30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees 2022

best STEM schools

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. But a STEM degree is most often associated with larger campuses where huge class sizes and high student-to-faculty ratios provide limited research opportunities and restrict the room to forge relationships with peers and faculty. However, through research and data collection, we located 30 great small colleges for STEM degrees that offer unique benefits.

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 selected by applying the following criteria:

  • Size: The schools on this list have an undergraduate population of less than 3,000 students.
  • Research Opportunities: Schools on this list have unique undergraduate research opportunities.
  • Awards & Recognition: Schools on this list have received at least one ranking with U.S. News and World Report.
  • Variety of STEM majors: Finally, schools on this list were selected because of their degree offerings. In fact, some schools offer more than 10 STEM majors.

Below are the resulting selections for our 30 great small colleges for STEM degrees, ranked according to acceptance rate with the most selective school ranking #1 on our list.

#30 – Bryn Mawr College

Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Website

Acceptance Rate: 38%

A logo of Bryn Mawr College for our ranking of 30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees
The 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio earns Bryn Mawr a spot on our list of great small colleges for a STEM degree.

With a student population of 1,634, which includes 1,299 undergraduates, and ample STEM majors, Bryn Mawr earns a spot on our list of great small colleges for STEM degrees. Popular STEM degrees include biology, biochemistry, chemistry, computer science, environmental studies, and mathematics. Bryn Mawr’s small campus gives way to an equally small student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1. In addition to the school’s quality STEM programs and intimate learning environment, Bryn Mawr ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 30th best liberal arts college. The institution also ranks #37 in best value schools and #19 in best first-year experience.

#29 – Kenyon College

Gambier, Ohio

Website

Acceptance Rate: 37%

A logo of Kenyon College for our ranking of  30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees
Selective and ranked! Kenyon College – a small college for STEM degrees!

Kenyon College is a top-ranked national liberal arts college recognized for its academics and reputation. In fact, Kenyon ranks with all major publications. Rankings by U.S. News and World Report include #30 in best national liberal arts colleges. Other rankings include #55 in best value schools and #26 in most innovative schools. As far as STEM degrees offered at Kenyon, there are several to choose from. Biology, chemistry, mathematics and statistics, and physics are among the most popular STEM majors available at Kenyon College. Students receive an intimate learning environment while enrolled in courses and labs, as the undergraduate enrollment does not exceed 1,615. Also, the student-to-faculty ration is just 9:1.

#28 – Smith College

Northampton, Massachusetts

Website

Acceptance Rate: 37%

A logo of Smith College for our ranking of 30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees
Ranked with U.S. News! Though small, Smith College offers ample STEM degrees.

At Smith College, students can major in various STEM disciplines. Popular STEM degrees include biology, computer science, engineering, and physical sciences like chemistry, geology, and physics. The small class sizes and intimate learning environment make Smith College a top choice for STEM degrees from a small college. The total student population is 2,504 and the student-to-faculty ratio is just 7:1. In addition to small class sizes, Smith offers a strong reputation for academics and the like. U.S. News and World Report ranks Smith #17 in best national liberal arts colleges and #51 in best value schools. Also, the undergraduate engineering programs at Smith rank #16 in the country.

#27 – Lafayette College

Easton, Pennsylvania

Website

Acceptance Rate: 36%

A logo of Lafayette College for our ranking of 30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees
Study engineering at Lafayette College – a small school for a STEM degree.

Lafayette College is a favorable choice for STEM degrees. The small class size (student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1) combined with an equally small student population of 2,514 (all undergrads) make Lafayette a great small college. STEM majors include biology, computer science, math, and more. Engineering programs at Lafayette include civil engineering, chemical engineering, electrical and computer engineering, integrative engineering with a bioengineering concentration, and integrative engineering with an environment and energy concentration. In addition to the number of STEM programs offered, Lafayette ranks with U.S. News and World Report. Current rankings include #38 in best national liberal arts colleges and #96 in best value schools.

