To identify the Best Colleges in Vermont for 2017-2018 we averaged the latest results from the most respected college ranking systems with thousands of real student review scores from around the web to produce a unique College Consensus rating for each school. You won’t find a more comprehensive ranking of the top colleges and universities in Vermont anywhere. Read more about our rankings methodology and sources at our about page.
Colleges & Universities in Vermont
Vermont is one of the nation’s best-educated states, and a solid higher education system made up of experimenters, trailblazers, and innovators explains why. New England is known for its small liberal arts colleges, and Vermont is very much a New England state, but its heritage of liberal arts colleges is not stuffy, elite traditional schools, but institutions like Bennington College 69 , a pioneering women’s college that produced some of the 20th centuries greatest dancers, actors, and writers, or Marlboro College 61 , a model of student-faculty relations in which every member of the community has an equal voice.
Vermont’s colleges and universities have been leaders in other ways; Norwich University 55 set the standard for military higher education, radically reinventing military training by fusing the sciences, liberal arts, and military strategy to produce the model of the senior military college. Middlebury College 84 followed in Vermont’s heritage (the first state to abolish slavery) as the first college in the US to graduate a black student. Whether it’s creating one of the nation’s first online degree programs like Champlain College 53 , or becoming one of the first fair-trade colleges in the nation, like Saint Michael’s College 67 , Vermont’s best colleges and universities are always ahead of the curve.
Here are the top colleges and universities of the Green Mountain State.
The first and oldest college in Vermont, Middlebury College was chartered as a college in 1800, from its beginnings as a grammar school three years later. While the college, like many colleges of the day, was affiliated with the Congregationalist Church, Middlebury was intentionally designed as a local, town college, not a religious school, and its mission has always been focused on the needs of students rather than a religious tradition. Middlebury was the first school in the US to graduate an African-American student, and one of the first men’s schools to become coeducational, and its history of acceptance, tolerance, and inclusiveness remains at the heart of Middlebury’s philosophy. Today, Middlebury College is ranked one of the nation’s top 5 liberal arts college by U.S. News & World Report, and one of the top Impact Schools by the Princeton Review.
As a small liberal arts college, Middlebury College’s curriculum is largely dedicated to the traditional humanities and sciences, with all students getting a strong, well-rounded grounding in general knowledge. Interdisciplinary programs, and writing throughout the curriculum, are central to Middlebury’s method. With an extraordinarily low 8:1 student:faculty ratio, and small classes, Middlebury students receive close personal attention and guidance from faculty members. Middlebury is particularly known for beginning the first environmental studies major, and research centers include socially-conscious areas like the Center for Social Entrepreneurship and the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity. Middlebury College does good for its community, both in the present and in the future, by preparing responsible leaders for Vermont and beyond.
Founded in 1932, Bennington College is recognized worldwide as one of the most innovative, experimental institutions in modern history. Bennington came about as a concerted effort led by the Colony Club – a legendary progressive women’s organization – to create a world-class model of modern education for women. Bennington was immediately influential, particularly in the performing and fine arts, which were given the same attention and support as traditional majors, resulting in greatness – Bennington educated some of the finest dancers, sculptors, actors, and writers of the 20th century, and its influence continues into the 21st. Bennington is ranked in the top 100 national liberal arts colleges by U.S. News & World Report, and receives consistently high rankings for academic quality, support, and mentorship.
Bennington College’s curriculum is marked by its interdisciplinary focus and openness. Bennington’s undergraduate students receive advising and guidance more like graduate than undergraduate students, developing their own curriculum and focus rather than traditional majors. Bennington was the first college to ever require yearly internships for each student, and its deep connections in theater, fine art, and business means that all students, even those in the arts, have a wide range of options, resulting in high success rates for even the fields most difficult to break into, like dance and theater. Employers rank Bennington graduates highly in engagement, collaboration, and communication, making Bennington College a top choice for motivated students who want to make their mark in the world.
Saint Michael's College
Known familiarly as St. Mike’s by students, alumni, and the community, Saint Michael’s College is a respected private Catholic institution on the banks of Lake Champlain. Founded in 1904 as Saint Michael’s Institute, the college was built on a heritage of struggle; the Society of Saint Edmund, founders of the college, had been driven from France by persecution under the Third Republic, and established a school dedicated to excellence, religious devotion, and responsible service. The school grew quickly after WWII, when returning soldiers began attending college with the GI Bill, establishing a reputation for community service and educational quality, and today Saint Michael’s is ranked a top-tier liberal arts college by U.S. News & World Report, and widely named a best value.
Saint Michael’s College is particularly known for its highly engaged, highly qualified faculty; four Saint Michael’s professors have been named Vermont’s Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation. A 12:1 student:faculty ratio provides the mentorship that sets liberal arts colleges apart, and community building is central to Saint Michael’s curriculum and student life; more than 70% of students participate in community service, and Saint Michael’s is committed to sustainability and justice, even becoming the first fair-trade college in Vermont. All students take courses in philosophy and Christian religion, reflecting Saint Michael’s deep Catholic heritage, and all students get a full, well-rounded education in the humanities and sciences. From service to support, students can trust Saint Michael’s College to be one of Vermont’s best colleges.
