Best Value Liberal Arts Colleges

Typically small, private and best known for concentrating on undergraduate studies, liberal arts colleges offer a wide range of degree programs and opportunities for students from all walks of life.  Read More

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90 (tie)Transylvania University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$146,000
Total 4 Year Cost$178,000
Grad Rate70%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$27,000
92 (tie)Carthage College(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$145,000
Total 4 Year Cost$197,000
Grad Rate61%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$35,000
92 (tie)Willamette University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$145,000
Total 4 Year Cost$224,000
Grad Rate77%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$31,700
94Reed College(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$143,000
Total 4 Year Cost$244,000
Grad Rate79%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$15,900
95Grinnell College(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$142,000
Total 4 Year Cost$230,000
Grad Rate89%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$21,600
96Nebraska Wesleyan University (NWU)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$138,000
Total 4 Year Cost$160,000
Grad Rate69%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$30,500
97Simpson College - Indianola, IA(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$136,000
Total 4 Year Cost$175,000
Grad Rate73%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$34,300
98Augustana College - Rock Island, IL(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$135,000
Total 4 Year Cost$192,000
Grad Rate74%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$28,100
99Pine Manor College(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$134,000
Total 4 Year Cost$166,000
Grad Rate35%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$29,700
100Central College(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$133,000
Total 4 Year Cost$183,000
Grad Rate68%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$31,600
101 (tie)Alma College(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$132,000
Total 4 Year Cost$181,000
Grad Rate61%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$32,600
101 (tie)Mount Holyoke College(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$132,000
Total 4 Year Cost$227,000
Grad Rate80%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$20,100
101 (tie)Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$132,000
Total 4 Year Cost$225,000
Grad Rate66%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$32,800
104St. Olaf College(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$131,000
Total 4 Year Cost$210,000
Grad Rate89%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$26,200
105Whittier College(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$128,000
Total 4 Year Cost$221,000
Grad Rate65%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$35,000

*NOTE: Unranked schools on this list don’t have on-campus living options, so on-campus costs are not available.

Beyond that, even in today's tech-dominated culture, the perceived value of a degree in liberal arts seems to be on the rise. "That 'useless' liberal arts degree has become tech's hottest ticket," declared Forbes Magazine in July of 2015. The article goes on to detail the story of tech unicorn Slack, a company valued at about $2 billion and founded by Stewart Butterfield, proud holder of degrees in philosophy and history. Indeed, famously successful liberal arts students include former governor of New York Mario Cuomo, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, CNN founder Ted Turner, Late Night host Conan O'Brien, Harry Potter Author J.K. Rowling and Oscar-winning Director Steven Spielberg. So take that, business majors!

Before you enroll in a quaint little liberal arts college, you should use the College ROI Report to find out which liberal arts colleges give alumni a high return on investment and prepare them for successful careers.

Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California, ranks highly in terms of 20 Year Net ROI. Located on a 38-acre campus about 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, the school is a part of the Claremont Colleges consortium, and students can attend classes at other schools in the system as well. The school offers four-year degrees in physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology, engineering and computer science. Harvey Mudd College traditionally has the highest rate of science and engineering PhD production in the U.S., and numerous astronauts, business leaders and other prominent members of society have graduated from the private school through the years.

When it comes to liberal arts colleges return on investment, you can't go wrong with Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. Founded in 1749, the school gets its name from two sources: George Washington endowed it with stock shortly after its founding, and Robert E. Lee served as president from 1865 through 1870. The school is consistently ranked in the first tier for liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report. 42 undergraduate majors and 22 minors are offered by its three academic units, and notable alumni include three U.S. Supreme Court justices, 27 U.S. Senators, 31 state governors and several Pulitzer Prize winners.

The largest private liberal arts university in the U.S., Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, is located on a 445-acre rural campus. The school confers degrees from its three schools and colleges across a variety of disciplines, including social sciences, education, engineering and management.