2019 Liberal Arts Rankings

Since 2005, the Washington Monthly has ranked colleges based on what they do for the country. It’s our answer to U.S News & World Report, which relies on crude and easily manipulated measures of wealth, exclusivity, and prestige. We rank liberal arts colleges—four-year institutions that award almost exclusively bachelor’s degrees and that focus on arts and sciences rather than professional programs—based on their contribution to the public good in three broad categories: social mobility, research, and promoting public service.

Click here for detailed methodology, here for the rest of our rankings, and here to download the full data set.

RankName8-year graduation rateNumber of Pell graduatesMedian earningsPredicted median earningsNet priceLoan repayment rateSocial mobility rankResearch rankService rank
1Washington and Lee University (VA)90%57 $76,011 $58,014 $3,841 92%16948
2Harvey Mudd College (CA)91%23 $79,393 $66,123 $16,215 N/A141124
3Amherst College (MA)95%63 $61,817 $57,085 $7,485 87%51339
4Berea College (KY)64%249 $34,242 $27,061 $2,898 69%210842
5Bowdoin College (ME)93%67 $61,546 $57,558 $8,896 90%15199
6Middlebury College (VT)94%55 $57,792 $56,495 $8,971 88%22283
7Vassar College (NY)92%154 $52,972 $54,415 $9,596 93%71634
8Pomona College (CA)95%61 $55,815 $62,295 $6,860 N/A201123
9Wesleyan University (CT)93%132 $52,553 $55,435 $9,388 92%12897
10Claremont McKenna College (CA)92%38 $71,026 $62,471 $12,737 N/A62054
11Haverford College (PA)93%45 $59,823 $57,466 $10,327 92%191236
12Williams College (MA)96%99 $57,723 $57,744 $6,255 89%99153
13College of the Holy Cross (MA)92%129 $68,358 $56,087 $13,546 94%38682
14Bryn Mawr College (PA)84%54 $55,211 $50,972 $15,692 86%49327
15Swarthmore College (PA)95%53 $53,605 $61,160 $9,241 90%59243
16Wellesley College (MA)93%97 $59,821 $60,007 $11,229 92%31663
17Bates College (ME)90%66 $56,469 $55,976 $9,262 95%184426
18Colgate University (NY)91%82 $63,200 $56,928 $11,136 90%438109
19Hamilton College (NY)93%66 $58,636 $55,587 $9,637 94%163945
20Barnard College (NY)91%116 $58,527 $55,469 $9,618 94%821127
21Grinnell College (IA)87%87 $46,993 $51,338 $13,673 91%71722
22Virginia Military Institute (VA)*75%50 $63,677 $59,376 $8,162 87%461591
23Trinity College (CT)85%64 $61,534 $55,651 $11,813 85%106195
24Carleton College (MN)93%60 $52,876 $56,836 $14,195 93%674120
25Davidson College (NC)93%63 $56,424 $55,367 $9,374 91%233291
26Lafayette College (PA)90%59 $70,126 $59,579 $14,140 91%214588
27Franklin and Marshall College (PA)87%75 $56,892 $54,044 $13,458 90%273368
28Smith College (MA)88%124 $46,220 $51,417 $12,556 81%741030
29College of Saint Benedict (MN)83%110 $50,878 $44,785 $17,684 94%1312067
30St. Mary's College of Maryland (MD)*80%48 $50,939 $49,647 $12,591 87%426711
31Agnes Scott College (GA)71%95 $39,904 $39,486 $17,889 66%80664
32University of Richmond (VA)83%104 $63,442 $57,666 $11,669 79%2550113
33Cornell College (IA)68%89 $42,798 $43,715 $21,318 83%62736
34Beloit College (WI)80%60 $40,936 $44,695 $8,423 84%387233
35Connecticut College (CT)84%65 $54,372 $53,370 $17,296 92%376044
36Macalester College (MN)89%75 $48,014 $52,908 $16,130 91%942219