#26 – Trinity College

Hartford, Connecticut

Website

Acceptance Rate: 36%

A logo of Trinity College for our ranking of 30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees
Small class sizes and several STEM programs! Trinity College.

Founded in 1823, Trinity College is a small, liberal arts school with national rankings and plentiful STEM degree offerings. Trinity offers a small campus size with a student population of 2,241. Popular programs for those interested in a STEM degree include computer and information sciences, engineering, environmental science, mathematics, physical sciences (chemistry and physics), and more. Small class sizes provide an intimate learning environment, as the student-to-faculty ratio is 9:1. In addition to small classes, Trinity offers rankings with U.S. News and World Report. These rankings include #46 in best national liberal arts colleges and #69 in best value schools.

#25 – William Jewell College

Liberty, Missouri

Website

Acceptance Rate: 36%

A logo of William Jewell College for our ranking of 30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees
Accredited and ranked! William Jewell, a top school for STEM degrees.

William Jewell College is a small, private school with a student population of approximately 750. Nearly all students are undergraduates, as few graduate degree programs are available. Small class sizes and a lower-than-average student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1 makes William Jewell a great small college for a STEM degree. Popular STEM programs include biochemistry, biology, civil engineering, and nursing. William Jewell is fully accredited and ranked with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the most current rankings include #8 in best regional colleges in the Midwest, #18 in best value schools, #40 in top performers on social mobility, and #432 in nursing.

#24 – Oberlin College

Oberlin, Ohio

Website

Acceptance Rate: 35%

A logo of Oberlin College for our ranking of 30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees
Ranked one of the best national liberal arts colleges – Oberlin College! A great small college for a STEM degree.

Oberlin College, a private, liberal arts institution located 35 miles southwest of Cleveland, offers an intimate learning environment for those seeking a STEM degree. This nationally-ranked liberal arts college has been recognized by major publications as a top school. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks Oberlin #37 in best national liberal arts colleges, #83 in best value schools, and #16 in most innovative schools. Oberlin’s 9:1 student-faculty ratio and small student population of less than 2,700 students lends to the school’s intimate classroom experience. For those seeking a STEM degree, popular choices include biology, computer science, engineering, neuroscience, and physical sciences like geology and physics.

#23 – Point University

West Point, Georgia

Website

Acceptance Rate: 35%

A logo of Point University for our ranking of 30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees
Point University – a small college for STEM degrees in biology and IT.

With over 80 programs, many of them STEM-related, Point University lands a spot on our list of great small colleges for STEM degrees. This small Christian college offers a 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio and student population of 1,946. Of the total student population, 1,916 are undergraduates. Traditional, online, and blended programs are available for students seeking STEM degrees. Popular STEM majors include biology, information systems security, and information technology. There are also programs in healthcare administration, though not considered a STEM major. In addition to being fully accredited, Point ranks with U.S. News and World Report as a top regional college in the South.

#22 – Thomas University

Thomasville, Georgia

Website

Acceptance Rate: 35%

A logo of Thomas University for our ranking of 30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees
A great small college for a nursing degree – Thomas University.

At Thomas University, students seeking STEM majors have ample choices. In fact, the school offers bachelor’s degrees in biology, biomedical laboratory sciences, nursing, and rehabilitation science. Graduate degrees are also offered in nursing for those interested in earning an MSN. Thomas University is a small Georgia college with a student population of 1,303 (732 undergraduates). The 12:1 student-faculty ratio and intimate learning environment makes Thomas a top choice for those seeking a small college where they can earn a STEM degree. In addition to being accredited, Thomas University ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. Current rankings include #104-#137 in best regional universities in the South and #134 in top performers on social mobility.

#21 – Skidmore College

Saratoga Springs, New York

Website

Acceptance Rate: 32%

A logo of Skidmore College for our ranking of 30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees
Study geosciences and neuroscience at Skidmore College – a great small college for STEM degrees.

