Best US universities for student-staff interaction

Explore which universities provide the best opportunities for staff interaction according to data collected for the Times Higher Education/ Wall Street Journal US College Rankings 

July 31 2019
Best US universities for staff interaction

Knowing how much time you will have to interact with members of staff at your prospective university is an important factor to be aware of. 

You will want to know how much time you’ll have talk about your progress, what opportunities you’ll be given to ask questions during lectures and how much participation there will be in discussions. 

Based on the answers of more than 200,000 students across the US in the 2019 US Student Survey, we’ve put together a list of the universities that provide the best opportunities to interact with faculty. 

Students had to give their university a rating of 0-10 in response to the following question: “To what extent do you have the opportunity to interact with the faculty and teachers at your college or university as part of your learning experience? Examples of interaction could include asking questions during lectures, participating in discussion sessions, talking about your progress in feedback sessions or working with the faculty on activities other than course work such as term papers.”

If students answered 0 it meant that they had no opportunities to interact with faculty, five was neutral and a score of 10 meant that students felt they had plenty of opportunities to interact with staff.

Interestingly, many of the universities that feature in the top 20 were private liberal arts colleges, which are typically smaller and so might provide a better setting for meaningful interaction with staff. 

The US Student Survey was conducted last year as part of the 2019 US College Rankings and more information can be found here

=1. Bowdoin College

Bowdoin College is a private liberal arts college in Brunswick, Maine. 

There are 189 members of faculty for the 1,800 students. Some 99 per cent of the staff have the highest degree in their field.

The Center for Cocurricular Opportunities is a group of academic advisors who work with students to consider how to make connections between what they learn in the classroom and how that might relate to experiences outside the classroom. 

The university also offers a number of fellowships for students to pursue research while working alongside members of staff. 

=1. Washington and Lee University

There are more than 1,100 undergraduate courses at Washington and Lee University and every course is taught by a faculty member. 

Students are able to benefit from small classes where they can form close relationships with their professors.

The university’s academic advising system is an important part of the undergraduate programme. It helps students understand how to meet graduation requirements, encourages them to take responsibility for their own education, fosters conversations with faculty beyond the classroom and encourages students to think beyond academics. 

3. Rollins College

The classes at Rollins College average at only 17 students and a 10:1 student-faculty ratio. This helps students to be able to maximise the interaction they have with staff during class time.

There is also a Tutoring and Writing Center where consultants and tutors meet with students to give them one-to-one feedback on their learning process. 


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=4. Haverford College

The 9:1 student to faculty ratio means it is easy for students at Haverford College to have quality interaction with staff members.

Additionally 61 per cent of the faculty live on campus, which helps to develop strong ties and increase opportunities for collaboration. 

Professors work side by side with students to develop high-quality research. 

=4. Westmont College

Westmont College is an interdenominational Christian liberal arts college in Montecito, California. 

The university combines small classes where students are able to discuss ideas and thoughts, with a commitment to the Christian faith. 

The university focuses on undergraduate education and believes that it can offer “a more effective and engaging program as a result”. 


Top 20 universities with the best staff interaction  

Staff interaction rank 2019 University  City State
=1 Bowdoin College Brunswick Maine
=1 Washington and Lee University Lexington Virginia
3 Rollins College Winter Park Florida
=4 Haverford College Haverford  Pennsylvania
=4 Westmont College Santa Barabra California
=6 Denison University Granville Ohio
=6 Spring Hill College Mobile Alabama
=8 Reed College Portland Oregon
=8 Willamette University Salem Oregon
=10 Centre College Danville Kentucky
=10 Cornell College Mount Vernon Iowa
=10 Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Terre Haute Indiana
=10 United States Military Academy West Point  New York
=14 Butler University Indianapolis Indiana
=14 Pomona College Claremont  California
=16 Sarah Lawrence College Yonkers  New York
=16 Westminster College Fulton Missouri
=18 Drew University Madison New Jersey
=18 Taylor University Upland Indiana
=20 Bucknell University Lewisburg Pennsylvania
=20 Morningside College Sioux City Iowa
=20 University of Mobile Mobile  Alabama

Read more: Best universities in the United States 

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