In this article, we profile 30 great small colleges for STEM degrees.
As we see a rise in science, technology, engineering, and math-related jobs, students are spending their college years elbow deep in math problems, computer projects, and science experiments. Unfortunately, a STEM degree is most often associated with larger campuses where huge class sizes and high student-to-faculty ratios provide limited research opportunities or room to forge relationships with peers and faculty. However, through research and data collection, we located 30 great small colleges for STEM degrees.
30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees Methodology
Some of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges and small institutions offer STEM degrees for both undergraduates and graduates. The schools on our list were awarded points based on the following criteria:
- Size: The schools on this list have an undergraduate population of less than 5,000 students.
- Research Opportunities: Schools with undergraduate research opportunities were awarded 1 point, while schools with unique or multiple research opportunities were given additional points.
- Awards & Recognition: Schools received 1 point for ranking with U.S. News and World Report.
- Variety of STEM majors: Finally, schools were rewarded for their degree offerings and were awarded 1 point for each STEM major.
In the event of a tie, the schools were listed alphabetically. Below are the resulting selections for our 30 great small colleges for STEM degrees.
#30 – Alaska Pacific University
Recognized as a top regional institution, Alaska Pacific University offers STEM degrees for students interested in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. In fact, undergraduate degrees are available in health sciences, marine and environmental sciences, pre-nursing, and sustainability studies. For graduate students, there are several STEM-focused degrees available. While APU offers a city setting, the school is surprisingly small. In fact, College Navigator reports the total enrollment of approximately 500 students, with over half listed as undergraduates. In addition to offering a small classroom environment, APU is fully accredited and ranked with U.S. News and World Report: APU ranks #82 in best regional universities in the West.
#29 – Kenyon College
Kenyon College is a top-ranked national liberal arts college that is recognized for its academics and reputation. In fact, Kenyon ranks with all major publications. For the sake of this profile, we focus on the rankings by U.S. News and World Report, which include #27 in best national liberal arts colleges. Also, Kenyon has received a top ranking (#70) among best value schools in the nation. As far as STEM degrees offered at Kenyon, there are several to choose from. Biology, chemistry, mathematics and statistics, and physics are among the popular STEM majors available at Kenyon. Also, the small undergraduate enrollment of 1,700 students provides an intimate learning environment.
#28 – Carlow University
Located in the heart of Pittsburgh, Carlow University offers a unique learning environment for those looking for great small colleges for STEM degrees. With a total enrollment of 2,076 students (1,333 undergraduates), Carlow provides an intimate learning environment and low student-to-faculty ratio of just 12:1. And while the city is large, the campus maintains an intimate environment. STEM degrees available at Carlow include behavioral neuroscience, chemistry, data analytics, health sciences, mathematics, and pre-med, to name a few. Carlow is fully accredited and ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 75th best regional university in the North and the 45th best college for veterans.
#27 – Miles College
Miles College is an historically black college recognized for its reputation for motivating and preparing students to achieve successful careers through education. STEM-focused programs include biology, chemistry, computer and information sciences, environmental science, mathematics, and various programs designed to prepare students to teach STEM subjects. All students, regardless of chosen program, learn the importance of research and technological literacy, illustrating Miles’ commitment to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics as a crucial element of social society. In addition to being fully accredited, Miles College has earned recognition from major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a top regional college in the South and historically black college or university.
#26 – Adrian College
Adrian College, a private institution founded in 1859, offers a large number of STEM degrees for undergraduates and those interested in pre-professional programs. Some of the popular STEM majors offered at Adrian include biology, chemistry and biochemistry, mathematics, and physics. Also, several STEM minors, such as the minor in computer information systems, may help tailor a student’s major to better align with career goals. Adrian College is fully accredited and ranked with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, Adrian’s recent rankings include #18 in best regional colleges in the Midwest and #17 in best value schools.
#25 – Franklin College
One of the best small colleges for STEM degrees on our list is Franklin College. This private, nationally ranked liberal arts school has a total student population of approximately 980 students (960 of which are undergrads). With a low student population, the school offers an equally low student-to-faculty ratio of just 11:1. There are a total of 50 majors offered at Franklin. For those interested in STEM degrees, the school offers plenty. In fact, popular STEM degrees are available in disciplines like biochemistry, biology, chemistry, computer science, and software engineering. In addition to offering quality STEM programs, Franklin College ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 145th best national liberal arts college in the country.