37Colby College (ME)93%44 $56,284 $57,099 $9,782 92%452675
38Mount Holyoke College (MA)84%94 $47,264 $48,602 $14,533 82%651787
39Allegheny College (PA)77%128 $50,653 $47,365 $18,393 85%517528
40Reed College (OR)81%49 $39,430 $50,625 $15,308 88%159517
41Union College (NY)87%79 $66,026 $58,349 $14,225 89%2680111
42Knox College (IL)79%74 $41,564 $42,554 $17,678 81%78798
43Salem College (NC)56%55 $34,761 $30,855 $14,798 64%11164151
44Bucknell University (PA)90%82 $71,382 $59,570 $23,015 94%3030157
45Willamette University (OR)79%93 $51,222 $47,555 $23,580 88%525249
46Hobart William Smith Colleges (NY)80%84 $52,057 $50,916 $20,275 87%1161172
47Kenyon College (OH)89%33 $47,626 $50,926 $12,115 90%792759
48Kalamazoo College (MI)81%57 $51,272 $51,162 $14,718 84%834731
49Dickinson College (PA)85%65 $56,455 $54,000 $14,635 89%408265
50Saint John's University (MN)79%81 $59,513 $56,718 $16,380 92%349871
51Gustavus Adolphus College (MN)82%116 $51,314 $50,291 $14,899 88%299989
52Lake Forest College (IL)71%106 $49,976 $46,397 $18,043 86%3511164
53New College of Florida (FL)*70%35N/A $32,000 $7,784 72%139295
54Gettysburg College (PA)84%83 $55,440 $53,293 $15,348 93%437783
55Wabash College (IN)72%53 $55,540 $46,142 $14,801 78%616556
56Wofford College (SC)81%85 $51,630 $50,632 $18,373 84%5415632
57Ripon College (WI)70%67 $44,621 $40,374 $15,499 82%28110148
58University of Minnesota–Morris (MN)*63%80 $40,606 $41,562 $5,300 79%589351
59Soka University of America (CA)84%32N/A $35,390 $7,410 79%24127163
60St. Olaf College (MN)88%103 $48,633 $54,367 $13,093 91%6836107
61Thomas Aquinas College (CA)77%26 $36,776 $30,440 $17,700 90%17137213
62Occidental College (CA)87%104 $50,555 $57,222 $16,402 91%826253
63Susquehanna University (PA)71%94 $53,086 $45,136 $19,249 88%3913098
64DePauw University (IN)81%96 $51,839 $46,139 $16,446 87%4488117
65Stonehill College (MA)84%66 $60,862 $51,724 $21,539 89%32145126
66Colorado College (CO)87%48 $43,373 $55,785 $7,831 89%1013166
67Goucher College (MD)69%52 $48,403 $44,125 $20,449 82%9912516
68Denison University (OH)76%98 $50,176 $51,157 $15,620 83%1128114
69Illinois Wesleyan University (IL)81%94 $57,878 $52,782 $20,760 90%5584108
70Blackburn College (IL)46%33 $38,019 $35,442 $11,455 65%8716918
71Sterling College (VT)49%4N/A $28,505 $24,841 79%5720337
72Juniata College (PA)76%70 $47,772 $47,111 $19,848 88%777672
73Dillard University (LA)42%116 $34,780 $33,871 $17,585 52%9725114
74Southwestern University (TX)73%62 $51,682 $48,603 $19,067 87%896857
75University of Virginia's College–Wise (VA)*47%79 $38,207 $33,933 $9,973 67%33193121
76Ursinus College (PA)79%90 $54,730 $50,457 $23,113 87%6492101
77Moravian College/Moravian Theo. Seminary (PA)72%79 $50,857 $46,420 $23,369 85%41163116
78Muhlenberg College (PA)79%39 $59,017 $53,147 $18,785 87%8411647
79St. Lawrence University (NY)84%90 $48,743 $50,988 $16,112 87%9011838
80Wheaton College (IL)88%109 $46,331 $52,803 $17,302 95%6635176
81Whittier College (CA)67%104 $46,312 $49,058 $20,647 78%6313486
82Monmouth College (IL)65%84 $41,319 $39,224 $13,082 78%48152119
83Skidmore College (NY)87%98 $47,241 $54,368 $11,499 91%7664140
84Saint Mary's College (IN)78%60 $47,314 $45,102 $16,417 89%8113969
