2016 Ranking of Best U.S. Women’s Colleges
Women’s colleges in the United States are alive and well. Many historic women’s colleges are still thriving according to their original mission, and some others that have been historically limited to women now admit male students in their ranks. Our list highlights schools that are still limited to women only and is based exclusively on factors actual college freshmen said were most important to their college decision. According to the most recent nationwide survey published by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA , these factors include academic reputation, financial aid offerings, overall cost, and success of graduates in the post-college job market. Our data was derived from a variety of publicly available sources, including U.S. News & World Report, the National Center for Education Statistics, and PayScale.com.

40

Moore College of Art and Design

Moore College of Art and Design was founded in Philadelphia in 1848 as the first women’s art school in the United States. The school offers bachelor’s degrees for women as well as coeducational graduate programs. A small undergraduate enrollment of only 412 students creates an intimate and collaborative environment in which to learn, experiment, and grow. Undergraduate tudents can choose from ten majors leading to a BFA, while graduate students earn either MA or MFA degrees. Moore students can engage in special programs such as paid student teaching internships and international study in places like London and Rome.

Tuition cost: $30,048

39

Judson College

Judson College, located in Marion, Alabama, is the fifth oldest women’s college in the United States. The college is affiliated with the Alabama Baptist Convention and was named after Ann Hasseltine Judson, the first female missionary from the United States to Burma. Judson prepares students for purposeful lives by growing in knowledge, faith, service, and character. Judson students choose from 20 academic majors, 22 minors, 10 pre-professional programs, and an associate’s degree. Science, humanities, fine arts, and social science programs provide not only classroom education, but enriching experiences such as studying abroad and forming meaningful relationships with professors.

Tuition cost: $16,838

38

Cottey College

Cottey College is an independent, liberal arts and sciences college for women. The college is located in Nevada, Missouri, and is owned by a philanthropic women’s organization called the P.E.O. Sisterhood. There are currently about 300 students enrolled and 45 faculty members, allowing for small classes, often with fewer than 10 students. More than 90 percent of faculty, which includes both men and women, hold terminal degrees. Cottey College values community, inside and outside of the classroom. Students live in apartment-style suites designed with a kitchen, living room, and single or double bedrooms occupied by 10 or 12 women.

Tuition cost: $19,300

37

Bay Path University

Bay Path University, located in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, offers bachelor’s degrees for women and master’s degrees for both men and women. Students can enroll in courses on Bay Path’s 62-acre suburban campus or through the first ever all-women online college. BPU was founded in 1897 with the goal of providing practical, affordable, and career-oriented education. The school maintains this vision, offering degree programs that connect classroom learning to careers and leadership experience. More than 27 clubs and organizations allow students even more opportunities to connect active experience with what they learn in the classroom.

Tuition cost: $31,785

36

University of St. Joseph

Founded in 1932 by the Sisters of Mercy, the University of St. Joseph is a Roman Catholic women’s college with a coeducational graduate program. About 5,500 students are enrolled, engaging in a rigorous Jesuit education on the university’s 105-acre campus. Classes at USJ tend to be small, with an average of only 14 students. There are 25 undergraduate majors and 45 minors offered, as well as graduate and adult learning programs. Summer courses and online degree programs are available for those who need more flexibility. Students can choose from more than 45 countries to study abroad, either individually or on a faculty-led learning trip.

Tuition cost: $36,140

35

Spelman College

Founded in 1881 as the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary, Spelman College is a historically black, liberal arts women’s college in Atlanta, Georgia. Spelman has graduated such notable alumae as Harvard Dean Evelynn Hammonds, Sam’s Club CEO Rosalind Brewer, and Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker. Spelman offers 27 majors and opportunities to study in even more fields through the school’s partnerships in the Atlanta University Center and abroad. The Spelman MILE, or My Integrated Learning Experience, is a curriculum that creates a holistic education, connecting rigorous coursework with applied and service learning experiences.