Skidmore College, one of the nation’s top liberal arts institutions, offers STEM degrees for qualified students. The small, suburban college located in Saratoga Springs, New York has a student population of 2,582 (all undergrads). The student-faculty ratio is just 8:1, one of the lowest ratios on our list. Skidmore’s STEM degrees include disciplines like biology, chemistry, computer science, environmental studies, geosciences, human physiological sciences, neuroscience, and physics. Students may earn a bachelor’s degree in any one of these in-demand STEM programs. Skidmore is a top-ranked liberal arts college, according to U.S. News and World Report. In fact, current rankings include #38 in best national liberal arts colleges and #48 in best value schools.

#20 – Rust College

Holly Springs, Mississippi

Website

Acceptance Rate: 29%

A logo of Rust College for our ranking of 30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees
Small class sizes and rankings with U.S. News! Rust College is a great small college for a STEM degree.

Rust College is a small, HBCU Mississippi college with a student enrollment of just 623 undergraduates. This small student population gives way to one of the smallest student-to-faculty ratios (6:1) on our list. But the size doesn’t impede the many programs offered at Rust. In fact, those interested in pursuing a STEM major will find several bachelor’s degree programs. Biology, chemistry, computer science, and math are just some of the STEM majors offered at Rust College. In addition to offering quality programs, Rust is accredited and ranked with U.S. News and World Report. Current rankings include #168-#222 in best national liberal arts colleges and #106 in top performers on social mobility.

#19 – Denison University

Granville, Ohio

Website

Acceptance Rate: 28%

A logo of Denison University for our ranking of 30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees
STEM degrees at Denison include biochem and neuroscience!

With a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio and student population of 2,258 undergraduates, Denison University earns a spot on our list of great small colleges to earn a STEM degree. STEM bachelor’s degrees are available in astronomy, biochemistry, biology, chemistry, computational science, environmental studies, geosciences, mathematics, neuroscience, and physics. The number of programs offered makes Denison one of the schools on our list with the largest selection of STEM degrees. But in addition to its quality offerings, Denison University ranks #42 in best national liberal arts colleges with U.S. News and World Report. Other rankings include #42 in best value schools, #26 in most innovative schools, and #115 in top performers on social mobility.

#18 – Kentucky Christian University

Grayson, Kentucky

Website

Acceptance Rate: 28%

A logo of Kentucky Christian University for our ranking of 30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees
A top STEM school – Kentucky Christian University!

STEM degrees offered at Kentucky Christian University are limited to biology and behavioral health, but the small size and favorable student-to-faculty ratio makes the institution an ideal choice for a STEM degree. KCU offers a 12:1 student-faculty ratio. The student population consists of 689 students, 600 of them undergraduates. KCU’s rankings with U.S. News and World Report, coupled with its accreditation, earn the school a spot on our list of great small colleges for STEM degrees. The school ranks #65 in best regional colleges in the South and #60 in top performers on social mobility.

#17 – Colgate University

Hamilton, New York

Website

Acceptance Rate: 27%

A logo of Colgate University for our ranking of 30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees
56 majors, many STEM-related! Colgate University.

Located in Hamilton, New York, Colgate University is a small, private institution recognized for its academics and liberal arts education. The total student population is 3,054, most of which are undergraduates. Class sizes are kept at a minimum. According to the school’s website, Colgate boasts a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Fifty-six majors are available at Colgate. Of these majors, STEM programs abound. Students seeking a STEM degree may major in applied mathematics, astrogeophysics, astronomy and physics, biochemistry, biology, chemistry, computer science, environmental biology, mathematics, and more. In addition to its large STEM degree offerings, Colgate ranks 17th in the country among the best national liberal arts colleges.

#16 – Vassar College

Poughkeepsie, New York

Website

Acceptance Rate: 25%

A logo of Vassar College for our ranking of 30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees
Ranked with U.S. News! Vassar College – a small college for STEM degrees.

Recognized as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the United States, Vassar College is a great small school for STEM degrees. Small class sizes, a student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1, and a student population of less than 2,500 undergraduates earn Vassar a top spot on our list. Popular STEM degrees offered at Vassar include astronomy, biochemistry, biology, chemistry, computer science, earth science, mathematics, neuroscience, and physics. In addition to its wide STEM degree offerings, Vassar ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. These rankings include #22 in best national liberal arts colleges, #30 in best value schools, and #32 in top performers on social mobility.

