15 Best Small Colleges in the Midwest

Interested in studying in the Midwest? In this post, we have compiled a long list of the best small colleges in the Midwest to save you the stress and long hours of looking for a school to apply to. Instead, you can carefully go through this article and pick a few schools that pique your interest.

The Midwestern United States or Midwest is a term used to refer to the north-central states of the United States of America. There are 12 states in the Midwest which are Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

These twelve states collectively make up the Midwest and you can have the opportunity to study at one of the colleges in any of these states. The institutions in the Midwest are ranking in programs and courses among the world’s best and studying here will let you partake in world-class education whose education quality is recognized worldwide.

In this post, we have discussed the best small colleges in the Midwest, it could be in any of the 12 states, these colleges are small by landmass or population or both. This poses an advantage because the small size means that the campus is less crowded, the classrooms are also less crowded and there is greater interaction between students and teachers.

One of the challenges that top institutions have is that they are very populated, while these small Midwestern colleges will have about 2,000 to 5,000 students, bigger, popular institutions will be having about 25,000 to 60,000 students. There is less interaction between students and teacher and getting to have your professor to yourself, even for a little while, is hard.

Unlike these small Midwestern colleges, lesser students mean lesser demand to meet a lecturer and if you do want to meet them, you can do it anytime you want and spend time with them. During these one-on-one interactions between student and teacher, the student gets to gain a lot of valuable information from their lecturers which they can equally apply as solutions to where they are having issues.

Also, these best small colleges in the Midwest aren’t competitive neither are their admission requirements tough. So, if you don’t have shiny grades and want to pursue an undergraduate degree program, these small Midwestern colleges are your best option. And you can only pursue an undergraduate degree program at these colleges because it is their main focus.

You can earn a bachelor’s degree in a wide range of programs including computer science, electrical engineering, liberal arts, business, psychology, biology, educational fields, and many more. The conferred degrees are also recognized in the workforce by HR all over the world.

Make your choice of the institution from any of the colleges below and follow the appropriate link to learn more about specific program requirements.


Best Small Colleges in the Midwest

Make a choice from the best small colleges in the Midwest listed below. Also, you can always apply to more than one of these schools to have more chances of getting admitted.

1.      Carleton College

Carleton College is one of the best small colleges in the Midwest. It was established in 1866 as a private liberal arts college in Northfield, Minnesota. The total campus size is 1,040 acres, it is small and a close-knit community where you will gain critical thinking and problem-solving skills, develop your creativity, and effective communication tools to better understand the world.

The college offers more than 50 majors that students can choose from. If none of the majors interest you, you can create new ones and receive a quality education that aligns with your interest. Finally, the colleges offer financial aids to students to make their tuition as cheap as possible.

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2.      Kenyon College

Just like Carleton, Kenyon College is also a private liberal arts college but it is located in Gambier, Ohio one of the 12 states in the Midwest. Kenyon is one of the best small colleges in the Midwest established in 1824 and offers only undergraduate programs. Competition in this school isn’t high and admits about 80% of applicants annually.

From previous data, there are only 1,740 students enrolled in its 1,000-acre campus which is set in a rural community. Kenyon’s curriculum is wide and deep, offering over 50 majors, minors, and concentrations and you can do a double major or design one that suits you better. Financial aids and scholarships are also available.

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3.      Grinnell College

Grinnell College is one of the best small colleges in the Midwest founded in 1846 by a group of New England Congregationalists. In recent rankings, Grinnell ranks 13th for the best liberal arts college in the United States. Grinnell is a place where you can explore a wide range of academic interests, including science and medical courses, and get the support you need to pursue a program after your own heart.

There are over 500 courses for you to choose from or design your own. Grinnell has to be the smallest college with most programs.

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4.      Macalester College

Macalester is a private liberal arts college offering only four-year undergraduate programs. It was established in 1874 in Saint Paul Minnesota and accepts international students. It is one of the best small colleges in the Midwest resting on 53 acres of land and admitted 2,174 students in the fall of 2018.

Here at Macalester College, there are more than 800 rich and diverse courses for you to choose from. These courses are taught by internationally and nationally recognized professors who have made outstanding contributions in their respective fields. There are 38 majors, 40 minors, and 10 concentrations all designed to successfully set you up for the next phase of your life.

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5.      DePauw University

DePauw University is a vibrant, diverse, and multicultural community of learners from the United States and over 32 countries. The university is a private liberal arts institution of higher learning located in Greencastle, Indiana. At DePauw, you get to partake in their “gold standard academics” to make you ready for personal and professional success.

You can choose from the wide range of majors, minors, and pathways offered at DePauw or you can create your own. All academic programs are four years and lead to a bachelor’s degree aside from the Medicine and Health Pathway program. The science courses here are few but art and social sciences courses are many, over a 100.

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6.      Denison University

Denison University was founded in 1831 in Granville, Ohio as a private art college. It has been consistently ranked among the best small colleges in the Midwest and offers only four-year programs. As a small college, the student population isn’t much, there are about 2,200 students offering 60 academic programs.

