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.
On average, liberal arts colleges employ one faculty member per every 11.7 undergraduate students, according to data submitted by 220 ranked colleges that reported both undergraduate enrollment and student-to-faculty ratios in a 2012 survey to U.S. News. And 19 of those schools create an even more intimate learning environment, with student-to-faculty ratios of 8:1 or less.
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Having the lowest student-to-faculty ratio does not necessarily mean a school will have one of the largest proportions of classes that are small. In fact, many larger National Universities boast large proportions of classes with fewer than 20 students. But liberal arts colleges with low student-to-faculty ratios could create opportunities for easy contact with professors after class or around campus.
Many institutions on the list of colleges with the lowest student-to-faculty ratios are in the upper echelon of the U.S. News Best National Liberal Arts Colleges rankings, including the top-ranked Williams College in Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania's Swarthmore College and California's Pomona College, Nos. 3 and 4, respectively.
But a low ratio does not necessarily denote a highly ranked institution. Several schools on the list below received Rank Not Published (RNP) designations, signifying a numerical ranking that would have fallen in the bottom quarter of the rankings category.
Neither institutions designated as Unranked by U.S. News, which do not submit enough data for a numerical rank to be calculated, nor National Universities were considered for this report. To be considered, a National Liberal Arts College must have reported student-to-faculty ratios, as well as undergraduate enrollment, to U.S. News.
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The National Liberal Arts Colleges below had the smallest reported student-to-faculty ratios in fall 2011:
|School (state)||Students per faculty member||Undergraduate enrollment||U.S. News rank & category|
|Bryn Athyn College of the New Church (PA)||7||237||RNP, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Principia College (IL)||7||503||121, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Virginia Intermont College||7||558||RNP, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Williams College (MA)||7||2,053||1, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|American Jewish University (CA)||8||132||151, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Bryn Mawr College (PA)||8||1,313||26, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Fisk University (TN)||8||480||145, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Harvey Mudd College (CA)||8||777||12, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Haverford College (PA)||8||1,198||9, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Lawrence University (WI)||8||1,496||56, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Pomona College (CA)||8||1,586||4, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Randolph College (VA)||8||571||112, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Swarthmore College (PA)||8||1,545||3, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Sweet Briar College (VA)||8||745||100, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|United States Air Force Academy (CO)||8||4,413||31, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|United States Military Academy (NY)||8||4,624||18, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|University of Richmond (VA)||8||3,000||28, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Vassar College (NY)||8||2,386||10, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Wellesley College (MA)||8||2,502||6, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
Don't see your school above? Access the U.S. News College Compass to find additional academic life data, 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 U.S. News uses much of this survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Colleges rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. 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 student-faculty ratio data above are correct as of Jan. 22, 2013.