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2020 Liberal Arts Colleges Ranking

WM 2020 Full Main rankingsSince 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 earnings 10 yrs after entering collegePredicted median earnings 10 yrs after entering collegeNet price of attendance for families below $75,000 incomePercent repaying $1 in loan principal 5 yrs after leaving collegeSocial mobility rankResearch rankService rank
1Amherst College (MA)95%796155957511890487%61324
2Wesleyan University (CT)93%1405180454271920092%9563
3Berea College (KY)65%2333366626938214969%110753
4Washington and Lee University (VA)90%467531658550456692%28855
5Harvey Mudd College (CA)92%27782186627817809N/A121162
6Pomona College (CA)95%6556501608866376N/A171027
7Vassar College (NY)91%1405283354151954293%101531
8Middlebury College (VT)95%625747856892942288%22266
9Claremont McKenna College (CA)92%30729136033612575N/A42560
10Williams College (MA)96%985692158346598789%89126
11Bowdoin College (ME)94%596103758439913390%181913
12Haverford College (PA)92%4559071584911186492%371116
13Wellesley College (MA)93%946036459068884792%25680
14Grinnell College (IA)88%9046428517861419291%52820
15Swarthmore College (PA)95%535363060880901390%49366
16Hamilton College (NY)92%6959336559951024094%144032
17Bryn Mawr College (PA)84%5054905497611519186%55452
18College of the Holy Cross (MA)91%11667794565791442494%397101
19Carleton College (MN)93%5753178569431339693%62272
20Trinity College (CT)84%5461063542731111485%118142
21Bates College (ME)88%475663056471932695%324222
22Colgate University (NY)91%7963026552401154190%735155
23Smith College (MA)88%12346117509291173481%661214
24Barnard College (NY)92%10858241559961017594%1322134
25Franklin and Marshall College (PA)87%8356197525891334090%202987
26Lafayette College (PA)90%6169757591081369591%164484
27Connecticut College (CT)84%6454448531611881592%385423
28Dickinson College (PA)84%6356314527881449289%288936
29St. Mary's College of Maryland (MD)*78%5150353494611255487%427215
30Beloit College (WI)79%584143544735861484%307343
31College of Saint Benedict (MN)83%10750960440851851894%1511557
32New College of Florida (FL)*68%39N/A34068788172%96325
33Colby College (ME)92%505626857566784192%462340
34Allegheny College (PA)76%12050537474871843385%486025
35Virginia Military Institute (VA)*76%456399260577837987%811571
36Davidson College (NC)94%515622555275935991%3336113
37Lake Forest College (IL)73%11150018467051834186%249988
38Union College (NY)87%7565558580521440589%2611765
39University of Richmond (VA)83%10562983564901167379%2747153
40Knox College (IL)80%8040729413521743781%508533
41Gustavus Adolphus College (MN)81%12650705493391480688%369662
42Mount Holyoke College (MA)83%7247222459571532482%5816100
43Bucknell University (PA)89%7870151599962250294%452892
44Providence Christian College (CA)73%3N/A2855621555N/A5211214
45Agnes Scott College (GA)71%9139043399751818766%138673
46Tougaloo College (MS)46%6727298241631230541%2377170
47Macalester College (MN)90%7447449520781584591%872038
48Blackburn College (IL)44%3738161355581236565%641757
49Denison University (OH)82%10349947502851614183%789418
50Gettysburg College (PA)85%8355160536221564593%4064102
51Kalamazoo College (MI)83%6150473503701566584%774144
52Susquehanna University (PA)74%9953284460971956288%3513485
53Willamette University (OR)79%8350883459102305288%545376
54Cornell College (IA)68%8442574452272224283%1147411
55Hobart and William Smith Colleges (NY)79%8352155515002074387%1241164
56Illinois College (IL)72%6040814401161355285%34147105
57Saint Mary's College (IN)80%7047255444581495989%3912495
58Dillard University (LA)40%11034366316331726252%5333156
59Goucher College (MD)65%6748186435331986382%7913217
60Saint John's University (MN)79%6859818549331700292%578081
61Lycoming College (PA)65%8645910430071483480%21145189
62University of Minnesota–Morris (MN)*62%744053439925526079%679050
63Whitman College (WA)88%3248188525232175193%1432421
64Ripon College (WI)67%5344709422521546082%44111103
65DePauw University (IN)83%9151839456961596187%4770141
66Kenyon College (OH)89%3546850511211289390%972183
67Rust College (MS)24%862371926531990027%19194212
68Centre College (KY)85%5145229495651745286%888735
69Drew University (NJ)65%7852342450601853881%6110670
70Skidmore College (NY)88%8147547545441225291%715790
71Transylvania University (KY)73%6342694438941978882%134799
72St. Olaf College (MN)88%9348543535411254991%7331140
73Juniata College (PA)76%7047799470672096188%906549
74Salem College (NC)56%5134183312011516164%41156116
