Not everyone enters college with a particular career in mind. Some don’t know what they want to do, others are torn between several occupations, and still, others simply love learning all they can. Liberal Arts colleges are the perfect fit for these individuals. Another group of those who benefit from this type of school are people who may not have shown their potential through grades over the years. Admission to a liberal arts school isn’t based entirely on grades and test scores. Personal factors that indicate the potential for growth and success are also taken into account. One of the biggest benefits of liberal arts colleges is that they are designed to graduate thinkers and individuals. They prepare students for life, not merely careers.
Classes at a liberal arts college in New York or anywhere else are smaller. The schools are also smaller, often having a population of under 3000. Classes are well-rounded and cover a wide variety of subjects. Some schools even allow students to design their own programs toward graduation. The professors at these schools are in it more for the love of teaching than for the money or turning out future workers in their field. They often have a greater number of office hours than those in other schools and the student: teacher ratio is very often smaller. Students can form a greater relationship with their professors. If you aren’t clear yet where you see yourself in the future or you simply want the opportunity to learn and grow, a Liberal Arts college may be just what you need.
Best 12 Liberal Arts Colleges in New York in 2021
1. Houghton College
Almost half of those who attend Houghton College experience some type of off-campus adventure. There are opportunities for a semester in Africa, time in London, and roaming in Costa Rico. This is only the beginning. A well-rounded education prepares a student to interact with the entire world and students here get a chance to do so first-hand. This is one of the most affordable liberal arts colleges in New York. Of particular note is their program in equine therapy. Not many colleges offer this major.
- Cost: $46,876
- Population: 940
2. Elmira College
Founded in 1855, Elmira College was the first college for women with a course of study equal in rigor to the best men’s colleges. Now co-ed, Elmira continues that founding legacy, offering you a unique combination of liberal arts study and professional skill-building opportunities. You will benefit from small discussion-based classes and a 10:1 student-faculty ratio. Your EC education will carry you far beyond our classrooms, providing you with opportunities for real-world internships, study abroad experiences, research, clinical practice and engagement in our community. Plus, for students interested in the health sciences in particular, an acceptance letter from Elmira can mean early acceptance to a number of medical school programs through a collaboration between Elmira and the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM).
- Cost: $49,050
- Population: 794
3. Wells College
Located on a lake, Wells College has the motto “Arrive Curious. Graduate Prepared.” They offer a variety of majors and minors that are meant to appeal to a large number of individuals. Working closely with nearby universities, students can further broaden their education. Study abroad is encouraged and all majors offer a variety of opportunities for hands-on experience. Their annual Business Ideas competition is extremely popular.
- Cost: $46,850
- Population: 419
4. Hartwick College
Hartwick College designs an educational plan that allows you to discover your strengths and build from there. Upon entry, you are given a career skills/interest assessment that can help you discover where not only your strengths but also your interests reside. The first year is spent attending mini-courses that help you learn the skills you’ll need to succeed in the world as a whole. You will continue your education not only on campus but also by visiting many major cities for networking events and learning. As you gain real-world experience in n area of your interest, you will become prepared for your senior capstone project.
- Cost: $61,160
- Population: 1193
5. The King’s College (New York)
The King’s College starts preparing students for success from day one. One of the few college campuses that have a dress code, students are asked to dress in a business casual style to help them remain aware of their purpose of growing toward success. Rather than large dorms, students are divided among ten houses. The students remain within this group throughout their years, strengthening the bonds of friendship. The school has a strong Christian focus. For students who may not feel ready for campus life, the school offers a chance to finish your first two years online and then transfer to the campus without having to reapply.
- Cost: $59,962
- Population: 544
6. Sarah Lawrence College
At Sarah Lawrence College you can choose one of over fifty areas of study, including child development and writing. The school even offers an on-campus learning center for hands-on experience in child development. You are in charge of where you want your educational path to lead and the school strongly encourages students to explore more than one course so they can become adept in many areas. Upperclassmen have the opportunity to design their own research project, complete a thesis, or work an internship. Learning additional languages is strongly encouraged at this school.