#24 – Bowdoin College
Recognized as a top national liberal arts college, Bowdoin College offers quality STEM degrees and one of the lowest student-to-faculty-ratios on our list. This four-year, private liberal arts college is located in the suburban setting of Brunswick, Maine. Total enrollment is approximately 1,800 students, all of which are undergraduates. The small enrollment size allows Bowdoin to maintain a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio. In addition to small class sizes, there are numerous STEM degrees and major to choose from. According to Bowdoin’s website, the top declared majors included several STEM degrees like biology, chemistry, computer science, and mathematics. Also, Bowdoin ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 6th best national liberal arts college.
#23 – Amherst College
Earning a top spot on our list of great small colleges for STEM degrees, Amherst College is an ideal choice. Not only are there STEM offerings for undergraduates, but the school maintains one of the lowest student-to-faculty ratios on our list (7:1). The student population (all undergraduates) is also low, according to the most recent report published by College Navigator (1,855 students). Some of the most popular STEM degrees at Amherst include biology, chemistry, computer science, neuroscience, and physics and astronomy. In addition to small class size and degree offerings, Amherst is highly ranked by U.S. News and World Report. In fact, Amherst ranks #2 in best national liberal arts colleges as of 2020.
#22 – Carleton College
Carleton College, a nationally ranked liberal arts school, offers a rural Minnesota environment and plentiful STEM degrees. Ranked 7th in the country for top national liberal arts colleges, Carleton offers STEM programs in disciplines like biochemistry, biology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, physics, and pre-medicine. Carleton’s small-campus learning environment gives way to an equally small student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1. Additionally, the school has earned full accreditation and rankings with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. These rankings, as listed above, include #7 in best national liberal arts colleges, #1 in best undergraduate teaching programs, and #32 in best value schools.
#21 – Colorado College
Colorado Springs, Colorado
STEM-inclined students at Colorado College can choose from a variety of majors, including chemistry and biochemistry, computer science, mathematics, molecular biology, neuroscience, and physics, among others. More than 100 clubs and activities also exist on campus, many of which are STEM-related and provide students with hands-on experience working in STEM-focused areas. Also, there is a 3-2 engineering program designed for students interested in pursuing engineering careers. Colorado College is accredited and ranked with major publications. In fact, the most recent rankings from U.S. News and World Report list Colorado College as the 27th best national liberal arts college and 26th best value school.
#20 – Connecticut College
New London, Connecticut
STEM-bent students at Connecticut College can choose from a long list of degrees that include applied statistics, biochemistry, biology, chemistry, computer science, and physics. Unlike many other small liberal arts colleges, Connecticut College offers a degree in botany. Botany students have nearly unlimited access to research opportunities in the nearby coastal, marine, and estuarine centers. But similar to other science programs at Connecticut College, research opportunities abound. Recent projects have taken students to Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Peru, and Venezuela. In addition to the unique and quality programs available at Connecticut College, the school ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 46th best national liberal arts college in the country.
#19 – Harvey Mudd College
Harvey Mudd College’s broad curriculum takes a liberal arts approach to the STEM subjects. Though students can major in areas like biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, mathematics, or physics, required core courses also include a variety of humanities and social science courses. This unique blend of subjects allows students to hone their interests and nurture a talent or appreciation for the arts while studying science. Also, with a small student body and low student-to-faculty ratio, students develop relationships with peers and instructors. Often, these relationships turn into mentorships and give way to research opportunities. Harvey Mudd ranks #23 in best national liberal arts colleges.
#18 – Swarthmore College
Swarthmore College’s small student population of 1,559 and low student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1 provides an intimate learning environment for STEM-inclined students. Some of the possible areas of study in science and technology include biochemistry, biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, mathematics, and physics. In addition to providing access to quality programs that lead to research opportunities with esteemed professors, Swarthmore offers prestige through its consistent rankings with major publications. In fact, Swarthmore ranks #3 in best national liberal arts colleges and #4 in best value schools in the most recent edition of Best Colleges put out by U.S. News and World Report.
#17 – Andrews University
Berrien Springs, Michigan
Undergraduate degree offerings at Andrews University include STEM-related programs designed to provide quality research while maintaining Christian beliefs. Andrews is one of the only Seventh-Day Adventist institutions in the country recognized by U.S. News and World Report as a best national university. In fact, recent rankings list Andrews among the top 293-381 best national universities. STEM-related programs include biochemistry, biophysics, chemistry, computing, engineering, information systems, mathematics, and physics. For those interested in pursuing a nursing degree, Andrews offers an RN to BSN program with access to tuition discounts and scholarships. Lastly, Andrews offers a small student population and 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio.
