The Little Ivies: A Closer Look at Prestigious Liberal Arts Colleges

26/05/202314 minute read
The Little Ivies: A Closer Look at Prestigious Liberal Arts Colleges

Stepping into the captivating world of the "Little Ivies," one discovers a collection of elite liberal arts colleges that have carved a niche for themselves through their commitment to academic excellence, personalized learning environments, and nurturing communities. While their Ivy League counterparts often take center stage, the Little Ivies hold their own, providing students with exceptional educational experiences that pave the way for intellectual and personal growth.


Nestled in idyllic New England towns and offering a liberal arts education that rivals the best universities in the country, the Little Ivies are a group of highly selective colleges that boast impressive academic programs, accomplished faculty, and close-knit communities. Though they may not have the name recognition of their Ivy League counterparts, these institutions have earned a reputation for excellence in the classroom and beyond.

With a focus on undergraduate education and small class sizes, these institutions provide students with ample opportunities to engage with professors and peers, participate in hands-on research, and pursue their passions both inside and outside the classroom.

Whether you're interested in pursuing arts, humanities, sciences, or social sciences studies, the Little Ivies offer diverse academic programs to suit your interests and career aspirations. So if you're considering a liberal arts education at a top-tier college, read on to discover what makes the Little Ivies such exceptional institutions.

What are Little Ivies?

The Little Ivies are a group of prestigious liberal arts colleges in the United States. With a strong emphasis on undergraduate education, these colleges offer small class sizes, diverse extracurricular opportunities, and extensive research opportunities that help students develop critical thinking skills, leadership abilities, and real-world experience.

The Little Ivies are renowned for their academic rigor and intellectual stimulation, providing students with a well-rounded education that prepares them for success in their chosen fields. Through independent research projects, internships, and study abroad programs, students are encouraged to pursue their passions, explore new academic interests, and develop the skills needed to succeed in today's rapidly changing world. As such, the Little Ivies are highly sought-after by students who are looking for a challenging, intellectually stimulating, and rewarding college experience.

Little Ivies vs. Ivy Leagues

The Ivy League is a group of eight prestigious institutions located in the Northeastern United States:

  • Brown University
  • Columbia University
  • Cornell University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Harvard University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Princeton University
  • Yale University

Like the Ivy League schools, the Little Ivies are known for their academic excellence and selective admissions processes. However, they tend to offer a more intimate and personalized educational experience, with smaller class sizes, closer student-faculty relationships, and a focus on interdisciplinary study and research.

In terms of academic programs, both the Ivy League and Little Ivies offer a wide range of majors and fields of study. However, Ivy League schools tend to have more diverse academic departments, emphasizing research and graduate-level education. The Little Ivies, on the other hand, tend to offer a more focused and interdisciplinary approach to undergraduate education, with a strong emphasis on teaching and mentorship.

Regarding admissions, the Ivy League schools and Little Ivies are highly selective, with low acceptance rates and high academic standards. However, Ivy League schools are more competitive overall, with lower acceptance rates and higher average test scores and grades among admitted students.

The Little Ivies

Amherst College

Nestled in Amherst, Massachusetts, Amherst College is widely regarded as one of the leading liberal arts colleges in the United States. With a focus on intellectual rigor, individualized attention, and a commitment to diversity and inclusion, Amherst College offers students an unparalleled undergraduate education.

The college offers majors in over 40 fields, as well as a number of interdisciplinary programs and concentrations. Additionally, Amherst College provides students with opportunities for independent research, study abroad, internships, and community-based learning. Amherst College is committed to making higher education accessible and affordable for all students, regardless of their financial background.

Amherst College Acceptance Rate for the Class of 2027
Number of ApplicationsAccepted StudentsAcceptance Rate
Total14,2879696.9%
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Williams College

Williams College is located in Williamstown, Massachusetts. It was founded in 1793 and has a reputation for academic excellence and a tight-knit community of scholars. Williams offers various programs, but economics, mathematics, and biology are the most popular majors.

Williams College offers several distinctive features that set it apart from other institutions. For example, the college has a strong environmental focus, with many courses and initiatives focused on sustainability. Additionally, the college has a highly selective "Oxford-style" tutorial program, in which students work one-on-one with faculty members to develop independent research projects. These unique features, combined with the strong academic programs and supportive community, make Williams College an exceptional choice for students seeking a rigorous and rewarding college experience.

Williams College Acceptance Rate for the Class of 2027
Number of ApplicationsAccepted StudentsAcceptance Rate
Total First-Year Applications10,3158589.8%

Swarthmore College

Swarthmore College is located in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1864, it has a long-standing reputation for academic excellence and progressive values. Swarthmore offers diverse programs across the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. However, their popular majors include economics, biology, and political science.

The college offers several distinctive features that set it apart from other institutions. For example, the college has a unique Honors Program that allows students to pursue in-depth research projects in their major field of study. Additionally, Swarthmore has a long-standing commitment to social justice and activism.

Swarthmore College Acceptance Rate for the Class of 2027
Number of ApplicationsAccepted StudentsAcceptance Rate
Total14,2879696.9%
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Pomona College

Pomona College is a private liberal arts college located in Claremont, California. Established in 1887, it is one of the founding members of the Claremont Colleges Consortium. Pomona Colleges’ most popular majors include economics, computer science, and psychology.

Pomona also strongly focuses on sustainability, with many courses and initiatives dedicated to environmental stewardship. These distinctive features, rigorous academic programs, and vibrant campus community make Pomona College an exceptional choice for students seeking a transformative and intellectually stimulating undergraduate experience.

Pomona College Acceptance Rate for the Class of 2027
Number of ApplicationsAdmitted ApplicationsAcceptance Rate
TotalTBA757~7%

Wellesley College

Wellesley College is a private liberal arts college for women located in Wellesley, Massachusetts. A strong sense of community and intellectual engagement characterizes the campus life at Wellesley. Students are encouraged to actively shape their educational experience, both inside and outside the classroom. The college boasts over 180 student-run organizations, from cultural clubs to athletic teams to political groups.

Wellesley College Acceptance Rate for the Class of 2027
Number of ApplicationsAccepted StudentsAcceptance Rate
Total8,4001,09213%

Tufts University

Tufts University is a private research university located in Medford and Somerville, Massachusetts. Tufts University is known for its commitment to interdisciplinary study and research. Many courses and initiatives focus on global health, sustainability, and innovation, and students are encouraged to engage in collaborative projects across different fields. The university has a strong network of alumni who are leaders in fields such as business, politics, and the arts, and who are committed to supporting current students in their personal and professional development.

Tufts University Acceptance Rate for the Class of 2027
Number of ApplicationsAccepted StudentsAcceptance Rate
Total34,0003,2309.5%

Your Dream Undergraduate Experience at a Little Ivy

The Little Ivies represent a unique and compelling option for students seeking a transformative and empowering undergraduate experience. These colleges offer rigorous academic programs across a wide range of fields, as well as distinctive features such as vibrant campus communities, interdisciplinary study and research opportunities, and a strong commitment to social responsibility and community service.

Whether students attend Wellesley College, Tufts University, or another Little Ivy, they will receive a well-rounded education that prepares them for success in their personal and professional lives. With their small class sizes, personalized attention from faculty, and focus on intellectual curiosity and critical thinking, the Little Ivies provide an exceptional environment for students to explore their passions, develop their skills, and positively impact the world.