85Drew University (NJ)67%92 $52,543 $46,593 $18,199 81%7294133
86Transylvania University (KY)72%55 $42,723 $44,150 $18,837 82%1517010
87Illinois College (IL)71%56 $40,823 $40,386 $13,768 85%56165137
88St. Norbert College (WI)69%134 $46,008 $47,428 $19,131 85%10513641
89Furman University (SC)82%75 $49,918 $51,752 $20,795 88%1484629
90Whitman College (WA)88%35 $48,458 $53,842 $22,509 93%1722321
91Linfield College (OR)69%95 $54,782 $47,376 $22,024 84%60135155
92Spelman College (GA)72%185 $47,453 $38,868 $34,561 57%11334123
93Tougaloo College (MS)47%70 $27,705 $25,755 $11,888 41%9559143
94Washington & Jefferson College (PA)77%76 $52,193 $50,389 $20,511 84%9310494
95Houghton College (NY)74%73 $40,466 $37,463 $19,154 84%47105192
96College of Wooster (OH)77%89 $47,312 $49,820 $17,395 83%1325358
97Scripps College (CA)88%31 $51,941 $56,297 $16,545 91%9841170
98Hanover College (IN)69%68 $45,018 $42,852 $17,516 81%8583161
99Sewanee: The University of the South (TN)78%53 $43,891 $48,244 $16,475 85%1549515
100Lycoming College (PA)63%90 $45,502 $42,407 $14,351 80%50144183
101Oberlin College (OH)88%64 $41,385 $50,474 $17,307 89%1611878
102Wheaton College (MA)77%87 $46,764 $48,569 $22,172 89%11813346
103Centre College (KY)83%51 $45,297 $51,360 $17,518 86%1295773
104Augustana College (IL)76%124 $50,943 $51,421 $18,328 87%100124105
105Simpson College (IA)69%61 $46,402 $45,833 $19,777 84%13614825
106Randall University (OK)39%6 $35,840 $31,184 $14,920 56%36203213
107Lawrence University (WI)79%63 $43,452 $45,702 $18,691 84%1316381
108Albion College (MI)66%55 $47,081 $45,091 $14,824 84%12054136
109Pitzer College (CA)86%30 $47,835 $55,230 $13,888 77%1269174
110Bard College (NY)78%61 $40,002 $43,238 $20,096 85%1645535
111Westminster College (PA)75%98 $44,252 $43,690 $17,922 85%73171167
112Saint Vincent College (PA)66%93 $47,389 $47,998 $16,531 85%104121144
113St. John's College (MD)70%16 $36,780 $34,818 $19,625 83%1881470
114Oglethorpe University (GA)43%70 $43,910 $41,405 $18,617 62%75167174
115Wittenberg University (OH)71%78 $43,158 $43,833 $20,892 81%1418760
116Fort Lewis College (CO)*45%91 $35,305 $34,804 $14,310 62%106157110
117University of NH–Manchester (NH)*60%7 $50,487 $47,548 $14,638 87%53203209
118University of Puget Sound (WA)78%98 $52,074 $51,584 $32,414 88%1837112
119Hampshire College (MA)71%46 $34,903 $39,508 $22,277 76%1934013
120Randolph-Macon College (VA)62%65 $47,826 $47,292 $21,108 81%111119131
121Marlboro College (VT)63%14 $26,350 $30,926 $19,311 84%11042194
122Young Harris College (GA)44%37 $38,009 $40,111 $15,985 69%96202132
123Saint Anselm College (NH)74%78 $56,644 $52,856 $22,513 90%11516896
124Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MA)*57%69 $36,021 $36,234 $14,183 69%102175135
125Franklin College (IN)60%66 $43,296 $41,095 $16,742 81%91186156
126Bethany Lutheran College (MN)53%36 $35,209 $36,971 $12,920 82%70174197
127Sweet Briar College (VA)67%31 $39,617 $37,251 $21,827 82%13474138
128Earlham College (IN)70%46 $34,892 $43,632 $16,300 84%1744852
129Hope College (MI)79%133 $45,439 $50,336 $17,132 86%13810685
130Hartwick College (NY)59%103 $44,666 $44,187 $22,045 79%121126122
131SUNY Purchase College (NY)*64%150 $35,513 $38,191 $15,636 71%108183125
