The higher education system in Vermont is one the rest of the country should take note of. With a 78 percent retention rate, the highest in the nation, Vermont knows how to get people into college and keep them there. The reasons for this are plentiful.
Foremost, Vermont has many organizations promoting and creating opportunities for students, both those that are state run and independent. For example, the Vermont Higher Education Collaborative is a non-profit that seeks to improve education outcomes for students, especially those with high needs, by addressing those needs while they’re still children and teens. Meanwhile, the Vermont Student Assistance Corp has given over $630 million in grants and scholarships and has helped students save over $230 million to make college a reality.
All of that to say, Vermont’s opportunities and options mean no matter your situation, if you want to attend school, you can.
What are the Best Colleges and Universities in Vermont?
Vermont students are privileged with many higher education options, as there are over twenty colleges and universities in the state, spanning the large public institution to the small, private liberal arts school. Despite the differences, the schools we’ve listed below are, hands down, the best in the state. How we determined such a definitive list was by way of thorough data mining in a few key areas: the academic reputation of each school; the school’s retention rate (an indicator of student happiness); the tuition rates; and finally, the return on investment, that is, how much graduates earn in the early years of their career. After organizing this immense amount of information we were able to distill the best of the best: those with high academic standards, opportunities for student formation, and lower attendance cost. Thus, the following are the best colleges and universities in Vermont. Our figures and information come from the university and colleges’ websites, PayScale, and nationally recognized U.S. News & World Report and The National Center for Education Statistics.
College Choice Score: 100
Average Net Price: 20903
Middlebury college was founded in 1800 in Middlebury, Vermont – in the Champlain Valley with Green Mountains to the East and the Adirondacks to the West in Addison county. It was founded to create and sustain a top-tier, liberal arts college. Today, Middlebury College sits on over 350 acres with well over 200 years of instruction. The college is known for their language instruction and international studies programs.
Today, the undergraduate enrollment is 2,500 students. These student pursue over 44 majors and can participate in over 150 student organizations ranging from intramurals, fine arts, written arts and volunteering or watch NCAA Division III games. Inside the classroom, the average class size is 16 with a 9-to-1 student-faculty ratio. Students enjoy the college so much that 96% return their sophomore year. The most popular majors at Middlebury College include:
- English Language & Literature
- International & Global Studies
Two hundred years of history is bound to have long-lasting traditions: the oldest winter carnival that features a ski competition and music or annual Breadloaf writing conference. However, the study body has been able to introduce new fun activities. Some of them have international implications: They have started the International Quidditch Association based on a Harry Potter Novel and competes regularly with other schools.
University of Vermont
College Choice Score: 71.30382747
Average Net Price: 17075
The University of Vermont was founded 1791 in Burlington, Vermont, on Lake Champlain. It is the 5th oldest university in New England and one of the original 8 public Ivy League institutions. It is the sole land grant research university in Vermont. It was the first university to admit women and African-Americans in to the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. The school initials UVM also mean something in Latin: Universitas Viridis Montis, Latin for “University of the Green Mountains”. Burlington, Vermont is a city of 40,000 people in a metro area of 150,000. It is located 220 miles northwest of Boston, 285 miles north of New York City and 90 miles southeast of Montreal, Canada.
The university is home to 10,267 undergraduates that pursue one of 100 undergraduate majors amongst 7 undergraduate schools and colleges. Inside the classroom, the average undergraduate class has 30 people. However, the student-faculty ratio remains low at 15-to-1. Outside the classroom, students can join over 200 student organizations, volunteer in the community or participate in intramural or intermural sports. Top majors include:
- Political science &government
- Environmental studies
- Mechanical engine3ering
University of Vermont was chartered the same year that Vermont became the 14th state in the union. In addition to its early advocates for education, they were early advocates for women’s and African-Americans’ participation in higher education. In 1871, UVM defied custom and admitted two women as students. Today, they continue to push the glass ceiling forward with a 90% law school admission rate and a 63% medical school admission rate.
Saint Michael's College
College Choice Score: 64.73345954
Average Net Price: 29047
Saint Michael’s College was founded in 1904 in Winooski Park, Vermont by the Society of Saint Edmund, a Catholic monastic order from France. Saint Michael’s first followed a curriculum deeply rooted in the classical European liberal arts tradition as an all-male institution that included mandatory Greek and Latin. By the early 1970s, the college began admitting women. Today, their guiding principles of education, justice, and service to the poor remain at the heart of the Saint Michael’s experience. Saint Michael’s is the only Edmundite college in the world just minutes from Burlington, Vermont, the Burlington Airport, and so much more.
Saint Michael’s College serves over 2,000 undergraduates pursuing over 36 distinct degrees. Students have the option of joining their 40 organizations, attend NCAA Division II sporting events or travel to the slopes, Montreal or Boston. More than 70 percent of our students participate in service, reflecting our passion for and history of social justice. 98% of our students live on campus. Inside the classroom, the average class size is 19 students and the student-faculty ratio is 11 to 1. They have a highly-regarded Honors Program and have earned Phi Beta Kappa ranking. Top majors include:
- Environmental Studies
In 1843, the Society of St. Edmund began in Pontigny, France, based on a life of service, hospitality and education. The Brothers are named after Saint Edmund of Canterbury, the 13th-century Archbishop of Canterbury. Saint Edmund taught at universities in Oxford and Paris and played an instrumental role in the construction of Salisbury Cathedral. His final resting place is in Pontigny, France.
