Top 10 Smallest Colleges

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College is supposed to be the time of one’s life. With all the partying, learning, studying, friendships, and drama that come along the college path, it’s definitely a memorable time in anyone’s life. Some students meet their future wives and husbands, while others meet their first divorce. In any case, college is a great opportunity for those who take it.

When you think of college, you might think of a huge campus, packed with a lot of young college kids to the point that it almost seems overcrowded and busting at the seams. Even if you don’t think of some bustling college, you probably think of some location that has a fair amount of students that study there, not some desolate spot.  While online college courses and larger institutions still are in favor, there is still  a place for the small college. This is the list of the 10 least populated colleges in the U.S.

10. Holy Apostles College and Seminary – 260 Students


Founded in 1956, the Holy Apostles College and Seminary is located in Cromwell, Connecticut and focuses solely on training students to become priests and other church officials. Though at first it was solely a college attended by men, it has since went along with Vatican Council decisions and opened up to women as well as other non-seminarians. Though it seems a little out of the ordinary for a seminary, the college even offers its students the ability to achieve a Philosophy or Theology degree online.

9. College of Visual Arts – 172 Students


One of many arts colleges on the list, the College of Visual Arts stands at 172 students strong. Originating in 1924, the College of Visual Arts is located in Saint Paul, Minnesota and strives to teach students the importance of integrating visual arts and liberal arts. The college puts a heavy focus on many different types of arts ranging from sculpture, printmaking, painting, and many others. The school even offers majors involving graphic design. The College of Visual Arts often pushes students to find some sort of internship to express and use their artistic skills.

8. Burlington College – 168 Students


Another school located on the East Coast, Burlington College is all about the arts, humanitarian projects, and the humanities. Once known as Vermont Institute of Community Involvement, the college has been around since 1972. One interesting thing about this college is that many of the students will study abroad, especially in countries in the European Union. Recently, the college has also been able to work with the University of Havana to offer studying there as well. Burlington College is one of the only colleges to receive a special license from the U.S. Treasury Department and approval from Cuba, in order to establish opportunities for U.S. students to study at the University of Havana.

7. Art Academy of Cincinnati – 156 Students


Founded in 1869 as the McMicken School of Design, the Art Academy of Cincinnati is one of the most prestigious, and one of the smallest, art colleges in the U.S. Today. The school offers four degree programs to get into: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fine Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communication Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art History, and an Associate of Science in Graphic Design. Some very famous artists have graduated from the Art Academy, including James Flora and Charley Harper. The school’s main goal is to help produce artists who will thrive in the world today.

6. Bryn Athyn College of the New Church – 155 Students


Bryn Athyn College is located in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania, which is about 20 miles from Philadelphia. The college has been around since 1877 and was first used to train ministers. The college is a Christian liberal arts center that places heavy focus on the New Church and its teachings. The new church is a religious sect based on the ideas and life of Emanuel Swedenborg. The college offers all sorts of majors, including business management, biology, art, history, and many others. Even though the college is small, it’s very unique in its own ways. Despite not having any type of Division Sports team, the college does have a competitive Ultimate Frisbee team.

5. Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts – 151 Students


Small or not, Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts has been named a “Best College” numerous times. Located in Old Lyme, Connecticut, the college is only two hours from New York as well as Boston, and most students take advantage of the prime location. This college is strictly meant for those interested in art, whether it be painting, sculpting, or drawing. Lyme Academy is so widely praised that even the New York Times spoke out about it, stating “. . . many in the art world believe the (Lyme) Academy has contributed to the renaissance of representational art.”

4. Sterling College – 105 Students



Nestled in the northern Green Mountains of Vermont, Sterling College utilizes its setting as a natural laboratory offering Self-Designed Bachelor of Arts Degrees in six areas of environmental studies: Sustainable Agriculture, Conservation Ecology, Outdoor Education & Leadership, Environmental Humanities, Natural History, and Northern Studies. Sterling’s focus on experiential education — the philosophy of educators engaging students through direct, hands-on experience — is emphasized in Sterling’s motto, “Working Hands, Working Minds.” As one of the nation seven Work Colleges all students work on campus and in the surrounding community for a portion of tuition cost. Academics are an integrated aspect of daily life, both in the classroom and outside in nature and the community (Sterling College).