Tuition cost: $26,388

34

College of Saint Mary

The College of Saint Mary, located in Omaha, Nebraska, is the only Catholic women’s university within a five-state area. About 1,000 students are enrolled in 30 undergraduate and seven graduate degree programs. A Saint Mary education is focused on helping women bloom into leadership in the areas of arts and sciences, business, education, health and human services, and legal studies. Students reach their leadership potential through classroom experience, campus activities, local projects, and study abroad opportunities. Within six months of commencement, 92 percent of graduates are either employed or pursuing advanced education.

Tuition cost: $28,964

33

Midway College

Located in Midway, Kentucky, Midway University is an independent, liberal arts university affiliated with the Christian Church. Midway is the only women’s college in the state of Kentucky and offers two- and four-year degree programs. Each major offered is built on a liberal arts foundation, but is also career focused. Midway has high-quality athletic and riding teams, as well as a beautiful campus. In addition to associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs, students can engage in pre-professional and honors programs at Midway. The university offers evening and online options, as well as dual enrollment for high school juniors and seniors to gain college credit.

Tuition cost: $22,000

32

Wesleyan College

Wesleyan College, the oldest member of the Seven Sisters of the South, is a liberal arts women’s college in Macon, Georgia. The college’s 200-acre campus and the surrounding district is on the National Register of Historic Places. Founded in 1836, Wesleyan was the world’s first college chartered to grant degrees to women. Wesleyan students come from more than 20 countries to study in one of the college’s 31 undergraduate majors, eight pre-professional programs, and dual degree programs in engineering. Both men and women are allowed into Wesleyan’s Executive Master of Business Administration and Master of Education in Early Childhood Education programs.

Tuition cost: $20,290

31

Sweet Briar College

Located 12 miles from Lynchburg, Virginia, Sweet Briar College is a women’s liberal arts college occupying 3,250 acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Sweet Briar’s 40 undergraduate programs, three pre-professional programs, and two graduate degree programs play a part in empowering young women to reshape their world according to their passions. Activities such as student government, outdoor programs, and campus events train Sweet Briar women to incorporate into their lives the lessons they learn outside of the classroom. Sweet Briar offers an undergraduate degree in Equine Studies, riding facilities, and individual courses as part of the Riding Program.

Tuition cost: $34,935

30

Mary Baldwin College

Mary Baldwin College, located in Stauton, Virginia, is a private liberal arts university originally founded as the Augusta Female Seminary. MBC is one of Virginia’s three women’s colleges and offers undergraduate degrees for women and graduate degrees for women and men. About 2,500 students are enrolled and led by 79 full-time and 59 part-time faculty members. Mary Baldwin boasts an educational experience that is personalized, experiential, and relevant. The entire college experience at MBC—from courses and research to community service and study abroad—is designed to equip students for a meaningful life, based on what they like to do and who they want to become.

Tuition cost: $30,331

29

Russell Sage College

Russell Sage College, a women’s college in Troy, New York, is one of three institutions that make up The Sage Colleges. Nearly 900 students are enrolled in degree programs at Russell Sage’s 15-acre historic campus. Sage students study a cross-section of subjects while engaging with the community and the world. The school offers flexible degree completion and certificate programs, such as undergraduate and graduate degrees in chemistry, occupational therapy, and writing. Study abroad, summer programs, culture and language acquisition, and honor societies give students the opportunity to enrich their educational experience outside of the classroom.

Tuition cost: $28,400

28

College of Saint Elizabeth

The College of Saint Elizabeth is a private, Roman Catholic women’s college in New Jersey’s Morris Township and Florham Park. CSE was New Jersey’s first four-year Catholic college for women and one of the first Catholic colleges in the nation to award degrees to women. A total of around 2,000 students are enrolled, including about 50 men who attend part-time. Bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees are offered at Saint Elizabeth, as are a variety of professional certificates and ministry preparation programs. Every area of study features challenging courses paired with abundant resources and support, such as cross-registration opportunities with nearby partner institutions. (Ed. note: As of fall 2016, the College of St. Elizabeth will be fully co-educational.)

