In this article, we profile 30 Great Small Colleges for a Teaching Degree in the United States. This list features the most selective small colleges and universities offering teaching and education degrees at the undergraduate level.
Colleges and universities across the nation help prepare education graduates for challenges faced in teaching. The 21st century brings a rewarding yet obstacle-filled career in public education. Standards and outcomes are at the forefront of all educators. New teachers must be prepared to handle such challenges in an effective and useful way. Some of the best education programs within the confines of university and college settings are found on small campuses, those with fewer than 5,000 students. These colleges offer diverse programs that prepare students for leadership roles in education.
30 Great Small Colleges for a Teaching Degree Ranking Methodology
From our original pool of schools (approximately 90) meeting the criteria listed below, we chose the most selective institutions. Our data points were collected from NCES College Navigator. Our methodology includes the following:
• Undergraduate enrollment of 5,000 or fewer students
• Accredited four-year institution that is public or private non-profit
• Offers a teaching degree such as Bachelor of Education, with or without certification
Note that many of these institutions are also characterized by the following features:
• Acceptance rate
• Frequent appearance in major national rankings, such as U.S. News and World Report
Schools are presented in order of acceptance rate, with the most selective school appearing at #1. Data values, including acceptance rate were taken from NCES College Navigator.
#30 – Corban University
Acceptance Rate: 85%
Corban University’s Department of Education offers foundational study in both Christian and public school service for aspiring teachers. Students focus on skills that will make them successful instructors. The four-year program equips students to pursue employment as a teacher or continue their education to gain a master’s in education. The school reports a 99 percent success rate for Corban grads who pursue teaching jobs within one year following graduation. In addition to the school’s accreditation and employment success rate, Corban ranks with U.S. News & World Report. The school’s rankings include #7 in best regional colleges in the West, #8 in best value schools, and #1 in top performers on social mobility.
#29 – LeMoyne-Owen College
Acceptance Rate: 80%
With a small undergraduate population and low student-to-faculty ratio, LeMoyne-Owen College offers an intimate learning environment for aspiring teachers. There are four bachelor’s degrees offered in teacher education at LeMoyne. These majors include English/language arts, general mathematics, general education, and social studies. Both BA and BS degrees are available. In addition to the teacher education majors, minors are also offered. Students have the option of tailoring their degree by minoring in an area of interest. LeMoyne-Owen is fully accredited and ranked with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, recent rankings with U.S. News include #65-#84 in best regional colleges in the South.
#28 – Cedarville University
Acceptance Rate: 79%
Cedarville University’s School of Education prepares dedicated and compassionate students committed to becoming professional educators through the integration of faith and demonstrated teaching competencies. All undergraduate programs within the School of Education are NCATE-accredited (now recognized as CAEP). In addition to the bachelor’s in education, licensure programs are available in 12 specialty areas. Some of the licensures include early childhood education, health and physical education, language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, and Spanish. Cedarville ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 25th best regional university in the Midwest and the 23rd best school for undergraduate teaching.
#27 – Ohio Valley University
Vienna, West Virginia
Acceptance Rate: 69%
Ohio Valley University develops students who want to become teachers through ethical principles and strong academic preparation. Providing a variety of elementary and secondary education degrees and special education endorsements, OVU has one of the most robust degree lists of the programs we reviewed. Students may earn bachelor’s degrees in elementary education, secondary English education, secondary social studies, and wellness education, to name a few. Also, the school is fully accredited and ranked among the best in small colleges offering teaching degrees. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks Ohio Valley #44 in best regional colleges in the South.
#26 – Beloit College
Acceptance Rate: 62%
The Department of Education and Youth Studies at Beloit College offers majors and minors that prepare students for careers as teachers and educators. What makes Beloit’s education programs unique is that classes and curriculum are grounded in ideals of social justice. Courses for the bachelor’s in education degree cover topics like psychological perspectives in education and youth services, and socio-cultural perspectives in education. In addition to offering unique education programs, Beloit ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. These rankings include #82 in best national liberal arts colleges, #22 in best undergraduate teaching, and #64 in best value schools.
#25 – Furman University
Greenville, South Carolina
Acceptance Rate: 57%
Located in the suburban setting of Greenville, South Carolina, Furman University offers small class sizes and an intimate learning environment ideal for aspiring educators. What makes Furman unique are the degree options for those seeking careers as teachers. Students may earn bachelor’s degrees in areas like education (licensure for teaching in grades 2-6), education (licensure for teaching in other subject areas), and educational studies. Students also have the option of earning a minor in an area of interest. Furman is fully accredited, ranked, and offers a 57 percent acceptance rate. U.S. News and World Report ranks the institution #46 in best national liberal arts colleges.
