Ready to start your journey?

CC Best Small Colleges

Do you want a close-knit, nurturing college environment? College Consensus can show you where to find it with our ranking of the best small colleges. With our Top Consensus ranking of the 2022 Best Small Colleges, College Consensus turns the focus on the little guys – schools with 3000 students or less. The best small colleges in the US are not small in reputation, and they’re not small in influence; in fact, some of the best small colleges in America are also among the most exceptional, with national and international recognition for their overall excellence.

Methodology: Ranking the Best Small 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 Small Colleges category is limited to schools with 3000 undergraduate students or less. The Best Small Colleges are listed in descending order according to their College Consensus Score. Ties are ordered alphabetically.

Recommended Online Colleges & Universities

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

AVG: 0 AVG: 0
90
College Consensus
95.3
Publisher Consensus
84.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1917
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
88.8
College Consensus
94.1
Publisher Consensus
83.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1465
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
88
College Consensus
91.7
Publisher Consensus
84.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1745
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
86.9
College Consensus
93.9
Publisher Consensus
79.9
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
901
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
86.7
College Consensus
88.6
Publisher Consensus
84.7
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1340

Recommended Online Colleges & Universities

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

AVG: 0 AVG: 0
85.5
College Consensus
89.4
Publisher Consensus
81.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2399
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
85.3
College Consensus
91.9
Publisher Consensus
78.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1437
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
84
College Consensus
88.6
Publisher Consensus
79.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1821
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
84
College Consensus
88.6
Publisher Consensus
79.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1776
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
83.1
College Consensus
85.1
Publisher Consensus
81.1
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2155

Recommended Online Colleges & Universities

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

AVG: 0 AVG: 0
82.8
College Consensus
84.3
Publisher Consensus
81.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2836
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
82.8
College Consensus
86.5
Publisher Consensus
79
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1999
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
82.5
College Consensus
81.6
Publisher Consensus
83.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1983
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
81.7
College Consensus
90.7
Publisher Consensus
72.7
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1476
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
81.4
College Consensus
78.7
Publisher Consensus
84
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1377
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
81.3
College Consensus
80.6
Publisher Consensus
82
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2409
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
81.3
College Consensus
77.7
Publisher Consensus
84.9
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1918
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
81
College Consensus
82.5
Publisher Consensus
79.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2552
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
80.5
College Consensus
81.6
Publisher Consensus
79.5
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2651
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
79.9
College Consensus
77.6
Publisher Consensus
82.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
894
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
79.5
College Consensus
73.7
Publisher Consensus
85.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1876
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
78.4
College Consensus
79.7
Publisher Consensus
77.1
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2457
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
77.6
College Consensus
72.2
Publisher Consensus
83
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2931
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
76.6
College Consensus
73.3
Publisher Consensus
79.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1459
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
76.4
College Consensus
69.3
Publisher Consensus
83.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1727

Recommended Online Colleges & Universities

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

AVG: 0 AVG: 0
76.3
College Consensus
75.5
Publisher Consensus
77.1
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1698
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
76
College Consensus
73.8
Publisher Consensus
78.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2457
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
75.1
College Consensus
67.2
Publisher Consensus
83.1
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1288
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
74.9
College Consensus
70.4
Publisher Consensus
79.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1943
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
74.9
College Consensus
67.6
Publisher Consensus
82.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2654
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
74.6
College Consensus
73.1
Publisher Consensus
76.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2236
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
74
College Consensus
64.1
Publisher Consensus
83.9
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
868
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
73.9
College Consensus
71.6
Publisher Consensus
76.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1892
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
73.1
College Consensus
74
Publisher Consensus
72.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2167
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
73.1
College Consensus
64.3
Publisher Consensus
81.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2160
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
72.9
College Consensus
62.5
Publisher Consensus
83.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1101
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
72.8
College Consensus
65.5
Publisher Consensus
80.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2307
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
72.8
College Consensus
70.9
Publisher Consensus
74.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1791
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
72.4
College Consensus
69.5
Publisher Consensus
75.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1103
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
72
College Consensus
65.8
Publisher Consensus
78.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1333
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
72
College Consensus
64.6
Publisher Consensus
79.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2012
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
71.9
College Consensus
64.6
Publisher Consensus
79.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1724
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
71.9
College Consensus
66.7
Publisher Consensus
77
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1414
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
71.8
College Consensus
64.7
Publisher Consensus
78.9
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1420
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
71.5
College Consensus
67.1
Publisher Consensus
75.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1424
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
71.3
College Consensus
66.1
Publisher Consensus
76.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2714
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
71.1
College Consensus
73.4
Publisher Consensus
68.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
966
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
71
College Consensus
64
Publisher Consensus
78
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2510
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
70.7
College Consensus
58.8
Publisher Consensus
82.7
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1214
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
70.7
College Consensus
61.5
Publisher Consensus
79.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2080

