Carleton vs Bates: A Side-by-Side Comparison

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Group of students studying on a table.

Carleton vs Bates: A Side-by-Side Comparison

When it comes to choosing the right college or university, there are a lot of factors to consider. From location and campus facilities to academic programs and extracurricular activities, each school has its own unique offerings. In this article, we’ll take a detailed look at two premier liberal arts colleges in the United States: Carleton College vs Bates College. So, let’s get started!

Introduction to Carleton vs Bates College

Carleton College and Bates College are two highly respected liberal arts colleges located in the United States. Established in 1866 and 1855, respectively, both schools boast a rich history and a strong commitment to academic excellence and student success.

Carleton College, located in Northfield, Minnesota, is known for its rigorous academic programs and its commitment to experiential learning. The college offers over 30 majors and 15 concentrations, and students are encouraged to pursue research and internships to gain hands-on experience in their fields of study. Carleton also has a strong tradition of community service, with over 75% of students participating in volunteer work during their time at the college.

Four students holding their books while smiling at the camera.

Bates College, located in Lewiston, Maine, is known for its strong sense of community and its commitment to diversity and inclusion. The college offers over 35 majors and 25 minors, and students are encouraged to explore a wide range of academic interests. Bates also has a strong athletics program, with over 30 varsity teams and a focus on promoting physical fitness and wellness among its students.

Carleton vs Bates: Location and Campus Facilities

Carleton College is located in Northfield, Minnesota, while Bates College is located in Lewiston, Maine. Each college has a beautiful campus that offers plenty of space for students to study, socialize, and explore. Carleton’s campus spans over 1,000 acres and features state-of-the-art facilities such as the Weitz Center for Creativity and the Gould Library.

Bates, on the other hand, has a 133-acre campus and offers world-class facilities such as the Olin Arts Center and the Garcelon Field.

Despite their differences in size, both Carleton and Bates offer a variety of outdoor spaces for students to enjoy. Carleton’s Arboretum, a 880-acre nature reserve, provides opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and other outdoor activities. Bates’ campus features a beautiful lake, Lake Andrews, where students can go kayaking, fishing, or simply relax by the water.

Additionally, both colleges are located in charming small towns that offer unique cultural experiences. Northfield, home to Carleton, is known for its historic downtown area and annual Defeat of Jesse James Days festival. Lewiston, where Bates is located, has a thriving arts scene and is home to the Bates Dance Festival, a renowned summer dance program.

Carleton vs Bates: Academic Programs Offered

Both Carleton and Bates colleges offer a wide range of academic programs across various fields of study, including arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences. Carleton is particularly known for its strong programs in computer science, physics, and economics, while Bates is known for its programs in political science, environmental studies, and neuroscience. Both schools have an outstanding reputation for their academic rigor, faculty expertise, and student-centered approach to learning.

In addition to their traditional academic programs, both Carleton and Bates also offer unique opportunities for students to engage in interdisciplinary studies and experiential learning. Carleton’s Center for Community and Civic Engagement provides students with opportunities to engage with local communities through service-learning projects, while Bates’ Short Term program allows students to explore a single topic in-depth for a month each year.

These programs, along with many others, allow students to gain practical skills and real-world experience that complement their academic studies.

Carleton vs Bates: Admission Requirements and Acceptance Rates

Carleton and Bates colleges have a selective admissions process, with competitive acceptance rates. In 2021, Carleton College had an acceptance rate of 20.3%, while Bates College had a slightly higher rate of 24.7%. Both schools require applicants to submit transcripts, test scores, essays, and letters of recommendation, along with an application fee.

Additionally, Carleton and Bates are test-optional schools, meaning that applicants can choose whether or not to submit their standardized test scores.

Aside from the standard admission requirements, Carleton College also offers an optional interview for interested applicants. This interview can be conducted in-person or virtually, and provides an opportunity for the applicant to showcase their personality and interests beyond what is included in their application materials.

Unidentified student holding a tab and filling out a college application form

Bates College, on the other hand, offers an Early Decision option for applicants who are certain that Bates is their top choice. This option requires applicants to submit their application by November 15th and receive a decision by mid-December.