#24 – Missouri Valley College
Acceptance Rate: 53%
The intimate campus of Missouri Valley College, located in Marshall, Missouri, boasts an atmosphere conducive to learning and building close relationships with peers and faculty. The Division of Education is an anchor program at the school, offering current research, pedagogy, and best practices to students pursuing a career in education. Faculty members work closely with students to help them achieve success both inside and outside the world of academia. Graduates often move into the teaching workforce or continue their education in a master’s degree program. Teaching certification is also offered in 13 areas of specialty. MVC has earned rankings from U.S. News and World Report as a top regional college in the Midwest.
#23 – Rhodes College
Acceptance Rate: 45%
With an undergraduate population of approximately 2,000 students and 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio, Rhodes College offers a close-knit learning environment. For those seeking degrees in education, Rhodes offers programs that align with this unique career aspiration. In fact, three tracks are available for educational studies majors. These tracks include community and social change, policy and reform, and teaching and learning (licensure optional). The educational studies program at Rhodes strives to advance democracy, equity, and justice in underserved Memphis schools. In addition to offering accredited programs, Rhodes ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 53rd best national liberal arts college and 35th best school for undergraduate teaching.
#22 – Spelman College
Acceptance Rate: 43%
The Georgia Professional Standards Commission approves the Education Studies program at Spelman College. The program emphasizes academic excellence in its development of students who are pursuing roles as teachers and educational leaders. Graduates of the program often pursue roles as academic advisors, counselors, family support specialists, teachers, and youth advocates. Spelman College ranks #57 in best national liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report. The school is highly selective and historically Black. It inspires women to change the world by providing an educational experience that is unique to its campus. In addition to school rankings as a best national liberal arts institution, Spelman’s undergraduate teaching programs rank #22 in the country.
#21 – Texas Wesleyan University
Fort Worth, Texas
Acceptance Rate: 42%
Texas Wesleyan University offers over 30 areas of study, including early childhood education (bilingual and general) and physical education. The stated vision of the School of Education at Texas Wesleyan University is to expand research among many disciplines to link teaching and learning standards and bring an impact to education in the 21st century. Graduates of the program go on to pursue teaching roles in a variety of fields and disciplines. The school is selective and fully accredited. Also, Texas Wesleyan ranks with U.S. News and World Report as a top national university and best performer on social mobility.
#20 – Dickinson College
Acceptance Rate: 40%
Dickinson College offers a bachelor’s in educational studies that is designed to provide teaching skills to students through liberal arts disciplines. Two concentrations allow students to tailor their degree to better align with career pursuits. These concentrations include education and society and teaching and learning. The education and society concentration provides a foundation for individuals with career or graduate school interests in educational funding, policy, and school law. Dickinson is a small college founded in 1783. It ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report and is fully accredited. Recent rankings for Dickinson include #46 in best national liberal arts colleges and #35 in best undergraduate teaching programs.
#19 – Connecticut College
New London, Connecticut
Acceptance Rate: 37%
Connecticut College’s Education Department prides itself in providing and imparting teaching knowledge to grow the best educators in the country. Internships and service learning are emphasized within the teaching curriculum. Field observations and hands-on learning are well-defined parameters within the program, giving students real-life experience before entering the workforce. Connecticut College is fully accredited and a member of CETE, the Consortium for Excellence in Teacher Education, along with 16 elite institutions (such as Dartmouth, Harvard, and Yale). Also, Connecticut College ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 46th best national liberal arts college and 25th best school for undergraduate teaching.
#18 – Oberlin College
Acceptance Rate: 36%
Oberlin College’s undergraduate population is less than 2,800 students. The small size combined with a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio gives way to an ideal learning environment for individuals seeking small colleges to earn a teaching degree. Through the College of Arts and Sciences at Oberlin, students may select any major and add on the integrative concentration of education studies. This concentration prepares students for graduate work in education, careers in education policy, or entry into the teaching profession. The program emphasizes community-based learning and provides an ample selection of field experiences. Oberlin is fully accredited and ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 33rd best national liberal arts college and 12th best school for undergraduate teaching.
#17 – Trinity College
Acceptance Rate: 33%
At Trinity College, students majoring in educational studies integrate teaching methods and research from a variety of academic disciplines into the highly focused field of education. Students enrolled in the educational studies program take classes like analyzing schools, education reform past and present, and research methods. During the fall of the senior year, students complete a senior research seminar where a research project is conducted. In addition to offering robust curriculum, Trinity College ranks 46th among Best National Liberal Arts Colleges in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. Also, the school ranks #49 in best value schools and #51 in best schools for undergraduate teaching.
