Best Small Colleges in America

The best small colleges are a fantastic way to experience post-secondary school with a tight-knit community. With small colleges, you’ll have better one-on-one learning experiences with smaller class sizes. However, as the enrollment rates are significantly lower than large universities, tiny colleges are often more competitive.

If you’re looking for a more exclusive learning platform, we highly recommend considering the ten schools we’ve reviewed in this list.

Accredited Programs That Might Interest You
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Each of these institutions meets the following criteria:

  • An average annual cost of no more than $21,000
  • A median starting salary no lower than $60,000 after graduation
  • Accredited programs by recognized bodies

10 Best Small Colleges

1. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

4 Year; Houston, TX

Average Annual Cost: $5,658

When it comes to pursuing a medical degree, you’ll want to ensure you have many programs available to you. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is one of the most well-rounded options with undergraduate and graduate degrees. Students will find many undergrad programs, including diagnostic imaging, cytotechnology, clinical laboratory science, and medical dosimetry.

This school also has several Ph.D. programs, including medical physics, quantitative sciences, genetics and epigenetics, and cancer biology. Undoubtedly, you can find the ideal specialty to help you pursue your future dream career. Each program boasts an impressive list of faculty members paired with a diverse curriculum to help improve your qualifications.

Aside from their graduate and undergraduate programs, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has more to offer. They have summer research programs paired with general research training and postdoctoral training. Students can also enroll in continuing education courses, comparative effectiveness training, observer programs, and conferences.

If you’re interested in becoming a nurse, this school also has various nursing-training programs, including post-graduate fellowships and residency programs for clinical nurses. Regardless of whether you want to become a doctor or a medical technician, there are many healthcare-related programs to consider.

2. United States Merchant Marine Academy

4 Year; Kings Point, NY

Average Annual Cost: $6,433

Enlisting in the Armed Forces is an achievement within itself, and the programs from the United States Merchant Marine Academy can help diversify your skills. Their collection of unique study pathways assist Merchant Marine Officers with acquiring specialty skills to assist with their enlistment. Also, they can provide you with employable skills once you’ve completed your service.

It’s important to note that the United States Merchant Marine Academy is one of the most rigorous small schools nationwide. Their curriculum is a blend of challenging coursework paired with hands-on, real-world experiences working on military vessels worldwide. There’s no doubt that midshipmen are likely to find their programs to be far more demanding than the average baccalaureate degree program.

Currently, there are seven different programs that students can enroll in depending on the specialty they’re interested in. The programs at United States Merchant Marine Academy include:

  • Naval Science
  • Marine Transportation
  • Marine Engineering Systems
  • Mathematics and Science
  • Humanities
  • Physical Education and Athletics
  • Naval Science

3. The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

4 Year; San Antonio, TX

Average Annual Cost: $7,068

Students at U.T. Health San Antonio can choose from an assortment of health-related programs to explore a career in medicine. As one of the smaller schools in the state, you’ll find your learning opportunities more focused and hands-on. Like many other medical schools, there is an assortment of programs to consider.

Before choosing your specific specialty, students must first decide which program to enroll in. Currently, the school features the following centers:

  • Joe R. & Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine
  • School of Nursing
  • School of Dentistry
  • Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
  • School of Health Professions

Once you’ve selected the broad avenue you’re interested in, you can then choose the program that best suits your needs. For example, the School of Health Professions features degrees in occupational therapy, respiratory care, physical therapy, and emergency health sciences. On the other hand, the School of Dentistry focuses primarily on oral health-related careers.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio has about 70 degree specialties. There is also an assortment of post and pre-baccalaureate certificate programs. Undoubtedly, this small school helps you from start to finish while also providing continuing education throughout your career.

4. SUNY Downstate Medical Center

4 Year; Brooklyn, NY

Average Annual Cost: $7,274

Like UT Health San Antonio, SUNY Downstate Medical Center has an exceptional collection of programs in health sciences. Students will find it straightforward to find an area of specialty they want to study. When you enroll in the school, you’ll have to decide which pathway you’ll be interested in taking, which can include:

  • College of Medicine
  • College of Nursing
  • School of Health Professions
  • School of Public Health
  • School of Graduate Studies
  • Office of Graduate Medical Education
  • Office of Continuing Medical Education
  • Center for Healthcare Simulation

At SUNY Downstate Medical Center, students will receive in-class and hands-on experience in their study area. With the help of the Center for Healthcare Simulation, students can immerse themselves in real-world scenarios with simulation-based learning. This feature is undoubtedly one of the most modernized components of your coursework.

Within each individual program, students will choose a specialty they want to focus on. For example, the School of Public Health focuses on providing healthcare to immigrant populations and healthcare equity. As an alternative, the College of Nursing has various programs to mold and educate nurses from a mixture of backgrounds.

5. The University of Texas Medical Branch

4 Year; Galveston, TX

Average Annual Cost: $7,466

If you’re looking for a health science school with a small student body, The University of Texas Medical Branch is a great option. They currently have around 3,200 enrolled students and 900 faculty members. With that said, you can guarantee smaller class sizes, helping you receive a more thorough education.