#15 – Washington and Lee University

Lexington, Virginia

Website

Acceptance Rate: 25%

A logo of Washington and Lee University for our ranking of 30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees
From biology to engineering – Washington and Lee is a great small school for a STEM degree.

Washington and Lee is a small, nationally-ranked liberal arts college with a small student population. A total of 1,822 undergraduates make up the bulk of the student body and lend to a low student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1. For students seeking a STEM degree, Washington and Lee offers programs in biochemistry, biology, chemistry and biochemistry, computer science, engineering, geology, mathematics, neuroscience, physics, and physiology. The school ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 11th best national liberal arts college in the country. Other top rankings include #9 in best value schools and #193 in top performers on social mobility.

#14 – Middlebury College

Middlebury, Vermont

Website

Acceptance Rate: 22%

A logo of Middlebury College for our ranking of 30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees
A highly selective small college for a STEM degree – Middlebury College.

Like many liberal arts colleges on our list, Middlebury College offers quality STEM degrees for those interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Some of the programs offered by Middlebury include biology, chemistry and biochemistry, computer science, mathematics, molecular biology, neuroscience, and physics. The school is highly selective with a 22% acceptance rate. Once admitted, students enjoy an intimate learning environment with a student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1. The institution ranks with all major publications, including U.S. News and World Report. Recent rankings include #9 in best national liberal arts colleges and #12 in best value schools. Middlebury is a great small college for a STEM degree.

#13 – Carleton College

Northfield, Minnesota

Website

Acceptance Rate: 21%

A logo of Carleton College for our ranking of 30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees
STEM degrees in engineering, math, and physics – Carleton College!

Carleton College, a nationally ranked liberal arts school, offers a rural Minnesota environment and plentiful STEM degrees. Ranked 9th 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 8:1. 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 #9 in best national liberal arts colleges, #5 in most innovative schools, #9 in best first-year experience, and #22 in best value schools.

#12 – Davidson College

Davidson, North Carolina

Website

Acceptance Rate: 20%

A logo of Davidson College for our ranking of 30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees
STEM-related degrees at Davidson include engineering and neuroscience!

With less than 2,000 students, Davidson College prides itself on small class sizes that allow faculty to work closely with students in both the classroom and research laboratories. In fact, Davidson offers a student-to-faculty ration of just 9:1. The college also 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 #13 in best national liberal arts colleges and #8 in best value schools.

#11 – Wellesley College

Wellesley, Massachusetts

Website

Acceptance Rate: 20%

A logo of Wellesley College for our ranking of 30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees
The low student-to-faculty ratio makes Wellesley a great small college to earn a STEM degree.

At Wellesley College, students can expect a small student population of 2,280, a low student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1, and plentiful STEM degree offerings. In fact, some of the STEM degree programs include astronomy, biology, chemistry, computer science, geosciences, mathematics, and physics. Wellesley also offers many interdepartmental STEM majors and minors, including astrophysics, biochemistry, and chemical physics. In addition to its quality programs and small campus size, Wellesley offers a strong reputation with rankings by U.S. News and World Report. In fact, Wellesley ranks #5 in best national liberal arts colleges, #4 in best value schools, and #32 in most innovative schools.

#10 – Hamilton College

Clinton, New York

Website

Acceptance Rate: 18%

A logo of Hamilton College for our ranking of 30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees
Ranked and accredited! Hamilton College offers undergraduate research opportunities for STEM degree majors.

Hamilton College, a small liberal arts school with a student population of 1,902 undergraduates, offers STEM degrees in multiple areas of discipline. STEM majors include biochemistry/molecular biology, chemistry, computer science, geosciences, mathematics and statistics, neuroscience, and physics. Classes are kept small and offer a 9:1 student-faculty ratio. In addition to its accredited program offerings, Hamilton boasts rankings from major publications like U.S. News and World Report. Recently published rankings include #13 in best national liberal arts colleges, #15 in best value schools, and #39 in undergraduate research and creative projects. Hamilton’s low acceptance rate of 18% makes it one of the most selective liberal arts schools on our list.