#16 – Macalester College
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Acceptance Rate: 32%
At Macalester College, the educational studies mission is simple: Approach education with empathy. Macalester looks for students seeking more than the skills needed for teaching in the classroom. Macalester wants individuals who want to make a difference through compassion and education. With an average class size of 16, the program prides itself on providing opportunities for students to discuss, debate, collaborate, and build community. Serious scholars work alongside professors through the time spent at Macalester. But in addition to the unique learning environment, Macalester offers fully accredited programs and rankings with U.S. News and World Report. In fact, Macalester ranks 25th among the best national liberal arts colleges, 28th among the best value schools, and 32nd among best schools for undergraduate teaching.
#15 – Skidmore College
Saratoga Springs, New York
Acceptance Rate: 30%
The education studies major at Skidmore College leads to an initial certification in New York State for grades one through six. The school is recognized for graduating well-prepared students who are high achievers and disciplined workers. Field experiences and study abroad options allow students to fully immerse themselves in areas that prove beneficial to potential careers in education. Also, upon successful completion of the required coursework and field placements, students can be recommended for initial teaching certification (childhood, grades 1-6). Skidmore College ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 39th best national liberal arts colleges, 47th best value school, and 40th best school for undergraduate teaching.
#14 – Berea College
Acceptance Rate: 30%
Berea College makes our list of great small colleges for a teaching degree due to its selectivity (30% acceptance rate) and small student population. In fact, the undergraduate population is just 1,673 students. In addition to the intimate learning environment, Berea offers fourteen certification programs for students interested in education. Some of the certifications include elementary education (grades K-5), middle grades (grades 5-9) math and science, and technology education (grades 5-12). The Teacher Education Program at Berea uses a Quality Assurance System comprised of measures that monitor program quality. This system benefits students by ensuring they receive innovative testing and cover the most current challenges faced in the field of education. Berea also ranks with U.S. News and World Report as a top liberal arts college. Rankings include #2 in most innovative schools and #8 in best undergraduate teaching.
#13 – Coppin State University
Acceptance Rate: 28%
While located in the heart of Baltimore, Coppin State University maintains a small, intimate learning environment and total undergraduate enrollment of less than 2,400 students. In the 1900s, Coppin State was founded as a teacher’s college and has since become recognized as one of the top small colleges to earn a teaching degree. The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education accredits the school and the education program offers several teaching and learning undergraduate degrees. The school’s teaching program is approved by the Maryland State Department of Education. Also, Coppin State ranks with U.S. News and World Report as a top regional university in the North.
#12 – Vassar College
Poughkeepsie, New York
Acceptance Rate: 24%
Preparing students for successful and impactful careers in education is the mission of Vassar College’s Department of Education. And while Vassar is highly selective, with an acceptance rate of 24%, the school offers a wide array of liberal arts studies options in combination with the education major. Upon graduation, students are prepared for certification as reflected by the New York State requirements. In addition to Vassar’s accredited education programming, the school ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, recent rankings include #14 in best national liberal arts colleges, #1 in best colleges for veterans, and #48 in best undergraduate teaching schools.
#11 – Grinnell College
Acceptance Rate: 23%
Grinnell College is one of the most selective small colleges for a teaching degree on our list. With a 23% acceptance rate, the school is looking for qualified candidates who take their education seriously. The Education Department is no different. The department seeks only the best students. Through the licensure program, students interested in classroom teaching can earn a license in a number of subjects for grades 5-12. The program prepares students for a culminating experience of student teaching during a single semester. Grinnell is fully accredited and ranked with U.S. News and World Report. In fact, Grinnell’s rankings include #14 in best national liberal arts colleges, #10 in best value schools, and #3 in best undergraduate teaching.
#10 – Colgate University
Hamilton, New York
Acceptance Rate: 23%
With an acceptance rate of 23% and numerous rankings and recognitions over the years, Colgate University is a top pick for small colleges for a teaching degree. In fact, U.S. News & World Report ranks Colgate #17 in best national liberal arts colleges, #17 in best value schools, and #35 in best undergraduate teaching schools. Colgate is also recognized as one of the top small colleges for a teaching degree due to its diverse methods of study and preparation for job placement. Students can both major and minor in educational studies at Colgate. Also, the freshman retention rate is one of the highest of all small colleges.
#9 – Wellesley College
Acceptance Rate: 22%
What makes Wellesley College’s education programs stand out among other great small colleges for a teaching degree is the interplay between communities, culture, education, and policy. This means Wellesley’s Department of Education provides a unique blend of backgrounds and perspectives while laying a strong teaching foundation for aspiring educators. The school offers one education studies major and two minors (education studies, and teaching and learning). Wellesley offers one of the lowest student-to-faculty ratios (8:1) on our list, facilitating a tight-knit cohort for exceptional learners. Also, Wellesley ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 3rd best national liberal arts college in the country. Additional rankings include #8 in best value schools and #25 in best undergraduate teaching.
