-loan policy. That means that qualified candidates do not have to pay tuition at the school.

The school’s academic offerings are impressive; although less than 2,000 students are enrolled in the school, more than 800 courses are offered in a uniquely open curriculum (a curriculum that has very few required classes).

Ambitious students are at the heart of Amherst College – more than 1/3rd of all enrolled students ultimately take on a dual major.

What we like about Amherst College is its collaboration with other elite institutions. As a member of the Five Colleges Consortium, Amherst offers its students the opportunity to take classes at Smith, Mount Holyoke, Hampshire, and even neighboring UMass Amherst.

The alumni at Amherst have won Nobel, MacArthur, Pulitzer, Academy, Tony, and Grammy awards.


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