132Mansfield University of PA (PA)*53%110 $38,983 $37,517 $16,726 70%92182164
133Rust College (MS)44%46 $23,870 $26,170 $9,675 27%69190212
134Albright College (PA)56%100 $47,199 $43,739 $20,317 77%88143188
135University of North Carolina–Asheville (NC)*63%105 $35,215 $42,217 $10,484 65%1588962
136University of Science & Arts of Okla. (OK)*44%20 $32,663 $31,820 $6,305 61%107180146
137University of Wisconsin–Superior (WI)*46%52 $36,575 $35,704 $10,680 65%13017679
138Westmont College (CA)75%63 $50,070 $49,890 $24,348 89%11785175
139Georgetown College (KY)64%67 $42,589 $41,121 $16,919 77%103122184
140Sarah Lawrence College (NY)77%49 $40,767 $35,396 $24,682 84%12758177
141St. John's College (NM)51%14 $31,122 $26,975 $18,198 78%17124149
142Coe College (IA)69%59 $45,179 $47,979 $17,838 84%142100104
143University of Maine–Machias (ME)*34%18 $27,862 $30,700 $8,194 61%123160134
144Bennett College (NC)45%53 $29,308 $21,644 $21,553 33%119161145
145Luther College (IA)78%101 $45,466 $48,479 $20,352 86%14796103
146University of Wisconsin–Parkside (WI)*36%85 $39,009 $43,490 $8,623 59%14319750
147Wartburg College (IA)68%87 $45,091 $47,605 $18,591 86%16512355
148Ohio Wesleyan University (OH)67%79 $44,885 $45,998 $21,724 85%1775676
149Warren Wilson College (NC)54%36 $26,235 $37,938 $19,178 78%1921387
150Penn State–Brandywine (PA)*48%57 $49,889 $48,749 $12,002 76%86201201
151Concordia College–Moorhead (MN)73%159 $43,756 $48,183 $19,186 89%133112162
152Bennington College (VT)70%32 $27,560 $36,281 $24,611 85%16917240
153Austin College (TX)75%69 $48,991 $53,008 $17,410 79%15797112
154Presbyterian College (SC)67%39 $43,496 $46,298 $15,474 84%128113169
155Saint Michael's College (VT)78%69 $49,666 $51,500 $24,302 92%16211493
156College of Idaho (ID)64%61 $39,788 $46,280 $18,406 79%122155172
157University of Pittsburgh–Greensburg (PA)*50%69 $52,361 $45,039 $15,191 80%109195178
158Elizabethtown College (PA)76%72 $50,645 $50,871 $22,960 86%124151173
159Wells College (NY)53%36 $35,098 $36,468 $17,383 74%146102158
160College of the Atlantic (ME)71%15 $26,047 $24,052 $16,614 83%153128129
161Hollins University (VA)59%45 $34,415 $32,645 $16,724 62%140107168
162Fisk University (TN)38%46 $34,424 $37,416 $24,290 41%19615128
163University of Pikeville (KY)49%65 $30,182 $34,394 $16,442 54%137203139
164Gordon College (MA)70%80 $41,523 $46,744 $22,665 89%17511580
165Roanoke College (VA)67%83 $45,262 $45,975 $24,174 83%16315499
166Millsaps College (MS)65%35 $47,795 $51,037 $17,532 73%16849179
167Bethany College (WV)46%49 $40,925 $38,428 $17,945 69%17317361
168Central College (IA)66%80 $44,116 $48,037 $17,448 84%17812977
169Cheyney University of PA (PA)*^27%54 $30,061 $28,728 $14,143 28%135170171
170Virginia Wesleyan University (VA)49%66 $39,617 $37,233 $23,197 66%16719184
171Rhodes College (TN)80%67 $53,774 $56,074 $18,970 89%17090152
172Bloomfield College (NJ)35%90 $37,898 $34,961 $17,968 45%114203211
173Shepherd University (WV)*48%99 $39,429 $40,800 $8,559 59%150179159
174Randolph College (VA)55%26 $39,898 $38,571 $23,123 74%180109100
175Hendrix College (AR)67%57 $40,939 $49,510 $19,386 79%2054324
176Alice Lloyd College (KY)36%17 $33,294 $36,152 $11,877 58%149203154