#16 – McMurry University
McMurry University may not be the most well-known school in Texas, but it is undoubtedly one of the most respected. Recent publications, such as U.S. News and World Report, rank McMurry #18 in best regional colleges in the West and #20 in top performers on social mobility. Part of McMurry’s success is its dedication to STEM programs, which are characterized by small classes, student-centered teaching, plentiful research opportunities, and a core commitment to Christian faith. Some of the popular STEM programs at McMurry include biochemistry, biomedical science, chemistry, information technology, mathematics, physics, and pre-nursing. The school maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio of 11:1, which adds to the intimate learning environment.
#15 – Agnes Scott College
Agnes Scott College, a small, private liberal arts college in Decatur, Georgia, offers several degree choices for the STEM-inclined student. In fact, degree offerings include customary STEM programs, as well as unique options. STEM-bent majors include astrophysics, biochemistry and molecular biology, chemistry, engineering, neuroscience, nursing, and public health. Other areas of study for those seeking pre-professional programs include physical education and pre-medicine. Due to Agnes Scott’s small student population size of 1,030, students receive an intimate learning environment and a student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1. Also, Agnes Scott ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 58th best national liberal arts college and 25th best value school in the country.
#14 – Davidson College
Davidson, North Carolina
With less than 1,900 students, Davidson College prides itself on small class sizes that allow faculty to work closely with students in both the classroom and research laboratory. In fact, Davidson offers a student-to-faculty ration of just 9:1. The college offers a variety of STEM-related degrees, including applied mathematics, biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, genomics, mathematics, and neuroscience. Also, Davidson is one of the few top-ranked liberal arts colleges to offer a pre-veterinary medicine program. Davidson College consistently ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. These rankings include #17 in best national liberal arts colleges and #18 in best value schools.
#13 – Earlham College
Earlham College, a small, liberal arts institution, is well-known for its STEM degrees and research opportunities. Consistently ranked among the top colleges in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, Earlham offers a strong reputation and rigorous academics. STEM majors offered at Earlham include biochemistry, biology, chemistry, computer science, data science, geology, mathematics, neuroscience, and physics and astronomy. Collaboration and research opportunities are key for Earlham’s STEM majors, and 85% of faculty report having conducted research with students involved. Currently, Earlham ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 80th best national liberal arts college in the country.
#12 – Niagara University
Niagara University, New York
For students interested in a STEM-related career, but concerned about the religious implications, Niagara University provides viable degree options. Steeped in the Vincentian and Catholic heritage, Niagara seeks to instill in its students a deep concern for the rights and dignity of humanity. In fact, The Templeton Foundation has numbered Niagara among the 100 best colleges that inspire students to lead ethical and civic-minded lives. Some of the most popular STEM programs at Niagara include biology, biotechnology, chemistry, computer and information sciences, computer and statistical analysis, mathematics, nursing, and web design. Also, U.S. News and World Report ranks Niagara #32 in best regional universities in the North.
#11 – Westmont College
Santa Barbara, California
Earning a top spot on our list of great small colleges for STEM degrees, Westmont College is an undergraduate, Christian-based liberal arts institution located in sunny Santa Barbara, California. The college offers several STEM programs for students interested in STEM-related careers. Some of the most popular majors include biology, chemistry, computer science, and physics. Within the biology and chemistry disciplines, several sub-disciplines are offered. These include cellular and molecular biology, chemical engineering, chemical physics, and ecology and evolution. Research with faculty is encouraged, and many students garner practice and internship opportunities with high-tech firms in the Santa Barbara area. In addition to offering quality STEM degrees, Westmont consistently ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report.
#10 – Williams College
Williams College has recently ranked #1 in best national liberal arts colleges in the country by U.S. News and World Report. In addition to its prestige, Williams offers a unique curriculum that is sure to appeal to any student interested in a STEM subject. Instead of pairing a major with a minor, students can choose a concentration that groups courses from many different disciplines (for example: cognitive science). Popular STEM areas of study include astronomy and astrophysics, biochemistry and molecular biology, chemistry, cognitive science, computer science, and physics. Williams is also one of the few universities in the country that gives research opportunities to undergraduates. In addition to the school’s rigor and reputation, Williams offers one of the smallest student-to-faculty ratios (6:1) on our list.
#9 – Westminster College
New Wilmington, Pennsylvania
Nestled within the charming township of New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, Westminster College consistently ranks as one of the finest liberal arts colleges in the country. Catering to less than 1,200 undergraduate students, Westminster’s campus includes multiple laboratories and research centers, including a 100-acre outdoor lab. STEM majors are plentiful and offer hands-on learning and opportunities to work collaboratively with peers and faculty. These majors include biology, environmental science, molecular biology, neuroscience, nursing, and numerous pre-professional programs. Westminster claims that graduates who apply to medical school are admitted at nearly double the national average. In addition to the pre-med program, other pre-professional options include pre-dentistry, pre-optometry, pre-podiatry, pre-physical therapy, and pre-vet.
