35 Best Student-Faculty College Ratios for 2022

Tyson Schritter / Colleges of Distinction »

Jump to:    10 Best Student-Faculty Ratio Colleges   |   9 Best Student-Faculty Ratio Private Colleges    |   10 Best Student-Faculty Ratio Public Colleges   |   6 Best Student-Faculty Ratio HBCUs

What Is a Student-Faculty Ratio?

A common statistic you’ll find during your college search is the “student-faculty ratio.” Anywhere you look, you’ll see that people tend to agree that it is important to pay attention to. But what does it even mean?

Simply put, an institution’s student-faculty ratio is the number of students there are for every one professor at a given institution. It is calculated by dividing a school’s number of enrolled students by its number of teachers. For example, a school with 5,000 students and 500 professors has 10 students for every professor (i.e. a 10:1 student-faculty ratio). 

For reference, the National Center for Education Statistics found that the national average for college student-to-faculty ratios is 18:1.

How Important Is This Number to My College Search?

It is often said that a small student-to-faculty ratio is best, and understandably: when there are fewer students per professor, classes can be smaller, and every student is more likely to benefit from personalized attention.

All said, a school with a larger student-faculty ratio does not always guarantee that students get lost in a sea of thousands of students. Colleges with larger populations do have more students per professor, but they can—and often do—make up for it with more robust resources on campus. A low student-faculty ratio has become synonymous with better, more personalized pedagogy, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get the same from a larger university, just a bit less likely. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide how important this number is to you.

10 Best Student-Faculty Ratio Colleges

caltech professor

1. California Institute of Technology

Student-faculty ratio: 3:1

Located in Pasadena, California, Caltech is a private research university known for its world renowned science and engineering programs. Caltech enrolls 2,240 students, and has an acceptance rate of seven percent. Caltech has one of the lowest student-faculty ratios in the nation.

stanford university classroom

2. Stanford University

Student-faculty ratio: 5:1

Stanford is a private university in Stanford, California. Stanford’s sprawling campus is located in the Palo Alto suburb just south of San Fransisco. Stanford enrolls 15,953 students, and has one of the lowest acceptance rates in the nation — four percent.

princeton university classroom

3. Princeton University

Student-faculty ratio: 5:1

Princeton University is a private Ivy League research university in Princeton, New Jersey. Princeton’s undergraduate population is less than 8,000; only six percent of applicants are accepted.

university of chicago classroom

4. University of Chicago

Student-faculty ratio: 5:1

Located in the windy city, UChicago is a world renowned research university. UChicago’s urban campus is nestled in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago’s South Side. Nearly 18,000 undergrads live and learn at UChicago. The university’s acceptance rate is seven percent.

antioch college classroom

5. Antioch College

Student-faculty ratio: 5:1

Antioch College is a private liberal arts college in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Antioch College engages students through self-designed majors and cooperative education opportunities. Antioch is considered a less selective school with an acceptance rate of 84 percent.

yale classroom

6. Yale University

Student-faculty ratio: 5:1

Yale University is a private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Yale’s undergraduate population is 12,060, and boasts an acceptance rate of six percent.

harvard classroom

7. Harvard University

Student-faculty ratio: 6:1

Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts with world-class faculty and groundbreaking research opportunities. Harvard is home to 30,135 students, and has an acceptance rate of five percent.

columbia university classroom

8. Columbia University

Student-faculty ratio: 6:1

Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university in New York City. Columbia’s total enrollment is 30,135, and has an acceptance rate of six percent.

brown university

9. Brown University

Student-faculty ratio: 6:1

Brown University is a private Ivy League research university in Providence, Rhode Island.

  It is a mid-size institution with an enrollment of 6,826 undergraduate students. Brown’s acceptance rate eight percent.

duke class

10. Duke University

Student-faculty ratio: 6:1

Duke University is a private research university in Durham, North Carolina. Duke’s suburban campus is home to 16,172 students. Duke accepts eight percent of applicants.


More Amazing Student-Faculty Ratio Colleges >>>

You may notice something about our 10 Best Student-Faculty Ratio Colleges; each school, except Antioch College,  accept less than 10% of the students that apply. They are nearly impossible for the average student to attend! As a college bound student, you should understand the term “highly rejective college.” Coined by thought-leader Aki Bello, “highly rejective” is another way to refer to hyper-elite colleges with single-digit acceptance rates. And because their student populations are so carefully controlled, these picky colleges are able to brag about their low student-faculty ratios as well. These small ratios are just another way in which these elite schools like to stand out; however, they are so exclusive that they are more often than not inaccessible to the majority of college-bound students.

Not to worry though! We have picked another 25 amazing schools that have strong student-faculty ratios and also pass through our Four Distinctions guidelines. Take a look for yourself and see if there is one or two worth adding to your shortlist!

9 Best Student-Faculty Ratio Private Colleges

If you are looking for the personalized attention of a lower ratio but aren’t part of the measly 4 percent of students that will be admitted to Stanford, don’t worry. We’ve handpicked some amazing schools that offer a world-class education and a small classroom environment. Here are our 10 Best Student-Faculty Ratio Private Colleges:

View Profiles: Naropa University  |  Notre Dame of Maryland University  |  Belhaven University  |  University of Hartford | Nazareth University  |  Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University  

10 Best Student-Faculty Ratio Public Colleges

Public universities are many students’ first choice, and for good reason! Public universities tend to be more affordable with more diverse academic programs, more research opportunities, and robust athletics. However, with a larger student population comes larger classrooms and, therefore, higher student-faculty ratios. Attending a public university doesn’t have to mean you’ll sacrifice personalized attention from a professor. Here are our 10 Best Student-Faculty Ratio Public Colleges:

View Profiles:   St. Mary’s College of Maryland  |  Maine Maritime Academy

6 Best Student-Faculty Ratio HBCUs

Once founded as a solution to legal discrimination in education, HBCUs thrive with a foundation of inclusivity, access, and respect. HBCUs invest in programming aimed at building solidarity and closing the opportunity gap—faculty diversity, alumni networks, internship and research connections, and more. Check out the list of HBCUs with the lowest student-faculty ratios.

View Profiles: Spelman CollegeHoward University

At Colleges of Distinction, we firmly believe that the true value of a school lies beyond the numbers. That’s why we hand-pick and individually review all of our schools to see how they help students learn, grow, and succeed. We believe that a thorough selection process requires so much more than an overview of institutional data and statistics. No matter where you are in your college search journey, Colleges of Distinction can help you find a school that’s the best fit for you.