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2021 Best Liberal Arts General Studies Schools

1,019 Colleges
$26,786 Avg Salary
$16,538 Avg Student Debt

Finding the Best Liberal Arts General Studies School for You

In 2018-2019, 547,539 degrees and certificates were awarded to liberal arts general studies students, making the major the most popular in the country.

When it comes to higher education, there are a lot of options for students. You can choose a traditional brick and mortar school, or with the growth of online education, you can attend a school half-way across the country without even leaving your house. Also there are many trade schools that offer short-term programs that open up more career options.

Along with in-depth profiles of schools and the programs they offer, Course Advisor has created the Best Liberal Arts General Studies Schools to help you in your search for the best school for you. This report analyzed 1,019 schools in the United States to see which ones offered the best programs for students. To come up with a school's ranking, we analyzed numerous factors related to post-graduation wages, the quality of education offered by the school, average accumulated student debt, and more.

View our full ranking methodology.

2021 Best Liberal Arts General Studies Schools in the United States

The colleges and universities below are the best for liberal arts majors pursuing a .

Top 25 Top Schools in Liberal Arts

#1

Bentley University

Waltham, MA

Our analysis found Bentley University to be the best school for liberal arts general studies students who want to pursue a degree in the United States. Located in the small city of Waltham, Bentley is a private not-for-profit school with a moderately-sized student population.

Liberal Arts majors at Bentley take out an average of $25,283 in student loans while working on their egree. The average monthly payment of a loan this size is about $262, assuming that the borrower is on a 10-year repayment plan.

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#2

Excelsior College

Albany, NY

A rank of #2 on this year’s list means Excelsior College is a great place for liberal arts general studies students. Located in the small city of Albany, Excelsior College is a private not-for-profit college with a very large student population.

While working on their degree, liberal arts majors at Excelsior College accumulate an average of around $7,456 in student debt. For students who choose a 10-year repayment plan, the average monthly student loan payment is $78.

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Out of the 1,019 schools in the United States that were part of this year’s ranking, American Public University System landed the # 3 spot on the list. American Military University is a fairly large private for-profit school located in the town of Charles Town.

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#4

Saint Joseph's University

Philadelphia, PA

You’ll be in good company if you decide to attend Saint Joseph’s University. It ranked #4 on our 2021 Best Liberal Arts General Studies Schools list. Located in the city of Philadelphia, St. Joe's is a private not-for-profit college with a moderately-sized student population.

Liberal Arts majors at St. Joe's take out an average of $26,406 in student loans while working on their egree. Assuming that a graduate chooses a 10-year repayment plan, the average monthly loan payment is $274.

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#5

DePaul University

Chicago, IL

The excellent programs at DePaul University helped the school earn the #5 place on this year’s ranking of the best liberal arts general studies schools in the United States. Located in the city of Chicago, DePaul is a private not-for-profit school with a very large student population.

After completing their degree, liberal arts graduates from DePaul carry an average student debtload of $43,718. This translates to an average monthly loan payment of $488, based on a 10-year repayment plan.

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#6

Georgetown University

Washington, DC

Georgetown University came in at #6 in this year’s edition of the Best Liberal Arts General Studies Schools ranking. Located in the large city of Washington, Georgetown is a private not-for-profit college with a large student population.

Liberal Arts majors at Georgetown take out an average of $39,684 in student loans while working on their egree. This translates to an average monthly loan payment of $452, based on a 10-year repayment plan.

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#7

Stony Brook University

Stony Brook, NY

With a ranking of #7, Stony Brook University did quite well on this year’s best schools for liberal arts general studies students. Located in the large suburb of Stony Brook, SUNY Stony Brook is a public school with a fairly large student population.

On average, liberal arts graduates from SUNY Stony Brook take out $19,200 in student loans while working on their degree. Assuming that a graduate chooses a 10-year repayment plan, the average monthly loan payment is $224.

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#8

Central Texas College

Killeen, TX

Central Texas College landed the #8 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best liberal arts general studies programs. Located in the medium-sized suburb of Killeen, Central Texas College is a public college with a fairly large student population.

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#9

Villanova University

Villanova, PA

Villanova University landed the #9 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best liberal arts general studies programs. Located in the suburb of Villanova, Villanova is a private not-for-profit school with a large student population.

On average, liberal arts graduates from Villanova take out $29,224 in student loans while working on their degree. Assuming that a graduate chooses a 10-year repayment plan, the average monthly loan payment is $323.

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#10

Columbia Southern University

Orange Beach, AL

Columbia Southern University ranked #10 on this year’s Best Liberal Arts General Studies Schools list. Located in the fringe town of Orange Beach, Columbia Southern University is a private for-profit school with a fairly large student population.

