Ivy League Schools vs Liberal Arts Colleges: Which is Better?


Samarpita Goswami
Updated on Mar 22, 2023 07:07 PM IST

In the USA, the Ivy League schools have formed a brand of their own whereas the liberal arts colleges are into prominence because of smaller class sizes. Read the article to know which one is better.

Ivy League Schools vs Liberal Arts Colleges: Which is Better?

The Ivy League has always been the top preference when it comes to studying abroad, whether you are from the US, India or any other country. And, why not? Ivy League graduates are known to benefit from a reputation associated with academic distinction as well as desirability. But, can you rather study at liberal arts colleges in the US?

While Ivy League colleges are renowned for their ambitious faculty and peers along with lifelong professional networks, US liberal arts colleges offer degree flexibility and do have a higher acceptance rate. Also, liberal arts colleges in USA are no different from Ivy League colleges, with popular names like Ronald Reagan, and Steve Carell, among many others associated with them.

This brings us to find out how Ivy League colleges and Liberal arts colleges are different and how choosing the right university to study abroad can make a big difference.

If you are looking forward to studying at leading US universities and are confused with the application process, then register with us and reap the benefits of the expertise of our study abroad team.

Ivy League vs Liberal Arts Colleges Synopsis

A comparative analysis of both types of colleges is given below:


Ivy League Schools

Liberal Arts Colleges


Very broad




Critical Thinking is emphasised

Class Size



Score Range SAT: 1560, ACT: 35, IELTS: 7.5 bands, TOEFL: 105 SAT: 1450, ACT: 30-34, IELTS: 7 bands, TOEFL: 90-100




Acceptance Ratio

3.9% to 8.7%


Avg Tuition Fees USD56,000 per annum USD50,000 per annum
Graduation Rate 94-98% 90%-97%

Average Salary



Top Recruiters Accenture, Bain & Company Inc, Nestle USA, Pepsico, Barclays PLC IBM, HP, Accenture, Microsoft, Novartis, Pfizer, PWC, Deloitte

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List of Ivy League & Liberal Arts Colleges

Here, let us look at the colleges that are called Ivy League and Liberal arts colleges in USA:

Ivy League Colleges in USA

Ivy League colleges got their name from the football inter-collegiate agreement and their athletic teams are popular across the USA. The colleges under the Ivy League have earned the reputation of graduating students with high academic performances and worthwhile careers. The students are often drawn to these colleges as a bee is drawn toward a flower.

In total, the Ivy League comprises eight colleges and universities including Harvard.

For a student who is willing to make a career in Law, Medicine, Business, and Engineering, Ivy League schools can be the right choice. Now, let us have a quick look at the list of Ivy League schools:

Ivy League Schools

Harvard University

Yale University

Princeton University

Brown University

Columbia University

Dartmouth College

University of Pennsylvania

Cornell University

Liberal Arts Colleges

The liberal arts colleges in USA are at par with the Ivy League schools. They are generally set up on residential models and the class sizes are small to impart a better understanding and cultivate cultural and intellectual interests in the students. Liberal arts colleges are favoured by students willing to make their careers in humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. The colleges focus on broadening the intellectual capabilities of the students rather than technical or vocational knowledge.

Here is the list of the top Liberal arts colleges in USA:

US Liberal Arts Colleges

Williams College

Amherst College

Wellesley College

Pomona College

Middlebury College

Swarthmore College

Vassar College

Bowdoin College

Ranking and Reputation of Ivy League vs Liberal Arts Colleges

The US News & World Report 2022 has ranked Ivy League and Liberal Arts colleges in the following order:

Ivy League Schools

University Ranking

Liberal Arts Colleges Ranking in National Liberal Arts College



Amherst 2



Claremont Kenna 8



Swarthmore 3



Williams 1



Pomona 4



- -



- -




- -

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Acceptance Rates at Ivy League vs Liberal Arts Colleges

The acceptance rate determines the number of students who applied to the colleges and the ones who got admitted. The higher the acceptance rate the better it is for international students. The acceptance rate of Ivy League colleges is lower than liberal arts colleges.

The Philosophy of Liberal Arts colleges revolves around preparing students not only for their careers but also for life. In recent years, liberal arts subjects have gained massive fame and employers have acknowledged that liberal arts education revolves around skills that are in high demand. The students are prepared to learn, communicate, think critically and make multi-disciplinary connections that help them in making sustainable choices.

