Choosing a college in the United States is no easy decision, not least because there are so many different types of universities, colleges and schools.
Liberal arts colleges were once a unique feature of American higher education, but the model has spread to other countries around the world.
At liberal arts colleges, there is an emphasis on undergraduate study that includes a wide range of subjects, from science to humanities.
In addition to the interdisciplinary curriculum, the best liberal arts colleges tend to have smaller student populations than other institutions. Class sizes are often small, and academic staff generally focus more on teaching than on research, compared with other colleges.
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Liberal arts schools are private, not-for-profit colleges, and they generally charge the same tuition fees for in-state and out-of-state students, unlike public universities. At the top end, the annual tuition charge for an undergraduate degree at a liberal arts college is just under $50,000.
The best liberal arts colleges can be found across the United States, with clusters in Massachusetts, California and Pennsylvania. Find the top 100 liberal arts colleges below, based on the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings 2018.
The ranking is designed to answer the questions that matter the most to prospective students and their families. Read the full methodology here.
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The small academic community at Williams College in Massachusetts is close-knit, consisting of about 2,000 undergraduate students.
An undergraduate degree in the liberal arts takes four years to complete, covering humanities, sciences and social sciences.
In some departments of the college, which was established in 1793, the teaching is modelled on the traditional tutorial system at the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge in the UK, in which students are taught one-to-one or in small groups.
Undergraduates at Amherst College study a completely open curriculum without any core modules or restrictions on the variety of subjects or courses to be taken in certain years.
Like Williams College, Amherst College is highly selective and also located in Massachusetts, encouraging rivalry between the two schools.
Classes are extremely small to ensure that students and teachers can communicate and interact easily. About 90 per cent of all courses have fewer than 30 students enrolled.
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California-based Pomona College offers 48 majors for undergraduates, which span the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.
The small student body of about 1,640 undergraduates is diverse, with 60 countries represented.
Many students take advantage of research and work opportunities in the area, which gives easy access to the geographical diversity around California and the wealth of work experience in nearby Los Angeles.
Despite having only about 2,400 undergraduate students, Wellesley College is home to more than 150 student clubs and organisations.
There are more than 1,000 courses on offer at the women-only college, and students may also take courses at other world-leading institutions, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Brandeis University.
The wide alumni network includes former US Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton and the broadcast journalist Diane Sawyer.
Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania was one of the first co-educational colleges in America, founded in 1864.
Alongside the liberal arts curriculum, undergraduates can enrol on an engineering track.
The arboretum – or tree-filled – campus has been described as one of the most beautiful university settings in America.
Despite the rural setting, the city of Philadelphia is only 25 minutes away by train.
Top 100 liberal arts colleges in the United States 2018
|Liberal arts rank 2018||University||State||City||WSJ/THE College Rank 2018|
|6||Claremont McKenna College||California||Claremont||35|
|13||Bryn Mawr College||Pennsylvania||Bryn Mawr||49|
|14||Davidson College||North Carolina||Davidson||54|
|15||Colgate University||New York||Hamilton||55|
|17||Hamilton College||New York||Clinton||61|
|=20||Vassar College||New York||Poughkeepsie||66|
|23||Washington and Lee University||Virginia||Lexington||73|
|24||Barnard College||New York||New York||74|
|26||Mount Holyoke College||Massachusetts||South Hadley||77|
|27||Macalester College||Minnesota||Saint Paul||78|
|28||Trinity University||Texas||San Antonio||79|
|=29||College of the Holy Cross||Massachusetts||Worcester||84|
|31||Franklin & Marshall College||Pennsylvania||Lancaster||89|
|32||Occidental College||California||Los Angeles||91|
|33||Union College||New York||Schenectady||92|
|38||Connecticut College||Connecticut||New London||102|
|39||The College of Wooster||Ohio||Wooster||105|
|=43||Wheaton College (Massachusetts)||Massachusetts||Norton||115|
|45||Colorado College||Colorado||Colorado Springs||120|
|=48||Furman University||South Carolina||Greenville||130|
|51||Hobart and William Smith Colleges||New York||Geneva||140|
|52||Illinois Wesleyan University||Illinois||Bloomington||141|
|53||Skidmore College||New York||Saratoga Springs||143|
|54||Elon University||North Carolina||Elon||145|
|=55||Gustavus Adolphus College||Minnesota||Saint Peter||150|
|=57||St Olaf College||Minnesota||Northfield||153|
|60||St Lawrence University||New York||Canton||160|
|=62||Linfield College - McMinnville campus||Oregon||McMinnville||166|
|=62||Whitman College||Washington||Walla Walla||166|
|67||Ohio Wesleyan University||Ohio||Delaware||174|
|68||Sewanee-The University of the South||Tennessee||Sewanee||177|
|=69||Wofford College||South Carolina||Spartanburg||179|
|72||Saint Mary's College||Indiana||Notre Dame||198|
|74||Saint Mary's College of California||California||Moraga||203|
|=75||Drew University||New Jersey||Madison||205|
|=78||Siena College||New York||Loudonville||209|
|80||Ithaca College||New York||Ithaca||211|
|=81||Cornell College||Iowa||Mount Vernon||216|
|=81||Lake Forest College||Illinois||Lake Forest||216|
|84||St Mary's College of Maryland||Maryland||St. Mary's City||224|
|85||Saint Anselm College||New Hampshire||Manchester||226|
|=86||Manhattan College||New York||Riverdale||230|
|=86||College of Saint Benedict||Minnesota||Saint Joseph||230|
|=89||Lewis & Clark College||Oregon||Portland||233|
|91||Wheaton College (Illinois)||Illinois||Wheaton||237|
|93||Providence College||Rhode Island||Providence||239|
|98||Augustana College (Illinois)||Illinois||Rock Island||246|
|100||Rollins College||Florida||Winter Park||251|
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