#8 – Davidson College
Davidson, North Carolina
Acceptance Rate: 18%
Davidson College, a nationally ranked liberal arts college, earns a spot on our list of great small colleges for a teaching degree. Located just 19 miles north of Charlotte, Davidson offers a suburban setting for its 1,843 undergraduate students. Students interested in teaching and learning can major in any discipline and minor in educational studies. The program is designed to fulfill the needs of students interested in academic study of educational history, policy, psychology, sociology, and theory. Also, the program prepares students for graduate school in various education and social science fields. As mentioned above, Davidson ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 17th best national liberal arts college. Additionally, Davidson ranks #18 in best value schools and #2 in best undergraduate teaching.
#7 – Haverford College
Acceptance Rate: 16%
Haverford College is a private liberal arts institution with an acceptance rate of 16 percent. The school’s selectivity and small undergraduate population of 1,310 students combined with educational offerings for aspiring teachers earns it a spot on our list of small colleges for a teaching degree. Students have the option of majoring in any discipline, but those seeking an education degree can minor in education and educational studies. This added concentration is designed for students with an interest in exploring teaching and learning. Haverford College ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 11th best national liberal arts college in the country. Additional rankings for Haverford include #14 in best value schools and #22 in best undergraduate teaching.
#6 – Hamilton College
Clinton, New York
Acceptance Rate: 16%
Hamilton College, a private institution founded in 1812, offers a rural setting in Clinton, New York. This highly ranked, liberal arts institution has received numerous rankings with U.S. News and World Report, including #14 in best national liberal arts colleges. Other rankings include #29 in best value schools and #32 in best undergraduate teaching. For the interest of this profile, we assessed Hamilton’s undergraduate teaching programs. Hamilton offers liberal arts curriculum, majors in any discipline, and a minor in education studies. Students who have graduated with the education minor have obtained employment as learning disabilities teachers, school social workers, and teachers at private and public institutions.
#5 – Middlebury College
Acceptance Rate: 15%
Education studies at Middlebury College embraces teaching and learning through liberal arts constructions. Students pursuing a teaching and learning degree at Middlebury can expect more than covering the basic skills needed in the classroom. The education department prides itself on curriculum that embraces scholarly research and a relentless approach to addressing educational inequities. And while students gain an intellectual understanding of education, they also uncover the characteristics of empathy and humility, which are essential to the work of educators. Middlebury is fully accredited and ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 7th best national liberal arts college and the 15th best value school in the country. Also, Middlebury ranks #25 in best undergraduate teaching.
#4 – Bates College
Acceptance Rate: 12%
Bates College is one of the most selective schools on our list for a teaching degree. In fact, the school offers a 12% acceptance rate and 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio, making it a top choice for students pursing a degree in education. The aim of the Bates College education department is to create an intimate learning environment in which both students and faculty analyze and engage the purposes and products of schooling. The program focuses on cultural processes and social structures through action and community engagement. Bates is fully accredited and ranked with U.S. News and World Report. In fact, Bates ranks #21 in best national liberal arts colleges, #39 in best value schools, and #16 in best undergraduate teaching.
#3 – College of the Ozarks
Point Lookout, Missouri
Acceptance Rate: 10%
The Department of Education at the College of the Ozarks recognizes contemporary changes and challenges of education. The education program prepares students to face the challenges in schooling while implementing leadership and research skills conducive to success in teaching. Degrees in elementary education – early childhood concentration, elementary education – general, and middle school add-ons for education majors are all available at College of the Ozarks. In addition to the accredited programs, the school ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 3rd best regional college in the Midwest. Other rankings include the following: #1 in best value schools and #1 in best undergraduate teaching.
#2 – Swarthmore College
Acceptance Rate: 9%
With a 9 percent acceptance rate, Swarthmore College’s educational studies program prepares students to investigate, research, and critically consider disciplinary perspectives in education. Uniquely designed curriculum and faculty engagement allow students to identify their own interests in the field and develop ways to approach problems commonly faced in the field of education. The school is highly recognized as among the best liberal arts colleges in the nation. U.S. News & World Report ranks the school 3rd among the Best National Liberal Arts Colleges and 4th among the Best Value Schools. Also, the undergraduate teaching programs at Swarthmore rank #9 in the country.
#1 – Bowdoin College
Acceptance Rate: 9%
Bowdoin College, our #1 pick for great small colleges for a teaching degree, focuses on the development of educators, instructors, and teachers. The educational sequence provides experiences that prepare educators in both elementary and secondary education settings. The program emphasizes a liberal arts education and holistic approach to the development of teaching. Students who participate in the program earn their bachelor’s degree and teaching certification. Field experiences and community engagement are an ample part of the program. In addition to its highly selective acceptance rate, Bowdoin ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, current rankings include #6 in best national liberal arts colleges, #5 for best undergraduate teaching, and #12 for best value schools.
This concludes our list of the 30 great small colleges for a teaching degree.
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