#9 – Harvey Mudd College

Claremont, California

Website

Acceptance Rate: 18%

A logo of Harvey Mudd College for our ranking of 30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees
A small top-ranked college for STEM degrees – Harvey Mudd College.

Harvey Mudd College’s broad curriculum takes a liberal arts approach to 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 (8:1), students develop relationships with peers and instructors. Often, these relationships turn into mentorships and give way to research opportunities. Harvey Mudd ranks #28 in best national liberal arts colleges and #61 in best value schools with U.S. News and World Report.

#8 – Haverford College

Haverford, Pennsylvania

Website

Acceptance Rate: 18%

A logo of Haverford College for our ranking of 30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees
Astronomy, astrophysics, and chemistry are some of the STEM degree offerings at Haverford College.

Haverford’s college campus offers the best of both worlds. Imagine a quiet, serene, and picturesque institution nestled within a bustling metropolitan area. For those seeking STEM degrees from a small college with a strong academic reputation, Haverford has plenty of options. Students may major in astronomy, astrophysics, biochemistry, biology, biophysics, chemistry, computer science, geology, mathematics, neuroscience, or physics. Haverford offers a small campus environment with a student population of 1,307 (all undergraduates). This small student body lends to the equally low student-to-faculty ratio of 8:1. Haverford is a fully accredited institution with favorable rankings by U.S. News and World Report. Current rankings include #16 in best national liberal arts colleges and #23 in best value schools.

#7 – Williams College

Williamstown, Massachusetts

Website

Acceptance Rate: 15%

A logo of Williams College for our ranking of 30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees
Ranked #1 among best liberal arts colleges in the country, Williams College offers STEM degrees!

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 that provides 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.

#6 – Barnard College

New York, New York

Website

Acceptance Rate: 14%

A logo of Barnard College for our ranking of 30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees
A small STEM college in the heart of NYC – Barnard College.

Despite its location in the Big Apple, Barnard College offers a surprisingly intimate learning environment. Barnard’s student population of 2,744 undergraduates and 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio appeal to those seeking a great small college for a STEM degree. Of the fifty majors offered at Barnard, many are STEM-related. Some of the programs include biology, chemistry, computer science, environmental science, mathematics, neuroscience, and physics and astronomy. In addition to its small size and strong academics, Barnard offers prestige through its rankings with major publications. U.S. News and World Report ranks Barnard College #17 in best national liberal arts colleges and #38 in best value schools.

#5 – Bates College

Lewiston, Maine

Website

Acceptance Rate: 14%

A logo of Bates College for our ranking of 30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees
Small, nationally-ranked, and selective – Bates College – a top STEM degree school.

Ranked #25 among the best national liberal arts colleges in the country, Bates College is a highly selective, small college with STEM degree offerings. The private institution utilizes a 4-4-1-based academic calendar, which is unique to many of the institutions on our list. If you’re seeking a STEM degree at Bates, you’re in luck. Bates offers STEM majors in biochemistry, biology, chemistry, digital and computational studies, earth and climate sciences, engineering, mathematics, neuroscience, and physics. At Bates, students enjoy small classroom sizes with a 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio and a population of 1,876 undergraduates, making it one of the best small colleges to earn a STEM degree.

#4 – Amherst College

Amherst, Massachusetts

Website

Acceptance Rate: 12%

A logo of Amherst College for our ranking of 30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees
Amherst College – a top ranked STEM degree school.

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 (1,745 students). The most popular STEM degrees at Amherst include biology, chemistry, computer science, neuroscience, and physics and astronomy. In addition to small class sizes and ample STEM degree offerings, Amherst ranks favorably with U.S. News and World Report. In fact, Amherst ranks #2 in best national liberal arts colleges and #42 in most innovative schools.

