Ready to start your journey?

Get our emails in your inbox, and you’ll get acceptance letters in your mailbox

CC Best National Liberal Arts Colleges

If you’re looking for the personalized attention and community of a liberal arts college, let College Consensus point the way to the best liberal arts colleges in America. The Top Consensus Ranked National Liberal Arts Colleges is designed to give prospective students the fullest possible view of their options when choosing a liberal arts college. Whether they are looking for intellectual challenge, a close-knit community, or entry into leadership in business, government, or the arts, students can look to the College Consensus for a comprehensive picture of the top liberal arts schools in the US.

How Did We Rank the Best National Liberal Arts Colleges?

College Consensus rankings combine the results of the most respected college ranking systems with the averaged ratings of thousands of real student reviews from around the web to create a unique college meta-ranking. This approach offers a comprehensive and holistic perspective missing from other college rankings. Visit our about page for information on which rankings and review sites were included in this year’s consensus rankings.

The National Liberal Arts Colleges category is limited to schools with a national or international reach with an emphasis on undergraduate teaching and liberal arts. These are schools designated Baccalaureate Colleges: Arts & Sciences Focus by the Carnegie Classification.

The best liberal arts colleges in the nation keep the spirit of traditional college education alive while reinventing the classical humanities and sciences for the 21st century. In general, national liberal arts colleges focus on undergraduate education (though many have at least a few master’s degrees). While they may encourage faculty and student research, their emphasis is primarily on providing the very best undergraduate experience, with a common core of classes in the humanities, arts, and sciences. The Top Consensus Ranked National Liberal Arts Colleges have a reputation that allows them to attract students nationally for an education steeped in critical thinking, research, and communication.

Recommended Online Colleges & Universities

Visit sites to learn more about enrollment, tuition, and aid

What’s Different About the College Consensus Ranking?

Since we draw on information from many different sites, with many different methodologies and perspectives, College Consensus gives prospective students the truest picture of what experts and students alike have to say. Since all voices are taken seriously, it’s not just the colleges with the biggest endowments and loudest marketing that rise to the top – it’s the ones with the best academics, best student experience, and best overall quality. Read more about our rankings methodology and sources at our about page.

This ranking highlights the top-ranked, nationally-recognized liberal arts colleges. For students who want the larger size and wider resources of a research university, College Consensus has ranked the Best National Research Universities. For the complete, overall ranking of all US colleges and universities, see the Best Colleges & Universities ranking. For online schools, see the Best Online Colleges & Universities.

The Top Consensus Ranked National Liberal Arts Colleges are listed in descending order by their Consensus score. In the event of ties, schools are ranked in alphabetical order with the same rank number.

AVG: 0 AVG: 0
90
College Consensus
95.3
Publisher Consensus
84.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
88.8
College Consensus
94.1
Publisher Consensus
83.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
88
College Consensus
91.7
Publisher Consensus
84.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
86.7
College Consensus
88.6
Publisher Consensus
84.7
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
85.5
College Consensus
89.4
Publisher Consensus
81.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022

Recommended Online Colleges & Universities

Visit sites to learn more about enrollment, tuition, and aid

AVG: 0 AVG: 0
85.3
College Consensus
91.9
Publisher Consensus
78.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
84
College Consensus
88.6
Publisher Consensus
79.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
84
College Consensus
88.6
Publisher Consensus
79.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
83.1
College Consensus
85.1
Publisher Consensus
81.1
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
82.8
College Consensus
84.3
Publisher Consensus
81.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022

Recommended Online Colleges & Universities

Visit sites to learn more about enrollment, tuition, and aid

AVG: 0 AVG: 0
82.8
College Consensus
86.5
Publisher Consensus
79
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
82.5
College Consensus
81.6
Publisher Consensus
83.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
81.4
College Consensus
78.7
Publisher Consensus
84
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
81.3
College Consensus
80.6
Publisher Consensus
82
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
81.3
College Consensus
77.7
Publisher Consensus
84.9
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
81.3
College Consensus
84.2
Publisher Consensus
78.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
81
College Consensus
82.5
Publisher Consensus
79.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
80.5
College Consensus
81.6
Publisher Consensus
79.5
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
79.9
College Consensus
77.6
Publisher Consensus
82.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
79.5
College Consensus
73.7
Publisher Consensus
85.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
78.4
College Consensus
79.7
Publisher Consensus
77.1
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
78.1
College Consensus
79.3
Publisher Consensus
76.9
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
77.6
College Consensus
72.2
Publisher Consensus
83
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
76.6
College Consensus
73.3
Publisher Consensus
79.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
76.3
College Consensus
75.5
Publisher Consensus
77.1
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022