#8 – Christopher Newport University
Newport News, Virginia
Though Christopher Newport University (CNU) is considered one of the youngest schools on our list, it has wasted no time garnering respect. In fact, U.S. News & World Report recently ranked CNU the 6th best regional university in the South and 50th best value school in the country. STEM-related degree options include applied physics and computer science, biochemistry, biology, chemistry, computer engineering, electrical engineering, information science, math, and neuroscience. According to College Navigator, the most popular STEM programs include biology, computer science, and engineering. In addition to the plentiful STEM majors and degrees, CNU offers an intimate learning environment and low student-to-faculty ratio (14:1).
#7 – Union College
Schenectady, New York
With a low student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1 and plentiful STEM programs for undergraduates, Union College earns a top spot on our list of great small colleges for STEM degrees. Some of the STEM program offerings include astronomy, astrophysics, biochemistry, biomedical engineering, chemistry, computer engineering, and computer science. The school also offers both majors and minors in math and statistics. In addition to the above programs, Union offers a strong reputation with major publications. The school has received rankings with U.S. News and World Report that include #45 in best national liberal arts colleges, #82 in best value schools, and #43 in most innovative institutions.
#6 – Albion College
Albion College, a private liberal arts school, has been named among the top liberal arts colleges in the country. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks Albion #140 in best national liberal arts colleges and #63 in top performers on social mobility. For students interested in STEM at Albion, there are plenty of options. Popular programs include biochemistry, biology, chemistry, computer science, earth science, mathematics, and physics. Uniquely, Albion is one of the few liberal arts colleges to offer geological sciences as a major. The school maintains a small size to give students adequate research opportunities and to forge relationships with professors. The total undergraduate population is 1,533 and the student-to-faculty ration is 11:1, as reported by College Navigator in June 2020.
#5 – Stevens Institute of Technology
Hoboken, New Jersey
Stevens Institute of Technology, one of the largest schools on our list, still maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio of just 11:1. Located in Hoboken, New Jersey, Stevens Institution promotes STEM learning for the science- and technology-minded student. Popular STEM programs include biology, biomedical engineering, chemical biology, chemical engineering, chemistry, computer science, electrical engineering, pure and applied mathematics, and physics. The sheer number of STEM-related programs puts Stevens Institution on our list of top small colleges for STEM degrees. Also, the school ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 74th best national university in the country.
#4 – Colby College
Serving 2,000 students, and founded in 1813, Colby College is one of the oldest private liberal arts college in the country. Colby is known for its rigorous academics that encourage educational exploration and collaborative learning, so it’s not surprising that so much of the curriculum is enhanced by real-world research and project-based problem solving. Colby’s popular STEM degrees include astronomy, biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematical science, and science and technology. With required capstone projects, many majors take students to different parts of the country and beyond to work alongside peers and faculty. Colby currently ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 11th best national liberal arts college in the country.
#3 – Bucknell University
Bucknell University’s College of Arts and Sciences and College of Engineering offers STEM-bent programs designed for students with aspirations of careers in areas of science and technology. For sciences, students have the choice of majoring in applied mathematical science, biology, biophysics, chemistry, computer science, environmental geoscience, math, neuroscience, and more. In engineering, students may choose from biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering, computer engineering, and more. Bucknell maintains small class sizes and a student-to-faculty ratio of just 9:1. In addition to program offerings and intimate learning environments, Bucknell ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. Recent rankings include #35 in best national liberal arts colleges and #43 in most innovative schools.
#2 – George Fox University
George Fox University is one of the most recognized universities in Oregon and currently sits on several ranking lists from major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, current rankings include #246 in best national universities and #80 in top performers on social mobility. Three of the school’s largest majors are STEM-related — biology, engineering, and nursing — though other popular STEM offerings include biomedical engineering, chemistry, computer science, electrical engineering, and mathematics. Also, George Fox is one of the few schools on our list offering a major in physical therapy. George Fox offers a low student population and 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio.
#1 – Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Founded in 1865 to promote the most beneficial science and engineering knowledge, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has become one of the most respected colleges for STEM in the nation. Thanks to plentiful STEM-related programs, WPI earns the #1 spot on our list of great small colleges for STEM degrees. Popular majors include aerospace engineering, biochemistry, chemical engineering, computer science, industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, and physics, among others. In addition to the plentiful STEM offerings at WPI, the school maintains small classroom environments. In fact, WPI offers a 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio, while large research institutions often see two and three times that number. Also, WPI ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 64th best national university and 70th best value school in the country.
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