#3 – Bowdoin College

Brunswick, Maine

Website

Acceptance Rate: 9%

A logo of Bowdoin College for our ranking of 30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees
With a 9% acceptance rate, Bowdoin College is among the most selective small colleges for a STEM degree on our list.

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 1,777 students, all of which are undergraduates. The small enrollment size allows Bowdoin to maintain an 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio. In addition to small class sizes, there are numerous STEM degrees and majors to choose from. According to Bowdoin’s website, the top declared majors included several STEM degrees like biology, chemistry, computer science, and mathematics. Adding to its reputation, Bowdoin ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 6th best national liberal arts college and #7 in best value schools.

#2 – Swarthmore College

Swarthmore, Pennsylvania

Website

Acceptance Rate: 9%

A logo of Swarthmore College for our ranking of 30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees
Highly ranked, selective, and accredited – Swarthmore College is a top school for STEM degrees.

Swarthmore College’s small student population of 1,437 and low student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1 provides an intimate learning environment for STEM-inclined students. Some of the possible areas of study in science and technology at Swarthmore 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 #2 in best value schools in the most recent edition of Best Colleges published by U.S. News and World Report. But getting into Swarthmore is highly competitive. The acceptance rate is just 9%.

#1 – California Institute of Technology

Pasadena, California

Website

Acceptance Rate: 7%

A logo of CalTech for our ranking of 30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees
CalTech offers a large number of STEM degrees and is our #1 pick for small college for STEM degrees.

The California Institute of Technology is not only the most selective school on our list, but also offers the lowest student-to-faculty ratio (3:1). Caltech offers plentiful STEM degrees for those seeking one from a small college environment. STEM majors include applied and computational mathematics, applied physics, astrophysics, bioengineering, biology, chemical engineering, chemistry, computer science, geophysics, mathematics, planetary science, and many more. But admittance to Caltech is competitive. Caltech is highly selective. The most recent acceptance rate for this institution is 7%. In addition to its selectivity rate and small class sizes, Caltech ranks with U.S. News and World Report. Recent rankings include #9 in best national universities and #15 in best value schools.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What should I look for when choosing a small college for a STEM degree?

Evaluating small colleges for a STEM degree is important before you apply. Educational advisers and college counselors recommend small liberal arts colleges for students who want a unique experience that larger universities might not offer. Below are some different things to look for when choosing a small college for a STEM degree.

Favorable Graduation Rate
Outcomes are important for students to evaluate when searching for a small college to earn a STEM degree. Schools with favorable graduation rates help students succeed. Other aspects to consider are job prospects, admission rates to graduate schools, and pre-professional program admittance rates.

Student-to-Faculty Ratio
Most small colleges, like the ones on our list, offer an intimate learning environment. These school often have student-faculty ratios of 10:1 or less. In fact, the average student-to-faculty ratio is 11:1 for small liberal arts colleges. Small class sizes mean a greater emphasis is placed on the undergraduate experience. While some of the top-ranked small colleges offer a 7:1 ratio, larger state universities offer student-to-faculty ratios of 18:1 or 24:1. The smaller the class size, the more intimate the learning experience.

Uniqueness
Students at small colleges have access to unique extracurricular activities, clubs, and research opportunities. A school that places a greater emphasis on the undergraduate experience provides plentiful opportunities for growth. Summer programs, abroad experiences, and access to research opportunities are just some of the ways small colleges are great for earning a STEM degree.

How much money can I earn with a STEM degree?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), STEM jobs pay a substantial salary premium. The average salary for non-STEM occupations, as reported by BLS, is $40,020, but for STEM jobs, that salary is $89,780. That’s over twice the earnings of non-STEM occupations.

To analyze earnings potential and how much money one can earn with a STEM degree, it is important to look at the average salaries for different types of STEM occupations.

Engineers earn an annual average of $83,160. Some engineers, such as chemical engineers, earn higher wages. In fact, BLS reports the median annual wage for chemical engineers is $108,540, and the highest 10% of earners seeing more than $168,960.