Both Carleton and Bates colleges also have a need-blind admissions policy, meaning that an applicant’s financial need is not taken into consideration during the admissions process. However, both schools are committed to meeting the full demonstrated financial need of admitted students through a combination of grants, scholarships, and work-study opportunities. This ensures that all admitted students, regardless of their financial background, have access to the same educational opportunities.

Carleton vs Bates: Faculty Quality and Student-to-Teacher Ratio

Both Carleton and Bates colleges have highly experienced faculty members who are experts in their respective fields. Carleton has a student-to-teacher ratio of 9:1, while Bates has a slightly higher ratio of 10:1. This means that students at both schools have the opportunity to receive personal attention from their professors and engage in meaningful discussions and debates in small classes.

In addition to their experienced faculty, both Carleton and Bates colleges offer a variety of resources to support student learning. Carleton has a Writing Center, Math Skills Center, and a Quantitative Resource Center, while Bates has a Writing and Speaking Center, a Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning Center, and a Language Resource Center. These resources provide students with additional support and guidance to help them succeed academically.

Furthermore, both colleges offer opportunities for students to conduct research with faculty members. Carleton has a Summer Collaborative Undergraduate Research program, while Bates has a Mount David Summit, where students present their research projects to the college community. These programs allow students to gain hands-on experience in their field of study and develop valuable skills that will benefit them in their future careers.

Carleton vs Bates: Extracurricular Activities and Student Life

At Carleton and Bates colleges, students have a wide variety of extracurricular activities and clubs to choose from, including sports, music, theater, and community service. Carleton has over 200 student-run organizations, while Bates has over 100. Both schools also offer unique programs such as Carleton’s Center for Community and Civic Engagement and Bates’ Purposeful Work Program, which help students develop their leadership and professional skills outside of the classroom.

Additionally, both Carleton and Bates have active student government associations that allow students to have a voice in campus decision-making. Carleton’s Student Government Association (SGA) is responsible for allocating funds to student organizations and advocating for student interests, while Bates’ Student Government (BSG) works to improve campus life and promote student engagement. These organizations provide valuable leadership opportunities for students and help to foster a strong sense of community on campus.

Carleton vs Bates: Career Services and Alumni Network

Carleton and Bates colleges have robust career services and alumni networks that help students and graduates navigate their career paths after graduation. Carleton’s Career Center offers services such as career counseling, resume-building workshops, and job and internship fairs. Bates’ Bates Career Development Center provides similar services, as well as opportunities for students to connect with alumni and participate in career-related events.

View of two women taking on a table.

Additionally, Carleton’s Career Center offers a variety of online resources, including a job and internship database, career exploration tools, and virtual career fairs. Bates’ Bates Career Development Center also provides online resources, such as a career planning guide and a job search toolkit.

Both colleges’ alumni networks are active and engaged, offering mentorship opportunities, networking events, and job leads. Carleton’s alumni network includes over 30,000 members worldwide, while Bates’ alumni network boasts over 25,000 members. These networks provide valuable connections and support for students and graduates as they navigate their career paths.

Carleton vs Bates: Student Diversity and Inclusivity

Diversity and inclusivity are important values at both Carleton and Bates colleges. Carleton has a diverse student body, with over 40% of students identifying as students of color. Bates has a similar commitment to diversity, with over 36% of students identifying as students of color. Both schools have campus-wide initiatives and programs aimed at promoting inclusivity, equity, and social justice.

Carleton College has a student-led organization called the Coalition of Hmong Students, which aims to promote Hmong culture and provide support for Hmong students on campus. Similarly, Bates College has a student-led organization called the Black Student Union, which advocates for the needs and concerns of Black students on campus.

Both Carleton and Bates also have offices dedicated to supporting underrepresented students. Carleton’s Office of Intercultural and International Life provides resources and programming for students from diverse backgrounds, while Bates’ Office of Equity and Diversity works to create a more inclusive campus community through education, advocacy, and support.

Tuition Fees, Financial Aid, and Scholarship Opportunities Offered at Both Colleges

Attending a liberal arts college can be costly, but Carleton and Bates colleges offer generous financial aid and scholarship opportunities to help offset the costs. In 2021-2022, the total cost of attendance at Carleton is $77,705, while the cost at Bates is $75,850. However, both schools offer need-based financial aid packages, as well as merit-based scholarships, that can significantly reduce the cost of tuition for eligible students.