3. Thomas More College – 84 Students


Thomas More College of Liberal Arts sits on 14 acres in Merrimack, New Hampshire. It is a Roman Catholic college and all students spend one semester in Italy, living in a monastery and studying at the Rome campus, just five miles away from St. Peter’s Basilica. According to the college’s website, students will have “visited over 100 baroque churches, Roman architectural sites, Renaissance palazzos, or catacombs” and “translated over 1,000 lines of Homer, Cicero, or other Classical authors” after four years of study.

2. Shimer College – 81 Students


Calling itself the “Great Books College of Chicago,” Shimer College is definitely set out to attract certain students in the world. The college has been around for 157 years, founded by Frances Wood Shimer and Cinderella Gregory. Shimer is a liberal arts college and only offers three majors: natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences. The college focuses a lot of attention on “The Great Books” which include titles such as The Bible, The Iliad, Agamemnon, Oedipus Rex, Paradise Lost, Spirit of Laws, and plenty of others. Despite its narrow focus of study, Shimer College also claims its goal is to create well-rounded students, all 81 of them.

1. Alaska Bible College – 38 Students


At 38 students strong, the Alaska Bible College remains the smallest accredited college in the U.S. Just by its name you would assume the college is geared towards Christianity, and you’d be right. The college aims to provide hands-on ministry as a way to join God and follow his footsteps. The college has been around for 40 years and only offers a few programs to get involved in: pastoral studies, bible and ministry certificate, and a few others. If you ever were to attend ABC, you would more than likely spend your spare time ice-fishing or dog sledding. How’s that for unique?

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For a list of the 85 smallest colleges, please visit www.insidecollege.com.


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30 Comments

    • Yeah, I’m surprised this list is missing Deep Springs College as well. It is a two year school on the border of California and Nevada in the middle of nowhere. They only accept 25 students a year (so total of 50 for the school), and it is extremely hard to get into this school (you’ll need around 750 on each of your SAT scores). Students work at the school/ranch and pay no tuition or room and board. When students graduate Deep Springs, they go on to schools like Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, or Oxford to complete their degrees.

  1. You are mistaking facts about the two Thomas More Colleges. The Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, KY was founded in 1921, and was mentioned in Money Magazine. That college has around 2000 students and is the one in the picture. There is a Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in NH that is only 84 students.

  2. The Sterling College in Vermont is the one with 105 students, not the one in Kansas. Thanks to the Director of Media Relations for the Vermont college for pointing this out. I replaced the original description for #4 on this list with the description she provided.

  3. I go to Emmaus Bible College in Dubuque Iowa. It's fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (specifically the North Central Association) and there are 255 enrolled students according to the HLC website.

  4. In perú exists colleges whit only 10 students, whit only one classroom and whit only one teacher, obviusly these are poor colleges in inhospit places.

  5. Don't forget Landmark College in Putney, Vermont. It has less then 250 students. Founded in 1985. It's also the most expensive college in America: $55,000 per year.

  6. The only reason the Cincinnati Art Academy has such low enrollment is because it moved from the scenic vista of Eden Park to the middle of Over the Rhine, which is considered one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the world. Enrollment plummeted, and the work coming out of the school hasn't be able to recover… I took quite a few classes there, and was all ways scared out of my mind once I was out of the building after dark.

  7. I go to Burlington College and love it. For me the small college environment is a good fit as I like to be able to interact with my faculty. If you are looking for a small college, especially one that focus on the fine arts, films studies, or social services, I would definitely recommend BC. http://www.burlington.edu

  8. Emily A. Cox on

    I miss my old school incredibly! The new Burlington College isn’t anything like the old, and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone! 99% of the teachers and faculty we had have been fired by the new admin, Steve Orge, and the entire staff is condescending and arrogant and the students no longer have a voice! No longer student-centered. No longer about learning! I miss the old school and miss having class together! The entire philosophy has changed, and boy do I miss my old classmates and miss our dear loving staff that was so dedicated and authentic! I am glad I was able to experience it before it turned into a nightmarish hell full of dictators and fear-based placating bullies concerned solely about maintaining an alluring image!

  9. Unfortunately, you may need to remove The College of Visual Arts as it closed its’ doors as of last year, unfortunately due to money issues.

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