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#11

Sheridan College

Sheridan, WY

Sheridan College landed the #11 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best liberal arts general studies programs. Located in the remote town of Sheridan, Northern Wyoming Community College District is a public school with a small student population.

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#12

Charter Oak State College

New Britain, CT

Charter Oak State College did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best schools for liberal arts general studies students. It came in at #12 on the list. Charter Oak State College is a small public school located in the suburb of New Britain.

The average amount in student loans that liberal arts majors at Charter Oak State College take out is $14,388. This translates to an average monthly loan payment of $150, based on a 10-year repayment plan.

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#13

University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, IN

With a ranking of #13, University of Notre Dame did quite well on this year’s best schools for liberal arts general studies students. Located in the suburb of Notre Dame, Notre Dame is a private not-for-profit college with a fairly large student population.

Liberal Arts majors at Notre Dame take out an average of $19,000 in student loans while working on their egree. Assuming that a graduate chooses a 10-year repayment plan, the average monthly loan payment is $197.

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#14

University of Iowa

Iowa City, IA

University of Iowa ranked #14 on this year’s Best Liberal Arts General Studies Schools list. Iowa is a fairly large public school located in the city of Iowa City.

After completing their degree, liberal arts graduates from Iowa carry an average student debtload of $24,150. Assuming that a graduate chooses a 10-year repayment plan, the average monthly loan payment is $251.

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University of Maryland - University College did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best schools for liberal arts general studies students. It came in at #15 on the list. Located in the suburb of Adelphi, University of Maryland - University College is a public school with a fairly large student population.

Liberal Arts majors at University of Maryland - University College take out an average of $17,370 in student loans while working on their egree. The average monthly payment of a loan this size is about $180, assuming that the borrower is on a 10-year repayment plan.

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Northern Virginia Community College ranked #16 on this year’s Best Liberal Arts General Studies Schools list. Located in the large suburb of Annandale, Northern Virginia Community College is a public college with a very large student population.

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#17

Xavier University

Cincinnati, OH

Xavier University did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best schools for liberal arts general studies students. It came in at #17 on the list. Xavier is a moderately-sized private not-for-profit school located in the large city of Cincinnati.

After completing their degree, liberal arts graduates from Xavier carry an average student debtload of $23,250. The average monthly payment of a loan this size is about $241, assuming that the borrower is on a 10-year repayment plan.

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#18

William Jewell College

Liberty, MO

William Jewell College ranked #18 on this year’s Best Liberal Arts General Studies Schools list. Located in the suburb of Liberty, William Jewell is a private not-for-profit college with a fairly small student population.

Liberal Arts majors at William Jewell take out an average of $25,375 in student loans while working on their egree. The average monthly payment of a loan this size is about $263, assuming that the borrower is on a 10-year repayment plan.

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#19

Harvard University

Cambridge, MA

Harvard University did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best schools for liberal arts general studies students. It came in at #19 on the list. Located in the city of Cambridge, Harvard is a private not-for-profit school with a fairly large student population.

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#20

Purdue University - Main Campus

West Lafayette, IN

Purdue University - Main Campus came in at #20 in this year’s edition of the Best Liberal Arts General Studies Schools ranking. Located in the small city of West Lafayette, Purdue is a public school with a fairly large student population.

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#21

Drexel University

Philadelphia, PA

Drexel University did quite well in this year’s ranking of the best schools for liberal arts general studies students. It came in at #21 on the list. Drexel is a fairly large private not-for-profit school located in the city of Philadelphia.

On average, liberal arts graduates from Drexel take out $26,500 in student loans while working on their degree. The average monthly payment of a loan this size is about $275, assuming that the borrower is on a 10-year repayment plan.

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#22

Lincoln Land Community College

Springfield, IL

Lincoln Land Community College ranked #22 on this year’s Best Liberal Arts General Studies Schools list. Located in the medium-sized city of Springfield, LLCC is a public school with a medium-sized student population.

The average amount in student loans that liberal arts majors at LLCC take out is $12,125. The average monthly payment of a loan this size is about $126, assuming that the borrower is on a 10-year repayment plan.

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Brigham Young University - Provo came in at #23 in this year’s edition of the Best Liberal Arts General Studies Schools ranking. Located in the medium-sized city of Provo, BYU is a private not-for-profit college with a very large student population.

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Hobart and William Smith Colleges ranked #24 on this year’s Best Liberal Arts General Studies Schools list. The Colleges is a small private not-for-profit school located in the distant town of Geneva.

After completing their degree, liberal arts graduates from The Colleges carry an average student debtload of $23,750. The average monthly payment of a loan this size is about $246, assuming that the borrower is on a 10-year repayment plan.