Recommended Online Colleges & Universities

Visit sites to learn more about enrollment, tuition, and aid

AVG: 0 AVG: 0
75.1
College Consensus
67.2
Publisher Consensus
83.1
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
74.9
College Consensus
70.4
Publisher Consensus
79.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
74.6
College Consensus
73.1
Publisher Consensus
76.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
74.1
College Consensus
70.7
Publisher Consensus
77.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
74
College Consensus
64.1
Publisher Consensus
83.9
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
73.9
College Consensus
71.6
Publisher Consensus
76.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
73.1
College Consensus
74
Publisher Consensus
72.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
73.1
College Consensus
64.3
Publisher Consensus
81.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
72.9
College Consensus
62.5
Publisher Consensus
83.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
72.8
College Consensus
70.9
Publisher Consensus
74.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
72.2
College Consensus
68.1
Publisher Consensus
76.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
72
College Consensus
65.8
Publisher Consensus
78.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
72
College Consensus
64.6
Publisher Consensus
79.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
71.8
College Consensus
64.7
Publisher Consensus
78.9
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
71
College Consensus
64
Publisher Consensus
78
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
70.7
College Consensus
61.5
Publisher Consensus
79.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
70.6
College Consensus
61.7
Publisher Consensus
79.5
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
70.1
College Consensus
61
Publisher Consensus
79.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
69.9
College Consensus
58.7
Publisher Consensus
81.1
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
69.6
College Consensus
61.8
Publisher Consensus
77.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
69.3
College Consensus
59.8
Publisher Consensus
78.7
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
68.9
College Consensus
60.3
Publisher Consensus
77.5
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
68.9
College Consensus
66.7
Publisher Consensus
71
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
68.8
College Consensus
62.6
Publisher Consensus
75
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
68.6
College Consensus
65.1
Publisher Consensus
72
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022

Recommended Online Colleges & Universities

Visit sites to learn more about enrollment, tuition, and aid

AVG: 0 AVG: 0
68.4
College Consensus
59.8
Publisher Consensus
77.1
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
68.4
College Consensus
57.5
Publisher Consensus
79.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
68.4
College Consensus
66.2
Publisher Consensus
70.5
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
68.1
College Consensus
59.6
Publisher Consensus
76.5
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
67.2
College Consensus
51.1
Publisher Consensus
83.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
66.7
College Consensus
54.8
Publisher Consensus
78.7
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
66.7
College Consensus
52.8
Publisher Consensus
80.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
66.6
College Consensus
55.3
Publisher Consensus
77.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
66.4
College Consensus
55.1
Publisher Consensus
77.7
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
65.8
College Consensus
54.8
Publisher Consensus
76.9
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
65.7
College Consensus
52.3
Publisher Consensus
79
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
65.6
College Consensus
51
Publisher Consensus
80.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
65.4
College Consensus
54.4
Publisher Consensus
76.5
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
65.4
College Consensus
47.3
Publisher Consensus
83.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
65.2
College Consensus
52.1
Publisher Consensus
78.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
65.2
College Consensus
56.9
Publisher Consensus
73.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
65
College Consensus
53.1
Publisher Consensus
77
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
64.9
College Consensus
61
Publisher Consensus
68.7
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
64.6
College Consensus
54.5
Publisher Consensus
74.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
64.6
College Consensus
52
Publisher Consensus
77.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
64.3
College Consensus
52.8
Publisher Consensus
75.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
64.3
College Consensus
53
Publisher Consensus
75.7
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
63.9
College Consensus
58.7
Publisher Consensus
69.1
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
63.7
College Consensus
53.8
Publisher Consensus
73.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
63.7
College Consensus
51.3
Publisher Consensus
76.1
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
62.5
College Consensus
49.5
Publisher Consensus
75.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
62.3
College Consensus
45.5
Publisher Consensus
79.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
62.3
College Consensus
53.1
Publisher Consensus
71.5
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
62.2
College Consensus
62.4
Publisher Consensus
62
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
61.9
College Consensus
52.5
Publisher Consensus
71.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
61.4
College Consensus
43.7
Publisher Consensus
79.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
61.3
College Consensus
44.8
Publisher Consensus
77.9
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
61.3
College Consensus
47.4
Publisher Consensus
75.1
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
61.1
College Consensus
43.7
Publisher Consensus
78.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
61.1
College Consensus
46
Publisher Consensus
76.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
61.1
College Consensus
49.5
Publisher Consensus
72.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
61
College Consensus
47.8
Publisher Consensus
74.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
60.7
College Consensus
43.3
Publisher Consensus
78
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
60.6
College Consensus
46.6
Publisher Consensus
74.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
60.6
College Consensus
43.4
Publisher Consensus
77.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
60.3
College Consensus
44.8
Publisher Consensus
75.7
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
60.2
College Consensus
44.4
Publisher Consensus
76
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
60.2
College Consensus
47.5
Publisher Consensus
72.9
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
60
College Consensus
43.8
Publisher Consensus
76.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
60
College Consensus
42.5
Publisher Consensus
77.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
59.9
College Consensus
43.3
Publisher Consensus
76.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
59.6
College Consensus
45.2
Publisher Consensus
74.1
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
58.9
College Consensus
45.2
Publisher Consensus
72.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
58.4
College Consensus
43.6
Publisher Consensus
73.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
58.4
College Consensus
40.6
Publisher Consensus
76.1
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022

Recommended Online Colleges & Universities

Visit sites to learn more about enrollment, tuition, and aid

What Are Liberal Arts Colleges? 