The students at Denison University come from all 50 states and 37 countries, this makes the institution and diverse, multicultural environment. A wide range of art and social science majors are offered here but the popular majors include communication, economics, English, biology, and history.

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7.        College of the Ozarks

If you are all about getting an education from a Christian school then the College of the Ozarks is the place for you. The college was founded in 1906 in a rural setting in Point Lookout, Missouri. Over 1,400 students are enrolled in her 30 academic majors in Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science programs. It also ranks number 1 on the U.S News & World Report category of Best Regional Colleges in the Midwest.

Admissions and financial aid at C of O work differently. It is required that incoming students demonstrate the financial need to be accepted and when you get accepted, you will be charged no tuition if you are going for a full-time program. The college has students work program and donations where students are required to work 15 hours weekly on campus and two 40-hour work weeks during breaks.

Due to this program, students aren’t charged tuition.

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8.      Oberlin College

Oberlin College is one of the best small colleges in the Midwest, located in Oberlin Ohio. The College of Arts and Sciences at Oberlin offers an expansive and rigorous education program of over 40 academic majors and over 12 interdisciplinary minors and integrative concentrations. Students who want to become professional musicians can study music at the Conservatory of Music.

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9.      Wheaton College

Wheaton College is another religious institution on our list of best small colleges in the Midwest. It was established in1860 by evangelical abolitionists in Wheaton, Illinois. The college is also the first one on our list to offer both undergraduate and postgraduate programs.

The undergraduate degrees are over 40 spanning across liberal arts and sciences. There are18 graduates with degrees in various fields of study. Applications are online or through the app and every student gets a chance of getting financial aids once they are admitted.

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10. St. Olaf College

St. Olaf College is one of the best small colleges in the Midwest founded in 1874 as a private liberal arts college in Northfield, Minnesota. The college has religious affiliations and, so far, the third one on the list. Those who are looking for a religious-affiliated college now have more options on where to apply.

The aim of the college is to challenge students to excel in the liberal arts, examine faith and values, and explore meaningful vocation in an inclusive, globally engaged community nourished by Lutheran tradition. Only undergraduate programs are offered. There is a wide range of majors and concentrations for students to choose from. All programs lead to a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Music.

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11. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (RHIT)

This is the first science and technology school on our list of best small colleges in the Midwest. Those who want to pursue engineering, math, or science degree in a small college can do so at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. The curricula here are deeply focused on engineering and natural sciences in undergraduate levels of study but there is a small graduate program though.

For 23 years, RHIT has been consecutively ranked the number 1 engineering college for undergraduates by U.S News & World Report. The academic programs cover a wide range of engineering and science courses including biomedical engineering, computer engineering, civil engineering, and electrical engineering.

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12. Illinois Institute of Technology

Another technological school for science students is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois established in1890. Illinois Tech, as it is commonly referred to, is one of the best small colleges in the Midwest. However, unlike the school above, this one offers undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctorate degrees not just in science and engineering alone but also in arts.

There are programs in business, communication, design, engineering, psychology, architecture, and more. Illinois Tech has five colleges, an institute, and a business school through which these programs as well as a wide range of other programs are offered.

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13. Monmouth College

Monmouth College is in Illinois and is recognized among the best small colleges. It is a private Presbyterian liberal arts college and enrolls around 900 students from 21 countries and a core curriculum that includes 40 majors, 43 minors, and 17 pre-professional programs.

Monmouth focuses on undergraduate teaching with programs spanning across several interdisciplinary fields, sciences, arts, humanities, foreign languages, and more. The college also offers premedical and pre-engineering programs.

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14. Nebraska Wesleyan University

Nebraska Wesleyan University offers both undergraduate and postgraduate programs, but it is more centered on undergraduate programs and has very few students in the postgraduate level. The institution teaches in the tradition of a liberal arts college education and has over 100 undergraduate majors, minors, and pre-professional programs. There are just three graduate programs.

The university is dedicated to intellectual and personal growth within the context of a liberal arts education and in an environment of Christian concern. It is also an institution committed to excellence in all aspects of academic endeavor.

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15. Concordia College

Concordia College is in Moorhead, Minnesota and it is one of the best small colleges in the Midwest. There are over 120 areas of study and 13 pre-professional programs to choose from. The college promises that you will have access to internships, research, and global learning experience no matter the program you have chosen to study.

The college is divided into three schools; Schools of Health Professions, Arts and Sciences, and Business all offering diverse programs designed to develop your critical thinking and creative skills. The college also has a Graduate and Continuing Education division where you can choose from graduate, post-baccalaureate, accelerated programs or professional development courses.

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This brings an end to the best small colleges in the Midwest, all 15 of these institutions are top ranking in one way or the other, and getting into one of them will get you the education required to develop your potential. Whether it is in the sciences, arts, humanities, or technology the colleges here have got you covered.

They all offer financial aid and scholarship opportunities to their students. Once you apply and get accepted, you are automatically eligible for financial aid.


Are small colleges in the Midwest good in academics?

Small colleges that are actually good in academics have produced a number of alumni who have made big names for themselves in one industry or the other. You could be the next big name.