Tuition cost: $31,688

27

Salem College

Salem College, founded in 1772 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is the oldest institution for women’s education in the Southern United States. Salem began as a primary school and later became a girl’s academy, before being converted to a college. The school has 945 undergraduate students and about 200 graduate students, including men who are 23 or older. All students are required to take Salem Signature courses, which develop skills and practices such as critical thinking, communication, quantitative reasoning, global awareness, and gender inquiry. The school runs on a 4-1-4 calendar, requiring four courses each term and one course each January.

Tuition cost: $26,236

26

Bennett College

Located in Greensboro, North Carolina, Bennett College was founded in 1873 to educate newly emancipated slaves. The private liberal arts school for women is historically black and is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Bennett welcomes faculty and students from diverse backgrounds and nourishes a culture of open inquiry, active scholarship, and personal empowerment. Undergraduate majors and minors are offered in the divisions of Humanities, Social Sciences and Education, and Natural and Behavioral Sciences/Mathematics. Other academic programs include Africana Women’s Studies, the Center for Global Studies, and the Honors Program at Bennett College.

Tuition cost: $18,150

25

College of Saint Benedict

The College of Saint Benedict is a Roman Catholic liberal arts women’s college in St. Joseph, Minnesota. The college enrolls around 2,000 students and has a partnership with Saint John’s University, a men’s college in neighboring Collegeville. The university welcomes students of all faiths, although 54 percent of students are Catholic. For more than 150 years, the college has been making its own coarse-grained bread and using the proceeds to fund special projects. Almost 90 percent of Saint Benedict students return after their first year. About 18 percent of the college’s graduates go to graduate school, and 79 percent enter career-related positions or service work.

Tuition cost: $40,846

24

Hollins University

Hollins University was founded in 1842 as Valley Union Seminary and is one of the oldest higher education institutions for women in the nation. The university is located on the border of Roanoke and Botetourt counties in Virginia. About 800 students are enrolled in Hollins’s all-female undergraduate and coeducational graduate programs. Hollins encourages students to learn, explore, and create as they become leaders and culture shapers. Because this kind of creative leadership is in high demand, 97 percent of graduates are employed or in graduate school within a year of finishing a degree program at Hollins.

Tuition cost: $35,635

23

Colorado Women's College

Colorado Women’s College, originally an institution of its own, is now one of eight undergraduate colleges at the University of Denver. Founded in 1888, CWC remains the only all-women’s college in the Rocky Mountain Region. The college started with shared values among founders, faculty, and students, and has used this unity to become a catalyst for personal, professional, and global change. A variety of class options allow students to complete a degree on a more flexible schedule. For example, courses may be offered once per week, in an intensive two-week format, or partially or entirely online. CWC runs on the quarter system, giving students a two-week interim between each quarter to take a class or study abroad.

Tuition cost: $44,178

22

Douglass Residential College

Located in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Douglass Residential College is a liberal arts women’s college that is part of Rutgers. Douglass is the only women’s residential college in the United States that is part of a flagship public research university. Programs include first-year orientation for Rutgers freshmen, senior year workshops, and a four-year academic engagement curriculum. Students at Douglass benefit from experiential learning opportunities such as student government, internships, and themed and language housing. Unique programs are available for Douglass women majoring in science, math, engineering, and technology fields.

Tuition cost: $28,987

21

Stephen's College

Stephens College is a women’s college in Columbia, Missouri, enrolling 850 students. Founded in 1833 as the Columbia Female Academy, the school was later renamed The Columbia Female Baptist Academy, and then Stephens Female College. Grounded in the liberal arts, the Stephens education focuses on pre-professional fields and performing arts. Students can earn degrees through the Schools of Design, Health Sciences, Interdisciplinary Studies, and Performing Arts. Each program uniquely embraces a culture of engaged learning, providing opportunities for internships, research, and creative collaboration. Students can study abroad in Italy, Korea, Ireland, and an array of other locations.