75Wabash College (IN)72%5455295483541486678%695996
76Wheaton College (IL)90%10446293507451782695%7030164
77Thomas Aquinas College (CA)78%2538184331781749290%29128214
78Reed College (OR)81%4439204504941719788%186730
79Muhlenberg College (PA)84%4158192525871792687%7612348
80Simpson College (IA)68%7146067447091973084%1171628
81Bard College (NY)77%6938904417681997885%1536312
82Albion College (MI)70%5347133447951260084%5971161
83Occidental College (CA)85%9150643569141662491%935673
84St. John's College (MD)72%2036244346841777383%12514108
85Univ. of NH–Manchester (NH)*61%549915454381260887%31207187
86Colorado College (CO)87%434319655110734889%1112786
87Soka University of America (CA)85%31N/A33192955979%51125137
88Whittier College (CA)67%9945564492182101578%8514945
89Univ. of Virginia's College–Wise (VA)*44%773818434771979067%43191146
90Lewis & Clark College (OR)77%10644528490092171089%1185154
91Hanover College (IN)68%7944497424521764281%7486132
92Spelman College (GA)76%16947586386533656657%10834106
93Illinois Wesleyan University (IL)82%7257535526662073090%6898150
94Linfield College (OR)69%8554381454262279484%63137124
95Ursinus College (PA)79%7654789508072394687%9276109
96Southwestern University (TX)74%6351496507222028787%1126277
97Warren Wilson College (NC)53%4426692379092125878%1831262
98Houghton College (NY)73%6940577358272020084%56114188
99St. Lawrence University (NY)85%8848344509291548387%10712051
100Hope College (MI)79%14345119491491763286%1295074
101Wofford College (SC)80%7051461507311876984%9115079
102Furman University (SC)82%6848923500941977088%1474958
103Gordon College (MA)70%9741247454212276689%11310964
104Moravian Coll./Moravian Theo. Sem. (PA)71%7650333467652387685%8316589
105Sewanee–University of the South (TN)79%6743099484181665085%14811226
106Stonehill College (MA)83%7560582516572470389%72144163
107Wittenberg University (OH)77%7843053438422092181%1198378
108Washington & Jefferson College (PA)76%6352382487242130284%89113120
109Augustana College (IL)76%11650492503481879187%84118139
110St. Norbert College (WI)72%10346043467811999385%13312937
111Wheaton College (MA)79%7747093494382220189%10916759
112Westmont College (CA)77%5850149502952505789%95102158
113College of Wooster (OH)77%10047015505651718083%12658110
114Monmouth College (IL)58%8641145407691394478%94135122
115Mansfield University of PA (PA)*53%10438770372941719770%75179171
116Scripps College (CA)88%2751566579341636191%12348152
117Univ. of North Carolina–Asheville (NC)*64%943513341549981865%1468475
118Sweet Briar College (VA)67%2938954377072087282%1396897
119Hendrix College (AR)80%4841131489831725079%1823928
120Albright College (PA)57%10346701433072018677%65176193
121Westminster College (PA)72%9443884442291796085%86172129
122Hampshire College (MA)71%3234107398292137276%1924310
123Randall University (OK)38%535754296431562056%60201214
124Bennett College (NC)44%4729388218652065033%12216169
125Hartwick College (NY)59%8844365449882154279%14513361
126Ohio Wesleyan University (OH)68%7844749453782113285%14161130
127Coe College (IA)69%7045150478421737584%127105104
128University of Wisconsin–Parkside (WI)*35%903888940885895759%14218647
129Fort Lewis College (CO)*47%9135227347021454962%104153135
130Pitzer College (CA)87%2747943556791243277%1509598
131Wartburg College (IA)69%7844682467621811286%16614134
132Saint Anselm College (NH)73%6956679523552263390%115168107
133Saint Vincent College (PA)72%7547748490791694785%98138174
134Oberlin College (OH)87%5941291504381716889%17917111
135Sterling College (VT)56%3N/A313992615279%13018367
136Bryn Athyn College (PA)51%11N/A355861498372%82189186
137Sarah Lawrence College (NY)81%4040777362602522984%12855185
138Franklin College (IN)61%6142906407571705181%102197125
139Wells College (NY)51%4735601378141769474%120100165
140Presbyterian College (SC)66%4743312447751586484%121130121
141Penn State–Brandywine (PA)*47%5449789460111419076%80205203
142Austin College (TX)74%6849122548911717179%15182136
143Lawrence University (WI)78%6543180457651851684%15478133
144Virginia Wesleyan University (VA)51%8439806378202308266%16018146
145Massachusetts Coll. of Liberal Arts (MA)*56%6835909364071477469%103180167
146St. John's College (NM)48%1630939269192369678%16945115
147Univ. of Pittsburgh–Greensburg (PA)*44%5452188465061554480%105187169
148Rhodes College (TN)80%7252754555821827389%1619399
149SUNY–Purchase College (NY)*65%15235877389731566371%116177149
150Randolph College (VA)57%2840538390192242674%1756671
151Bethany Lutheran College (MN)52%3135265377071292682%99169201