Recommended Online Colleges & Universities

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

AVG: 0 AVG: 0
70.6
College Consensus
61.7
Publisher Consensus
79.5
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2496
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
70.5
College Consensus
60.7
Publisher Consensus
80.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1230
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
70.1
College Consensus
66.3
Publisher Consensus
74
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2308
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
70.1
College Consensus
61
Publisher Consensus
79.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1689
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
69.9
College Consensus
58.7
Publisher Consensus
81.1
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1338
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
69.6
College Consensus
61.8
Publisher Consensus
77.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1837
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
69.6
College Consensus
64
Publisher Consensus
75.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2627
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
69.6
College Consensus
60.9
Publisher Consensus
78.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2412
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
69.3
College Consensus
59.8
Publisher Consensus
78.7
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1275
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
68.9
College Consensus
60.3
Publisher Consensus
77.5
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2294
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
68.9
College Consensus
66.7
Publisher Consensus
71
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2030
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
68.8
College Consensus
62.6
Publisher Consensus
75
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1945
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
68.6
College Consensus
56
Publisher Consensus
81.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2853
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
68.6
College Consensus
65.1
Publisher Consensus
72
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1423
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
68.4
College Consensus
59.8
Publisher Consensus
77.1
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2822
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
68.4
College Consensus
57.5
Publisher Consensus
79.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
382
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
68.4
College Consensus
66.2
Publisher Consensus
70.5
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1921
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
68.1
College Consensus
59.6
Publisher Consensus
76.5
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1119
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
67.3
College Consensus
56
Publisher Consensus
78.7
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1345
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
67.2
College Consensus
51.1
Publisher Consensus
83.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1753
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
67
College Consensus
54.7
Publisher Consensus
79.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
815
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
66.9
College Consensus
52.7
Publisher Consensus
81
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1982
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
66.7
College Consensus
54.8
Publisher Consensus
78.7
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1616
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
66.7
College Consensus
52.8
Publisher Consensus
80.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1390
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
66.6
College Consensus
55.3
Publisher Consensus
77.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2249
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
66.5
College Consensus
50.5
Publisher Consensus
82.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1915
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
66.4
College Consensus
55.1
Publisher Consensus
77.7
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2089
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
66.2
College Consensus
57.3
Publisher Consensus
75.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2424
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
66.1
College Consensus
58.8
Publisher Consensus
73.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2037
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
65.8
College Consensus
54.8
Publisher Consensus
76.9
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2195
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
65.7
College Consensus
52.3
Publisher Consensus
79
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2220
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
65.6
College Consensus
51
Publisher Consensus
80.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1655
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
65.4
College Consensus
54.4
Publisher Consensus
76.5
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2252
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
65.4
College Consensus
47.3
Publisher Consensus
83.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1890
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
65.4
College Consensus
55.4
Publisher Consensus
75.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1625
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
65.2
College Consensus
52.1
Publisher Consensus
78.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1075
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
65.2
College Consensus
56.9
Publisher Consensus
73.4
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1403
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
65.1
College Consensus
51.9
Publisher Consensus
78.3
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1845
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
65.1
College Consensus
53.9
Publisher Consensus
76.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2202
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
65
College Consensus
53.1
Publisher Consensus
77
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
660
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
64.9
College Consensus
53.6
Publisher Consensus
76.1
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1326
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
64.9
College Consensus
61
Publisher Consensus
68.7
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1734
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
64.6
College Consensus
54.5
Publisher Consensus
74.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1487
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
64.6
College Consensus
52
Publisher Consensus
77.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2534
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
64.3
College Consensus
52.8
Publisher Consensus
75.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1082
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
64.3
College Consensus
53
Publisher Consensus
75.7
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1264
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
64.1
College Consensus
56
Publisher Consensus
72.2
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2731
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
64
College Consensus
52.1
Publisher Consensus
75.8
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
2001
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
63.9
College Consensus
58.7
Publisher Consensus
69.1
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1764
AVG: 0 AVG: 0
63.7
College Consensus
53.8
Publisher Consensus
73.6
Student Consensus
Last Accessed: March, 2022
Full time undergraduates
1901

