The Most Popular League of US Colleges (Not the Ivy League)
Liberal arts colleges are a major feature of US higher education that distinguishes American higher education from other countries. This type of colleges focus on undergraduate education, with a small scale on campus community and high education quality. Compared with national universities, liberal arts colleges pay more attention to a well-rounded education for students, emphasize critical thinking and individual potential, with a curriculum mainly based on generic disciplines of knowledge.
Since the liberal arts colleges are small in scale, liberal arts colleges in the same area usually form an alliance to share academic resources and research facilities.
For example, "Five College Consortium" is located in Massachusetts (Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, Smith, UMass-Amherst). There is also cooperation between Swarthmore, Haverford, and Bryn Mawr. The most famous league among all is "Claremont Colleges" located near Los Angeles, California. This alliance, also commonly referred to as "5C," includes five liberal arts colleges: Pomona College, Scripps College, Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College, and Pitzer College.
The 5C Alliance is located in Claremont, a wealthy town in the easternmost part of Los Angeles County, California. Since its formation, all schools in the alliance have been ranked high on the US News list.
Map of "5C", Source: Web
The original intention of the establishment of the 5C is to retain their own styles of teaching while sharing learning resources on a larger scale. These schools spend resources and money on maintaining their own persona as an institution with their independent teaching philosophy, teaching style and on campus community.
Ranked #4 by US News College of Arts and Sciences
Bridges Auditorium on campus Source: Wiki
Pomona College, founded in 1887, is the oldest institution of the five Claremont schools and the founder of the Claremont College Alliance. The school only provides undergraduate education and does not have a graduate school. It is truly one of the best universities in California.
Pomona College is one of the wealthiest universities in the world, known for its huge endowment (the school has an endowment of $2.76 billion in 2022), and it is the seventh wealthiest college or university in the United States on a per-student basis.
The school has invested heavily in undergraduate teaching and research equipment and resources, creating a world-class undergraduate college. About half of the students are involved in 57 international exchange study programs offered in 34 countries, with an average of more than 200 student internship opportunities per year, and more than 200 summer research projects. As a result, nearly 85% of Pomona past graduates and alumni obtained postgraduate doctoral degrees within 10 years after graduation.
Among Pomona's Class of 2021 graduates, 21% majored in arts and humanities, 40% majored in natural sciences, 25% majored in social sciences, and 15% majored in an interdisciplinary field. Although the college does not offer pre-professional programs such as pre-medicine or pre-law, it offers 3+2 engineering programs with Caltech, Dartmouth University and Washington University for these fields.
Claremont Mckenna College
Ranked #8 by US News College of Arts and Sciences
CMC's Kravis Center, Source: Web
Claremont McKenna College, abbreviated "CMC", was founded in 1946 and is one of the most difficult US liberal arts colleges to get into.
The disciplines offered at CMC are very comprehensive. As one of the alliance's top schools, CMC has more major choices than other colleges. Government, economics, public affairs, finance and international relations are some of its strongest majors. In addition to continuing their studies, a large proportion of CMC students have successfully entered first-class financial companies or government agencies.
Many CMC students participate in at least one of two internship programs, one in Washington, D.C. and the other in Silicon Valley. In these programs, students complete a full-time internship in business or government while taking evening classes taught by CMC professors stationed at both locations.
CMC emphasizes the cultivation of leadership. The school's investment in the Kravis Leadership Center career center, coupled with its strong alumni network, provide many opportunities for employment. The school also offers one-semester internship that can be transferred as course credits at Silicon Valley companies for students.
A major feature of CMC is the Athenaeum project. The school will invite current celebrities and successful leaders from all kinds of industries to give lectures in the afternoon from Monday to Thursday to help students understand different careers and fields. Although this lecture is open to all Union students, CMC students have priority to attend.
Harvey Mudd College
Ranked #28 by US News College of Arts and Sciences
HMC entrance, Source: Web
Harvey Mudd College, referred to as HMC, was founded in 1955. Although the school has only more than 800 students, it is one of the institutions that produce the most doctorates in science and engineering. HMC is also known as the "cradle of western scientists."
Unlike many other liberal arts colleges, HMC focuses on science and engineering, awarding four-year degrees in chemistry, mathematics, physics, computer science, biology, engineering. HMC also offers interdisciplinary degrees in mathematical biology. Students can also choose to combine computer science with subjects like mathematics, biology, or chemistry.
HMC places great emphasis on students' hands-on ability, and requires students to complete at least one year of in-depth scientific research or participate in a clinical program before they graduate. The project teams up 3-5 students with 1 school advisor and 1 sponsor. They need to jointly solve a practical applied problem raised by the sponsoring organization, and they need to fully consider all factors including financial expenditure, program feasibility, etc. The entire team spend a year researching and planning, which culminate in a written report on their solution delivered to the company. Many students at HMC plan to study engineering and other STEM subjects, which makes the school's starting salary and career development rank among the top in the United States.
Ranked #30 by US News College of Arts and Sciences
Source: Scripps Official Site
Scripps College, founded in 1926, is a women's college. The school attaches great importance to the cultivation of female leadership, and is committed to cultivating its students to become independent and intelligent women. Therefore, feminism has a strong presence at Scripps. Scripps has a beautiful campus, and it has been rated as one of the 14 most beautiful campuses in the world by Forbes.
At the heart of teaching is Scripps' Interdisciplinary Studies Core Course, a series of three courses that encourage students to think critically and challenge ideas.
In addition to the core curriculum, Scripps requires students to take courses in fine arts, literature, natural sciences, social sciences, race and ethnic studies, gender and women's studies, foreign languages, and mathematics. Collaboration between alliance schools also provides students with cutting-edge research opportunities in medicine and science.
Ranked #35 by US News College of Arts and Sciences
Source: Pitzer Official Site
Founded in 1963, Pitzer College is the youngest and the third largest institution in "5C". The colleges encourage each other's students to participate in the courses of the other four Claremont undergraduate colleges, and the credits of these courses can be mutually recognized.
Pitzer College has always been adhering to its unique educational philosophy, with special emphasis on diversity, sustainable development, interdisciplinary perspectives and social, ethical responsibility in research. The school offers 41 majors and 22 minors, many of which are interdisciplinary, with strengths in social sciences, behavioral sciences, and media studies.
Pitzer emphasizes equality, no matter what kind of cultural and political background the students come from. It acquires a dedication to observe the world with a new perspective, and finds better ways to help students find a meaningful way of life. Pitzer's president is also the first African-American principal in the history of 5C.
Many may worry about employment in liberal arts colleges.
Although there aren't too many liberal arts colleges on Payscale's college graduation salary rankings, 2 of the 5 liberal arts colleges we introduced are among the top 15 on this ranking.
Harvey Mudd, which is famous for its science and engineering programs, ranks second only after MIT. The initial career income of Harvey Mudd graduates is $97,700, and the mid-career income is $166,600, surpassing a number of other Ivy League schools. CMC ranks 14th, with graduates earning $75,700 at the beginning of their careers and $151,200 during mid-career.