152University of Maine–Machias (ME)*34%192740231203785861%135170114
153Cheyney University of PA (PA)* ^^24%4329993286741386728%140163117
154Bethune-Cookman University (FL)43%24829619286641629127%100171196
155Central College (IA)66%6744135483721798184%18014029
156Earlham College (IN)70%4535020431241610884%1764691
157University of Puget Sound (WA)78%8551416507883122288%1856941
158Univ. of Wisconsin–Superior (WI)*45%4336551351621100465%159104112
159Elizabethtown College (PA)75%7250498502972316486%132151142
160University of the West (CA)52%3N/A3590210375N/A106211178
161Georgetown College (KY)61%5042162421411706177%144119183
162Pacific Rim Christian Univ. (HI)76%128098285281650558%101211214
163Saint Michael's College (VT)79%7449095505102434092%163108123
164Bloomfield College (NJ)34%9237501345381871545%110208199
165Covenant College (GA)62%5240807395871906981%137146191
166Shepherd University (WV)*48%1013951038914849559%136184173
167Hollins University (VA)58%3333918335941775362%17092145
168College of the Atlantic (ME)69%1225647250851585183%165121154
169Washington College (MD)75%3747847513742132285%17315982
170Luther College (IA)79%8645137482671975786%17491131
171Westminster College (MO)64%3942090441371825373%17738195
172Univ. of Science & Arts of Okla. (OK)*45%163278431525669561%152188175
173Chowan University (NC)26%10534139284891625240%131203205
174Judson College (AL)36%1428347293781606559%155143202
175Concordia College–Moorhead (MN)73%11643622483131952189%18410394
176Roanoke College (VA)66%8544830463772328683%172131127
177University of Pikeville (KY)54%6129801340651637854%157210157
178Lane College (TN)31%9324983272201264616%156202176
179Bennington College (VT)71%2927235371532341985%19116439
180Virginia University of Lynchburg (VA)22%4N/A290491724816%149199213
181College of Idaho (ID)62%6739920450971985879%171136160
182Doane University (NE)61%6144724442862099775%168139172
183Emory and Henry College (VA)54%5040020408101563577%164152200
184Stillman College (AL)28%5427592261851418426%162166210
185Randolph-Macon College (VA)61%6947631481192134981%181142138
186LA State Univ.–Alexandria (LA)*28%63365933541772859%158206204
187Bridgewater College (VA)61%8042338463561746282%167195184
188Emmanuel College (MA)65%8848517485082695079%187204118
189Bethany College (WV)44%3340610382431827969%19719356
190Aquinas College (MI)57%7636961414981380667%188158166
191Williams Baptist University (AR)43%3033152360801565564%178196208
192Oglethorpe University (GA)47%4843145424391915962%190174159
193Millsaps College (MS)67%2947644514561908473%20452190
194Wesleyan College (GA)47%2333883340881299553%194127179
195Brewton-Parker College (GA)24%1431866324211795654%189198206
196Morehouse College (GA)52%13642860444723432939%21037148
197Young Harris College (GA)44%4237984394821660969%193209151
198Hampden-Sydney College (VA)66%4351252560122652179%200155147
199Fisk University (TN)39%4034265369422816841%2161868
200Centenary College of Louisiana (LA)50%3144227418792205070%20675180
201Guilford College (NC)52%5937489427732165258%205148128
202Eckerd College (FL)64%5942238493942716369%21411019
203Lyon College (AR)43%3240070447251455964%199154182
204Virginia Union University (VA)33%8232130357382024226%195182194
205Southern Virginia University (VA)35%2134761340131697664%203178144
206Marymount California University (CA)37%4036769410992364357%196211192
207Allen University (SC)28%3422522299891482217%198211198
208Spring Hill College (AL)52%4644342448741361565%207160181
209Meredith College (NC)58%7238347430532183371%209173119
210East-West University (IL)30%1424765297692177519%201211209
211Univ. of South Carolina–Beaufort (SC)*32%4934692402351452655%208190168
212Stevens-Henager College (UT)30%1328935298782537726%202211214
213Johnson C. Smith University (NC)45%7929804334471879227%211122207
214Birmingham-Southern College (AL)64%3446452522732183676%213101143
215Marymount Manhattan College (NY)46%4740796376143212767%21519293
216King's College (NY)50%32N/A414152911477%212211177
217Talladega College (AL)27%6624125265911483519%217200211
218Ave Maria University (FL)54%36N/A511681573660%218185197
Definitions:
Median earnings: median annual earnings 10 years after entering college.
Pell/non-Pell graduation gap: graduation rate for Pell students minus the graduation rate for non-Pell students; a positive number indicates that students who receive Pell grants graduate at a higher rate than those who don’t, and vice versa.
First-gen students: percent of students who are the first in their family to go to 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