North America

Within North America are hundreds of stand-alone small undergraduate institutions that qualify as “liberal arts colleges.” Some are universities, with Master’s programs, but the definition of liberal arts college usually means that the institution is primarily undergraduate, and that the mission of the institution emphasizes a holistic education that includes a mix of subjects that blends arts, humanities and sciences, sometimes in creative and interdisciplinary ways. One of the most prominent groupings of independent liberal arts colleges in the US is the Annapolis Group, a consortium of more than liberal arts colleges that meet regularly to discuss issues of strategic importance within higher education and specifically relevant to smaller, undergraduate institutions. Another important organization for liberal arts colleges is the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), which includes a wide range of undergraduate colleges and other institutions that emphasize liberal arts forms of education. Within the small liberal arts colleges, the highly selective institutions such as Amherst, Carleton, Claremont McKenna, Haverford, Pomona, Swarthmore, Vassar and Williams, are often cited as having some of the highest ranked programs. Interesting groupings within this sector include the “Tri-Co” consortium of Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore, the “Five Colleges” of Amherst, Hampshire, Mt. Holyoke, Smith and U. Mass, and the Claremont Colleges that include Pomona, Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, Scripps and Pitzer Colleges. There is also the Great Lakes “Global Liberal Arts Alliance” consortium of Midwest Colleges, who coordinate in curriculum development and international initiatives. The entire listing of US liberal arts colleges is shown below in the interactive map, based on the IPEDs listing.


Below is a listing of the Annapolis Group of colleges, which includes over 130 of the better known and more highly ranked of these colleges.

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