Best Colleges for Women, Ranked
For woman in pursuit of academic excellence, empowerment and supportive environments, female-only colleges stand out as beacons of opportunity.
These institutions have a storied history of fostering leadership, providing tailored educational experiences and nurturing a sense of community that goes beyond the classroom.
These 10 women's colleges shape accomplished leaders through their exceptional education and support.
10. College of Saint Mary
Year founded: 1923
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
Undergrad enrollment: 1,024
Note:These are the best women's colleges, as ranked by BestColleges.com in August 2023.
Bottom Line: College of Saint Mary
The only women's college in Omaha is a private, faith-based school and features over 100 opportunities for students in service learning. All first-year, full-time students receive full financial aid or a scholarship to attend the College of Saint Mary.
There are over 25 majors at the school for students to choose from — the most popular being Nursing, Rehabilitation and Therapy, and Licensed Practical Nurse Training (LPN).
9. Spelman College
Year founded: 1881
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Undergrad enrollment: 2,207
Bottom Line: Spelman College
One of the oldest HBCUs for women, Spelman has an 11-to-1 ratio of students to faculty. The college offers a rigorous curriculum that spans the arts, sciences and humanities and fosters critical thinking and intellectual growth.
Spelman also offers students fellowship awards, study abroad programs and STEM resources to help them achieve their academic goals. Health services, political science, psychology and biology are particularly popular majors.
8. Simmons University
Year founded: 1899
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Undergrad enrollment: 6,263
Bottom Line: Simmons University
With more than 60 programs, Simmons offers students plenty of options for choosing a major. Plus, classes are small — the average class size at the school is about 13 students.
Nearly all first-year students at Simmons University receive financial aid packages. Some popular programs include registered nursing, kinesiology and communications.
7. College of Saint Benedict
Year founded: 1857
Location: Saint Joseph, Minnesota
Undergrad enrollment: 1,668
Bottom Line: College of Saint Benedict
The College of Saint Benedict (CSB) operates in partnership with its brother school, Saint John's University. It provides a rigorous liberal arts education and promotes critical thinking, leadership and global awareness.
The school encourages students to excel academically while also actively participating in service-learning and social justice initiatives. The average class size at CSB is 19 students. Some popular academic programs are business administration, biology, nursing and psychology.
6. Mount Holyoke College
Year founded: 1837
Location: South Hadley, Massachusetts
Undergrad enrollment: 2,040
Bottom Line: Mount Holyoke College
A liberal arts college, Mount Holyoke is one of five colleges in close proximity to each other, also known as the Five College Consortium. Students can take classes and attend events at Amherst College, Hampshire College, Smith College and UMass Amherst. Mount Holyoke is also part of the Twelve College Exchange Program, which allows students to attend one of 11 other universities, including Vassar or Dartmouth.
Mount Holyoke is one of the few schools that does not factor in SAT scores when students apply, and while there isn't a Greek system to join, students can make friends and network through its over 150 clubs and organizations.
5. Scripps College
Year founded: 1926
Location: Claremont, California
Undergrad enrollment: 958
Bottom Line: Scripps College
Scripps, along with nearby Claremont McKenna College, Pomona College, Pitzer College and Harvey Mudd College, is part of the Claremont Consortium. All the colleges share a central library, safety services and other resources; however, each one has its own distinct identity. Students can share in activities or attend classes at any of the colleges in the consortium.
Scripps core curriculum consists of three humanities courses. Additionally, students are required to take courses in gender and women’s studies, foreign languages, math, fine arts, social sciences, and race and ethnic studies.
4. Smith College
Year founded: 1871
Location: Northampton, Massachusetts
Undergrad enrollment: 2,504
Bottom Line: Smith College
One of the largest women's liberal arts colleges in the U.S., Smith has over 100 organizations for students to participate in. Like Mount Holyoke, it's also part of the Five Colleges Consortium and is also one of the Seven Sisters colleges (seven women's liberal arts colleges in the northeast.)
Smith is unusual in that it does not have Greek life or dorms. Instead, it has 35 separate houses where anywhere from 10 to 100 students reside.
3. Bryn Mawr College
Year founded: 1885
Location: Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
Undergrad enrollment: 1,634
Bottom Line: Bryn Mawr College
Bryn Mawr is a small college that provides an intimate learning environment and close interactions between students and faculty. Its strong emphasis on empowering women through education, its vibrant arts scene and its commitment to social justice initiatives create a well-rounded educational experience for students.
Bryn Mawr is also a member of the Seven Sisters, and students can even balance a single-sex education with coed opportunities at neighboring schools, like Haverford College, Swarthmore College and the University of Pennsylvania.
2. Wellesley College
Year founded: 1870
Location: Wellesley, Massachusetts
Undergrad enrollment: 2,280
Bottom Line: Wellesley College
Wellesley offers a student environment that fosters intellectual curiosity and academic excellence across a wide range of disciplines. Another Seven Sisters college, Wellesley allows students to take part in over 150 student organizations on campus or at one of the colleges in the consortium.
Incoming freshmen do not have to worry about finding housing (the school guarantees it) — and most students live in the school's 21 residence halls throughout their tenure.
1. Barnard College
Year founded: 1889
Location: New York, New York
Undergrad enrollment: 2,744
Bottom Line: Barnard College
Barnard classes are small with fewer than 19 students. While there are a variety of programs at the school, the most popular ones include literature, political science, art history and psychology.
Barnard also has a partnership with the much larger Columbia University, located across the street. It gives students the opportunity to take classes or take part in sports or organizations at either school.