- Cost: $74,740
- Population: 1433
7. Hamilton College
Students at Hamilton College have access to an open curriculum that allows them to study what they love as they prepare for their future. The school offers 57 areas of concentration over 43 majors. There is a strong concentration of majors that are focused on studies of cultures and languages in a particular area, such as France, Africa, and the Middle East. Women’s Studies and Public Policy are two more popular concentrations. This school is totally committed to diversity and turning out graduates who are ready and willing to live in the world as a whole, not just this country.
- Cost: $72,390
- Population: 2012
8. Vassar College
Vassar College books itself as a place where education opens minds and doors. Choose from 48 departments and programs, 51 majors, plus the Independent Program (interdisciplinary “design your own” major). With a student: teacher ratio of 8:1, students get a personal experience that will help them succeed. There are 24 varsity sports teams and an additional four intercollegiate teams, including a women’s rugby team. Leaving their time at the school behind, graduates feel ready and eager to face what the world has to offer.
- Cost: $75,240
- Population: 2439
9. Marymount Manhattan College
An 11:1 student to teacher ratio keeps the classes at Marymount Manhattan College personal. Students can choose from 32 majors and over 40 minors. They are encouraged to take on more than one minor and even create a program that is uniquely their own. Hands-on experience is prevalent throughout the curriculum. This school has a strong emphasis on majors in the arts. Theater, Dance, and Art are especially popular among students, but MMC offers robust programs in Business, Communications, Humanities, Natural Sciences, and Speech-Language Pathology as well. Located in Manhattan, graduates have the ability to make numerous contacts in the world before they leave their college years behind.
- Cost: $61,550
- Population: 1892
10. Purchase College, SUNY
Purchase College, SUNY combines a liberal arts education with a strong arts curriculum, this school is ideal for the dreamers of this world. Students are encouraged to imagine, strive for the seemingly elusive, and grow as much as possible. It is located in the center of 500 acres of open fields and sprawling forests, about 30 miles (or a short train ride) north of New York City. They combine rigorous coursework in the liberal arts and sciences with world-class conservatory programs in the visual and performing arts. They live on a collaborative and sustainable campus, and they work to create the kind of society they want to see in the world. The college is inclusive, LGBTQ-welcoming, and always actively seeking new ways to foster diversity in their academic programs and campus. They’re best described by the phrase “Think Wide Open.” You’re not constrained by a major, or a residence hall, or a background. If you stand out, this is where you’ll fit in.
- Cost: $22,980 (resident), $32,890 (non-resident)
- Population: 4051
11. Union College
Founded in 1795, Union College is one of the nation’s oldest, yet the ideas that circle the campus are anything but outdated. This school has the distinction of being among the top 50 green campuses in the country. It has also made the list of the list of the top ten best liberal arts schools for your money and in the top five of best STEM schools for women. This school offers each student the kind of education they most seek for their future. This school encourages students to combine two different departments in their studies in order to create a unique program.
- Cost: $73,410
- Population: 2189
12. Skidmore College
Creative thinkers have found their home at Skidmore College. This school offers opportunities in every direction to learn what it takes to face the world’s problems with a fresh perspective. Students can join over 100 organizations, work on-campus sustainability projects, or explore the world through study abroad in over 45 approved countries. Alumni have lifetime access to career specialists. Nestled in a mountain region, students have access to the small-town charm of Sarasota Springs while being only three hours away from cities such as Boston and New York City.
- Cost: $74,140
- Population: 2666
Our Rating System
When trying to determine the ranking of Liberal Arts colleges in New York, we looked at the overall reputation of the school, reviews by past students, number of enrollees, and variety of opportunities available. Liberal Arts schools in New York are welcome to send us their information if you want to be considered for updated lists. We welcome your input.
Students who are seeking a bit of relief in the chaotic search for the perfect school are encouraged to reach out and see what we can offer them. Our goal is to make the decision of choosing the perfect school and program easier. Reach out to us today.