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September 18, 2023

Here's how Maine colleges rank in this year's U.S. News & World Report list

aerial of college campus File photo courtesy / Michele Stapleton Bowdoin College in Brunswick is tied at No. 9 with Carleton College in Minnesota on the 2023-24 U.S. News & World Report list of top liberal arts colleges.

U.S. News & World Report on Monday released its annual rankings of the country's best colleges and universities, and three Maine schools placed among the top 25 liberal arts institutions.

Bowdoin College in Brunswick ties for No. 9 with Carleton College in Minnesota; Bates College in Lewiston is No. 24; and Colby College in Waterville is tied at No. 25 with the University of Richmond in Virginia.

The magazine's rankings of liberal arts colleges encompass 211 institutions that emphasize undergraduate education and award at least half of their degrees in the liberal arts fields of study. Williams College, in Williamstown, Mass., leads the class at No. 1.

Bowdoin's rank this year represents a slight decline from its placement at No. 6 in the 2022-23 U.S. News list. Bates and Colby switched places from last year, when Bates ranked No. 25 and Colby was No. 24.

Colby was also ranked No. 7 on this year's U.S. News list of the most innovative schools, tied with Amherst College in Amherst, Mass., and Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif. That list focuses on institutions that are making the most innovative improvements in terms of curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology or facilities.

College of the Atlantic, in Bar Harbor, ranks No. 156 on the list of top liberal arts schools.

In addition to liberal arts colleges, the rankings include several other school categories.

Among "national universities," the University of Maine ranks No. 249, down from No. 219 last year. The University of New England upped its rank from No. 285 last year to No. 260. Husson University ranks No. 361.

Princeton University leads the 2023-24 university rankings, followed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Stanford University and Yale University to round out the top five.

U.S. News ranked a total of more than 1,500 colleges and universities this year, based on 19 measures of academic quality, according to a news release. The magazine, which has published the rankings for several decades, said it had updated its methodology this year to place greater emphasis on social mobility and outcomes for graduating college students.


The U.S. News rankings include descriptions of leading schools, and noted that more than half of Bowdoin's students study abroad for a semester through more than 100 affiliated academic programs. The write-up also mentioned the college's social houses, which replaced fraternities after they were abolished in 1997.

Bowdoin had a total undergraduate enrollment of 1,915 in fall 2022 and tuition and fees of $64,910.


The U.S. News description of Bates College touts the school’s setting along the Androscoggin River as favorable for outdoor enthusiasts and mentions student groups including the Outing Club, the Brooks Quimby Debate Council and radio station. WRBC.

The blurb also notes that the school’s General Education requirement aims to provide students with a well-rounded education, but students still choose a specialized field of study from more than 30 available majors and have the option to design their own interdisciplinary major. About two-thirds of students take advantage of study abroad programs.

Bates College had a total undergraduate enrollment of 1,790 in fall 2022 and tuition and fees are $63,478.


At Colby, 57 majors and 36 minors are described by U.S. News researchers as "anchored to the world's most complex challenges." They also note that "Colby's campus experience is built on a culture of shared success," with new programs including the Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence, computational biology and digital humanities.

The description also notes that Colby meets 100% of demonstrated financial need without loans, and that the school has no application fee, no extra supplements to submit, and that test scores are optional.

Colby College had a 2022 fall enrollment of 2,299 and has tuition and fees of $66,600.

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