The U.S. News Short List, separate from our overall rankings, is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas. Be sure to explore The Short List: College and The Short List: Grad School to find data that matters to you in your college or grad school search.
Although students who want to take a Ferris Bueller-style day off may prefer large lecture courses, where their absences will be less conspicuous, there are many benefits to an intimate classroom setting. In smaller classes, students are more likely to have access to their professors—both during class and office hours—and in-class interactions can more closely resemble conversational graduate-level seminars than formal lectures.
At the 266 ranked National Universities—larger institutions that offer a range of undergraduate, master's, and doctoral programs—that provided data on fall 2011 class sizes to U.S. News in the 2012 annual survey, an average of 45 percent of classes had fewer than 20 students. On the list of the top 10 schools with the highest proportion of classes with under 20 students, that average was much higher: 80 percent.
Both the overall average and the average on the top 10 list were virtually identical to the data that schools reported in the previous year, for the fall 2010 term.
[Read five guidelines for college student-professor interactions.]
The New School, a private institution in Manhattan, maintained the top spot on the list. The school not only improved its overall U.S. News rank (from 128 to 125), but it also slightly increased the percentage of its courses with fewer than 20 students: from 92.1 percent in 2010 to 92.4 in 2011.
All 10 schools on this new list also made the list last year, although a few schools swapped positions. Eight of the schools on the top 10 list increased their undergraduate enrollment in 2011 over 2010.
Schools designated by U.S. News as Unranked were excluded from this list. U.S. News did not calculate a numerical ranking for Unranked programs because the program did not meet certain criteria that U.S. News requires to be numerically ranked.
Below is a list of the 10 schools with the highest percentage of classes with fewer than 20 students, based on fall 2011 class data.
|National University (state)||Undergraduate enrollment||Percentage of classes with fewer than 20 students||U.S. News rank|
|New School (NY)||7,081||92.4||125|
|Immaculata University (PA)||3,070||84.3||RNP*|
|Edgewood College (WI)||1,951||81.4||179|
|Cardinal Stritch University (WI)||2,940||80.7||RNP|
|Columbia University (NY)||6,027||80.7||4|
|Harvard University (MA)||6,657||78||1|
|Yale University (CT)||5,349||77.2||3|
|Northwestern University (IL)||8,475||75.3||12|
|University of Chicago||5,388||75.1||4|
|Nova Southeastern University (FL)||6,397||74.4||RNP|
*RNP denotes an institution that is ranked in the bottom one fourth of its rankings category. U.S. News calculates a rank for the school but has decided not to publish it.
Don't see your school in the top 10? Access the U.S. News College Compass to find information about class size, as well as complete rankings and much more.
U.S. News surveyed more than 1,800 colleges and universities for our 2012 survey of undergraduate programs. Schools self-reported a myriad of data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News's data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While the data come from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News's rankings of Best Colleges or Best Graduate Schools. The class size and enrollment data above are correct as of Oct. 23, 2012.