Additionally, Carleton and Bates colleges also offer work-study programs that allow students to earn money while gaining valuable work experience. These programs provide part-time employment opportunities on campus or in the local community, and the earnings can be used to pay for tuition, books, and other expenses.

financial aid as one of the factors to consider when choosing a college

Students can also apply for federal student loans to help cover the remaining costs of attendance. With these various financial aid options, Carleton and Bates colleges strive to make a liberal arts education accessible to all students, regardless of their financial background.

Carleton vs Bates: Campus Safety and Security Measures

Ensuring the safety and security of students is a top priority at Carleton and Bates colleges. Both schools have comprehensive campus safety and security measures in place, including 24-hour campus security, emergency response systems, and safety awareness programs. Additionally, both schools work closely with local law enforcement agencies to ensure that students are safe on and off campus.

Carleton and Bates colleges also have a system in place for reporting and addressing incidents of sexual assault and harassment. Both schools have trained staff members who are available to provide support and resources to survivors, as well as to investigate and respond to reports of sexual misconduct. The colleges also offer educational programs and workshops to promote a culture of consent and respect on campus.

Athletics Programs, Teams, and Facilities at Both Colleges

At Carleton and Bates colleges, athletics is an important part of student life. Carleton has Division III athletic programs in 19 sports, while Bates has 31 varsity teams. Both schools have top-notch athletic facilities, including fitness centers, swimming pools, and soccer, basketball, and tennis courts. Additionally, both schools offer opportunities for students to participate in intramural and club sports, as well as fitness and wellness programs.

Carleton College has a strong tradition of excellence in cross country and track and field, with numerous conference championships and All-American honors. Bates College, on the other hand, has a highly competitive rowing program, with both men’s and women’s teams consistently ranked among the top in the country.

Both schools also prioritize the well-being of their student-athletes, with dedicated athletic trainers and sports medicine staff available to provide care and support. In addition, Carleton and Bates have implemented initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion in their athletics programs, including the formation of affinity groups and the recruitment of diverse coaching staff.

Study Abroad Opportunities and International Programs Offered

Global education and cultural exchange are essential components of the liberal arts experience at Carleton and Bates colleges. Both schools offer a wide range of study abroad programs and international programs that allow students to immerse themselves in different cultures and develop a global perspective. Carleton has over 130 study abroad programs in over 50 countries, while Bates has partnerships with universities in over 70 countries.

These study abroad programs and international programs provide students with the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of different cultures, languages, and ways of life. Students can choose from semester-long programs, summer programs, or even year-long programs. In addition to traditional classroom settings, many programs offer experiential learning opportunities such as internships, service learning, and research projects.

Carleton vs Bates: Research Opportunities for Students

At Carleton and Bates colleges, students have the opportunity to engage in cutting-edge research across various fields of study. Both schools have research centers and institutes that provide funding, resources, and support for student-led research projects. Additionally, both schools have active research collaborations with industry partners and community organizations, providing real-world learning experiences for students.

Group of students talking to a teacher in a library.

Furthermore, students at Carleton and Bates colleges have the opportunity to present their research findings at national and international conferences. These conferences provide a platform for students to showcase their work, network with professionals in their field, and gain valuable feedback on their research. Students can also publish their research in academic journals, further enhancing their academic and professional credentials.


Carleton and Bates colleges are two excellent options for students seeking a world-class liberal arts education. Both schools offer rigorous academic programs, a supportive and inclusive student community, and a wide range of extracurricular activities and opportunities for personal and professional growth. Ultimately, the choice between Carleton and Bates (or any other college) will depend on individual preferences, goals, and needs. We hope this side-by-side comparison has provided helpful insights into these two remarkable institutions.

One notable aspect of Carleton College is its commitment to sustainability. The college has implemented numerous initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint, including a comprehensive recycling program, energy-efficient buildings, and a campus-wide composting system. In addition, Carleton has a student-led organization called the Sustainability Assistants, who work to promote sustainable practices and educate the campus community about environmental issues.

Bates College, on the other hand, is known for its strong emphasis on community engagement and social justice. The college has a Center for Purposeful Work, which helps students connect their academic interests with career opportunities and community service. Bates also has a robust community outreach program, which includes partnerships with local schools, non-profit organizations, and government agencies.

Through these initiatives, Bates students have the opportunity to make a positive impact on the world around them while gaining valuable skills and experience.


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