Materials scientists earn a median annual wage of $99,460. The highest 10% of earners working as materials scientists earn over $165,290. Chemists, too, earn top wages. BLS reports the median annual wage for chemists as $79,300, and the highest 10% of earnings making $139,650.

Computer jobs also pay well. Computer and information research scientists earn an average annual salary of $126,830 and computer network architects earn $116,780. Other high paying computer occupations include computer hardware engineers, information security analysts, and software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers. All of these technology-related jobs see average earnings over six figures.

What are the benefits of a small college for a STEM degree?

Forbes magazine recently published a piece on why small colleges are great for science students. Small liberal arts colleges may seem like an odd choice for the professional scientist or research-bound student. Research I universities offer access to cutting-edge technology and world-renowned faculty. But for undergraduates, top-ranked research institutions may not offer what a small liberal arts college does.

In small colleges, like many on our list of great small colleges for STEM degrees, the student population is between 1,500 and 2,500. Science classes that at research universities would be held in huge lecture halls are kept small. Students don’t get lost in a class of 400 students. Some of the largest intro classes at small liberal arts colleges may be capped at 30 or 40 students. It is also not uncommon for science and technology classes, even intro classes, to be capped at 18 or 20 students.

Another benefit of attending a small college for a STEM degree is access to undergraduate research. This might seem paradoxical given the small size of the institution, but opportunities in research abound at smaller schools. College students at small colleges get involved in meaningful research projects, join professors abroad on research expeditions, and forge relationships with peers and faculty.

What are the most popular STEM degrees offered at small colleges?

Small colleges offer many different degree programs for these looking to major in STEM. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are broad categories, but within these disciplines are various majors. Some of the most popular STEM programs are listed below:

Biology

Biology, biochemistry, and biomedical sciences are among one the most popular majors in small colleges. Many students major in biology with plans to attend medical school, dental school, or another pre-professional program. Biology students can expect to take classes and labs that cover topics in general and organic chemistry, physiology and anatomy, and zoology.

Computer Science

A bachelor’s degree in computer science offers a wide range of highly marketable skills including programming, troubleshooting hardware, and organizing data sets. Computer science students learn different programming languages, spend time coding, and solve complex problems. Computer science degrees can lead to high earnings out of college and provide a stable job outlook.

Statistics and Mathematics

Math majors are heavily recruited for high-level jobs as data analysts, statisticians, and actuaries. As a result, math and statistics programs are listed among the most popular STEM degrees at small colleges. As a math major, you will likely take courses that explore topics in complex analysis, differential geometry, introduction to algebraic structures, statistics, and topology.

What are the best STEM degrees for top careers of the future?

In the last few decades, significant progress has been made in areas of science, technology, and research. Currently, we are at an age when technology is at our disposal. Thanks to the advancements in medicine and healthcare, humans are living longer lives. Automobiles have become quicker and more efficient. Energy has become cleaner and more cost effective. These advancements have created jobs. Some of the top careers of the future are STEM jobs, but to acquire them, you must hold a STEM degree.

Below are several top degrees that will help you land a top career of the future.

Atmospheric Sciences
Also referred to as meteorology, atmospheric sciences is a top career of the future due to global warming and the changes recognized in the earth’s climate and weather patterns. These highly trained scientists determine weather warnings, predict disasters, and conduct research in labs and weather stations.

Game Design and Art
Game design is a quick growing career field with plentiful job prospects. The video game industry alone is a 30 billion dollar industry, and as more people take to online gaming and gaming apps, experts are needed to create art and design associated with these programs and applications.

Sustainable and Renewable Energy
A career in clean energy is one of the fastest-growing jobs of the future. Clean energy or sustainable energy jobs include clean car engineers, solar installers, sustainability professionals, and turbine technicians. A degree in sustainable and renewable energy promises a favorable job outlook.

BDP Staff
October 2021

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This concludes our article on the 30 great small colleges for a STEM degree.

Brenda Rufener
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Julie McCaulley
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Carrie Sealey-Morris
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