Founded in 1946 on a farm known as Potash Hill, Marlboro College has always been its own unique beast. The campus was literally built by the first class of students – almost exclusively WWII veterans starting their civilian careers with a GI Bill-paid college degree, who worked on the campus for tuition breaks. Marlboro remains committed to community and student development, and have been pioneers throughout the 20th century in extending governance and shared responsibility across the college. Today, the Princeton Review ranks Marlboro the top school in the nation for academic rigor and professor excellence, and Marlboro has been named a College That Changes Lives.
From its first days, when students worked side-by-side with faculty and staff to turn farmland into campus, Marlboro has been experimental and experiential; an unusually small school, every decision is made by a Town Hall of students, faculty, and staff, with all members of the community given equal power. With no core courses, all students have to meet the challenges of the Clear Writing Requirement, and the Plan of Concentration: students must produce 20 pages of original writing for review and approval in their first two years, while juniors and seniors must accomplish a self-directed research project. Marlboro’s innovative approach is supported by a 6:1 student:faculty ratio and one of the most engaged faculties in the world.
University of Vermont
The University of Vermont dates back to 1791, the same year Vermont became the 14th state – the first after the original 13 colonies – and is thereby one of the oldest colleges in the US, and the 5th-oldest in New England. The college was originally private, but when the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act (a monumental federal program granting land for public institutions) was passed in 1864, the University of Vermont merged with the Vermont Agricultural College to become the state’s public land-grant institution. Today, the University of Vermont is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as a top 100 national university, and top 50 public university, while Businessweek recognizes UVM as one of the top 50 colleges for graduate salaries.
UVM is the center of research and learning for the state of Vermont, with a student body of well over 10,000 and the most comprehensive degree programs in the state. Particularly essential to Vermont’s healthcare system, UVM is the home of the oldest medical school at a public university (dating back to 1822) and one of the finest nursing schools in the nation, all tied to the UVM Medical Center, one of U.S. News’ best regional hospitals. With its roots in agriculture and applied sciences, UVM is one of the region’s most important schools for engineering, environment, and natural resources, while the Grossman School of Business Administration is noted for its commitment to social responsibility and engagement. The University of Vermont is a crucial part of life in the Green Mountain State, and Vermont’s best public university.
One of the nation’s six senior military colleges, Norwich University is the oldest private military school in America, founded in 1819. Founder Alden Partridge was an educational pioneer who envisioned a model of military education that would create a generation of educated citizen soldiers; combining the liberal arts, engineering, and military theory and strategy, Patridge’s curriculum would become the foundation of modern military education, but his reforms at West Point were rejected by Congress, Partridge founded a private college in Northfield, VT. Norwich became a model for future military colleges, and today stands as a national leader, ranked in the top 100 regional universities for the North by U.S. News & World Report.
As a military college, Norwich essentially has two student bodies – the Corps of Cadets, who live under military discipline, and the civilian student body – though the two are completely integrated in the classroom. Student participation at Norwich is high for both groups of students, with some 90% of students involved in an extracurricular club or activity. Norwich is famous for its academic rigor, and is particularly known for engineering, as the first civil engineering program ever established in the US. Norwich’s primary mission is developing students into leaders, whether they are officers in the military, or professionals in industry, government, academia, or some other field, and Norwich’s reputation for excellence makes it one of Vermont’s top universities for job market dominance.
Originally the Burlington Business School, a small, private school located in Vermont’s biggest city, Champlain College was founded in 1878. For more than a century, Champlain was simply a small junior college, offering associate’s degrees and certificates in management, accounting, social work, and other related fields, but once it began offering its first bachelor’s degrees in 1990, Champlain was off and running. Champlain began an online degree program in 1993, adopting online technology early and enthusiastically, and its student body, degree options, and reach have expanded exponentially since then. Today, Champlain is recognized as one of the most innovative up-and-coming colleges in the nation by U.S. News & World Report and the Princeton Review.
Champlain College’s “Upside Down” curriculum flips the traditional liberal arts model, with students beginning their majors courses in the freshman year and building a general education core through themed interdisciplinary courses spaced through the first three years: Self, Community, and World. Champlain has also been ranked one of U.S. News’ top online educators, having developed one of the earliest online degree programs; Champlain’s online MBA and MS in Accounting degrees are particularly acclaimed. Nearly 150 years old, Champlain College’s best years are now, and students can trust one of Vermont’s best colleges to take them far in the future.
Founded in 1787 – before Vermont was even a state – Castleton University took a long and winding trip to its current form. Originally Rutland County Grammar School, where young men were taught the Greek and Latin classics in preparation for college, Castleton changed as times and circumstances demanded, until by the end of the Civil War, it was a women’s school. The struggling women’s school was bought by the state of Vermont in 1867 to form one of the state’s normal schools, where teachers were trained in real classrooms, setting the course for Castleton to become a teacher’s college, state college, and public university. Today Castleton University is a U.S. News & World Report top 25 regional university and Vermont’s foremost public liberal arts college.
Castleton University combines the resources and opportunity of a public university with the student support and guidance of a small liberal arts college – more than 75 majors and pre-professional programs, with a 14:1 student:faculty ratio and wide access to undergraduate research opportunities. Students develop a strong grounding in the humanities and sciences, with honors thesis and capstone projects available for more academic development. A few on-campus and low-residency graduate programs are available, along with community outreach centers like the Castleton Center for Schools, which provides support and certifications for Vermont’s schoolteachers.