Recommended Online Colleges & Universities

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

Why Choose a Small College? Academics and Culture

First and foremost, there’s a strong argument to be made for the academic advantages of a small college. Time and again, studies have shown that people learn more effectively in small classes; it’s a fact that the top small universities have been touting for years. While, in a large university, you may find yourself in a gigantic lecture hall with hundreds of other students, too far away to even make out the professor’s facial expression, in a small college you’re likely to take classes with just a handful of people. That closeness means you get to know your classmates and instructors well, engage in meaningful discussion, and have the opportunity to have your questions answered directly.

Small classes at a small college also means a small student:faculty ratio – the number of students per faculty member. A professor at a large university can’t get to know all of her students closely, much less work with them one-on-one; but at a small college, where they may be just 10-12 students for every professor, there’s a greater opportunity for mentorship, guidance, and connection. In a small college, you’re far more likely to have to chance, for instance, to work alongside a faculty member on a research project, or to find a professor who can give you personalized attention and help.

The culture of a small college is entirely different from the culture of a large college, too. That doesn’t mean that the best small colleges don’t have their rabid sports rivalries, or riotous fraternity parties (they definitely do). What it means is that it’s much easier to form a close-knit community, one where students feel connected to the whole student body rather than just their clique or in-group. Small colleges can have other benefits, as well; with a small student body, they can pay more attention to amenities, so some of the best small colleges also offer the best college dining halls and the best college dorms in the nation. At a large college, students can often feel disconnected and lost; at a small college, students can feel more connected. A large university is where you go to school; a small college is where you live.

How Do We Rank the Best Small Colleges?

College Consensus isn’t like any other college ranking agency out there. Bringing together the rankings of reputable sites like U.S. News & World Report, the Wall Street Journal, and WalletHub with the most trustworthy student review sites on the internet (including Niche, Cappex, and Unigo), College Consensus works to get the full picture. Instead of just focusing on one set of data, College Consensus is an aggregate ranking, combining all of a given school’s published rankings for the Publisher Ranking, and adding in the testimony of students for the Student Rating. From those two numbers, we create the Consensus Rating, which we then use to rank schools in all sorts of combinations.

Our criteria for selecting the Best Small Colleges is fairly simple: these are the colleges and universities throughout the US that have student bodies of 3000 or less. That’s an arbitrary cutoff, sure; plenty of large colleges are proud of their ability to give students an experience like a small college, and there’s no particular reason a school with 3000 students is any different than a school with 4000 students. But the essential thing here isn’t how many students there are – it’s how the top small universities serve students in a special way. The Top Consensus Ranked Small Colleges put students first, providing the traditional college experience that leaves fond memories, lifelong friendships, and a sense of alumni pride that carries through for your 50th-anniversary reunion and beyond.

What’s Different About the College Consensus Ranking?

While other rankings take the narrow view – whether it’s strictly surveys of faculty, or reams of cold, hard data, or the perspective of students – College Consensus is the only college ranking organization that looks at the full range of published rankings and student reviews. That means we take all voices seriously, from the impartial experts to the students experiencing the real world of college on the ground. Other methods give an advantage to certain kinds of schools, especially the ones with the biggest marketing budgets and the most famous names, but College Consensus is interested in getting the fullest picture possible. Read more about our ranking methodology and sources on our about page.

Related:

Best Women’s Colleges

Best Historically Black Colleges & Universities

Best National Liberal Arts Colleges

Best Undergraduate Business Programs


For licensing requests, please click here

Ready to start your journey?

Ready to start your journey?