The 20 Colleges with the Best Student-Teacher Ratio

January 1, 2023
By AdmissionSight

The 20 Colleges with the Best Student-Teacher Ratio

One of the factors that many students will consider when they choose a college is the faculty. Some students want to study at a school with a specific professor, and other students are concerned with the overall quality of the teaching staff. But one aspect that cannot be overlooked is student-teacher ratio. Essentially, this means, for every professor, how many students are there? While this might not seem like a huge factor at first, student-teacher ratio can affect all kinds of things.

Think of it this way: the lower a school’s student-teacher ratio, the smaller the classes will be, and students will receive more attention from their professors. Professors only have a certain amount of time to spend on each student, and for many students this can be the difference between success and failure. Having that extra attention gives students a better chance to excel in their studies and gain a deeper knowledge of the subject matter.

In this post, we’re going to look at the 20 colleges that have the lowest student-teacher ratio. Keep in mind that when it comes to student-teacher ratios, lower is better. It’s kind of like golf.

1. California Institute of Technology

Student-teacher ratio: 3:1

Caltech as it is often called is located in Pasadena, California and is known as one of the country’s best colleges for STEM fields. Their graduates have gone on to work at places like NASA and the Department of Defense as well as some of the top tech firm in the world. Because their academics are so rigorous, and because their students are held to such high standards, they need to make sure their students get all the attention they need. With a total enrollment of 2,240, Caltech isn’t a big school, but they also employ an army of professors in order to make sure classes are always as small as possible, and students are given all the resources they need in order to be successful.

One of the walkways in Caltech campus

2. Stanford University

Student-teacher ratio: 5:1

Unlike Caltech, Stanford is a fairly large university that currently enrolls nearly 16,000 students. This is despite the fact that Stanford is one of the most selective universities in the country. Located near Palo Alto, California, Stanford has become a pipeline to the tech industry, and they consistently graduate students who go on to work in top positions in tech. But Stanford also graduates students in a wide variety of fields. With nearly 60% of their classes having fewer than 20 students, Stanford is able to give students the attention they need in every major they offer.

Stanford stadium signage

3. Princeton University

Student-teacher ratio: 5:1

You may have noticed that, so far, the schools with low student-teacher ratios tend to be schools that are highly ranked and very selective. This is partly because these schools can afford to hire enough instructors to keep their student-teacher ratios low even if their enrollment is high. Princeton is often ranked in the top three for national universities, and it’s partly because their class sizes are so small. Around 50% of their classes have fewer than 20 students, and many of their professors are highly respected professionals in their fields.

princeton campus

4. University of Chicago

Student-teacher ratio: 5:1

Known for being one of the world’s foremost research facilities, the University of Chicago enrolls about 18,000 students, but despite this, they are able to keep class sizes very low. This means having lots of full-time instructors who are available to students. In research settings this can be vital to a student’s success because they are often studying very specific areas that require a great deal of one-on-one instruction. The University of Chicago is also a highly selective school, accepting only about 7% of applicants.

View of Uchicago building.

5. Antioch College

Student-teacher ratio: 5:1

Antioch is the first liberal arts college on our list, and while class size might not seem as important with liberal arts studies, Antioch has developed a philosophy that every student learns better when they have more resources. To that end, Antioch allows students to design their own majors and work cooperatively with other students. Located in Yellow Springs, Ohio, Antioch College is not one of the most selective schools on our list with an 84% acceptance rate, but students can count on getting a specific education with plenty of attention from their professors.

a professor in front of his class

6. Yale University

Student-teacher ratio: 5:1

Another Ivy League school, Yale University is located in New Haven, Connecticut and has an undergraduate enrollment of 12,060 students. Yale is known for excelling in all of the majors they offer, but they are especially known for their programs in the sciences, liberal arts, and performing arts. With an acceptance rate of just 6%, Yale is one of the most selective schools in the country, but students who are accepted are guaranteed to get plenty of attention from their professors.

View of Yale University building.

7. Harvard University

Student-teacher ratio: 6:1

Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University is the oldest university in the US. Home to 30,135 students, Harvard still manages to keep their student-teacher ratio quite low, and many of their classes have fewer than 20 students. Obviously, small class sizes aren’t the only thing that Harvard has going for it. It’s the alma mater of many US Presidents, Supreme Court Justices, and business tycoons. With an acceptance rate of just 5%, Harvard is one of the country’s most selective schools.

a building in Harvard, one of the oldest schools in the US

8. Columbia University

Student-teacher ratio: 6:1

Known for their fantastic undergraduate and graduate programs, Columbia also boasts a very low student-teacher ratio for a fairly large school. Their total enrollment is 30,135, but many of their classes still have fewer than 20 students. Columbia is often considered to be one of the country’s premier research universities, but they also have a well-respected Law School and Medical School. Currently, their acceptance rate sits at 6%.

Columbia University campus

9. Brown University

Student-teacher ratio: 6:1

We should mention that since many of these schools have the same student-teacher ratio, many of these entries are functional ties. Brown University, located in Providence, Rhode Island has an undergraduate enrollment of 6,826 students across a wide variety of majors. Because of their low student-teacher ratio, Brown is able to offer many classes with fewer that 20 students. They are also one of the most selective schools in the nation with an acceptance rate of just 8%.

brown university campus

10. Duke University

Student-teacher ratio: 6:1

Located in Durham, North Carolina, Duke University is one of the nation’s top universities, and part of the reason they’re able to do this is with small class sizes. The key to small class sizes is having enough faculty to make sure there are enough classes to accommodate all of the students without resorting to giant classes. It should be noted that most, if not all of these schools still have large lecture classes at the introductory levels.

