Best Women’s Colleges

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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 U.S. News & World Report, the National Center for Education Statistics, and PayScale.com.

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Top 10 Best Women’s Colleges

Rank School Location
1 Wellesley College Wellesley, MA
2 Smith College Northampton, MA
3 Bryn Mawr College Bryn Mawr, PA
4 Barnard College New York, NY
5 Meredith College Raleigh, NC
6 Simmons University Boston, MA
7 Mount Holyoke College South Hadley, MA
8 St Catherine University Saint Paul, MN
9 Ursuline College Pepper Pike, OH
10 Notre Dame of Maryland University Baltimore, MD

Best Women’s Colleges

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Wellesley College
    Location

    Wellesley, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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

  2. Smith College
    Location

    Northampton, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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

  3. Bryn Mawr College
    Location

    Bryn Mawr, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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

  4. Barnard College
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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

  5. Meredith College
    Location

    Raleigh, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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

  6. Simmons University
    Location

    Boston, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Simmons University, 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

  7. Mount Holyoke College
    Location

    South Hadley, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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

  8. St Catherine University
    Location

    Saint Paul, MN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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

  9. Ursuline College
    Location

    Pepper Pike, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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

  10. Notre Dame of Maryland University
    Location

    Baltimore, MD

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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

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