Liberal arts and sciences is one of the oldest subjects taught today. Typically, they offer four-year degrees as a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS). The core mission of liberal arts colleges is to develop well-rounded graduates with a general knowledge of a wide range of transferable skills. Liberal Arts programs are interdisciplinary covering humanities, social, and natural sciences
Liberal arts colleges rely on student participation and encourage interaction, mentorship, and collaboration. Liberal arts colleges have staff dedicated to full-time teaching, not graduate student teaching assistants and research professors. New England liberal arts colleges, especially, are small and residential, with smaller class sizes. For instance, Williams College has an undergraduate enrollment of about 2,000 students and the student-faculty ratio is 7:1. It has been rated as one of the best colleges for undergraduates in the US.

What are the Pros and Cons of Liberal Arts College? 

There are many advantages to attending a Liberal Arts College. Liberal arts college rankings are high among the best colleges. The top ones being Williams College, Amherst College, Bowdoin College, and Pomona College. They offer smaller class sizes which allows more one-on-one attention for the students. Swarthmore College has a student-faculty ratio of 8:1 and most classes have less than 20 students with a student satisfaction is around 97 percent. This offers students a close community with which to study and grow. Larger research-type universities may have up to 500 students in lecture halls and some students get lost in the crowd and find it hard to really be mentored. 

The best liberal arts colleges provide the skills for students to become useful and thriving members of the community. They prepare their students to work in any area by providing a strong foundation in a broad range of subjects instead of a heavy focus in one subject matter. Liberal arts students have learned how to think critically, write properly, and be given a strong foundation in math. They also have extensive public speaking and philosophy classes. 

One of the biggest disadvantages that comes with attending a liberal arts college is lack of funding for things like equipment and materials. Students may not have the same access to expensive equipment that is often available at larger universities. Larger universities have professors that are experts in their field teaching from real-life experiences. While professors at liberal arts colleges may not have the same credentials.  

Are Liberal Arts Colleges Expensive?

The quick answer is yes and no, the best liberal arts colleges are expensive. Taking a deeper look at the tuition costs and what it includes, the answer isn’t so simple. The price tag for a liberal arts colleges and universities tends to be high and the best liberal arts schools have long been thought of as only for the wealthy. What is important to not is how that cost is broken down. The class sizes are smaller, which means less students paying the tuition and absorbing the cost. 

The best liberal arts colleges are paying for professors because they don’t have graduate teaching assistants to utilize, which comes at little cost. Larger universities often have part-time adjunct instructors that tend to be less expensive. However, teaching assistants and adjuncts come with the cost of potentially less than educational experience. U.S. News and World Report shows that the cost of higher education has multiplied across the board and liberal arts colleges aren’t ay more expensive than larger universities. Liberal arts schools have worked over the years to provide an affordable and cost-competitive education that’s accessible to all students. Many of them have even instituted a tuition freeze so that the tuition costs aren’t increasing. Liberal arts colleges are proving to have an excellent return on your investment. These schools have a high four-year graduation rate and graduates are able to find well-paying jobs. 

Higher education is expensive and while students don’t want to find themselves drowning in debt upon graduation, they shouldn’t put a price tag on it, either. There are many liberal arts colleges, students should research to find the school that fits their needs in a price range that they can afford.

How Are Liberal Arts Colleges Adapting to the 21st Century?

Swarthmore College was selected as one of best liberal arts colleges for science majors. Their second most popular major is biological and biomedical sciences and the students benefit from a closer relationship with professors, and hands-on lab experiences. Many graduates from Swarthmore go on to receive science and engineering doctorates from other universities. There are up-and-coming liberal arts colleges, or better said, there are up-and-coming changes for liberal arts schools as we move through the 21st century.

Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) acknowledges an ever-changing world where graduates will work in a job that doesn’t currently exist. To that end, training for that career is not sufficient. The best thing liberal arts colleges can for these students is to teach them to be flexible and adapt to situations and challenges. Many colleges are beginning to look at ways to support their students and better prepare them for careers. Liberal arts colleges are also considering online and long-distance learning, which is not a typical experience for a liberal arts college.


For licensing requests, please click here

Get our emails in your inbox, and you’ll get acceptance letters in your mailbox

Get our emails in your inbox, and you’ll get acceptance letters in your mailbox

Ready to start your journey?

Ready to start your journey?