One of Duke University's buildings

11. Northwestern University

Student-teacher ratio: 6:1

Located in Chicago, Illinois, Northwestern University is another highly selective school with an acceptance rate of just 9%. Their low student-teacher ratio means roughly 55% of their classes have fewer than 20 students. What sets Northwestern apart from some of the other schools on this list is the fact that the majority of their students are graduate students. In total, just 38% of Northwestern students are undergrads.

The name "Northwestern" flashed and magnified unto the screen

12. Rice University

Student-teacher ratio: 6:1

Rice University is located in Houston, Texas and boasts an impressively low student-teacher ratio. They are also a highly selective school, accepting on 10% of applicants. Of their roughly 8,000 students, 55% are undergrads, and the majority of Rice students come from out of state. Rice is well-known for a variety of different majors including business, marketing, STEM fields, and the arts.

Rice University signage

13. The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

Student-teacher ratio: 6:1

Cooper Union is a bit different from other schools in that they are easily the smallest school on this list, and they only offer three majors: architecture, art, and engineering. Because Cooper Union is such an unusual school, it tends to attract a certain type of student who already knows exactly what they want to study. Cooper Union is also located in New York City’s Greenwich Village which provides students with lots of options outside of class.

View of a modern building.

14. The University of Pennsylvania

Student-teacher ratio: 6:1

Founded in 1740 by founding father Benjamin Franklin, the University of Pennsylvania is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the country. Its 6:1 student-teacher ratio guarantees small class sizes, and U Penn is known for many different majors as well as their Wharton School of Business, School of Engineering, School of Nursing. The U Penn campus encompasses 260 aces on the west side of Philadelphia.

View of UPenn building at day time.

15. Amherst College

Student-teacher ratio: 7:1

Part of the Five College system all located near Amherst, Massachusetts, Amherst College is a small liberal arts college that shares its hometown with the much larger University of Massachusetts—Amherst. They are both quite selective, with an acceptance rate of just 11%, and quite expensive with an annual price tag that exceeds $60,000. As of Fall 2022, their enrollment was just around 1900 students, equally split between men and women. Amherst was originally an all-men’s school but went co-ed in 1975.

Aerial view of Amherst College.

16. Dartmouth College

Student-teacher ratio: 7:1

Located in the tiny town of Hanover, New Hampshire, Dartmouth is one of the Ivy League schools, and as such has a low acceptance rate of 9%. Dartmouth is known for excellent academics and surprisingly good athletics for a fairly small school. In addition to their excellent undergraduate programs, Dartmouth is also well-known for their Geisel School of Medicine—named for Dr. Seuss, the Thayer School of Engineering, and the Tuck School of Business.

Dartmouth College building

17. Johns Hopkins University

Student-teacher ratio: 7:1

Located in Baltimore, Maryland, Johns Hopkins is often known for their pioneering medical school, but they are also known for other scientific fields as well. Like Northwester, Johns Hopkins enrollment is majority graduate students with 8,400 undergrads and 25,800 graduate students. This shouldn’t be surprising because they are considered one of the world’s leading scientific research institutions. With an acceptance rate of just 11%, Johns Hopkins is also one of the more selective universities in the country.

View of Johns Hopkins University

18. Catholic University of America

Student-teacher ratio: 7:1

Perhaps the only overtly religious school on our list, the Catholic University of America was founded by Catholic Bishops in 1887 just north of Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. While it is not one of the most selective schools on our list with an acceptance rate of 82%, The Catholic University of America still manages to offer students small class sizes in a variety of majors that have nothing to do with religious studies. This private university has a total enrollment of around 5,000 with 3000 of those being undergraduates.

Cherry blossoms blooming next to an old building.

19. The United States Coast Guard Academy

Student-teacher ratio: 7:1

The only military school on our list, the United States Coast Guard Academy is obviously a little different from your average university. While they do offer a wide range of majors, students are expected to serve as officers in the Coast Guard upon completion of their degree. As a result, the United States Navy pays the tuition of all Coast Guard Academy students. While the Coast Guard Academy became co-ed in 1976, the school is still attended mostly by men. Currently, the student population is 86% men and 14% women. The Coast Guard Academy is also the only US military academy that does not require nomination by an elected official.

Group of coast guards walking in a parade.

20. The United States Military Academy at West Point

Student-teacher ratio: 7:1

We’re going to round out our top 20 schools with the best student-teacher ratios with another military academy. West Point has always been a prestigious military academy that has produced the country’s top military leaders. With an 8% acceptance rate, West Point is also the most selective of the US military academies. In addition to excellent grades and test scores, all applicants to the Unites States Military Academy at West Point must be nominated by an elected official. Currently, the enrollment at West Point is 77% men and 23% women.

The United States Military Academy front building while a platoon of student cadets pile up in the front yard

So, there you have it. AdmissionSight’s list of the 20 schools with the lowest student-teacher ratios. If you’ve been wondering, what schools have the smallest class sizes, hopefully this post has helped. If you want to discuss your college plans with experts who specialize in tailoring a college admissions plan specifically for you, contact AdmissionSight today and schedule your free consultation.



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