College Choice Score: 64.47065949
Average Net Price: 27429
Norwich University was founded in 1819 in Northfield, Vermont, by Captain Alden Partridge. Today, it is known as an institution of many firsts: it is the first private military college in the United States, the birthplace of the ROTC program, first private college to each engineering, the first military band, and the first schools to admit international students. Interesting enough, Norwich’s system of balanced and useful education soon became the norm for the great American System of Education.
Today, the university is known as a private institution with 200 years of military tradition tucked into the Green Mountains of Vermont. They serve over 2,300 cadets, residents and commuters on the main campus pursue over 33 bachelor degrees. Online, they reach another 1,200 graduate students pursing over 10 masters. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 14-to-1. Outside the classroom, students can join over 80 student organizations or participate in NCAA Division sports or intramural sports. Top majors include:
- Criminal Justice & Law Enforcement
- Business Administration
Norwich is the oldest of six senior military colleges and recognized by the United States Department of Defense as the “Birthplace of the ROTC”. As such, Norwich has developed their educational program to have a civilian and a cadet specific expectations. All students will attend classes in the integrated classroom, on the playing field and extracurricular activities. However, the civilian students do not participate in the military training. Neither group share residence halls.
College Choice Score: 64.18497218
Average Net Price: 31995
Bennington College was founded in 1932 as a women’s college in Bennington, Vermont, as progressive new college to build upon the changes in society, technology and culture. It, also, was the first to include the visual and performing arts in a liberal arts education. Today, Bennington College is a recognized Vanguard Institution with a close-knit, co-educational private college.
Today, Bennington College today is located on 440 acres where over 755 undergraduates and 660 graduate students. Students can participate in over 40 clubs, local sports and or explore the local area. Inside the classroom, the student-faculty ratio is 9-to-1. The top majors include:
- Visual & Performing arts
- Foreign Language & Literature
Bennington’s focus is to make learning and making in separable. Undergraduates experience a graduate-level 1-on-1 academic advising complete with an advisory committee to guide their years at the college. Undergraduates are also required to participate in an annual internship every winter. This assists with getting real-world experience before graduation. This makes Bennington a community of active makers and shakers in their fields with many of the subject matter experts winning multiple awards their expertise.
Green Mountain College
College Choice Score: 62.06560951
Average Net Price: 23275
Green Mountain college was founded in 1834 in Poultney, Vermont. It was built on the Environmental Liberal Arts Curriculum with courses in environmental and national sciences, writing, reading, history and philosophy. Today, the college still focuses on that environmental literacy as well as citizenship on their 155-acre campus. Regardless of major, all students are to complete the 37-credit Environmental Liberal Arts (ELA) sequence, a cross-disciplinary program as preparation for the fastest growing jobs in the green jobs sector.
This past year’s undergraduate enrollment has just under 600 students. Most of the students live on campus, participate in local environmental activities and student groups. There are sports on the campuses – there are NCAA Division III. Inside the classroom, the students have nearly 55% of their classes with less than 20 students. Top Majors include:
- Resort Management
- Parks, Recreation & Leisure Studies
- Resort Management
Green Mountain College has many progressive, green programs. They are most known for their educational track known as the Progressive Program. This program is based on the ideas of John Dewy a philosopher focused on students defining their own educational goals and the school assisting them to reach their goals.
College Choice Score: 56.65562064
Average Net Price: 33173
Champlain College was founded in 1878 in Burlington, Vermont. The main campus has 22-acres and overlooks Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains of New York to the west. Today, they have several other campuses in Montreal, Canada and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain is named the “Most Innovative School” by US News & World Report and is listed among Princeton’s Review of 381 Best Colleges. Fiske lists it as one of “the best and most interesting schools” in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain. Overall, Champlain College is a national leader in steering passionate students towards rewarding careers and lives.
Over 3,400 undergraduate students pursue over 29 undergraduate degrees on campus. Online, students pursue over 15 undergraduate degrees. Inside the campus or digital classroom, students have an average class size of 16 and a 14-to-1 student-faculty ratio. But the maximum sized class is 30 students. On campus, there are over 50 active student organizations. Outside the classroom, there are over 50 student groups and full range of activities and community service opportunities. Top Majors Include:
- Cyber/Computer Forensics & Counterterrorism
- Graphic Design
Champlain’s educational perspective is what they call an “upside-down curriculum”. This means that students are taking their major essential coursework on the first day of their academic careers. Outside of the classroom, students can look back to yesteryear by walking around the restored Victorian-era homes that have been repurposed to be many of the collegiate buildings. Other great traditions include programs like Bring Your Own Business (BYOBiz), the Emergent Media Center, Center for Financial Literacy, and Leahy Center for Digital Investigation. Just because it has over 150 years of history, it does mean that it doesn’t have the state of the art activities. Come and find out.
