Rankings & Accolades

At St. John’s, we are skeptical of college rankings. We believe that the core characteristic of a liberal arts education is the rigorous intellectual exchange between full-time faculty and students in small classes discussing time-tested books. We believe the purpose of a liberal arts education is to help you build the life you want, including a meaningful career. Few rankings measure these values. The place to start when choosing a college is to define your values. What matters most to you?

Students seeking a liberal arts education want to be challenged. They want to learn from devoted full-time faculty, study across disciplines, understand how knowledge is connected, and explore how to build a meaningful life. What they do not want are large lecture classes, tests that only measure their capacity to memorize, or narrow majors that feed into discrete job pipelines that may well prove unsatisfying. Most rankings fail to measure these values, but we have selected a few to help you know if St. John’s is the right fit for you:

How St. John’s College Ranks

Small Classes

Seminar in Santa Fe classroom


Smallest Classes
(U.S. News)

Annapolis students and tutor in classroom


Best Student-to-Faculty Ratio
(U.S. News)

Undergraduate seminar in Santa Fe classroom


Best Classroom Experience
(Princeton Review)

Annapolis lab class


Percentage of Classes with Fewer than 20 students
(U.S. News)

Quality Faculty

Annapolis tutor speaking in class


Professors Get High Marks
(Princeton Review)

Santa Fe Junior Lab demonstration


Best Undergraduate Teaching
(U.S. News)

Annapolis tutor and student speaking


Most Accessible Professors
(Princeton Review)

Annapolis tutor and student in classroom


Most Full-Time Faculty
(U.S. News)

Rigorous Curriculum

Student speaking in a classroom


Best College for Debaters
(College Match Up)

Annapolis student reading outside


Students Study the Most
(Princeton Review)

Program books on display


Most Innovative
(U.S. News)

Lab Demonstration


Grade for Required Classes


St Johns reduced tuition graphic

Top 20

Best Buy College
(Fiske Guide to Colleges)

Santa Fe students holding Euclid book


Best Value
(U.S. News)

Demonstrating proofs on blackboard


Best Value
(Princeton Review)

Program books on library shelf


Lowest Private College Tuition
(U.S. News)

Career and Graduate School Preparation

Row of Program Books


Most Students Getting PhDs
in the Humanities (HEDS)

Books on Meem Library shelves


Most Students Getting PhDs
in Business (HEDS)

Annapolis campus brick walkway


Top Feeder to Law School
(College Transitions)

Alumni at homecoming event


Best Career Services
(Princeton Review)

Diverse Community

Santa Fe students on balcony


Lots of Race/Class Interaction
(Princeton Review)

International Students Day, Santa Fe


Most International Students
(U.S. News)


Social Mobility
(U.S. News)

Pride flag


(Princeton Review)

Great Places to Live and Study

Students gathering on hill above Santa Fe Campus


Prettiest College Campus—Santa Fe
(Architectural Digest)

Annapolis students playing soccer


Everyone Plays Intramural Sports
(Princeton Review)

Downtown Santa Fe at night


Best College Town—Santa Fe
(Business Insider)

Downtown Annapolis Main Street


Best College Town—Annapolis
(Travel and Leisure)

Note: Rankings are aggregated from the last several years for both campuses.


Some rankings are run by for-profit companies that do not understand or value what we do at St. John’s. For example, the U.S. News & World Report College Rankings do not measure essential characteristics that matter to students who value authentic learning—even though they often collect the data that would help them do so. Some of the rankings mentioned above come from U.S. News data that they exclude from their overall rankings.

  • Small discussion-based classes are essential to deep learning. U.S. News does not include class size in their official rankings, although they have the data to do so. As you can see above, if U.S. News did include small class sizes in their overall rankings, St. John’s would be at the very top.
  • St. John’s is deliberately small, with fewer than 500 students on each campus. Our size is one of the reasons many students prosper here, and yet rankings from the New York Times and Wall Street Journal don’t even include St. John’s—or any other very small college—as though smallness is a weakness rather than the great strength that it is.
  • We spend our money on keeping class sizes small and hiring full-time faculty, rather than subsidizing elite sports, expensive performance centers, and fancy dining halls through inexpensive educational options such as large lecture classes and adjunct instructors. While U.S. News ranks colleges based on how much they spend, the spending could be on anything.
  • Our curriculum is demanding. You will learn a great deal here, including how to be a disciplined and resourceful lifelong learner. Most ranking agencies, including U.S. News, do not measure what students actually learn, or even whether they learn much at all. In fact, U.S. News regularly names St. John’s as among the best colleges for “undergraduate teaching” and then fails to include that essential characteristic in their overall rankings.
  • At St. John’s we resist the notion that the only purpose of college is to prepare you for a specific career. In fact, we believe that college should give you the problem-solving and critical-thinking skills that prepare you for many careers, as well as for graduate school, knowing that you are likely to change careers many times and may well work in a job that does not even exist today. Most ranking agencies care only about how much money you make your first years out of college.

St. John’s is not a traditional college. We are deeply contrarian. We value learning for learning’s sake. We believe that students should be challenged to explore different ways of looking at the world and different ways of thinking.

We believe distilling college to the base metrics used by U.S. News and other rankings does a disservice to students who are seeking an education that will prepare them for life and not just for their first job out of college.

Your life’s work should come from something deep and purposeful within you, and this college is here to help you uncover it.

St. John’s was named one of the 40 “Colleges That Change Lives”

St. John’s College is proud to be included in Colleges That Change Lives, a book written by Loren Pope and first published in 1996. The list of 40 schools features distinct institutions of higher learning that offer an alternative to traditional university education.