Tuition cost: $29,176

20

Agnes Scott College

Founded in 1889 as Decatur Female Seminary, Agnes Scott College is now a private liberal arts women’s college. The college is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church and with institutions such as the Georgia Institute of Technology, the Emory School of Nursing, and Washington University. Agnes Scott students can choose from 30 majors and 25 minors in such varied fields as Africana Studies, Mathematics, and Religion and Social Justice. The college features a residential campus rich with opportunities for community engagement and leadership opportunities. There are 45 student organizations on campus, as well as a governance system led in part by students.

Tuition cost: $37,236

19

Columbia College

Columbia College, a private liberal arts college in Columbia, S.C., roots its vision and curriculum in what it calls, “the 4 C’s”–courage, commitment, confidence, and competence. These are seen as both phases on a continuum in students’ transformation into leaders and necessary characteristics for life-long learners. Columbia invests in its students through its Institute for Leadership and Professional Excellence offering students opportunities for internships, academic and career advising and coaching, service learning, mentoring and more. In addition, Columbia College offers a variety of degree programs with over 30 majors as well as individualized programs of study. Class sizes are small (11:1 student-faculty ratio) ensuring a student-centered approach. Combine all this with Columbia’s active student life in the context of a unique southern college town, and students will surely find their niche.

Tuition cost: $28,100

18

Converse College

Converse College is a liberal arts university in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The undergraduate college is exclusively for women, while graduate, online, and summer programs are coeducational. Converse promotes bold and daring leadership for advancing communities and professions. Experiential learning is emphasized, as students are offered opportunities for internships, research, leadership development, community service, and travel. A variety of strong academic programs are available, and more than half of Converse students choose to double major. For women 24 and older, the Converse II program provides a quality Converse education with reduced fees and a simpler application procedure.

Tuition cost: $16,500

17

Mills College

Mills College, originally founded as the Young Ladies’ Seminary in 1852, is now a liberal arts and sciences college in the San Francisco Bay Area. More than 40 women-only undergraduate and 25 coeducational graduate degree programs are offered. Mills is known for a diverse student body and a commitment to providing an intimate, collaborative educational experience. Bachelor’s-to-master’s accelerated degree programs in education, business administration, infant mental health, and other areas allow students to complete an undergraduate and advanced degree in five years. Mills offers unique academic fields of study such as queer studies and book art.

Tuition cost: $44,258

16

Scripps College

Scripps College is a liberal arts women’s college in Claremont, enrolling about 950 students. Known as the “City of Trees and PhD’s,” Claremont is a small southern California town only 35 miles away from downtown Los Angeles. Scripps was founded in 1926 and is on a historic 32-acre campus. Every student at the college begins with the Core Curriculum in Interdisciplinary Humanities and finishes with a senior thesis or culminating project. Students may cross-register to take courses at any one of the other Claremont Colleges. In addition to undergraduate programs, Scripps offers a post-baccalaureate premedical program, allowing students to complete prerequisites for medical, dental, or veterinary school.

Tuition cost: $49,152

15

Mount Mary University

Mount Mary University, founded in 1913 by the School Sisters of Notre Dame, is a Catholic liberal arts university in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The university serves about 1,200 undergraduate women and around 500 male and female graduate students. In all fields of study, Mount Mary encourages creativity through service and professional preparation. Competence, community, compassion, and commitment characterize a Mount Mary education. Service learning is integrated into the curriculum through study abroad opportunities, chances to volunteer, and the Leadership for Social Justice Seminar, which is a required course for all freshmen.

Tuition cost: $26,760

14

Alverno College

Alverno College, located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is a Roman Catholic liberal arts women’s college. Alverno seeks to engage and connect students through weekday and evening undergraduate programs for women, as well as coeducational graduate programs. The community at Alverno is based on collaboration, respect, justice, and a commitment to hospitality. Around 2,500 students are enrolled in the college’s 60 undergraduate programs and four graduate programs. Although Alverno is affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, nineteen other religious denominations are represented within the college’s student body.

