Top Schools for Liberal Arts and Humanities Programs

Read about the top schools for the liberal arts and humanities, which can include studies in foreign language, art history and philosophy. Find information specific to four high-ranking colleges, as well as an overview of other schools in the country known for their liberal arts programs.

Liberal arts colleges offer undergraduate programs in a wide range of liberal arts and humanities subjects. Some also offer master's degree programs in a few subjects.

School Overview

The four liberal arts colleges described below were all ranked within the top five national liberal arts colleges by U.S. News & World Report for 2017.

Williams College in Williamstown, MA

School Highlight: Students take at least three courses in arts and humanities and three in social sciences.

It serves over 2,000 students majoring in one of 36 subjects, such as art, economics, philosophy, music or a foreign language. While primarily an undergraduate school, Williams does offer a Master of Arts (M.A.) program in art history. The Williams College Museum of Art is available to art and art history students for classes and study, as well as to the public. U.S. News & World Report ranked Williams College the #1 liberal arts college for 2017.

2. Amherst College in Amherst, MA

School Highlight: The school offers nearly 40 majors in the arts, sciences and humanities.

Serving about 1,700 students annually, Amherst offers 36 degree programs in Asian languages and literature, English, film studies and psychology, among other fields of study.

Amherst is part of the Five College Consortium, which also includes Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke, Smith College and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Five College programs include certificates in Buddhist or Middle Eastern studies, ethnomusicology and logic. Shared departmental offerings and majors are also available in astronomy, film studies and dance. Students may also design their own courses of study through the Interdisciplinary Major or the Independent Scholar program. Amherst was ranked #2 among all liberal arts colleges for 2017 by U.S. News and World Report.

Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, PA

School Highlight: There are nearly 50 areas of study at this school, ranging from Art, Anthropology, German Studies, Religion and Theater.

Swarthmore offers various degrees in a variety of subjects, such as biology, cognitive science, linguistics, medieval studies and political science. Swarthmore is highly recognized for its Honors Program, whereby students are rigorously tested by several outside examiners. In the Honors Program, students are grouped into small, discussion-based classes and seminars designed to facilitate discourse between students and teachers. U.S. News and World Report ranked Swarthmore #5 in the liberal arts category for 2017.

Middlebury College in Middlebury, VT

School Highlight: Middlebury has an international focus, offering multiple worldwide programs.

Middlebury College offers more than 45 majors and minors. The school is particularly well-known for its strong foreign language programs. In the month of January, between the fall and spring semesters, there is a winter term in which students take a single four-week course, do an internship or complete an independent study project. Middlebury also requires all freshman to take a First Year Seminar course during their first semester, which provides an introduction to the liberal arts. Middlebury was ranked #4 by U.S. News and World Report among all liberal arts colleges for 2017.

Top Liberal Arts Schools

These are some other well-regarded liberal arts schools:

  • Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA, is a historic African-American college for men.
  • Wellesley College in Wellesley, MA, is an all-women's college that emphasizes academic engagement.
  • Spelman College in Atlanta, GA, is a historically African-American college for women.
  • Another all women's college is Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, PA, which offers over 150 international internships to students annually.
  • At Berea College in Berea, KY, each student gets a full-tuition scholarship.
  • Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, CA, is a liberal arts college with a specific focus on engineering, science and mathematics.

The best liberal arts colleges in the country offer a wide range of undergraduate programs in the humanities and sciences.

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