35 Best College Student-Faculty Ratios for 2024

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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.

2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Student-faculty ratio: 3:1

3. Carnegie Mellon University

Student-faculty ratio: 5:1

stanford university classroom

4. 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 Francisco. Stanford enrolls 15,953 students, and has one of the lowest acceptance rates in the nation — four percent.

university of chicago classroom

5. 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.

princeton university classroom

6. 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.

antioch college classroom

7. Rice University

Student-faculty ratio: 6:1

Rice University is a private college in Houston, Texas. Rice is considered a highly selective school with an acceptance rate of 9 percent.

8. Williams College

Student-faculty ratio: 6:1

Williams College is a private college in Williamstown, Massachusetts

9. Northwestern University

Student-faculty ratio: 6:1

Northwestern University is a private university in Evanston, Illinois.

10. Johns Hopkins University

Student-faculty ratio: 6:1

Johns Hopkins University is a private university in Baltimore, Maryland. Johns Hopkins has an acceptance rate of seven percent.


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!

10 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:

SchoolStudent-to-faculty ratioLocationAcceptance RateSAT/TEST SCORE
Randolph College7:1Lynchburg, VA95%930-1140 – Test Optional
Vassar College7:1Poughkeepsie, NY19%1430-1535 – Test Optional
Washington and Lee University7:1Lexington, VA17%1410-1533 – Test Optional
Tuskegee University7:1Tuskegee, AL30%970-1215 – Required
Notre Dame of Maryland University8:1Baltimore, MD70%Test Optional
Stephens College8:1Columbia, MO64%1050-1240 – Test Optional
University of Hartford8:1West Hartford, CT83%1080-1290 – Test Optional
Lawrence University8:1Appleton, WI72%1210-1460 – Test Optional
Skidmore College8:1Saratoga Springs, NY26%1300-1460 – Test Optional
College of Saint Mary8:1Omaha, NE65%Test Optional

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:

SchoolStudent-to-faculty ratioLocationAcceptance RateSAT/TEST SCORE
St. Mary’s College of Maryland10:1St. Mary’s City, MD77%1130-1370 – Test Optional
Rhode Island College11:1Providence, RI88%870-1110 – Test Optional
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology12:1Rapid City, SD83%1160-1378 – Test Optional
University of Montevallo12:1Montevallo, AL60%Test Blind
William & Mary12:1Williamsburg, VA33%1375-1520 – Test Optional
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor12:1Ann Arbor, MI18%1350-1530 – Test Optional
Valley City State University12:1Valley City, ND83%1030-1110 – Test Optional
Radford University12:1Radford, VA93%960-1160 – Test Optional
University at Buffalo12:1Buffalo, NY68%1190-1380 – Test Optional
University of Louisville13:1Louisville, KY82%1070-1270 – Test Optional

5 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.

SchoolStudent-to-faculty ratioLocationAcceptance RateSAT/TEST SCORE
Saint Augustine’s University10:1Raleigh, NC59%Test Optional
Morehouse College10:1Atlanta, GA60%Test Optional
University of Maryland Eastern Shore11:1Princess Anne, MD82%Test Optional
Johnson C Smith University11:1Charlotte, NC25%Test Blind
Oakwood University11:1Huntsville, AL68%Test Blind

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.