Tuition cost: $25,660

13

Saint Mary's College

Located in Notre Dame, Indiana, Saint Mary’s College is a Catholic, women’s liberal arts college enrolling about 1,600 undergraduate students. Academics at Saint Mary’s challenge students to explore and discover everything from the world around them to the potential in themselves. Graduate students can pursue a Master of Science in Data Science or Speech Language Pathology, or a Doctorate of Nursing Practice. All three graduate programs are based on a cohort model and include on-campus, online, and hybrid format options. Saint Mary’s students can take advantage of the school’s proximity to the University of Notre Dame by participating in sporting events, clubs, and other organizations.

Tuition cost: $37,400

12

Cedar Crest College

Located in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Cedar Crest College is a private liberal arts women’s college that also admits male students for evening classes. The school was founded in 1867 and was one of the first women’s colleges in the United States. Cedar Crest forms leaders by preparing the whole person for life in the global community. Graduate and non-traditional education is also offered through the coeducational School of Adult and Graduate Education. Cedar Crest offers qualified students the 4YG, or Four-Year Guarantee. The college commits to providing students a clear path to graduating in four years, thereby reducing excess credits and excess cost.

Tuition cost: $35,600

11

Brenau University Women's College

Brenau University is a private, not-for-profit institution in Gainesville, Georgia, consisting of graduate and undergraduate schools, as well as a Women’s College. Non-degree and online programs are available in addition to Brenau’s degree programs. Students can also take courses at Brenau campuses in North Atlanta, South Atlanta, Augusta, and Kings Bay. The Brenau curriculum is based on four portals, offering classes and educational experiences that expand the worldview, reveal the beauty of science and math, develop the creativity and imagination, and refine a range of communication and language skills. Study abroad opportunities are available in France, Belgium, Korea, China, and Denmark.

Tuition cost: $25,878

10

Notre Dame of Maryland University

Notre Dame of Maryland University, founded in 1873, is an independent, Catholic-affiliated, liberal arts college in Baltimore. In addition to the undergraduate Women’s College, Notre Dame offers graduate studies and part-time programs for women and men. The university produces fearless and faithful graduates from a diverse student body. NDMU, the only women’s college in the state of Maryland, offers a transformative educational experience through the study of fields such as art, behavioral neuroscience, foreign languages, philosophy, and more. Certificate programs are available, as are two five-year dual degree programs.

Tuition cost: $33,670

9

Ursuline College

Founded in 1871 by the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland, Ursuline College is a Catholic, women’s-focused college in Pepper Pike, Ohio. About 700 students are enrolled in Ursuline’s 30 undergraduate degree programs. The college also offers 11 graduate programs and a Doctorate of Nursing Practice degree. The 112-acre campus is about 10 miles outside of Cleveland and 30 miles from Akron. The liberal arts college is particularly known for its programs in art therapy, nursing, and teaching certification. Students of all faiths are welcome at Ursuline, but the college strives to live gospel values while encouraging students to clarify what they believe.

Tuition cost: $28,520

8

St. Catherine University

Also known as St. Kate’s, St. Catherine University is a private Catholic university in the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. St. Kate’s offers undergraduate programs for women and coeducational graduate and associate programs. Students can pursue one of more than 100 fields of study through St. Catherine’s four schools: the School of Business and Professional Studies; the School of Humanities, Arts and Sciences; the School of Social Work; and the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health. Fieldwork, internships, study abroad, and other opportunities are available for students to engage in global education, collaborative research, and community-based learning.