Ivy League colleges are regularly ranked at the top and are among the best in the world because of their exclusivity and selectivity. The acceptance rates of Ivy League colleges including Harvard, Yale, Brown, Columbia, etc. are as follows:

Ivy League Schools

Acceptance Rate

Liberal Arts College Acceptance Rate



Williams College 13%



Wellesley College 20%



Middlebury College 17%



Vassar College 25%



Amherst College 13%



Pomona College 8%



Swarthmore College 9%



Bowdoin College 10%

Admission Process at Ivy League vs Liberal Arts Colleges

The competition to get into Ivy League schools is tough. The admission requirements are :

Requirement Ivy League Schools Liberal Arts Colleges
Test scores SAT - 1560, ACT - 35, GMAT -696-730, GRE - 310-330, IELTS-7.5, TOEFL-105, SAT - 1450, ACT - 30-34, GMAT -650, GRE - 300, IELTS - 7, TOEFL -90-100
Average GPA 3.7 on a 4.0 scale 3.9 on a 4.0 scale
Other Requirements

Extra co-curricular activities, Statement of Purpose (SOP), LORs, Personal Essay, Academic Transcripts, etc.

SOP, LORs, Personal Essay, Academic Transcripts, etc.

International Scholarships at Ivy League vs Liberal Arts Colleges

Both Ivy League schools and Liberal Arts colleges offer financial aid in the form of scholarships to international students who need and deserve it.

Ivy League Scholarships for International Students

Ivy League Schools

Scholarship Name

Cornell University

Cornell University Grant, Endowed Scholarships

Columbia University

Need-based scholarships

Brown University

Need-based scholarships

Dartmouth University

Dartmouth Endowed Scholarships

Harvard University

Need-based scholarships

Princeton University

Need-based scholarships

Yale University

Federal Student Aid, Federal Pell Grant

University of Pennsylvania

Academic Scholarships, Campus Scholarships, Administrative Unit Scholarships

The Liberal Arts Colleges Scholarships for International Students

Liberal Arts Colleges

Scholarship Name

Penn State College of Liberal Arts

Penn State Liberal Arts Scholarship

The Indiana University Purdue School of Liberal Arts

Burns/Wagener Scholarship in Communication Studies, The Marius J. Faure Family Scholarship, The Sarah Jamison Keller Scholarship

Texas State University College of Liberal Arts

90 privately endowed Liberal Arts scholarships.

Auburn University College of Liberal Arts

General Academic Scholarship

Note: Students applying for scholarships must research in-depth and apply for scholarships.

Average Salary at Ivy League vs Liberal Arts Colleges

Here, we will do a comparative study of the median salary offered to Ivy League and Liberal Arts College graduates. According to recent data, Princeton and Harvard graduates earn the most while the alumni of Cornell and Brown earn the lowest. With respect to recruiters, Accenture, Bain & Company Inc, Nestle USA, Pepsico, Barclays, and PLC feature at the top of the list.

The Claremont Mckenna college graduates are paid well after they graduate and their average salary is more than that of Brown graduates. The top recruiters at liberal arts colleges in USA include IBM, HP, Accenture, Microsoft, Novartis, Pfizer, PWC, and Deloitte.

Ivy League University

Median Annual Salary (USD)

Liberal Arts College Median Annual Salary (USD)



Claremont Mckenna 75,700



Swarthmore 70,800



Williams 70,600



Pomona 70,200



Amherst 68,700



Bowdoin 67,200



Wellesley 65,800



Carlton 62,100

The average salary of Ivy League graduates is USD 10,000 more than that of Liberal Arts college graduates. However, the cost of education is lower at liberal arts colleges, leading to a significantly higher ROI when compared to that of Ivy League schools.

Ivy League vs Liberal Arts Colleges: Which is Better?

The brand value of Ivy League Colleges is the reason why they are seen as the road to success. Further, the lower acceptance rate and high exclusivity of the colleges make them yearned for by graduates. The Ivy League schools are a choice for a vocational, professional, or technical certificate or degree program while Liberal Arts colleges nurture the broad liberal skills of students that help them to succeed in life.

Regardless of which university you attend in the US, you will gain an excellent education. However, it should be kept in mind that academics should be the main criterion for your decision. In case you are still unsure, please reach out to us at abroad@collegedekho.com.

Also Read:

Famous Ivy League Alumni

List of Notable Princeton Alumni

Willing to be a part of Ivy League colleges or Liberal arts colleges? Then our mentors are waiting to answer all your questions and doubts. They are only one click away from you.

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