Vermont Technical College
College Choice Score: 53.203138
Average Net Price: 18069
Vermont Technical College was founded in Randolph Center, Vermont, in 1866. Today it is a small college with a lot to offer with 10 regional campuses throughout Vermont. While it might be small, it has a combined campus size of 544 acres. It is the only technical education school in the Vermont State College System. As you would expect, Vermont Technical College is focused on applied learning to ensure that a rigorous broad-based education is balanced with hands-on learning for today’s careers.
1,623 students study at Vermont Technical college. The average class size is 14 with a 12-to-1 student-faculty ratio. These students are pursuing over 45 programs that include degree and certificate completion. Outside the classroom, students can participate in 12 intramural sports or 52 student organizations. And if you are close to the Randolph main campus, you can ski down their own hill or make your own ski or snowboards.
- Dental Hygiene
- Electrical Engineering
- Veterinary Technician
Vermont Technical College as something called an Anaerobic Digester. The community calls it “Big Bertha”. The project is to support the Vermont’s local agriculture and create renewable energy sources. The program uses cow manure and some clean food residuals to produce renewable heat for the college, electricity for the Green Mountain Power company and recycled nutrients for the farm community. I hear it smells clean too.
College Choice Score: 52.75098926
Average Net Price: 16168
Castleton University was founded in 1787 in Castleton, Vermont. It is the 18th oldest institution in Vermont. But Castleton is best known as the village with the best skiing in New England. Like the village, Castleton University remains small enough to know everyone in the community; but, big enough to offer great programs, connected student activities, and intercollegiate sports.
Today, Castleton University has over 1,900 students pursuing over 30 majors. On campus, they can participate in over 60 student organizations, NCAA III sports, or connect with local centers to volunteer, intern or talk about sustainability. Inside the classroom, the average class size is 16 people and the student-faculty ratio is 14-to-1. Top majors include:
- Health Services
- Social Work & Youth Services
Students are regularly encouraged to engage with the community. The beautiful area around the university continues because of sustainability measures and volunteering. This interaction assists students with gaining perspectives, competencies and knowledge that will assist with their post-Castleton experience. One of the icebreakers that students use to talk with folks in the community is to discuss the two wind turbines on campus.
Johnson State College
College Choice Score: 46.0375573
Average Net Price: 14064
Johnson State College was founded in 1828 by John Chesamore in Johnson, Vermont near Stowe in the heart of the Green Mountains. After the Declaration of Independence, the area was named after William Samuel Johnson, an American Jurist, stateman and educator. The college was originally created as a grammar school but it expanded by 1867 to educate teachers. In doing so, Johnson State College became one of the first universities to introduce electives. By the mid-1900s, Johnson became a college of liberal arts and natural sciences.
Today, Johnson State College now has 350 hilltop acres with over 14 buildings near Stowe, Vermont in the heart of the Green Mountains with access to six major ski resorts. On campus students can join over 20 student organizations and watch NCAA III sports. In the classroom, 2,000 students study over 30 degrees with an average class size of 17 and a student-faculty ratio is 12-to-1. Top majors include:
- Alternative Medical Systems & Holistic Health
- Anthropology & Archaeology
Johnson State College has earned countless honors since its founding. Some of them include: Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC), LGBTQ Friendly Campus, Military Friendly School, Top Ten Affordable Small College, and a Lamoille County Planning Commission Honoree for Community Services. No matter if you are focused on learning in the classroom, skiing down the local slopes or using the weekend to explore local New England cities, Johnson State College has tremendous opportunities for you.
Lyndon State College
College Choice Score: 42.00909383
Average Net Price: 14134
Lyndon State college was founded in 1911 by the Vermont State Legislature to be a one-year teacher training institute. As time continued, the training program expanded slowly with the first bachelor degrees being granted in 1944. Lyndon State College is in Lyndon, Vermont, and known for its Atmospheric Sciences, Mountain Recreation Management, education and electronic journalism arts. At Lyndon State College, the focus is on preparing the student for personal and professional success with a complete First-Year Experience program to ensure that the students have everything they need to succeed.
Today, Lyndon state has over 1,450 undergraduate students that pursue 28 degrees through traditional, non-traditional and online options. Inside the classroom, the average class will be less than 15 students. The student-faculty ratio is 14-to-1. Outside the classroom, Lyndon ensures that the education doesn’t end in the Academic support areas – students can join student organizations, volunteer or participate in internships to gain hands on experience. During their downtime, students attend cultural events or NCAA Division III sports games. Top majors include:
- Music Business Industry
- Mountain Recreation Management
- Exercise Science
- Visual Arts
Lyndon, Vermont is the 211-acre cultural center in the northeast corner of the state in an area called, “The Northeast Kingdom”. The locals call it an outdoor paradise. The college itself is 10 minutes from mountain biking at Kingdom Trails or winter sports at Burke Mountain. It’s about 30 minutes to Jay Peak in Vermont, and Cannon, Loon, Waterville Valley, and Bretton Woods in New Hampshire.