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#25

Bismarck State College

Bismarck, ND

Bismarck State College landed the #25 spot in the 2021 rankings for the best liberal arts general studies programs. Located in the city of Bismarck, BSC is a public college with a small student population.

While working on their degree, liberal arts majors at BSC accumulate an average of around $10,450 in student debt. The average monthly payment of a loan this size is about $108, assuming that the borrower is on a 10-year repayment plan.

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Rest of the Top 50 Schools for Best Liberal Arts General Studies Schools

#26

Wesleyan University

Middletown, CT
#30

Grand View University

Des Moines, IA
#31

Union College New York

Schenectady, NY
#33

Providence College

Providence, RI
#34

Belmont University

Nashville, TN
#35

Columbia College

Columbia, MO
#39

University of North Dakota

Grand Forks, ND
#47

James Madison University

Harrisonburg, VA
#49

Endicott College

Beverly, MA

Remaining Award Winners

This section shows the rest of the colleges awarded a Best Liberal Arts General Studies Schools badge. Showing in this list means the college was ranked in the top 15% of the 1019 different United States liberal arts general studies schools we analyzed.

Rank College Location
51 Anoka-Ramsey Community College Coon Rapids, MN
52 University of Kansas Lawrence, KS
53 Northland Community and Technical College Thief River Falls, MN
54 University of Illinois at Springfield Springfield, IL
55 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS
56 Longwood University Farmville, VA
57 Florida SouthWestern State College Fort Myers, FL
58 University of Northern Iowa Cedar Falls, IA
59 University of South Florida Sarasota - Manatee Sarasota, FL
60 Lake Region State College Devils Lake, ND
61 Azusa Pacific University College San Dimas, CA
62 George Mason University Fairfax, VA
63 Des Moines Area Community College Ankeny, IA
64 Westfield State University Westfield, MA
65 Santa Fe College Gainesville, FL
66 Prince George’s Community College Largo, MD
67 University of Connecticut Storrs, CT
68 Saint Leo University Saint Leo, FL
69 Vincennes University Vincennes, IN
70 Indiana Wesleyan University-National & Global Marion, IN
71 Delgado Community College New Orleans, LA
72 Massachusetts Bay Community College Wellesley Hills, MA
73 University of Louisiana at Monroe Monroe, LA
74 University of Oklahoma Norman Campus Norman, OK
75 CUNY Graduate School and University Center New York, NY
76 Rochester Institute of Technology Rochester, NY
77 Central Lakes College-Brainerd Brainerd, MN
78 William Peace University Raleigh, NC
79 Saint Mary’s College of California Moraga, CA
80 University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth North Dartmouth, MA
81 Bridgewater College Bridgewater, VA
82 Lake Superior College Duluth, MN
83 Pennsylvania State University - Schuylkill Schuylkill Haven, PA
84 Bay Path University Longmeadow, MA
85 Normandale Community College Bloomington, MN
86 Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles, CA
87 Florida State College at Jacksonville Jacksonville, FL
88 Wayland Baptist University Plainview, TX
89 University of North Texas Denton, TX
90 Pennsylvania State University - Fayette - Eberly Campus Lemont Furnace, PA
91 University of Bridgeport Bridgeport, CT
92 Inver Hills Community College Inver Grove Heights, MN
93 The University of Texas at Arlington Arlington, TX
94 Minnesota State Community and Technical College Fergus Falls, MN
95 Eastern Illinois University Charleston, IL
96 City Colleges of Chicago-Harold Washington College Chicago, IL
96 Rider University Lawrenceville, NJ
98 Pennsylvania State University - Berks Reading, PA
99 Pennsylvania State University - Dubois DuBois, PA
100 Simpson College Indianola, IA
101 Indiana University - Purdue University - Indianapolis Indianapolis, IN
102 University of South Florida - Main Campus Tampa, FL
103 University of South Carolina - Columbia Columbia, SC
104 The King’s College New York, NY
105 Mesa Community College Mesa, AZ
106 Western Illinois University Macomb, IL
107 Texas State University San Marcos, TX
108 Lone Star College System The Woodlands, TX
109 Washington State University Pullman, WA
110 University of Wisconsin - Green Bay Green Bay, WI
111 Wake Technical Community College Raleigh, NC
112 Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ
113 Ball State University Muncie, IN
114 Century College White Bear Lake, MN
115 Rowan University Glassboro, NJ
116 Middle Tennessee State University Murfreesboro, TN
117 Johnson County Community College Overland Park, KS
118 Pennsylvania State University - York York, PA
119 Framingham State University Framingham, MA
120 University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh Oshkosh, WI
121 Oklahoma State University - Main Campus Stillwater, OK
122 Neumann University Aston, PA
123 Houston Community College Houston, TX
124 Sam Houston State University Huntsville, TX
125 Saint Cloud State University Saint Cloud, MN
126 New York University New York, NY
127 West Texas A&M University Canyon, TX
128 McLennan Community College Waco, TX
129 Pennsylvania State University - Hazleton Hazleton, PA
130 Ridgewater College Willmar, MN
131 Pennsylvania State University - Lehigh Valley Center Valley, PA
132 Eastern Connecticut State University Willimantic, CT
133 St Charles Community College Cottleville, MO
134 William Paterson University of New Jersey Wayne, NJ
135 Ohio State University - Newark Campus Newark, OH
136 Minnesota State University - Mankato Mankato, MN
137 Pennsylvania State University - Mont Alto Mont Alto, PA
138 North Hennepin Community College Brooklyn Park, MN
139 Grand Rapids Community College Grand Rapids, MI
140 Ramapo College of New Jersey Mahwah, NJ
141 St. Joseph’s College-Long Island Patchogue, NY
142 Northwest Iowa Community College Sheldon, IA
143 Oakland University Rochester Hills, MI
144 Texas Woman’s University Denton, TX
145 Rutgers University - Camden Camden, NJ
146 University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA
147 Palomar College San Marcos, CA
148 Shorter University Rome, GA
149 Valencia College Orlando, FL
150 Delta College University Center, MI
151 BridgeValley Community & Technical College South Charleston, WV
152 Saddleback College Mission Viejo, CA

