Rankings and hallmarks of excellence

For a small college, Earlham has a big reputation. Earlham consistently ranks among U.S. News and World Report’s top national liberal arts institutions, and we have one of the nation’s best classroom experiences, according to The Princeton Review. The quality of our academic experiences goes beyond rankings, however. Many prestigious organizations — including the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, the Watson Foundation, and the Lilly Foundation — invest in our students, our academic programs and our facilities.

Even with all the accolades, at the end of the day we measure our success by the countless Earlhamites who lead extraordinary lives of mission and value as a direct result of their Earlham experience. No statistic or numerical rank can account for the personal commitment an Earlham education demands, or the lifelong impact our graduates can expect as alumni. We invite you to explore the various ways our academic quality is recognized.


Earlham is proud to be among the 40 colleges chosen by Loren Pope for inclusion in his book, Colleges That Change Lives, first published in 1996.

In his widely acclaimed college guide, Pope focused on liberal arts colleges that “not only equip youths to live full lives but they work their magic on a variety of aptitudes, academic and others as important…. Every one of these catalytic places will push and stretch you beyond what you think possible, but they won’t let you fall.”

Pope emphasizes the learning that takes place in these colleges: “Learning is collaborative rather than competitive; values are central; there is a strong sense of community. They are places of great synergy….”

Pope, now deceased, was a former journalist and education editor at The New York Times; he devoted over 30 years to counseling parents and students about making college choices.

Beyond the Book

Colleges That Change Lives, Inc., (CTCL) is a non-profit organization that promotes a student-centered college search process. In 1998 the CTCL colleges began working together to extend Pope’s approach to helping students find the right college fit. They developed a website and began a nationwide series of college fairs and individual information sessions that continues today.

Watch CTCL’s calendar to find out when representatives will be in your area.


With its emphasis on experiential learning and profound inquiry, an Earlham education is excellent preparation not just for a first job, but a career and a lifetime of rewarding involvement. That’s why we’re consistently ranked as one of the best classroom experiences by The Princeton Review and rank 13th among all private schools for “Best Schools for Making an Impact.” Earlham is also ranked as one of The Princeton Review’s best value colleges for 2021.

Earlham College is among the nation’s top institutions of higher education for return on investment, according to The Princeton Review’s “Best Value Colleges for 2021.”

In determining the nation’s top values, The Princeton Review evaluated 650 colleges and universities in the U.S. and rated them based on more than 40 data points, covering academics, affordability and career preparation. Fewer than one-third of the institutions made the list.

The Princeton Review also ranks Earlham 13th in the nation among all private institutions on its list of the “Best Schools for Making an Impact.” This list recognizes schools with plentiful opportunities to participate in community service, student government, sustainability efforts, and on-campus student engagement.

For the third straight year, Earlham is featured alongside just 20 other institutions for having one of the nation’s best classroom experiences in the Princeton Review’s 2021 edition of the “Best 386 Colleges.” The designation is based on responses to a national survey about the percentage of classes students attend, the quality of their classrooms and lab facilities, and the amount of in-class time devoted to discussion.

Earlham students surveyed by Princeton Review describe the classroom experience as “rigorous,” interesting” and “engaging,” and praise the College for its low student-to-faculty ratio that encourages a “strong and close connection with professors.”

Earlham students surveyed by Princeton Review describe the classroom experience as “rigorous,” interesting” and “engaging,” and praise the College for its low student-to-faculty ratio that encourages a “strong and close connection with professors.”


U.S. News and World Report ranks Earlham College among the top national liberal arts colleges for value and having a strong commitment to undergraduate teaching. 

U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges” guidebook for 2021 has recognized Earlham College for academic excellence, cost and a commitment to undergraduate teaching.

for academic excellence, cost and a commitment to undergraduate teaching.

The popular resource for college-bound students ranks Earlham 28th for “Best Undergraduate Teaching” and 29th for “Best Value” among the nation’s top liberal arts colleges. Institutions included on these lists emphasize the importance undergraduate teaching and offer the highest quality academics for the price.

Earlham ranks 84th overall among all national liberal arts colleges.

To compile the rankings, they compare hundreds of bachelor’s degree-granting institutions from across the United States on 15 diverse measures of academic quality. These rankings heavily favor schools that are successful at retaining and graduating students while providing them with access to quality, full-time instructors. U.S. News also considers expert opinions, alumni giving, the selectivity of admissions, and the average spending per student on instruction, research and other student services.


Although Earlham students are based in the Midwest, they graduate ready to take on the world, thanks to the school’s cooperative, can-do spirit, international perspective, and caring student/faculty community.

The Fiske Guide to Colleges 2021 has included Earlham as one of the nation’s “best and most interesting” institutions of higher education.

The Fiske Guide pointed to Earlham’s commitment to career preparation and its diverse and inclusive campus community.  Also highlighted were students receiving personal attention from faculty, the Earlham’s global perspective, and funding for every student to participate in an internship or research experience before graduation.

The guide, now in its 37th year, is named after Edward Fiske, a longtime editor of the New York Times. It features profiles of 300 four-year public and private institutions in the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Ireland. Each profile includes a list of popular majors, information about financial aid, and quotes from current and former students.


Earlham is nationally ranked and renowned for off-campus study, and we also rank high for the number of international students in our student body.

Earlham College is ranked #3 in the nation for baccalaureate colleges in percentage of international study abroad participation, with 242 students participating. In fact, Open Doors considers our participation at 178%—meaning that many students participate two or three times, including through semester programs, short programs, credit-bearing internships and more. (And it’s no wonder students keep coming back to these experiences; College Rank puts us ninth in the nation for colleges with best study abroad programs.)

Open Doors also ranks us at #34 among baccalaureate colleges for total number of international students—even though we are ranked alongside colleges with larger student bodies.


PALSave Indiana

Earlham College faculty earned a spot on PALSave Indiana’s “Top 3 leaderboard” for their efforts in making textbooks more affordable for students.

During the 2019-20 academic year, Earlham faculty saved 155 students $12,356.67. PALSave is an initiative by the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana that promotes the use of free course materials, including open textbooks or library ebooks. It is supported by a five-year grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc.

The effort reflects Earlham’s commitment to accessibility and widening the path to a top-notch liberal arts education for all students. Sixteen faculty members from across Earlham’s four academic divisions participated in PALSave workshops during the 2019-20 year. Ten of these faculty members published textbook reviews in the Open Textbook Library, helping other faculty who are in the process of evaluating new course materials. Seven faculty members also received $500 course redesign grants to explore alternatives in their classes for the current academic year.