177Chowan University (NC)26%97 $34,542 $27,648 $16,495 40%125200202
178Bridgewater College (VA)59%88 $42,496 $45,633 $17,294 82%145181180
179Washington College (MD)73%46 $48,612 $51,762 $23,200 85%18615890
180Stillman College (AL)42%55 $27,483 $28,568 $16,577 26%155141208
181Emory and Henry College (VA)53%52 $40,450 $41,018 $16,325 77%156153191
182Doane University (NE)62%69 $44,489 $44,355 $20,664 75%160150181
183William Peace University (NC)52%29 $35,653 $35,675 $22,363 61%144203193
184Westminster College (MO)67%45 $41,867 $45,330 $18,252 73%17978189
185Williams Baptist University (AR)45%32 $33,317 $35,728 $14,649 64%152203205
186Aquinas College (MI)55%79 $37,292 $41,299 $13,597 67%190166130
187Covenant College (GA)62%44 $41,221 $41,650 $19,694 81%176147185
188Lane College (TN)31%114 $25,562 $25,952 $12,750 16%181198147
189Bethune-Cookman University (FL)31%250 $29,909 $28,691 $16,882 27%166196199
190Wesleyan College (GA)46%25 $33,800 $34,352 $13,413 53%182131198
191Emmanuel College (MA)63%97 $48,543 $49,676 $26,868 79%197178102
192Judson College (AL)35%10 $28,307 $28,392 $15,987 59%185140200
193Lyon College (AR)49%36 $39,400 $41,965 $14,263 64%191146186
194Hampden-Sydney College (VA)65%33 $51,980 $55,467 $25,027 79%200162115
195Brewton-Parker College (GA)22%11 $32,717 $30,050 $17,008 54%184185204
196Bryn Athyn College (PA)52%6N/A $34,712 $11,734 72%187199187
197Meredith College (NC)58%75 $38,861 $41,549 $21,408 71%20218492
198Eckerd College (FL)64%61 $42,294 $49,058 $26,914 69%21110120
199Morehouse College (GA)53%140 $42,562 $44,429 $30,850 39%20737166
200University of South Carolina–Beaufort (SC)*33%51 $35,167 $41,902 $13,800 55%199187142
201Virginia Union University (VA)33%93 $32,143 $34,688 $19,365 26%189194203
202Guilford College (NC)48%70 $37,727 $41,396 $21,326 58%204142118
203Pine Manor College (MA)30%22 $35,692 $34,833 $20,321 42%198203160
204Birmingham-Southern College (AL)63%47 $46,366 $51,862 $20,466 76%209103106
205Talladega College (AL)39%53 $24,020 $26,564 $13,594 19%194188209
206Centenary College of Louisiana (LA)54%32 $43,487 $41,612 $22,198 70%20651190
207King's College (NY)54%35N/A $39,168 $28,205 77%201203150
208Allen University (SC)31%44 $22,637 $33,329 $15,360 17%195203196
209Spring Hill College (AL)50%57 $44,837 $45,286 $10,704 65%203149182
210Johnson C. Smith University (NC)48%75 $30,238 $32,654 $18,724 27%208132205
211Southern Virginia University (VA)42%27 $34,299 $35,974 $17,937 64%210177165
212Marymount Manhattan College (NY)47%47 $40,540 $37,259 $31,527 67%212192141
213Ave Maria University (FL)56%39 $32,800 $49,959 $15,780 60%213189195
214East-West University (IL)35%11 $24,827 $30,696 $25,666 19%214203207
Definitions:
Median earnings: median annual earnings 10 years after entering college.
Predicted median earnings: expected median annual earnings based on student demographic data, adjusted for institutions’ location and academic mission.
Net price: actual cost of attendance for first-time, full-time, in-state students with family incomes below $75,000 per year over the last three years.
Loan repayment rate: percent of students who pay back at least $1 in loan principal within 5 years of leaving college.
* = public
° = for-profit