Additional Noteworthy Schools

These are some additional schools worth mentioning that are also great but just didn't quite make the cut to earn our top Best Liberal Arts General Studies Schools award.

Rank College Location
153 Seminole State College of Florida Sanford, FL
154 Lewis - Clark State College Lewiston, ID
155 Kent State University at Geauga Burton, OH
156 Pennsylvania State University - Worthington Scranton Dunmore, PA
157 Bemidji State University Bemidji, MN
158 Aims Community College Greeley, CO
159 Hillsborough Community College Tampa, FL
160 Pennsylvania State University - Shenango Sharon, PA
161 Pennsylvania State University - University Park University Park, PA
162 Baker College Flint, MI
163 University of Central Missouri Warrensburg, MO
164 University of Massachusetts - Lowell Lowell, MA
165 Ohio State University - Main Campus Columbus, OH
166 Kent State University at Trumbull Warren, OH
167 Northwest Vista College San Antonio, TX
168 Polk State College Winter Haven, FL
169 Emporia State University Emporia, KS
170 Indiana University - Bloomington Bloomington, IN
171 Lindenwood University Saint Charles, MO
172 Alexandria Technical & Community College Alexandria, MN
173 Kent State University at Salem Salem, OH
174 Wichita State University Wichita, KS
175 Florida Gateway College Lake City, FL
176 Kent State University at Ashtabula Ashtabula, OH
177 Anne Arundel Community College Arnold, MD
178 Fairleigh Dickinson University - Metropolitan Campus Teaneck, NJ
179 Troy University Troy, AL
180 Hutchinson Community College Hutchinson, KS
181 Notre Dame of Maryland University Baltimore, MD
182 University of Mary Washington Fredericksburg, VA
183 Ranger College Ranger, TX
184 Ohio State University - Marion Campus Marion, OH
185 Georgia Southern University Statesboro, GA
186 California University of Pennsylvania California, PA
187 Kirkwood Community College Cedar Rapids, IA
188 East Carolina University Greenville, NC
189 Pennsylvania State University - Altoona Altoona, PA
190 Central Piedmont Community College Charlotte, NC
191 Indian River State College Fort Pierce, FL
192 Pennsylvania State University - Abington Abington, PA
193 University of Missouri - St Louis Saint Louis, MO
194 Bergen Community College Paramus, NJ
195 Brookhaven College Farmers Branch, TX
196 Tennessee Technological University Cookeville, TN
197 Pennsylvania State University - Erie - Behrend College Erie, PA
198 Whitworth University - Adult Degree Programs Spokane, WA
199 East Los Angeles College Monterey Park, CA
200 California State University - Northridge Northridge, CA
201 Ohio State University - Mansfield Campus Mansfield, OH
202 Brazosport College Lake Jackson, TX
203 Eastern Florida State College Cocoa, FL

Liberal Arts General Studies by Region

View the Best Liberal Arts General Studies Schools for a specific region near you.

Region
Southeast
New England
Rocky Mountains
Plains States
Middle Atlantic
Far Western US
Southwest
Great Lakes

Notes and References

*These averages are for the top 25 schools only.

  • Read more about our ranking methodology.
  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a branch of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) serves as the core of the rest of our data about colleges.
  • Some other college data, including much of the graduate earnings data, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s (College Scorecard).

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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