There are multiple schools within the university that you can attend, depending on your area of study. Currently, students can enroll in nursing, health professions, and medicine. If you need post-graduate education, there’s also the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

One of the most significant advantages to The University of Texas Medical Branch is its facilities. Students will have access to state-of-the-art equipment suitable for larger institutions for a small school. Even the medical library is one of the most impressive in the state.

If you’re looking for a university that can give you real-world experience, this is a great school to consider. The University of Texas Medical Branch works with a network of clinics and hospitals to offer specialized medical care instruction. Also, they have an assortment of research facilities that students can use during their enrollment.

6. Upstate Medical University

4 Year; Upstate Medical University

Average Annual Cost: $7,525

Upstate Medical University features innovative programs that support students from their first day of university throughout their careers. As a prospective student, you can sign up for a specialty within various learning pathways. Even after you graduate, there are continuing education opportunities you can enroll in to diversify your skills.

You’ll find several colleges and programs within Upstate Medical University, such as the College of Health Professions, College of Nursing, College of Medicine, and College of Graduate Studies. Students can also access collaborative programs, medical residencies, and continuing education for medical and nursing programs.

There is an assortment of fantastic specialties that you can focus on during your time at school. Some of the most popular programs for students include:

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Respiratory Therapy
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Medical Imaging
  • Clinical Perfusion
  • R.N. to B.S.
  • Physician Assistant

7. University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

4 Year; Little Rock, AR

Average Annual Cost: $8,147

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences was initially developed to better the health of the general Arkansas area. Currently, they are a smaller medical science school with an assortment of fabulous learning opportunities. Students will have access to state-of-the-art facilities to help them prepare for a digitally charged future in medicine.

There are plenty of features that make this school one of the top options for prospective medical professionals. Most notably, they create family-centered programs to help medical doctors and other specialists to refine their patient-centered skills. You’ll also find the majority of the curriculum revolves around team-care, research, and developing advanced public health knowledge.

Students will have a collection of medical programs to choose from once they enroll in the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. You’ll find the majority of their learning pathways are structured similarly to other medical science schools. Currently, you can enroll in the following academic programs:

  • College of Nursing
  • College of Health Professions
  • College of Public Health
  • College of Medicine
  • College of Pharmacy
  • Graduate School

With enrollment at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, you’ll be able to work towards your medical degree from start to finish. Students won’t have to worry about switching institutions for their graduate degrees, depending on their specialty.

8. Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center – New Orleans

4 Year; New Orleans, LA

Average Annual Cost: $8,644

LSU (Louisiana State University) is one of the country’s most notable schools in itself. By enrolling in Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center – New Orleans, you can acquire an outstanding education. You’ll find that not only is the campus located in one of the most culturally-driven cities in the world but also one of the friendliest.

With smaller class sizes, you’ll have access to a fabulous education with one-on-one learning opportunities. Students can choose from an assortment of healthcare programs, including nursing, public health, medicine, dentistry, and allied health professions. Once it comes time for your post-graduate studies, LSU’s Health Sciences Center also features a school of graduate studies.

With a graduate program, you’ll be able to narrow in on a specialty that suits your future career. A few examples of popular graduate programs include:

  • M.S. in Biomedical Sciences
  • Ph.D. in Microbiology, Immunology, Parasitology
  • Ph.D. in Neuroscience
  • Ph.D. in Cell Biology and Anatomy
  • Ph.D. in Genetics

Another unique option for medical students is the M.D./Ph.D. program. You can simultaneously take your M.D. and Ph.D. courses to receive a joint degree upon graduation from this program. Alternatively, you can enroll in interdisciplinary studies, which allows you to experience an integrated curriculum.

9. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

4 Year; Lubbock, TX

Average Annual Cost: $8,670

The world of healthcare has never been more competitive than it is right now. With that said, students need to get a top-tier education to stand out amongst their peers. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center has a unique curriculum to help develop some of the most renowned medical professionals.

You’ll find a collection of academic programs spanning several health-related sciences, including biomedical sciences, health professions, nursing, and medicine. The school also features the Jerry H. Hodge School of Pharmacy, ideal for those working towards a Doctor of Pharmacy. Undoubtedly, there is an assortment of programs students can enroll in, some of which include:

  • Rehabilitation Sciences
  • Laboratory Sciences and Primary Care
  • Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences
  • Clinical Counseling and Mental Health
  • Healthcare Management and Leadership
  • Family Medicine
  • Fellowships and Residencies
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing

10. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Worldwide

4 Year; Daytona Beach, FL

Average Annual Cost: $20,333

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Worldwide is a unique option for prospective students looking for various degrees. Their programs are ideal if you’re interested in studying aviation, applied science, engineering, space, computers and technology, business, or security, intelligence, and safety. Students will enroll in associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, Ph.D., certificate, and non-degree programs.

Interestingly, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Worldwide also offers a collection of free online courses to help diversify your skills. One of the more unique aspects of their programs is that many can be taken in-person or online. Enrolling in an online curriculum is a fabulous way to adapt your schooling to your personal schedule if you’re currently employed.

With a significant focus on aeronautics, you’ll find the majority of the programs at this school are constructive for aviation careers. Students can acquire a B.S. in Aeronautics, an M.S. in Aerospace Engineering, and even a Ph.D. in Aviation. The options are endless and vast with enrollment at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Worldwide.

Compare your school options.

View the most relevant school for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to find your college home.