Tuition cost: $37,842

7

Mount Holyoke College

Mount Holyoke is a women’s liberal arts college in South Hadley, Massachusetts. The college was founded in 1837 as Mount Holyoke Female Seminary and became the first of the Seven Sisters, as well as a member of the Pioneer Valley’s Five College Consortium. About 2,000 students are enrolled at Mount Holyoke, representing 45 states and 74 countries. The school offers 51 majors and the option to design a major. At MHC, 29 percent of students choose an interdisciplinary major and 84 percent of classes have fewer than 30 students. Mount Holyoke offers courses on various global issues and has even been awarded the Senator Paul Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization.

Tuition cost: $43,886

6

Simmons College

Simmons College, founded in Boston by a clothing manufacturer in 1899, is a private women-focused undergraduate college also offering coeducation graduate programs. More than 50 undergraduate majors are available, as is the only MBA program in the United States designed exclusively for women. The college seeks to provide a transformative learning experience that unites passion and purpose. Simmons students can participate in a plethora of student organizations, as well as leadership development and community service opportunities. Some of these opportunities allow students to connect with the other five institutions that make of the Colleges of the Fenway.

Tuition cost: $37,380

5

Meredith College

Meredith College is a liberal arts college in Raleigh, North Carolina. Meredith’s undergraduate degree programs serve 2,000 women, while about 300 men and women are enrolled in the college’s graduate programs. Meredith is the largest undergraduate women’s college in the southeastern United States. More than 80 undergraduate majors, minors, and concentrations are available, along with 16 graduate and certificate programs. Meredith students hail from 26 states and 39 countries and enjoy opportunities to do research, study abroad, and participate in more than 100 clubs and organizations. There are currently 19,000 Meredith graduates living in all 50 state and abroad.

Tuition cost: $33,730

4

Barnard College

Barnard College is a private women’s liberal arts college in Manhattan, and is one of the Seven Sisters of the Northeast. Barnard has a partnership with Columbia University, which gives students access to even more resources than those offered by the college itself. The primary focus at Barnard is addressing gender issues while empowering students to face the various challenges that will arise throughout their lives. The school’s curriculum emphasizes intellectual resourcefulness, which transcends traditional academic disciplines. Exchange programs are available through Columbia and Juilliard, as well as through the Manhattan School of Music.

Tuition cost: $47,631

3

Bryn Mawr College

Bryn Mawr College is a women’s liberal arts college four miles west of Philadelphia. The college is part of the Seven Sisters and the Tri-College Consortium with Swarthmore College and Haverford College. Bryn Mawr was founded in 1885 and has about 1,300 undergraduate and 400 graduate students. Bryn Mawr students come from all over the world, representing 45 states and 62 countries. The school promotes intellectual inquiry and balances independence of mind with collaborative work. Students can major in anything from Arabic to Economics to Creative Writing, or enroll in graduate programs in areas such as Clinical Developmental Psychology and Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology.

Tuition cost: $47,140

2

Smith College

Smith College is an private, women’s liberal arts college in Northampton, Massachusetts. With 2,600 undergraduate students and 100 male and female postgraduate students, Smith is the largest of the Seven Sisters colleges. Over 1,000 courses are offered in more than 50 areas of study, and an open curriculum allows students to explore various fields of interest. Undergraduates at Smith can begin accelerated master’s programs at the University of Massachusetts Amherst starting their junior year. Special programs such as The Poetry Center, the Smith Program at the Smithsonian Institution, and the Smith Scholars Program afford students opportunities to become active scholars in their field of study.

Tuition cost: $46,288

1

Wellesley College

Located in Wellesley, Massachusetts, Wellesley College is a women’s liberal arts college and a member of the Seven Sisters. Wellesley has partnerships with many well-known universities, allowing students to cross-register at institutions like MIT, Amherst, Dartmouth, and Wheaton. Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, and Diane Sawyer all graduated from Wellesley College, as did two thirds of the nation’s female Secretaries of State. In addition to a variety of academic majors and the option to design a personalized major, Wellesley academic programs afford students opportunities to study abroad or attend special events such as seminars in public writing.

Tuition cost: $46,836

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